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that is with God himself. He in whom all fouls deJight; he in the enjoyment of whom we have heartsexse 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 repentance 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 fenfe of our dependance upon God.
God. What prodigious creatures we are, if we fall into distemper? how monstrously may we misunderstand ourselves? and this is not only manifeft from the case of Yonah, but is universally acknowledged. St. James speaks of Elias, that extraordinary person, Jam. v. 17. That the was a man subject to like pafrons with other men. And so,dets 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 themfelves to be men of like passions with them.
Since then all is not true reafon 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 to do ing we should reprefent God himself. Pfal. ciii. 8. The Lord is merciful and gracious, flow to anger, '&cIfa. xlix. 15. As a father pitieth his children, fo the Lord pitieth them that fear him.
i See then that you keep out of passion, if you would not fhamefully miscarry; and if you be in a paffion, never believe yourselves, torbe confident of any thing you did, if not in calin reason. If in paflion, review and examine; and when calm, confider and rectify that which you did amils : you see you have reason from the miscarriage of fforah'Tis ftrange that a man should be angry and displeased with God; yet thus far did his passion draw himn. Let us from hence know how frail and subject to infirmity we are.
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 paffed a fentence that he would not have had executed. That we may not forsake our own-mercies, and pass judgment upon ourselves, let us be very cautious and deliberate, and eafy to make candid constructions of other mens actions. Then hówlunreafonable 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 ; önce out of the way of rcafon, who knows what will be, or how far a man
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 Jonah 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 hould 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 upon 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 fee in this instance of Jonah.
2. Let us preserve our innocence, and fear to fall into passion, beware of running into such heat and distemper of mind.
3. Take care of selfismess and narrowness of fpi- ! rit : the narrowness of fonah's mind, who fo 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, T knew that thou wert gracious, &c. And allo, 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 PERPECTION of the MERCY of God.
JOEL ii. 13., For he is gracious and merciful, now to anger, and of
great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
1 have left
my argument ;. and I have done it for this end : in Jonah we find the self same words, but to a very unnatural use; by these words Fonah 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 fo. The advantages that I have made, are these.
1. That by taking notice of the miscarriage of so eminent a person, that he should fo fail and miscar, ry, we may thereby see 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. fonah's distemper represents to you the danger of pasfion ; how Jonab misbehaves himself to God, how injurious and uncharitable to man, when in a passion ! It is not safe for any man to believe himself, or to trust himself, if in a heat. Beware then of running into heat and distemper of mind.
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 spirit 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 saith, 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 upon 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.