And do this, understanding the occasion. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.
I. THE CHRISTIAN'S CONFIDENCE.
1. "The night is far spent.
(1) The forces of evil are far spent. Some Christians are always looking on the dark side of things. They see no traces of the breaking day. With them it is always night. They would have us believe, with Canon Taylor, that missions are a failure. They would have us believe, with Lord Wemyss, that prohibition of the liquor traffic is a failure. They would have us believe that Sunday closing is a failure. But it is those who want such movements to fail that usually originate such a cry. There is no failure in the forces of right. Failure is written on the forces of sin. Its night is far spent.
(2) The clouds of mystery will soon be lifted. There are difficulties in reconciling religion and science. Yet the. difficulties are only apparent. They are only temporary clouds. There are difficulties in God's providence that we cannot understand. But by-and-by they will all be made plain. Every mystery will be solved. Now we know in part; but then shall we know even as also we are known."
(3) The dark hours of pain and sorrow will soon be over. How dark is the hour of sickness! how dark the hour of bereavement! What shadows disappointment causes to pass over our lives! But the night is far spent. "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."
2. "The day is at hand. The day of our Saviour's coming is rapidly drawing nearer. Already we may hear the sound of his chariot-wheels. Gradually his kingdom has been making progress in the earth, his truth has been gaining the victory over error. The Reformation shook off the dust of centuries from the Word of God. The discovery of printing had already prepared the way for the spread of the emancipated Bible. Old kingdoms that encouraged error and fostered ecclesiastical despotism have been falling. New nations have arisen to sway the destinies of the world - the nations of the Bible-loving, liberty-loving, Anglo-Saxon race. Old wrongs have been redressed. Our King is coming. The day is at hand."
II. THE CHRISTIAN'S CALL.
1. A call to activity. "Now it is high time to awake out of sleep" (ver. 11). It is plain that this exhortation is addressed to Christians, for the writer adds, "for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed." Many Christians are asleep. They are inactive and idle, and are doing nothing to prepare the way of the Lord. It may be addressed also to the unconverted. This very passage, the closing part of this thirteenth chapter, was the means of converting St. Augustine.
2. A call to amendment. "Let us cast off the works of darkness" (ver. 12). Some works are literally works of darkness, as for example those specified in the thirteenth verse. Drunkenness and impurity are most practised in the night. "They that be drunken are drunken in the night." But "works of darkness" may be regarded as including all sinful works. Sin loves concealment. The Christian is to cast off everything that will not bear the light, to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. "The day is at hand." How shall we abide the day of our Lord's coming if we do not, by Divine help, separate ourselves from sin?
3. A call to conflict. "Let us put on the armour of light" (ver. 12). We are to wage war with our own temptations, and with the evil that is in the world. Let our armour be the armour of light. Let us not fight the world with its own weapons - with hatred, or bitterness, or deceit. Let our weapons be good weapons - the weapons of truth, justice, love. They will conquer. Let us never do evil that good may come.
4. A call to Christ-likeness. "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ" (ver. 14). That is to say, "Be clothed with his spirit." This is the secret of strength. Like Sir Galahad, whose strength was as the strength of ten because his heart was pure, the man who is Christ-like in spirit will overcome all temptations, and will grapple victoriously with all difficulties. This is emphatically a call which the Christian needs to hear in the present age, when there is so much in the Church as well as in the world that is contrary to the spirit of Christ. Let us, then, hear the trumpet-call of duty, and, as we go forth, let us brace up our spirits with the inspiring thought that "the night is far spent, and the day is at hand." - C.H.I.
And, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep.I. TO AWAKE. Because —
1. It is high time.
2. The night of unbelief is past.
3. The day of salvation is at hand.
II. TO DUTY.
1. To repentance — "Put off the works of darkness."
2. To faith — "Put on the armour of light."
3. To action — "Walk honestly," etc.
4. To holiness — "Put on Christ" — the Source of new life.
(J. Lyth, D.D.)
(A. Maclaren, D.D.)
Biblical Museum.I. THAT KNOWLEDGE OF TIME WHICH WE SHOULD SECURE. We should know time in its —
II. THE EFFECTS WHICH IT IS CALCULATED TO PROMOTE.
1. Unfeigned gratitude to God.
2. Deep contrition of soul.
3. Fervent application to the throne of grace.
4. Sincere desires to live more fully unto the Lord.
I. WORTH. Estimated at the value of —
1. Life. Time the measure of life of a being capable of thought, endowed with conscience, gifted with immortality.
2. What able to be done during its progress. Speaking of W. Wilberforce, Sir James Mackintosh said, "I am full of admiration that the short period of the life of one man, well and wisely directed, can do so much and exert such influence. How precious is time! How valuable and dignified human life, which in general appears so base and miserable!" Illustrate with Howard, Raikes, etc.
II. RESPONSIBILITIES. Our relation to God. Knowledge of salvation. Duties in our sphere of life. Influence we exert. Ignatius when he heard the clock strike said, "Now I have one hour more to account for."
III. UNCERTAINTY. Commercial institutions and projects abundantly prove this, but he who counts on time presumes on probability that has even more impressively proved its questionableness (James 4:13, 14).
IV. BREVITY., The years of Jacob wore an hundred and thirty, yet he says, "Few and evil," etc. Moses again, "Like the grass," etc. When we look over the first chapters of Chronicles, to read which is like entering a great world-cemetery, how we are struck with the shortness of life at the best!
V. POWERLESSNESS. It cannot destroy sin, or take away its guilt. It cannot act for us. It cannot destroy the soul, though it ends the life.
VI. IRREVOCABLENESS. The wave that washes at your feet may return. The waters of the river as they roll to the sea, caught up in mist, may again flow down the mountains into its channel, but an hour once gone in the roll of millenniums shall never return. We can recall a messenger, but not the last moment. One life here, only one, is given, how precious should it be!
(G. McMichael, B.A.)I. THE EXHORTATION. These words are appropriate to the first Sunday in the year. When the bells ring out the old year and ring in the new, they seem to chime, "Now it is high time to awake out of sleep."
1. St. Paul is speaking not to those who were asleep in sin, but to active Christians. And there are few things in Scripture more striking than the remonstrances addressed to such. Ordinarily little or no account seems taken of their progress, but they are dealt with as having yet much to do. The nominal Christian ought to be much struck with this. If he who has been long labouring is thus admonished, what must be the state of those who have not yet taken the first steps in Christianity?
2. But the real Christian may also find cause for alarm, notwithstanding the promises in his favour. And when we call to mind that in the parable all the virgins, the wise as well as the foolish, slumbered, we cannot but conclude that there is no privilege to godly men of dispensing with watchfulness. It is vigilance, not indolence, to which believers are elected. The best proof that a man is not elect, is his making election his pillow, and going to sleep upon his own predestination.
