The Enchanted Ground
February 3, 1856
C. H. SPURGEON
"Therefore let us not sleep, as do others: but let us watch and be sober." - 1 Thess. 5:6
As the spiritual
guide of the flock of God along the intricate mazes of
experience, it is the duty of the gospel minister to point out
every turning of the road to heaven, to speak concerning its
dangers or its privileges, and to warn any whom he may suspect to
be in a position peculiarly perilous. Now, there is a portion of
the road which leadeth from the City of Destruction to the
Celestial City, which has in it, perhaps, more dangers than any
other portion of the way. It doth not abound with lions; there
are no dragons in it; it hath no dark woods, and no deep
pitfalls; yet more seeming pilgrims have been destroyed in that
portion of the road than anywhere else, and not even Doubting
Castle, with all its host of bones, can show so many who have
been slain there. It is the part of the road called the Enchanted
Ground. The great geographer, John Bunyan, well pictured it when
"I then saw in my dream that they went on till they came into a certain country, whose air naturally tended to make one drowsy, if he came a stranger into it. And here Hopeful began to be very dull, and heavy of sleep; wherefore he said unto Christian, I do now begin to grow so drowsy that I can scarcely hold up mine eyes; let us lie down here, and take one nap.
Christian: "By no means, said the other, lest sleeping we never awake more."
Hopeful: "Why, my brother? Sleep is sweet to the laboring man; we may be refreshed if we take a nap."
Christian: "Do you not remember that one of the shepherds bid us beware of the Enchanted Ground? He meant by that, that we should beware of sleeping; wherefore, 'let us not sleep as others do, but let us watch and be sober.'"
There are no doubt, many of us, beloved, who are passing over this plain; and I fear that this is the condition of the majority of churches in the present day. They are lying down on the settles of Lukewarmness, in the Arbors of the Enchanted Ground. There is not that activity and zeal we could wish to see among them; they are not, perhaps, notably heterodox; they may not be invaded by the lion of persecution, but they are somewhat worse than that, - they are lying down to slumber, like Heedless and Too-Bold in the Arbor of Sloth. May God grant that his servants may be the means of arousing the church from its lethargy, and stirring it up from its slumbers, lest haply professors should sleep the sleep of death.
This morning I intend to show you what is meant by the state of sleep into which Christians sometimes fall; secondly, I shall use some considerations, if possible, to wake up such as are slumbering; thirdly, I shall mark sundry times when the Christian is most liable to fall asleep; and shall conclude by giving you some advice as to the mode in which you should conduct yourselves when you are passing over the Enchanted Ground, and feel drowsiness weighing down your eyelids.
I. First, what is that state of sleep into which the Christian man may fall? It is not death.
was dead once, but he is now alive in Christ Jesus; and therefore
shall never die; but though a living man shall never die, being
quickened by an immortal life, yet that living man may sleep; and
that sleep is so nearly akin to death that I have known
slumbering Christians mistaken for dead, carnal sinners. Come,
beloved, let me picture to you the state of the Christian while
he is in a condition of sleep.
First, sleep is a state of insensibility; and such is that state which too often falls upon even the best children of God.
When a man is asleep he
is insensible. The world goes on, and he knows naught about it.
The watchman calls beneath his window, and he sleeps on still. A
fire is in a neighboring street, his neighbor's house is burned
to ashes, but he is asleep, and knows it not. Persons are sick in
the house, but he is not awakened; they may die, and he weeps not
for them. A revolution may be raging in the streets of his city;
a king may be losing his crown; but he that is asleep shares not
in the turmoil of politics. A volcano may burst somewhere near
him, and he may be in imminent peril; but he escapeth not; he is
sound asleep, he is insensible. The winds are howling, the
thunders are rolling across the sky, and the lightnings flash at
his window; but he that can sleep on careth not for these, and is
insensible to them all. The sweetest music is passing through the
street; but he sleeps, and only in dreams doth he hear the
sweetness. The most terrific wailings may assail his ears; but
sleep has sealed them with the wax of slumber, and he hears not.
