Sermon 3101. A Plain Talk Upon An Encouraging Topic
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, JULY 16, 1908.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto You, into Your holy Temple." Jonah 2:7.
THE experience of the saints is the treasure of the Church. Every child of God who has tried and proved the promises of God,when he bears his testimony to their truth, does, as it were, hang up his sword and spear on the Temple walls and thus thehouse of the Lord becomes "like the tower of David built for an armory, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shieldsof mighty men." "The footsteps of the flock" encourage others who are following their track to the pastures above. Every precedinggeneration of saints has lived and suffered to enrich us with its experience. One great reason why the experience of saintsin olden time is of such use to us is this-they were men of like passions with ourselves. Had they been otherwise, we couldnot have been instructed by what they suffered. They endured the same trials and pleaded the same promises before the sameGod who changes not in any measure or degree, so that we may safely infer that what they gained by pleading may also be obtainedby us when surrounded by the same circumstances. If men were different, or if the promises were changed, or if the Lord hadvaried, all ancient experience would be but an idle tale to us. But now, whenever we read in Scripture of what happened toa man of faith in the day of trial, we conclude that the same will happen to us-and when we find God helping and deliveringHis people, we know that He will even now show Himself strong on our behalf, since all the promises are yes and Amen in ChristJesus unto the Glory of God by us. The Covenant has not changed-it abides firm as the eternal hills. The preacher, therefore,feels quite safe in directing you to the experience of Jonah and in inviting you to make its lessons a practical guide toyourselves.
We shall use the lesson of the text, first, for the child ofGodand, secondly, for the sinner awakened and aroused.
I. OUR TEXT HAS AN EVIDENT BEARING UPON THOSE WHO FEAR THE LORD, for such was Jonah. With all his mistakes, he was a man ofGod. And though he sought to flee from the service of his Master, yet his Master never cast him off-He brought back His petulantmessenger to his work and honored him in it-and he sleeps among the faithful, waiting for a glorious reward.
Think, then, of the saints' condition. In Jonah's case, as set forth before us, the child of God sees what a plight he maybe brought into-his soul may faint in him.
Jonah was certainly in a very terrible condition in the belly of the fish, but the position itself was probably not so darkas his own reflections, for conscience would say to him, "Alas, Jonah, you came here by your own fault, you had to flee fromthe Presence of God because in your pride and self-love you refused to go to Nineveh, that great city, and deliver your Master'smessage." It gives a sting to misery when a man feels that he, himself, is responsible for it. If it were unavoidable thatI should suffer, then I could not repine. But if I have brought all this upon myself, by my own folly, then there is a doublebitterness in the gall. Jonah would reflect that now he could not help himself in any way. It would answer no purpose to beself-willed now-he was in a place where petulance and obstinacy had no liberty. If he had tried to stretch out his arm, hecould not. He was immured in a dungeon which imprisoned every sense as well as every limb and the bolts of his cell, his handcould not draw! He was cast into the deep in the midst of the seas, the waters compassed him about even to the soul, the weedswere wrapped about his head. His state was helpless and, apart from God, it was hopeless.
Children of God may be brought into a similar condition and yet be dear to His unchanging heart. They may be poor and needyand have no helper. No voice may speak a word of sympathy to them and no arm may be stretched out to
succor them. The best of men may be brought into the worst of positions. You must never judge of character by circumstances.Diamonds may be worried upon the wheel and common pebbles may bathe at ease in the brook. The most wicked are permitted toclamber to the high places of the earth while the most righteous pine at the rich man's gate, with dogs for their companions.Choice flowers full often grow amid tangled briars. Who has not heard of the lily among thorns? Where dwell the pearls? Donot the dark depths of the ocean conceal them amid mire and wreak? Judge not by appearances, for heirs of the Light of Godmay walk in darkness and princes of the celestial line may sit upon dunghills. Men accepted of God may be brought very, verylow, as Jonah was.
