Sermon 716. The Church Awakened
DELIVERED ON SUNDAY EVENING, OCTOBER 7, 1866,
BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
" Therefore He says: Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.'"
WE have not time this evening to enter into the question as to where this quotation came from. There does not appear to beone exactly like it in the compass of the Old Testament-but we must remember that the Apostle very frequently quotes the spiritof texts rather than the words of them. Inthe eighth and in the tenth chapters of the Epistle to the Hebrews we find him quoting the same passage, but not in thesame words, showing us that he, as an inspired man, felt himself able to deal rather with the spirit of a passage than withthe precise words of it. There may,therefore, be no such passage in the Old Testament verbally, but as there are several which have the spirit of the exhortation,Paul was justified in saying, "God has said so-and-so."
Besides, the passage may not be a quotation at all. The Apostle may mean to say that Christ said that to him, or that Christsaid that by him-that Christ intended, even then, while he was handling the pen and writing, to say the words which he thenwrote-"He said so-and-so." We have notime, however, to go into that matter. It is a more important question, perhaps-To whom is this text addressed? Nine timesout of ten when it is preached, it is taken as though it were addressed to the ungodly. It is a very proper text to addressto the ungodly, but I do notsee that the connection permits it.
There are some who would think it altogether unscriptural and unsound to address these words to those who have no spirituallife. We are not of their number. If we see a man ever so deadly asleep we believe we are commissioned by God to preach theGospel to him, and to say, "Awake, you who sleeps,"and though more and more persuaded of the need of moral sensibility in man and the desperate character of his depravity,we are not among those who fear to preach to dead sinners, but dare to say, even to the dead, "Thus says the Lord, You drybones, hear the word of the Lord. Thussays the Lord, You dry bones, live!" We can, therefore, very well take this text and address it to the ungodly.
But this is not intended to be a sermon to the unconverted. It appears to me to have been addressed to the Church of God atEphesus-to have been the language of Paul to God's own people-warning them not to fall into the same habits as did the childrenof darkness, but to come out andshow themselves to be God's people. I know the objection will be raised that they are told to come forth from the dead.But I do not see that that is any obstacle at all, for albeit that the people of God may not be spiritually dead in the sensein which the ungodly are, yet howoften do we speak of ourselves as feeling as if we were dead? How often do we speak of our graces and of our piety as thoughthey were come into a cold and dead state?
It is comparative death that the Apostle here means. We may use the words employed here as we would use them in common conversationand say that though there are some quivers of spiritual life in the breast of every Believer, yet there are multitudes whoare outwardly dead as to their usefulness!And there are Christians and Churches, too, of whom we may say, without at all libeling them, "You are dead, awake you thatsleep." Whatever objection there may be to addressing the text to the converted, there will be far more difficulty in addressingit to the unconverted, and Ithink there ought to be no hesitation in directing it to either.
To raise difficulties is very easy, but meekly to try to learn what the Savior would say is far better. I intend tonight,then, to use the text to you Christians, you Church members, you professors. The first thing we shall discuss is the stateof mind into which many Christians get. Secondly, whatChrist has to say to them about this state, namely, "Awake, and arise from the dead." And then, thirdly, the gracious promisewith which we are encouraged to make the effort. "Christ shall give you light."
I. First, then, let us notice THE STATE OF MIND INTO WHICH A CHRISTIAN MAY SOMETIMES GET. The state of mind into which a genuineChristian may fall, and, if a genuine Christian, much more a spurious one-he may be asleep, and, in a modified sense, evendead. Let me begin describing this stateof mind by mentioning the insidious character of it. A Christian may be asleep and not know it! Indeed, if he did know ithe would not be asleep! It is a part of sleep for men to be in an unconscious state, and when a Christian begins to slumber,perhaps he dreams that he is richand increased in goods. But he is not at all likely to take up a lamentation to himself, and say, "I am asleep," for ifa man could say, "I am asleep," I think it would he pretty tolerable evidence that he was awake-and the fear of being asleep,the very dread of beingasleep-would be proof, at any rate, of some degree of wakefulness.
Often, very often, when young people come to me and say, "Oh, Sir, I am afraid I am a hypocrite," my answer generally is,"Then I am not afraid of it, for when you are afraid of such a sin as that it is not at all likely that you are guilty ofit." Some of you, then, tonight, may be in a verysleepy state, and for this very reason you will not think so. And, Brethren, a man who is asleep may be kept in very goodcountenance by his neighbors. His fellow Christians may not be likely to accuse him of it, for probably they are in the samestate. If you put number of sleepingpeople together they are not likely to be very active in rebuking one another-so that this state of mind is very dangerousand very insidious.