Let the world break in sunder, and the elements go to ruin, keep
him asleep, and he will not perceive it. Christian, behold your
condition. Have you not sometimes been brought into a condition
of insensibility? You wished you could feel; but all you felt was
pain because you could not feel. You wished you could pray. It
was not that you felt prayerless, but it was because you did not
feel at all. You sighed once; you would give a world if you could
sigh now. You used to groan once; a groan now would be worth a
golden star if you could buy it. As for songs, you can sing them,
but then your heart does not go with them. You go to the house of
God; but when "the multitude that keep holy day" in the full tide
of song send their music up to heaven, you hear it, but your
heart does not leap at the sound. Prayer goeth solemnly like the
evening sacrifice up to God's throne; once you could pray, too;
but now, while your body is in the house of God, your heart is
not there. You feel you have brought the chrysalis of your being;
but the fly is gone away from it; it is a dead, lifeless case.
You have become like a formalist; you feel that there is not
savor, that unction, in the preaching that there used to be.
There is no difference in your minister, you know; the change is
in yourself. The hymns and the prayers are just the same, but you
have fallen into a state of slumber. Once, if you thought of a
man's being damned, you would weep your very soul out in tears;
but now you could sit at the very brink of hell, and hear its
wailings unmoved. Once the thought of restoring a sinner from the
error of his ways would have made you start from your bed at
midnight, and you would have rushed through the cold air to help
rescue a sinner from his sins. Now, talk to you about perishing
multitudes, and you hear it as an old, old tale. Tell you of
thousands swept by the mighty flood of sin onwards to the
precipice of destruction, you express your regret, you give your
contribution, but your heart goeth not with it. You must confess
that you are insensible. - not entirely, but too much so. You want
to be awake: but you groan because you feel yourselves to be in
this state of slumber.
Then, again, he that sleepeth is subject to divers illusions.
When we sleep, judgment goeth
from us, and fancy holdeth carnival within our brain. When we
sleep, dreams arise and fashion in our head strange things.
Sometimes we are tossed on the stormy deep, and anon we revel in
king's palaces. We gather up gold and silver as if they were but
the pebbles of the sea; and anon we are poor and naked, shivering
in the blast. What illusions deceive us! The beggar in his dream
becomes richer than Plautus, and the rich man as poor as Lazarus:
the sick man is well, the healthy man hath lost his limbs, or is
dead. Yea, dreams do make us descend to hell, or even carry us to
heaven. Christian, if thou art one of the sleepy brotherhood,
thou art subject to divers illusions. Strange thoughts come to
thee which thou never hadst before. Sometimes thou doubtest if
there be a God, or if thou dost exist thyself. Thou tremblest
lest the gospel should not be true, and the old doctrine which
once thou didst hold with a stern hand, thou art almost inclined
to let go. Vile heresies assail thee. Thou thinkest that the Lord
that bought thee was not the Son of God. The devil tells thee
that thou art none of the Lord's, and thou dreamest that thou art
cast away from the love of the covenant. Thou criest
No daily bread is earned by him that sleepeth. The
man who is stretched upon his couch neither writeth books, nor
tilleth the ground, nor plougheth the sea, nor doth aught else.
