Ephesians 5:14
Since it is light that manifests, there must be a rousing voice to awake the sleeper, that the light of life may be poured fully upon him.

I. THE PERSON ADDRESSED. "Thou that sleepest." Sleep is an apt figure to describe the sinner.

1. He lives in an unreal world, full of dreams and fancies, quite unconscious of the real world around him. The sinner dreams of safety and peace. He is carnally secure (Romans 13:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:6). He may even walk in his sleep.

2. He is wholly unprotected against danger. If he knew of his danger, he would not be asleep. He needs, therefore, to be roused.

3. His work is wholly suspended. So long as the sinner sleeps in spiritual death he does no good, he gets no good, he cares for nothing. The figure of the text is, therefore, very expressive.

II. THE COMMAND ADDRESSED TO THE SLEEPER. "Awake ... and arise from the dead." The first thing is to open the eyes; but we are not to suppose that the sinner has any power of himself to open them, any more than the man with the withered hand had power to stretch it forth before Christ said, "Stretch forth thine hand." It is the light which Christ is to shed upon the sleeper that will awake him. Just as the sun in the natural heavens, shining upon the eye of a sleeper, awakes him, so the beams of the Sun of righteousness end the sleep of death.

1. The cry, "Awake!" is the voice of love. A mother's love will lull her child to sleep, but if the house is on fire, it will take another turn, and startle the child from its slumbers.

2. The cry, "Awake!" is the voice of wisdom. The sinner loses much by sleeping. The thief pilfers by night. The tare-sower goes forth in darkness to sow his seed. If you sleep on till death, you lose everything.

3. The cry is a voice of command. Who commands? It is he who redeemed you with his precious blood.

4. It is a voice you have often heard - in sermons, in sickness, in sorrows, in calamities.

III. THE PROMISE TO THE SLEEPER. "And Christ shall give thee light." The light that comes from Christ can reach even the dead: "The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live" (John 5:25). The dead are not quickened before they hear his voice, but his voice causes them to hear and live. Christ will give you light to carry you out of the society of the dead into the companionship of the children of light, because it has already introduced you into the fellowship of the Father and the Son. "Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and put on the amour of light." - T.C.







Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
I. THE CHARACTER OF THOSE ADDRESSED.

1. If you allow yourself in the practice of known wickedness, your conscience is asleep.

2. If you live in the customary neglect of self-examination, you are in a state of slumber.

3. If you have never been in any degree affected with a sense of your guilt, and of your dependence on the mercy of God in Christ, you are among those who are asleep.

4. If you have no conflicts with sin and temptation, you are in a state of slumber.

5. The prevalence of a sensual and carnal disposition is a sign of spiritual death.

6. Stupidity under the warnings of God's word and providence, indicates such a state of soul as the Scripture compares to sleep.

II. APPLY THE CALL.

1. This awakening must suppose and imply a conviction of your sin, and a sense of your danger.

2. This awakening from sleep, and arising" from the dead, implies a repentance of sin and turning to God.

3. They who have awoke from their sleep and risen from the dead will experience the properties, and maintain the exercises of a holy and spiritual life.

III. THE ENCOURAGEMENT — "Christ shall give thee light," shall shine upon and enlighten thee.

1. This may be understood as a promise of pardon and eternal life on your repentance.

2. The words farther import God's gracious attention to awakened souls, when they frame their doings to turn to Him. The call is, Awake, arise from the dead, repair to the Saviour. Say not, "We are unable to discern the way." Christ will shine upon you and give you light. Say not, "We are unable to rise and walk." He will meet you with His grace. Arise, He calleth you. He will guide your steps.

(J. Lathrop, D. D.)

Clerical World.
I. IMAGES OF THE SINNER'S STATE.

1. Sleep. This state, though usually benign and refreshing, is sometimes one of great danger. The traveller who sleeps when exposed to excessive frost, the sailor who sleeps upon the mast, are examples.

2. Darkness. This is emblematical of ignorance, error, and iniquity, and especially of the want of any certain prospect for the future.

3. Death. The insensibility, powerlessness, and immovableness of the corpse are an awful representation of the sinner's state.

II. REPRESENTATIONS OF THE SINNER'S NEED.

1. Awakening.

2. Enlightening.

3. Raising to life.The ministry of our Lord Jesus affords us many and striking instances of the exercise of a Divine power in these ways.