A man may be in a Church where nearly all the members are asleep and they may say that the other Churches in the neighborhoodare fanatical, enthusiastic, and a great deal too earnest. And thus all these people are sleeping to the same tune, and comfortingone another in it. Oh, then, may God helpthem, for they are in a very perilous state! A person, too, who is asleep, may have taken care, before he went to sleep,to prevent anybody coming in to wake him. There is a way of bolting the door of your heart against anybody. If you get intocertain views of doctrine you can veryeasily go to sleep and your doctrines will stand as sentinels at the doors to prevent anybody from awakening you.
Beware of Antinomianism! If you once drink a draught of that it will send you into such a sleep as you may never awaken! Ifyou fall into certain hyper-Calvinistic views you will have a reply ready to the rebuke of the most earnest of God's servants.You will begin to judge them instead of judgingyourselves, and accuse them of being unorthodox while you believe yourselves to be sound-and so you are-but only in thesense of being sound asleep. This sleepiness in the Christian is exceedingly dangerous, too, because he can do a great dealwhile he is asleep thatwill make him look as if he were quite awake.
For instance, some people talk in their sleep, and many professors will talk just as if they were the most active, the mostearnest, the most gracious, the most warm-hearted people anywhere! I say to you what I mean when I declare that I have heardpeople in this very house pray in their sleep. Ido not mean in their natural sleep, but in their spiritual sleep. I could tell by the droning way in which they prayed,and by their repeating some phrases that I had heard them use before that they were not awake to the duty-that they were notreally praying, throwing theirsouls into it-but praying because they were asked to do so, and so just went through the motions, their souls being asleepall the time.
And many a man has sung a hymn in this house asleep, too. His heart has never been awakened to the true melody of praise,yet he has got through the hymn somehow, his lips making a sound, but his heart never singing at all. He himself is awakeenough to catch the notes, but his heart not awakeenough to drink into the true spirit of thanksgiving. So, you see, it is hard for a man to know he is in this state, sincehe can talk when asleep even as others do! What is more amazing, some people can walk in their sleep! Yes, and walk in dangerousplaces where waking men wouldbe unsafe. They, by some strange influence, seem to walk steadily and calmly along the eddies and turn by the dangers beneath.Even the howling of winds abroad seems to be inoperative upon their senses, and they, therefore, have a kind of security whichmore wakefulness would removefrom them.
And, oh, the fatal security of some professors, and the way in which they will dally with the world and yet keep up an outwardlyconsistent character! Oh, the manner in which some Christians will go as near to the fire of sin as well may be, and be scorchedby it and yet not burned! Oh, some of youare good, excellent, moral people in the judgment of men, but nevertheless, as Christians you do not seem to be awake tothe interest of Christ's kingdom! And as a man can thus talk in his sleep, and walk in his sleep, there is another thing hecan do better than other people,namely, dream in his sleep! He is the man to concoct plans and discover new inventions. He can sketch out methods for buildingchapels, oh, so rapidly! He can find ways of bringing out ministers, and doing all sorts of things, and yet he is asleep allthe while!
The waking man does it, and proves that he is awake by doing it-but the slumbering man only calculates-so many pence a week,so many subscriptions, and the thing will be done! But there is never a brick to show for all his dreams! He dreams deliciously,but as for activity, it is notthere. He could always manage a Sunday school, or build a Christian interest better than anybody else-but no Sunday schoolor Christian interest ever springs up under his hand because the man's whole activity shows itself in inventions which arenever executed, and in planswhich are never carried out.
I say, then, that it becomes very dangerous, because sometimes these dreaming people do dream good things, and they get carriedout by some practical person, while they, themselves, are asleep all the while. As we have often seen a sleeping drayman withhis horses going on with their load, so theycan make others work while they themselves sleep! And the worst of it is that when these sleeping people get into a nicecomfortable position in the Christian Church they can fill it very well-and they are the last people in the world to get out-because,sleepy as theyare, they know when the bed is soft and warm. And oh, when sleeping ministers get into the pulpit, what a curse they areto us! And when sleepy church officers once get into their places there is no moving them! There they are and they seem tofill the place quite well-whileall the while it is as though the sentinel's box were filled with a slumbering man-and consequently the army is not guarded,and an attack may be made all of a sudden.
