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Lord comfort and stablish your hearts ! May He confirm your peace ; invigorate your hopes; cheer and refresh you by his presence; and cause all things to work together for your present and everlasting good, for His mercy's sake, through Jesus Christ!
THE CALL OF THE GOSPEL TO SINNERS.
EPHESIANS, v. 14.
Wherefore He saith, Awake, thou that sleep
est, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee Light.
These words may be considered as the great Call of God to sinners in the Gospel of his Son. In many ways, and by different persons, He has at different times delivered this Call; by the Prophets in their preaching and writings; by John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ ; by Christ Himself; by His Apostles after Him; by His ministers ever since; by the inspired writings of the New Testament; by the exemplary and holy lives of true Christians in every age; by the secret and continual suggestions of the Holy Spirit. All these, as it were with one voice, proclaim the Call in the Text. By all of them the Lord delivers the same message to mankind.
“ He saith, Awake, Thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead,
and Christ shall give thee light.” In endeavouring on the present occasion to en. force this Call, and, with the divine blessing, to bring it home to the hearts of all those whom it may concern, I shall show,
1. The State in which the Gospel finds mankind.
II, The Duty which it calls on them to discharge.
III. The Encouragement which it affords for discharging it.
I. The State in which the Gospel finds mankind is represented in the text as a state of sleep and of death. " Awake, Thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead,” These expressions are doubtless figurative, and are intended to describe the spiritual condition of the person addressed, that is, the state of his soul with respect to God and Religion. Taking the words then in their most natural and obvious sense, without putting on them any
forced and strained interpretation, they clearly imply that the Gospel finds men in a state of great insensibility and unconcern with respect to the things of another world, and of extreme indisposition and unwillingness to set about the work of true Religion. Such is the lowest sense which we can put upon these expressions; and a sense, which the experience of every day confirms and justifies.
- How men came into this most aweful state, this state of spiritual Sleep and Death, is a point which might be easily shown; for the Bible very clearly and fully explains it. But it is not a point into which I have now any occasion to enter. My present object is to remind you that this is the state of men, and, if possible, to convince those who may now be in it, of its danger and misery. With this view, let us consider with some attention the two particulars in which I have shown it to consist. First,
It is a State of Insensibility and Unconcern with respect to the things of another world. What can be plainer than that such is the state of mankind in general ? Observe them : mix with them : talk to them. Do we find among them a prevailing anxiety about their souls, and spiritual things? Nay, do we in general discover any interest to be felt, or expressed on these matters? Are men in general awake on the subject of Religion ? Does it engage their thoughts? does it give a turn to their conversation ? does it influence their actions ? A very slight acquaintance with mankind will enable us to answer these questions. See how men in general are living, setting their affections upon the world, and the things of the world. See them running in different paths; some following one object, and some another ; one
intent on gaining money, another wholly given to pleasure, a third, labouring after fame, and honour : see them struggling, striving, contending with each other; but all agreeing in one thing, namely, to inake the world their God, to push their own interests, and to gratify their selfish inclinations. What, in the mean time, becomes of Religion, and of the love of their souls? These things either come not at all into their thoughts; or, if they sometimes intrude, are speedily put off to a more convenient
Or, if conscience will not be so pacified, a cheap and an easy Religion is taken up: a Religion which costs nothing, and consists only in notions and forms, that differ as much from the solid principles and spiritual services of real Religion, as the wild fancies of a dreaming man differ from the sound, connected reasonings of one who is awake. Thus men sleep. Busied about trifles, they overlook the great concerns of eternity. Having their mind darkened, they see no world but the present : they live as if they were to live here for ever: and if at any time this false peace is shaken, they try all means to prevent it from being destroyed, and to lull themselves again to rest. This indeed will more fully appear from consider ing, in the next place,
How Indisposed and Unwilling men are to