Let me remark that the hearts of God's servants may sometimes faint within them-yes, absolutely faint in them and that, first,through a renewed sense of sin. In this matter my tongue will not outrun my experience. Some of us have enjoyed for yearsa full assurance of our pardon and justification. We have walked in the Light as God is in the Light, and we have had fellowshipwith the Father and with the Son-and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, has cleansed us from all sin. We have often feltour hearts dance at the assurance that "there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Jesus Christ." We havestood at the foot of the Cross and seen the records of our sins nailed to the tree, as the token of their full discharge.Yet, at this time, we may be suffering an interval of anxious questioning and unbelief may be lowering over us! It is possiblethat our faith is staggered and, therefore, our old sins have risen up against us and are threatening our peace. At such times,conscience will remind us of our shortcomings, which we cannot deny, and Satan will howl over the top of these shortcomings,"How can yoube a child of God? If you were born from above, how could you have acted as you have done?"
Then, if for a moment we look away from the Cross. If we look within for marks of evidences, the horrible bog of our inwardcorruptions will be stirred and there will pour into the soul such dark memories and black forebodings that we shall cry,"I am utterly lost, my hope is hypocrisy! What can I do? What shall I do?" Let me assure you that under such exercises, itis no wonder if the soul of the Christian faints within him. Be it remembered, also, that soul-fainting is the worst formof fainting. Though Jonah in the whale's belly could not use his eyes, he did not need them. And if he could not use his armsor his feet, he did not require to do so. It mattered not if they all failed him! But for his soul to faint- this was horrorindeed! So is it with us. Our other faculties may go to sleep if they will, but when our faith swoons and our confidence staggers,things go very hard with us. Do not, however, my Brothers and Sisters, when in such a state, write yourself down as a hypocrite,for many of the most valiant soldiers of the Cross know by personal experience what this dark sensation means-
"What though Satan's strong temptations Vex and tease you day by day? And your sinful inclinations Often fill you with dismay?You shall conquer,
Through the Lamb's redeeming blood! Though ten thousand ills beset you, From without and from within, Jesus says He'll neverforget you, But will save you from Hell and sin! He is faithful
To perform His gracious word!
Though distresses now attend you
And you tread the thorny road,
His right hand shall still defend you,
Soon He'll bring you home to God!
Therefore praise Him,
Praise the great Redeemer's name!" The same faintness will come over us, at times, through the prospect of prolonged painor severe trial. You have not yet felt the cruel smart, but you are well aware that it must come and you shudder at the prospect.As it is true that "we feel a thousand deaths in fearing one," so do we feel a thousand trials in the dread of one singleaffliction. The soldier is often braver in the midst of the battle than before the conflict begins. Waiting for the assaultis trying work-even the
crash of the onslaught is not so great a test of endurance. I confess that I feel an inward faintness in the prospect of bodilypain. It creates a swooning sickness of heart within me to consider it for a moment and, beloved Friend, it is no strangething that is happening to you if your soul also faints because of difficulties or adversities that lie before you. May youhave wisdom to do what Jonah did-to remember the Lord-for there and only there lies your great strength.
Faintness will also come upon true Christians in connection with the pressure of actual sorrow. Hearts may bear up long, butthey are very apt to yield if the pressure is continuous from month to month. A constant drip is felt even by a stone. A longday of drizzling rain is more wetting than a passing shower of heavy drops. A man cannot always be poor, or always be sick,or always be slandered, or always be friendless without sometimes being tempted to say, "My heart is faint and weary; whenwill the day break and the shadows flee away?" I say again, the very choicest of God's elect may, through the long abidingof bitter sorrow and heavy distress, be ready to faint in the day of adversity.
The same has happened to earnest Christians engaged in diligent service, when they have seen no present success. To go ontilling a thankless soil, to continue to cast bread upon the waters and to find no return has caused many a true heart tofaint with inward bleeding. Yet this is full often the test of our fidelity. It is a noble thing to continue preaching, likeNoah, throughout a lifetime, amid ridicule, reproach and unbelief-but it is not every man who can do so. The most of us needsuccess to sustain our courage and we serve our Master with most spirit when we see immediate results. Faint hearts of thatkind there may be among my fellow soldiers, ready to lay down the weapons of their warfare because they win no victory atthis present. My Brothers, I pray you do not desert the field of battle but, like Jonah, remember the Lord and continue toabide by the royal standard!