Oh, Sirs, I fear that half of Christian people nowadays are in this sleepy state, and yet if they were told so to their facethey would be very angry with the men who had the honesty to tell the truth! Perhaps some here are not awake, and if so theywill be the ones offended. And I shall,therefore, be like Swift, who said, "No doubt this is a capital sermon in Church to those who are awake. But it is of nouse to those who have been asleep while I have been preaching it." It is just that. The Brother to whom this applies mostwill be just the person to fold his armsand say, "We are well, and let us leave well enough alone." It is insidious in the last degree! I have thus endeavored toshow the deceptive character of this evil.
But, in the next place, what is the evil, itself? I do not know that I can describe it. But perhaps you have felt it, andcertainly you must have seen it. It is an unconsciousness of one's own slate, and a carelessness of such a kind as not towant to be conscious of it. The man takes everythingfor granted in religion. Whether he is a Christian or not does not awaken in him any questions. He believes he is, thinkshe is, and that is enough for him! He does not want to come to close dealings. He does not like the preacher who makes himtry the foundations. He would rathernot have such unpleasant points put to him. He says, like the man who sleeps on the mast, "A little more rest, and I willawake." I fear that many of us get into such a state as this.
Then he also becomes indifferent to the state of other men. The man who is asleep does not care what becomes of his neighbors-howcan he while he is asleep? And oh, some of you Christians do not care whether souls are saved or damned! It little concernssome Christians what becomes of St.Giles, or Bethnal Green, or Golden Lane. It is enough for them if they are comfortable! If they can attend a respectableplace of worship and go with others to Heaven, they are indifferent about everything else. And whether there shall be an increaseof darkness or of light inEngland does not seem to concern some Christians, nor even some ministers!
I know some very good and eminent professors in their way, who seem to me, at least in my poor judgment, as if it did notmatter to them whether half of England went to Hell, or whether all went to Heaven. No doubt they would be very pleased ifthe thing did happen that many were saved, but as towaking themselves up to the value of souls, and to engage in earnest effort and humble prayer, they are too much asleepfor that and are insensible to the state of others. And they seem, too, to be perfectly immoveable by all appeals. The bestargument is lost on a sleeping man! Youmight convince him if he were awake, but what can you do with him while he still slumbers?
Therefore it is that many a Christian enterprise has no assistance from professed Believers because, and only because theyare asleep. They might help it-they ought to help it-but they do not! They profess to be the servants of Jesus Christ, butthey do not serve Him because they areindifferent, and because they are much given to slumber. And then this slumbering spirit spreads itself over everythingelse. The sleeping Christian does not enjoy the Word. If he reads it, the text seems meaningless. If he hears it, he thinksthe preacher does not preach as he usedto do. If he goes to sing with others, he throws no heart into it. If he joins in the Prayer Meeting he goes in and out,but he does not wrestle with the Angel of Mercy.
As to his own closet, it is full of cobwebs! As to his own heart, he has not had an inspection of it for many a day becausethe man is got into a slumbering state. You can often detect Churches slumbering by the way in which they drawl out hymns,and their protracted prayers, which, after all, areno prayers at all! There is a heartlessness in the manner in which everything is done. Then these Brethren get unhappy,and afterwards they get to be quarrelsome. Do not let that be the case with any of us here!
Then there are some who get their Christianity into such a state that they are so nearly dead that they are always lookingafter evidences. We get into a low and miserable state because we are in a sleepy state. Where this continues long, a ChristianChurch comes to be a positive nuisance. Theseare strong words to use of any Church, but it is so. I know villages where it would be easy to establish a Baptist churchif it were not unhappily the case that there is one already there which does no good and which prevents anybody else fromdoing anything! A pulpit may sometimesbe the emblem of a curse! It may stand there. The Chapel may stand there and earnest ministers in the neighborhood may say,"We cannot go there because good Brother So-and-So is there," and good Brother So-and-So may simply be a naughty one who occupiesthe place without bringingany return to his Master.
