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Testament. And yet for all this faith, they be but devils. They remain still in their damnable estate, lacking the very true Christian faith.” *
5. “The right and true Christian faith is,” (to go on in the words of our own Church,)“not only to believe that Holy Scripture and the Articles of our Faith are true, but also to have a sure trust and confidence to be saved from everlasting damnation by Christ. It is a sure trust and confidence which a man hath in God, that, by the merits of Christ, his sins are forgiven, and he reconciled to the favour of God; whereof doth follow a loving heart, to obey his commandments.”
6. Now, whosoever has this faith, which “purifies the heart," (by the power of God, who dwelleth therein,) from pride, anger, desire, “ from all unrighteousness," from "all filthiness of flesh and spirit;" which fills it with love stronger than death, both to God and to all mankind; love that doeth the works of God, glorying to spend and to be spent for all men, and that endureth with joy, not only the reproach of Christ, the being mocked, despised, and hated of all men, but whatsoever the wisdom of God permits the malice of men or devils to inflict; whosoever has this faith, thus working by love, is not almost only, but altogether, a Christian.
7. But who are the living witnesses of these things ? I beseech you, brethren, as in the presence of that God before whom “hell and destruction are without a covering,—how much more the hearts of the children of men,”—that each of you would ask his own heart, “Am I of that number? Do I so far practise justice, mercy, and truth, as even the rules of heathen honesty require? If so, have I the very outside of a Christian ? the form of godliness? Do I abstain from evil,—from whatsoever is forbidden in the written word of God? Do I, whatever good my hand findeth to do, do it with my might? Do I seriously use all the ordinances of God at all opportunities ? And, is all this done with a sincere design and desire to please God in all things?”
8. Are not many of you conscious, that you never came thus far; that you have not been even almost a Christian ; that you have not come up to the standard of heathen honesty ; at least, not to the form of Christian godliness ?—much less hath
Homily on the Salvation of Man.
God seen sincerity in you, a real design of pleasing him in all things. You never so much as intended to devote all your words and works, your business, studies, diversions, to his glory. You never even designed or desired, that whatsoever you did should be done “in the name of the Lord Jesus,” and as such should be “a spiritual sacrifice, acceptable to God through Christ."
9. But, supposing you had, do good designs and good desires make a Christian ? By no means, unless they are brought to good effect. “Hell is paved," saith one,“ with good intentions." The great question of all, then, still remains. Is the love of God shed abroad in your heart? Can you cry out, “My God, and my All?" Do you desire nothing but him ? Are you happy in God? Is he your glory, your delight, your crown of rejoicing? And is this commandment written in your heart, That he who loveth God love his brother also ? Do you then love your neighbour as yourself? Do you love every man, even your enemies, even the enemies of God, as your own soul ? As Christ loved you ? Yea, dost thou believe that Christ loved thee, and gave himself for thec? Hast thou faith in his blood ? Believest thou the Lamb of God hath taken away thy sins, and cast them as a stone into the depth of the sea ? That he hath blotted out the handwriting that was against thee, taking it out of the way, nailing it to his cross ? Hast thou indeed redemption through his blood, even the remission of thy sins ? And doth his Spirit bear witness with thy spirit, that thou art a child of God ?
10. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who now standeth in the midst of us, knoweth, that if any man die without this faith and this love, good it were for him that he had never been born. Awake, then, thou that sleepest, and call upon thy God : Call in the day when he may be found. Let him not rest, till he make his “his goodness to pass before thee," till he proclaim unto thee the name of the Lord ; “the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin.” Let no man persuade thee, by vain words, to rest short of this prize of thy high calling. But cry unto him day and night, who, “while we were without strength, died for the ungodly," until thou knowest in whom thou hast believed, and canst say, “My Lord, and my God!" Remember, “always to pray, and not to faint," till thou also canst lift up thy hand unto heaven, and declare to him that liveth for ever and ever, “ Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee."
11. May we all thus experience what it is to be, not almost only, but altogether Christians; being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus; knowing we have peace with God through Jesus Christ; rejoicing in hope of the glory of God; and having the love of God shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost given unto us!
AWAKE, THOU THAT SLEEPEST:
SUNDAY, APRIL 4, 1742, BEFORE THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD,
BY THE REV. CHARLES WESLEY, M. A.
STUDENT OF CHRIST-CHURCH.
“Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and
Christ shall give thee light." Eph. v. 14.
