Jonah 3:5
So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them, etc. Here is Jonah in Nineveh alone against the world. Oh, the moral grandeur of the sight! - resting on God alone - "according to his faith it was to him" - marvellous success of his preaching, through Divine power working in him and through him. Observe the contrast to Noah and to Lot. He is like John the Baptist - a torch, setting all on fire. We notice the effects of his crying the cry which God bade him.

I. THE PEOPLE OF NINEVEH BELIEVED GOD. (Ver. 5.) Apparently "the people" were first impressed - deep religious impressions commonly begin with them, and rise from them to the upper class - "the common people heard Jesus gladly." There are many hindrances among men of wealth and station to religious impression, but Providence gives compensations - "the poor have the gospel preached unto them." They believed God. They saw in Josiah only a messenger - the messenger of God, who made the earth and the sea. Probably they had heard his history, for "Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites." Before one, in whose person there had been given such tokens of the Divine power, both to punish and to save, they stood in awe. "The busy crowd is by and by arrested; a solemn awe steals over the minds of the people, they press around the preacher to know who and whence he is, and why he utters such an ominous cry in their streets; and hearing as they now do, that, so far from lightly denouncing this doom against them, he had already, at the hazard of his life, shrunk from executing the charge committed to him, that he had been cast out for his wilful resistance into the mighty deep, and miraculously restored only that he might be sent forth anew to utter the cry they now heard of approaching destruction - learning all this concerning Jonah and his burden, how solemn and perilous must their situation have appeared in their eves!" (Kitto). He whom they now heard proclaiming his warning was the messenger of that God who had roused the storm and cast him overboard; who had prepared the great fish to swallow him, keep him alive within its huge body, and then vomit him on the dry land; and who had sent him back to deliver his message, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be destroyed." The whole community were actuated by a common feeling. "Word came to the king." All ranks and classes were moved by the message of the strange preacher; all realized that the anger of God and the coming destruction of the city were awful calamities; as of the Pharisees at John's baptism, the question might have been asked, "Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" When God makes his voice heard, he bows the hearts of the people like the heart of one man.

II. PROCLAMATION OF A FAST. An external token of distress is deemed fitting - heathen fasts extended to animals as well as men. "It was a custom among the ancient heathen to withhold food from their cattle as well as from themselves in times of mourning and humiliation; in some instances they cut off the hair of their beasts as well as their own" (Kitto). Attitude of the king, great and noble (ver. 6) - all his pride and vain glory laid aside - he humbles himself openly before God - contrast this with spirit of Sennacherib afterwards (2 Kings 18., 19.) - kings never so great as when they pay honour to him by whom kings reign - the King of Nineveh rose above all shame and vanity, saw only the dread reality, and acted accordingly. Kings are in their noblest attitude when leading their people to honour God.

III. PRAYER DEMANDED. "Let them cry mightily unto God." All their own gods are to be set aside - this God only is to be recognized. No one seems to have said a word for the Assyrian gods - "Our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased" (Psalm 115:3). Prayer is often derided by the world - in time of pressing danger the praying people are the wise, the patriotic, the true people. Real prayer is no barren form - "let them cry mightily to God" - throw their whole souls into the exercise - pray as for dear life. The true idea of prayer is beseeching God's mercy - beseeching it as the one only resource - what alone can save from misery and ruin.

IV. MORAL REFORMATION DEMANDED. "Let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands." The humiliation of the people more than external - "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts" (Isaiah 55:7) - instinctive recognition of the holiness of God - it is unholy acts and an unholy spirit that excite his displeasure (see Isaiah 58:5-7). Violence specified - the rapacious cruelty which characterized the people, and the cry of which had come up before God. When once conscience was roused, it would condemn these acts of violence very loudly. Interesting and beautiful sight - all classes hastening to put away their evil ways, and reversing them, doing the very opposite to what they had been wont to do.

"Sinners listened to Jonah,
And each one confessed his sins.
The polluted city heard him,
And quickly put off its abominations.
Masters also heard him,
And proclaimed freedom to their bondmen:...
At the voice of Jonah honourable women
Brought down their pride in sackcloth:
The repentance was indeed sincere
When haughty women put on humility!...
The gay laid restraint upon their eyes,
That they might not gaze on women.
Women laid aside their ornaments,
That those who looked on them might not stumble."


