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be healthy or otherwise. So that the difference between a lukewarm and a zealous Christian must here be peculiarly observable to a man's `own con


The two characters may also be discriminated by the company which they prefer. Business or incidental circumstances may carry the most zealous believer into the society of worldly men: but he goes among them from a sense of duty; he is out of his element, and bears a cross all the while; and he feels a quick sensibility and a watchful jealousy, lest he should disgrace his profession, or sustain detriment from so incongenial an association.When the necessity ceases, he consequently returns to the society of pious persons; and he habitually says with David, "I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and keep thy precepts."-But the lukewarm finds numerous pretences for visiting and loitering among ungodly associates, and for joining in some of their vain amusements. Their profane conversation or frivolous behaviour do not render them very uneasy: and it happens unfortunately that they have some objection or other against every one of their acquaintance, who is strictly religious.—This man, though pious, is uncourtly or unpleasant in his demeanour: the other on a certain occasion said an impertinent thing; and the third hath given just cause of offence. Thus they excuse themselves to their own consciences as well as to others, while they separate from the company of religious people: and in proportion they must more and more approximate to the spirit and maxims of their chosen companions. They yield to solicitation in one instance, and then say, harm in this? They go a little further, and urge the same excuse. They plead for conformity to the world in one thing after another, till almost every trace of distinction vanishes; and then deem it a mark of a liberal mind to maintain no singularities, and not to thwart the humour of the company: till at length they often come within the immediate attraction of the whirlpool, and are swallowed up in it beyond recovery!


The lukewarm professor reverses likewise the maxims of the gospel, in the pursuit and use of worldly things. He first seeks prosperity or indulgence; and vainly hopes that the kingdom of God and his righteousness will be added to him, without any peculiar concern or exertion. If he can maintain a hope that he is safe; he has no regard for the honour of God, the interests of the gospel, the salvation of souls, or advancement in holiness. In order to maintain his confidence, he looks perhaps to some past experience of the power, which divine truth had on his heart and conscience; this he concluded at the time to be conversion; and he still endeavours to satisfy himself in the same manner; abusing some important doctrines of the gospel to support his hope, notwithstanding his present conduct. If attacked on this ground, he feels, and probably expresses, great displeasure; but on other subjects he is destitute of sensibility. On the other hand, the zealous Christian is very suspicious of himself, and bears patiently to have the ground of his confidence investigated! but he is ready to say on such occasions, Have I not said or done something, which counteracts my earnest desire to glorify God my Saviour, and recommend his gospel to my fellow-sinners? Have I not been betrayed into evil tempers, or inexpedient indulgences, which may give others an unfavourable opinion of my religious principles? Have I not mis-spent my time, and neglected to improve my talents? Have I avoided the appearance of evil, and taken care that my good should not be evil spoken of? These are constant subjects of self-examination, and sources of humiliation to the zealous Christian, of which the lukewarm know scarcely any thing: for they seldom think of our Lord's words, "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples."

It might be supposed that persons, so deficient as to the grand essentials of Christianity, could not enjoy much comfort in religion: yet they frequently exhibit the appearance of high assurance and abundant consolations: for every good thing may be counterfeited. There are ways, by which men

may conceal their lukewarmness even from themselves; and acquire a kind of intoxicating self-complacency. A man may be very zealous for some appendages of religion, while extremely languid about religion itself. He may contend earnestly for certain doctrines, or for some peculiarities of discipline and church government; and defend his sentiments with great ability and fervour. His boasting, reviling, and bitterness, are indeed additional proofs that he is little acquainted with genuine Christianity: yet the ardent zeal which he feels and expresses, in the cause of truth, as he supposes, enables him to conceal his real character from himself.

