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December 4, 1745,
On Occasion of the Present
( Price Sixpence.)
Jonah iii. 8, 9. But let Man and Beast be covered with Sack
cloth, and cry mightily unto God; gea let them turn every one from his evil Way, and from the Violence that is in their Hands. Wbo can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce Anger, that we pea risa not?
· TONAH is reckoned to have prophesied in
the Reign of Jehoahaz *, the Son of Jehu
King of Israel, when Idolatry, with all its concomitant Crimes; greatly prevailed. At first, it is likely, he exercised his Office among the People of Israel, but as, like others of the Prophets in other Reigns, he met with little or no Success, it pleased God to send him with a Message to another People.
The Word of the Lord came unto Jonah saya ing, Arise, go to Nineveh that great City, and cry against it, for their Wickedness is come up before me, c. i. v. 1. Nineveh was the Metropolis of the Assyrian Kingdom, one of the first cities that were built after the Flood, founded, as is thought, by Nimrod, and perhaps afterwards enlarged by Ninus, from whom it might * 2 Kings xiv. 25.
have its Name, so that it was now of about 1400 Years standing; and, as it might be reckoned one of the first, seems now. to have been the greatest City in the World, much larger than Babylon, for which Reason it is here stiled by God, that great City, or as it is in the Original, that City of God. In
And as it is usual with great and opulent Cities, through a long Continuance of Profperity and Ease, to sink into Vice, and grow more and more corrupt in their Minds and Manners, the Iniquities of the Ninevites were become so heinous and open, that they are here said to come up before God, that is, not now first seen and observed, for he had done that all along, but now come to such an enormous Height, that unless reformed, it was no longer consistent with the Methods and Ends of his wise Government, to let them so unpunished,
It may be inquired by fome, why God fhould fend a Prophet with a Message to such a wicked idolatrous and distant City, so many hundred Miles from the Land of Israel? But besides the Regard which he might herein have had to the Men of Nineveh, and the Intention to fhow, that tho' he had particular Care of the fewish Nation, he was not without Care of the Gentile World, it might be designed also to work a good Effect upon the People of the Yews. For if the Ninevites had rejected the Message of Yonab, and incurred the De
struction he was commissioned to threaten, the Yews would have had an illustrious Example of the Vengeance of God against Idolatry and Vice, by which to take a Warning; and if the Ninevites Thould hearken and repent, he might design to upbraid the Stubbornness of his People, and shame them, as it were, into Repentance, by their Example; and the Greatness of the City, and the Greatness of their Wickedness, render'd them the more effectual Instruments of that End. i.
Some may be apt to wonder, that such a wicked and idolatrous City, both King and People, should fo foon be moved to Repentance by a Prophet who came to them with a Message from a God whom they did not worThip or acknowledge as theirs. But there is little room for it, if we consider that their Distance was not so great but that the Fame of the Works of the God of Israel must probably have reached them; and that they could not, so soon as they were put upon reflecting, but read the Danger they were in of Punishment, in the Consciousness of Guilt which they felt in themselves, and the Justnefs of the Threatning that the Prophet brought them : tho' they had neither a clear and distinct Idea of, nor entertained any Reverence for the Deity from whom it came, And this lets us see how the Dispenfation of God to the Jews was actually of Service, as it was no doubt