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is little acquainted with genuine required from his disciples? Are Christianity yet the ardent zeal the peculiar instructions of revelawhich he feels and expresses, in the tion become matters of no consecause of truth, as he supposes, en-quence with professed believers? ables him to conceal his real cha-Yet it may further be remarked, racter from himself. that these very candid men forget
There are, however, some who their placid moderation among zealdeceive themselves in an opposite ous Christians; and frequently bemanner. They call their lukewarm- come warm, if not disdainful and ness candour; they contend for no bitter disputers against evangelical doctrine or peculiarity, and this is principles !
moderation in their use of words. I shall only add one more pecuEvery sentiment is with them a liarity of the lukewarm professor, for matter of indifference: they allow the subject is almost inexhaustible. every man without disturbance to He is commonly distinguished by a hold his own opinion, hoping that proportionable measure of spiritual all or most of them will be found pride. Confident of his superior right at the last; this they call wisdom and attainments, he arrocharity, the principal grace of Chris-gates to himself, in almost every retianity! But in fact such men do spect, the preeminence among his not value the truth, and they im- brethren. The apostle pointed out pose on themselves by fair pretexts, this symptom of the disease to the while they prefer ease, credit, and Corinthians, when he said, 66 Now interest to the glory of God, and the ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have cause of the gospel. The spirit of reigned as kings without us. persecution is, in these lands, ex-are fools for Christ's sake, but ye ceedingly abated, for which we have are wise in Christ; we are weak, reason to bless the Lord; but it may but ye are strong; ye are honourbe questioned, whether this affected able, but we are despised." 1 Cor. and idolized indifference about di-iv. 7--10. Yet while they were vine truth be not an evil of almost thus puffed up, their glorying was equal enormity. This fashionable not good; and the doctrinal and way of thinking dignifies lukewarm- practical errors and evils, which had ness with the name of candour, se-been sanctioned among them, were cures it from censure, and teaches a almost incredibly many and dreadman to be a Christian without offend-ful. The church at Laodicea also ing the bitterest enemies of Chris-said, "I am rich, and increased tianity! But are not such men with goods, and have need of noashamed of Christ and his words. thing; and knew not that she was in this corrupt and evil generation ? wretched, and miserable, and poor, and will he not be ashamed of them, and blind, and naked:" which is when he shall come in glory to judge the exact description of spiritual the quick and dead? pride. So that this is one invariable
Rashness and imprudence are symptom of lukewarmness, as well often manifested, in contending for as a cause of its prevalence: for an the truth once delivered to the saints: high opinion of our attainments unibut shall we on this account be si-formly leads to something mean and lent and satisfied, when Christianity grovelling, and "a haughty spirit or its leading doctrines are denied goes before a fall."
and vilified? Is there no profession
of the name and doctrine of Christ II. Then we proceed to explain
the reasons, for which our Lord ex- the gospel in this land arises from pressed such marked abhorrence of the same cause. Lukewarm prolukewarmness. fessors give irreligious people an unWhen he said, "I would thou favourable idea of evangelical docwert cold or hot; so then, because trines. The prejudice against them thou art lukewarm, and neither cold is indeed naturally very strong, and nor hot, I will spew thee out of my men imagine they tend to licentiousmouth:" we cannot suppose he ness: but were there no loose chameant that such professors were racters among those that contend always more wicked, or in greater for these principles; were they all danger of perdition, than apostates, "a peculiar people, zealous of good or notorious profligates: though con- works;" this objection would soon sidering their advantages, obliga- be silenced, and men would be tions, and ingratitude, they may be ashamed of thus calumniating their in fact more heinously criminal. I conscientious neighbours. It is likeapprehend, however, that our Lord wise well known, that we profess to especially referred to the dishonour experience joy and peace in bedone by the lukewarm to his name, lieving; to find the ways of religion and the mischievous consequences pleasant and delightful; and to of their infectious and disgraceful choose rather to be door-keepers in example. Every one knows, that a the house of the Lord, than to dwell bad servant may do ten times more in the tents of ungodliness." All mischief, while he remains in the this,' say worldly people, sounds family, than he could do were he very well: yet these devout bedismissed from it: and in like man- lievers frequently come to borrow a ner lukewarm professors do far more little of our pleasure, and seem as harm to the cause of Christ, by pre-intent as we are, in securing a portending to religion, than they could tion of our good things.' How can do by openly renouncing Chris- such men be convinced, that there tianity. One Achan in the camp is superior excellency or satisfaccaused more trouble and loss to Is- tion in religion, while they see us rael, than all the hosts of the Ca- cleaving to the world, and reluctant naanites: "Neither," says the Lord, to renounce what we affect to de"will I be with you any more, ex-spise? cept ye destroy the accursed thing The lukewarm are also the bane from among you." Josh. vii. of those, who have been newly imCorrupt professors of Christianity pressed with a sense of divine things. have in all ages been the grand ob- Under the preaching of the gospel, struction to its progress. Mr. Brai- thoughtless sinners are awakened nerd, in the narrative of his mission to a concern about their eternal inamong the Indians, observes, that terests; their consciences become he had great difficulty, for a long uneasy, and their minds attentive time, to erase from their minds a to instruction: they are convinced suspicion, that he had formed some that many doctrines which once they design of injuring them, under a disregarded are true and important, pretence of preaching the gospel: and perceive the necessity of reso frequently had they been de-nouncing sinful pursuits, and of sefrauded by nominal Christians! parating from their old associates; This is the case, in one way or other, and they become diligent in attendall over the globe: and the princi- ing on the means of grace. But, if pal impediment to the success of in this hopeful frame of mind they
