Sermon 996. The Alarum
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"I myself will awake early."-Psalms 42:8.
The proper subject to treat upon with such a text would be the propriety and excellence of early rising, especially when weare desirous of praising or serving God. The dew of dawn should be consecrated to devotion. The text is a very remarkableexpression, and might fitly be made the early riser's motto. It is, in the original, a highly poetical phrase, and miltonand others have borrowed or imitated it. "I will awaken in the morning." So early would the psalmist arisefor the praise of God that he would call up the day, and bid the sun arise from the chambers of the east, and proceedupon his journey. "I will awaken the morning." Early rising has the example of Old Testament saints to recommend it, and manymodern saints having conscientiously practiced it, have been loud in its praise. It is an economy of time and an assistanceto health, and thus it doubly lengthens life. Late rising is the token of indolence, and the cause of disorder throughoutthe wholeday. Be assured that the best hours are the first. Our City habits are to be deplored, because by late hours of retirementat night we find early rising difficult if not impossible. If we are able to escape the shackles of custom, and secure fordevotion and contemplation the hour when the dew is on the grass, we may count ourselves thrice happy. If we cannot do allwe would in this matter, at least let us do all we can.
That is not, however, the topic upon which I now desire to speak to you. I come at this time, not so much to plead for theearly as for the awakening. The hour we may speak of at another time-the fact is our subject now. It is bad to awake late, but what shall be said ofthose who never awake at all? Better late than never: but with many it is to be feared it will be never. I would take downthe trumpet and give a blast, or ring the alarm-bell till all thefaculties of the sluggard's manhood are made to bestir themselves, and he cries with new born determination, "I myselfwill awake."
"Will awake." This is a world in which most men nowadays are alive to their temporal interests. If in these pushing times any man goesabout his business in a sleepy, listless fashion, he very soon finds himself on an ebb-tide, and all his affairs aground.The wideawake man seizes opportunities or makes them, and thus those who are widest awake usually come to the front. Yearsago affairs moved like the broad-wheel wagon, very sleepily, with sober pause andleisurely progression, and then the son of the snail had a chancel but now, when we almost fly, if a man would succeedin trade he must be all alive, and all awake. If it be so in temporals, it is equally so in spirituals, for the world, theflesh, and the devil are all awake to compete with us; and there is no resolution that I would more earnestly commend to eachone of the people of God than this one: "I will awake; I will awake at once; I will awake early, and I will pray to God thatI maybe kept awake, that my Christian existence may not be dreamy, but that I may be to the fullest degree useful in my Master'sservice." If this were the resolve of each, what a change would come over the Christian church! I long to see the diligenceof the shop exceeded by the closet, and the zeal of the market excelled by the church. Each Christian is alive: but is healso awake? He has eyes, but are they open? He has lofty possibilities of blessing his fellow men, but does he exercise them?Myheart's desire is that none of us may feel the dreamy influence of this age, which is comparable to the enchanted ground;but that each of us may be watchful, wakeful, vigorous, intense, fervent. Trusting that the Holy Spirit may bless or meditationsto our spiritual quickening, we shall briefly turn our thoughts to the consideration of two or three things.
I. Our text is connected with the duty of praise, and therefore our first point shall be-IT IS MOST NECESSARY THAT OUR MINDSSHOULD BE IN A STATE OF WAKEFULNESS WHEN WE ARE PRAISING GOD. Therefore, as we ought to be always praising him, our mind oughtalways to be wakeful. It is a shame to pray with the mind half asleep: it is an equal shame to attempt to praise God tillall the powers of the mind are thoroughly aroused. David is herein a most fit example, for he sings,"My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise. Awake up, my glory; awake, psalter and harp:I myself will awake early."
