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ten righteous souls vexed with the And all was the result of faith, Who filthy conversation of the wicked. can calculate the importance of that But while all were agreed in wicked- word which follows Jonah's preachness, and all pursuing their own ways ing—“So the people believed God.” -the idolaters crowding to their As His prophet had spoken, as the temple feast, the merchants to their simple message declared, so they begainful traffic, the pleasure seekers lieved. Here are no subterfuges, no to their sensual indulgences—one excuses, no hesitatings—"So they solitary man enters by one of the believed;" and they received it not as city gates, and anon his voice is heard, the word of a man, but as the word and one short sentence is uttered by of Jehovah—“They believed God." his lips, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh And thence sprang all the fruits of shall be overthrown.' And now the faith, humblings, fastings, turning passers-by stop their hurried course, from sin to holiness—and this both and the enquiry is sounded from one individually and nationally. What a to another, Who is this ? and some, sight must this hitherto luxurious perhaps, bid him to be silent, while city have presented ! “In that day some in mockery would have him cry did the Lord God of Hosts call to on, or yet cry louder-but others have weeping, and to mourning, and to heard of that great marvel from a baldness, and to girding with sackdistant shore, that a Hebrew-one cloth.” (Is. xxii. 12.) And instead supposed to be a prophet of Jeho- of a girdle was a rent; and instead vah—had been cast from the ship of well-set hair baldness; and instead into the sea, and after three days of a stomacher a girding of sackwas seen alive, and declared he had cloth; and burning instead of beauty.” spent these hours in a living grave, (Is. iii. 24.) For the Lord had sent deep in the bowels of the ocean. And such a sound into the streets of the then came others yet telling, this is city, and such a trembling into the he—which he himself confirmed. hearts of all men, from the king to the And now what struggling and trem- peasant, that their “feasts were turned bling—what stirrings of fear-what into mourning, and their songs into convictions rush into the minds of the lamentation, as the mourning of an multitude, that this man's God must only son.” (Amos viii. 10.) For be Jehovah! For who else could “who can tell if God will turn and raise the tempest, detect the culprit, repent, and turn away from his fierce convert the heathen sailors, and de- anger that we perish not ?” liver his erring servant from his grave
Åh! Christian reader, and do you in the whale's belly? And now he not know the meaning of those few stands amongst them, “Jonas is a words, “Who can tell ?” Have you sign to the Ninevites.” They hear, ever, burdened and sick at heart receive, believe, and having seen that under a sense of sin, sought unto your in judgment God remembers mercy, God crying out, If I perish I will and spares even while he scourges, perish at the foot of the cross, for they are encouraged to perceive for- who can tell” whether the Lord bearance in the message by the risen will not accept even me, that I perish prophet, they mark that there is a not? Are you a parent, and have you pause before the threatened over- ever watched some poor prodigal throw, and “they turn every one child, following him with your tears from his evil way, and from the vio- and prayers from shore to shore? lence that is in their hands," for, say What has kept your hope alive, but they, “ Who can tell if God will turn the thought Es Who can tell” if the and repent, and turn away from his Lord may not even yet meet and fierce anger, that we perish not?” bless my wayward child? Have you, If we have read with interest of the during anxious days and sleepless conversion of the sailors, and of the nights, watched beside the sick bed change of mind in Jonah, what will of a beloved friend or relative? What be the kindling of our hearts, while has sustained your spirit, and encouwe meditate for a moment upon the raged yourall butfainting hope? Have royal mandate of the King of Nineveh. you not tried every suggested remedy,
with the feeling for “Who can tell" ner, look at Nineveh, and lift up your but this may bring the cure? head, for your redemption draweth
If, then, you can realize this prop nigh. God sent them his buried, to, sinking hopes, oh, look at the but living prophet — they believed million of precious souls in Nineveh and were saved. God has not spared -see them with downcast eye and his only Son, but delivered him up bended knee, tracing out a ray of for you. He has raised Him from mercy in the respite of forty days, the dead, that your faith and hope and hear them sobbing forth the hope might be in God. And now he is exto which the heart yet clings—“Who alted as a Prince and a Saviour to can tell, if God will turn and repent, give repentance and remission of sins and turn away from his fierce anger, to poor Ninevite sinners, yea, the that we perish not?”