come in the way of lukewarm pro- terms, those very subjects, which fessors, whose strong attachment to the state of our congregations recertain truths, and plausible address, quire to be most fully and plainly beguile their unexperienced hearts; enforced.-And as lukewarmness they are easily seduced into false commonly prevails more among the notions of liberty, not " in keeping wealthy than the poor, our danger God's commandments," but in dis- is very great; for their favour is regarding them; and they gradually both agreeable and advantageous, lose their tenderness of conscience, and their disapprobation exposes us and diligence in "labouring for the to serious inconveniences, and often meat that endureth unto everlasting threatens great distress. Thus milife." They are now taught, that nisters lie under strong temptations strictness in duty and self-denial to shun" declaring the whole coundeduct from the freeness of divine sel of God," to "keep back some grace and various insinuations of things profitable to the people," to this kind poison their minds with speak softly and timidly, to call this prejudices against the ministers and prudence and candour; and perChristians, among whom they were haps to join in censuring such as first excited to inquire after salva- are more faithful to God and the tion. Thus numbers, who appa- souls of men. Either such cases
rently set out well, by means of an are not unfrequent in this metrounsuspecting attention to persons of polis, or I greatly mistake the meanthis description, obtain a false peace, ing of the Scriptures, and that of and finally settle among formal, dis- the words and actions of mankind. putatious, or antinomian professors. We should, however, seriously conThese are "the little foxes that spoil sider the apostle's words, "If I the vines" just when the tender were a man-pleaser, I should no grapes begin to be formed; and thus longer be the servant of Jesus give most poignant grief to faithful Christ." pastors, while they witness, but cannot prevent, the perversion of those, who they hoped would be their rejoicing in the day of Christ.
In these and many other ways the lukewarm disgrace the gospel, and retard its progress: they weaken the hands, disconcert the measures, But indeed the preachers of the and even ruin the simplicity of the gospel are themselves more exposed ministers of Christ; while they damp to temptation from the lukewarm, the ardour, or mislead the earnestthan from all other men whatever. ness of real Christians. Can we We have like passions with our therefore, any longer wonder at our neighbours: and when we have for- Lord's decided language against feited the friendship of the world by such pernicious characters? Let us adhering to the truths of the gospel; then,
we are reluctant to meet also the
frowns of religious people. Yet III. Apply the subject, in solemn unless we stand firm against the in- warnings and particular exhortasinuations of Laodicean professors, tions. and venture their keen reproaches
Our blessed Saviour seems to and calumnies, we shall not deliver address himself to the Laodicean much above half our message; we church to the following effect. Thy shall separate the practice from the lukewarm spirit and conduct are so doctrines of Christianity; and pass contrary to the design of my religion, over, in general and inoffensive and the obligations conferred on my
disciples; so dishonourable to my privilege; because texts of Scripname, and so injurious to mankind; ture were brought to his mind to that I am determined to give an assure him of it; and because he awful lesson to all other churches, has had many comfortable seasons by casting thee off with contempt under religious ordinances? If his. and abhorrence: I will therefore spirit and practice do not at all acdeprive thee of all thy abused pri- cord to that of the Christian, as devileges, and no longer leave thee scribed in the oracles of God, ought the name or form of my holy re- he not to conclude, that "Satan, ligion.' In like manner, my friends, transformed into an angel of light," whenever any kingdom, city, church, has deceived him: and that he builds or congregation becomes like the upon the sand, by hearing the words Laodiceans; it will surely and of Christ, and not doing them? And speedily be deprived of its religious how can he know, but that the advantages; the candlestick will be storms and floods of death and judgremoved out of its place; and this ment will sweep away his baseless will be accompanied with other to- edifice, with most tremendous dekens of divine indignation. Thus struction? They who call Christ interpreted, the words are indeed Lord, and do not the things that he awfully prophetical : and when luke- says; even if they perform many warmness becomes general in any wonderful works in his name, and church, however distinguished or receive extraordinary gifts from him, denominated, it is a certain prog- will at the last day be bid to "denostic of approaching judgments, part as workers of iniquity:" and either spiritual or temporal. what will then become of their antiscriptural confidence?