It may be that enquiries will be made as to why we should thus enlarge upon the different ways in which Christians faint.Our reply is, we have been thus particular in order to meet the temptation so common among young Christians, to fancy thatthey are singular in their trials. "Surely no one has felt as I feel," says many a young Christian. "I don't suppose anotherperson ever hung down his head and his hands and became so utterly overcome as I am." Do not listen to that suggestion, forit is devoid of truth! Faintness is very common in the Lord's hosts-and some of His mightiest men have been the victims ofit. Even David himself, that hero of Judah, in the day of battle waxed faint and had been slain if a warrior had not cometo the rescue. Do not give way to faintness! Strive against it vehemently, but at the same time, should it overcome you, castnot away your confidence, nor write yourself down as rejected of God or one fatally fallen.
And now, Brothers and Sisters, we will notice the saints'resort. Jonah, when he was in sore trouble, tells us, "I rememberedthe Lord." What is there for a faint heart to remember in the Lord? Is there not everything? There is, first, His Nature.Think of that. When I am faint with sorrow, let me remember that He is full of pity and full of compassion. He will not striketoo heavily, nor will He forget to sustain. I will, therefore, look up to Him and say, "My Father, break me not in pieces.I am a poor weather-beaten boat which can scarcely escape the hungry waves. Send not Your rough wind against me, but giveme a little calm that I may reach the desired haven." By remembering that the Lord's mercies are great, we shall be savedfrom a fainting heart.
Then I will remember His power. If I am in such a strait that I cannot help myself, He can help me! I have needs and sharppinches, but there are no such things with Him. There are no emergencies and times of severe pressure with God. With Him allthings are possible! Therefore will I remember the Lord. If the difficulty is one which arises out of my ignorance, thoughI know not which way to take, I will remember His wisdom. I know that He will guide me. I will remember that He cannot makea mistake and, committing my way unto Him, my soul shall take courage. Beloved, all the Attributes of God sparkle with consolationto the eyes of faith. There is nothing in the Most High to discourage the man who can say, "My Father, my God, in You do Iput my trust." None who have trusted in Him have ever been confounded. Therefore if your soul sinks within you, remember theNature, Character, and Attributes of God!
When you have remembered His Nature, then remember His promises. What has He said concerning souls that faint? Think of thesetexts if you think of no other-"I will never leave you, nor forsake you." "Your shoes shall be iron and brass; and as yourdays, so shall your strength be." "My Grace is sufficient for you: for My strength is made perfect in weakness." "Trust inthe Lord, and do good: so shall you dwell in the land, and verily you shall be fed." "No good thing will He withhold fromthem that walk uprightly." When we get upon this strain and begin to talk of the promises, we need hours in which to enlargeupon the exceeding great and precious words, but we mention only these-we let fall this
handful for some poor Ruth to glean! When your soul is faint, catch at a promise, believe it and say unto the Lord, "Do asYou have said," and your spirit shall speedily revive.
Remember, next, His Covenant. What a grand word that word, "Covenant," is to the man who understands it! God has entered intoCovenant with His Son, who represents us, His people. He has said, "As I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no morego over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you. For the mountains shall depart, andthe hills be removed; but My kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall the Covenant of My peace be removed." Truly,we may say with good old David, "Although my house is not so with God, yet He has made with me an Everlasting Covenant, orderedin all things, and sure." When everything else gives way, cling in the power of the Holy Spirit to Covenant mercies and Covenantengagements, and your spirit shall be at peace-
"With David's Lord, and ours,
A Covenant once was made
Whose bonds are firm and sure,
Whose glories shall never fade!
Signed by the Sacred Three in One,
In mutual love before time begun-
Firm as the lasting hills,
This Covenant shall endure,
Whose potent shalls and wills
Make every blessing sure!
When ruin shakes all Nature's frame,
Its jots and tittles stand the same." Again, when we remember the Lord, we should remember what He has been to us in pasttimes. When any of us fall to doubting and fearing, we are indeed blameworthy, for the Lord has never given us any occasionfor doubting Him. He has helped us in sorer troubles than we are passing through at this time. We have tested His faithfulness,His power and His goodness at a heavier rate than now-and though greatly tried, they have never failed us yet! They have bornethe strain of many years and show no signs of giving way. Why, then, are we distrustful? Many saints have proved the Lord'sfaithfulness for fifty, sixty, or even 70 years-how can they be of doubtful mind after this? What? Has your God been truefor 70 years and can you not trust Him a few more days? Has He brought you to 75 and can you not trust Him the few monthsmore that you are to remain in the wilderness? Call to remembrance the days of old, the love of His heart and the might ofHis arm when He came to your rescue and took you out of the deep waters, and set your feet upon a rock, and established yourgoings! He is still the same God. Therefore, when your soul faints within you, remember the Lord and you will be comforted.