There are, however, some who deceive themselves in an opposite manner. They call their lukewarmness candour; they contend for no doctrine or peculiarity, and this is moderation in their use of words. Every sentiment is with them a matter of indifference: they allow every man without disturbance to hold his own opinion, hoping that all or most of them will be found right at the last; this they call charity, the principal grace of Christianity! But in fact such men do not value the truth, and they impose on themselves by fair pretexts, while they prefer ease, credit, and interest to the glory of God, and the cause of the gospel. The spirit of persecution is, in these lands, exceedingly abated, for which we have reason to bless the Lord; but it may be questioned, whether this affected and idolized indifference about divine truth be not an evil of almost equal enormity. This fashionable way of thinking dignifies lukewarmness with the name of candour, secures it from censure, and teaches a man to be a Christian without offending the bitterest enemies of Christianity! But are not such men ashamed of Christ and his words, in this corrupt and evil generation? and will he not be ashamed of them, when he shall come in glory to judge the quick and dead? Rashness and imprudence are often manifested, in contending for the truth once delivered to the saints: but shall we on this account be silent and satisfied, when Christianity or its leading doctrines are denied and vilified? Is there no profession of the name and doctrine of Christ required from his disciples? Are the peculiar instructions of revelation become matters of no consequence with professed believers? Yet it may further be remarked, that these very candid men forget their placid moderation among zealous Christians; and frequently become warm, if not disdainful and bitter disputers against evangelical principles !

I shall only add one more peculiarity of the lukewarm professor, for the subject is almost inexhaustible. He is commonly distinguished by a proportionable measure of spiritual pride. Confident of his superior wisdom and ́ attainments, he arrogates to himself, in almost every respect, the pre-eminence among his brethren. The apostle pointed out this symptom of the disease to the Corinthians, when he said, "Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us. We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised." 1 Cor. iv. 7-10. Yet while they were thus puffed up, their glorying was not good; and the doctrinal and practical errors and evils, which had been sanctioned among them, were almost incredibly many and dreadful. The church at Laodicea also said, "I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knew not that she was wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:" which is the exact description of spiritual pride. So that this is one invariable symptom of lukewarmness, as well as a cause of its prevalence: for an high opinion of our attainments uniformly leads to something mean and grovelling, and "a haughty spirit goes before a fall."

II. Then we proceed to explain the reasons, for which our Lord expressed such marked abhorrence of lukewarmness.

When he said, "I would thou wert cold or hot; so then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth:" we cannot suppose he meant that such professors were always more wicked,

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or in greater danger of perdition, than apostates, or notorious profligates: though considering their advantages, obligations, and ingratitude, they may be often in fact more heinously criminal. I apprehend, however, that our Lord especially referred to the dishonour done by the lukewarm to his name, and the mischievous consequences of their infectious and disgraceful example.-Every one knows, that a bad servant may do ten times more mischief, while he remains in the family, than he could do were he dismissed from it and in like manner lukewarm professors do far more harm to the cause of Christ, by pretending to religion, than they could do by openly renouncing Christianity. One Achan in the camp caused more trouble and loss to Israel, than all the hosts of the Canaanites: "Neither," says the Lord, "will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed thing from among you." Josh. vii.

Corrupt professors of Christianity have in all ages been the grand obstruction to its progress. Mr Brainerd, in the narrative of his mission among the Indians, observes, that he had great difficulty, for a long time, to erase from their minds a suspicion, that he had formed some design of injuring them, under a pretence of preaching the gospel: so frequently had they been defrauded by nominal Christians! This is the case, in one way or other, all over the globe: and the principal impediment to the success of the gospel in this land arises from the same cause. Lukewarm professors give irreligious people an unfavourable idea of evangelical doctrines. The prejudice against them is indeed naturally very strong, and men imagine they tend to licentiousness: but were there no loose characters among those that contend for these principles; were they all "a peculiar people, zealous of good works;" this objection would soon be silenced, and men would be ashamed of thus calumniating their conscientious neighbours. It is likewise well known, that we profess to experience joy and peace in believing; to find the ways of religion pleasant and delightful; and to choose rather to be "door-keepers in the house of the Lord, than to dwell in the tents of ungodliness." All, this,' say worldly people, sounds very well: yet these devout believers frequently come to borrow a little of our pleasure, and seem as intent as we are, in securing a portion of our good things.' How can such men be convinced, that there is superior excellency or satisfaction in religion, while they see us cleaving to the world, and reluctant to renounce what we affect to despise?