But the application to individuals is more immediately the province The tares and the wheat must of the preacher. We do not indeed grow together till the harvest; the say, that every person, infected with wise and foolish virgins will form this disease, is a hypocrite, and one company till the coming of the will prove an apostate; but we affirm Bridegroom; and guests who have most constantly, that the case is aw-not the wedding garment may refully dangerous. "Let no man de- main unnoticed, till the King come ceive you with vain words:" let to see them but the final discrinone persuade you to consider this mination, with its eternal conseas a legal or a trifling matter. "If quences, will be dreadful to those, any man be in Christ, he is a new who had a name to live, and yet creature, old things are passed away; were dead. behold all things are become new.' Supposing, however, a man's lukeHe has not only adopted a new creed; warmness not fatal: yet the uncerbut he has received a new heart, and tainty and the apparent danger of leads a new life: "he is created in his condition are sufficient to excite Christ Jesus unto good works." great alarm and distress. If he be How then can it be possible for a saved, it will be "as by fire:" and man to know that he is in Christ, what a gloomy prospect, what terunless he be conscious of this change, rors and remorse upon a death-bed, and manifest it in his whole dispo- are before him? These are the only sition and conduct? Will any one tokens for good, of which his case say, he knows himself to be in a can admit: for unshaken confidence state of acceptance; because he has at the hour of death, succeeding a strong impression that this is his an evidently lukewarm profession,
proves that a man is given over to
Should these solemn reflections
a strong delusion. Remember then, excite any of you seriously to inand may the Lord impress it deeply quire, what you ought to do? The on every heart! that consternation answer is obvious. Consider the and anguish, when death approach-salvation of your souls as your grand es, form the brightest prospect of concern: forego or postpone all the lukewarm Christian! And is other pursuits, rather than suffer this the provision you are making them to retard your course in seekfor that awful crisis? Is this your ing an interest in the Saviour of intention when you yield to indo- sinners. Be diligent, earnest, and lence, temptation, and the seduction persevering in attendance on all the of bad examples? means of grace. Repent, and bring
You may probably, my brethren, forth fruits meet for repentance: censure my address as harsh and separate from the world with all its severe; but I hope you will observe, sensual pleasures, and stupifying that it is far below the energy of dissipations: and seek your present reproof and warning, employed by happiness, as well as future safety, the loving Saviour himself: yet he in the favour and service of our spake to those, among whom some gracious God and Father. persons seem to have had a few If you doubt whether all this be feeble sparks of grace, as fire co- necessary, I appeal to the Law and vered and almost extinguished by to the Testimony. Search the Scripthe ashes. tures: see whether they do not re
But some perhaps continue to quire us to give the Lord our hearts quiet their minds, by thinking that and devote ourselves entirely to him, they make no pretensions to religion, and whether the language of Christ, and are not therefore concerned in concerning self-denial, renouncing the rebuke. Let me, however, de- the world, enduring the cross, lamand of you, whether you have not bouring and striving to enter in at been baptized in the name of the the strait gate, be not much stronger Father, and the Son, and the Holy than any thing here stated. If any Ghost? Have you then openly re- of you should not be able to reconnounced your baptism, and abjured cile these passages to your views of Christianity? Or do you expect to salvation by grace; be assured that be called Christians? If you do, your views are unscriptural; and this implies a profession of religion, beg of God to open your underhowever unmeaning and hypocriti-standing, that you may more clearly cal and your indifference about discern the truth as it is in Jesus. these subjects proves you the most But beware of indolence and parlukewarm of all that bear the name tiality in reading the Scriptures; do of Christ. And is this your confi- not select a few passages: and pass dence? or do you intend to plead over the rest, as unsuitable to your this before the tribunal of your system, or uninteresting to you; for Judge? Would not such an excuse this springs from lukewarmness, and then prove before men and angels, tends to its rapid increase. that you had crucified Christ afresh, But are any of you convinced, and put him to open shame; and that you have hitherto been infected that you had done despite to the with this Laodicean spirit, and alSpirit of Grace, by a course of con- most ready to tremble for the conduct diametrically opposite to the sequences? Let me call your attenreligion which you professed? tion to the subsequent part of our