Thus I have shown you the saint's plight and the saint's resort. Now observe the success of his prayer. Jonah was so comfortedwith the thoughts of God that he began to pray and his prayer was not drowned in the water, nor choked in the fish's belly-neitherwas it held captive by the weeds that were about his head, but up it went like an electric flash, through waves, through clouds,beyond the stars, up to the Throne of God-and down came the answer like a return message! Nothing can destroy or detain areal prayer. Its flight to the Throne of God is swift and certain. God the Holy Spirit writes our prayers, God the Son presentsour prayers and God the Father accepts our prayers-and with the whole Trinity to help us in it, what cannot prayer perform?I may be speaking to some who are under very severe trials- I feel persuaded that I am-let me beg them to take this promiseto themselves as their own. And I pray God the Holy Spirit to lay it home to their hearts and make it theirs, "I will neverleave you, nor forsake you." God will not fail you though you fail yourself! Though you faint, He faints not, neither is weary.Lift up your cry and He will lift up His hand. Go to your knees, you are strongest there! Resort to your chamber and it shallbe to you none other than the gate of Heaven. Tell your God your grief-heavy to you, it will be light enough to Him. Dilemmaswill all be plain to His wisdom and difficulties will vanish before His strength! Oh, tell it not in Gath that Israel cannottrust in God! Publish it not in the streets of Askelon that trouble can dismay those who lean upon the eternal arm! With Jehovahin the van, O hosts of Israel, dare you fear? "The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge." What man's heartshall quail, or what soul shall faint? "Lift up the hands which hang down and the feeble knees." Say unto the feeble in heart,"Be strong. Fear not. God is with you. He will help you, and that right early."
II. Now we must change the subject altogether. Having addressed the people of God, we feel very anxious to speak to thoseconcerning whom the Lord has designs of love, but who are not yet made manifest. THE SINNER, WHEN GOD
COMES TO DEAL WITH HIM, IS BROUGHT INTO THE SAME PLIGHT AS JONAH. His soul faints in him. What
does that show?
It shows very much what we are glad to see. When a man's soul faints within him, it is clear that his carelessness is gone.He used to take things very easily and as long as he could make merry from day to day, what cared he about Heaven or Hell?The preacher's warnings were to him so much rant and his earnestness fanaticism! But now the man feels an arrow sticking inhis own loins and he knows that there is a reality in sin-it is to him in very deed an evil and a bitter thing. Now the cupof gall is put to his own lips and he feels the poison in his own veins. His heart faints within him and he remains carelessno longer-which is no small gain in the preacher's estimation!
His faintness also shows that he will be self-righteous no longer Once he hoped he was as good as other people and perhapsa little better. And for all that he could see, he was every whit as excellent as the saints themselves. They might speakabout their trusting in Jesus Christ, but he was working for himself and expected by his regular habits to win as good asplace in the world to come as the best of Believers! Ah, but now God has dealt with him and let the daylight into his souland he sees that his gold and silver are cankered, and that his fair linen is filthy and worm-eaten! He discovers that hisrighteousnesses are as filthy rags and that he must have something better than the works of the Law to trust in, or he mustperish. So far so good. Things are hopeful when there is no more self-reliance left in the sinner. The worst of human natureis that though it cannot lift a finger for its own salvation, it thinks it can do it all-and though its only place is theplace of death and it is a mercy when it comes to burial, yet that same human nature is so proud that it would, if it could,be its own redeemer! When God make man's conscience a target for His fiery arrows, then straightway he feels that his lifeis no longer in him and that he can do nothing. And he cries out, "God be merciful to me." Oh, that the two-edged sword ofthe Gospel would slay all our spiritual self-reliance and lay us in the dust at the feet of the Crucified Savior!