3. Our text, however, may be taken in comparative sense. The righteous may "not sleep as do others." Yet you may find so vast a disproportion between the energy exerted and the energy demanded, that the actual wakefulness is practical listlessness. Spiritual slumber is not necessarily the folding up of every power and faculty, but the not developing them in the necessary degree. Some energy is still torpid, some affection is still spellbound, and thus the whole man is not spiritually roused. And over and above the slumber of certain faculties, those which are awake are but half awake. Where is that struggling which would result from the combination of an eye all faith and a heart all love?
II. THE MOTIVE BY WHICH ST. PAUL STRIVES TO STIR CHRISTIANS FROM COMPARATIVE INDOLENCE — "Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed."
1. This argument which is drawn from the greater nearness of death is not of equal urgency when applied to believer and unbeliever. In applying it to the latter, I just tell him that he has less time in which to escape, and therefore less likelihood of obtaining deliverance. He must do it before daybreak, and "the night is far spent." But when I turn to the believer, there is by no means the same appearance of force in the motive. If a man be secure of salvation, to tell him that the end is at hand does not look like urging him to exertion. But here comes in that balancing of statements which is discernible through the whole of the Bible. The only Scriptural certainty that a man will be saved is the certainty that he will struggle. Struggling is incipient salvation. It is an intenser struggle which marks a fuller possession. If, then, a man would show that his salvation is nearer, he must also show that he is more wakeful, more in earnest.
2. There are two reasons why the consciousness of having less time to live should urge Christians to be increasingly earnest.(1) There is much to strive for even if a man be secure of salvation. The degree of our happiness in the next life will be mainly determined by our attainments in holiness in this. We are here on a stage of probation, so that, having been once recovered from apostasy, we are candidates for a prize and wrestlers for a crown. Christianity does not allow the believer to imagine that everything is done when a title to the kingdom is obtained. And if one man become a ruler over ten cities, and another over five, and another over two, each receiving in exact proportion to his improvement of talents, then it is clear that our strivings will have a vast influence on our recompense. To tell the Christian, therefore, that his salvation is nearer than when he believed, is telling the wrestler that his glass is running out, and there is the garland not won; it is telling the warrior that the shadows are thickening and the victory is not complete. Is it a time to sleep when each moment's slumber may take a pearl from the crown, a city from the sceptre?(2) There remains less time in which to glorify God. If there were no connection between what we do in this life, and what we shall receive in the next, it would still be impossible for true Christians to be indolent. Forasmuch as faith makes us one with Christ, there must be community of interest. And it is a spectacle which should stir all the anxieties and sympathies of the believer — that the world which has been ransomed by Christ's blood is nevertheless overspread with impiety. And over and above this dishonour to his Lord, there is the wretchedness which an ungodly race is weaving for its portion; and he cannot fail to long and to strive that he may be, in some degree, instrumental in the salvation of his fellow-men. Where, then, can you find a stronger motive to energy than is furnished by the shortness of the period during which we may resist the progress of iniquity and win souls for Christ? And what, then, is the text but an admonition that nerve and sinew, time and talent — all must be centred more fixedly than ever in the service of Christ, lest we are summoned to depart ere we have done the little which with all our strenuousness we might possibly effect for the Lord and His kingdom?
(H. Melvill, B.D.)I. THE CONDITION SUPPOSED. One of —
II. THE ADMONITION GIVEN. Awake to —
3. Diligent effort.
III. THE MOTIVES SUGGESTED.
1. It is high time.
2. The crisis draws on.
3. You know it.
(J. Lyth, D.D.)I. THE STATE FROM WHICH A CHANGE IS DESIRED. Sleep describes —
1. The state of unconverted men (1 Thessalonians 5:4-8; 1 Corinthians 15:34). Sleep is a season of —(1) Forgetfulness, and men by nature are forgetful of the ends of their being, of their true character — of the awful attributes of eternity, etc.(2) Ignorance, and the unconverted man has no discernment as to spiritual things.(3) Insensibility, and the natural man is unalarmed and secure amidst all the danger by which he is surrounded. A man may be awake as to all the things of time, and asleep as to all the concerns of eternity.
2. Of many who have made a profession of the gospel and felt its power. Once they were roused from the slumbers of spiritual death, but they are gone back. Their strong impressions have subsided, their souls have left their first love; they did run well, but they have been hindered. In the world there is a constant influence to produce this stupor. Worldly business, pleasure, honour and applause, become the means of bringing us into a state of declension. How dreadful when the child of the day thus goes back into darkness, and stretches out his form, asking for a little more sleep and a little more slumber!
II. THE NATURE OF THE CHANGE BY WHICH THIS STATE IS TO BE REVERSED.
1. It is a change which produces a complete reverse. It is awaking out of sleep. This change is called a being turned from darkness to light — a being quickened — becoming children of the light and of the day, etc. The expression signifies that the understanding receives a full impression of the reality of the world to come. The man acts as though he believed that the true end of life is to glorify God; and hence he seeks to obtain a change of heart and life — cultivates holy principles, practises holy actions, and has respect in all things to the recompense of the reward.
2. The only way by which this change can be effected is by the powerful operation of the Spirit on the mind. The slumber is so potent that none but He can awake from it. The anodyne is so powerful that none but the great Physician can apply a suitable remedy. Where He is not, there is dark midnight, or the light only of a phantom, or the pale beams of the moon shining upon snow, displaying the very dreariness and barrenness of nature!
3. Yet human instruments are employed. Those who are awakened to the sense of the danger of their fellow-men are sent out by God to awaken others.
III. THE MOTIVES WHICH SHOULD INDUCE YOU TO AWAKE.
1. Enough of your time has passed in an unaroused, unawakened state already.
2. The difficulty of awakening grows with the progress of delay. The sleep of the body, indeed, becomes lighter as we approach the morning season. But this slumber becomes deeper and heavier, till the individual sleeps the sleep of death. Every time you hear in vain, you grow more sleepy, and the preacher's voice becomes only as so much music to lull you. You have so long listened to the rolling of the thunder that your ears are now deaf to its sound. The Cross has so frequently been presented to you that its brightness has no longer any attraction.
3. The uncertainty and speedy termination of life. Who is there that knows how long he has to live? Can any of you say, "Go thy way for this time; when it is more convenient, I will attend to these things"? You know not that you will live till to-morrow.