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The lukewarm are also the bane of those, who have been newly impressed with a sense of divine things. Under the preaching of the gospel, thoughtless sinners are awakened to a concern about their eternal interests; their consciences become uneasy, and their minds attentive to instruction: they are convinced that many doctrines which once they disregarded are true and important, and perceive the necessity of renouncing sinful pursuits, and of separating from their old associates; and they become diligent in attending on the means of grace. But, if in this hopeful frame of mind they come in the way of lukewarm professors, whose strong attachment to certain truths, and plausible address, beguile their unexperienced hearts; they are easily seduced into false notions of liberty, not "in keeping God's commandments," but in disregarding them; and they gradually lose their tenderness of conscience, and diligence in " labouring for the meat that endureth unto everlasting life." They are now taught, that strictness in duty and self-denial deduct from the freeness of divine grace: and various insinuations of this kind poison their minds with prejudices against the ministers and Christians, among whom they were first excited to inquire after salvation. Thus numbers, who apparently set out well, by means of an unsuspecting attention to persons of this description, obtain a false peace, and finally settle among formal, disputatious, or antinomian professors. These are "the little foxes that spoil the vines" just when the tender grapes begin to be formed; and thus give most poignant grief to faithful pastors, while they witness, but cannot prevent, the perversion of those, who they hoped would be their rejoicing in the day of Christ.

But indeed the preachers of the gospel are themselves more exposed to temptation from the lukewarm, than from all other men whatever. We have like passions with our neighbours: and when we have forfeited the friendship of the world by adhering to the truths of the gospel; we are reluctant to meet also the frowns of religious people. Yet unless we stand firm against the insinuations of Laodicean professors, and venture their keen reproaches and calumnies, we shall not deliver much above half our message; we shall separate the practice from the doctrines of Christianity; and pass over, in general and inoffensive terms, those very subjects, which the state of our congregations require to be most fully and plainly enforced. And as lukewarmness commonly prevails more among the wealthy than the poor, our danger is very great; for their favour is both agreeable and advantageous, and their disapprobation exposes us to serious inconveniences, and often threatens great distress. Thus ministers lie under strong temptations to shun" declaring the whole counsel of God," to "keep back some things profitable to the people," to speak softly and timidly, to call this prudence and candour; and perhaps to join in censuring such as are more faithful to God and the souls of men. Either such cases are not unfrequent in this metropolis, or I greatly mistake the meaning of the Scriptures, and that of the words and actions of mankind. We should, however, seriously consider the apostle's words, "If I were a man-pleaser, I should no longer be the servant of Jesus Christ."

In these and many other ways the lukewarm disgrace the gospel, and retard its progress: they weaken the hands, disconcert the measures, and even ruin the simplicity of the ministers of Christ; while they damp the ardour, or mislead the earnestness of real Christians. Can we therefore, any longer wonder at our Lord's decided language against such pernicious characters ? Let us then,

III. Apply the subject, in solemn warnings and particular exhortations. Our blessed Saviour seems to address himself to the Laodicean church to the following effect. Thy lukewarm spirit and conduct are so contrary to the design of my religion, and the obligations conferred on my disciples; so dishonourable to my name, and so injurious to mankind; that I am determined to give an awful lesson to all other churches, by casting thee off with contempt and abhorrence: I will therefore deprive thee of all thy abused privileges, and no longer leave thee the name or form of my holy religion.' In like manner, my friends, whenever any kingdom, city, church, or congregation becomes like the Laodiceans; it will surely and speedily be deprived of its religious advantages; the candlestick will be removed out of its place; and this will be accompanied with other tokens of divine indignation. Thus interpreted, the words are indeed awfully prophetical: and when lukewarmness becomes general in any church, however distinguished or denominated, it is a certain prognostic of approaching judgments, either spiritual or temporal.