(Ephraem Syrus, translated by Burgess.) Abiding picture of what ought to be the attitude of kings and people in times of national calamity - sin is then felt to be a curse and a poison: "Search us, O God, and know our hearts; try us, and know our thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in us, and lead us in the way everlasting."

V. REASON FOR THESE STEPS. (Ver. 9.) "Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce wrath, that we perish not?" Only a possibility - "Who can tell?" But in time of extreme peril a possibility ought to be acted on. "We cannot plead this on the score of justice, neither can we ply his faithfulness with any specific assurance of mercy, given to meet the necessities of our case; we have nothing to encourage us but the general character of God himself, as manifested in his dealings with men on earth. But still we have that, and the matter is not altogether hopeless. For why should God have sent his prophet to admonish us of sin, and foretell his impending judgment - a prophet too who has himself been the subject of singular mercy and forbearance? If destruction alone had been his object, would he not rather have allowed us to sleep on in our sinfulness? And why in particular should these forty days have been made to run between our doom and our punishment? Surely this bespeaks some thought of mercy in God; it must have been meant to leave the door still open to us for forgiveness and peace" (Fairbairn). The proclamation and the reason for it were not perfect - did not go beyond the spirit of fear and trembling - but the Ninevites acted on their light. "if there be first a ready mind, it is accepted according to what a man hath, and not according to what he hath not" (2 Corinthians 8:12). Whoever faithfully follows the light he has may look for more - "to him that hath shall be given." It is interesting to think how Jonah's prophecy would affect the young, and it is the property of childhood to receive testimony with full belief in it. Possibly the emotion of the children may have helped to move the parents. Prospect of speedy death is naturally more terrible to young than old. The following picture of the scene by Ephraem Syrus may be quoted: -

"The children inquired while weeping
Of their fathers, in the midst of their tears,
Narrate to us, O parents,
How many days yet remain
Prom the time which that Hebrew preacher
Hath determined for us?
And what hour he hath indicated
When we shall go down below to Sheol?

And in what day will it be
That this fair city shall be destroyed?
And further, when will the last day be,
After which we shall not exist?
When will the season arrive,
When mortal pangs shall seize on all of us?
And when, throughout the world
Shall fly the tidings of our ruin?
And the passing spectators shall gaze upon
The city overthrown upon its masters?'

"When the parents listened to these things
From the mouth of their little ones,
Their tears most bitterly
Overflowed, and suffused their children,
And dropped at the same time on the persons
Of the speakers and the hearers.
And the fathers were not able
To find utterance through sighing;
For their grief had closed up
The straight path of words;
And their speech was interrupted
By the weeping of their beloved ones?" Read the analogy between threatened destruction of Nineveh and destruction of sinners at the last day. Reasons for repentance in one case infinitely stronger in other. Natural indifference and unbelief of men in reference to the latter. Accumulated guilt of those who refuse him that speaketh from heaven. "The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah: and behold, a greater than Jonah is here."

(1) They had but one preacher, and that a stranger.

(2) They heard but one message, and it was wrath.

(3) They had but a vague hope of mercy. - W.G.B.







So the people of Nineveh believed God.
How came the Ninevites to believe God, as no hope of salvation was given them? For there can be no faith without an acquaintance with the paternal kindness of God; whoever regards God as angry with, him must necessarily despair. Since, then, Jonah gave them no knowledge of God's mercy he must have greatly terrified the Ninevites, and not have called them to faith. The answer is, that the expression is to be taken as including a part for the whole; for there is no perfect faith when men, being called to repentance, do suppliantly humble themselves before God; but yet it is a part of faith, for the apostle says in Hebrews 11., that Noah through faith feared; he deduces the fear which Noah entertained on account of the oracular word he received from faith, showing thereby that it was faith in part, and pointing out the source from which it proceeded. At the same time, the mind of the holy patriarch must have been moved by other things besides threatenings when he built an ark for himself as the means of safety. We may thus, by taking a part for the whole, explain this place — that the Ninevites believed God; for as they knew that God required the deserved punishment, they submitted to Him, and at the same time solicited pardon; but the Ninevites derived from the words of Jonah something more than mere terror, for had they only apprehended this — that they were guilty before God, and were justly summoned to punishment, they would have been confounded and stunned with dread, and could never have been encouraged to seek forgiveness. Inasmuch, then, as they suppliantly prostrated themselves before God, they must certainly have conceived some hope of grace. They were not, therefore, so touched with penitence and the fear of God but that they had some knowledge of Divine grace; thus they believed God, for though they were aware that they were most worthy of death, they yet despaired not, but betook themselves to prayer. They must therefore have derived more advantage from the preaching of Jonah than the mere knowledge that they were guilty before God.