You ask me how I can describe this state so well. I answer, because I have been in it myself, and have to mourn that I cannotthoroughly wake myself up even now! And oh, I am quite sure there are some of you who might well join with me in that mourning.Brethren, let us think of that word,ETERNITY, and how is it that we do not feel its power more? Think of the Judgment-think of the terrors of that tremendousday when Christ shall appear upon the Great White Throne! Remember the wrath of God! Remember the pit, which He has dug. Thinkof the Glory ofChrist-of the robes of whiteness, and the tearless eyes of the blood-washed! Can we think of these things, and yet be cold,callous, and indifferent? Shall we always be at this poor dying rate? May God grant that these weighty themes may have suchan effect upon us as theymust have if we are awake and no longer seem to be indifferent matters because we ourselves are so nearly asleep, so nearlydead!
Now, two or three words upon what makes this evil of Christians being asleep a great deal worse. It is this-they are Christ'sservants and they ought not to be asleep! If a servant is set to do a certain duty, you do not continue him in your serviceif he drops off asleep. Remember thevirgins who went out to meet the bridegroom? It was not wrong for them to be asleep at midnight. It was the proper timefor sleep. But it was wrong for them to sleep seeing that the bridegroom was come, and that they had gone out to meet him.It was wrong for them to sleep!
As I thought this matter over I thought that you and I, and every Christian who is asleep-we are very much like the Apostlesat the gate of Gethsemane. There was their Master sweating great drops of blood in awful agonizing prayer, and where werethey? Helping Him? Casting their prayers intothe treasury? Oh, no, not they! Watching against His adversaries and guarding Him against surprise? No, not they! Thereis the bold Peter who said he never would forsake his Master, but his head is on his bosom. There is John, who has sincereaffection for his Lord, but his eyes arefast closed! And James, also, is fast locked in the arms of Sleep.
It is very much the same with us. Christ is up yonder interceding and we are down here sleeping, the most of us! Christ isup there showing His wounds and pleading before the Father's Throne that He would visit the sons of men, and give Him to seeof the travail of His soul! And here are we, notwatching against His enemies nor helping Him by our prayers! No, we are busy here and there wasting precious time, whileimmortal souls are being lost! We are sleeping like men in the midst of harvest when the grain is waiting for the sickle!Our sickles are laid low and we stretchourselves beneath the shadow of some spreading tree and sleep!
Though black clouds are gathering, and the rain which will spoil the corn is certainly coming on, we, hired to do the day'swork, still sleep on! It is not so with you all, but it is so with many of us. It is so bad for us to be asleep, too, becauseit is quite certain that the enemy is awake. Youremember old Hugh Latimer's sermon in which he says that the devil is the busiest bishop in the kingdom? "Other bishops,"he said, "may not visit their dioceses, but he does. He is always at it, day and night." There is no waste of time with Satan!If we could send the devil tosleep we might take a nap ourselves, but we never can, and therefore we ought to be awake.
Christian, while you are sleeping, remember time is running out! If you could stop the hands of time you might afford yourselvesa little leisure. If you could, as we say, take Time by the forelock, you might pause awhile. But you must not rest, for thetremendous wheels of the chariot of Time aredriven at such a fearful rate that the axles are red-hot with speed, and there is no pause in that tremendous rush! On,on, on it goes, and a century has fled like a watch in the night! Time stops not-how can you loiter, Christians? And, meanwhile,souls are being lost!
Have you ever seen some of those marvelous pictures which illustrate Dante's "Inferno"? You may have seen one picture in whichthe artist represents souls as being driven about by wandering winds. I would change the picture and represent souls goingalong as in a mighty river-millions of thempassing by the banks of Time every hour-many of them snatched out of the current by angelic hands and landed safely uponthe shore. But oh, how many of them go onward to an awful waterfall? A waterfall of souls plunging over into eternal woe!As men stand to listen to the roarof Niagara and to see the flowing foam generated, so I would ask you to look at the waterfall of Death, and to see the multitudesof souls passing down it! A million a month in China alone, and how many millions in other parts of the world are passinginto eternity, unforgiven,unwashed in the Savior's blood?
Oh, Brothers and Sisters! And yet we sit down and sleep! God forgive us! God forgive us! I think that the very devil, if hewere saved, would not sleep. If the fiends of Hell could be washed in blood and made new creatures, I think their restlessactivity which makes them go about like roaringlions seeking whom they may devour would turn into another channel, and they would go about to win souls! Are we to go likesnails in the course of good, while swifter than the roe or the hart men fly in the road of evil? Shall it always be so?