chief. “I am he that liveth and was Reader, is God less gracious than dead; and, behold, I am alive for everhis creatures dare to hope? Some more.” (Rev. i. 18.) “And, behold, might say he is, and that his ministers I come quickly; and my reward is declare that many who hope for mercy with me, to give every man according do not, will not find it. But how is as his work shall be.” (Rev. xxii. 12.) this? “ The soul of the sluggard Oh! may the heathens in Nineveh desireth and hath nothing." (Prov. not rise up in judgment against Chrisxiii. 4.) “The expectation of the tian Gentiles, but may all who shall wicked shall perish.” (Prov. x. 28.) read these few observations acknowBut was it thus with the Ninevites? ledge as their own blessed experience, Did they hold their sins in one hand, "They repented at the preaching of and try to grasp mercy in the other? Jonas, and behold a greater than Did they employ one hand to draw Jonas is here.” in the cord of vanity, and the cart The story of Jonah affords a proof rope of sin-(Is. v. 18.)—and think of that saying, a bad man could not to be drawn with cords of love to have written the Bible, and a good pardon and salvation with the other man would not. For if a godly man hand ? They had not so learned the had been asked to narrate the story character and purposes of the true of Jonah, would he not, in all probaGod. “God saw their works, that they bility, have closed his tale where we turned from their evil way.” And last left the prophet? Penitent, hum
“ an acceptable day to the bled, experienced, and so honoured Lord. Is not this the fast that I have of his heavenly master, that at the chosen ? to loose the bands of wicked- delivery of his message the king and ness, to undo the heavy burdens, and the people, as with one heart and olie to let the oppressed go free, and that voice, bowed down before the true ye break every yoke? Then shall God, and sought him as their Lord thy light break forth as the morning, and Master. But the Bible is truth. and thine health shall spring forth It not only tells us a part of the truth, speedily: and thy righteousness shall but the whole truth. And what congo before thee; the glory of the Lord fidence and encouragement does the shall be thy rereward.” (Is. lviii. 6, 8.) child of God draw, from seeing in “ And God repented of the evil that he Scripture the long-suffering of Jehad said that he would do unto them, hovah towards his rebellious, backand he did it not.” For “ have I any sliding servants. He finds the Lord's pleasure at all that the wicked should people have ever experienced the same die ? saith the Lord God : and not temptations to which he is prone to that he should return from his ways, yield, and each and all have had to and live? I have no pleasure in the say with tears, “I have gone astray death of him that dieth, saith the like a lost sheep; seek thy servant.' Lord God.” (Ezek. xviii. 23, 32.) (Ps. cxix. 176.) Here, then, is warning and encou- Where the grace of God enters a ragement to the chief of sinners. man's heart, it brings in new prin
Pleasure - loving, God - forgetting ciples, new motives, new desires, new sinner, look at Nineveh and tremble. fears. But the old man is just what Trembling, mourning, penitent sin- it was before. The man who is by
nature timid and fearing may have the gourd.” And here he “sat” in grace to go boldly through persecu- pride of heart, with curious interest, tion for Christ's sake, but the timidity “to see what would become of the of his character is not changed. And city.” But he that exalteth himself while from a sense of duty, and con- shall be abased, and only them that strained by love to his Master, he honour God will he honour. Many would meet the sorest danger, yet, may say (as was once said to the in some trifling incident in his life, he writer of these lines, by one who prowould tremble and fear, even as here- fessed himself an infidel,) “What tofore. Hence the incessant need of more can we want? we come into no watchfulness and self-distrust; and misfortune like other men, we have hence, too, the conflict in the believer, more than heart can wish." Yet the “I delight in the law of God after
poor godless man may be exceeding the inward man, but I see another glad of the gifts of a bountiful God, law in my members warring against whose love he knows not, whose hand the law of my mind, and bringing he marks not! “ These are the unme into captivity to the law of sin, godly who prosper in the world, they which is in my members.” (Rom. increase in riches.” But if Jonah is vii. 23.) Jonah was by nature a self- throngh all his rebellings, through ish man.
He was more anxious for all his self-indulgence, yet a child, he his own credit as a prophet, than for shall be chastened and scourged-his the salvation of souls. He cared sin shall bring its punishment, and his more for man's estimation of himself own self-love shall be his monitor. And and of his office, than for God's ap- while he is angry for the withering of proval. He preferred his own exalta- his gourd, which was not his own, tion to his master's glory—his own for which he “laboured not, neither present ease to the eternal blessedness made it to grow, which came up in a of his fellow-sinners. Therefore,” night, and perished in a night,” God he says, “I fled before unto Tarshish: will shew him, how much more He, for I knew that thou art a gracious the former, the preserver, the upGod, and merciful, slow to anger, and holder of the multitudes in Nineveh, of great kindness, and repentest thee
spare that great city,” and of the evil.”
not only the men, women, and chil“A double-minded man is unstable dren, but even “ the much cattle" in all his ways.” At one moment also, whose lives were of more value Jonah is praying, at another moment in their Maker's sight than the green murmuring-asking for deliverance, weed which grew up in a night and then crying,
“O Lord, take, I be- perished in a night over the prophet's seech thee, my life from me, for it is head. better for me to die than to live.” Reader, the story of Jonah is comOne day preaching in the streets of pleted, and how affecting, are the the city, the next day “he went out lessons which are spread before us of the city, and there made him a in this short portion of sacred Scripbooth.” Only in one point is there ture. consistency in poor, wayward Jonah 1st, Seek to know God.
