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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 con
dition 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 talk is 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, "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 presumptuously, 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 another say, "Let me go first and bury my father: I have married a wife: I have something else first to do?" these are morbid symptoms.
Yet, though we are expressly charged to be on our watch, let us not mistake, as if that were sufficient : for, however we may put ourselves on exertion, our vigilance, if we are left to ourselves, will fail. The most active and vigilant General has been sometimes ensnared in an ambush, or blown up by a mine insidiously prepared under his feet. Vigilance, alone, will not save! Our Lord has therefore said, Watch and pray.
Here is the patience of the saints, in carrying their petitions, day after day, to their Great Lord. Here is their wisdom: knowing their weakness, their petition is, "Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe: keep me, and I shall be kept: enable me to watch, and I shall watch. But, if thou leavest me a moment, I fall." Here is the strength of the saints: here they are taught of God to suspect every exertion they can make.
In a word, Brethren, while our Lord gives us counsel in this most important concern, he tells us, at the same time, to remember that nothing is done to purpose in Christianity, till we give him the whole glory
of sending the truth, and giving efficacy to it by the power of his Holy Spirit. This is peculiar to his character. I can speak to you, but I cannot infuse a principle. The apostle could say, 'I would to God that ye were altogether such as I am, except these bonds: but the Apostle could not give grace, to rẹnder them such who heard him but our Holy Master, who taught these truths, can give the grace, and must have all the glory; so that from beginning to end, from first to last, we must sing, 'Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and hath redeemed us to God by his blood!"
We must cry after him, then, as he passes by in his ordinances. Like the leper we must call on him, 'Jesus, Master, have mercy on us: or, as the sick of the palsy, we must look to him to say, "Arise: take up thy bed and walk.'
I will only add this remark, that there is such a thing and I would to God that I had not both seen and heard of it in many instances, and marked its direful effects too-there is such a thing as Spiritual Quackery, as well as Medical Quackery; such a thing as healing the hurt slightly; imposing on the sick man ; 'daubing the wall with untempered mortar, and crying Peace, Peace.' That we should not be deceived in a matter of such importance as this before us, here stands the Great Physician of soul and body. "I give you," as if he had said, "a plain account of what is coming on, and plain counsel how to meet it. You must hope to get forward through time into a blessed eternity, by faith and patience, by watchfulness and prayer." And though it may be scorned by the proud and slighted by the ignorant, yet I pray God that you and I may remember this counsel of Jesus Christ, who best knows how to preach his own gospel. "This," says he, "is the method which I set before my disciples. Since they know not when their time ends, since I come suddenly like a master who has taken a far journey from home, let them watch and pray. What I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch."
My dear hearers, I may be called in a moment to render an account of the advice which I am now giving to you; and nothing but the special hand of God prevented my being called to give account of my ministry before this day :* but, if I am spared a little longer to speak these words after my Master, let us pray that his grace may rest on us; and that both Minister and People may stir up one another; and that, in the day of his coming, instead of finding us sleeping, our lights may be burning, our loins girded,' and we ourselves like men who wait for the coming of their Lord.
*This sermon was preached soon after Mr. Cecil had escaped imminent danger of death, by his horse falling in frosty weather in the street.