Moby Dick: or, the White Whale eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 623 pages of information about Moby Dick.

“Shipmates, this book, containing only four chapters—­ four yarns—­is one of the smallest strands in the mighty cable of the Scriptures.  Yet what depths of the soul does Jonah’s deep sealine sound! what a pregnant lesson to us is this prophet!  What a noble thing is that canticle in the fish’s belly!  How billow-like and boisterously grand!  We feel the floods surging over us, we sound with him to the kelpy bottom of the waters; sea-weed and all the slime of the sea is about us!  But what is this lesson that the book of Jonah teaches?  Shipmates, it is a two-stranded lesson; a lesson to us all as sinful men, and a lesson to me as a pilot of the living God.  As sinful men, it is a lesson to us all, because it is a story of the sin, hard-heartedness, suddenly awakened fears, the swift punishment, repentance, prayers, and finally the deliverance and joy of Jonah.  As with all sinners among men, the sin of this son of Amittai was in his wilful disobedience of the command of God—­ never mind now what that command was, or how conveyed—­ which he found a hard command.  But all the things that God would have us do are hard for us to do—­remember that—­ and hence, he oftener commands us than endeavors to persuade.  And if we obey God, we must disobey ourselves; and it is in this disobeying ourselves, wherein the hardness of obeying God consists.

“With this sin of disobedience in him, Jonah still further flouts at God, by seeking to flee from Him.  He thinks that a ship made by men, will carry him into countries where God does not reign but only the Captains of this earth.  He skulks about the wharves of Joppa, and seeks a ship that’s bound for Tarshish.  There lurks, perhaps, a hitherto unheeded meaning here.  By all accounts Tarshish could have been no other city than the modern Cadiz.  That’s the opinion of learned men.  And where is Cadiz, shipmates?  Cadiz is in Spain; as far by water, from Joppa, as Jonah could possibly have sailed in those ancient days, when the Atlantic was an almost unknown sea.  Because Joppa, the modern Jaffa, shipmates, is on the most easterly coast of the Mediterranean, the Syrian; and Tarshish or Cadiz more than two thousand miles to the westward from that, just outside the Straits of Gibraltar.  See ye not then, shipmates, that Jonah sought to flee worldwide from God?  Miserable man!  Oh! most contemptible and worthy of all scorn; with slouched hat and guilty eye, skulking from his God; prowling among the shipping like a vile burglar hastening to cross the seas.  So disordered, self-condemning is his look, that had there been policemen in those days, Jonah, on the mere suspicion of something wrong, had been arrested ere he touched a deck.  How plainly he’s a fugitive! no baggage, not a hat-box, valise, or carpet-bag,—­no friends accompany him to the wharf with their adieux.  At last, after much dodging search, he finds the Tarshish ship receiving the last items of her cargo; and as he steps on board to see its Captain in the cabin, all the

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Moby Dick: or, the White Whale from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.