(J. Parsons.)I. THERE IS SOMETIMES A TENDENCY IN CHRISTIANS TO SLEEP. How many settle down into dreamy stationariness. This state —
1. Follows upon the religious life losing its first freshness and novelty.
2. Is induced by a false conception of the atonement and the nature of salvation. Men have been taught to consider salvation bestowed in its completeness upon believing that Christ is the sacrifice for the world's sin, and all that thereafter remains is heaven; whereas salvation simply begins then — nothing more.
3. Is encouraged by the worldly maxims and excitements, the spirit of mammonism, amidst which so many live. God and duty, and all spiritual realities seem often to fade away into mere phantoms in the clash and hurry of commerce. That only seems real which is visible and present. And the result is that the soul passes by almost imperceptible degrees into a state of moral slumber.
4. Comes through the growth of some moral weakness or sinful habit — covetousness, love of pleasure, passionateness — that has not been controlled or weeded out of the character at the beginning of the new life; or through the influence of companions of a worldly type; or from the mind becoming unsettled on some of the questions of theology and Biblical criticism. Many a man, tossed on a sea of doubt and uncertainty concerning creeds and theological systems, gradually loses his former spiritual intensity, and languidly suffers the work of salvation to remain stationary.
II. AS A CORRECTIVE OF INACTION AND TORPOR, AND TO INSPIRE ONCE MORE WITH HOLY ENTERPRISE ANY WHO SLEEP, THERE IS A TWOFOLD INCENTIVE.
1. "Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed." This points to —(1) The fact of the Christian life having been begun. It is a great point gained to have made a definite beginning in a good work. After the first few stages there begins to be accumulated a fund of experience; the sense of strangeness goes, and the faculties begin to adapt themselves to the new mode of life, and the man soon begins to have a foretaste of some of the fruits of his labour. Past conquests lend a power for future triumphs. Attainment facilitates yet further attainment.(2) The grand revelations of the other life, which are fast approaching. But the measure of every one's heaven hereafter depends upon the spiritual meetness which has been developed in him here. And the time that remains to any of us for casting off the works of darkness and putting on the armour of light is ceaselessly gliding away, whether we use it or no. The opportunities with which each year comes laden go into the grave of the past with it. The portals of the future are coming fast into sight, and soon they will open for you to pass through. There is no time to waste in dreamy indolence.
2. "The night is far spent, the day is at hand." The present life is a time of shadow and obscurity. Purposes, duties, attainments, are often misinterpreted, and mis-valued. Now, in passing into the future we pass into the day. That is a world of light in which we shall both know ourselves and be known as we really are. Therefore, be ready for the time of revelation. Awake! put off the works of darkness; put on the armour of light. Each fresh day should see us awake and diligent. For the most Christ-like is never enough like Christ.
(T. Hammond.)I. SOME PROFESSING CHRISTIANS SEEM TO BE ASLEEP WITH REGARD TO OTHERS. Paul has been bidding us to pay attention to relative duties, and exhorting us to keep the law of love, which is the essence of law; and now he interjects this sentence. So he means that many Christians are in a sleepy state with reference to their obligations to others. True godliness makes a man look to himself, and feel his personal obligations and responsibilities. But there is a danger lest a man should say, "Other people must see to themselves, and I must see to myself." The principle of individuality might be thus pushed to an unwarrantable extreme. No man can compass the ends of life by drawing a little line around himself upon the ground. There are outgoing lines of life that bind us not only with some men, but, in fact, with all humanity. We are placed, therefore, in a most solemn position; and it is with regard to this that it is high time that we should awake out of sleep.
1. Into what a deep slumber some professing Christians have fallen! How utterly insensible they are to the sins and sorrows of those around them. They say, "What is to be will be, and the Lord's purpose will be fulfilled; there will be some saved and others lost," as coolly as if they were talking of a wasp's nest. As for those that are lost! They dare not injure their logic by indulging a little mournful emotion.
2. Others are prone to be overtaken with an oft-recurring sleep. I know a brother who often takes forty winks in the day-time: you may nudge him, and he will wake and listen to you, but he goes to sleep again in a few minutes if you let him alone. Who can blame the sleeper when it is a question of infirmity or sheer exhaustion? Well, without blaming any for the weakness of the flesh, I take this sleepy habit to be a fit illustration of the state of some Christians. They have fits and starts of wakefulness, and then off to sleep again. At that missionary meeting you woke up when you heard the cry of the perishing heathen; but have you cared much about China or India since then? You do at times get on fire with love for souls, but then after the sermon, or the week of special services has ended, you go to sleep again. Many Sunday-school teachers there are of that kind.
3. Others fall into a kind of somnambulistic state. If we judged them by their outward actions we should think they were wide awake, and they do what they do very well. Persons walk along giddy heights safely enough when fast asleep, where they would not venture when wide awake. And we have known professors going on very carefully, exactly where others have fallen, and have attributed it to the grace of God, whereas in part it has been attributable to the fact that they were spiritually asleep. It is possible to appear very devout, to sing hymns, to hear sermons, to teach in the Sunday School, to pay your religious contributions punctually, maintain the habit of prayer, and yet you may be a somnambulist.
4. A very large number of us are half asleep.
II. IT IS HIGH TIME THAT THEY SHOULD AWAKE. And why? Because —
1. What right have believers to be asleep at all? The Lord has saved us from the sleep which is the first cousin to death — from indifference, unbelief, hardheartedness.
2. A great many opportunities have already slipped away. You who have been converted, say these ten years, what have you done for Christ? You have been eating the fat and drinking the sweet, but have you fed the hungry? If you have been saved a week, and you have done nothing for Christ during that week, you have already wasted more than enough.
3. There were so many people that had a claim upon us, who are beyond our power now, even if we do wake! Have you ever felt the sadness of neglecting to visit a person who was ill until you heard that he was dead? Many are passing away from us and from the sphere of our influence. Your children, for instance. Parents, avail yourselves of your opportunities.
4. We have plenty of enemies that are awake if we are not. Protestantism may slumber, but Jesuitism never does. The prince of the power of the air keeps his servants well up to their work.
5. It is daylight. The sun has risen. We are getting far into the gospel dispensation. Can you sleep still?
6. Our Lord was awake. How did His eyes stream with tears over perishing Jerusalem! The zeal of God's house consumed Him. Ought it not to consume us?
7. Our own day may be over within an hour or two. The preacher may be delivering his last sermon. You may go home to-night to offer the last prayer at the family altar which you will ever utter on earth. You may open shop to-morrow morning for the last time.
III. THERE IS SOMETHING WORTH WAKING FOR. Paul does not say, "If you do not wake you will be lost." He speaks in a gospel tone, "Now is your salvation nearer than when you believed."