But the application to individuals is more immediately the province of the preacher. We do not indeed say, that every person, infected with this dis⚫ease, is an hypocrite, and will prove an apostate; but we affirm most constantly, that the case is awfully dangerous. "Let no man deceive you with vain words:" let none persuade you to consider this as a legal or a trifling "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, old things are passed away; behold all things are become new." He has not only adopted a new creed; but he has received a new heart, and leads a new life: "he is created in Christ Jesus unto good works." How then can it be possible for a man to know that he is in Christ, unless he be conscious of this change, and manifest it in his whole disposition and conduct? Will any one say, he knows himself to be in a state of acceptance; because he has a strong impression that this is his privilege; because texts of Scripture were brought to his mind to assure him of it; and because he has had many comfortable

seasons under religious ordinances? If his spirit and practice do not at all accord to that of the Christian, as described in the oracles of God, ought he not to conclude, that "Satan, transformed into an angel of light," has deceived him and that he builds upon the sand, by hearing the words of Christ, and not doing them? And how can he know, but that the storms and floods of death and judgment will sweep away his baseless edifice, with most tremendous destruction? They who call Christ Lord, and do not the things that he says; even if they perform many wonderful works in his name, and receive extraordinary gifts from him, will at the last day be bid to 66 depart as workers of iniquity:" and what will then become of their anti-scriptural confidence?

The tares and the wheat must grow together till the harvest; the wise and foolish virgins will form one company till the coming of the Bridegroom; and guests who have not the wedding garment may remain unnoticed, till the King come to see them; but the final discrimination, with its eternal consequences, will be dreadful to those, who had a name to live, and yet

were dead.

Supposing, however, a man's lukewarmness not fatal; yet the uncertainty and the apparent danger of his condition are sufficient to excite great alarm and distress. If he be saved, it will be "as by fire:" and what a gloomy prospect, what terrors and remorse upon a death-bed, are before him? These are the only tokens for good, of which his case can admit: for unshaken confidence at the hour of death, succeeding an evidently lukewarm profession, proves that a man is given over to a strong delusion. Remember then, and may the Lord impress it deeply on every heart! that consternation and anguish, when death approaches, form the brightest prospect of the lukewarm Christian! And is this the provision you are making for that awful crisis? Is this your intention when you yield to indolence, temptation, and the seduction of bad examples?

You may probably, my brethren, censure my address as harsh and severe; but I hope you will observe, that it is far below the energy of reproof and warning, employed by the loving Saviour himself: yet he spake to those, among whom some persons seem to have had a few feeble sparks of grace, as fire covered and almost extinguished by the ashes.

But some perhaps continue to quiet their minds, by thinking that they make no pretensions to religion, and are not therefore concerned in the rebuke. Let me, however, demand of you, whether you have not been baptized in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost? Have you then openly renounced your baptism, and abjured Christianity? Or do you expect to be called Christians?—If you do, this implies a profession of religion, however unmeaning and hypocritical: and your indifference about these subjects proves you the most lukewarm of all that bear the name of Christ. And is this your confidence? or do you intend to plead this before the tribunal of your Judge? Would not such an excuse then prove before men and angels, that you had crucified Christ afresh, and put him to open shame; and that you had done despite to the Spirit of Grace, by a course of conduct diametrically opposite to the religion which you professed?

Should these solemn reflections excite any of you seriously to inquire, what you ought to do? The answer is obvious. Consider the salvation of your souls as your grand concern: forego or postpone all other pursuits, rather than suffer them to retard your course in seeking an interest in the Saviour of sinners. Be diligent, earnest, and persevering in attendance on all the means of grace. Repent, and bring forth fruits meet for repentance: separate from the world with all its sensual pleasures, and stupifying dissipations: and seek your present happiness, as well as future safety, in the favour and service of our gracious God and Father.

If you doubt whether all this be necessary, I appeal to the Law and to the Testimony. Search the Scriptures: see whether they do not require us to give the Lord our hearts and devote ourselves entirely to him, and whether

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