||In discoursing on these words, I shall, with the help of God,--
|I.||DESCRIBE THE SLEEPERS, TO WHOM THEY ARE SPOKEN:
|II.||ENFORCE THE EXHORTATION, AWAKE, THOU THAT
SLEEPEST, AND ARISE FROM THE DEAD': AND,
|III.||EXPLAIN THE PROMISE MADE TO SUCH AS DO AWAKE
AND ARISE: 'CHRIST SHALL GIVE THEE LIGHT.'
||And first, as to the sleepers here spoken to. By
sleep is signified the natural state of man; that deep sleep
of the soul, into which the sin of Adam hath cast all who
spring from his loins; that supineness, indolence, and stupidity,
that insensibility of his real condition, wherein every man
comes into the world, and continues till the voice of God
||Now, 'they that sleep, sleep in the night.' The state
of nature is a state of utter darkness; a state wherein 'darkness
covers the earth, and gross darkness the people.' The poor
unawakened sinner, how much knowledge soever he may have
as to other things, has no knowledge of himself: in this respect
'he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.' He knows
not that he is a fallen spirit, whose only business in the present
world is, to recover from his fall, to regain that image of God
herein he was created. He sees no necessity for the one thing
needful, even that inward universal change, that 'birth from
above,' figured out by baptism, which is the beginning of that
total renovation, that sanctification of spirit, soul, and body,
'without which no man shall see the Lord.'
||Full of all diseases as he is, he fancies himself in perfect
health. Fast bound in misery and iron, he dreams that he is
[happy and] at liberty. He says, 'Peace! Peace!' while the
devil, as 'a strong man armed,' is in full possession of his soul.
He sleeps on still, and takes his rest, though hell is moved from
beneath to meet him; though the pit from whence there is no
return hath opened its mouth to swallow him up. A fire is
kindled around him, yet he knoweth it not; yea, it burns him,
yet he lays it not to heart.
||By one who sleeps, we are, therefore, to, understand
(and would to God we might all understand it!) a sinner
satisfied in his sins; contented to remain in his fallen state,
to live and die without the image of God; one who is ignorant
both of his disease, and of the only remedy for it; one who
never was warned, or never regarded the warning voice of
God, 'to flee from the wrath to come'; one that never yet
saw he was in danger of hell-fire, or cried out in the earnestness
of his soul, 'What must I do to be saved?'
||If this sleeper be not outwardly vicious, his sleep is
usually the deepest of all: whether he be of the Laodicean
spirit, 'neither cold nor hot,' but a quiet, rational, inoffensive,
good-natured professor of the religion of his fathers; or
whether he be zealous and orthodox, and, 'after the most
straitest sect of our religion,' live 'a Pharisee'; that is,
according to the scriptural account, one that justifies himself;
one that labours to establish his own righteousness, as the
ground of his acceptance with God.
||This is he, who, 'having a form of godliness, denies the
power thereof'; yea, and probably reviles it, wheresoever it
is found, as mere extravagance and delusion. Meanwhile,
the wretched self-deceiver thanks God, that he is 'not as
other men are; adulterers, unjust, extortioners no, he doeth
no wrong to any man. He 'fasts twice in a week,' uses all
the means of grace, is constant at church and sacrament; yea,
and 'gives tithes of all that he has'; does all the good that
he can: 'touching the righteousness of the law,' he is ' blameless':
he wants nothing of godliness, but the power; nothing
of religion, but the spirit; nothing of Christianity, but the
truth and the life.
||But know ye not, that, however highly esteemed among
men such a Christian as this may be, he is an abomination in
the sight of God, and an heir of every woe which the Son of
God, yesterday, to-day, and for ever, denounces against
'scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites'? He hath 'made clean
the outside of the cup and the platter,' but within is full of
all filthiness. 'An evil disease cleaveth still unto him, so that
his inward parts are very wickedness.' Our Lord fitly compares
him to a 'painted sepulchre,' which 'appears beautiful
without'; but, nevertheless, is 'full of dead men's bones, and
of all uncleanness.' The bones indeed are no longer dry; the
sinews and flesh are come upon them, and the skin covers
them above: but there is no breath in them, no Spirit of the
living God. And, 'if any man have not the Spirit of Christ,
he is none of His.' 'Ye are Christ's, if so be that the Spirit
of God dwell in you': but, if not, God knoweth that ye abide
in death, even until now.
||This is another character of the sleeper here spoken to.