Perhaps I speak to some who faint because, though they have given up all self-righteousness now, and relinquished all self-dependence,they yet have not laid hold upon Christ and His salvation. ' 'I have been trying to believe," says one, "but I cannot succeed."Well do I remember the time when I labored to believe. It is a strange way of putting it, yet so it was. When I wished tobelieve, and longed to trust, I found I could not. It seemed to me that the way to Heaven by Christ's righteousness was asdifficult as the way to Heaven by my own, and that I could as soon get to Heaven by Sinai as by Calvary. I could do nothing-Icould neither repent nor believe. I fainted with despair, feeling as if I must be lost despite the Gospel, and forever drivenfrom Jehovah's Presence, even though Christ had died. Ah, I am not sorry if you also have come to this condition! The wayto the door of faith is through the gate of self-despair. Till you have seen your last hope destroyed, you will never lookto Christ for all things, and yet you will never be saved until you do-for God has laid no help on you, He has laid help uponOne that is mighty, even Jesus only, who is the sole Savior of sinners. Here, then, we have before us the sinner's plight-andI will venture to call it, though it is a very wretched one, a very blessed one-and I heartily wish that every unconvertedman were brought into such a condition that his soul fainted within him.
Now hear the Gospel! Incline your ear to it and you shall live! The way of salvation to you is the way which Jonah took. Whenhis soul fainted, he remembered the Lord. I beseech you, by the living God, to remember the Lord! And if you ask me what itis you should remember, I will tell you in a few words. Remember the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of sinners.Remember Him who suffered in the place of the guilty. Know assuredly that God has visited upon Him the transgressions of Hispeople. Now, the sufferings of such an One as Jesus must have power to cleanse away sins. He is God and if He deigns to die,there must be such merit in His death that He is able to save to the uttermost all them that come unto God by Him. You arebidden, at this moment, in God's name, to trust your soul in those hands that were nailed to the Cross and rest your lifewith Him who poured out His soul unto death that you might live! In yourself you may well despair, but remembering His name,coupled with the names of Gethsemane and Golgotha-remembering all His pains, griefs and unutterable woes -remembering theseby faith, there shall be salvation for you at this moment! Do I hear you sigh, "Oh, but I have nothing good within me"? Know,then, that all good is in Him for you-and go to Him for it. "But I am unworthy." He is worthy-go to Him for worthiness. "ButI do not feel as I should." He felt as He should-go to Him for all that you should feel. If you bring a rusty farthing ofyour own, God will not have it-it would only insult the precious gold of Ophir which Jesus freely gives you-if He should allowyour cankered counterfeits to be mixed therewith. Away with your filthy rags! Would you add them to the spotless garment whichChrist has woven? The Apostle says our best works are dross and dung if we venture to put them side by side with the meritsof our Redeemer! None but Jesus can save-remember Him and live!
"But," says one, "I have tried to remember the Lord. But I find that while I can trust Him to pardon my sins, yet I have sucha hard heart and so many temptations, and I am so weak for all that is good, that I still despair." Listen, then, yet again-rememberthe Lord. At this time remember the Holy Spirit. When Jesus ascended on high, the Holy Spirit was given and He has never beenrecalled. The Holy Spirit is here in this assembly right now, and in the Holy Spirit is your hope against indwelling sin!You complain that you cannot pray, but the Spirit helps our infirmities. You mourn that you cannot believe, but faith is thegift of God and the work of the Holy Spirit. A tender heart, a penitential frame of mind, a right spirit-these are the worksof the Holy Spirit in you! You can do nothing, but the Holy Spirit can work everything in you! Give yourself up to those dearhands that were pierced, and the power of the Holy Spirit shall come upon you! A new heart will He give you and a right spiritwill He put within you. You shall learn His statutes and walk in His ways. Everything is provided for the Believer that Hecan possibly need. O young Man, anxious to be saved, the salvation of Jesus Christ precisely suits your case! O seeking Soul,whatever it is you crave to make you fit to dwell where God is forever, it is all to be had and to be had for the asking,for it is all provided in the Covenant of Grace! And if you will remember Jesus the Lord, and the Holy Spirit-the Indwellerwho renews the mind-you will be cheered and comforted!