The Christian pastor may forget the villager, but the parish priest will not! The Christian minister may not proclaim theGospel, but from the oratory of the monks there will be no uncertain sound! Christian women may forget to visit the sick,but the so-called "sisters of mercy" will be there! Youmay turn aside, Christian, if you please, from your position in the ranks of Christ, but you will not find the servantsof Satan so unfaithful! Oh that such restlessness might come upon us that we might have an insatiable hungering to do good,and an awful passion to bless ourfellow men! Oh that we might yearn and sigh because others will not repent and turn to God! May the Lord send us such anawakening! If not, our sin of sleeping is terrible, indeed.
Now, what is it that causes us to sleep? I have heard some say that it is having too much business. I do not believe it! Ido not find that you London Christians, as a body, are more asleep than country Christians. In fact, if I had my choice Imight select my country Brothers and Sisters for agreat many virtues, but certainly not for the virtue of being wide awake! Alas, in many of our country Churches nothingcan be conducted in a more slumbering manner. I think that of the two I would rather have you business men with your pulsesquickened by having so much to do thanI would have you go into the obscurity of the country where there is so little to stir the blood. I believe those who havethe most worldly business can often serve God better than those who have but little.
But still, we must never throw our sins upon the Providence of God! What is it, then? I will tell you. First, we are inclinedto slumber from the evil of our nature. This invests our sin with a double guilt. Master, deliver us from the guilt and thenfrom the power of sin! All the while we are thusasleep about Divine things, we are wide awake like the rest of the world about other things. I have sometimes remarked theway in which men will speak out in the shop most distinctly but only mumble in the Prayer Meeting. I have sometimes thoughtI have seen persons who, at thesound of a shilling, seemed to open their ears and start up be just as much the opposite way when it came to doing thingsfor Christ-first and foremost for this world, and last for the world to come-toiling like the ants to gain this world's dross,but as idle as abutterfly in regard to Divine things. This is so sad, because it proves that it is not lack of power to be active, but lackof will.
Next, it is very easy to send a man to sleep if you give him the chloroform of bad doctrine. That has sent half our Baptistchurches to sleep. They have been taught that man is not responsible to God. They have been taught clear fate and nothingbetter-and they have gone to sleep. And who,indeed, can take a dose of that without slumbering? Then, the sultry sun of prosperity sends many to sleep. You are prosperingtoo much! God seems to be too favorable to you in Providence and then the soul begins to sleep. Fullness of bread is a strongtemptation to a Christian. Ithas been asserted in high church papers that our youth-our young men and women-are dissatisfied with our services and system,and they are going to ritualism. I do not believe it!
My observation goes to show it is not the case. There are some attendees of our places of worship who were with us when theywere poor, who, having amassed a fortune, have retired to suburban villas and turned to places where they hear a Gospel aliento that which they heard when times weredifferent with them. But it is not the case with the young men and women of our churches! I do not believe the blame restswith them. It is the power of wealth which comes to them. I admire that prayer of Mr. Whitfield's for a young man who hadcome into possession of a largeproperty, that God would give him Divine Grace to persevere under such a trial.
Then in some people it is the intoxication ofpride. Get proud of your spiritual condition and that will soon send you to sleep.In others it is the lack of heart which is at the bottom of everything they do. They never were intense. They never were earnest,and consequently they have such littlezeal that that zeal soon goes to sleep. This is the age of the Enchanted Ground. He that can go through this age and notsleep must have something more than mortal about him-God must be with him keeping him awake! You cannot be long in the soporificair of this particularperiod of time without feeling that in spiritual things you grow lax, for it is a lax age-lax in doctrine, lax in principle,lax in morals, lax in everything-and only God can come in and help the Pilgrim to keep awake in this Enchanted Ground!
These, then, are some of the things to guard against. My time, unfortunately, is almost gone, and therefore I can only saya few words upon the second point.
II. What did Christ say to His people who were asleep? He said, "AWAKE YOU WHO SLEEP, ARISE FROM THE DEAD." Let me have alittle quiet talk with you, then, in the Master's name. Remember that Jesus speaks this in love. You never knew him do orsay anything that was not in love. Has there ever beenanything which has come either from His hands or His lips which has not been in love? Oh, then, believe that He would nothave said, "Awake!" if it were not the kindest thing He could possibly say to you!
