« AnteriorContinuar »
having entertained a very mean Opinion of him as a Prophet. And 'tis very certain, that he was guilty of some great Failings, and grievous Offences, that lefsen and obscure his Character : But then 'tis as certain, that he was endued likewise with some eminent Virtues and Qualities, among which (to mention no more at present) I cannot but take Notice of his free, voluntary, and generous Offer, to lay down his own Life, for the Preservation of the Lives of all those that were in the Ship with him. For when there arose a mighty Tempest in the Sea, so that the Ship was like to be broken, and they were all in great Jeopardy, and had cast Lots to know for whose Sake the Tempest was sent, and the Lot fell upon Jonah, upon further Inquiry he frankly told them the whole Truth, and that for his Sake this great Tempest was upon them; and then freely offered himself as a Ransom for them, advising them to take him up, and to caft him into the Sea, and affuring them, that thereupon the Sea would be calm. Now this
generous Proposal of the Prophet, to be cast away for the saving of others, was an eminent Type of the Sacrifice of the Death of Christ, that great Free-Will Offering that was made upon the Cross for the Redemption of Mankind. 'Tis true, this is not commonly thought to be implied in the Prophecy of Fonah, nor is it mentioned by our Saviour
in his Application of this Part of that Prophecy to himself. The Prophet is only set forth in express Terms, as a Type of his Burial and Resurrection. For as Jonah was three Days and three Nights in the Whale's Belly, says our Lord,
so shall also the Son of Man be three Days and three Nights, in the Heart of the Earth. But tho' this only be mentioned, why might not the other Part of the History be intended as a Typical Representation of the Death and Sacrifice, as this was of the Burial and Resurrection of Christ? The Words of our Saviour, in the strict Sense, and taken by themselves, fignify no more than his Burial; but yet as they refer to another subsequent Event, the Fish's casting out Jonah upon dry Land, they must be allowed to point at his Resurrection; and if they imply a subsequent Event, why may they not look back likewise to one preceding, viz. The Ground or Reason of his being cast into the Sea, which was his own mere Motion, and voluntary Offering? For he made the first Offer himself, and upon this Consideration, that if the Mariners cast him forth into the Sea, they would be safe, and the Sea would be calm. Thus, to all human Appearance, he freely and willingly exposed himself, for the Sake of others, to inevitable Death. And what could more lively typify the Free-Will Offering of Chrift? 'Tis true, at last he did not die, neither was Isaac slain,
tho' his Father's Hand was lifted up to give the fatal Stroke, and yet was a signal Type of the Death of Christ, and so might the other, notwithstanding his miraculous Preservation, especially when 'tis considered, that that very Preservation was designed, as a Figure of a much greater Event, even of our Lord's rising again the third Day. When Jonah had made known his Cafe and Condition, and told the Men of his Country and Religion, of the God whom he served, and of the Occasion of his coming into the Ship, and had withal declared, that the only Way to save themselves from the Danger they were in, was to cast him into the Sea, the Mariners were at a Stand, and in a great Strait what to do. Being willing to save their own Lives, and unwilling to take away the Life of another, they tried once more what their Strength and Skill could do, and therefore rowed hard to bring the Ship to Land: But when they found that all their Endeavours were vain, and that the Sea still wrought and was tempestuous, they then implored the God of Israel, whose Servant Jonab professed himfelf to be, that this Act of theirs, which was neither voluntary, nor chosen by them, might not be imputed to them as a Crime. Wherefore they cried unto the Lord, and said, We beseech thee, O Lord, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this Man's Life, and lay not upon us innocent Blood : For thou, o Lord, bast done as it pleased thee.
This Prayer is no other than the Voice of Nature, or the pure Dictate of Natural Religion, and what any Person, by the Light of Reason, without the Help of Revelation, might have been prompted to make. For to take away the Life of any Man, without an express or fufficient Warrant from just Authority, must appear, in the Eye of natural Reason, to be an unjustifiable and criminal Act. But the Case of the Mariners in the Text was otherwise ; and yet they were not free from fearful Apprehensions of doing amiss. For tho' they had not only the Consent, but the Request of the Person that was to suffer ; tho they had Reason to believe him as a Prophet, and that he could not advise them to what was directly sinful and unlawful, especially in a Matter that concerned his own Life; tho' God himself likewise did, in some Measure, signify his Pleasure in this Case, by the casting of Lots, and suffering the Lot to fall upon Jonah, and by continuing the Tempest upon them, of all which they were sensible themselves, as they confess in the latter Part of the Text; and ļastly, tho' to outward Appearance they must all have perished if they had not taken this Method, yet still they were afraid, and would not venture to proceed, before they had recommended themselves to the Mercy of God, and befought him not to lay upon them innocent Blood. Now such an® Example
from Mariners, from Heathens, from Strangers, of fo great an Aversion and Tenderness to take away the Life of another, notwithstanding the most weighty Considerations, that could well be urged for that Purpose, and of their great Readiness to implore the Divine Mercy on that Account, is surely more than enough, not only to condemn thofe barbarous Regicides, who made no Scruple to imbrue their Hands in the Blood of the Lord's Anointed, but likewise to shame and reprove thofe of the Separation, who have hitherto refused to join with us, in deprecating the Vengeance due to the BloodGuiltinefs of this Day. From this remarkable Passage therefore, as now explained, I shall take Occasion to lay before you these two Things.
First, I shall endeavour from hence to
make some Estimate of the Greatness of that Guilt, which was contracted by shedding the Blood of the Royal Martyr, by comparing both Cases together.
Secondly, I shall shew, that 'tis the Duty
of all the People of this Land, to deplore the Guilt, and deprecate the Judgments, that may justly be inflicted upon us, for this national and crying Enormity.