He abides in death, though he knows it not. He is dead unto
God, 'dead in trespasses and sins.' For, 'to be carnally
minded is death,' Even as it is written, 'By one man sin
entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed
upon all men' not only temporal death, but likewise spiritual
O,nd eternal. In that day that thou eatest,' said God to
Adain, 'thou shalt surely die' not bodily (unless as he then
became mortal), but spiritually thou shalt lose the life of thy
Soul; thou shalt die to God; shalt be separated from Him,
thy essential life and happiness.
||Thus first was dissolved the vital union of our soul with
God; insomuch that 'in the midst of' natural 'life, we
are' now in spiritual 'death.' And herein we remain till the
Second Adam becomes a quickening Spirit to us; till He raises
the dead, the dead in sin, in pleasure, riches, or honours. But,
before any dead soul can live, he 'hears' (hearkens to) 'the
voice of the Son of God': he is made sensible of his lost estate,
and receives the sentence of death in himself. He knows
himself to be 'dead while he liveth'; dead to God, and all
the things of God; having no more power to perform the
actions of a living Christian, than a dead body to perform
the functions of a living man.
||And most certain it is, that one dead in sin has not
'senses exercised to discern spiritual good and evil.' 'Having
eyes, he sees not; he hath ears, and hears not.' He doth
not 'taste and see that the Lord is gracious.' He 'hath not
seen God at any time,' nor 'heard His voice,' nor 'handled
the word of life.' In vain is the name of Jesus 'like ointment
poured forth, and all His garments smell of myrrh, aloes, and
cassia.' The soul that sleepeth in death hath no perception of
any objects of this kind. His heart is 'past feeling,' and
understandeth none of these things.
||And hence, having no spiritual senses, no inlets of
spiritual knowledge, the natural man receiveth not the things,
of the Spirit of God; nay, he is so far from receiving them,
that whatsoever is spiritually discerned is mere foolishness
unto him. He is not content with being utterly ignorant of
spiritual things, but he denies the very existence of them. And
spiritual sensation itself is to him the foolishness of folly.
'How,' saith he, 'can these things be? How can any man
know that he is alive to God?' Even as you know that your
body is now alive. Faith is the life of the soul; and if ye have
this life abiding in you, ye want no marks to evidence it to
yourself, but @"xeyXo,; Ilvev',UaTOI;, that divine consciousness, that
witness of God, which is more and greater than ten thousand
||If He doth not now bear witness with thy spirit, that
thou art a child of God, O that He might convince thee, thou
poor unawakened sinner, by His demonstration and power,
that thou art a child of the devil! O that, as I prophesy,
there might now be 'a noise and a shaking'; and may 'the
bones come together, bone to his bone!' Then 'come from
the four winds, O Breath! and breathe on these slain, that
they may live!' And do not ye harden your hearts, and
resist the Holy Ghost, who even now is come to convince you
of sin, 'because you believe not on the name of the only
begotten Son of God.'
||Wherefore, 'awake, thou that steepest, and arise
from the dead.' God calleth thee now by my mouth; and
bids thee know thyself, thou fallen spirit, thy true state and
only concern below. 'What meanest thou, 0 sleeper? Arise!
Call upon thy God, if so be thy God will think upon thee,
that thou perish not.' A mighty tempest is stirred up round
about thee, and thou art sinking into the depths of perdition,
the gulf of God's judgements. If thou wouldest escape them,
cast thyself into them. 'judge thyself, and thou shalt not
be judged of the Lord.'
||Awake, awake! Stand up this moment, lest thou 'drink
at the Lord's hand the cup of His fury.' Stir up thyself to
lay hold on the Lord, the Lord thy Righteousness, mighty to
save! 'Shake thyself from the dust.' At least, let the earthquake
of God's threatenings shake thee. Awake, and cry
Out with the trembling jailer, 'What must I do to be saved?'