III. A REVELATION OF THE SINNER'S HOPE.

1. A Divine command: Awake! arise! There is something for man to do in order that he may enjoy the blessings of the gospel.

2. A Divine promise: Christ will enlighten thee.

(Clerical World.)

I. THE STATE OF MIND INTO WHICH A CHRISTIAN MAY SOMETIMES GET.

1. The insidious character of it,(1) A Christian may be asleep and not know it. Indeed, if he did know it, he would not be asleep.(2) A man who is asleep may be kept in very good countenance by his neighbours. They may be in the same state, and sleeping people are not likely to be very active in rebuking one another.(3) One who is asleep may have taken care before he went to sleep to prevent anybody coming in to wake him. There is a way of bolting the door of your heart against anybody.(4) A man can do a great deal while asleep that will make him look as if he were quite awake. For instance, some people talk in their sleep, and many professors will talk just as if they were the most active, the most earnest, the most gracious, the most warm-hearted people anywhere.

2. What is the evil itself? It is an unconsciousness of one's own state, and a carelessness of such a kind as not to want to be conscious of it. The man takes everything for granted in religion. He seems, too, to be perfectly immovable to all appeals. The best argument is lost on a sleeping man, and then this slumbering spirit spreads itself over everything else. There is a heartlessness in the manner in which everything is gone about.

3. Now, two or three words upon what makes this evil of Christians being asleep a great deal worse.(1) It is this: they are Christ's servants, and they ought not to be asleep. If a servant is set to do a certain duty, you do not continue him in your service if he drops off asleep.(2) It is so bad for us to be asleep, too, because it is quite certain that the enemy is awake. You recollect old Hugh Latimer's sermon, in which he says that the devil is the busiest bishop in the kingdom.(3) And meanwhile souls are being lost.

4. What is it that sends us to sleep?(1) We are inclined to slumber from the evil of our nature.(2) It is easy to send a man to sleep if you give him the chloroform of bad doctrine.(3) The sultry sum of prosperity sends many to sleep. Fulness of bread is a strong temptation.(4) In some people it is the intoxication of pride.(5) In others it is the want of heart which is at the bottom of everything they do. They never were intense, they never were earnest, and consequently they have such little zeal that that zeal soon goes to sleep. This is the age of the Enchanted Ground. He that can go through this age and not sleep must have something more than mortal about him. God must be with him, keeping him awake. You cannot be long in the soporific air of this particular period of time without feeling that in spiritual things you grow lax, for it is a lax age — lax in doctrine, lax in principle, lax in morals, lax in everything — and only God can come in and help the Pilgrim to keep awake in this Enchanted Ground.

II. CHRIST'S MESSAGE TO THOSE OF HIS PEOPLE WHO ARE ASLEEP.

1. Jesus speaks this in love. He would not say "awake," were it not the kindest thing He could say to you. Sometimes a mother's love lulls her child to sleep, but if there is a house on fire the mother's love would take another expression and startle it from its slumbers; and Christ's love takes that turn when He says to you, "Awake! Awake! awake!"

2. It is His wisdom as well as His love that makes Him say it. He knows that you are losing much by sleeping.

3. It is a voice, too, which you ought to own, for it is backed up by the authority of the person from whom it comes.

4. It is a voice which has been very often repeated. Christ has been saying, "Awake! Awake!" to some of us many hundreds of times. You were sick, were you, a few months ago? That was Christ, as it were, shaking you in your sleep, and saying, "Awake, My beloved, awake out of thine unhealthy slumbers!"

5. A personal cry — "Thou." Not, "Awake all of you"; but, "Awake thou!" Shall I pick you out one by one?

6. He puts it very pressingly in the present tense. "Awake! awake now." Not a few years hence, but now. This moment.

III. THE PROMISE WITH WHICH CHRIST ENCOURAGES US TO AWAKE — "Christ shall give thee light." What means this?

1. Instruction.

2. The light of joy.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THE CHARACTERS HERE ADDRESSED. "Asleep," "dead" — expressions applicable to the natural state of man.

II. But to such THE GRACIOUS INVITATION is given — "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." This invitation or command, very naturally divides itself into two branches — the external call of the gospel, and the internal call of the Holy Spirit.

III. THE PROMISE that is made — "And Christ shall give thee light." We have already observed, that sin has darkened the understanding, depraved the affections, and rendered us insensible to every form of moral worth. It is altogether the result of Divine power, therefore, to enlighten the understanding, to purify the heart, and to bring us into subjection to the obedience of Christ. In closing our discourse, we observe —

1. That none will be able to urge, at the last clay, that they were compelled to sin, or prevented from forsaking it, by the providential arrangements of God.

