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XVI. I cannot leave the subject without observing, that the images of sleeping and waking are also applied in a moral sense to the mind and understanding. The mind hath a figurative Sleep as well as the body; but with this difference, that the scripture which signifies the Death of the body by a state of Sleep, speaks of this Sleep of the mind as a state of Death. It denotes that stupidity of ignorant and careless men, who are dead to truth, to religion, to virtue, to immortality, and all other objects, for the sake of which, life and sense are conferred upon rational beings. So long as they are asleep to all those things, for which they ought to live and act, they are not reckoned to be alive, but dead. That expression of our Saviour---Let the dead bury their dead“, -belongs to persons in this state; and though it may be found like a contradiction, it is useful and important when properly understood. To such the apostle calls, alluding to a passage in the prophet Isaiah, “ Awake thou that
sleepest, and arise from the dead, and “ Christ shall give thee light b.” The dead are called upon to awake out of Sleep; but
a Matth, viii, 22.
Eph. v, 14.
the spiritual sluggard is commanded to arise from Death; his sleep being as much more dangerous than Death, as Death is more terrible in appearance than common Sleep. If a christian relapses into this state after the gospel hath called him out of it, there is little hope that he will ever be awake again to any good purpose. Pleasure, riches, and the cares of life, act as opiates; and the unhappy people, on whom they operate, know little more of their real condition than if they were in a dream. At last the charm will be dissolved, and the objects to which their fancy hath attributed substance and importance will be empty as the visions of the night, which vanish as soon as we are awake. When they are like to be alarmed, either by the word of God or the visitations of his providence, the enemy of mankind encourages them in their security, administers some new potion to stupify their consciences, and persuades them they may safely sleep on and take their rest. The mind in this sluggish state is fond of darkness, involving itself in error and scepticism, and dreading the light of truth, as the thief hides himself from the return of the morning. How much more dreadful will be the morning of the resurrection; when every sluggard must awake, and every deceiver shall be dragged out to the light! This is the hour, in which they shall wish for the mountains to fall on them, and the hills to cover them: but the night is departed for ever, and all Sleep is departed with it. The natural world and its vicissitudes are swallowed up in the spiritual, in which men must live, act, and be awake for ever, not as men but as spirits. This consideration will comfort those, who lament that they lose in Sleep so much of that precious time, which they would bestow upon the cul. tivation of the mind, to the honour of their Maker, and the benefit of their fellow-ser, vants. And it is as terrible to reflect, that the miseries of another life, to those who shall experience them, will have no intermission. But the thought is necessary for us all: and they who make the proper use of it will have this advantage, that as the fear of sin in, creases in them, in the same proportion will the fear of Death be diminished,
IN TO THL
SENSE AND SIGNIFICATION
As it is described in the SONG of SOLOMON.