From Sermon on the Gospel for the Second Sunday in Advent
There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the Earth.
How is it that the whole world is so deceitful and false? Because every one of us would like to fare well; everyone loves to have good meat and drink, and to go gaily. And when we have not the means to get such things, then we fall to picking and stealing, and to falsehood, and so deceive our neighbors. But our Savior gives us warning that we must eat and drink measurably and soberly, every one of us according to our estate and measure. Further, we should labor and do our business diligently, every one of us in that estate in which God has set us; and let us trust in God, who no doubt will send us increase of our labor.
Therefore Christ adds, “Keep awake and pray,” (Mark 14:38). But those sluggards, who spend their time vainly in eating and drinking and sleeping, they please not God; for God commands us to watch, to be mindful, to take heed to ourselves, lest the devil, or the world, or our own flesh, get the victory over us. We are allowed to take our natural sleep; for it is as necessary for us as meat and drink, and we please God as well in that as when we take our food. But we must take heed that we do it as we are appointed to do; for just as God has not ordained meat and drink so that we should play the glutton with it, so likewise the sleep is not ordained, that we should give ourselves to sluggishness or over-much sleeping; for no doubt, when we do so, we will displease God most highly. Christ says not in vain, “Keep awake and pray.” He would have us to be watchers, to have at all times in remembrance his coming, and to give ourselves to prayer, so that we may be able to stand before him at this great and fearful day. We should not trust in ourselves, but call upon God, saying, “Lord God Almighty, you have promised to come and judge the living and dead! We pray you to give us your grace, and the Holy Spirit that we may so live according to your holy commandments, that when you come, you have no cause to show your fearful anger, but rather your loving kindness and mercy on us!”
So likewise, when we go to bed, we should pray that we sleep not in the sleep of sin and wickedness: but rather that we may leave them, and follow God’s will and pleasure, and not be led with the desires of this wicked world. Such an earnest mind we should have toward God and so watchful we should be. For I tell you, it is not a trifling matter; it is not a money matter: for our eternal salvation and our damnation hangs upon it. Our nature is to do all things that are possible for us to get silver and gold: how much more then should we endeavor to make ourselves ready toward this day, when it shall not be a money matter but a soul matter. For at that day it will appear most manifestly who they are who will enjoy everlasting life, and who will be thrust into hell. Now as long as we are in this world, we have all one baptism; we all go to the Lord’s supper; we all bear the name of Christians: but then it will appear who are the true Christians; and, again, who are the hypocrites or dissemblers.
Well, I pray God will grant us such hearts, that we may look diligently about us, and make ready against his fearful and joyful coming; fearful to those who delight in sin and wickedness, and will not leave them: who, no doubt, will come in great honor and glory, and will make all his faithful like him, and will say to those who are chosen to everlasting life. “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,” (Matthew 25:34). Again, to the wicked, who will not live according to his will and pleasure, but follow their own appetites, he will say, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire,” (Matthew 25:41).
O, what a horrible thing will this be, to depart from him who is the fountain of all goodness and mercy without whom is no consolation, comfort, nor rest, but eternal sorrow and everlasting death. For God’s sake, I require you let us consider this, that we may be among those who shall hear, “Come to me”; that we may be among those who shall enjoy eternal life!