2. Nor can you say that you have not sufficient means and opportunities for obtaining the blessings of redemption.

3. None will be able to say that they humbly, earnestly, and perseveringly sought the assistance of the Holy Spirit, without obtaining it.

4. Neither can you plead your inability to obey God, as an excuse for continuing in sin.

(A. Gilmour.)

1. These words plainly suppose the person to whom they are addressed, to be in a state of darkness. For "they who sleep," as the apostle elsewhere observeth, "sleep in the night." "He that followeth not Christ walketh in darkness," because the light of life shineth no longer upon his tabernacle.

2. The text plainly intimates to us that the sinner, or man of the world, to whom it addresses itself as to one sleeping, is in a state of insensibility. For no sooner has sleep taken possession of anyone, but forthwith all the senses are locked up, and he neither seeth, heareth, smelleth, tasteth, or feeleth anything. Present the most finished and beautiful picture before the eyes of a person asleep; he sees no more of it than if it was not there.

3. It appears from the text before us, that the world is in a state of delusion; for such is the state of them that sleep. And to what can the life of many a man be so fitly compared, as to a dream? "Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." And first, the sincere penitent, who really and truly turns from sin to righteousness, and from the world to Christ, passes from darkness to light. Secondly, the sinner, by repentance, is brought out of a state of insensibility into one of sensibility. Thirdly, the penitent is translated from a state of delusion to a sound judgment and right apprehension of things, from shadows to realities: even as one awaketh from the romantic scenery of a dream, to behold all things as they really are, and to do his duty in that station in which God has placed him.

(Bishop Home.)

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).

(J. Flavel.)

The Weekly Pulpit.
Conviction is the first step in the new life. It is essential to conversion, as the action of winter is necessary to the growth of spring.

I. CONVICTION IS PRODUCED BY THE POWER OF THE TRUTH.

II. CONVICTION AWAKENS THE GUILTY CONSCIENCE.

III. SOMETIMES CONVICTION IS TRANSIENT. A mere play on the feelings cannot produce a permanent change.

IV. THERE ARE INSTANCES OF SPECIAL MEANS USED TO PRODUCE CONVICTION. St. Paul's conversion.

V. CONVICTION IS GENUINE WHEN SALVATION IS SOUGHT. The gaoler at Philippi.

VI. CONVICTION SOMETIMES COMES TOO LATE TO SAVE. Belshazzar. Dives.

(The Weekly Pulpit.)

I. THE STATE WE ARE HERE SUPPOSED TO BE IN BY NATURE.

1. A state of sleep. This implies —

(1)Ignorance.

(2)Insensibility.

(3)Security, carelessness, unconcern.

(4)Indolence and sloth.

II. THE EXHORTATION GIVEN TO SUCH. God calls thee by His Word; by His ministers, whom He raises up, qualifies, and sends forth, chiefly for this end; by His providence, affliction, health, adversity, prosperity, the sickness or death of friends and relations; by His Spirit, which enlightens thy mind, awakens and informs thy conscience.

III. THE GRACIOUS PROMISE MADE TO THOSE WHO TAKE THE EXHORTATION. "Christ shall give thee" —

1. The light of knowledge as to Divine things.

2. The light of comfort and happiness.

3. The light of life.

(I. Barrow, D. D.)

I. WHAT THE TEXT CALLS US TO BELIEVE.

1. That our natural state is a state of darkness. Light in the external world is the element or medium by which we see other objects. Darkness precludes light, not by extinguishing the sense, but by rendering it useless. Three gradations may be stated, three degrees of darkness, as it affects the soul and its perceptions.(1) That in which the soul has no perception at all of spiritual objects or "the things of God," which are, to it, as though they were not.(2) That in which it sees the objects as existing, but is blind to their distinguishing qualities and relative proportions.(3) That in which the qualities are seen, but not appreciated; they are seen to exist, but not seen to be excellent or the reverse. Not so much a darkness of the mind as of the heart — a blindness of the affections as to spiritual objects.