Yet let me not forget another Person of the sacred Majesty of Heaven-remember the Father as well as the Son and the Spirit!And let me help you to remember Him. You, trembling Sinner, must not think of God as severe or stern, for He is Love. Wouldyou be glad to be saved? He will be still more glad to save you! Do you wish to return to your God tonight? Your God alreadymeets you and bids you come! Would you be pardoned? The absolution is on His lips! Would you be cleansed? The Fountain ofatoning blood was filled by His mercy and filled for all who believe in His Son! Come and welcome, come and welcome! The childis glad to be forgiven, but the Father is still more glad to forgive. Jehovah's melting heart yearns to clasp His Ephraimto His breast. Seek Him at once, poor Souls, and you shall not find Him hard and cold, but waiting to be gracious, ready toforgive, a God delighting in mercy! If you can thus remember God, the Son, the Spirit and the Father, though your soul faintswithin you, you may be encouraged.
And so I close by bidding you, if such is the case, to imitate Jonah's example and send up a prayer to Heaven, for it willcome up even to God's holy Temple. Jonah had no prayer book and you need none. God the Holy Spirit can put more living prayerinto half-a-dozen words of your own than you could get out of a ton weight of paper prayers! Jonah's prayer was not notablefor its words. The fish's belly was not the place for picked phrases, nor for long-winded orations. We do not believe thathe offered a long prayer, either, but it came right up from his heart and flew straight up to Heaven. It was shot by the strongbow of intense desire and agony of soul and, therefore, it speeded its way to the Throne of the Most High. If you would nowpray, never mind your words-it is the soul of prayer that God accepts. If you would be saved, go to your chamber and risenot from your knees till the Lord has heard you. Yes, where you now are let your souls pour out themselves before God andfaith in Jesus will give you immediate salvation!
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: JONAH2.
Verse 1. Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish's belly. What a strange place for prayer! Surely this isthe only prayer that ever went up to God out of a fish's belly! Jonah found himself alive-that was the surprising thing, thathe was alive in the belly of a fish-and because he was alive, he began to pray. It is such a wonder that some people hereshould continue to live that they ought to begin to pray. If you live with death so near and in so great peril, and yet youdo not pray, what is to become of you? This prayer of Jonah is very remarkable because it is not a prayer at all in the sensein which we usually apply the word to petition and supplication. If you read the prayer through, you will see that it is almostall thanksgiving-and the best prayer in all the world is a prayer that is full of thankfulness. We
praise the Lord for what He has done for us, and thus we do, in effect, ask Him to perfect the work which He has begun. Hehas delivered us, so we bless His holy name and by implication we beseech Him to deliver us. Notice that it says here, "ThenJonah prayed unto the Lord his God."He was a runaway-he had tried to escape from the Presence of God-yet the Lord was stillhis God. God will not lose any of His people-even if, like Jonah, they are in the belly of a fish, Jehovah is still theirGod-"Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish's belly."
2. And said, I cried by reason of my affliction unto the LORD, and He heard me. You see that this is not praying, it is tellingthe Lord what He had done for His disobedient servant. Jonah had prayed, and the Lord had heard him, yet he was still in thefish's belly. Unbelief would have said, "You have lived so long, Jonah, but you cannot expect to live to get out of this dreary,damp, fetid prison." Ah, but faith is out of prison even while she is in it! Faith begins to tell what God has done beforethe great work is actually accomplished! So Jonah said, "I cried by reason of my affliction unto the Lord, and He heard me."
2. Out of the belly of Hell cried I, and You heard my voice. He was like a man in the unseen world among the dead. He feltthat he was condemned and cast away, yet God had heard him, and now he sings about it in the belly of the fish. No other fishthat ever lived had a live man inside him singing praises unto God!
3. For You had cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas. The word Jonah used implies that God had violently cast himaway into the deep. "Cast me not off," prayed David, but here is a man who says that God did cast him out like a thing flungoverboard into the vast deep. "You had cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas."
3. And the floods compassed me about "They rolled all over me, beneath me, above me, around me. 'The floods compassed me about.'"
3. All Your billows and Your waves passed over me. Jonah had evidently read his Bible. At least he had read the 42nd Psalm,for he quotes it here. It is a blessed thing to have the Bible in your mind and heart so that wherever you may be, you donot need to turn to the Book because you have the Book inside you! Here is a man inside a fish with a Book inside of him-andit was the Book inside of him that brought him out from the fish again!