And never rest till thou believest on the Lord Jesus,
with a faith which is His gift, by the operation of His Spirit.
||If I speak to any one of you, more than to another, it is
to thee, who thinkest thyself unconcerned in this exhortation.
'I have a message from God unto thee.' In His name, I
warn thee 'to flee from the wrath to come.' Thou unholy
soul, see thy picture in condemned Peter, lying in the dark
dungeon, between the soldiers, bound with two chains, the
keepers before the door keeping the prison. The night is
far spent, the morning is at hand, when thou art to be brought
forth to execution. And in these dreadful circumstances,
thou art fast asleep; thou art fast asleep in the devil's arms,
on the brink of the pit, in the jaws of everlasting destruction!
||O may the Angel of the Lord come upon thee, and the
light shine into thy prison! And mayest thou feel the stroke
of an Almighty Hand, raising thee, with, 'Arise up quickly,
gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals, cast thy garment about
thee, and follow Me.'
||Awake, thou everlasting spirit, out of thy dream of
worldly happiness! Did not God create thee for Himself?
Then thou canst not rest till thou restest in Him. Return,
thou wanderer! Fly back to thy ark. This is not thy home.
Think not of building tabernacles here. Thou art but a
stranger, a sojourner upon earth; a creature of a day, but
just launching out into an unchangeable state. Make haste.
Eternity is at hand, Eternity depends on this moment. An
eternity of happiness, or an eternity of misery!
||In what state is thy soul? Was God, while I am yet
speaking, to require it of thee, art thou ready to meet death
and judgement? Canst thou stand in His sight, who is of
'purer eyes than to behold iniquity'? Art thou 'meet to
be partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light'? Hast
thou 'fought a good fight, and kept the faith'? Hast thou
secured the one thing needful? Hast thou recovered the
image of God, even righteousness and true holiness? Hast
thou put off the old man, and put on the new? Art thou
clothed upon with Christ?
||Hast thou oil in thy lamp? grace in thy heart? Dost
thou 'love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all
thy mind, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength'?
Is that mind in thee, which was also in Christ Jesus? Art
thou a Christian indeed; that is, a new creature? Are old
things passed away, and all things become new?
||Art thou a 'partaker of the divine nature'? Knowest
thou not that 'Christ is in thee, except thou be reprobate '?
Knowest thou that God 'dwelleth in thee, and thou in God,
by His Spirit, which He hath given thee'? Knowest thou
not that 'thy body is a temple of the Holy Ghost, which thou
hast of God'? Hast thou the witness in thyself? the earnest
of thine inheritance? [Art thou sealed by that Spirit of
Promise, unto the day of redemption?] Hast thou 'received
the Holy Ghost'? Or dost thou start at the question, not
knowing' whether there be any Holy Ghost'?
||If it offends thee, be thou assured, that thou neither
art a Christian, nor desirest to be one. Nay, thy very prayer
is turned into sin; and thou hast solemnly mocked God this
very day, by praying for the inspiration of His Holy Spirit,
when thou didst not believe there was any such thing to be
||Yet, on the authority of God's Word, and our own
Church, I must repeat the question, 'Hast thou received the
Holy Ghost?' If thou hast not, thou art not yet a Christian.