1. It is nearer in order of time. How long is it since you believed? Ten years? You are ten years nearer heaven, then. Ought we not to be more awake? The farther we are off from heaven, the less we may feel its influence. Some of you are sixty years nearer to heaven than you were. Would you like to live those sixty years over again? Would you like to go back and clamber again the Hill Difficulty, and slide down again into the Valley of Humiliation, etc.? Rejoice that you are so much nearer heaven. Therefore, keep wide awake, and looking out for it.
2. In point of preparation. If we are getting more ready for heaven, we ought to be more awake, for sleepiness is not the state of heavenly spirits. If thou art more fit for heaven thou hast more love, more pity; then reach out both hands to bring another poor soul to Christ.
3. In point of clearness of realisation. If I can realise that in so short a time my eternal salvation shall be consummated, I cannot any longer neglect a single opportunity of serving my Master. Conclusion: Oh, ye unconverted men, must I read the text as it would have to run if it were written to yon? "It is high time that you should awake out of sleep, for now is your damnation nearer than when you first heard the gospel and rejected it." God grant you grace to take heed and to believe in Christ.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)I. THE SLEEP. Sleep is a state which can only be declared of Christians. The unconverted are dead, and require not an awakening, but a resurrection. What does this injunction betoken? A state of —
1. Spiritual apathy. Sleep implies unconsciousness. There may be sublimities around the sleeper, but he sees them not; harmonies, but he hears them not; dangers, but he feels them not. So when Christians are asleep they are reduced to a state in which the religious senses are untouched.
2. Religious inactivity. There is a spot in the Atlantic called the Saragossa Sea, which is subject to long calms, and is covered with a thick, entangling seaweed; and nothing of all he has to encounter on the wide ocean fills the experienced mariner with more genuine dread than to be caught in the meshes of this region of dead calm and entangling weeds. The religious life has its Saragossa Sea, in which individuals and Churches too often lie becalmed and entangled in the weeds of conventional habits and formalism.
3. Dalliance with sin. The context shows a sad state of things, the reason for which was the recent conversion of the Roman Christians from heathenism, or the prevalence of Antinomianism. And while there is not now "the same excess of riot," still there is considerable proneness to conform to the customs of irreligious people in pleasure.
II. THE CALL TO AWAKE. This state of wakefulness is a condition the very opposite of the sleep referred to. It means, therefore —
1. Deep, intense religious consciousness.
2. Active, self-denying labour.
3. The mortifying of the flesh, and a clear, unmistakable protest against the evil ways of the world.
III. THE REASONS FOR WAKEFULNESS.
1. The nature of the Christian profession. "Let us put on the armour of light." Here the Christian is presented to us as a soldier. One of the duties of his life, therefore, is to fight. A work demanding real, earnest care and watchfulness, and calculated to draw forth our utmost energies. A drowsy soldier is a contradiction. It follows, then, from this symbol, that the Christian should not be asleep. We are now in the midst of the fray; let us, then, be awake, "putting on the armour of light," which alone will secure us the victory in the conflict with darkness.
2. The closeness of the end. "For now is our salvation nearer," etc. As the days slip from our grasp, each remaining moment should become more intensely precious to us.
3. The character of the times. "Knowing the time." Never did any age since the establishment of Christianity possess such claims upon the earnest, sober attention of the Church as the present. Our age is one eminent for —(1) Its secular activities in the direction of commerce, science, and education. Shall the Church alone remain quiescent in the midst of this torrent of activity? It is here, as it often is with travellers by train, which, by its very swiftness, lulls to sleep, but as it slackens speed the sleeper wakens up and looks around. So the rate at which the train of secular pursuits hurries Christians along and lulls them into a state of obliviousness of spiritual things. Let us be as intrepid in the things of God as we are in those of our own.(2) Its activity in the dissemination of error. The two grand errors of the age are priestism and scepticism — twin sisters, though not on very amicable terms with each other.(3) Its abounding wickedness. Here, then, is a powerful reason for wakefulness. A living Church is the grand antidote to all the evils incidental to our civilisation. It is its duty pre-eminently to seek to leaven this civilisation.
(A. J. Parry.)I. THE SINNER'S SLEEP. A state of —
3. Fancied security.
4. Fleshly delight.
II. THE EXHORTATION. It implies —
1. An altered view of things.
2. Voluntary effort.
4. Compliance with terms.
III. THE REASON.
1. Life is fleeting.
2. Judgment is near.
3. God is calling.
(W. W. Wythe.)
I. IN DARKNESS. The fairest sights may be around us, but, so long as we are asleep, for us they do not exist. And so it is, sometimes, in spiritual sleep. This world in which we live is instinct with the life of God. There is not a hill or valley, a wind or storm, a bird or beast, a leaf or flower, but has something to say to us of God. And yet there are some who say, "There is no God": they are sleeping the death of infidelity. Now, though it is not probable that any of you are sleeping this sleep of darkness, yet drowsiness generally comes before sleep. Take care, then, you do not give way to the drowsiness that precedes the slumber of infidelity. Do not encourage infidel thoughts. Beware of the beginnings of doubts. As often as doubt assails you, fly in prayer to God for the strengthening of your faith.
II. DOING NOTHING. A sleeping man is no better than a dead man, so far as present action is concerned. And if the soul's activity is intercourse with God, and work for God, is not that soul asleep that does not care to speak to God, to work for God? Is it not wonderful that God bears with our indifference? He is not indifferent towards us. Shall we, then, dare any longer to sleep away our lives in inactivity?
III. SOMETIMES DREAM, and then we live amidst fancy forms. And it is possible to sleep spiritually the sleep of delusion.
1. Formalism is the sleep of delusion. If we fancy that by the punctual performance of the outward duties of religion we can save our souls, one day we shall wake up to find ourselves the victims of a delusion. There is only One who can save us — Christ; and unless we take Him to be our Saviour, Church ordinances avail us nothing.
2. Self righteousness is the sleep of delusion. How many fancy that it must be well with them, because once they were "converted." To rely on anything short of present perseverance along the road which God has pointed out to us, is to trust to a delusion.
IV. SOMETIMES PEOPLE ARE PUT TO SLEEP, by means of some drug. This sleep, however, has not the restfulness of natural sleep. And it is possible to drug the soul to seeming sleep by deliberate perseverance in any known sin. The conscience becomes hardened, and all for a time seems peace. But it is not true peace. "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked."
1. To awake from sleep.
2. To contemplate the Sun of salvation.
3. To cleanse ourselves from the works of darkness.
4. To put on the clothing of light.
5. To betake ourselves to diligence and duty.
(J. Lyth, D.D.)
