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Lead on, lead on, triumphantly,
Faith's pilgrim sons behind Thee seek
He always wins who sides with God,
God's will is sweetest to him when
Ill that God blesses is our good,
And all is right that seems most wrong,
JONAH AND THE GOURD.
JONAH iv. 6-8.
"WHOм the Lord loveth He correcteth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth." Chastisement is the family badge. All God's people have it in some measure. All God's people need it. It is His great design in this life to conform them to the image of His dear Son. There is so much in them contrary to that image that He must chastise them. Chastisement is God's determination to get quit of sin. There may be, there is, doubtless, chastisement without this. There is such a thing as having fellowship with Christ's sufferings, but this is not in the history before us. The striking feature in Jonah's life is chastisement on account of sin. It is a solemn picture-one of the most solemn in God's Word. It is a picture of "judgment and mercy," which is ever the Church's song while journeying to heaven.
Before entering on the portion of Scripture under consideration, let us glance at a necessary introduction. Jonah was a true child of God. It is such the Lord chastens. The very existence of chastisement is the evidence of their sonship. The Refiner does not cast refuse into the fire, but gold. He sees there is dross on it which must be removed. Nothing but the furnace will do it, and therefore it must be cast into it. But His love is seen in keeping His eye on it while there. That eye is never removed from it for a moment: therefore it is safe.
Jonah's portrait is presented to us at the very opening with a gross act of disobedience. "Arise, go to Nineveh," was God's message. "But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord." Jonah's heart was not subject to God. did not like to go to Nineveh. He preferred to go elsewhere, and he followed his own inclinations. When the believer's heart is not brought into entire subjection to God there must be chastisement. may expect it. God loves us, and therefore it must come. It matters not what form that want of subjection to God takes-whether it be open disobedience, or whether it be an effort to reconcile God's Word with our own will-it is still the same. There is not subjection to God. Now this is not like Jesus. He said, "I came down from heaven not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that
sent Me." And since we must be conformed to His image, this dross must be removed. So it was with Jonah. Bent on carrying out his own will he goes to Joppa, finds a ship, pays his fare, takes his place on board, and sets sail. All seems to go on well. So it is often with God's people. They follow out their own inclinations, and set forward in some path that the Word of God does not approve. For a while all goes on well. The ship sails; the sky is clear; not a cloud threatens to disturb the bright prospect before them; she glides smoothly over the glassy sea with not a ripple to disturb its waters. But suddenly the wind rises and comes down upon the tiny barque with irresistible fury. Cloud after cloud darkens the sky, and everything betokens danger. They lighten the vessel, they invoke the spirits of the ruthless elements, they toil at the oars-all is vain. The Lord of those boiling waterfloods and blackened elements has a controversy with His child. "He will work, and who shall let it?" "Be sure thy sin will find thee out." Jonah's sin had found him out. It had dragged him to light, and before the eyes of the idolatrous mariners. He stands before God and them a sin-convicted rebel, with the brand of disobedience on his very brow. What a humbling position for the child of God!
Christian reader, the highest attainment in the
life of a believer is to have the heart brought into complete subjection to the will of God-"Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" God's glory requires this, and your own happiness also. If this is not the case with you, He cannot be glorified nor can you be happy. God loves you too well to let this go on. It must not, it cannot be. Trial must come, and prepare yourself for it. Ask yourself honestly. then, Is my heart thus right towards God, or is there anything influencing it, no matter what?
The Refiner casts the gold into the furnace but His eye is on it. Jonah is cast forth into the boiling floods, but the Lord had prepared for him a place of safety in the belly of the fish. The mariners may be the blind instruments in God's hand of chastising the prophet, but not a hair of his head shall be touched. "He that toucheth them toucheth the apple of the Lord's eye." "Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish's belly." Now he is deeply humbled. Now the will is broken. The dross has gone. The purified gold reflects the Refiner's image. The work is done and it must come forth out of the furnace. "And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land."
God will not bend His will to man; man must ever bend to God. Not one jot or tittle of His holy will shall be relaxed, and man is in his right state when his heart delights to do that will. So God