For a Christian is a man that is 'anointed with the Holy
Ghost and with power.' Thou art not yet made a partaker
of pure religion and undefiled. Dost thou know what religion
is?--that it is a participation of the divine nature; the life
God in the soul of man; Christ formed in the heart; 'Christ
in thee, the hope of glory'; happiness and holiness; heaven
begun upon earth a kingdom of God within thee; not meat
and drink,' no outward thing; 'but righteousness, and peace,
and joy in the Holy Ghost'; an everlasting kingdom brought
into thy soul; a 'peace of God, that passeth all understanding';
a 'joy unspeakable, and full of glory'?
||Knowest thou, that 'in Jesus Christ, neither circumcision
availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith that
worketh by love'; but a new creation? Seest thou the
necessity of that inward change, that spiritual birth, that life
from the dead, that holiness? And art thou thoroughly
convinced, that without it no man shall see the Lord? Art
thou labouring after it?--'giving all diligence to make thy
calling and election sure,' 'working out thy salvation with fear
and trembling,' 'agonizing to enter in at the strait gate'?
Art thou in earnest about thy soul? And canst thou tell the
Searcher of hearts, ' Thou, 0 God, art the thing that I long
for! Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I
would love Thee!'
||Thou hopest to be saved; but what reason hast thou
to give of the hope that is in thee? Is it because thou hast
done no harm? or, because thou hast done much good? or
because thou art not like other men; but wise, or learned, or
honest, and morally good; esteemed of men, and of a fair
reputation? Alas! all this will never bring thee to God. It
is in His account lighter than vanity. Dost thou know Jesus
Christ, whom He hath sent? Hath He taught thee, that 'by
grace we are saved through faith; and that not of ourselves:
it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast'?
Hast thou received the faithful saying, as the whole foundation
of thy hope, 'that Jesus Christ came into the world to save
sinners? Hast thou learned what that meaneth, 'I came
not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance? I am not
sent, but unto the lost sheep'? Art thou (he that heareth,
let him understand!) lost, dead, damned already? Dost thou
know thy deserts? Dost thou feel thy wants? Art thou
'poor in spirit'? mourning for God, and refusing to be comforted?
Is the prodigal 'come to himself,' and well content
to be therefore thought 'beside himself' by those who are
still feeding upon the husks which he hath left? Art thou
willing to live godly in Christ Jesus? And dost thou therefore
suffer persecution? Do men say all manner of evil against
thee falsely, for the Son of Man's sake?
||O that in all these questions ye may hear the voice that
wakes the dead; and feel that hammer of the Word, which
breaketh the rocks in pieces! 'If ye will hear His voice to-day,
while it is called to-day, harden not your hearts.' Now,
'awake, thou that steepest in spiritual death, that thou sleep
not in death eternal! Feel thy lost estate, and 'arise from
the dead.' Leave thine old companions in sin and death.
Follow thou Jesus, and let the dead bury their dead. 'Save
thyself from this untoward generation.' 'Come out from
among them, and be thou separate, and touch not the unclean
thing, and the Lord shall receive thee.' 'Christ shall give
||This promise, I come, lastly, to explain. And how
encouraging a consideration is this, that whosoever thou art,
'Who obeyest His call, thou canst not seek His face in vain! If
thou even now 'awakest, and arisest from the dead,' He hath
bound Himself to 'give thee light.' 'The Lord shall give
thee grace and glory'; the light of His grace here, and the
light of His glory when thou receivest the crown that fadeth
not away. ' Thy light shall break forth as the morning, and
thy darkness be as the noon-day.' 'God, who commanded
the light to shine out of darkness, shall shine in thy heart; to
give the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus
Christ.' 'On them that fear the Lord shall the Sun of
Righteousness arise with healing in His wings.' And in that day it
shall be said unto thee, 'Arise, shine; for thy light is come
and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.' For Christ
shall reveal Himself in thee: and He is the true Light.
||God is light, and will give Himself to every awakened
sinner that waiteth for Him; and thou shalt then be a temple
of the living God, and Christ shall 'dwell in thy heart by
faith': and, 'being rooted and grounded in love, thou shalt
be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth,
and length, and depth, and height of that love of Christ which
passeth knowledge,' [that thou mayest be filled with all the
fullness of God.]
||Ye see your calling, brethren. We are called to be 'an
habitation of God through His Spirit '; and, through His
Spirit dwelling in us, to be saints here, and partakers of the
inheritance of the saints in light. So exceeding great are the
promises which are given unto us, actually given unto us who
believe! For by faith 'we receive, not the spirit of the world,
but the Spirit which is of God'--the sum of all the promises--'that
we may know the things that are freely given to us of
||The Spirit of Christ is that great gift of God which, at
sundry times, and in divers manners, He hath promised to man,
and hath fully bestowed since the time that Christ was glorified.
