In studying the account of the prophet Jonah's experiences, several helpful lessons have come to the writer. As we read the story we find that his first mistake, when he was commanded to go to Nineveh, was in thinking that he could get away from God's presence. The attempt seemed to succeed, for he went down to Joppa and there he found a ship which would take him to Tarshish. Then, his fears being lulled to rest by a false sense of safety, he fell asleep in the hold of the ship. But Jonah was not to escape so easily, for we are told that "the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea," and if we read the definition of wind as given in Science and Health (p. 597) in this connection, we shall get a clearer thought of what is meant. Here we find it defined as "that which indicates the might of omnipotence and the movements of God's spiritual government, encompassing all things. Destruction; anger; mortal passions." To the mariners on the ship it meant the latter, but Jonah, when they had awakened him, recognized it as an indication of God's omnipotence.

Jonah then saw that his disobedience was endangering the well-being of others no less than his own, and for the first time in this account we find him willing to take a step in the right direction. He said to the men, "Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall this sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you." Science and Health (p. 240) tells us that "the divine method of paying sin's wages involves unwinding one's snarls and learning from experience how to divide between sense and Soul." Jonah's willingness to save others saved himself, for though he was thrown into the sea God had prepared a place of safety for him, and there for three days Jonah wrestled with error. He found that, as our Leader says, "sorrow for wrongdoing is but one step toward reform" (Ibid., p. 5). and it was not until he determined to obey the command of God that deliverance came.

Now when, in obedience to the second command of the Lord, Jonah went to Nineveh, his words caused the people of that wicked city to repent in sackcloth and ashes. This was all that Truth required: by falling into line with God's law they escaped the punishment that Jonah had prophesied, and which would otherwise have been theirs. But the mercy thus extended, we read, "displeased Jonah exceedingly. and he was very angry." Truth again gave him a lesson, by means of a gourd, so "came up in a night" and shaded Jonah from the sun as he sat outside the city, waiting to see if may hap the destruction he had foretold would come to pass. Then a worm, typical of the sin which had all but destroyed Nineveh, "smote the gourd that it withered;" and now Jonah saw that even as he had pity in his heart for the gourd, so the divine Mind had gained His end with the people of Nineveh and their human sense of life was not destroyed.

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September 18, 1909

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