In discoursing on these words, I shall, with the help of God, First, Describe the sleepers, to whom they are spoken:
Secondly, Enforce the exhortation, “Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead :" And,
Thirdly, Explain the promise made to such as do awake and arise : “Christ shall give thee light.”
I. 1. And first, as to the sleepers here spoken to. By sleep is signified the natural state of man ; that deep sleep of the soul, into which the sin of Adam hath cast all who spring from his loins ; that supineness, indolence, and stupidity, that insensibility of his real condition, wherein every man comes into the world, and continues till the voice of God awakes him.
2. Now, “they that sleep, sleep in the night.” The state of nature is a state of utter darkness ; a state wherein “ darkness covers the earth, and gross darkness the people.” The poor unawakened sinner, how much knowledge soever he may have as to other things, has no knowledge of himself: In this respect “ he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.” He knows not that he is a fallen spirit, whose only business in the present world is, to recover from his fall, to regain that image of God wherein he was created. He sees no necessity for the one thing needful, even that inward universal change, that “ birth from above,” figured out by baptism, which is the beginning of that total renovation, that sanctification of spirit, soul, and body, 6 without which no man shall see the Lord."
3. Full of all diseases as he is, he fancies himself in perfect health. Fast bound in misery and iron, he dreams that he is at liberty. He says, “Peace! Peace !" while the devil, as “a strong man armed,” is in full possession of his soul. He sleeps on still, and takes his rest, though hell is moved from beneath to meet him ; though the pit, from whence there is no return, hath opened its mouth to swallow him up. A fire is kindled around him, yet he knoweth it not; yea, it burns him, yet he lays it not to heart.
4. By one who sleeps, we are, therefore, to understand and would to God we might all understand it!) a sinner satisfied in his sins; contented to remain in his fallen state, to live and die without the image of God; one who is ignorant both of his disease, and of the only remedy for it; one who never was warned, or never regarded the warning voice of God, “ to flee from the wrath to come;" one that never yet saw he was in danger of hell-fire, or cried out in the earnestness of his soul, “What must I do to be saved ?"
5. If this sleeper be not outwardly vicious, his sleep is usually the deepest of all : Whether he be of the Laodicean spirit, “ neither cold nor hot,” but a quiet, rational, inoffensive, goodnatured professor of the religion of his fathers; or whether he be zealous and orthodox, and, “ after the most straitest sect of our religion,” live “ a Pharisee;" that is, according to the scriptural account, one that justifies himself; one that labours to establish his own righteousness, as the ground of his acceptance with God.
6. This is he, who, “having a form of godliness, denies the power thereof;" yea, and probably reviles it, wheresoever it is found, as mere extravagance and delusion.. Meanwhile, the
wretched self-deceiver thanks God, that he is not as other men are; adulterers, unjust, extortioners :" No, he doeth no wrong to any man.
He “ fasts twice in a week,” uses all the means of grace, is constant at church and sacrament; yea, and“ gives tithes of all that he has ;” does all the good that he can: “Touching the righteousness of the law," he is “blameless :" He wants nothing of godliness, but the power; nothing of religion, but the spirit; nothing of Christianity, but the truth and the life.
7. But know ye not, that however highly esteemed among men such a Christian as this may be, he is an abomination in the sight of God, and an heir of every woe which the Son of God, yesterday, to-day, and for ever, denounces against “Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites." He hath“ made clean the outside of the cup and the platter," but, within, is full of all filthiness. “ An evil disease cleaveth still unto him, so that his inward parts are very wickedness.” Our Lord fitly compares him to a “painted sepulchre,” which “ appears beautiful without;” but, nevertheless, is “ full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness." The bones indeed are no longer dry; the sinews and flesh are come upon them, and the skin covers them above: But there is no breath in them, no Spirit of the living God. And, “ if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." “ Ye are Christ's, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you :” But, if not, God knoweth that ye abide in death, even until now.
8. This is another character of the sleeper here spoken to. He abides in death, though he knows it not. He is dead unto God,“ dead in trespasses and sins.” For, “ to be carnally minded is death.” Even as it is written, “ By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin ; and so death passed upon all men," not only temporal death, but likewise spiritual and eternal. “ In that day that thou eatest," said God to Adam, “ thou shalt surely die:" "Not bodily, (unless as he then became mortal,) but spiritually: Thou shalt lose the life of thy soul; thou shalt die to God; shalt be separated from him, thy essential life and happiness.
9. Thus first was dissolved the vital union of our soul with God; insomuch that “in the midst of” natural “ life, we are in spiritual" death." And herein we remain till the Second Adam becomes a quickening Spirit to us, till he raises the dead, the