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pel itself is despised, grown stale, as trivial doctrine. Oh! my beloved, if I could speak many hours without intermission, all my cry would be, Repent and pray. Let us search and try our ways, and turn unto the Lord our God. Oh! what walls of every one's sin are set to it! Dig diligently to bring down thine own; and for these huge walls of public national guiltinesses, if thou canst do nothing to them more, compass them about as Jericho, and look up to Heaven for their downfall. Cry, “Lord, these we ourselves have reared, but without thee who can bring them down? Lord, throw them down for us; a touch of thy hand, a word of thy mouth, will make them fall.” Were we less busied in impertinencies, and more in this most needful work, it might do some good ; who knows but the Lord might make his own way clear, and return and visit us, and make his face to shine, that we might be saved.
ROM. XIII. 11, 12, 13, 14.
And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast of the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
Let us walk honestly as in the day, not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
THE highest beauty of the soul, the very image of God upon holiness: He that is aspiring to it himself, is upon a most excellent design; and if he can do any thing to excite, and call up others to it, performs a work of the greatest charity.
This Paul doth frequently and pressingly in his writings. This epistle, as it doth admirably clear the doctrine of justification, it doth not less earnestly urge the doctrine of sanctification: That one sentence about the middle thereof does excellently unite them; and so is the summary of all that goes before, and all that follows, (There is therefore now `no condemnation, &c. Chap. viii. 1.)
The present words are as an alarm, or morning watch bell, of singular use, not only awaking a Christian to his day's work, but withal reminding him what it is; and these two shall be all our division of them. 1. Our awaking sounded. 2. Our walking directed. The former, Ver. 11, 12. tells us,
it is time to rise, and calls us up to put on our cloaths, and, being soldiers, our arms. The latter, Ver. 13, directeth our behaviour and employment throughout the day. The last verse doth shortly, and that fully and clearly, fold up both together. We shall take the words just as they lye.
And that knowing the time.] This imports much in all actions, and here it is the apostle's great argument: Now it is unfit to sleep, knowing the time; however it might have been before, now it is very unseasonable and unsuitable, that you lye snoring as at midnight. Do you know what o'clock it is? (ń wpa) It is time to rise; it is morning, the day begins to appear.
Observation. All the days of sinful nature are dark night, in which there is no right discerning of spiritual things: Some light there is of reason, to direct natural and civil actions, but no day-light till the sun arise. It is night still for all the stars, and the moon to help them : Notwithstanding natural speculations, that are more remote, and all prudence and policy for affairs, that come somewhat nearer to action, yet we are still in the night, and
do think that a sad life; but, the truth is, we sleep on in it, and our heads are still full of new dreams that keep us sleeping. We are constantly drunk with cares or desires of sense, and so our sleep continues. Sometimes it is called death, dead in sins, &c. Now, sleep is brother to death; and so by it not unfitly is the same state resembled : No spiritual life we have at all, and therefore in that sense are truly dead.
But because there is in us a natural life, and in that a capacity of spiritual life, therefore we are said to be asleep. As in a dead sleep, our soul is bound up and drowned in flesh, a surcharge of the vapours of gross sensible things that we glut ourselves withal, and the condition of our wisest thoughts, in relation to our highest good, are nothing but dreams and reveries, your projectings, and bargainings, and buildings, these be a better sort of dreams; but your envyings, and mutual despisings and discontents, your detracting and evil-speaking, these are more impertinent, and to yourselves more perplexing: And your sweetest enjoyments in this life, that you think most real, are but shadows of delight, a more pleasant sort of dreams. All pomps and royal solemnities, the scripture calls Pavlaosas". A man will not readily think so, while he is in them, Somnium narrare vigilantis est; we do not perceive the vanity of our dreams, and know that they are so, and declare them to be so, till we be awaked. Sometimes in a dream a man will have such a thought that it is but a dream, yet doth he not thoroughly see the folly thereof, but goes on in it. The natural man have sometimes a glance of such thoughts, that all these things he is either turmoiling or delighting in are vanity, and nothing to the purpose, yet he awakes not, but raves on still in them; he shifts a little, turns on his bed as a door on its hinges, but turns not off, does not rise.
But the spiritual-minded Christian, that is indeed awake, and looks back on his former thoughts and ways, o how does he disdain himself, and all his former high fancies that he was most pleased with, finding them dreams! O what a fool, what a wretch was I, while my head was full of such stuff, huilding castles in the air, imagining and catching at such gains, and such preferments, and pleasures, and either they still running before me, and I could not overtake them, or if I thought I did, what have I now, when I see what it is, and find that I have embraced a shadow, false hopes, and fears, and joys? He thinks he hath eaten, and his soul is empty. And you
that will sleep on, may; but sure I am, when
you come to your death-bed, if possibly you awake then, then shall you look back, with sad regret, upon whatsoever you most esteemed, and gloried in, under the sun. While they are coming towards you, they have some shew; but, as a dream a Acts xxv, 23.
ó Isa. xxix.
that is past, when these gay things are flown by, then we see how vain they are.
As that luxurious king caused paint on his tomb two fingers, as sounding one upon another, with that word, All is not worth so much, Non tanti est. I know not how inen make a shift to satisfy themselves; but, take a sober and awakened Christian, and set him in the midst of the best of all things that are here, his heart would burst with despair of satisfaction, were it not for a hope that he hath, beyond all that this poor world either attains, or is seeking after; and that hope is indeed the dawning of the day that is here spoken of.
It is time to awake, sayshe, your salvation is nearer than when ye believed. That bright day you look for is hastening forward; it is nearer than when you began to believe; the night is far spent, the gross darkness is already past, some day-light it is, and is every moment growing, and the perfect full morning-light of it is very near.
Observation. Grace, and the gospel that works it, compared with the dark night of nature, is the day, and it is often so called : The apostle here calls it so, Let us walk honestly as in the day. But yet that same light of the gospel shining to us in the word, and within us by the spirit, is but the appearance or approaching of the day, a certain pledge of it, yea, a kind of beginning of it, telling us that it is near. It is one and the same light, and where it enters into any soul, it makes sure that eternal full day to it, that it shall not be disappointed of, more than the day can go back, and the sun fail to rise when the dawning is begun: And this begun light is still growing clearer, and tending to the perfect day', and at the first peep or appearance of it, so much it is, that the soul is called to awake and arise, and put on day-cloaths, and apply itself to the actions of the day, and that is the thing the apostle here presses by it.
e Prov, iv. 18.