His hands hang down, his pulse beateth, and life there is, but he
is positively dead as to activity. O beloved, here is the state
of many of you. How many Christians are inactive! Once it was
their delight to instruct the young in the Sabbath- school, but
that is now given up. Once they attended the early
prayer-meeting, but not now. Once they would be hewers of wood
and drawers of water, but alas! they are asleep now. Am I talking
of what may happen! Is it not too true almost universally? Are
not the churches asleep? Where are the ministers that preach? We
have men that read the manuscripts, and talk essays: but is that
preaching? We have men that can amuse an audience for twenty
minutes. Is that preaching? Where are the men that preach their
hearts out, and say their soul in every sentence? Where are the
men that make it, not a profession, but a vocation, the breath of
their bodies, the marrow of their bones, the delight of their
spirits? Where are the Whitefields and Wesleys now? Are they not
gone, gone, gone? Where are the Rowland Hills now, who preached
every day, and three times a day, and were not afraid of
preaching everywhere the unsearchable riches of Christ? Brethren,
the Church slumbers. It is not merely that the pulpit is a
sentry-box with the sentinel fast asleep; but the pews are
affected. How are the prayer-meetings almost universally
neglected! Our own church stands out like an almost solitary
green islet in the midst of a dark, dark, sea; one bright pearl
in the depths of an ocean of discord and confusion. Look at
neighboring churches. Step into the vestry, and see a smaller
band of people than you would like to think of, assembled round
the pastor, whose heart is dull and heavy. Hear one brother after
another pour out the dull monotonous prayer that he has said by
heart these fifty years; and then go away and say: "Where is the
spirit of prayer, where the life of devotion?" Is it not almost
extinct? Are not our churches "fallen, fallen, fallen from their
high estate?" God wake them up, and send them more earnest and
Once more. The man who is asleep is in a state of insecurity.
The murderer smiteth him that
sleeps: the midnight robber plundereth his house that resteth
listlessly on his pillow. Jael smiteth a sleeping Sisera. Abner
taketh away the spear from the bolster of a slumbering Saul A
sleeping Eutychus falleth from the third loft, and is taken up
dead. A sleeping Samson is shorn of his locks, and the
Philistines are upon him. Sleeping men are ever in danger; they
cannot ward off the blow of the enemy, or strike another.
Christian, if thou art sleeping, thou art in danger. Thy life, I
know, can never be taken from thee; that is hid with Christ in
God. But O! thou mayest lose thy spear from thy bolster; thou
mayest lose much of thy faith; and thy cruse of water, wherewith
thou dost moisten thy lips, may be stolen by the prowling thief.
O! thou little knowest thy danger. Even now the black-winged
angel takes his spear, and standing at thy head, he says to Jesus
(to David), "Shall I smite him? I will smite him but once."
(David says) Our Jesus whispers, "Thou shalt not smite him. Take
his spear and his cruse, but thou shalt not kill him." But O!
awake, thou slumber! Start up from the place where thou now liest
in thy insecurity! This is not the sleep of Jacob, in which
ladders unite heaven and earth, and angels tread their ascending
rounds; but this is the sleep where ladders are raised from hell,
and devils climb upward from the pit to molest thy spirit.
II. This brings me to the second point, Some considerations to wake up sleepy Christians.
remember, once in my life, having a sleepy congregation. They had
been eating too much dinner, and they came to the chapel in the
afternoon very sleepy, so I tried an old expedient to rouse them.
I shouted with all my might, "Fire! fire! fire!" when, starting
from their seats, some of the congregation asked where it was;
and I told them it was in hell, for such sleepy sinners as they
were. So, beloved, I might cry "Fire! fire!" this morning, to
waken sleepy Christians; but that would be a false cry, because
the fire of hell was never made for Christians at all, and they
need never tremble at it. The honor of God is engaged to save the
meanest sheep; and whether that sheep is asleep or awake, it is
perfectly safe, so far as final salvation is concerned. There are
better reasons why I should stir up a Christian, and I shall use
a very few of them.
And first, O Christian! awake from thy slumber, because thy Lord is coming.
That is the grand
reason used in the text. The apostle says, "Ye are all the
children of light, and the children of the day." "Yourselves know
perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the
night." "Ye brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should
overtake you as a thief." O Christians! do you know that your
Lord is coming? In such an hour as ye think not, the man who once
hung quivering on Calvary will descend in glory; "The head that
once was crowned with thorns" will soon be crowned with a diadem
of brilliant jewels. He will come in the clouds of heaven to his
church. Would you wish to be sleeping when your Lord comes? Do
you want to be like the foolish virgins, or like the wise ones,
either, who, while the bridegroom tarried, slumbered and slept?
