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of the sea, he remained there three days and three nights, and was kept from corruption. So our Lord was three days and three nights in the heart of the earth ; nor did he see corruption; but after three days, as Jonah returned to this world, so did our Lord also return from the
grave. E. What did Jonah do, mamma, when he found himself on dry land again?
M. He offered up a song of grateful thanksgivings to the Almighty who had corrected him only for a season, but had not given him over unto death, but preserved him alive in the most extraordinary manner in the depths of the ocean. We will turn to his song, Edward, in the book of Jonah, and read it together. There you will see that even while imprisoned in the body of the whale, Jonah continued to hope in God's mercy, and that from that dark and terrible prison his prayers ascended to God, and were heard in heaven, his dwelling-place. “ When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord; and my prayer came in unto thee, unto thine holy temple.” His song of praise also gives us some idea of the sufferings he must have endured after he was cast into the sea. Listen to his affecting words. hadst cast me into the deep in the midst of the seas; the floods compassed me about, all thy billows and thy waves passed over me: the waters compassed me about even to the soul; the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. I went down to the bottoms of the waters; the earth with her bars was about me for ever. Yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord, my God.”
E. Mamma, I think the history of Jonah is a very beautiful one. I want very much to know whether he obeyed God about going to Nineveh after he was brought up from the sea?
M. Next Sunday, my love, I hope to tell you all that remains of this interesting story; it would keep us too late if we were to go on with it to-night. Think, however, of what you have heard, that you may be able to give good answers to all the questions I shall ask you when you come to me again.
THIRTY-FIRST SUNDAY EVENING.
JONAH PREACHING TO THE NINEVITES.
E. Now, dear mamma, will you go on with your account of the prophet Jonah ; did he make haste to go to Nineveh, when he found himself on dry ground again?
M. Yes, my love, the word of the Lord came to him again the second time, saying, “ Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.” Then Jonah hesitated no longer, but went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord, though still it appears much against his will. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey, that is, it took three days to walk round it, for it is said to have been about sixty miles in compass.
No doubt the inbabitants of such a city were very numerous, and we have heard already of their exceeding great wickedness. Well,
into this vast city Jonah entered, and when he had gone one day's journey into it, he began to cry aloud and say, “ Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be destroyed.” What a dreadful sound must this have been to all who dwelt within its walls ! that in the short space of forty days this, their great and beautiful city, was to be destroyed; all its magnificent buildings and palaces, all its innumerable dwellings would be no more; and they, whither should they flee? How should they escape the wrath of the Almighty ?
E. But did they believe the words of the prophet, mamma?
M. Yes, my love, they believed God, and listened to the message which he had sent them. They had, perhaps, heard of the wonders God had wrought amongst his own people, and of the terrible judgments he had brought upon them, when they had provoked him in their wickedness; they must have felt, too, how very great their guilt had been, and that they fully deserved the awful sentence which was now pronounced against them. Instead, therefore, of mocking the words of the prophet, they wisely laid them to heart, and humbled themselves to the very dust before the Almighty; they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them, even to the least of them; for the king of Nineveh, when he was told the words of Jonah, came down from his throne, and laid aside his royal robes, and clothed himself with sackcloth, and sat in dust and ashes. He also sent an order round the city, saying, “ Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing; let them not feed nor drink water; but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily
unto God; yea, let them turn every man from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands; for who can tell, said the king, but that God may turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not."
E. Ah, mamma, I suppose he had heard how often God had forgiven his own people when they repented?
M. It is very probable that the sound of God's mercy might have reached the ears of the king of Nineveh, no less than of his terrors; perhaps even Jonah might have told him of God's goodness towards himself. But, however this may be, the king and his people did most certainly repent at the preaching of Jonah; and God, who waiteth to be gracious, saw how they turned from their evil ways, and "repented of the evil that he had said that he would do unto them and he did it not."
E. That was very delightful, mamma! I think the prophet Jonah must have been very glad, then, that he had gone to Nineveh.
M. If he had been in a right temper of mind, he would, indeed, have rejoiced that so great a multitude of souls had been saved from perishing in their sins, and that he had been allowed, by God, to be the means of saving them. We know that "there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth :" but, alas! it is not always so upon earth. Men's hearts are often so cold and selfish, that they take no interest at all in the concerns of their fellow-creatures, and feel no joy even when they hear of thousands being brought to the knowledge and love of God. And thus it was with Jonah.