2. A state of sleep. This is more than darkness. The man who is asleep has his senses sealed; not his sight merely, but his other senses. External objects are to him as though they were not. All that lies beyond this life and its interests is veiled from his view, and might as well not be. But while his senses are suspended, his imagination is awake and active. The more insensible he is of that which really surrounds him, the more prolific is his fancy in ideal objects. His life is but a dream. His illusions may be of a pleasing and agreeable nature; that will only make the awakening more dreadful. It is related by one of those who witnessed and experienced a late explosion, that when it occurred he was asleep, and that his first sensation was a pleasant one, as though he had been flying through the air. He opened his eyes, and he was in the sea! May there not be something analogous to this in the sensations of the sinner who dies with his soul asleep, and soars, as he imagines, towards the skies, but instantaneously awakes amidst the roar of tempests and the lash of waves upon the ocean of God's wrath?

3. A state of death.

(1)The suspension of the faculties is permanent.

(2)No power of self-resuscitation.

(3)The whole frame hastening to putrescence.

4. A state of guilt. Alienation from the love of God.

5. A state of danger. Exposed to the wrath of God.

II. WHAT THE TEXT CALLS US TO DO. The real ground of men's indifference to this matter is their unbelief. They do not really believe what they are told as to their state by nature. Where this faith really exists, it shows itself in anxious fears, if not in active efforts. The soul's first impulse is to break the spell which binds it. But this it cannot do; in itself it is helpless. Hence the exhortation has added to it the necessary promise — "Christ shall give thee light." Repentance and faith are conditions of salvation; but the Author of our salvation is the Giver of repentance, the Author and Finisher of our faith. God forgives us freely if we repent and believe, but we can just as well make expiation for our sins, as repent and believe without Divine assistance. But (it may be asked) will not this doctrine tend to paralyze the efforts of the sinner for salvation? And what then? The more completely his self-righteous strength is paralyzed, the better. No man can trust God and himself at once. Your self-reliance must be destroyed, or it will destroy you. But if, by a paralysis of effort, be intended a stagnation of feeling, and indifference to danger, I reply that this doctrine has no tendency to breed it. Suppose it should be suddenly announced to this assembly that a deadly malady had just appeared, and had begun to sweep off thousands in its course; and that the only possibility of safety depended on the use of a specific remedy, simple and easy in its application, and already within the reach of every individual, who had nothing to do at any moment but to use it, and infallibly secure himself against infection. And suppose that while your minds were resting on this last assurance, it should be authoritatively contradicted, and the fact announced, with evidence not to be gainsaid, that this specific, simple and infallibly successful, was beyond the reach of every person present, and could only be applied by a superior power. I put it to yourselves, which of these statements would produce serenity, and which alarm? Which would lead you to fold your hands in indolent indifference, and which would rouse you to an agonizing struggle for the means of safety? I speak as unto wise men; judge ye what I say. Oh, my friends, if there is any cure for spiritual sloth and false security, it is a heartfelt faith in the necessity of superhuman help. The man who makes his helplessness a pretext for continuance in sin, whatever he may say, does not really believe that he is helpless. No man believes it till he knows it by experience.

1. Light dispels that blindness of the heart and affections which disables us from seeing the true qualities of spiritual objects. That which before seemed repulsive becomes lovely; that which was mean is glorious. That which was pleasing or indifferent is now seen to be loathsome. The beauty of holiness and the ugliness of sin are now revealed in their true colours. Nor is this all. The light which beams upon us not only rectifies our views of what we law before, but shows us what we never saw.

2. Light, then, is the remedy; but how shall we obtain it? It must be given to us. If it comes at all, it comes as a free gift.

3. Christ alone can give it. This world, to the believer, is a dark, perplexing labyrinth, and in its mazes he would lose himself for over were it not that ever and anon, at certain turnings in the crooked path, he gets a glimpse of Calvary. These glimpses may be transitory, but they feed his hopes, and often unexpectedly return to cheer his drooping spirits. Sometimes he is ready to despair of his escape, and to lie down in the darkness of the labyrinth and die. But as he forms the resolution an unlooked for turn presents a distant prospect, and beyond all other objects, and above them, he discerns the cross and Christ upon it. Look to Christ then! look to Him for light to dissipate your darkness, to arouse you from sleep, and to raise you from the dead.

(J. A. Alexander, D. D.)

That the great intent of Christ in the gospel is to call people out of their woeful estate by sin into the marvellous light of His salvation. This is the great truth here represented; and to clear it up to you —

I. Observe how woeful and dangerous the present case of carnal unregenerate men is. It is represented to us under the notions of spiritual sleep and spiritual death; which I shall speak of both generally and apart, and then conjointly and together. First: To speak of them generally, and apart.