We should be fully awake when engaged in private thanksgiving; the song of our solitude should be full of living joy. I am afraid there is very little private singing nowadays.We often hear discourse concerning private prayer, but very seldom of private praise: and yet ought there not to b as muchprivate praise as private prayer? I fear from the seldomness of its being mentioned, that private thanksgiving has grown tobe a sleepy affair. Then as to publicworship, how earnest ought it to be! Yet how seldom is it hearty and real! How often do we hear half-awake singing. Sometimesa sort of musical box, consisting of pipes, keys, and bellows, is set to do all the adoration. The heathens of Tibet turnthe wind to account religiously, by making it turn their windmills and pray for them; and our brethren in England, by an ingeniousadjustment of pipes, make the same motive power perform their praise. Where this machinery is not adopted, still theLord is robbed of his praise by other methods, Sometimes half a dozen skilled voices of persons who would be equally asmuch at home at the opera or the theater as in the house of God, are formed into a choir to perform the psalmody; and it issupposed that God accepts their formal notes as the praise of the entire assembly. How far different is the genuine song ofgracious men who lift up their voices to the Lord because their hearts adore him! Oh, I love to hear every voice pouring outitsnote, especially if I can but hope that with every voice there is going forth a fervent heart. This warm hearted, joyfulsinging-why, it makes the congregation on earth to be like the assembly of the skies; and causes the meeting-place of thesaints to be a faint type of the gathering of the angels and glorified spirits before the throne of God. To drone or to whisperin such a delightful exercise is criminal. If ever we should exhibit the angels' wakefulness, it should be when we areemulating their employment.
Our praise ought to be performed with a fully awakened mind: first, that we may recollect what we are praising God for. We should have a vivid sense of the mercies we have received, or we cannot bless God aright for them. You who have not yetreceived spiritual blessings, should not be forgetful of his temporal mercies: it is surely sufficient cause for lively thanksgivingthat you are not upon a bed of sickness; that you are not in the lunatic asylum; that you arenot in the workhouse; that you are not on the borders of the grave; that you are not in hell; that you still have foodand raiment, and that you are where the gospel is graciously presented to you. Should not all this be thought of? Should notthis be fuel for the flame of gratitude? As for us who have tasted spiritual blessings, if our minds were awake, we shouldthink of eternal love and its going forth from eternity; of redeeming love, and the streams that flow from the fount of Calvary;ofGod's immutable love, and his patience with our ill-manners in the wilderness; of covenant mercy, of mercies yet to come,of heaven, and the bliss hereafter. Such recollections should call up our whole man to praise the Lord. If the innumerablebenefits which we receive were thought of and dwelt upon, the contemplation would put a force, a volume, a body into our song,and make it far more than the flaming ethereal thing which it ought to be.
We want our souls awakened, next, so that we may remember to whom our praise is offered. Before no mean kind do we bow the knee of homage. To praise God is to stand in the immediate presence of the blessed andonly Potentate. Do not even seraphs veil their faces in that august presence? With what lowliness ought we boy! With whatearnestness of spirit should we praise! "Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holyground."Courtiers are not expected to nod with drowsiness in the presence of their king; and if they came to present thanksgiving,it would seem strange if they were to yawn as men half asleep. Surely. it would be hypocritical congratulation and insultingbehavior if they should be detected in a sleepy condition! If we come together to praise God, let us really do it. If we cannotpraise him, let us know and mourn that we cannot do it, and let us be sure that the spirit is willing, even if the flesh isweak. Let all sleepiness be put away in the presence of the ever-wakeful Jehovah, before whose eyes all things are nakedand open. He never slumbereth nor sleepeth, so as to make a pause in his mercy to us: let not our slumbering spirits causean omission of our grateful song.