If our Master were to appear this morning, are there not half of
us in such a state that we should be afraid to see him? Why, you
know, when a friend comes to your house, if he is some great man,
what brushing and dusting there is. Every corner of the room has
its cobwebs removed; every carpet is turned up; and you make
every effort to have the house clean for his coming. What! and
will you have your house dusty, and the spiders of neglect
building the cobwebs of indolence in the corners of your house,
when your Lord may arrive tomorrow? And if we are to have an
audience with the Queen, what dressing there is! How careful will
men be that everything should be put on aright, that they should
appear properly in court dress! Do you not know, servant of the
Lord, that you are to appear before the king in his beauty, and
to see him soon on earth? What! will ye be asleep when he comes?
When he knocks at the door, shall he have for an answer, "The good man is asleep; he did not expect you"? Oh, no; be ye like men who watch for their Lord, that at his coming he may find you ready. Ah! ye carnal professors,
who attend plays and balls, would you like Christ to come and find
you in the middle of your dance? would you like him to look you in
the face in the opera? Ah! ye carnal tradesmen, ye can cheat, and
then pray after it. Would you like Christ to find you cheating? Ye
devour widows' houses, and for a show make long prayers. You would
not mind him coming in the middle of your long prayer; but he will
come just at that poor widow's house is sticking in your throat, just
as you are swallowing the lands of the poor oppressed on, and putting
in your pocket the wages of which you have defrauded the labourer.
Then he will come; and how terrible will he be to such as you! We
have heard of the sailor, who, when his ship was sinking, rushed to
the cabin to steal a bag of gold, and though warned that he could no
swim with it, tied it about his loins, leaped into the sea with it,
and sank to rise no more. And I am afraid there be some rich men who
know not how to use their money, who will sink to hell, strangled by
their gold, hanging like millstones round their necks. O Christian,
it shall not b so with you; but wake from thy slumbers, for thy Lord
But again, Christian, thou art benevolent; thou lovest men's souls, and I will speak to thee of that which will touch thy heart. Wilt thou sleep while souls are being lost? A brother here, some time ago, rushed into a house which was burning, and he saved a person from it; he then returned to his wife, and what did she say to him? "Go back again, my husband, and see if you cannot save another. We will not rest till all are delivered." Methinks that this is what the Christian man would say: "If I have been the means of saving one soul, I will not rest until I have saved another." Oh, hast thou ever thought how many souls sink into hell every hour? Did the dreary thought that the death-knell of a soul is tolled by every tick of yonder clock, ever strike thee? Hast thou never thought that myriads of thy fellow creatures are in hell now, and that myriads more are hastening thither? and yet dost thou sleep? What! physician, wilt thou sleep while men are dying? Sailor, wilt thou sleep when the wreck is out at sea, and the life- boat is waiting for hands to man it! Christian, wilt thou tarry while souls are being lost? I do not say that thou canst save them - God alone can do that - but thou mayest be the instrument; and wouldst thou lose the opportunity of winning another jewel for thy crown in heaven? wouldst thou sleep while work is being done? Well, said the British king, at the battle of Agincourt, "Come on, and conquer."
