The Christian must STAND AND WATCH

Third. To  stand, here, is opposed to sleep and sloth.  Standing is a waking, watching posture.  When the captain sees his soldiers lying secure upon the ground asleep, he bids ‘Stand to your arms,’ that is, stand and watch.  In some cases it is death for a soldier to be found asleep, as when he is appointed to stand sentinel, or the like.  Now to sleep, deserves death; because he is to keep awake that the whole army may sleep; and his sleep may cost them their lives.  Therefore a great captain thought he gave that soldier but his due, whom he run through with his sword, because he found him asleep when he should have stood sentinel, excusing his severity with this, that he left him but as he found him, mortuum imveni et mortuum reliqui—I found him dead in sleep, and left him but asleep in death.  Watchfulness is more needful for the Christian soldier than any other, because other soldiers fight with men that need sleep as well as themselves; but the Christian’s grand enemy, Satan, is ever awake and walking his rounds, seeking whom he may surprise.  And if Satan be always awake, it is dangerous for the Christian at any time to be spiritually asleep, that is secure and careless.  The Christian is seldom worsted by this his enemy, but there is either treachery or negligence in the business.  Either the unre­generate part betrays him, or grace is not wakeful to make a timely discovery of him, so as to prepare for the encounter.  The enemy is upon him before he is thoroughly awake to draw his sword.  The saint’s sleeping time is Satan’s tempting time.  Every fly dares to creep on a sleeping lion.  No temptation so weak, but is strong enough to foil a Christian that is napping in security.  Samson asleep, and Delilah cuts his locks.  Saul asleep, and his spear is taken away from his very side, and he never the wiser.  Noah asleep, and his graceless son has a fit time to discover his father’s nakedness.  Eutychus asleep, nods, and falls from the third loft, and is taken up for dead.  Thus the Christian asleep in security may soon be surprised, so as to lose much of his spiritual strength—‘the joy of the Lord,’ which is his ‘strength;’ be robbed of his spear, his armour—graces, I mean—at least in the present use of them, and his nakedness discovered by graceless men, to the shame of his profession. As, when bloody Joab could take notice of David’s vainglory in numbering the people, was not David’s grace asleep? Yea, the Christian may fall from a high loft of profession, so low into such scandalous practices, that others may question whether there be any life of grace indeed in him.  And therefore it behoves the Christian to stand wakefully.  Sleep steals as insensibly on the soul, as it doth on the body.  The wise virgins fell asleep as well as the foolish, though not so soundly.  Take heed thou dost not indulge thyself in thy lazy distemper, but stir up thyself to action, as we bid one that is drowsy stand up or walk.  Yield to it by idleness and sloth, and it will grow upon thee.  Bestir thyself in this duty, and that, and it will over.  David first awakes his tongue to sing, his hand to play on his harp, and then David’s heart wakes also, Ps. 62:8.  The lion, it is said, when he first wakes, lashes himself with his tail, thereby to stir and rouse up his courage, and then away he goes after his prey.  We have enough to excite and provoke us to use all the care and diligence possible.

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