Those promises, before made to the fathers, He hath thus
fulfilled: 'I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to
walk in My statutes' (Ezek. xxxvi. 27). 'I will pour water
upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground:
I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed, and My blessing upon
thine offspring' (Isa. xliv. 3).
||Ye may all be living witnesses of these things; of remission
of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. 'If thou canst
believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.' 'Who
among you is there that feareth the Lord, and' yet walketh
'in darkness, and hath no light'? I ask thee, in the name
of Jesus, Believest thou that His arm is not shortened at all?
that He is still mighty to save? that He is the same yesterday,
to-day, and for ever? that He hath now power on earth to
forgive sins? 'Son, be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven.'
God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven thee. Receive this,
'not as the word of man; but as it is indeed, the word of
God'; and thou art justified freely through faith. Thou
shalt be sanctified also through faith which is in Jesus, and
shalt set to thy seal, even thine, that 'God hath given unto us
eternal life, and this life is in His Son.'
||Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you; and
suffer ye the word of exhortation, even from one the least
esteemed in the Church. Your conscience beareth you witness
in the Holy Ghost, that these things are so, if so be ye have
tasted that the Lord is gracious. 'This is eternal life, to know
the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom He hath sent.'
This experimental knowledge, and this alone, is true Christianity.
He is a Christian who hath received the Spirit of
Christ. He is not a Christian who hath not received Him.
Neither is it possible to have received Him, and not know it.
'For, at that day' (when He cometh, saith our LOrd), 'e
shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in
you.' This is that 'Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot
receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but
ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you'
(John xiv. 17).
||The world cannot receive Him, but utterly rejecteth the
Promise of the Father, contradicting and blaspheming. But
every spirit which confesseth not this is not of God. Yea,
'this is that spirit of Antichrist, whereof ye have heard that
it should come into the world; and even now it is in the world.'
He is Antichrist whosoever denies the inspiration of the Holy
Ghost, or that the indwelling Spirit of God is the common
privilege of all believers, the blessing of the gospel, the unspeakable
gift, the universal promise, the criterion of a real Christian.
||It nothing helps them to say, ' We do not deny the
assistance of God's Spirit; but only this inspiration, this
receiving the Holy Ghost, and being sensible of it. It is only
this feeling of the Spirit, this being moved by the Spirit, or filled
with it, which we deny to have any place in sound religion.'
But, in only denying this, you deny the whole Scriptures; the
whole truth, and promise, and testimony of God.
||Our own excellent Church knows nothing of this devilish
distinction; but speaks plainly of 'feeling the Spirit of Christ';
of being 'moved by the Holy Ghost' and knowing and 'feeling
there is no other name than that of Jesus,' whereby we can
receive life and salvation. She teaches us all to pray for the
'inspiration of the Holy Spirit'; yea, that we may be 'filled
with the Holy Ghost.' Nay, and every Presbyter of hers
professes to receive the Holy Ghost by the imposition of hands.
Therefore, to deny any of these, is, in effect, to renounce the
Church of England, as well as the whole Christian revelation.
