If not asking too much, please give your views on Jonah i, 5,6: "Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man to his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep. So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not."
I remain your unworthy sister in the gospel,
SARAH W. SMITH.
Edgar Co., Ill., Jan. 4, 1859.
Reply. – We have no special light on this portion of the divine record, but a few thoughts occur to our mind in being thus called to examine the text.
First, Jonah, although a subject of saving grace, born of God and taught by the Spirit, and inspired by the Spirit of Christ which was in him as a prophet of the Lord, had a carnal, peevish, fretful and rebellious nature, which led him to disobey the command of God, and seek to run away from a duty which God enjoined on him. He doubtless had in common with all the saints, while in the earthly house of their pilgrimage, a law in his members warring against the law of his mind. The Spirit of Christ, which Peter says was in the prophets of the Lord, was unquestionably in him, for Christ has himself pronounced him a prophet of the Lord, and that Spirit of Christ is never rebellious to the will of God. As exemplified in the Redeemer himself: "Lo! I come to do thy will, O God." And in all the saints to will is present, and the Spirit of Christ in them inspires a desire to be in subordination to the will of God, their heavenly Father, but like Jonah they all have also an earth-born nature which is earthly, sensual and rebellious.
Second. The complete control which God has, not only over his disobedient saints, prophets included, but also over superstitious idolators, who seem to had each a favorite deity to whom they poured forth their fruitless prayers and supplications, and a supreme power also over the winds of heaven, the billows of the sea, and monsters of the deep, all of which, when it is Jehovah's pleasure, are called in to requisition for the chastisement of his disobedient children, and for the execution of the orders of his unshaken throne.
Third. What a lesson is here of the reckless presumption and careless indifference of the wayward and rebellious child of God, when for a few hours permitted to pursue their own course of disobedience. When the heavens were black with storm and tempest, when the sea was agitated and rolling her foaming billows to the skies, and the ship unable to bear the tempest, required to be relieved of its lading, and while the affrighted idolators were calling every man upon his god, where was Jonah? Not calling on his God, not suing for mercy, not pleading for forgiveness nor confessing his disobedience. All the elements of nature could feel and shudder at his wickedness, all the mariners could tremble with horror, all, all but Jonah could feel, but he was fast asleep! And are there not more Jonahs than one in this day who can respond to the language of the poet.
"The rocks can rend, the earth can quake,
The seas can roar, the mountains shake,
Of feeling all things shew some sign,
But this unfeeling heart of mine."
Fourth. Why is this case of Jonah left on record? Not only to complete the prophetic sign of the prophet Jonah, who in his dreary wanderings in the dreadful deep, should describe the three days and three nights sojourn of our Lord in death's domains, but as an admonition to all the disobedient children of God throughout all time. How vain to think of running away from God, or of eluding his pursuit. Should we take the wings of the morning and fly beyond the most distant sea, or mount to heaven, or sink to hell, we cannot hide from him, or thwart his purpose and decree. Well may we all remember and lay to our heart the words of Samuel to Ahab: "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken, than the fat of rams."
"Order my footsteps by thy word,
And make my soul sincere;
Let sin have no dominion, Lord,
But keep my conscience clear.
Make me to walk in thy commands,
‘Tis a delightful road;
Nor let my head, nor heart, nor hands,
Offend against my God."
April 1, 1859
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 4
Pages 211 – 213