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 didwrong. (5-11)1-4 What all the saints make matter of joy and praise, Jonahmakes the subject of reflection upon God; as if showing mercywere an imperfection of the Divine nature, which is the greatestglory of it. It is to his sparing, pardoning mercy, we all oweit that we are out of hell. He wishes for death: this was thelanguage of folly, passion, and strong corruption. Thereappeared in Jonah remains of a proud, uncharitable spirit; andthat he neither expected nor desired the welfare of theNinevites, but had only come to declare and witness theirdestruction. He was not duly humbled for his own sins, and wasnot willing to trust the Lord with his credit and safety. Inthis frame of mind, he overlooked the good of which he had beenan instrument, and the glory of the Divine mercy. We shouldoften ask ourselves, Is it well to say thus, to do thus? Can Ijustify it? Do I well to be so soon angry, so often angry, solong angry, and to give others ill language in my anger? Do Iwell to be angry at the mercy of God to repenting sinners? Thatwas Jonah's crime. Do we do well to be angry at that which isfor the glory of God, and the advancement of his kingdom? Letthe conversion of sinners, which is the joy of heaven, be ourjoy, and never our grief. 5-11 Jonah went out of the city, yet remained near at hand, asif he expected and desired its overthrow. Those who havefretful, uneasy spirits, often make troubles for themselves,that they may still have something to complain of. See howtender God is of his people in their afflictions, even thoughthey are foolish and froward. A thing small in itself, yetcoming seasonably, may be a valuable blessing. A gourd in theright place may do us more service than a cedar. The leastcreatures may be great plagues, or great comforts, as God ispleased to make them. Persons of strong passions are apt to becast down with any trifle that crosses them, or to be lifted upwith a trifle that pleases them. See what our creature-comfortsare, and what we may expect them to be; they are witheringthings. A small worm at the root destroys a large gourd: ourgourds wither, and we know not what is the cause. Perhapscreature-comforts are continued to us, but are made bitter; thecreature is continued, but the comfort is gone. God prepared awind to make Jonah feel the want of the gourd. It is just thatthose who love to complain, should never be left withoutsomething to complain of. When afflicting providences take awayrelations, possessions, and enjoyments, we must not be angry atGod. What should especially silence discontent, is, that whenour gourd is gone, our God is not gone. Sin and death are verydreadful, yet Jonah, in his heat, makes light of both. One soulis of more value than the whole world; surely then one soul isof more value than many gourds: we should have more concern forour own and others' precious souls, than for the riches andenjoyments of this world. It is a great encouragement to hope weshall find mercy with the Lord, that he is ready to show mercy.And murmurers shall be made to understand, that how willingsoever they are to keep the Divine grace to themselves and thoseof their own way, there is one Lord over all, who is rich inmercy to all that call upon him. Do we wonder at the forbearanceof God towards his perverse servant? Let us study our own heartsand 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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