1. They are asleep in sin, whereas the regenerate are awakened (1 Thessalonians 5:5, 6). Here, then, is their misery upon the first account, they sleep in sin; and a great misery it is.(1) Because their insensibility and security make their other sins more dangerous.(2) Though they sleep, their damnation sleepeth not (2 Peter 2:3).(3) The sun is up, and shines into their windows (Romans 13:11).

2. The next notion is spiritual death; for we are bidden to "Arise from the dead," which showeth this sleep is deadly (Ephesians 2:1). How are we dead? Two ways —

(1)Dead as we are destitute of spiritual life;

(2)Dead as we are destitute of the favour and peace of God.Secondly: Let us speak of these terms conjunctly; the one helpeth to explain the other. When we hear that man sleepeth in sin, possibly we might be apt to be conceited that man's heart is not so corrupt as it is, and are ready to say of it, as Christ did of the damsel whom He raised to life, "She is not dead, but sleepeth" (Matthew 9:24). Therefore we must take in the ether expression to help it. We do not only sleep in sin, but are dead in trespasses and sins. So, on the other side, when we hear that we are in the state of the dead, we may misconceive of God's work in conversion, and press the rigour of the notion too far, as if He wrought upon us only as stocks and stones; therefore we must take in the other expression; we sleep in sins. Life natural is still left us; there is reason and conscience still to work upon, though we are wholly disabled from doing anything pleasing to God; that is to say —

1. We have reason. Thou art a man, and hast reason, and therefore art to be dealt with by way of exhortations. God influenceth all things according to their natural inclination, as He enlighteneth the world by the sun, burneth with fire, so he reasoneth with man.

2. We have conscience (which is reason applying things to our case), and can judge of our actions morally considered with respect to reward and punishment, and accuse or excuse as the nature of the action deserveth (Romans 2:14, 15).

3. That we have a natural self-love and desire of happiness (Psalm 4:6), "There be many that say, Who will show us any good?" (Matthew 13:45, 46). So that, though we are dead, so as to do nothing savingly and acceptably, yet we must remember that we are also asleep, ignorant, slight, careless, do not improve our natural reason, conscience, and desires of happiness to any saving purpose, and will not mind things. Both together giveth us a right apprehension of our woeful condition by nature, that we are corrupt, and so are said to be dead; and senseless and secure, so we are said to be asleep, mindless of our danger and remedy.

II. The manner of our recovery out of this wretched estate.

1. In the general, it is by calling of us. "Awake, arise" (see 1 Peter 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:14).

2. More particularly, the order of this calling is set down in the text, in these two injunctions, "Awake," and "Arise from the dead." We are reduced and brought home to God two ways — either

(1)Preparatively and dispositively; or

(2)Formally and constitutively.

III. The next thing is, what a blessed estate Christ calleth them into; He doth not only rescue them out of the power of darkness, but "He will give them light." Many things are intended hereby.

1. By light is meant the lively light of the Spirit, or a clear affective knowledge both of our misery and remedy.

2. Light is put for God's favour, and the solid consolation which floweth from thence (Psalm 4:6, 7).

3. It implies eternal glory and happiness, to which we have a right now, and for which we are prepared and fitted by grace. A tender waking conscience is a great mercy, whereas a dead and stupid conscience is a heavy judgment; for then neither reason nor grace is of any use to us; we can neither do the functions of a man or a Christian while we are asleep. First: "Awake thou that sleepest."Consider these motives —

1. Doth it become any to sleep in your ease, while you know not God to be a friend or an enemy? yea, when you have so much reason to think that He is an enemy to you, for you are enemies to Him by your minds in evil works (Colossians 1:21).

2. You sleep in that ship that is swiftly carried to eternity, and are just upon the entrance into another world: "Lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping" (Mark 13:36).

3. Yon have slept out too much precious time already: "The time past of our life may suffice us" (1 Peter 4:3).

4. Thou hast been long and often called upon. If God had not sought to awaken you, you had the better excuse: "How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of sleep? yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep." (Proverbs 6:9, 10).

5. Now is your time and season: "He that gathereth in summer is a wise son; but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame" (Proverbs 10:5). To lose time is sad, but to lose the season worst of all, and a season that bringeth profit as well as labour, as harvest doth.