( John Calvin.)

Analyse and examine the main features of this repentance of the men of Nineveh.

I. THE PEOPLE OF NINEVEH BELIEVED GOD. The men of Nineveh saw at once the reason for this sentence, for the very first impression produced on them was a belief in God. By this is implied not merely the acceptance of God's message as truth, but the much greater belief in God. Israel's God could not have been unknown to the Ninevites.

II. MOURNING IN THE CITY BECAME UNIVERSAL. The sin had been universal, and so now became the mourning.

III. THEY TURNED FROM THEIR EVIL WAY. Mourning was merely the outward expression of sorrow and repentance. The grand fact is the sincerity of the repentance. They were led to alter their conduct and change their whole manner of life.

IV. THEY CRIED MIGHTILY UNTO GOD. And that cry of Nineveh was not unheard. It came up into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.

(James Menzies.)

The Book of Jonah illustrates man's perverseness, God's love to sinners, God's tenderness to His people. It contains a type of our Lord's work. It shows God ever the same, whether dealing with Gentile or Jew: stern against sin; yearning over sinners; faithful to promises. As to the repentance of the Ninevites, mark —

I. ITS ORIGIN. "They believed God." Repentance starts from faith and leads to faith. No true repentance till there is belief —

1. That sin is hurtful.

2. That life is fleeting.

3. That God's Word is true.Faith of Ninevites very simple, — perhaps ignorant, yet they were led on. It came from God. The Holy Spirit's work thus to convince of sin.

II. ITS SYMPTOMS.

1. Self-abasement.

2. It was universal.

3. It was thorough.The next symptom was earnest prayer.

(1)They did not stop at humiliation; they cried for pardon.

(2)They looked to the right source for help.

(3)They cried mightily, as if they meant it.The next symptom was reformation. They turned from their evil way. They brought forth "fruits meet for repentance." The only proof of true repentance is to give up sin utterly. Not only fast for sin, but abstain from sin.

III. THE RESULT, God repented; that is, He changed His dealings. This was foretold as possible. "Yet forty days," — a time of grace given. There is room in the all wise decrees for answers to faithful prayer. Application —

1. God's laws are the same for all. We have more light, more responsibility than had the Ninevites; but for us the path is the same. Contrition, faith, pardon.

2. Have we repented? A "greater than Jonas " calls us. By His Word, His work, His death. Let us turn to Him while the day of salvation lasts.

3. What an encouragement to the true penitent. " There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth."

(A. G. Hellicar, M. A.)

Notice the substance of Jonah's proclamation, and the strong effect which it was made instrumental in producing. Most probably, while with the zeal of an awakened spirit Jonah began to execute his commission, the burden of it, "Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be destroyed," was but used by him as a general theme suggestive of enlargement. To the eye of sense the enterprise thus commenced might seem most formidable and dangerous. But, in the view of faith, difficulties vanished. The effect produced was remarkable. All ranks were pervaded by feelings of disquietude and alarm. The woeful tidings spread from mouth to mouth. God gave unwonted power to the message of His servant, so that the inhabitants of this great and dissipated city were roused to deep concern, and its myriads bowed themselves in penitence and prayer. The impression produced might be partly the mere result of apprehension, as the sinner is often scared for a time, but without lasting and salutary effect. We must distinguish between such transient and partial feelings and genuine penitence. The latter issues in return to Him who has been so grievously offended. Its reality is shown in amendment of life. Notice the general nature of the Ninevites' penitence here described, in which We must recognise the exertion of a Divine influence and power. Fear is contagious: faith is the result of Divine influence upon the heart; and it shows the influence of prevailing wickedness in a community that, while some are roused by the preaching of the Gospel to religious earnestness and activity, a much larger proportion too often remain indifferent and slothful. The penitence of the Ninevites was in many cases genuine. We are reminded by this narrative of the propriety of rulers, in their official capacity, employing their influence with a view to promote the interests of righteousness and truth. Civil eminence is to be consecrated to God's service. We have ground for judging of the pervading and thorough character of the transaction. The vast city was filled with fear and lamentation. The outward signs of abasement were everywhere discernible. Had the repentance of the Ninevites been confined to external indications it would have been exclusive of that homage which God requires, and has alone declared His readiness to accept. The most important feature of the sorrow consisted, not in the covering of the limbs with sackcloth, but in their "crying mightily unto God," and in "turning every one from their evil way, and from the violence that was in their hands." Godly sorrow will be followed by amendment, the view of sin by its loathing and detestation. We gather from this narrative the propriety of a nation, when threatened by disaster, turning to the great source of sufficiency and strength. And also the happy results that may be expected to follow from such a public recognition of the Ruler of the universe. Stand in awe of God's mighty power, and admire the wonders of Divine mercy and patience. This history is fitted to remind Christians of their duty and their strength. The duty is to "Go into all the world and preach," — not the thunderings of wrath, nor the avenging sentence merely of a broken law, but — the" Gospel to every creature."

