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sleepest, 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 unto 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 Loud, and my God!” Remember, “ always to pray, and not to faint,” till thou also canst lift up thy hand 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!
SERMON III. .
AWAKE, THOU THAT SLEEPEST.
SUNDAY, APRIL 4, 1742, before the UNIVERSITY of OXFORD,
BY CHARLES WESLEY, M. A.
Student of Christ-Church.
66 Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and
Christ shall give thee Light,” Eph. 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 supineness, indolence, and stupidity; that insensibility of his real condition, wherein
every man comes into the world, and continues till the voice of God awake 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 the present 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 wbich 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, “as a strong man armed,” is in full possession of his soul. He sleeps on still, and takes bis 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 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 mere extravagance and delusion. Meanwhile, the wretched self-deceiver thanks God, that he is not as other men are; adulterers, unjust, extortioners :” no, he doth no wrong to any man. He fasts twice in a week, uses all the means of grace, is constant at church and sacrae ment : yea, and gives tythes of all that he has; does all the good that he can : touching the righteousness of the Law, he is blameless: he wants nothing of godliness, but the power; nothing of religion, but the spirit ; nothing of Christianity, but the truth and the life.
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 a heir of every woe, which the Son of God, yesterday, to-day, and for ever, denounces against Scribes, Pharisees, and 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." 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
66 Ye are
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, “ dead in trespasses and sins. For, “ to be carnally minded is death.” Even as it is written, “ By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin : and so death passed upon all men,” not only temporal death, but likewise spiritual 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 happi. ness.
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 till the Second Adam becomes a quickening Spirit to us, till he raises the dead, the dead in sin, in pleasure, riches, or honours. But, before any dead soul can live, he hears (hearkens to) the voice of the Son of God: he is made sensible of his lost estate, and receives the sentence of death in himself. He knows himself to be dead while he liveth; dead to God, and all the things of God': having no more power to perform the actions of a living Christian, than a dead body to perform the functions of a living man.
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 him, the foolishness of folly.“ How, (saith he) can these things be?" How can any man know, that he is alive to God? Even as you know, that your body is now alive ? Faith is the life of the soul: and, if ye have this life abiding in you, ye want no marks to evidence it to yourself, but that ελεγχος Πνευμαίος, that divine