Why he said, Awake you that sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.
First: The miserable state of the unregenerate, represented under the notions of sleep and death; both expressions intending one and the same thing, though with some variety of notion. The Christless and unregenerate world is in a deep sleep; a spirit of slumber, senselessness, and security is fallen upon them, though they lie exposed immediately to eternal wrath. Just as a man that is fast asleep in a house on fire, and whilst the consuming flames are round about him, his fancy is sporting itself in some pleasant dream; this is a very lively resemblance of the unregenerate soul. But yet he that sleeps hath the principle of life entire in him, though his senses be bound, and the actions of life suspended by sleep. Lest, therefore, we should think it is only so with the unregenerate, the expression is designedly varied, and those that were said to be asleep, are positively affirmed to be dead; on purpose to inform us that it is not a simple suspension of the acts and exercise, but a total privation of the principle of spiritual life, which is the misery of the unregenerate. Secondly: We have here the duty of the unregenerate, which is to awake out of sleep, and arise from the dead. And the order of these duties is very natural. First awake, then arise. Startling and rousing convictions make way for spiritual life; till God awake us by convictions of our misery, we will never be persuaded to arise, and move towards Christ for remedy and safety. Secondly: But you will say, if unregenerate men be dead men, to what purpose is it to persuade them to arise and stand up? And that this is the state of all Christless and unsanctified persons, will, undeniably, appear two ways.
1. The causes of spiritual life have not wrought upon them.
2. The effects and signs of spiritual life do not appear in them; and therefore they are in the state and under the power of spiritual death.
1. If all Christless and unregenerate souls be dead souls, then how little pleasure can Christians take in the society of the unregenerate! Certainly 'tis no pleasures for the living to converse among the dead. It was a cruel torment, invented by Mezentius the tyrant, to tie a dead and living man together. The pleasure of society arises from the harmony of spirits, and the hopes of mutual enjoyment in the world to come; neither of which can sweeten the society of the godly with the wicked in this world.
2. How great and wholly supernatural, marvellous, and wonderful is that change which regeneration makes upon the souls of men! It is a change from death to life: "This My Son was dead and is alive again." Regeneration is life from the dead (Luke 15:24).
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.