- his love of ease. And by this his 2nd, Seek to know yourself. besetting sin, the God of all grace Who is the God you profess to serve ? would, in his providence, teach his Can you hold the credentials of his rebellious servant. “The Lord God service in one hand, and the friendprepared a gourd, and made it to ship of the world in the other ? Can come up over Jonah, that it might be
His religion, and lay it a shadow over his head, to deliver aside when you please? Can you him from his grief.” Yes, He who obey his voice, or disobey, as may suit knew what was in man, knew well, you, and yet have his favour, and that a little bodily ease, a little proof reckon yourself his servant? Ah! my of favour, a little mark that he was fellow-sinner, be not deceived ! for owned and honoured as a prophet, though Satan may
deceive would gratify this self-loving man, though your neighbours may “speak “So Jonah was exceeding glad of with flattering lips, and with a double
He will spare
heart," though you may try to hide
and take courageyour sin and unfaithfulness by con- you as a man spareth his own son cealing it beneath the mask of Chris- that serveth him." tian liberty, and perhaps even arraign 2nd, Seek to know yourself. the providential dealings of your What were you by nature ? An God, as if the present were not the enemy to God till called by his grace. time nor the place for professing his What are you by grace ? Like name, yet be sure your sin shall find Jonah, you have learnt that you are you out, and you shall have to learn a helpless, dependant creature, weak the character of Him who has called and wayward, with a deceitful and a you, while his waves and his billows deceiving heartcompass you about.
“ Be not de
“ Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, ceived, God is not mocked.” His Prone to leave the God I love, eyes behold, his eyelids try the chil- Here's my heart, O take and seal it, dren of men.” « God is a Spirit,
Seal it from thy courts above." and they that worship him, must Reader, may yourexperience be that worship him in spirit and in truth." which I have lately witnessed in a dying And poor, mourning, weeping, peni- believer. When first brought to God, tent, heart-stricken believer, does your fifteen years ago, her most earnest spirit tell you that you are thus wor- wish was to be emptied of self. On shipping your God? Then read the her death bed, a few days since, her character of your pardoning God, blessed experience was " complete in sparing even the cattle of Nineveh, Him.”
IMMORAL WORKS OF FICTION.
It may appear that the subject proposed to be treated in this article is out of place in this Magazine. In a journal intended for Christian rea 's, and appealing to Christian sympathies, a deprecation of immoral works of fiction may be thought superfluous, since to minds really imbued with evangelical principles such books must necessarily be rejected with contempt or abhorrence. But as it is part of the plan of this periodical occasionally to address the young, and as it is the duty of every public writer, however humble, to lift an indignant voice against whatever has a tendency to deteriorate the national morals, we have thought a few observations on this subject, might properly be introduced into these
pages. We are by no means disposed to indulge in a sweeping censure of everything in the shape of fictitious narrative; for, by so doing, we should be declaiming against some of the noblest productions of literary art. The line between right and wrong in this case, is not so very difficult to be fixed, as it may at first appear. The “ Paradise Lost” is undoubtedly a work of fiction; but can any one imagine that its effects on the reader's mind are at all similar to those produced by some modern novels, whose pages teem with frivolity and sensuality, and whose scenes alternate between the inanities of fashionable life and the excesses of low brutality?
That works of fiction should have so great an attraction for ordinary readers, may arise from the very nature of our moral constitution. Linked to our fellows by the mysterious laws of association, we cannot but feel deeply interested in the thoughts and deeds of beings of like passions with ourselves. When we read of persons brought into difficulties amid which we ourselves have struggled, or with which we, as partakers of the common lot, are threatened, we eagerly pursue the course of the narrative, to learn how they were escaped or overcome. Hence, the mere abstract statement of truth does not, generally speaking, make
that deep impression on the mind which arises from its exhibition in a personified form ; and thus we find that parables have in all ages
been used as a means of instruction. As in the case of David, a man may often see in another the heinousness of a crime which his own passions prevent him from seeing in himself. But so great is our power of self-deception, that we often cannot be brought to make the application, unless there be some interpreter at hand to declare, “ Thou art the man!” and it may therefore be doubted whether in ordinary cases much effect is produced in the conscience by fictions which cannot be made to have an individual application. For this reason we think that authentic biographies are the safer guides in the perplexities of life; for we have here all the interest of fiction without its falsehood, and the deductions drawn from the facts may be relied on as being the result of actual experience.*
When, therefore, works of fiction appeal only to the curiosity, that lively and restless sentiment ever craving for indulgence, it seems to us that their utility in this respect ceases : for we cannot think it worthy of a rational and thoughtful being to occupy himself in tracing the progress of a narrative which, having lured him through volume after volume, without repaying his toil by one ennobling sentiment, or one scene having a real tendency to purify the heart, leaves him at last with a consciousness of having wasted time that might have been better employed than in threading mazes which return upon themselves, than in lifting veils which conceal nothing worth seeing.
But when works of this kind not only fail to urge to virtue, but absolutely teach vice, their mischievous
* We will just mention a few cheap books of religious biography which at this moment occur to us, equal to romances in interest :-the lives of Colonel Gardiner, David Brainerd, Henry Martyn, and Claudius Buchanan, with the autobiographies of Bunyan, John Newton, Henry Stilling, Christian Godfrey Assa mann, and Thomas Platter.