9 OCTOBER (PREACHED 1770)
Asleep on duty
‘But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep …’ Luke 9:32
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Matthew 26:36–46
They were heavy with sleep. If this had not been recorded we should have little expected that, on such an affecting and extraordinary occasion, the disciples should be overpowered with sleep. These same persons were afterwards chosen to be witnesses of his agony, and then they slept again. Though they loved their Lord, yet they could not watch with him when he took them to be spectators of his glory and of his sufferings. We may consider this as a proof of their infirmity. The flesh is weak. Perhaps they were weary with their journey and in want of rest. The natural imperfections of our frame, and which are not sinful as we usually understand the word, greatly indispose and hinder us from the due improvement of our spiritual opportunities. It is the case with many. Their love to the ordinances and a desire to obtain some glimpse of the Lord, makes them glad to appear in his courts, and perhaps they come from a considerable distance. But when there, they are heavy to sleep. If this is mourned over, and striven against, people should not be so distressed for it, as if they had committed a sin. Yet it is a cause of humiliation. It is the fruit and effect of that sin which has defiled and enfeebled us in every part. We did not come thus, heavy, languid and stupid, out of the hands of our Maker at first. But now the believer finds the body a clog and an impediment in his best opportunities of waiting upon the Lord.
FOR MEDITATION: Alas! the many instances I can recollect in which I dallied and trifled with dangerous temptations, so that if thy mercy had not watched over me when I was sleeping in the midst of my enemies, they had surely prevailed and triumphed over me.
Annotated Letters to a Wife, 4 August 1794
SERMON SERIES: ON THE TRANSFIGURATION, NO. 6 [1/3], LUKE 9:32–33