I. KNOWING THE TIME.
1. The word carries us back to our Lord's proclamation of the hour when the night of death that had rested on mankind had ended, and the light cf eternal life began (John 5:25). Doubtless the darkness that preceded Christ's advent was not perfect night. In the deepest midnight of heathenism some rays of truth and virtue struggled with the darkness, and over one favoured land the moon and the stars shone brightly. The earlier revelation was "a light shining in a dark place until the day should dawn." But Christ was Himself the dawn and the morning star of His own coming day. And this day — the new era — is the time Christians know.
2. Knowing the time means experimental acquaintance with its privileges and responsibilities. This knowledge is attained (Ephesians 5:14) when the Great Awakener pours the light of conviction into the chambers where sinners sleep the sleep of death, and gives them the light of life.(1) They sleep no more. They have been plunged into the waters of spiritual baptism which has awakened and invigorated them to the utmost, and there is an expectation in the morning air that keeps every thought alert, and inspires activity — viz., of Him who shall come in the broadening day.(2) The guilty wakefulness of the night is also past. The morning reveals the hidden things of night and makes them hateful. They have "cast off the works of darkness," detesting the habiliments of night in which they slept and sinned.
3. So far we have caught the appeal as expressing complete severance between night and day. The light is divided from the darkness absolutely. In the New Testament two states, and only two, are distinguished:there are "children of night" and "children of the day." But the peculiarity of this passage is that it gives prominence to a certain interval of transition, which reality requires and the Scripture never denies. The Christian state is at the best, in many respects, no better than the dawn.
II. THE NIGHT IS ONLY "FAR SPENT" AND THE DAY ONLY "AT HAND."
1. It might be supposed from the watchman's cry that the whole band were slumbering, or at least only half awake. But the language is only general to find out the individual. There is from age to age a faithful succession of watchers and holy ones, and when the Bridegroom shall approach all will be wakeful enough; but till then the pilgrim company shall never lack those who move "like men that dream." And it is the duty of all who know the time to echo the apostle's cry. And here is the everlasting argument, "It is high time... walk honestly as in the day."
2. There is danger inseparable from the dawn. And when the apostle says, "Put on the armour of light," he suggests the whole mystery of evil that wars against the pilgrims of the dawn. The powers of darkness are awakened into more malignant activity by the morning light. Never did they so furiously rage as they did around Him who ended their reign. But He did not banish them, and so they haunt the travellers. They cannot retard the day, but they make its progress a perpetual contest, so unlike the progress of the natural day in which dawn glows into morning, and morning melts into midday, etc. Here the victory is the result of a desperate and unremitting warfare. That victory will be the perfect light of holiness; the "armour that insures the victory is light."
3. It is characteristic of this midway state that the salvation,of the Christian company is regarded as incomplete. The perfect day will bring a full salvation, but that is only "nearer than when we believed." The Church is only in the dawn of the day of redemption. That day will be perfect when Christ shall come "without sin unto salvation."
III. THE DAWN IS THE PROMISE OF THE COMING DAY.
1. Knowing the time. The Church is appealed to as exercising a firm faith in the gradual consummation of the dawn into day. The words remind these early travellers of the great secret that the Lord is at hand, bringing with Him all that their hope can conceive. But His coming will be to His Church the regular and peaceful consummation of a day already begun. To the ungodly a catastrophe, to slumbering Christians a sore amazement, it will be to those who "wait for His appearing" what day is to the traveller who waits for the morning.
2. But knowing the time does not signify any precise knowledge of its future limits. We are shut up to faith, which must in all things rule until the vision of Christ shall begin the reign of sight. "All things continue as they were" is the cry of unbelief. "Lo here is the promise of His coming, or lo there" is the cry of impatient credulity. But simple faith waits on in hope that makes no calculation. Our Lord may brighten any hour — from cock-crowing to the third hour and the sixth — into perfect day.
3. This being the common prospect it is not wonderful that the Christian state is that of joyful hope. Nothing is more beautiful and more symbolical of eager expectation than the dawn. True the individual Christian has cares, conflicts, fears to moderate his joy. But he is to look over all these lower glooms to the brighter horizon into which these things merge. He must lose his particular sorrow in the general joy. He is one of the company that shall receive the Lord.
4. But the apostle reserves for the last his solemn exhortation to prepare. "The day is at hand," and the pilgrims are bidden to anticipate it in the holy decorum of their lives, and to be clothed with the only garment worthy of the day, Christ Himself.
(W. B. Pope, D.D.)
(R. F. Horton, D.D.)
I. THE MORNING CALL.
1. Awake — "It is high time to awake out of sleep."(1) Arise from the sleep of inaction. Do not let your religion consist in receiving all and doing nothing.(2) Leave also all lethargy behind you. At night a man may yawn and stretch himself; but when the morning comes he should be brisk, for the day will be none too long.(3) Have done with dreaming. You who are not of the night must not dote on the world's shadows, but look for eternal realities.
2. Cast off your night clothes. "Cast off the works of darkness." The man who is just awakened shakes off his bed clothes and leaves them. The coverlet of night is not our covering by day. Sins and follies are to be cast off when we put on the garments of light. I have known a man profess to be converted, but he has merely put religion over his old character. This will never do: Christ has not come to save you in but from your sins.
3. Put on your morning dress. "Let us put on the armour of light." Does not this warn us that a day of battle is coming? Be wise, then, and dress according to what you will meet with during the day. Young converts think that they have got to heaven, or very near it; but the time is not yet. You are in an enemy's country: put on the armour of light. Perhaps before you get down to breakfast an arrow wilt be shot at you by the great enemy. Your foes may be found in your own household, and they may wound you at your own table. The Greek word, however, may be understood to signify not only armour, but such garments as are fitted and suitable for the day's work. These should be put on at once, and our soul should be dressed for service. Some people are too fine to do real service for the Lord. When the Duke of Wellington asked one of our soldiers how he would like to be dressed if he had to fight the battle of Waterloo again, he answered that he should like to be in his shirt sleeves.
4. Walk forth and behave as in the light. "Let us walk honestly, as in the day," let our demeanour be such as becomes daylight. How should a child of light conduct himself? "Honestly" may mean decently, with decorum and dignity. In the middle of the night, if you have to go about the house, you are not particular as to how you are dressed; but you do not go out to your business slip-shod, but arrayed according to your station. Let it be so with you spiritually: holiness is the highest decency, the most becoming apparel.
5. Renounce the deeds of darkness. If we have put on the garments of light, it behoves us to have done with the things that belong to the night.(1) Sensuality, "rioting and drunkenness." If a drinking bout is held it is usually at night.(2) Impurity, "not in chambering and wantonness." It is an awful thing when a man calls himself by the name of Christian, and yet can be unchaste in conversation, lascivious in spirit, wicked in life.(3) Passion, "strife and envying." Brawls are for the night.