He loves you, then, though you love Him so little and go to sleep in His very Presence! And it is His love which shows itselfto you in the best possible way by that startling word, "Awake! Awake! Awake!" Sometimes a mother's love lulls her child tosleep, but if there is a house on fire themother's love would take another expression and startle it from its slumber. And Christ's love takes that turn when He saysto you, "Awake! Awake! Awake!" Again, since Jesus says this to you, be assured that it is His wisdom as well as His love thatmakes Him say it. He knows thatyou are losing much by sleeping. The thief is pilfering while you are resting. The sower of the bad seed is scattering itin the field, while you, who ought to have watched, are going away to those unhallowed sleeps.
He would not have you be a loser. He would have you be rich and increased in goods spiritually, and thus it is His wisdomthat bids Him wake you. It is a wise voice and a tender voice, which says to the Christian-"Awake!" It is a voice, too, whichyou ought to listen to, for it is backed upby the authority of the Person from whom it comes. It is your Lord who says, "Awake!" What has He done for you? Shall Iask you what He has NOT done for you? You owe everything to Him! That robe that is now washed would have been black but forHim. Ah, some of you who are heretoday, oh, how much do you owe! I know, as I look around at you, what God's Grace has done for you. Oh, Brother, your voicewas the loudest in the tavern! Many a time have you reeled home from the gin palace! Your mouth could once curse and swear,but you are washed!
And as for myself, how much do I owe to the Grace of God! The most stubborn and self-willed of mortals cowed down before thefeet of Christ to take and accept Him on His own terms! And ah, there are some of you who, like the Magdalen, would sit andwash His feet with tears, and would be glad towipe them with the hairs of your head! Some of you mothers here owe all your children's souls to Him as well as your own.He saved your darlings! He has brought them to put their trust in Christ. Oh, we are over our head and ears in debt to Christ!We are what good Rutherford usedto call, "drowned debtors to Christ!"
Oh the depths of our obligation! Oh, how high should be the heights of our gratitude since He has done so much for us! IfHe says, "Awake!"-oh, Master, we would not only awake, but we would crave Your pardon a thousand times that ever we shouldhave fallen into this sinful sleep! It is yourLord that speaks! It is your Master that cries, "Awake! Awake!" Oh, loyal hearts and virgin souls, by the lilies of yourlove, and by the roses of His blood with which He bought you, awake! Awake! Awake, and ask for an earnestness which you maynever lose again.
Further, this is a voice which has been very often repeated. Christ has been saying, "Awake! Awake!" to some of us hundredsof times. You were sick, were you, a few months ago? That was Christ, as it were, shaking you in your sleep, and saying, "Awake,My Beloved, awake out of your unhealthyslumber!" You had a loss in business the other day and you bemoaned it very much. Perhaps that, too, was the Master saying,"Awake!" A dear child was taken from you and borne to Heaven-it was Christ saying to you, "Awake!"
And we have had many awakenings in this House of Prayer. I am sure our Monday evening Prayer Meetings have often been a voiceto us-"Awake! Awake!" Sometimes a sermon, too, has come home from God to our hearts with- "Awake! Awake! Awake!" Oh, shallwe never awake? Shall Christ standalways at yonder door with its rusty hinges and shall He always say, "Open unto Me, My Love, My Dove, for My head is wetwith dew, and My locks with the drops of the night"? Shall He always be shut out? Will we never open the door to Him and say,"We wake, Lord, we wake! Come in andsup with us that we may sup with You"?
Now it seems to me as if it were a personal cry in the text. Did you notice the singular pronoun-"Awake, you who sleep"? Itdoes not say, "Awake all of you," but "Awake, you!" Shall I pick you out one by one? There are too many of you for that. ButI might say, my dear venerable, gray-headedFriend, if there is any tendency in you to slumber, Jesus says, "Awake, you." And you, Maiden, you who have given your heartto your Savior in your young days, He says, "Awake, you that sleep!" And you, young Man with many talents which you do notlay out for Christ as youought-He says, "Awake, you that sleep." And to the most slumbering of us, He seems to say it most loudly and most lovingly,"Awake, you that sleep." May such a warning come home very personally!
And to close this point I may add that He puts it very pressingly in the present tense: "Awake," He said, "awake now." Oh,it is very easy to say, "I hope I shall awake one day." But He says, "Awake now!" It is not what you will do in a few years,but now, now, NOW! I do not say that the word,"now," is in the text, but it is there truly, in spirit. "Awake." If I say to a man, "Awake!" I do not mean that he is toawake in an hour's time-that would be absurd! I mean him to awake NOW. And Jesus says this to us-friends who know His loveand who have been visitedby His Divine Grace-He says to us-"Awake now, My Beloved, and come forth to serve Me."
