Page images
PDF
EPUB

him? Are you happy in God? Is he your glory, your delight, your crown of rejoicing? And is this commandment written in your heart, That he who loveth God love his brother also ? Do you then love your neighbour as yourself? Do you love every man, even your enemies, even the enemies of God, as your own soul ? As Christ loved you? Yea, dost thou believe that Christ loved thee, and gave himself for thee? Hast thou faith in his blood ? Believest thou the Lamb of God hath taken away thy sins, and cast them as a stone into the depth of the sea ? That he hath blotted out the hand writing that was against thee, taking it out of the way, nailing it to his cross? Hast thou indeed redeniption through his blood, even the remission of thy sins ? And doth his Spirit bear witness with thy spirit, that thou art a child of God?

10. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who now standeth in the midst of us, knoweth, that if any man die without this faith and this love, good it were for him that he had never been born. “Awake, then, thou that sleep and call upon thy God: call in the day when he may be found. Let him not rest, till he make his goodness to pass before thee,” till he proclaim unto thee the name of the Lord; "the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin. Let no man persuade thee, by vain words, to rest short of this prize of thy high calling. But cry unta him day and night, who," while we were without strength, died for the ungodly,'' until thou knowest in whom thou hast believed, and canst say, " My Lord, and my God!” Remember, " always to pray, and not to faint," till thou also canst lift up thy liand unto heaven, and declare to Him that liveth for ever and ever, “Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee."

11. May we all thus experience what it is to be, not almost only, but altogether Christians; being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus; knowing we have peace with God through Jesus Christ ; rejoicing in hope of the glory of God; and having the love of God shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost given unto us!

[ocr errors]

SERMON III.-Awake, thou that sleepest :
Preached on Sunday, April 4, 1742, before the University of Oxford,

BY CHARLES WESLEY, M. A., STUDENT OF CHRIST CHURCH. “Awake, thou that slcepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light," Ephesians v, 14.

In discoursing on these words, I shall, with the help of God,
First, Describe the sleepers to whom they are spoken:

Secondly, Enforce the exhortation, “Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead :" And,

Thirdly, Explain the promise made to such as do awake and arise ; “Christ shall give thee light."

I. 1. 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 supine

as

ness, indolence, and stupidity, that insensibility of his real condition, wherein every man comes into the world, and continues till the voice of God awakes him.

2. 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 this world, is to recover from his fall, to regain that image of God wherein 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.”

3. 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,

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:

4. 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 ?"

5. 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.

6. This is he, who," having a form of godliness, denies the power thereof;" yea, and probably reviles it, wheresoever it is found, as a niere 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 inan. 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

" 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.

7. 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 erery wo which the Son of God, yesterday, to day, and

he can:

o dead

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.

8. This is another character of the sleeper here spoken to. He abides in death, though he knows it not. He is dead unto God, 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 and eternal. “ In that day that thou eatest, (said God to Adam,) 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.

9. 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 tiil 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.

10. 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.

11. 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 hin 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 ελενχος Πνευματος, that divine consciousness, that witness of God, which is more and greater than ten thousand human witnesses.

a

12. If He doth not now bear witness with thy spirit, that thou art a child of God, oh that he might convince thee, thou poor unawakened sinner, by his demonstration and power, that thou art a child of the devil! Oh that, as I prophesy, there might now be " noise and a shaking ;" and may “ the bones come together, bone to his bone !" Then, come from the four winds, oh 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."

II. 1. Wherefore, “ Awake, thou that sleepest, 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, oh 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 judgments. If thou wouldst escape them, cast thyself into them. Judge thyself, and thou shalt not be judged of the Lord.”

2. 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.

3. 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 !

4. Oh 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.”

5. 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. Thinķ 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 !

6. 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 judgment ? 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 !

7. 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 ?

8. 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 thy self? 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 ?"

9. If it offend 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 received.

10. 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 of 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?"

11. Knowest thou, that “in Jesus Christ, neither circumcision availeth any thing, 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, oh God, art the thing that I long for! Lord, thou knowest all things! Thou knowest that I would love thee?"

12. 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

« PreviousContinue »