II. THE MORNING GOSPEL. "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ." In Christ there is —
1. Covering for nakedness. There is in Him a complete and suitable apparel for thy soul, by which every blemish and defilement shall be put out of sight.
2. A garment suitable for everyday work. All the power to be holy, forgiving, heroic, enthusiastic in the service of God, comes through Christ when we are in Him.
3. Apparel for dignity. God Himself asks no purer or more acceptable array. A seraph wears nothing but created brightness, but a child of God clothed in Christ wears uncreated splendour.
4. Armour for defence. The man that lives as Christ would live, is thereby made impervious to the shafts of the enemy.
5. Raiment for all emergencies. This garment will never wax old; it will last you all the desert through, and what is more, it is suitable for Canaan, and you shall keep it on forever.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Weekly Pulpit.I. PRESENT STATE. Let us think how matters stand, and mend our ways.
1. We have time, i.e., season; a particular opportunity for preparation. Time is a wonderful idea. Compared with eternity it is but a speck in the heavens, a grain of sand on the shore, and yet it has given birth to creation, and its cycles have brought wondrous revelations. The battlefield of good and evil is here. Time reached its majority when the "fulness of time" came. "Millions of money for an inch of time," cried Queen Elizabeth on her death-bed. The bid was too low. Like Cassandra, there was a warning in the voice. The woman in despair of her soul said, "Call back time again, then there may be a hope for me: but time is gone for ever!" "Take time by the forelock."
2. We are too indifferent to the value of time. We turn the day into night by our inactivity, and we sleep when we ought to work. The night means our indifference to the illumination of the Word and Spirit. We see darkly through a glass. When the final day breaks, we shall wonder at the beauties we might have seen before. The boy who was born blind was cured. Some time after the operation he was led out of the dark room, and the shade lifted. He exclaimed, "Why didn't you tell me that the earth was so beautiful?" When we see Jesus as He is, we shall put some such question. Sleep indicates inactivity to make our election sure. We are like somnambulists, walking among great realities without knowing it.
3. Nevertheless there are hopeful signs. Two words are used in contrast to the above — believed and nearer. There is faith, we have believed in Jesus. By prayer we have advanced some steps. Columbus and his men smelled the breeze before they saw the land. We have a good hope through grace.
II. FUTURE EXPECTATION. That is "the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
1. Freedom from sin.
2. Beyond care and anxiety. Providence to-day has its dark days, but there perpetual light. No tears shall be shed, for no sorrow shall be felt.
3. In possession of immortality. Away with carelessness, and let us be earnest — "Work, for the night is coming," etc.
(Weekly Pulpit.)I. A SOLEMN RESPONSIBILITY. "Knowing the time." Ignorance is a cause of sin, and is sometimes a just excuse for it. A blind man may fall into a pit; a sleeper cannot be blamed for his sleep. But it is different with these spiritual slumberers. The watchman's cry resounds (1 Thessalonians 5:1-6). Taught from earliest infancy, instructed in schools, with God's Word open and preached, what can we urge as an excuse for indifference?
II. A CONDITION OF DANGER. "It is high time to awake out of sleep." This sleep —
1. Is an infatuation of Satan. He lulls the soul into false security.
2. Comes from the weakness of our nature. Persons in bad health often sleep much.
3. Arises from our own sloth. Like a person sleeping in a house on fire, unless the deadly charm is broken, we must be consumed.
III. AN URGENT DUTY. "To awake out of sleep." The cry of the gospel trumpet is "Awake!" As the captain said to Jonah, "What meanest thou, O sleeper?" so the Holy Spirit says to the sinner. We have here —
1. Life depending on exertion. How many a man has saved his life, home, reputation, by energy! It is so with eternal life.
2. Exertion depending on self-determination. It is for us to wake, and to do so demands an effort.
IV. A SOLEMN MOTIVE. "Now is our salvation nearer." This may mean —
1. The advance toward final consummation. Every moment brings us closer to the approach of judgment — that day which to the believer is the day of salvation. Each throb of the heart and each beat of the pulse is the requiem of a departed moment.
2. The accumulation of privileges. When the apostle wrote, the good news had advanced. It was easier to awake and believe. And if religion had advanced in those early days, what is it now? Surely, salvation is nearer now; it is about us, in our midst. Will you not awake and enter into the glorious rest of the Son of God?
(D. Thomas, D.D.)I. THERE IS A VAST CONTRAST BETWEEN THE TWO.
1. Here salvation is in process, there in perfection. "Now is salvation nearer."
2. Here existence, is night, there day. Life before death is night, suggestive of imperceptibility. The Christian sees "through a glass darkly" now. His life after death is "day." Death opens the eyes on a bright universe.
II. THE EARTHLY STATE IS RAPIDLY EXPIRING, THE HEAVENLY IS ABOUT TO DAWN. "The night is far spent, the day is at hand." Whilst this is true, even of the youngest Christian, it is pre-eminently true of those who are far advanced in life.
III. THE EXPIRING OF THE EARTHLY, AND THE APPROACH OF THE HEAVENLY, ARE POWERFUL ARGUMENT FOR SPIRITUAL EARNESTNESS. "Knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep."
1. The work we have to do is most urgent.(1) The renunciation of all evil. "Cast off the works of darkness." Ignorance, crime, etc.(2) The adoption of all good. "Put on the armour of light" (Ephesians 6:2-17).
2. The time for accomplishing it is rapidly contracting. Let us awake therefore. The lost years of your existence, the interests of truth, the value of souls calls on you to awake. Sleep not on the shore while the mighty billows of eternity are approaching.
(D. Thomas, D.D.)
1. The time.
2. Its claims.
3. Its duties.
4. Its incitements.
(J. Lyth, D.D.)
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed
I. Let us attend to the view here given of THE PRIVILEGE OF GOOD MEN — "Now is their salvation nearer than when they believed."
1. This expression intimates that, in the day of believing, the soul's connection with salvation commences. It is at that happy season that a man is brought from a state of condemnation into a state of acceptance, and that a principle of holiness is implanted in the soul. Then the man begins that course which terminates in everlasting life. The distance between faith and complete salvation has been in some instances short. Quickly has the perfection of glory followed the formation of grace, but in other cases there are many years betwixt them. It belongs to Him to regulate this who is the Author and the Finisher of faith.
2. It is intimated that at death the believer's salvation is completed.
3. Christians advanced in life are warranted to conclude that their salvation is very near. How happily is this consideration adapted to lighten the infirmities of old age! "Lift up your heads with joy, for your redemption draweth nigh."
II. Let us attend to the view which is here given of THE DUTY REQUIRED OF THEM.
1. It intimates that saints sometimes fall into a state of indolence and carelessness. How cold and stupid are the hearts of saints in such circumstances when they engage in prayer!