We need that we should be awake in praise, that our whole hearts may be thoroughly warm in the exercise. Under Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, the acceptableness of our praise depends very much upon the warmth of it.As cold prayers virtually ask God to deny them, so cold praises ask God to reject them. Cold praises are a sort of semi-blasphemy:they do, as it were, say, "Thou art not worthy to be ardently praised. O God, we bring thee these poorthanksgivings: they are good enough for thee." Surely if we treated our heavenly Father as we should, every sacred passionwould glow in our hearts like a furnace: our whole heart would catch fire, and as Elijah went up into heaven with horses offire and chariots of fire, so, too, our souls , as we thought upon the goodness and the graciousness of God, would ascendto heaven in vehement joy of adoration. Our praises would not be like the incense in the censer, sweet, but cold; but coalsoffire would be put in with the incense, and then, like a holy cloud of smoke, our gratitude would ascend to heaven. Markwith what exhilaration the psalmist rendered praise unto God, and imitate him therein. See him dancing before the ark, andhear him cry aloud, "Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises."
Brethren, we have need to wake up our souls in praise, or else we shall at all times fail altogether in the duty. Only the wakeful are praiseful. Sleeping birds sing now., The very best praises God receives from earth are from his troubledsaints; but then they are awake; the strokes of the rod have aroused them. When the three holy children sung in the fire,their song was sweet indeed; yet had they not been thoroughly in earnest, they had poured forth no holyhymn. When martyrs have magnified God standing on the burning fagot, they have given God better praise than even the angelscan. It was the old fable, that the nightingale was made to sing by the thorn that pricked her breast: and many a child ofGod has poured forth his sweetest music when the thorn of affliction has pierced his heart. Wake up your souls-you that aredesponding, you that are depressed, you that have a dead child at home, you that are expecting soon to go to the grave withthose you love, you that have been losing your property, you that are pinched with poverty-wake up your souls to praiseGod still, for unless well awake you will forget to extol him. Remember what Job did. When he sat on the dunghill, scrapinghimself with a bit of broken pot, yet he praised God and said, "The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be thename of the Lord." It was grand of thee, O patriarch of Uz, to be able thus to able thus to extol thy Lord: then was thy soulfully awake. Beloved friends, may our inmost souls be so energetic with the power of grace that we may spontaneously andearnestly bless the Lord at all times and under all circumstances.
Do you believe, my brethren, that amongst all the throng of those who see Jehovah face to face, there is one dull, cold, carelessworshipper? Look through the seraphim and cherubim: they are flaming ones, burning with intense desire and fervent adoration.Look through the hosts of angels: they are all his minsters that do his pleasure, and bless him while they do it. Search throughall those sanctified and glorified hands of spirits, and you shall not find one withhalf-closed eye wearily praising his Maker. Heaven consists in joyful praise. Look at the very birds on earth how they shame us! Dear little creatures, if you watch them when they are singing,you will sometimes wonder how so much sound can come out of such diminutive bodies. How they throw their whole selves intothe music, and seem to melt themselves away in song! How the wing vibrates, the throat pulsates, and every part of their bodyrejoices to assist the strain! This is the way inwhich we ought to praise God. IF birds that are sold at three for two farthings yet render God such praise, how much moreheartily ought we to sing before him? Let it be a resolution with us at this hour that we will praise God more; that we willsing to him more at home, about our business, and in all proper places; and that whenever we do sing we will do it heartily,waking up our tongue and all the powers of our mind and body to bless and praise the name of God.
