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law, we have fallen into condemnation, from which we cannot deliver ourselves. An insensibility of this state is an evidence of a spirit of slumber.
The just live by faith in the Son of God. This faith is something more than a speculative belief, that the Son of God is the saviour of men. As much as this the devils believe. It is such a humbling view of our guilt, and such a sensible persuasion of his author. ity, grace and sufficiency to save the guilty, as brings the soul to submit to him in all his characters.
Conviction of sin must precede faith in Christ. The law, which gives the knowledge of our guilt, is a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ
, that we may be justified by faith. Paul was alive without the law; but when the commandment came home to his conscience, sin revived in his apprehension, and he saw himself to be dead. Then he complained, O wretched man that I am! Then he inquired, who shall deliver me from this death ? And then he gave thanks to God, that there was deliverance through Jesus Christ the Lord.
Here, my friends, renew the enquiry-What report does your conscience make on the question under consideration ?-Can you say, that, under a deep convic. tion of your pollution and guilt, you have earnestly desired, diligently sought, and humbly accepted the de. liverance ofered in the gospel ? Or must you confess, that you have lived strangers to this conviction ?
Think it not sufficient, that, on the authority of scripture, which pronounces all men sinners, you are free to acknowledge yourselves such. If this is all your conviction, it is no more to your purpose, than your acknowledgment, that the Turks or Algerienes are sin.
The conviction must not hover around at a distance ; it must settle upon yourselves. You must see your own sinfulness- your own desert of God's wrath your own dependence on the great Saviour of sinners. If you have had no such view of yourselves,
you are yet concerned in the call, Awake thou that sleepefl and arise from the dead..
4. If you have no conflicts with sịn and temptation, you are in a state of slumber.
The Christian life is a warfare, not only with flesh and blood, but also with principalities and powers, wicked Spirits, and the rulers of the darkness of this world. The remains of sin, the motions of the flesh, the objects of the world, the examples of sinners, and the temptations of Satan, oppose the Christian in his heavenly course. If he would proceed with constancy, he must wrestle with all these. From this warfare nothing can free us, but absolute victory, or total subjec. tion. The Christian, in this state of imperfection, never gains such an entire conquest over his enemies, as to spoil them of all their power. Though he is de livered from their dominion, he is not freed from their molestation.
If then you know not what it means to resist temptations, to strive against corruptions, to deny yourselves, to crucify the flesh; you are led captive by your enemies at their will.
You may, indeed, have some inward struggles with sin, when you are not delivered from its dominion. An alarming providence, the forebodings of conscience, a sense of shame, a regard to interest, may, at times, excite you to some opposition against particular sins, when there is no principle of holiness in your hearts. But then, if there are no conflicts of this kind, you are in bondage to iniquity. Sin has full, uncontrouled dominion over you.
5. The prevalence of a sensual and carnal disposition is a sign of spiritual death.
They who have risen with Christ to a spiritual life, have set their affections on things above; their conversation is in heaven ; they walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit ; they are laying up treasure in heayen, and their hearts are with their treasure.
are strangers to such a life as this ; if the glory of heaven has never appeared to you in such a light, as to make you despise and forego every thing which comes in competition with it; if you are carrying on a scheme for this world only, and not for the future; if you have no delight in the exercises of religion, nor desire of God's favor; if you can live contented without the present tokens of his love, and without the hope of a fu. ture admission to the presence of his glory ; you are under the influence of spiritual slumber—you are dead in trespasses and sin.
6. Stupidity under the warnings of God's word and providence, indicates such a state of soul, as the scripture compares to sleep.
The Christian, renewed in the spirit of his mind, has a quick and lively sense of divine things—he has a heart which is tender, apt to be impressed with the concerns of religion, open to conviction of, and susceptible of relentings for sin. When he is warned of God, he is moved with fear. He is afraid of God's judgments and trembles at his word. This spiritual sensibility is an essential property of the new creature.
What is your temper? Is it the reverse of this ? Is your heart unfeeling to guilt and danger ? Is it impenetrable to the sword of the Spirit ? Can you hear the impenitent sinner described by characters, which direct. ly apply to you, and yet not be affected with your awful state? Can you hear the warnings of God's word and providence proclaimed, and yet feel no solicitude ; but still datter yourselves that you shall have peace ?You are as one that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or that sleepeth on the top of the mast.
7. The soul, in which the temper of the gospel is formed, hungers and thirsts after righteousness, desires spiritual growth, and reaches after perfection. How is it with you ? Are you unacquainted with the aspira. tions of the humble soul after holy and heavenly improvements ? Are you contented with the attainments,
which you suppose you have already made? Does your hope of heaven make you careless and negligent in duty ? Do you rest satisfied with such a measure of goodness, as you imagine, may be sufficient to save you from hell? If this is your spirit and temper, all your religion is vain, and all your hopes are delusive.
The true Christian loves God's word, because he is thereby instructed, encouraged and quickened in his duty. He loves divine ordinances, because he is thereby nourished in faith and holiness. As a new born babe he desires this sincere milk, that he may grow thereby. His holy desires excite him to prayer. He maintains a daily communion with God. He comes to the throne of grace, that he may obtain grace to help in time of need. If then you live in a careless and customary neglect of these instituted means of religion, you are, undoubtedly, in that indolent state of mind, which our text expresses by the metaphors of sleep and death.
To you, then, I may, with great propriety, and God grant, I may with equal success,
II. Open and apply the call in the text, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead.
1. This awaking must suppose and imply a conviction of your sin, and a sense of your danger.
Exhortations to repentance are addressed, without effect, to those who know not that they are miserable and wretched. When such are urged to return unto God, their language is, Where'u shall we return?
Compare yourselves with the law of God, that you may obtain the knowledge of sin; bring home to yourselves the threatenings of the law, that sin may appear exceeding sinful.
The call in the text is a warning of your danger. It is like that of the shipmaster to Jonah, sleeping in a storm : “ What meanest thou, O sleeper? Arise, call upon thy God.” It is like that of the prophet to the selfflattering sinners in Judah: “Rise up, ye that are at
ease ; hear my voice, ye careless ones ; many days and years shall ye be troubled.” .
Consider, I beseech you, my friends, what a condition you are in. God has appointed a day, in which he will judge the world in righteousness. The punishment, which he will inflict on those of your character, is great beyond conception. The scripture represents it by the most awful images and similitudes. Whatever may be their particular import, they evidently signify, in general, that the punishment which awaits the ungodly will be perpetual and extreme. Though it will not be executed in full measure, until the final judgment, yet it will undoubtedly, begin at the time of death. The rich man, when he died, lifted up his. eyes in hell, being in torments. This is not spoken by way of anticipation; for at this time, he had five brethren in his father's house, to whom he wished a special warning might be sent, lest they should come to that place of torment. You are, therefore, now exposed to this punisment. It is only the precarious breath of your nostrils, which suspends it.
Your danger is much increased by your carelessness, because this renders your repentance more doubtful. While your carelessness continues, your danger is daily growing greater ; for you are adding sin to sin ; you are abusing the mercy and patience of God; you are hardening your heart" more and more ; you are sinking from slumber to sleep, from sleep to death, in your trespasses and sins. It is therefore high time to awake; for while you say, peace and safety, destruction is coming upon you ; and “ your iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly in an instant."
2. This awaking from sleep, and arising from the dead, implies a real repentance of sin, and turning to God.
“ Awake to righteousness," says the Apostle, “and sin not." “ The night is far spent, the day is at hand; it is high time to awake out of sleep. Let us there