When your nest is well feathered you are then most likely to
sleep; there is little danger of your sleeping when there is a
bramble-bush in the bed. When all is downy, then the most likely
thing will be that thou wilt say, "Soul, soul, thou hast much
goods laid up for many years; take thy rest, eat, drink, and be
merry." Let me ask some of you, when you were more straightened
in circumstances, when you had to rely upon providence each hour
and had troubles to take to the throne of grace, were you not
more wakeful than you are now? The miller who hath his wheel
turned by a constant stream goes too sleep; but he that attendeth
on the wind, which sometimes bloweth hard and sometimes gently,
sleeps not, lest haply the full gust might rend the sails or
there should not be enough to make them go round. Those who live
by the day often sleep not by day, but they sleep in the night, -
the sleep of the beloved. Easy roads tend to make us slumber. Few
sleep in a storm; many sleep on a calm night. He is a brave boy,
indeed, who can have his eyes sealed when "upon the high and
giddy mast, in bosom of the rude imperious surge;" but he is no
wonder who sleepeth when there is no danger. Why is the church
asleep now? She would not sleep if Smithfield were filled with
stakes, if Bartholomew's tocsin were ringing in her ears; she
would not sleep if Sicilian Vespers might be sung tomorrow's eve;
she would not sleep if massacres were common now. But what is her
condition? Every man sitting under his own vine and his own fig
tree, none daring to make him afraid. Tread softly! she is fast
asleep. Wake up, church! or else we will cut down the fig tree
about thine ears. Start up! for the figs are ripe, they hang into
thy sleepy mouth, and thou art too lazy to bite them off.
Now another dangerous time is when all goes well in spiritual matters.
You never read
that Christian went to sleep when lions were in the way; he never
slept when he was going through the river Death, or when he was
in Giant Despair's castle, or when he was fighting with Apollyon.
Poor creature! he almost wished he could sleep then. But
when he got halfway up the Hill Difficulty, and came to a pretty
little arbor, in he went, and sat down and began to read his
roll. O, how he rested himself! How he unstraped his sandals and
rubbed his weary feet! Very soon his mouth was open, his arms
hung down, and he was fast asleep. Again, the enchanted ground
was a very easy, smooth place, and liable to send the pilgrim to
sleep. You remember Bunyan's description of some of the arbors:
"Then they came to an arbor, warm, and promising much refreshing
to the weary pilgrims; for it was finely wrought above head,
beautified with greens, and furnished with benches and settles.
It had also in it a soft couch, where the weary might lean." "The
arbor was called the Slothful's Friend, and was made on purpose
to allure, if it might be, some of the pilgrims to take up their
rest there when weary." Depend upon it, it is in easy places that
men shut their eyes and wander into the dreamy land of
forgetfulness. Old Erskine said a good thing when he remarked, "I
like a roaring devil better than a sleeping devil." There is no
temptation half so bad as not being tempted. The distressed soul
does not sleep; it is after we get into confidence and full
assurance that we are in danger of slumbering. Take care, thou
who art full of gladness. There is no season in which we are so
likely to fall asleep as that of high enjoyment. The disciples
went to sleep after they had seen Christ transfigured on the
mountain-top. Take heed, joyous Christian, good frames are very
dangerous; they often lull you into a sound sleep.
Yet there is one more thing; and, if I ever were afraid of anything, I should fear to speck before my grave and reverend fathers in the faith the fact that one of the most likely places for us to sleep in is when we get near our journey's end.
It is ill for a child to say that, and I will
therefore back it up by the words of that great pilot John
Bunyan: "For this enchanted ground is one of the last refuges
that the enemy to pilgrims has; wherefore it is, as you see,
placed almost at the end of the way, and so it standeth against
us with the more advantage. For when, thinks the enemy, will
these fools be so desirous to sit down as when they are weary?
and when so like to be weary as when almost at their journey's
end? Therefore it is, I say, that the enchanted ground is placed
so nigh to the land Beulah, and so near the end of their race.
Wherefore let pilgrims look to themselves, lest it happen to them
as it has done to these that, as you see, are fallen asleep, and
none can awake them." May a child speck to those who are far
before him in years and experience? But I am not a child when I
preach. In the pulpit we stand as ambassadors of God, and God
knoweth nothing of childhood or age; he teacheth whom he willeth,
and speaketh as he pleases. It is true, my brethren, that those
who have been years in grace are most in danger of slumbering.