II. Now, secondly, we shall notice that WAKEFULNESS IS A GREAT NEED IN THE ENTIRE SPIRITUAL LIFE. I believe it to be one ofthe great wants of the church now. I question whether most of us are awake spiritually. I question whether I am. I wish tobe wakened far more to a sensibility of the power of the world to come, and a tenderness in regard to spiritual truth. Slumberis so natural to us. "Well," says one, "but we talk about the things of God." Yes, but peopletalk when they are asleep, and a good deal of Christian conversation is very much like the talk of sleepers. There isnot the force in it-the life in it that there would be in conversation if we were really awakened to feel the power of eternalverities. "Yet," says one, "I hope we act consistently." I trust you do, but there are many people who walk in their sleep, and, alas!I know some Christian professorswho appear to be trying very hazardous feats of sleep-walking just now. Somesomnambulists have been able to walk on places where, had they been awake, they never would have been able to endure thedizzy height; and I see some Christians, if indeed they be Christians, running awful risks which I think they would neverventure upon unless they had fallen into the deep sleep of carnal security. Speak of a man slumbering at the mast-head, itis nothing to a professor of religion at ease while covetousness is his master, or worldly company his delight. If professorswereawake, they would see their danger, and avoid sinful amusements and ungodly associations, as men fly from fierce tigersor deadly cobras. "Well, but we are doing much good and useful work," says one: "teaching in Sabbath schools, distributingreligious tracts, or labouring in some other form of service; we are spending our time in commendable engagements." I am gladto hear it; but people can do a great deal in their sleep. We have heard many strange instances of how habit at last has enabledpersons to pursue their callings, to answer signals, and keep up all the appearance of industry, and yet they have beenat the time asleep. Oh, it is a very shocking thing that so many of our churches in England are in a deep sleep! Dissentingchurches I know best about, and there are many where the minister preaches in his sleep, where the people sing in their sleep,where prayer is offered in sleep, and even the communion is celebrated amid a profound spiritual slumber. Have you never beenata prayer-meeting where half, if not all, both of those who prayed vocally and those who listened, were in a lethargy asrigid as death? Talk of sleeping women who have been in a swoon by the month together, the wonder may be a lying one in thenatural world, but in the spiritual world it is as common as daisies in the meadows. Adam slept soundly when the taking awayof his rib did not wake him, but what shall we say of those who startle not though they are losing all the strength and gloryoftheir souls? Alas! for some congregations, it is long since they had a revival, they have lost the very idea of vigorouspiety and vital energy. All the week round they are all asleep, and if a real, earnest, living, stirring sermon were preachedamong them, it would be almost as if the King of Prussia's Krupp guns had dropped a live shell into their midst. I wish aspiritual live shell could fall into some congregations, and burst among them, killing their conventionality, and woundingtheirself satisfaction with a deadly wound. Men may attend to outward worship with unimpeachable decorum and correctness andyet there may be no wakefulness in it, and consequently no acceptableness with God Most High.
Come, ourselves, and we must do so because we are in an enemy's country; it will not do to sleep here. This side of heaven we are in every place and at all hours surrounded by foes. What did theMaster say? "What I say unto you I say unto all, Watch!" Be like sentries at your post, for otherwise the enemy will soonbetray you. Will you not grieve the Holy Spirit if you are lethargic? Will you not dishounor your Master if you fall asleep?Remember also, that thedevil seeks your destruction, and can never do you so much mischief awake as he can if he finds you sleeping. Let thegrowling of the old lion arouse you. If nothing else will bestir you, remember the fiery darts of the wicked one. Saul wouldnot have lain so quiet if he had known that Abishai was holding the spear over him, and longing to pin him to the earth: yetthis is the condition of professors who are given to slumber. Samson would have scarcely slept on Delilah's lap if he hadforeseenthat his hair would be cut, and his eyes put out by the Philistines. Up, then, ye drowsy professors, for the Philistinesare upon you!
Moreover, brethren, slumber impoverishes us. The sluggard, and the thistle and thorn, always go together, and rags and poverty follow close behind. You may miss by yoursleep great spiritual profit., You cannot expect sleepy Christians to grow in grace. They will miss many instructive thingsin God's word, many precious promises meant only for the wakeful. They will lose high enjoyments and spiritual banquetings,for the king's entertainments are not for those whofold their arms, and toss upon the bed of indolence. Wealth lies in the field of the wakeful, but the lover of ease shallhave want come upon him as an armed man. I blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in God's holy mountain, for it ishigh time to awake out of sleep.
