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.…
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.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.