Somehow we get into the routine of the thing; it is usual for us
to go to the house of God; it is usual for us to belong to the
church, and that of itself tends to make people sleepy. Go into
some of your churches in London, and you will hear a most
delicious sermon preached to a people all sound asleep. The
reason is that the service is all alike; they know when they have
got to the third "Our Father which art in heaven." when they have
passed the confession general, and when they have got to the
sermon, - which is the time to sleep for twenty minutes. If the
minister should smite his fist ecclesiastic upon the Bible, or
enliven his faculties with a pinch of snuff, or even use his
pocket handkerchief, the people would wake up, because it would
be something out of the usual course. Or if he uttered an odd
sentiment, they might be aroused, and would probably think that
he had broken the 59th commandment, in making some of the
congregation smile. But he never violates decorum; he stands, the
very mirror of modesty and the picture of everything that is
orderly. I have digressed, but you will see what I mean. If we
are always going on the same road we are liable to sleep. If Moab
gets at ease, and is not emptied from vessel to vessel, he sleeps
on, for he knows no change, and when years have worn our road
with a rut of godliness, we are apt to throw the reins on our
horse's neck and sleep soundly.
IV. Now, lastly let me give a little good advice to the sleeping Christian.
But, Christian, if thou
art asleep, thou wilt not hear me. I will speck gently, then, and
let thee sleep on. No, I will not, I will shout in thine ears,
"Awake, thou that sleepest! Arise from the dead, and Christ shall
give thee light. Go to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways
and be wise. Put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem. Put on
thy glorious array, thou church of the living God."
But now what is the best plan to keep awake when you are going across the enchanted ground? This book tells us that one of the best plans is to keep Christian company, and talk about the ways of the Lord. Christian and Hopeful said to themselves, "Let us talk together, and then we shall not sleep." Christian said, "Brother, where shall we begin?" And Hopeful said, "We will begin where God began with us." There is no subject so likely to keep a man awake as talking of the place where God began with him. When Christian men talk together they won't sleep together. Hold Christian company, and you will not be so likely to slumber. Christians who isolate themselves and stand alone are very liable to lie down and sleep on the settle or the soft couch, and go to sleep; but, if you talk much together, as they did in old time, you will find it extremely beneficial. Two Christians talking together of the ways of the Lord will go much faster to heaven than one; and when a whole church unite in specking of the Lord's loving kindness, verily, beloved, there is no way like that of keeping themselves awake.
Then let me remind you that if you will look at interesting things you will not sleep.
how can you be kept awake in the enchanted ground better than by
holding up your Saviour before your eyes? There are some things,
it is said, which will not let men shut their eyes if they are
held before them. Jesus Christ crucified on Calvary is one of
them. I never knew a Christian go to sleep at the foot of the
cross; but he always said -
let the breath of the Holy Spirit
continually fan thy temples, and thou wilt not sleep. Seek to
live daily under the influence of the Holy Ghost; derive all thy
strength from him, and thou wilt not slumber.
Lastly, labor to impress thyself with a deep sense of the value of the place to which thou art going.
If thou rememberest that thou art going to heaven,
thou wilt not sleep on the road. If thou thinkest that hell is
behind thee, and the devil pursuing thee, I am sure thou wilt not
be inclined to sleep. Would the man-slayer sleep if the avenger
of blood were behind him, and the city of refuge before him?
Christian, wilt thou sleep whilst the pearly gates are open; the
songs of angels waiting for thee to join them; a crown decorated
with delight to be worn upon thy brow? Ah, no!
"Weak as thou art, thou shalt not faint,
Or, fainting, shalt not die;
He feeds the strength of every saint,
He'll help thee from on high."
Added to Bible Bulletin Board's "Spurgeon Collection" by:
Bible Bulletin Board
Columbus, New Jersey, USA, 08022
Our websites: www.biblebb.com and www.gospelgems.com
Online since 1986