Awaken too, my brother, for you are losing opportunities for usefulness. While you sleep men are dying. See how the cemeteries are becoming crowded, how the area of them has to be enlarged. Dayby day you see wending through the streets the funeral procession: men gone beyond the reach of your instructions and yourwarnings are carried to their long homes. Awake then, awake, for death is busy everywhere. Meanwhile, those who do not diebefore you may be removedbeyond the sphere of your usefulness; they go where at least you cannot reach them, where perhaps no one ever will, andtheir blood may lie upon your head, and that for ever. Awake, for perhaps while you are asleep another heart that is now accessibleto the gospel may become finally hardened. Conscience will soon become seared, and then there is nothing for zeal and earnestnessto work upon. It will be too late for you to put the seal upon the wax when once it is cool. Quick, sir; while thewax is soft put the seal down! How many opportunities for good we all miss! But those who are asleep lose all their opportunities,and they will be surely required of them when the Master comes.
Awake! I pray you, because you will insensibly lose the power, the joy of your spiritual life. Communion with God will become more and more scarce with you as you become more sleepy. Awake, lest you backslide, lest youall become apostate, and prove yourself not to be a child of God. Awake, for your power with others will certainly departfrom you as your wakefulness departs. A sleepy preacher never wins the souls of men. A dull, formal servant of God is of littleor no use in the church of God. I think I said years ago, "Give me half a dozen thorough red hot Christians, and I willdo more, by God's grace, with them, than with a half a dozen hundred of ordinary professors." I am sure it is so. Crowds ofprofessors are past all cure. I would as soon hunt with dead dogs, as try to work with them. They cannot be trained into heroes:they are dolts both by nature and by practice; much slothfulness has drained out their souls' life. The most you can hopeforthem is that they will remain decently Christianized, so as not altogether to disgrace us. But, O for thoroughly wideawakemen, men who feel the life of God in their souls, and are, therefore, more than ordinarily earnest. Band together half a dozensuch, and the Holy Spirit being with them, they will make all London feel their presence before long. O may God awaken allof us, for our spiritual life absolutely requires it.
III. Thirdly, I am going to mention CERTAIN WAYS OF KEEPING YOURSELVES AWAKE. "How can I be kept awake?" says one. Answer,first, make it a matter of prayer with the Lord to awaken you. No one can give you spiritual power and watchfulness but the Spirit of God. "All my fresh springsare in thee." Where life first comes from, there more life must be obtained. Christ has come that we may have life, and thatwe may have it more abundantly. He who first called us fromthe dead, must also arouse us from among the slumbering. He who brought us from the grave of our depravity must bringus from the couch of our indolence. Pray about the matter; make it a point with God: ask him to arouse you. On your kneesis the posture in which to conquer sloth.
Next, means are to be used. We are not to leave the matter with God, and think there is nothing to be done by ourselves. Act towards yourselves aboutspiritual wakefulness as you would with natural wakefulness. Set your inventive faculties to work, and devise means for chasingaway the sleep dragon. What would you do if you required to be awakened early? Perhaps you would set an alarum; a good thing,no doubt. Take care you set a spiritual alarum. Every Christianought to keep one, and it should be so well set as to keep exact time, and so powerful as to arouse the most slumbering.A tender conscience, quick as the apple of the eye, is a precious preservative against sinful sleep; but it must never betampered with, or its usefulness will soon end. When once the hour has come, down runs the alarum, the man starts up all atonce, and says, "It is time to rise;" so should my conscience be so well regulated, that when a temptation is near, or a sinnerisnear me whom I ought about warn, my soul should at once take the alarm and say, "Here is work to do-a sin to be conquered,or a soul to be instructed: now, therefore, perform the doing of it with all thy might! I hear the alarum, and I must bestirmyself!" May we always maintain and retain such a special wakefulness that we may be at our post of duty or in our place ofconflict with a punctuality which none can gainsay. O for the alarum of a tender conscience!
