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ness, and a repining disposition. character of all Christian churches Learn to pity such as have wealth whatever. As therefore they were without godliness, and to pray for intended for the use of other ages them; and be very cautious what and nations, it is added at the close measures you adopt to mend your of each, "He that hath an ear, let outward circumstances: "for they him hear what the Spirit saith unto that will be rich fall into tempta- the churches." tion, and into divers foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition,' "pierce them through with many sorrows." 1 Tim. vi. 9, 10.
The message to the Laodiceans differs materially from all the rest; or for the professed Christians in that city had degenerated far more than any of the others. They were beFinally, let the rich remember come lukewarm, yet proud of their that they are only stewards, and imagined proficiency: and the reentrusted with wealth for the bene- proofs, warnings, and counsels of fit of others. Let me charge you our Lord were adapted to this pethen, my brethren of superior de- culiarity of character and conduct. gree, that "you trust not in uncer- We know that lukewarm water tain riches, but in the living God." is exceedingly disagreeable; the That you be "rich in good works, stomach recoils at it, and we spit ready to distribute, and glad to it out with loathing. Thus Christ communicate; that you do good to declared that he would cast off the all men, especially to the household church of Laodicea with disdain and of faith." Fear above all things abhorrence. There might, however, having your portion in this life: be some individuals of a better chaand remember, that of all your pos- racter, though probably infected sessions, nothing is your own, but with the same disease: and others godliness with contentment, and might be brought to repentance. such things as accompany salvation. All else will soon be left behind. Happy then are they, and they only, who have chosen the good part that shall never be taken from them.
CHARACTER AND CRIMINALITY OF LUKE-
REV. iii. 15, 16.-I know thy works,
For the sake of these, therefore, the
that these epistles are prophetical of
THIS chapter, and that which precedes it, contain a message from our blessed Saviour to each of the seven churches in Asia; which, in Que part or another, suit the state and unquestionably fallen very much
into the same spirit. In prosecuting of that crime: but if you pretend the subject, I purpose, to no religion, what do you pretend to ? Do you profess yourselves
I. To describe the nature and children of disobedience and of
wrath, and heirs of hell? Is this
symptoms of lukewarmness. II. To explain the grounds of your meaning, your character, or that decided abhorrence of it, which Christ expresses.
III. To add something by way of solemn warning and particular application.
I. Let us consider the nature and symptoms of lukewarmness, both in collective bodies, and individuals professing Christianity.
prospect? Whatever you may suppose, these things alone belong to those who avow that they disregard God and religion.
But leaving such men to their own reflections, we observe that lukewarmness presupposes the form and appearance of a church; and that possibly, neither very erroneous in doctrine nor corrupt in morals. In It may here be proper to premise like manner the lukewarm individual one observation, to prevent mistakes. may retain the form of sound docWhen our advantages, opportuni- trine, avoid gross vices, and continue ties, and obligations are duly con- in communion with some Christian sidered, we may all be justly charged society: he may even manage so with comparative lukewarmness; well, that no specific charge can be and the more we become acquainted substantiated against him; no foul with ourselves, and experience the spot be visible in his character; no power of divine truth upon the heart, proof brought that he has renounced the keener will be our sensibility, his profession. He may observe in and the deeper our abasement on some measure all the forms of godthis account. But this case is totally liness; but he wants the spirit, life, distinct from that of the allowed, and activity of religion. We cannot and self-sufficient lukewarmness of say that he is dead: yet he resemthe Laodiceans. Such characters bles a wounded man, for whom great alone, however, are immediately fears are entertained, even while intended in our present inquiry: symptoms of life seem discernible. and it would be a very undesirable Ministers, who are conversant effect, if any humble believer, who with the state of their flocks, genelongs to live more zealously devoted rally class people according to their to the glory of God, should be dis-apparent characters in their private couraged by it; because he finds by judgment of them. Some are eviexperience, he "cannot do the things dently in the broad way: others are that he would."