(A. Bonar, D. D.)

1. Note the renewed charge to the penitent prophet, and his new eagerness to fulfil it. It is God's mercy that gives us the opportunity of effacing past disobedience by new alacrity. The second charge is possibly distinguishable from the first as being less precise. The substance of the message is set forth. "The preaching which I bid thee," — not his own imaginations, nor any fine things of his own spinning.

2. Note the repentance of Nineveh. The impression made by Jonah's terrible cry is perfectly credible and natural in the excitable population of an eastern city, in which even now any appeal to terror, especially if associated with religious and prophetic claims, easily sets the whole in a frenzy. The specified tokens of repentance are those of ordinary mourning, such as were common all over the East, with only the strange addition which smacks of heathen ideas, that the animals were made sharers in them. There is great significance in that "believing God" (ver. 5). The foundation of all true repentance is crediting God's Word of threatening, and therefore realising the danger as well as the disobedience of our sin. We learn from the Ninevites what is true repentance. The deepest meaning of the whole narrative is set forth in our Lord's use of it when He holds up the men of Nineveh as a condemnatory instance to the hardened consciences of His hearers. The story was a smiting blow to the proud exclusiveness and self-complacent contempt of prophetic warnings, which marked the entire history of God's people. But if repentance be but transient, it leaves the heart harder than before.

3. Note the repentance of God. All God's promises and threatenings are conditional God threatens precisely in order that He may not have to perform His threatenings. He repents of the evil which He said He would do when they repent of the evil which they have done.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Sermons by Monday Club.
I. NINEVEH'S SIN. Nahum describes Nineveh as "the bloody city, all full of lies and robbery." Zephaniah calls it "filthy and polluted," " the oppressing city." The Ninevites were gross and sensual, cruel in war, eagerly self-indulgent; a people of splendid physique and surprising courage, but cultivating bodily excellences and seeking physical pleasures without thought of their higher nature.

II. JONAH'S PREACHING. Dove-like, he was timid and despondent. He naturally shrank from delivering a message which might save a godless and hostile people from destruction. Jonah's mission was one of great risk.

III. NINEVEH'S REPENTANCE. The Ninevites stand aghast before Jonah. Though an immoral, yet they are a religious people. They believe in a higher power. They are moved by the voice of prophets. Jonah's terrible words are not unheeded. A panic seizes the inhabitants. The king also heard and believed; but he and his advisers discerned a ray of hope. A possibility of pardon seemed to be hinted in the very language of the message, and had foundation in the teachings of natural religion. What causes human misery? — Sin, nothing but sin. If the cause be removed may not the result cease? Still, in this chain of reasoning there is one broken link, and the Ninevites were not certain it could be welded. To stop present sin is indeed to stop the cause of woe; but repentance does not affect the past, and the momentum of sins before committed may hurl a train of miseries far into the future. Repentance is, in fact, of itself an insufficient ground for forgiveness. It does not touch the past. The wonder is, how God, on the ground of man's repentance, can make it consistent to forgive him. Had not God at this very hour of Nineveh's sin had it in His plan to send His Son to earth to die for man there could have been no forgiveness for Nineveh. The turning or repentance was the condition on which God would forgive. Was this repentance sincere and lasting? It did not produce permanent results upon the nation. But this is no reason to suppose that the reformation in Jonah's time was not thorough. A nation easily relapses into sin. There is no evidence that pains were taken to confirm the work at Nineveh.