2. The text intimates that Christians ought to rouse themselves up to vigilance and activity. Meditation, casual and unsettled, must give place to eager and fixed contemplation; and with the feelings of a heart which regards Jesus Christ as all, we must follow hard after Him.
3. It intimates that the consideration of our present circumstances will show us the necessity of exciting ourselves to this vigilance and activity. It was peculiarly unsuitable in the Romans to slumber, since the gospel of salvation had so lately arisen on them with healing in its wings. Let it be considered, too, that the present is a time marked by the peculiar activity of some in the cause of Christ. Can you slumber while they thus hold forth the Word of life?
III. Let us now consider how you should be excited to this vigilance and activity by THE NEARNESS OF YOUR SALVATION.
1. Here the appeal may be made to your gratitude. Think what God hath done and what He still intends to do for you.
2. Consider how unsuitable sloth is to the prospects before you. You are soon to associate with those who serve God day and night in His temple; and shall you now slumber?
3. Consider how injurious to others your carelessness and sloth may be. If you, whose age and attainments show that your salvation is so near, slumber, it must damp the ardour of the young disciple.
4. Consider how detrimental indolence will be to your own interest and happiness. If you slumber with salvation so near, you will provoke God to awaken you by a shock dreadful and trying. There is another view which may be taken of this argument which may add to its influence. As the ship which is within a few hours' sail of the haven has sometimes been driven out to sea to struggle for weeks with winds and waves, till the crew are exhausted with hunger, fear, and toil, so has the indolence of saints been punished by a prolonged stay in this scene of trouble, instead of having an entrance ministered to them abundantly into the kingdom of the Saviour.Conclusion:
1. How happy are they who have obtained precious faith through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ!
2. Let saints be exhorted to use every means of excitement to this holy activity.
3. Let the consideration of the nearness of salvation reconcile you to affliction and to death.
4. Let the young be exhorted to activity in goodness and piety.
5. Finally, how solemn are the lessons suggested by this subject to unconverted men! Salvation is far from the wicked; and what is most horrible, ye have put it from you, and judged everlasting life unworthy of your acceptance.
(H. Belfrage, D.D.)
I. AN INTERESTING PERIOD IN THE PAST — "when we believed." There are few persons who must not cherish some interesting remembrances. Some, of course, derive more excitement from the past than others, but no remembrances can ever possess a charm to be named with this. He who can look back to when he believed, looks back upon a period of unparalleled moment and eternal influence. "When you believed." Think of that event.
1. In the agency by which it was accomplished. Faith did not arise from the spontaneous influence of your own mind, or from the influence of others. It was the work of God wrought upon you by the ministry of His gospel, the private admonition of a friend, the perusal of His Word, or by affliction. But, whatever the instrumentality, faith is the gift of God.
2. In the influences by which it was attended. Then began feelings to which you were before strangers: then arose penitence, impelling you to mourn over your vileness: love, binding you in firm attachment to Him who died for you: hope, irradiating the otherwise darkened future: holiness, beginning the grand process by which it world refine every faculty by assimilating them to the Divine likeness. "When you believed," old things passing away and all things becoming new.
3. In the privileges to which it introduced you — pardon and reconciliation with God; righteousness and full acceptance in the Beloved; liberty from the tyranny of sin and of Satan, adoption into the Divine family, etc.
II. AN INFINITE BLESSING WHICH IS FUTURE. "Our salvation" of final reward and happiness. The apostle here —
1. Assumes that faith has an established connection with salvation. Revelation unites in one solemn and most conclusive pledge, that having through grace believed, and being by that grace in that faith preserved, we shall enjoy the delights which are treasured up in the everlasting kingdom. Faith is the first step in the pilgrimage which leads to the celestial rest; the first launch in the voyage which wafts to the celestial haven; the first stroke in the conflict which issues in celestial triumphs.
2. Summons Christians to meditate upon their salvation. As they have been directed to an exercise of memory, so they are directed to an exercise of anticipation. The more you commune with the time when you believed, the more also you will commune with the time when you shall be saved. Turn, then, as from the bud to the flower, from the root to the tree, from the babe to the man, from the faint outlines to the finished picture, from the first tremulous notes of the music to the sounding of the full harmony of the spheres, from the streaks of the early dawn to the splendour of the meridian day. Think of your coming victory over the last enemy, of the flight of your spirit to paradise, of the resurrection of the body, of your public recognition and welcome in your perfected nature by the Judge before the assembled universe, of your enjoyment in that perfected nature of heaven. This is your salvation, and will you not gladly retire from the vulgar objects of this perishing world, and ascending to the summit of the Delectable Mountains, look through the clear azure upon the fair and sublime inheritance which is reserved for you?
3. Urges Christians to recognise their own personal advance towards salvation. Some amongst you are very near to salvation indeed. Your conversion is far back in the distance. And as to those to whom the probabilities of prolonged life may seem strong, how can they tell but that at this very moment they may be on the verge? With every morning dawn, and evening shadow, there ought to be the renewed reflection, "Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed."
III. THE PRACTICAL RESULTS WHICH A CHRISTIAN REFERENCE TO THE PAST AND THE FUTURE MUST LEGITIMATELY SECURE. There ought to be —
1. The cultivation of Christian holiness. To secure and to advance in holiness was the apostle's prominent object. "Let us, therefore, cast off the works of darkness," etc. If there be any who imagine that the prospects indicated may lead to licentiousness, let them receive their final refutation. Those who are entitled to anticipate salvation must be holy.(1) To evince the genuineness and reality of their faith. If faith does not purify, it is a fiction.(2) That they may be morally fitted for the world they have finally to inherit. That world is consecrated to unsullied and universal holiness. Seeing ye look for such things, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?
2. The cultivation of Christian activity. "It is high time to awake out of sleep." The wakefulness and diligence here summoned has respect not only to our own salvation, but also to the salvation of others. This must be, that the whole of Christian character may be developed, and that the whole of Christian duty may be performed. Earnest activity in this high vocation is urged by the nearness of our own salvation; and because of the nearness of our own salvation therefore our opportunities for usefulness are rapidly contracting. For this reason "it is high time to awake out of sleep."
3. The cultivation of Christian gratitude. Gratitude does indeed become us when we consider the value of the blessings which are imparted, or the principle upon which those blessings are secured and bestowed.
(J. Parsons.)1. We commonly speak of "salvation" as the state into which the believer in Jesus is introduced when he passes from death unto life; but here it means eternal glory.
2. Observe the date from which the apostle begins to reckon. He does not say our salvation is nearer than when we were christened or confirmed, but than when we believed. What could ever come of what is before believing? It is all death, and not worth reckoning. But then we started on our voyage to heaven.