Many of our friends who have to be up early in the morning ask the policeman to call them at the appointed hour. I may notcompare the Christian minister with a policeman in some respects; but yet he is one of God's officers, and it is part of hisbusiness to stir up drowsy professors. It is well to attend an earnest gospel ministry, where the minister's voice, underGod's blessing, will be likely to wake you up. Faithful preachers are among God's best gifts. Cherish them,and be obedient to their admonitions. I have known persons become offended when a minister is "too personal;" but wisemen always prize a ministry in proportion as it is personal to themselves. He who never tells me of my faults, nor makes mefeel uneasy, is not likely to be the means of good to my soul. What is the use of a dog that never barks? Why have a doctor,and grow angry with him if he points out the source of your disease? Did God send us, as his messengers, to pander to yourtaste orflatter your vanity? We seek not your approval if it be not founded on right. I have often felt pleased when I have heardpeople confess, after their conversion, "I came to the Tabernacle, and at the first I could not endure the preaching. I hatedthe preacher, and raged at his doctrine; but I could not help coming again." Just so. Conscience makes men respect the gospel,even when their depravity makes them loathe it. They are held fast by the cords which they fain would cast from them. Mayitoften be so, O my unregenerate believers, that while my plain dealing excites your anger, it may nevertheless have a powerover you; and may every man and woman here, whether saved or unsaved, feel that the preaching is the truth of God to his orher soul; and, whether liked or not liked, may it become the permanent means of arousing from sleep, and ultimately bringingto Christ every one of you to whom these words shall come. Be sure and attend an arousing ministry, and pray God to make theministry which you now listen to more and more an arousing ministry to your own soul. Pray for the preacher, for he isin the same danger as yourselves, for he is too compassed with infirmity. The minister soon goes to sleep unless God wakenshim; and what is more sad than to see the professed messenger of God become a traitor both to his Master and to men's soulsby a lack of zealous affection? It is ill for the sheep if the shepherd himself be asleep. Woe to the camp where the sentryis givento slumber! May God deliver our country from being overrun with preachers whose souls are insensible concerning theirgrand work, and who love the bread of their office better than the glory of God or the good of their hearers.
I have known some persons adopt a plan for awaking in the morning which I can recommend spiritually at any rate. They havedrawn up the blinds in the direction of the morning sun, that the sun might shine on their face and wake them. I know of nobetter way of waking for your soul, than letting the light, and the life, and the love of God shine full into your face. Whenthe Sun of Righteousness arises he brings healing beneath his wings, and he brings awakening too. A mancannot think much of Christ, and love Christ much, and walk much in Christ's fellowship, and yet be asleep. The two whowent to Emmaus in Immanuel's company, were their hearts cold? Nay, do not think so. "Did not our heart burn within us?" Yes,and your hearts will burn too, and your whole spiritual system will flame and glow if you walk in the company of Jesus. Ican recommend constant fellowship with God as one of the best remedies for spiritual sloth, the surest provocative of holyzeal.
Many time people are awakened in the morning by the noise of the street in which they live. "I cannot sleep after such anhour," says one, "for I hear the tramp of those who are going into the city, and the grind of the street traffic." At a certaintime you hear the hammer of the blacksmith, the scream of an engine, or the heaving of machinery, and after that sleep isgone. The activities of the world ought about awaken Christians. Are worldlings active? How active oughtwe to be! Do they labour and spend their sweat for earthly wages? How much more ought I to put forth my entire strengthto serve so good a Master, whose reward of grace is everlasting bliss? The world is all astir to-day: let the church be allawake too.
We ought to be stimulated to supreme efforts by the activity of our fellow Christians. I find it does me much service aboutread the biographies of eminent servants of Christ, such as martyrs, missionaries, and reformers. I rise from reading theirmemorials feeling ashamed to be of so dwarfish a stature compared with these spiritual giants. What a humbling effect sucha reflection ought to have on the do-nothings who swarm in the churches! but alas! these are not soonmoved to judge themselves. With this one word we leave them: think of what some are doing, and be ashamed that you aredoing so little in proportion to what they accomplish.