IV. GOD'S FORGIVENESS. "God repented." How shall we reconcile this statement with God's unchangeableness? It is man that changes, not God. How shall we reconcile the state-merit with God's veracity? When God threatens, if the condition of things be changed which makes the evil necessary, the threatening may be mitigated, if not given up entirely. How shall we reconcile God's forgiveness with God's justice? Repentance does not atone for the past. It simply is man's part in making Christ's work efficacious. Repentance stops the entrance of further evil into the heart. The narrative strikingly illustrates God's love, His eagerness, we may say, to forgive. The love-side of God's nature is peculiarly prominent in the Christian dispensation. Notice, in conclusion, the contrasts suggested by the text. The case of Nineveh stands before the impenitent to-day as an expostulation and a rebuke.

(Sermons by Monday Club.)

Homilist.
The end of all providential mercies, the theme of all Divine teachers, the indispensable condition of all true human power, dignity, and blessedness, is genuine reformation.

I. ITS METHOD.

1. It was effected through man. Why did the Almighty require the services of Jonah? Why did He not speak with an audible voice to the men of Nineveh Himself? Or why did He not dispatch an angel from His throne? Or still, why did He not write what He had to say to them in red flame above their heads? All we answer is, Such is not God's method with man. He makes man the organ of blessing man. This plan serves several important purposes.(1) It serves to deepen man's interest in his race.(2) It stimulates men to seek the improvement of their race. If they are to advance they must look to themselves, etc.(3) It confers signal honour on the race.(4) It shows God's wisdom and power in the race. "We have this treasure in earthen Vessels."

2. It was effected through man speaking, Jonah was sent to speak, he was "to preach unto the city." Truth spoken is the converting force. Christianity written, as compared with Christianity spoken, is as the winter to the summer sky. It may give as much light, but not as much heat; and without the summer radiance the landscapes will wither and the fountains freeze.

3. It was effected through man speaking what God said. "Preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee." Had he spoken his own thoughts, no valuable effect would have been produced. God's thoughts are the converting forces. God's thoughts are always reasonable and universally benevolent.

II. ITS DEVELOPMENT.

1. This reformation began with the intellect. "So the people of Nineveh believed God." All moral reformation begins with the intellect — the beliefs. Men must believe what God says, or no saving effect can be produced.

2. This reformation proceeded to the heart. "They put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them." As they thought upon what they heard, deep contrition seized them, etc.

3. This reformation extended to the outward life. "They turned from their evil way." They renounced their old habits of wickedness, and adopted a new and virtuous course of life. Such is ever the natural development of true reformation. Divine ideas first enter the intellect, they are believed, they pass to the heart and generate emotions, and these emotions come forth in new actions. True reformation works from the centre to the circumference, from the heart to the extremities.

III. ITS VALUE. "And God repented of the evil that He had said He would do unto them; and He did it not." Though this wonderful language is in accommodation to our modes of thought and action, it has a profound significance. It does not mean that God changed His mind towards them; — this would be impossible.

1. It is God's immutable purpose to pardon repentant sinners. When the impenitent therefore become penitent, God's conduct so far as they are concerned is changed.

(Homilist.)

Sermons by Monday Club.
In this chapter we have the prophet's second call, and what came of His obedience to it.

I. A NEW SPIRIT (vers. 1-3). In part, the command is the same as before. In part, it was unlike the first. Before it was, "Cry against it." Now it is, "Preach unto it." Here is an intimation of just that mercy against which the prophet before rebelled. Jonah implicitly obeyed it. Here was a new spirit. God had just given him needed discipline. No doubt He now gave him needed grace. It is by both that He prepares us for usefulness.

II. A FAITHFUL SERMON (ver. 4). In this sermon two things are noteworthy.

1. It was direct, simple, plain. There is no enlargement, no argument, no exhortation. There is great power in simplicity. It is God's own truth, not human additions to it, or commendations of it, which stirs the consciences and wins the hearts of men.

2. It was also alarming. It sounded just one note, and that was a note of warning. It was an unqualified announcement of coming judgment. Denunciations and threatenings alone can never win and subdue to repentance. But God's denunciations and threatenings never are alone. There was mercy, as well as justice, in the alarm which Jonah sounded. But neither the plainness nor the faithfulness of Jonah's preaching can fully account for the results which followed.

(1)Behind the message was the messenger.

(2)Our Saviour tells us that He was Himself a sign to the Ninevites.

(3)God was with the message spoken, to make it effective by the influence of His Spirit.

III. A REPENTANT CITY (vers. 5-9). Those that heard gave heed. The people seem to have moved first.

1. There was first the fasting, together with the sackcloth and ashes. What did these signify but confession of sin and grief therefor?

