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“thou dost not entirely and openly renounce the Christian religion, and thou dost not make it a serious business, and mind it as thy great concern. All thy religion is a dull, languid thing; a mere indifferency. Thy heart is not in it; it is not animated by the fervour of thy spirit; thou hast neither the coldness of the profligate sinner, nor the sacred fire and life of the true Christian, but thou keepest in a sort of me dium between them ; in some things thou resemblest the one, and in some things the other.” Now this, my brethren, it will be necessary to carry along in the whole course of this investigation, that a professed Christian may come under the description of lukewarmness, and yet retain the form of sound doctrine ; he may avoid gross vices, and continue in respectable standing with the religious society to which he belongs; no specific charge may stand against him; no foul spot be visible in his character; no proof brought that he has renounced his profes
he may observe all the forms of godliness, but he wants the life and spirit and activity of religion. Lukewarmness is to be considered both in relation to a Church and to individuals. A Church is in a lukewarm state, when among the members, generally speaking, there is a coldness and indifference to the things of spiritual religion ; when the house of God is not ordinarily well attended under all circumstances; when the ordinances of God are neglected; when there is not a general lively interest in every thing which relates either immediately or remotely to the great interests of the Redeemer's kingdom.
But these are general matters, which as they have no immediate application, are not likely to meet with
any useful individual appropriation. A Church may be in a lukewarm state, and there may at the same time be individuals connected with it who are exercising all the active graces and virtues of the Christian life; and on the contrary, a Church generally speaking, may be in a very lively religious condition, and yet many individuals be deeply sunk into the very abyss of lukewarmness; so that in every view, it will be safer to take up this subject in an individual sense and consider the sin of lukewarmness as attaching itself personally; and in so doing it will be my object to place briefly before you, those characteristics by which a professor of religion may be enabled to judge more clearly as to his individual state; and I beseech you, brethren, give me a serious and applying attention, for I wish you all, and especially you who have named the name of Christ, to judge yourselves as to the existence of this sin, which is so hateful in the eye of God that language of the utmost abhorrence is used to express his indignation against it. The sin is insidious, it lies deep, and it is exceedingly difficult of detection. But if it exists, detected it must be, or with our eyes shut to our real character, and thus self-deceived, we may live with the anger of G
of God constantly resting upon us, and die in a condition which will ensure our eternal ruin. Lukewarmness first discovers itself in what
may appropriately be called the private duties of religion. This is a matter, however, obvious to few but the individual himself, but it is in relation to this that he may in all probability detect the first symptoms of the disease, which, if permitted to go on, will either sooner or later spread a spiritual paralysis over every department of personal religion. It has been justly remarked of apostacy-ay, my friends, even of a crime so dreadful and remediless as apostacy—that it commences in the closet, in the first coldness which supervenes upon the duties of private devotion, in the neglect which follows, and in the easy progress of declension, which, if not absolutely arrested by the arm of grace in its almost miraculous visitations, will end in present and eternal ruin. Precisely the same remark may be made as it relates to the sin of lukewarmness. It will most generally be found to commence in the neglect of the duty of private devotion. Many first grow cold in the exercise, they then relax in the strictness with which that duty is performed; they then shorten the period of time formerly devoted to it; they omit the reading of the Scriptures, they omit the self-examination, and the meditation, then they at last omit the prayer. Brethren, I ask but one question; weigh it, I beseech you;
have I not, in these few lines, drawn to the very life the character of some among you? I know not, for no access has the minister into the retired apartment of the professed Christian, but God knows all. Answer it to yourselves. If I have drawn your character correctly, here then is the first sickly fruit of lukewarmness; the plague has begun.
The next step in this downward course relates to the exercises of family devotion; and here, brethren, I would incidently remark one of the greatest anomalies which is in any sense connected with the Christian profession-I mean the neglect of family devotion. A professing Christian without family devotion is a phenomenon of the religious world, so called, at which the very angels of heaven must look
not only with pity, but with unqualified amazement; for I am free to say, that in their sight, at least, it must appear a positive contradiction. A professedly Christian family without a domestic altar, is that which admits of no excuse, and which knows no palliative. This, however, incidentally. Lukewarmness, as it begins in the closet, spreads to the family, and places its paralyzing hand on the devotions of the domestic circle. If this sacred duty is not totally neglected, it is little better than neglected. By some it is conducted in the most superficial manner, as if it were a mere apology to heaven; by others, no kind of regularity is preserved. By some it is put off so late, that the children of the family and the servants have either retired to rest, or are so much overcome by weariness and sleep, as to make the exercise hardly amount to the coldness and formality of lip service. By some, if they happen to have some interesting business or amusement at the time, it is put off. Others think, that if they have company, they must of course omit the exercise through politeness. Now, my friends, all this indicates, in a greater or lesser degree, a lukewarm state of feeling as to the subject of religion; for if religion was in the heart in its lively and invigorating exercise, the hour of family devotion would be regular, and the hour would be uninterrupted. There will be a lively interest in the souls of the young and of the domestics; and that man or woman, permit me to say, is most miserable company for a Christian family, who would not be fond of enjoying that greatest and best hospitality which a Christian could give, the benefit of prayer. Family prayer, then, either neglected or superficially carried on, or conducted with irregularity, shows that the Spirit would not have given a wrong character to the household or the individual—" Because thou art lukewarm.”
I go a step further: Where grace reigns in lively and invigorating exercise, there is nothing so delightful as the privilege of social worship; and the lively Christian loves every opportunity of prayer, whether it be the small circle of the prayermeeting, or the weekly lecture, or the more stately and well-ordered devotions of the consecrated sanctuary; and there are very few circumstances which can keep him from availing himself of all these helps and privileges. But lukewarmness lays its cold hand on all these things. By some, for instance, the social prayer-meeting is objected to, because they say, and they quote high authority for so doing, that the social prayer-meeting is not orthodox; the Church disallows it; it is a nursery for spiritual pride, &c.
Now, brethren, as a matter of vindication, I have only to say, that the Church says no such thing, however some may have thus represented; and several of the most spiritual and devoted Bishops which we have in this country are the warm and decided advocates of these exercises. One of these bishops has largely written on this subject; and in relation to another I can say, from personal knowledge, that on one visit made by myself, I attended eleven of these kind of meetings in the space of a fortnight. So much on the subject of their regularity and orthodoxy. But here is the true secret in the great majority of instances, “ because thou art lukewarm.” Let me not be misunderstood. I grant that