There are many ways of waking, but here is one, with which I will close my observations on this point. Hear the trumpet ofthe second coming. "Behold the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him," was the cry that awakened the virgins when theyall slumbered and slept: may it have the like arousing power at this moment. We know not when Christ will come, nor is itfor us to utter prophecies about it: the times and seasons are hidden from us. "Of that day and that hourknoweth no man." Whether it will be before the Millennium or after the Millennium, let those judge who can. I have nojudgement upon it. I think, as you carefully read the Scriptures, you will feel more and more convinced that only this isclearly and certainly revealed-that the Lord will personally come in such an hour as we look not for him. Let that awakenus; let it keep us always watchful, with loins girt and lamps trimmed, proving our faithful love to our blessed Master.
These are, it is clear, very many ways by which Christians may be awakened. God grant that they may be effective to each andall. I think it was Sydney Smith who was once preaching a sermon about sleeping in church, and when he had done, he said,"Now, what good have I done? All those who sleep have been asleep through my sermon, and only those who are wakeful have heardme, and they did not need my rebukes and advice." I often feel that this is very much the preacher'scase. Earnest people, when the congregation is exhorted to earnestness, take it home to themselves; but those personswho do nothing, and are most indolent, are the very ones who say, "I don not see the need of it; I do not want to be disturbed."Of course not! It is not only the mark of the sluggard to sleep, but it is another characteristic of him that he is wrathwith those who would compel him to rise. "A little more sleep," says he, "a little more slumber;" he turns his heavy headupon thepillow once again, and wishes no blessings upon those who knock at his door so heavily. You sleepy professors are likelyto do the same, but I will not refrain from knocking till you refrain from dozing. I pray God that there may be very few inthis church of the incorrigible order, whose life is one long dream, a dream of self-aggrandizement, meanness, and littleness.May you and I, and all of us, be thoroughly earnest in the service of our Master, and if we cannot arouse others by ourprecept, at least let us not fail to try the force of our example.
IV. I must close with a word upon that fourth point, which is this-THE GREAT AND URGENT NEED THAT THE UNCONVERTED SINNER SHOULDAWAKE. Hitherto I have spoken to the converted man: now let me address myself to the ungodly, and may the voice which shallcall the dead to judgement now awaken him. You, you unconverted man, are asleep; a deep and horrible sleep holds you fast.If it were not so, you would perceive your danger, and you would be alarmed. You have broken God'slaw; the fact is certain and solemn, though you treat it lightly. Punishment must follow every breach of that law, forGod will not be mocked nor suffer his government to be treated with contempt. For every transgression there is an appointedrecompense of reward. The retribution which is your lawful due will not long be withheld: it is on its road towards you. Thefeet of justice are shod with wool: you hear not its coming, but it is as sure as it is silent. Its steps are swift, and itsstrokeoverwhelming. Awaken, O man, and listen to this text: "God is angry with the wicked every day. If he turn not, he willwhet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready." No peril of plague, battle, shipwreck, or poison, can equal thehazard of an unpardoned soul. Beware, yet that forget God, for his terrors are past conception, and his wrath burneth as anoven.
If you were awakened, O sin-stricken transgressor, you would also perceive that there is a remedy for your disease, a rescuefrom your present danger. "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them;"and "Whosoever believeth in Jesus Christ hath everlasting life." Forgiveness of sin is guaranteed to every one that restsin the work of Jesus, and all other necessary blessings are secured to him. If thou wert awake, thouwouldst not remain an unconverted sinner another hour, but thou wouldst turn unto God with full purpose of heart. If Godwould awaken thee, thou wouldst tremble at the jaws of hell which are open to receive thee; thou wouldst turn to Christ, andsay, "Jesus, save me! Save me now!" You are asleep, sinner-you are asleep, or you would not take matters so coolly. I am afraidfor you, and bowed down with amazement and dread. The mercy is that you may be awakened: you are not yet among the slainthat go down into the pit. O that that almighty grace would awaken you at this present moment, ere your doom is sealedand your damnation executed! Here I offer my fervent prayers for you, believing that he to whom I pray is able to bring toholy sensibility the most stolid of mankind.
