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PROVERBS VI. 9.
Hon long will thou sleep, Osluggard? when
vill thou arise out of thy sleep?
THE concern which a gracious Ciod lias manifested for the salvation of man, tan be equalled only by our own carelessness and sloth.--In ihe counsels of eterniiy hie devised a plan for our recovery frow wrath ; a plan to be executed in the birth, and sufferings, and death, and resurrection of his own Son. In the gospel of his grace he stands forth proclaiming himself reconciled to the world, and “reconciling the world to himself.” He there appears making not only a clear revelation, but an unconditional tender of eternal life to all without exception.“ Ho, every one that thirstethi, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money: come ye, buy and eat, yea come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” The openly profligate, ihe most daringly impious are invited io return to the living God; and encouraged with the promise of the full, irreversible remission of their crimes. “Let the wicked forsake bis way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts;"> le who has added injustice againsi men to his impiety against God, let bim “return to the Lord and he will have mercy upon him ;
and to our God, for lie will abundantly pardon him.” One moment a “long-suffering" God makes his appeal to our fears, by painting the miseries of hell, another moinent he encourages our hopes by unveiling the joys and glories of heaven. « He will render to every man according to his works; to them who, by patient continuing in well doing, seek for glory, and honor, and immortality, eternal life: but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth wickedly.” Now he rebukes our madness in rushing deliberately upon destruction, again he gently admonishes our indifference and sloth. The language of our text may be considered at once an appeal to our fears and our hopes : it ministers severe reproof to our criminal unconcern, and furnishes the most encouraging intimation of mercy to those who diligently hear and obey. “How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard ? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?"
The condition of the sinner, while he remains insensible of his danger, is frequently compared to that of a man under the influence of sleep. “Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep. Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” The man who thoughtlessly wastes his time, and opportunities; who lives from
day to day “without repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ,” or any deep concern about his future welfare, is evidently the “sluggard” whom the text addresses. It is no matter how diligent he may be in other pursuits, while he neglects the “one thing needful, he is the most inexcusable idler; in the estimation of sound reasoning and inspired truth “he is laboring in vain, and spending his strength for naught and in vain. What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
May the Spirit of life from Christ Jesus the Lord breathe savingly on those “ who a re dead in trespasses and sins, while I attempt,
I. To shew in what respect security in sin may be compared to a “sleep,” and,
11. Erince the guilt and danger of induiging this security:
1. In the season of sleep the members of the body, in a great measure, cease to act and perform their respective offices. The eyes are closed against the light of the natural sun, and do not direct the man in discharging the duties of life: The ear is shut against the voice of instruction, and deaf to the alarms of approaching danger: The tongue is hushed in silence, and is neither the instrument of ascribing glory to God, nor imparting knowledge to man. Thus it is with those who are spiritually asleep; who remain “dead in trespasses and sins.” All the powers af the soul are suspended from spiritual action: The understanding has no suitable conceptions of the great God, of his character, or perfections, or law : it does not realize that justice which “will by no nieans clear the guilty:” nor that Loliness “ ushich cannot look upon iniquity” without abhorrence: It rather imagines tlie living God “to be altogether such an one as" curselves, and approving our transgressions. The heart has no desires after Him, nor delight in Him who is perfection itself; who is the only source of blessedness and joy: It experiences no real pleasure in meditating on his promises or perfections, as they are clearly revealed in the works both of creation, and redemption. The memory, depraved and prostituted, is shamefully treacherous in relation to things spiritual and divine. While an unmeaning tale, an empty novel, or some ill natured report is faithfully retained, how speedily are forgotten truths which concern the glory of God, and our own everlasting welfare! “Can a maid forget liur ornaments, or a bride her atiire! yet,” saith the Lord, “ my people have forgotten me days without number."