4. Then I said, I am cast out of Your sight; yet I will look again toward Your holy Temple. What grand faith Job displayedwhen he said, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him." And here is another splendid manifestation of faith, "'I said,I am cast out of Your sight; yet I will look again toward Your holy Temple.' If God does not look at me, I will still looktowards the place where He dwells. As I am being flung away from Him, I will give one more look towards His holy Temple."
6. The waters compassed me about, even to the soul They seemed to get right into his spirit-his heart became waterlogged."The waters compassed me about, even to the soul."
6. The depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. Like his winding-sheet-as if the cerements of thegrave were wrapped about his mouth, ears and eyes-and he was consigned to a living tomb. This narrative is a graphic descriptionof the natural motion of the great fish which had swallowed Jonah. When the fish found this strange being inside him, thefirst thing that he did was to plunge as deep as he could into the waters. You will see that Jonah did go down very deep,indeed. The next thing was for the fish to make for the weeds-as certain creatures eat weeds to cure them when they feel veryill, this fish went off to the weedy places to see if he could get a cure for this new complaint of a man inside him.
6. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains. To the very roots and foundations of the mountains, where the big jagged rocksmade huge buttresses for the hills above. "I went down to the bottom of the mountains."
6. The earth with her bars was about me forever.Down went the fish, as deep as he could go! And, of course, down went Jonah,too, and he might well imagine that he was in a vast prison from which there was no way of escape!
6. Yet have You brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God. And, dear Friend, God can bring you up, however low youmay have gone! Though in your own feelings, you feel as if you had gone so low that you could not go any lower, God can, inanswer to prayer, bring you up again. O despairing one, take heart and be comforted by this story of Jonah! God is dealingwith you as He was with him. There may be a great fish, but there is a great God as well. There may be a deep seas, but thereis an almighty God to bring you up out of it!
7. When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD. It is a blessed memory that serves us faithfully in a fainting fit.Mostly, when the heart faints, the memory fails, but Jonah remembered the Lord when his soul fainted within him.
7. And my prayer came in unto You, into Your holy Temple. Think of Jonah's prayer going right within the veil, and reachingthe ear and heart of God in His holy Temple. He said that he was cast out of God's sight, yet his prayer went into God's Temple.Oh, the prevalence of a bold believing prayer! "My prayer came in unto You, into Your holy Temple."
8. They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. If you trust anywhere but in God, you will run away from yourown mercy. God is the only really merciful One who can always help you. But if you trust in your own righteousness, if youtrust in priestcraft, if you trust in any superstition, you are observing lying vanities and forsaking your own mercy! Godis the source of your mercy-do not run away from Him to anyone or anything else.
9. But I will sacrifice unto You. "I long to do so. I cannot do it just now, but I would if I could. And I will do it whenYou shall grant me deliverance from my present peril."
9. With the voice of thanksgiving, I willpay that that Ihave vowed. Salvation is of the LORD. That is one of the grandestutterances that any man ever made! "SALVATION!" Write it in capital letters. It is a very emphatic word in the Hebrew andI might read it, "Mighty salvation is of Jehovah." This is real, old-fashioned Calvinistic Doctrine spoken centuries beforeJohn Calvin was born! The whale could not endure it and he turned Jonah out and directly Jonah said, "Salvation is of theLord." The world does not like that Doctrine and there are many professing Christians who do not like it. They say, "Salvationis of man's free will! Salvation is of the works of the Law! Salvation is of rites and ceremonies" and so on. But we say,with Jonah, "Salvation is of the Lord." He works it from beginning to end and, therefore, He must have all the praise forit forever and ever!
10. And the LORD spoke unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land. God has only to speak and even sea monstersobey Him! I know not how He spoke to the fish. I do not know how to talk to a fish, but God does. And as the Lord could speakto that fish, He can speak to any sinner here! However far you may have gone from all that is good, He who spoke to that greatfish and made it disgorge the Prophet Jonah, can speak to you, and then you will give up your sins as the whale gave up Jonah!God grant that it may be so this very hour! That is the prayer of an ancient mariner-may it be ours, as far as it is suitedto our circumstances-and may we be brought by God's Grace to cry with Jonah, "Salvation is of the Lord"!