Jonah 4

* Jonah repines at God's mercy to Nineveh, and is reproved.

(1-4) He is taught by the withering of a gourd, that he did

wrong. (5-11)

1-4 What all the saints make matter of joy and praise, Jonah

makes the subject of reflection upon God; as if showing mercy

were an imperfection of the Divine nature, which is the greatest

glory of it. It is to his sparing, pardoning mercy, we all owe

it that we are out of hell. He wishes for death: this was the

language of folly, passion, and strong corruption. There

appeared in Jonah remains of a proud, uncharitable spirit; and

that he neither expected nor desired the welfare of the

Ninevites, but had only come to declare and witness their

destruction. He was not duly humbled for his own sins, and was

not willing to trust the Lord with his credit and safety. In

this frame of mind, he overlooked the good of which he had been

an instrument, and the glory of the Divine mercy. We should

often ask ourselves, Is it well to say thus, to do thus? Can I

justify it? Do I well to be so soon angry, so often angry, so

long angry, and to give others ill language in my anger? Do I

well to be angry at the mercy of God to repenting sinners? That

was Jonah's crime. Do we do well to be angry at that which is

for the glory of God, and the advancement of his kingdom? Let

the conversion of sinners, which is the joy of heaven, be our

joy, and never our grief.
5-11 Jonah went out of the city, yet remained near at hand, as

if he expected and desired its overthrow. Those who have

fretful, uneasy spirits, often make troubles for themselves,

that they may still have something to complain of. See how

tender God is of his people in their afflictions, even though

they are foolish and froward. A thing small in itself, yet

coming seasonably, may be a valuable blessing. A gourd in the

right place may do us more service than a cedar. The least

creatures may be great plagues, or great comforts, as God is

pleased to make them. Persons of strong passions are apt to be

cast down with any trifle that crosses them, or to be lifted up

with a trifle that pleases them. See what our creature-comforts

are, and what we may expect them to be; they are withering

things. A small worm at the root destroys a large gourd: our

gourds wither, and we know not what is the cause. Perhaps

creature-comforts are continued to us, but are made bitter; the

creature is continued, but the comfort is gone. God prepared a

wind to make Jonah feel the want of the gourd. It is just that

those who love to complain, should never be left without

something to complain of. When afflicting providences take away

relations, possessions, and enjoyments, we must not be angry at

God. What should especially silence discontent, is, that when

our gourd is gone, our God is not gone. Sin and death are very

dreadful, yet Jonah, in his heat, makes light of both. One soul

is of more value than the whole world; surely then one soul is

of more value than many gourds: we should have more concern for

our own and others' precious souls, than for the riches and

enjoyments of this world. It is a great encouragement to hope we

shall find mercy with the Lord, that he is ready to show mercy.

And murmurers shall be made to understand, that how willing

soever they are to keep the Divine grace to themselves and those

of their own way, there is one Lord over all, who is rich in

mercy to all that call upon him. Do we wonder at the forbearance

of God towards his perverse servant? Let us study our own hearts

and ways; let us not forget our own ingratitude and obstinacy;

and let us be astonished at God's patience towards us.

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