thought more promising; at least The disease of which we speak is they desire to be so esteemed. But only found in the church, and where among some favourable tokens, many some profession of religion is made: things appear very exceptionable: the irreligious world is not luke- we would hope the best: but "what warm. Persons of this description meaneth this bleating of the sheep, may say,' We make no pretensions and lowing of the oxen that we to piety or sanctity; we seldom hear?" Something criminal or susthink about religion; it is a subject picious is observable in the shop or that never gives us any concern.' in the family; some duty is evidently Then indeed you are not chargeable neglected, or slightly performed; with lukewarmness; you are clear and this damps our fond expecta
tions concerning them. Others are resignation to the divine will. He not wholly irreligious, nor is there does not inquire how often he is any remarkable blemish in their bound to attend at the house of conduct; but they are neither cold God: but rather rejoices when opnor hot: they do not appear serious, portunity offers on any day, which active, or zealous; and therefore he can embrace consistently with we grieve over them, and stand in other duties.
doubt as to the event of their pro-| On the contrary, the lukewarm fession. But there are some of come reluctantly to the ordinances another description, who are our of divine worship; and are secretly hope, and joy, and crown of rejoic- pleased, when an excuse, deemed ing: may God exceedingly increase sufficient, is suggested for absenting the number of them!-These are themselves.-A visit or an invitathe ornament and credit of the gos- tion from a friend, some trivial busipel; from them the light shines with ness, a slight indisposition, or the efficacious splendour: and their inconvenience of unfavourable weabright example, with the energy of ther, are no unwelcome hinderances their influence and fruitfulness, coun- to their attendance at the house of teracts the pernicious tendency of God. The same also is observable loose profession, to wound the in- in respect to the Lord's Supper, in terests of truth, and retard its pro- which the lively Christian delights gress. to commemorate the Redeemer's
But let us enumerate some parti- love, unless his mind has entertained culars, in which lukewarmness es- some misconception about it. But pecially discovers itself. This may such frivolous excuses, as keep the be observed in the conduct of pro- lukewarm from public worship, opefessors, as to the ordinances of public rate still more effectually, in leading worship, and all the means of grace. him to absent himself from the Lord's The lively Christian says, I was table: unless it be a convenient part glad when they said unto me, let of that form, by which he maintains us go into the house of the Lord." his credit, and quiets his conscience; "O God, thou art my God, early for in other respects he regards it will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth as a matter of indifference. for thee, my flesh longeth for thee, We may further observe, that in a dry and thirsty land where no lukewarm persons commonly conwater is: to see thy power and sider the sermon as the principal glory, as I have seen thee in the object, and think little of joining with sanctuary: because thy loving kind- reverence and fervency in other ness is better than life, my lips shall parts of divine service. They compraise thee." Hence you see him monly therefore come late to the anticipating the opportunity of wait-places of worship, and disturb the ing upon God, as a man expects any devotions of such as are more zealous. season of pleasure and delight; and They are also ready to say to mimaking preparation lest any thing nisters, "speak to us smooth things." should deprive him of the satisfac-discourse on soothing and consolation he expects. He suffers not a tory topics; avoid awful and distintrivial hinderance to prevent his at-guishing subjects, and do not offend tendance on religious duties; and the audience with plain dealing.' if he cannot break through inter- Such persons are peculiarly attenvening obstructions, he finds it dif- tive to the manner, the voice, and ficult to bring his mind into a due delivery of the preacher; if these
be graceful and suited to their taste, but the lukewarm cannot but be conthey are more easily satisfied in scious of it. Indeed the grand difother respects. Above all, they re-ficulty of the Christian course concommend brevity, 'Let the sermon sists in duly attending to self-exbe short, the prayer short, and make amination, meditation, and secret haste to dismiss us.' For they are devotion: our sharpest conflicts with soon weary of an employment, so little congenial to their prevailing disposition. They attend from custom, or amusement, or to pacify conscience; they delight not in the sacred service, and are reluctant to be" detained before the Lord." 1 Sam. xxi. 7.
Satan and our own hearts will generally be about these duties. While matters go well with us in this respect, we shall be carried through trials and services with comfort and advantage; but when we grow negligent in secret, our public conduct will after a time be less respectable But if this be the case as to pub- and edifying. Yea, this is as it lic worship, what can be expected were the pulse of the soul, by which in respect of family religion? If this we may best judge whether it be be not totally neglected, it is very healthy or otherwise. So that the superficially and irregularly conduct-difference between a lukewarm and ed. Business, engagements, amuse-a zealous Christian must here be ments, or visitants, easily induce peculiarly observable to a man's the lukewarm to omit it entirely; or own conscience.