Strange ways God has of awakening his elect ones from their deadly slumbers. Awake them he will, and he will shake heavenand earth sooner than let any one of them perish in unfeeling security. He will strike them down as he did Paul, or send anearthquake to shake them, as he did to the gaoler at Philippi; in his own way and time he will make them come to themselvesand then to Christ. Remember the story of Augustine. To the grief of his dear mother, Monica, he had beenleading a wicked life; but God's time had come, and as Augustine walked in the garden he heard a little child say, "Take!Read! Take! Read!" This induced him to take the Bible and read it. He no sooner read, than a passage came before his eyeswhich awakened him, and he sought a Saviour, and found him. Perhaps it will be a death in your house that will wake you-sadmeans, but often most effectual. A mother's death-bed has been a soul-saving sermon to many a family. Some sleepers need athunderclap to arouse them. Pray, you dear people of God that are awake, that the sinner may be awakened, for there isthis awful danger that he may sleep himself into hell. Spiritual sleep deepens, the slumberer becomes more heavy still, thestupor more dense, till the conscience grows seared, and the soul is unimpressionable; the flesh is turned into stone, theheart is harder than steel. It may be that some of those who hear these words of warning may never wake to think about theirsoulstill in hell they lift up their eyes. What an awful lifting up of the eyes will that be! O you who are now peaceful andsecure, what a change awaits you! Hurled from vainglorious security to blank despair in a moment! You took it all so easily:you said, "Let me alone; do not worry me; there's time enough. The preacher ought not to frighten us with these bugbears;we all have a great deal else to do besides listening to horrible stories of hell and damnation;" and so you wrapped it up,and soyou smoothed it over, but the end thereof who shall describe? Have you never heard of the Indian in his boat upon oneof the great rivers of America? Somehow his moorings had broken, and his canoe was in the power of the current. He was asleep,while his canoe was being borne rapidly along by the stream. He was sound asleep, and yet had good need to have been awake,for there was a tremendous cataract not far ahead. Persons on shore saw the canoe-saw that there was a man in it asleep; buttheir vigilance was of no use to the sleeper: it needed that he himself should be aware of his peril. The canoe quickenedits pace, for the waters of the river grew more rapid as they approached the cataract; persons on the shore began to cry our,and raise alarm on all sides and at last the Indian was aroused. He started up, and began to use his paddle, but his strengthwas altogether insufficient for the struggle with the gigantic force of the waters around him. He was seen to spring uprightin the boat and disappear-himself and the boat-in the fall. He had perished, for he woke too late! Some persons on theirdying beds just wake up in time to see their danger, but not to escape from it: they are carried right over the cataract ofjudgement and wrath. They are gone, for ever gone, where mercy is succeeded by justice, and hope forbidden to enter. Let muchprayer go up from believing hearts that God would awaken sinners now, and begin with those who come to the place of worship,and remain at ease in Zion. Ask for the arm of God to be revealed while the heavenly message is delivered; for his isour message: "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." There is a man beforeme now asleep in his sins, whom God means to make a minister of Christ: he knows not the divine purpose, but there are linesof love in it for him. Arise oh slumberer, for Jesus calls thee! Awake, thou Saul of Tarsus, thou art a chosen vessel untothe Lord!Turn thou from thy sin: seek thou thy Saviour. There is one here who has been a great sinner but the Lord intends to washhim in the cleansing fount, and clothe him in the righteousness of Christ. Come, thou guilty one, awake! for mercy waits forthee. There is a poor weeping woman here who has gone far in sin; but Jesus says, "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sinno more." Sister awake! Come and receive the mercy which Jesus Christ is ready to bestow upon thee! God give thee waking grace,and saving grace.
May you and I, beloved brethren in Christ, awake to the most earnest and intense form of life in Christ and life for Christ. At once let us bestir ourselves: we may think it early, but it will be none too early; may we awake now, for Jesus'sake. Amen.
PORTIONS OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Psalm 108; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11.