3. Between these two points we are now sailing; and at the close of the year it seems meet just to note where we are, and to congratulate my fellow believers that we are nearer the eternal port that when we first slipped our cable. In going to Australia it is the custom to toast "Friends behind," till they get half way; and then it changes, "Friends ahead." Note —
I. THE THINGS BEHIND.
1. Recollect when you believed. Of all days that on which you first left shore was the brightest of all; and you know that those who go to dwell on the other side of the world look back with satisfaction at the day when they left.
2. Since then you have had a good number of storms. You have seen one washed overboard that you thought very dear. You have yourselves suffered loss; happy were you if by that you found peace and safety in Christ. You remember, too, when you had to sail slowly in the thick fog, and keep the whistle sounding. You have been nearly but not quite wrecked. Above all the billows Jehovah's power has kept you.
3. You have had a great deal of fair weather, too, since you left port. We have sailed along with a favouring breeze. Life is not the dreary thing that some men say it is.
4. Behind us, too, how many opportunities of service have we left? Many other ships sailed with us, and some of these, alas! have been wrecked before our eyes; but we had opportunities of bringing some of the shipwrecked ones to safety. Did we always do it?
II. THINGS AHEAD.
1. More storms. It is not over yet; but they must be fewer than they were.
2. Fairer winds. Christ will be with us; our communion with Him shall be sweet. There are these Sabbaths ahead, the outpourings of the Spirit, covenant blessings, etc. Let us, then, be comforted, and pass on.
3. More opportunities — and you young people especially should be looking out. Do not let us waste any more.
4. But looking still further ahead, when we remember we are nearer our salvation think of what that salvation will be. First, we shall see Jesus. Oh, what a heaven to be with Him! Then, next to Jesus, we shall be with all the bright spirits who have gone before us. I do not think Rowland Hill was at all foolish when he said to an old woman upon her dying bed, "As you are going first, take my love to the four great Johns — John who leaned on Jesus's bosom, and John Bunyan, and John Calvin, and John Knox, and tell them poor old Rowly will be coming by and by." I cannot doubt but that the message was delivered. Conclusion: There are some of you who are not nearer your salvation than when you believed; because, first, you never did believe; and, secondly, that which you are nearer to is not salvation.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Homiletic Monthly.The one reason here urged for spiritual activity and rejoicing is the near approach of the day of complete redemption to the believer. Under the image of "night," the apostle represents the state of partial enlightenment and sanctification, and consequent fear and conflict with evil. But "the night is far spent, the day is at hand." "Now," Paul exclaims, in a transport of joy, "is our salvation nearer than when we believed" — nearer as to time and space — nearer as it respects completion and reward. Both time and the Spirit's work have brought the great consummation nearer. And surely such a fact may well fill us with rejoicing, and spur us on to redoubled efforts to make our calling and election sure.
I. SALVATION IS NIGH.
1. Actually nigh. "The night is far spent." Life here is short at best — death is nigh, heaven but a little way off.
2. Relatively nigh.
(1) (2) 3. Nearer as to the preparation for it. " Salvation" is a life, a work, a growth, a consummation, a progress from first principles to complete and glorious development and crowning. The Christian is put to school at conversion, and year by year he grows in grace and love and holiness, till his graduation day. His path is as "the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." II. WHAT FOLLOWS? 1. "The night is far spent." (1) (2) (3) 2. "The day is at hand." Not only will the darkness be gone for ever, but the day of perfect and eternal sunlight will have come. Not only will there be a deliverance, but a crowning. The salvation will be a salvation from death to life; from sin to holiness; from shame to glory, Divine and everlasting. 3. And this salvation is nearer the Christian's grasp to-day than when he first believed. Revolving suns bring it continually nearer. Great promises have already been realised; great victories won; many a rough place passed over and many a weary footstep measured off; many a Sabbath day's journey made: and already the "delectable hills" are in sight; angels are bending over the battlements of heaven to welcome the approaching pilgrim; and soon the conflict will cease, and glory immortal — so long contemplated by faith and longed for — will be a blessed realisation. So near to heaven! So soon to be done with earth and sin and evil and conflict! So soon to stand with the ransomed on the heights of glory and shout, "Thanks be to God, who hath given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!" (Homiletic Monthly.)
(2) 3. Nearer as to the preparation for it. " Salvation" is a life, a work, a growth, a consummation, a progress from first principles to complete and glorious development and crowning. The Christian is put to school at conversion, and year by year he grows in grace and love and holiness, till his graduation day. His path is as "the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." II. WHAT FOLLOWS? 1. "The night is far spent." (1) (2) (3) 2. "The day is at hand." Not only will the darkness be gone for ever, but the day of perfect and eternal sunlight will have come. Not only will there be a deliverance, but a crowning. The salvation will be a salvation from death to life; from sin to holiness; from shame to glory, Divine and everlasting. 3. And this salvation is nearer the Christian's grasp to-day than when he first believed. Revolving suns bring it continually nearer. Great promises have already been realised; great victories won; many a rough place passed over and many a weary footstep measured off; many a Sabbath day's journey made: and already the "delectable hills" are in sight; angels are bending over the battlements of heaven to welcome the approaching pilgrim; and soon the conflict will cease, and glory immortal — so long contemplated by faith and longed for — will be a blessed realisation. So near to heaven! So soon to be done with earth and sin and evil and conflict! So soon to stand with the ransomed on the heights of glory and shout, "Thanks be to God, who hath given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!" (Homiletic Monthly.)
3. Nearer as to the preparation for it. " Salvation" is a life, a work, a growth, a consummation, a progress from first principles to complete and glorious development and crowning. The Christian is put to school at conversion, and year by year he grows in grace and love and holiness, till his graduation day. His path is as "the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day."
II. WHAT FOLLOWS?
1. "The night is far spent."
(1) (2) (3) 2. "The day is at hand." Not only will the darkness be gone for ever, but the day of perfect and eternal sunlight will have come. Not only will there be a deliverance, but a crowning. The salvation will be a salvation from death to life; from sin to holiness; from shame to glory, Divine and everlasting. 3. And this salvation is nearer the Christian's grasp to-day than when he first believed. Revolving suns bring it continually nearer. Great promises have already been realised; great victories won; many a rough place passed over and many a weary footstep measured off; many a Sabbath day's journey made: and already the "delectable hills" are in sight; angels are bending over the battlements of heaven to welcome the approaching pilgrim; and soon the conflict will cease, and glory immortal — so long contemplated by faith and longed for — will be a blessed realisation. So near to heaven! So soon to be done with earth and sin and evil and conflict! So soon to stand with the ransomed on the heights of glory and shout, "Thanks be to God, who hath given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!" (Homiletic Monthly.)