Jonah was asleep, with all the heathen around him, upbraiding him by their actions. They were praying while he was sleeping; and, at last, it came to this,—that the shipmaster sternly addressed the prophet of God, and said, “What meanest thou, O sleeper?”

It is sad indeed when things have come to such a pass that a heathen captain rebukes a servant of God; and yet I am afraid that the Church of God, if she does not mend her ways, will have a great many similar rebukes from heathen practices and heathen utterances.

Look at the enormous sums that the heathen spend upon their idols and their idol temples and worship, and then think how little we spend upon the service of the living God.

One is amazed to read of the lacs of rupees that are given by Indian princes for the worship of their dead deities; and yet our missionary societies languish, and the work of God in a thousand ways is stopped, because God’s stewards are not using what he has entrusted to them as they should.

Think, too, of the flaming zeal with which the votaries of false faiths compass sea and land to make one proselyte, while we do so little to bring souls to Jesus Christ. One of these days you will have Hindoos and Brahmins talking to us in this fashion, “You profess that the love of Christ constrains you, but to what does it constrain you?”

They even now ask us what kind of religion must ours be that forces opium upon the poor Chinese. They quote our great national sins against us, and I do not wonder that they do. I only wish that they could be told that Christians reprobate those evils, and that they are not Christians who practise them.

But we must do more than even the best Christians are now doing, or else we shall have the heathen saying, as the semi-heathen at home do say, “If we believed in eternal punishment, we should be earnest day and night to rescue souls from it,”—which is to me a strong corroboration of the truth of that doctrine.

We do not want any doctrine that can make us less zealous than we are. We certainly do not want any doctrine that can give us any excuse for want of zeal. Still, there is great force in the remark I quoted just now. We are not as earnest to save men from going down to the pit as we ought to be if we do indeed believe that they are hastening to that doom.

The shipmasters are again rebuking the Jonahs. Those who believe in error, those who worship false gods, turn round upon us, and ask us what we mean. O Jonah, sleeping Jonah, is it not time that you were awake?

C. H. Spurgeon, “Sleepers Aroused,”

About the author

Austin Gardner is pastor of Vision Baptist Church in Alpharetta, GA. Previously he was church planting missionary in Peru for 20 years.

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