it is hurried over at an unseasonable The two characters may also be hour, when perhaps several of the discriminated by the company which family are half asleep. Thus the they prefer. Business or incidental souls of children and domestics are circumstances may carry the most neglected: and every person of dis-zealous believer into the society of cernment and observation must be worldly men: but he goes among convinced, that, according to all them from a sense of duty; he is human probability, the religion of out of his element, and bears a cross such professors, whatever it be, will all the while; and he feels a quick die with them. Indeed the fami- sensibility and a watchful jealousy, lies of the lukewarm have few ad- lest he should disgrace his profesvantages above those of the irreli- sion, or sustain detriment from so gious while they are led to believe, incongenial an association.-When that an evangelical creed will suffice the necessity ceases, he consequently to bring a worldly man to heavenly returns to the society of pious perfelicity. sons; and he habitually says with Some of the puritan divines have David, "I am a companion of all observed, that 'apostasy begins in them that fear thee, and keep thy the closet:' and the same may cer- precepts."-But the lukewarm finds tainly be said concerning lukewarm- numerous pretences for visiting and ness: for even when our hearts are loitering among ungodly associates, truly engaged in religion, we find it and for joining in some of their vain difficult to maintain habitual fervour amusements. Their profane conand devotion in secret duties. It is versation or frivolous behaviour do therefore obvious to conclude, that not render them very uneasy: and they who are cold and formal in it happens unfortunately that they public and family worship, must be have some objection or other against still more remiss in private. This, every one of their acquaintance, who however, falls not under observation, is strictly religious. This man,
though pious, is uncourtly or un-bably expresses, great displeasure; pleasant in his demeanour : the other but on other subjects he is destitute on a certain occasion said an imper- of sensibility. On the other hand, tinent thing; and the third hath the zealous Christian is very suspigiven just cause of offence. Thus cious of himself, and bears patiently they excuse themselves to their own to have the ground of his confidence consciences as well as to others, investigated! but he is ready to say while they separate from the com- on such occasions, 'Have I not said pany of religious people: and in or done something, which counterproportion they must more and more acts my earnest desire to glorify approximate to the spirit and max-God my Saviour, and recommend ims of their chosen companions.-his gospel to my fellow sinners? They yield to solicitation in one in-Have I not been betrayed into evil stance, and then say, 'what harm in tempers, or inexpedient indulgences, this?' They go a little further, and which may give others an unfavoururge the same excuse. They plead able opinion of my religious prinfor conformity to the world in one ciples? Have I not misspent my thing after another, till almost every time, and neglected to improve my trace of distinction vanishes; and talents! Have I avoided the ap then deem it a mark of a liberal pearance of evil, and taken care that mind to maintain no singularities, my good should not be evil spoken and not to thwart the humour of the of?' These are constant subjects of company: till at length they often self-examination, and sources of hucome within the immediate attrac-miliation to the zealous Christian, tion of the whirlpool, and are swal- of which the lukewarm know scarcelowed up in it beyond recovery! ly any thing: for they seldom think
The lukewarm professor reverses of our Lord's words, "Herein is my likewise the maxims of the gospel, Father glorified, that ye bear much in the pursuit and use of worldly fruit; so shall ye be my disciples." things. He first seeks prosperity It might be supposed that peror indulgence; and vainly hopes sons, so deficient as to the grand that the kingdom of God and his essentials of Christianity, could not righteousness will be added to him, enjoy much comfort in religion: yet without any peculiar concern or ex- they frequently exhibit the appearertion. If he can maintain a hope ance of high assurance and abunthat he is safe; he has no regard dant consolations: for every good for the honour of God, the interests thing may be counterfeited. There of the gospel, the salvation of souls, are ways, by which men may conceal or advancement in holiness. In their lukewarmness even from themorder to maintain his confidence, he selves; and acquire a kind of inlooks perhaps to some past expe- toxicating self-complacency. A man rience of the power, which divine may be very zealous for some aptruth had on his heart and con-pendages of religion, while extremely science; this he concluded at the languid about religion itself. He time to be conversion; and he still may contend earnestly for certain endeavours to satisfy himself in the doctrines, or for some peculiarities same manner; abusing some im- of discipline and church governportant doctrines of the gospel to ment; and defend his sentiments support his hope, notwithstanding with great ability and fervour. His his present conduct. If attacked boasting, reviling, and bitterness, on this ground, he feels, and pro-are indeed additional proofs that he