III. But I must close, and the last point is THE PROMISE WITH WHICH CHRIST ENCOURAGES US TO AWAKE. The promise is, "Christshall give you light." What does that mean? Why, light may mean sometimes instruction. We are often in the dark and puzzledabout difficulties. But do you know half thedifficulties in the Bible spring from a cold state of mind? When the heart gets right, the head seems to get right, too,in a great measure. I remember a person puzzling himself fearfully with that passage in Scripture about Jesus weeping overJerusalem. He went and looked at Dr.Gill about it. He went to Thomas Scott about it, and he went to Matthew Henry about it-and these good Divines all puzzledhim as much as they could-they did not seem to clear up the matter.
The good man could not understand how Jesus Christ could say, as He did, "How often would I have gathered you, but you wouldnot!" One day he received more Divine Grace and developed a love for souls. And then the old skin of narrow-mindedness whichhad been once large enough for him, began tocrack and break, and he went to the passage and said, "I can understand it now! I do not know how it is consistent withsuch-and-such a doctrine, but it is very consistent with what I feel in my heart."
And I feel just the same. I used to be puzzled by that passage where Paul says that he could wish himself accursed from Godfor his Brethren's sake. Why, I have often felt the same, and now I understand how a man can say in the exuberance of hislove to others that he would be willing to perishhimself if he might save them! Of course it never could be done- but such is the extravagance of a holy love for souls thatit breaks through reason and knows no bounds! Get the heart right and you get right upon many difficult points.
Again, I think the light here meant is a further kind of light-not merely the light of direction, guidance, and knowledge-butchiefly the light of joy. Oh, there are some of you who are generally in the dark! You do not know whether you are Christiansor not, half the time. You arespelling out your evidences, and so on. I compare you to a man who is almost drowned. He is alive, but how do they knowit? Why, they have to hold a glass up to his month, and if there is a little steam, then they say, "Yes, he breathes." Well,there are some of you who need such anexperiment as that tried upon you-for nobody would know that you are alive except by some very delicate test. The Christianexistence is within you, but the manifestation is so feeble that it is not seen. You do not know whether you are alive ornot!
Why, nobody ever doubts whether he is alive! A man in health never says, "I do not know whether I am alive or not." He goesto work-he takes his plow and drives it across the field, or goes to his business and works all day long-and he knows he isalive by what he does. And if some ofyou Christian people would only wake up from your sleepy state and begin to labor for God, and to love souls, you wouldget such joy flooding through your spirits as you never knew before! It would be as though Heaven had opened up its floodgatesand let the river of the Water ofLife come bursting into your soul! And instead of being like a dry, howling wilderness, there would be a standing pool ofwater-no, a place in which the ships of your joy, and the galley with oars of your delight, might sail for many a day!
More Divine Grace and more peace, more light and more joy-I pray God that you may have these. I have often prayed to God thatI might not be the pastor of an army of invalids. I would be glad enough to comfort them and do my best to make this a hospitalfor them. But I want to be the captainof an army of soldiers and to turn this place into a barracks for them! I want you to go out every day from Monday tillSaturday, and on Sunday, too, fighting for Christ, contending for the faith, seeking to gather in outcasts, looking afterthe poor and needy, helping the weak andfeeble, comforting the disconsolate, and putting out all your strength in your Master's cause!
We have enough Churches in London where they sleep. Oh, may God deliver us from having this place to be a huge cemetery, andmake us to be a great House, a great City from which shall go forth the hosts and armies of the Lord to do battle for Him!May God send His Holy Spirit to abide among us inall His plenitude, and He shall have the glory!
Now you all see this sermon is to the Christian. I tried to preach to seekers this morning [#714-a Savior Such As You Need]and gave them their turn, then. But if there is one here who has not found the Savior, I must add this word to him. The wayof salvation is this-Trust Christ andyou are saved! Christ suffered in the place of His people. God laid their sin on Him and punished Him as if He were they.And whoever trusts Christ is forgiven. He is saved! And when he is saved then I invite him to exert his strength for his Master.But till then look at home andthen look at Jesus, and God grant that this look at yourselves and at your Savior may be the means of your salvation-tothe praise of the glory of His Divine Grace.