13. Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.
Use ‘sleep, as tired nature’s sweet restorer.’† So man requires it. So God graciously gives it. (Psalm 3:5; 4:8; 127:2.) Without it “man” could not “go forth to his work and to his labor.” (Ib. 104:23.) Thus recruited for the active diligence of the day, he opens his eyes, “in the sweat of his brow he eats his bread (Genesis 3:19), and is satisfied with it.” But love not sleep for its own sake. ‘Let your sleep be necessary and healthful, not idle and expensive of time beyond the needs and conveniences of nature.’† Otherwise may it become a baneful and ruinous habit, by which the man of talent, who has much responsibility upon his hand, and no heart to act up to it — cometh to poverty. Valuable opportunities for improvements are let slip, and “the strong man armed” readily takes possession of his prey. (Chapter 5:9-11.) Strange inconsistency and delusion! Man wishes for a long life, and yet willfully shortens the life given to him by dozing it away in sleep!† The time given for eternity is wasted. The talent entrusted for trading is hid in a napkin. Nothing is done for God, for the soul, for his fellow-creatures, or for heaven. Justly is he cast out as a wicked, because a slothful, servant. (Matthew 25:14-30.)
Unquestionably the Christian degrades himself from his proper level by needless indulgence; choosing a state common to him with the brutes, before that which elevates him to fellowship with angels. Nor can he set his heavenly privilege of communion with God at a very high estimate, if he be not willing to sacrifice fleshly pleasure for the enjoyment of it. The evil however does not end with the present indulgence. The habits of the day are enervated. The mind is — at least partially — asleep, during the routine of occupation. What is idle, or calling for little effort, is alone agreeable. Every exercise of self-denial is revolting. It is sufficiently obvious that this spirit has little sympathy with the genuine spirit of religion — life and spirit, and joy and energy. It sinks far below the step and obligation of those, whose profession is — “temples of the Holy Ghost,”† “children of the light and of the day,”† “virgins with their lamps trimmed”† for the bridegroom’s coming, animated candidates for an incorruptible and eternal crown.†
Specially should those of us, who are of a drowsy habit of body, listen to the call — Love not sleep. Here perhaps may be the Christian conflict, often most painful in the house of God. But in this solemn assembly — the gate of heaven — may we not hear the gentle rebuke, “What! could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.” (Matthew 26:40, 41.) When resisted, it is an infirmity; when allowed, or only feebly opposed, it is sin. At all events, in the service of God it is safer to consider it, not as a weariness to be encouraged, but as an indulgence to be mortified, and that with vigorous energy of conflict. Else, whilst the self-denying Christian will open his eyes, and be filled with bread, the power of the flesh may impoverish the spirit by the indulgence of a lifeless habit of prayer, hearing, and meditation.