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the man sleeps-on! no sense of danger! Or a mighty wind may shake the house to the foundation-but he sleeps on! I said that the sleeper was all this time insensible: but possibly he may not be wholly so; for, though unconscious of his danger, he may be running abroad in delightful dreams-advancing to honour-abounding in: wealth-entering into some scene of pleasure-or standing on some rock, where nothing can touch. him!
How faithful a picture is this of Carnal Security! --what our Lord here speaks of as the master of the house coming suddenly, and finding his servants sleeping. In this precise state does the thoughtless sinner stand. All the great promises of this book are nothing! Its awful threatenings are all as nothing! Though Satan is ruining and destroying him, and flames are about to surround him, yet he is insensible, he dreams of nothing but honour, or riches, or pleasure!
Would the enemy of such a sleeper wish him to be disturbed?. "No! let him sleep on; for sleeping will be his destruction. Make no noise! Shake not his bed! Let him rest and sleep on!"
Nay, the poor stupid sleeper would not bear, perhaps, to be roused: he would be offended and feel insulted, if a friend were to alarm him. Is not this the case with every careless sinner? No one offends more than the friend, who would. awaken and rouse him, and alarm his conscience.
Let me ask another question:-Would not the real friend of every such sleeper rouse him, whatever might be the consequence?-though he should put him to pain---though he should excite evil tempers--though he should be thought guilty of rudeness? "Yes!" says he: "at any rate I will awake him: for, if he is not roused, he is lost for ever! Tell me not of rudeness. Tell me not of the late time of the night. I must awake the man, or he is for ever lost."
Our Lord lays the stress on coming suddenly: lest, coming SUDDENLY, he find you sleeping. And, though a man may not be arrested by what is called sudden death; though death may begin in what is called "a slight cold;" yet death has entered the house: he cannot be bribed: he cannot be driven away: he goes forward; and the man is but a dead man, though he appears to be slightly indisposed: death has entered the house, and that slight indisposition will lead on to a fatal close!
My Dear Hearers, I am speaking of plain facts. Here are no disputable doctrines: here are no nice points of discussion: this is broad ground which respects every man on earth. And if young men sleep at their posts, and if old men sleep on the brink of the grave, shall we administer opiates to them? Do they not need, Awake! thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light? Oh, may every such
sleeper be roused to cry, Open thou mine eyes, O Lord, lest I sleep the sleep of death!
In such a case as this-infinite in importanceevidenced by daily facts-not one of us secure of life for a moment-every man standing on the brink of eternity-how valuable is wise counsel! And such counsel we have from Christ: for these are his words: Take ye heed: watch, and pray. Was it needful that his hearers should be thus warned on the approaching destruction of Jerusalem?-of how much more importance is the warning to us, who must soon witness the heavens and the earth passing away with a great noise, and the elements melting with fervent heat, and the great white throne set up in the heavens?
When death comes on a man, and lodges him in a state in which he must meet judgment, then he will experimentally find that the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch, for he would shortly return. Take ye heed, he says, lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. To a man awakened by grace, sudden death will be sudden glory; but take heed, lest he come and find you sleeping and dreaming.
III. This leads us to the third consideration: the MEANS which we should use, lest we
should be found sleeping. Watch! for ye know not when the Master of the House cometh.`
This counsel is exactly suited to our state and condition: for who is able to meet the snares with which we are surrounded, and which are far above even his comprehension? Who is able to meet the temptations of a practised veteran in destruction, like Satan? Who can understand even his own wanderings? Who can avoid the various errors flying around him, which would deceive, if it were possible, the very elect? What, in such a case, is suited to our character and circumstances? I answer, Exertion-Vigilance-a mind in arms-"A military discipline of thought" -ever awake-ever ardent for the truth. This becomes the man!
I would here correct a mistake, with which some good men distress themselves. In proportion as men are anxious, they are apt to be jealous. The careless fear nothing: the presumptuous despise danger: but it is the watchful who are frequently found fearful, lest they should be found wrong. Oh, says such an one, "I see such an event before me. I see my precious soul at stake. What shall it profit me, if I gain the whole world, and lose my own soul? or what shall I give in exchange for my soul? Every thing else is comparatively nothing. When I look on the world, and see what men are doing, I see it to be a miracle
of grace,. that God should deliver me from their infatuations. They think of nothing: their talkis vanity: they are magnifying straws and atoms: they are like children at play, while that precious soul of man, which must live with God, or with condemned spirits for ever, is disregarded."
Now this man is fearful, lest he should be off his guard; lest he should lose his impressions; lest he should get too much into the spirit of the world; lest he should be carried away by its vanities. To such an one, therefore, I would say "You are in no danger, while you are anxious. While watching, you may be alarmed: you may fancy that the enemy will rush on you with more power than will be given him: you are ever anxious: and this is the work of God, to keep you awake in the midst of a dreaming world."
How, then," say you, 66 can we perceive when there are morbid symptoms, in such a case as this?”
I answer-When you see a man at perfect ease on this subject--when you hear any one talk presumptously, that, by-and-by, he will think of repentance, prayer, and watchfulness-when you hear an old man stubborn, and conceited of his zeal in religion because he has some right notions. Do you observe a person, who, instead of seriously thinking of our Lord's declarations, says, "This is alarming! I cannot bear it! It gives me offence". that man is in a morbid state. Do you hear ano