6. Others care for their souls, and are hard at work for God; their diligence should awaken us (Acts 26:7).

7. The devil is awake, and will you sleep? (1 Peter 5:8).

8. If nature were well awake, it would disprove your courses as much as religion. Secondly: "Arise from the dead"; that is, be converted to God; for the voice of Christ doth not only conduce to awaken us, but to raise us from the dead (John 5:25). Look about you, then; entertain serious thoughts of getting out of a state of sin into a state of grace.Take two motives to quicken you to this —

1. Better never be awakened if still we continue in our sins, for this aggravateth them (John 3:19).

2. Better never rise in the last day if we be not raised from the death of sin.(1) Do not say, It is too soon; for we can never soon enough get out of so great a danger.(2) Do not say, It is too late; for the work is yet possible, as short as your time is like to be in the world; and it will be your fault if it be not done.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

It is said of birds that build in steeples, being used to the continual ringing of bells, the sound disquiets them not at all; or as those that dwell near the fall of the river Nilus (Nile), the noise of the water deafens them so, that they mind it not. Thus it is that the commonness of the death of others is made but, as it were, a formal thing: many have been so often at the grave, that now the grave is worn out of their hearts; they have gone so often to the house of mourning, that they are grown familiar with death; they look upon it as a matter of custom for men to die and be buried, and when the solemnity is over, the thoughts of death are over also; as soon as the grave is out of their sight, preparation for the grave is out of their mind: then they go to their worldly business, yea, to coveting and sinning, as if the last man that ever should be were buried.

(Caryl.)

The person here spoken of is first said to be asleep; and surely this gives the idea of one who may be surrounded by danger without knowing it; may be approached by enemies without perceiving it; may have the assassin's blow aimed at his heart without attempting to repel it. In like manner, those by whom he is best loved may watch beside his pillow, and he is unconscious of their presence. "A feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined," may be spread before him, yet his appetite is not awakened; riches and honours may be placed within his reach, yet his hand is not stretched forth to grasp them. And why? Because he is asleep. His eyes are closed, his ears are dulled, his senses are locked up by the power of slumber; and forgetfulness of his best interest, and inattention to outward objects, have come upon him. And thus is it with the unconverted man. He is surrounded by dangers which he heeds not; by enemies whom he regards not. The murderer of souls has struck at his heart and he has made no resistance. He may be active in worldly matters, and eager for worldly objects; but he has no eagerness, no activity for spiritual concerns. Wrath, and that eternal, is even now pursuing him; the bottomless abyss has yawned at his very feet, and is ready to engulph him; the thunders of the law are pealing forth their denunciations against him; and this immortal being remains heedless and unconcerned when there is but one step between him and the lake of fire. And there is an eye of love watching over him for good; there is a voice of mercy appealing to his soul; there is the marriage supper of the Lamb spread, and he is invited thereto; there are the unsearchable riches of Christ placed within his reach, with this encouraging inscription, "Ask, and ye shall receive"; yet he hears not the voice which cries, "Look unto Me, and be ye saved"; he sees not the bleeding form which stands between us and the stroke of Divine justice; the famished wretch hastens not to taste the feast; the beggar's hand is not put forth to lay hold on the boundless treasures. He is asleep; and feels not, sees not, hears not, knows not these things. And yet he is often not devoid of strong feeling with respect to the things of this world; nor destitute of regard for the decencies of life. He may find, or think he finds, happiness in this very forgetfulness of God; nay, in his own way, he may make a profession of religion, and have a dreamy prospect of salvation to be hereafter received. He thinks that he may now give his faculties to earthly objects and to self-indulgence, that he may offer to God the service of the lip whilst his own passions and inclinations receive the adoration of the heart; and he flatters himself that he is happy now, and that he shall, unconverted and separated from the love of God as he is, be happy in His presence eternally. Alas! how delusive is this dream, springing as it does from the sleep of carnal security. When for a moment he thinks seriously, he finds himself not really happy, and when that hour comes in which the unawakened sinner shall be called into the presence of his Judge, where shall be all the joys either on earth or in heaven, which he promised to himself? "It shall even be as when an hungry man dreameth, and, behold, he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty; or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and, behold, he is faint and his soul hath appetite." His anticipations were but a dream, founded on self-delusion, and ending in bitter and irretrievable disappointment.

(Bishop Ryle.)

