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that is with God himself. He in whom all fouls delight; he in the enjoyment of whom we have heartsease and satisfaction, and whom to enjoy is happiness and eternal life : the light of whose countenance is better than life itself. Now Jonah is offended with God himself.
2. The cause of his offence. He is offended with God's goodness, he is offended with finners repentance ; he is offended that repentante doth take effect. Was ever a man offended in this manner ? behold here the infirmity of human nature ! let no man be self-confident or presumptuous : let every man's mind be cloathed with modesty, and dwell in humility. Let us all fear ourselves, and live in the sense of our dependance upon God. What prodigious creatures we are, if we fall into distemper ? how monstrously may we misunderstand ourselves ? and this is not only manifest from the case of Jonah, but is universally acknowledged. St. James speaks of Elias, that extraordinary person, Jam. v. 17. That be was a man subject to like passions with other men. And so, Aets xiv. 15. Paul and Barnabas, when in the exercise of their commiffion, so behaved themselves, that the people were ready to deify them: but they acknowledged themselves to be men of like pasions with them.
Since then all is not true reason that takes place in the lives of the very best of us, it is to be wished that we would be no where peremptory, no where self-pleasers, that we would not be dogmatical and felf-assuming ; that we would not judge and censure one another ; that all our paffions would display VOL. I.
themselves in tenderness and compassion. In so doing we should represent God himself. Psal. ciii. 8. The Lord is merciful and gracious, now to anger, &c• Isa. xlix. 15. As a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.
See then that you keep out of passion, if you would not shamefully miscarry; and if you be in a passion, never believe yourselves, or be confident of thing you did, if not in calm reason. If in passion, review and examine ; and when calm, consider and rectify that which you did amifs : you fee you have reason from the miscarriage of Jonah. 'Tis strange that a man should be angryand displeased with God; yet thus far did his paffion draw him. Let us from hence know how frail and subject to infirmity we
That ever it should come into the head of a man to be aggrieved that there is place for repentance ! and that God should pardon upon repentance ! and that God should give over to punish when men repent ! one would think, we should be merciful for our own fakes. Was not David rash in judgment when Nathan represented in a parable what he himself had done ? he passed a sentence that he would not have had executed. not forsake our owa mercies, and pass judgment upon ourselves, let us be very cautious and deliberate, and easy to make candid constructions of other mens actions.
Then how unreasonable is it to be aggrieved at God's goodness, at finners repentance ? If a man be once out of the use of reason, there is no bounds to unreasonableness ; once out of the way of reason, who knows what will be; or how far a man
That we may
will go ? how desperate a thing it is in Jonah, that he would have this stand upon record in holy scripture, that God did refuse to give finners repentance, and when they had repented, he did refuse to accept them ; and yet this Yonah would have had upon record, clean contrary to the dealings of God. For we find when Ahab (who was a person that had sold himself to do wickedness) did but repent and humble himself, God promiseth, that the evil jould not come in his days ; but by Jonah's consent, God should not give way to repentance.
But you will ask, wherefore do I blemish the reputation of a prophet, of a type of Christ ?
I answer, whatsoever is upon record in the scripture, is for our admonition : we look
him now, how he acts in his distemper, not to cry him down, but, by his loss, to give ourselves advantage.
1. Let us in this instance, see our own weakness and infirmity, and be modest and humble. Let us not brag of our own reason and wisdom. Let us all know, that we are safe only in God's hands ; and that if we incur a forfeiture of God's protection, we may extremely miscarry ; as we may see in this instance of Jonah.
2. Let us preserve our innocence, and fear to fall into passion, beware of running into such heat and diftemper of mind.
3. Take care of selfishness and narrowness of spirit: the narrowness of "Jonah's mind, who so much valued his credit of being a true prophet, that the safety of so many thousands seemed nothing in his eye ; though herein he contradicted the very nature
of God, and his own knowledge : for, faith he, 1 knew that thou wert gracious, &c. And also, it was contrary to the express declarations that God had made, that though he should denounce against finners, and commissionate a prophet to declare the particular judgment ; yet he is not bound to bring the judgment upon that place or persons against whom he had denounced them, if the case of repentance interveen,
The PERFECTION of the MERCY of God.
JOEL ii. 13. For he is gracious and merciful, flow to anger, and of
grcat kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
LTHOUGH I have changed my text, I
it for this end : in fonah we find the self same words, but to a very unnatural use ; by these words Jonah would justify himself. I therefore purposely left that prophet, because I would not further inquire into his distemper ; though it is of great use, that Jonah reports thus of God, who would not have it so. The advantages that I have made, are these.
1. That by taking notice of the miscarriage of so eminent a person, that he should so fail and miscar, ry, we may thereby fee the frailty of human nature; and this should teach us to be modest and humble, and to live in a daily sense of our dependence upon God. Moses, the meekest man upon earth, stands upon record, that he spake unadvisedly with his lips.
2. Jonah's distemper represents to you the danger of paffion; how Jonah misbehaves himself to God, how injurious and uncharitable to man, when in a pafsion ! It is not safe for any man to believe himfelf, or to trust himself, if in a heat. Beware then of running into heat and distemper of minda
The third advantage that I make is, to recommend the spirit of the gospel ; it is always to be found in a spirit of love. Our Saviour, living and dying, was always in a fpirit of love ; and the first martyr St. Stephen, he exactly writes after his copy, Aets vii. 60. And he cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this fin to their charge. Wherein he doth much exceed the testimony in the Old Testament, by Zachariah, who faith, The Lord require it at their hands. I cannot say, but Zachariah's prayer was just ; but St. Stephen's was gracious. These things are u
record for our instruction ; therefore we are to take notice of them to make us . wary, left we our selves be overtaken; and to make us tender-spirited out of the sense of our own fallibility..
This for a reason why I take. notice of Jonah's misbehaviour.
I now, follow this prophet, For he is gracious and merciful &c.