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the worst kind developing itself. Open disobedience, selfishness, excessive anger, and now idolatry-such were the streams that issued one by one from the prophet's heart. Had Jonah been glad of the gourd all would have been well. But he was "exceeding glad" of it. He thought more of it than of Him from whom it came. It took up that place
in his affections that God only should have occupied. No wonder it was short-lived. No wonder God immediately smote it. Alas! He cannot trust us with any gourd here. He has to smite them one after another to teach us the lesson needed as much by His people now as by Israel of old, "Thou shalt have none other gods before me." It might well be the first law in the code then, and it may well be the first now. Our hearts are so inherently idolatrous that we cannot be trusted with a single blessing. We give them the place due to God. We place them on the throne in the heart, and then comes the smiting, the tearful eye, the bleeding heart, the rebellious prayer, "Take away my life it is better for me to die than to live."
Christian reader, watch your heart. Oh take care that the domestic joys, the family endearments, the earthly comforts, the bright sky, the unruffled sea over which your barque is gliding so smoothly, steal not your affections from God. Beware that these beautiful gourds, these shadows over your earthly home, take not up His place in the heart, While
you are glad of them beware of exceeding gladness. Look through them to God. There let every supreme affection centre. Keep God's Word continually before you "Little children, keep yourselves from idols." "Thou shalt have none other
gods before Me.”
The gourd had withered, for God had smitten it. And now the scorching rays of an Eastern sun fell upon the prophet's unprotected head, increased by the vehemence of the wind. Temporal blessings were removed, and the need of them now was deeply felt more deeply than ever. Still there was no godly sorrow, no falling at the feet of Jehovah in penitence and prayer. The heart becomes more hardened, the prayer more rebellious than before. The heart is stouter against God and assumes an attitude of defiance. "And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death." God graciously expostulates and then leaves the naughty child to his own reflections. Here the curtain falls, the scene closes, and we are left to learn its solemn lessons. God had tried Jonah in all ways. He had tried him with the sorrows of the deep, He had tried him with blessings, He had tried him with the removal of blessings, He had tried him with His judgments-but all in vain. In the earlier stages of his history we had hoped better things. We had hoped that the disobedient child
had returned to the feet of his Heavenly Father a wiser, a holier, a better man. So soon as the pressure was removed the soul fell back to its normal state. Familiarity with God and His dealings only hardened it. Mercies and judgments alike proved unavailing. They had passed over his heart like the wind over the rock, leaving behind only the distant echoes of its voice-the requiem of death over the heart of one apparently lost to every holy and merciful impression.
Reader, and especially Christian reader, learn from the history of the prophet Jonah three or four solemn warnings.
Let us beware of that state of heart that fails to receive correction. It may be, reader, that your heart and will are not entirely brought into subjection to God. If so you will have to pass under the rod. From that God will not let you pass. Oh take heed that God's dealings are not lost on your soul! See to it that there are no rebellious utterances, that there is no uninfluenced heart, no defiant attitude before God. Let not God have to say to you, "Ephraim is joined to idols. Let him alone." Ask God that His Holy Spirit may show you the meaning of such dealings and make them a blessing to you. Let not the curtain fall upon your latter end as it appears to have fallen upon Jonah's here with a heart familiar with God and His deal
ings and yet unsubdued and hardened. See to it, reader; see to it !
Secondly, remember that He who sent the fish and the gourd sent also the worm, the east wind, and the scorching sun. He sends the trial as well as the blessing; and both are sent in love. When blessings come, forget not to praise Him; when trials, still try to praise Him; when the body faints beneath the stroke, even yet try to praise Him. See His loving hand in each one. The cloud may be dark, but the sun is behind, and the rays of infinite love shall soon fall upon your desolate heart. He who caused the gourd to spring up in a night can send you some blessing before the sun has set that will be a shadow for your grief. Trust Him. 'They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, that cannot be moved for ever." Trust Him then,—wait, watch, pray! The gourd shall surely come. "Tarry thou the Lord's leisure," and all will be well.
And lastly, boast not thyself, whoever thou art, in thy sin. Laugh if you will, but God can soon draw the pall of sorrow over your heedless heart. Trifle if you choose, but God can soon disturb your sinful folly and make you weep. Say not, My cup is full, my sky is bright, my barns are filled with plenty, what can come? Ah! God can make that worm at your feet your scourge, and make it wither in a single night every beautiful gourd you possess.
Means are not wanting to Him. A fish, a worm, an east wind, the beams of to-morrow's sun, may dash every cup to the ground. Oh remember this! Trifle not with your Maker. "Be not high-minded,
but fear." Build your nest under no earthly gourd, however beautiful. Build on nothing lower than Christ-Christ alone. Let your supreme affections be set on Him. Live for Him and all will be well for time and for eternity.
It was a darkened chamber, where was heard
The whispered voice, hushed step, and stifled sounds
That gave no answering look of love, his wife
And broken utterance, she poured her spirit forth
"His life, my God!—his life !—Oh hear me now;
Take back Thy other bounteous gifts, but oh!
"My lot has been so full of happiness,