2. The supplication for mercy.

3. A moral change.

4. This repentance had its root in faith.

IV. JUDGMENT AVERTED (ver. 10). How widespread and deep the work was we cannot tell.

(Sermons by Monday Club.)

The purpose of God unfolds itself gradually in the course of His providence; and when we see the end from the beginning, we see that it is a purpose of grace. He wished to save the men of Nineveh. and the only way of salvation with God was repentance unto life. The history of their repentance is therefore the revelation of God's purpose of grace in the salvation of sinners. God renewed His commission to Jonah, but He does not upbraid the prophet with his former refusal. All that is required is the doing of duty. That is the fruit meet for repentance. If there be any difference between this call and the former, it is that the terms of the second are more absolute and less definite. Jonah now yielded to the Spirit of the Lord. He went "according to the Word of the Lord." That was all the difference between Jonah a sinner and Jonah a saint, between the old man and the new. The old resists the Spirit and yields to the flesh; the new resists the flesh and yields to the Spirit. God's will, not his own nor man's, was now the law of Jonah's life. The Lord said "Go"; go therefore he must, go in spite of the world, go in spite of self, go whatever should be his fate or his reception at Nineveh. All the ancients speak of Nineveh as an exceeding great city. It must have been a sublime spectacle, to see this single man going from one end to another of this great heathen city, and at every step, or at every street, repeating the same awful message of God. The terms of the prophecy were most absolute. No proof was offered of the prophet's divine commission. No call to repentance was addressed to their consciences. No promise was made, or hope held out. The people believed God, and the immediate effect of their faith was repentance. They proclaimed a national and universal fast. They thus humbled themselves as sinners before God. In so doing they obeyed the voice of conscience. By the joint authority of the king and his government a proclamation was issued for public fasting, prayer, and penitence on the part of the people. While they cast themselves on God's mercy, they were to turn "every one from his evil way, and from the violence that was in their hands." Their faith was but a peradventure; their hope was in God's mercy. And God repented when they repented. He did not change His purpose, He only changed His method of outworking His purpose. His are purposes of grace, even when they seem to be nothing but proclamations of wrath to the uttermost. They are given for the very purpose of bringing the sinner to salvation by bringing him to repentance. Why is there no such humiliation before God on account of sin, personal and national, nowadays?

1. Because there are few like Jonah to preach repentance: if they are called to preach, to be God's witnesses, in whatever place or way or walk of life, they are called to testify against the world that has not come to repentance.

2. Because the message of God is not seen to be a matter of fact as personal, and to those who are sinners like the men of Nineveh as terrible as that of Jonah to Nineveh.

3. Because God's purpose of grace revealed in the Gospel is little realised in its fulness and freeness of grace. Two things in relation to salvation which this history sets in the clearest light.(1) Repentance is the fruit of faith, not the root. The men of Nineveh "believed God," and therefore they repented. So must all sinners.(2) Faith in God, when it is living and genuine, ever works by such repentance, where there is such sin, personal or national. Faith brings the sinner to God, as a man who must bear his own burden, and answer to God for his own personal guilt.

(N. Paisley.)

God had delivered Jonah; but God's pardoning mercy was no plea for negligence of duty. The Lord requires Jonah to consider again the message with which he was originally charged. God will have His people obey His will instantly, unreservedly, and with a full desire to carry it out in all things.

I. THE SUBSTANCE OF THE MESSAGE WHICH JONAH WAS BIDDEN TO DELIVER. He has to proclaim that destruction is nigh at hand, that evil awaits the city, and that this evil is the immediate act of God. Second causes there may be, but they are only second. Most people talk in their time of trouble about God being "all-merciful." It is true, but He is also holy and faithful and just. Men speak of God's mercy as if it were to set aside God's truth.

II. THE CONDUCT OF THE NINEVITES. They acknowledged that the message must have come from the Lord. External signs of repentance were used, anal external signs are useful when they express internal feeling. Here we find that these outward signs were to be accompanied by prayer for pardon and for the averting of judgments, and also by cessation from sin.

III. THE MERCY OF THE LORD. He is indeed more ready to forgive than to punish. Though there are fearful threatenings spoken in God's Word against the impenitent, there are full and free offers of mercy and pardon to every soul that turns from his wickedness and believes in Jesus.

(Montagu Villiers, M. A.)

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