It is a remarkable illustration of the truth that material phenomena are designed to convey to us lessons of spiritual realities, that the language in common use to describe the latter is that of the former. For example, in this sentence we have the expressions "sleep," "death," "light." All these are material conditions or things. Probably none of these symbolical expressions for spiritual things is so frequently used as that of light. Without entering into the disputed question as to the source whence this quotation is taken, whether it be a free adaptation of a passage in the book of the prophet Isaiah or whether (as some imagine) a fragment from some ancient Christian hymn, we can refer to not a few passages in the Old Testament in which a right spiritual condition is described as being a condition of light. In the New Testament, which is a record of the advent of Him who is the source of spiritual light, these passages are still more numerous. He is heralded as the Dayspring from on high who shall give light to them that sit in darkness. He is declared to be a light to lighten the Gentiles. He claims for Himself that He is the Light of the world. In Him is light, and they who receive of Him are no longer darkness but "light in the Lord," for in Him "the darkness is past and the true light now shineth."

1. Light was the first creation of God. His first recorded word is, "Let there be light." Proceeding out of this creation of light comes all other creation until the end is reached and man is made in the image of God. In like manner light is the first creation of the gospel, which is the re-creation of the world.

2. Light needs no evidence of its presence. It proves itself. To the blind, indeed, it has no existence, and no explanation of it can make them understand it. But to such as have eyes to see, the presence of light makes itself known at once. The gospel light commends itself by its own light to those who are possessed of a clear spiritual eyesight.

3. Light is given in order that we may see where we are and amidst what surroundings we are placed. Apart from the gospel of Christ we can possess no, true view of life; we are overwhelmed by unsolved mysteries.

4. Light exists not merely that we may rejoice in the revelation of which it is the author, but that we may walk in it.

5. "God called the light, day," and the day is given for work. "Man goeth forth to his work and to his labour until the evening." "I must work the works of Him that sent Me while it is day, the night cometh when no man can work."

6. Darkness is always fruitless (ver. 11) while light is fruit-producing. The fruit of the light (for such is the true reading of ver. 9, which is recognized in the Revised Version) is in goodness, righteousness, truth. Light is a necessary element in the formation of the fruit of a tree or a plant. Such if deprived of light becomes barren. How true a picture of the human soul upon which the Light of Life is not shining!

(Canon Vernon Hutton.)

God would not mock man by bidding him to "awake" out of death, and to arise to a new life, if the Awakener were not in the very midst of his soul to help him. God calls man from within himself. "The Resurrection and the Life" stirs in him, saying, "Arise from the dead!" and the man is already at the dawn of the heavenly life. As sunrise pricks the sleeper, and says to him, Arise! even so the hour cometh when the dead soul hears the voice of the Son of Man, and, hearing, lives. The gentleness of the Divine love opens a new day within the man, and ten thousand noiseless arrows penetrate and startle his soul. They are the life glances of the Quickener, to which the inner man responds, trembling in the pangs of the new birth, and, at the same time, blessing God with unspeakable gladness that he is alive from the dead and an heir of heaven. It happens daily that after the light has penetrated the eyelid of the sleeper, he recognizes it for a moment, turns himself, closes his lid, and sleeps again. Take heed, lest after the arrows of Christ, which are gentler than the light, have wakened your soul, you do not sleep on in death.

(J. Pulsford.)

The motto of the Northcotes is, "The Cross of Christ is my Light."

A man is out on a night that is as dark as pitch — a lamp is placed in his hand to guide him on his journey. Instead, however, of taking advantage of the light the lamp affords, the man says, I do not require this lamp; I know every step of the way; I will trust to my own judgment. That man, in a certain sense, does his best; he strives to keep the beaten track, and for that purpose he moves carefully and cautiously along. When, however, he makes a false step and tumbles into a ditch, or falls over a precipice, no one dreams of saying, "Poor fellow! he could not help himself, he did his best." The man did not do his best. Had he done his best, and not been rash and foolhardy in refusing to avail himself of the lamp, he would have escaped the wounds and bruises that now burden him.

(P. Robertson.)

Christ is our only defence at the last. John Holland, in his concluding moment, swept his hand over the Bible, and said: "Come, let us gather a few flowers from this garden." As it was eventime he said to his wife: "Have you lighted the candles?" "No," she said, "we have not lighted the candles." "Then," said he, "it must be the brightness of the face of Jesus that I see."

(Dr. Talmage.)

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