||But 'the wisdom of God' was always 'foolishness
with men.' No marvel, then, that the great mystery of the
gospel should be now also 'hid from the wise and prudent,'
as well as in the days of old; that it should be almost universally
denied, ridiculed, and exploded, as mere frenzy; and that
all who dare avow it still are branded with the names of madmen
and enthusiasts! This is 'that falling away' which was to
come; that general apostasy of all orders and degrees of men,
which we even now find to have overspread the earth. 'Run
to and fro in the streets of Jerusalem, and see if ye can find a
man,' a man that loveth the Lord his God with all his heart
and serveth Him with all his strength. How does our own
land mourn (that we look no farther) under the overflowings
of ungodliness! What villanies of every kind are committed
day by day; yea, too often with impunity, by those who sin
with a high hand, and glory in their shame! Who can reckon
up the oaths, curses, profaneness, blasphemies; the lying,
slandering, evil-speaking; the Sabbath-breaking, gluttony,
drunkenness, revenge; the whoredoms, adulteries, and various
uncleanness; the frauds, injustice, oppression, extortion,
which overspread our land as a flood?
||And even among those who have kept themselves
pure from these grosser abominations, how much anger
and pride, how much sloth and idleness, how much softness
and effeminacy, how much luxury and self-indulgence, how
much covetousness and ambition, how much thirst of praise,
how much love of the world, how much fear of man, is to be
found! Meanwhile, how little of true religion! For, where
is he that loveth either God or his neighbour, as He hath given
us commandment? On the one hand, are those who have
not so much as the form of godliness; on the other those who
have the form only: there stands the open, there the painted,
sepulchre. So that in very deed, whosoever were earnestly
to behold any public gathering together of the people (I fear
those in our churches are not to be excepted), might easily
perceive, 'that the one part were Sadducees, and the other
Pharisees': the one having almost as little concern about
religion, as if there were 'no resurrection, neither angel nor
spirit'; and the other making it a mere lifeless form, a dull
round of external performances, without either true faith, or
the love of God, or joy in the Holy Ghost!
||Would to God I could except us of this place!
'Brethren, my heart's desire, and prayer to God, for you is,
that ye may be saved' from this overflowing of ungodliness;
and that here may its proud waves be stayed! But is it so
indeed? God knoweth, yea, and our own consciences, it is
not. Ye have not kept yourselves pure. Corrupt are we
also and abominable; and few are there that understand any
more; few that worship God in spirit and in truth. We, too,
are 'a generation that set not our hearts aright, and whose
spirit cleaveth not steadfastly unto God.' He hath appointed
us indeed to be 'the salt of the earth: but if the salt hath
lost its savour, it is thenceforth good for nothing; but to be
cast out, and to be trodden underfoot of men.'
||And 'shall I not visit for these things, saith the Lord?
Shall not My soul be avenged on such a nation as this?' Yea,
we know not how soon He may say to the sword, 'Sword,
go through this land!' He hath given us long space to repent,
He lets us alone this year also: but He warns and awakens
us by thunder. His judgements are abroad in the earth; and
we have all reason to expect the heaviest of all, even that
He 'should come unto us quickly, and remove our candlestick
out of its place, except we repent and do the first works';
unless we return to the principles of the Reformation, the
truth and simplicity of the gospel. Perhaps we are now
resisting the last effort of divine grace to save us. Perhaps
we have wellnigh 'filled up the measure of our iniquities,' by
rejecting the counsel of God against ourselves, and casting
out His messengers.
||O God, 'in the midst of wrath, remember mercy'!
Be glorified in our reformation, not in our destruction! Let
us 'hear the rod, and Him that appointed it'! Now that
Thy 'judgements are abroad in the earth,' let the inhabitants
of the world 'learn righteousness'!
||My brethren, it is high time for us to awake out of sleep
before the 'great trumpet of the Lord be blown,' and our land
become a field of blood. O may we speedily see the things
that make for our peace, before they are hid from our eyes!
'Turn Thou us, O good Lord, and let Thine anger cease from
us. O Lord, look down from heaven, behold and visit this
vine'; and cause us to know 'the time of our visitation.'
'Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Thy name!
O deliver us, and be merciful to our sins, for Thy name's sake!
And so we will not go back from Thee. O let us live, and we
shall call upon Thy name. Turn us again, O Lord God of
Hosts! Show the light of Thy countenance, and we shall be
'Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly
above all that we can ask or think, according to the power that
worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus
throughout all ages, world without end. Amen!'