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Much more, very much might have been said under each of the foregoing heads, and many other divisions of the same topic might be mentioned, but time and opportunity will not permit. Let me give the summary
A lukewarm Christian is one who, though he may profess the name of Christ, has no heart to private devotion, none to family, none to social, none to public; he is one who is in a measure indifferent to Gospel truth; who cares little about the peculiarities of religion; who never joins heartily in any plans for the advancement of the Redeemer's kingdom; who sometimes begins a good work and then gets tired; who tries to make a compromise between God and the world; who is determinately neither on the Lord's side, nor on the side of his foes. In short, a lukewarm Christian is one who has no 'positive character; he is made up entirely of negatives.
Now, my friends, make this a subject of deep and serious personal self-examination, and I will give you some points of experimental discrimination. Professing Christian, is thy heart in all the peculiarities of thy profession? If not, “thou art lukewarm.” Dost thou love, ay, love to pray to thy Father which is in secret? If not,“thou art lukewarm.” Dost thou delight in gathering thy social circle about thee, and in the devotions of the family offer up thy morning and thine evening sacrifices? If not, “thou art lukewarm.” Dost thou delight to avail thyself of all the privileges of prayer; especially, is the Sabbath a delight; is the house of God thy dearest place of resort; the ordinances of God thy seasons of liveliest pleasure? If not, “thou art lukewarm.” Dost thou delight in the truth as it is in Jesus, and dost thou seek to honour him by a soundness in the faith once delivered to the
saints? If thou art indifferent to this, “thou art lukewarm.” Dost thou love to devote thy prayers, thy time, thy talents, thy property, to the cause of the Lord Jesus Christ, the blessed Redeemer; and dost thou give of these all with an open and a liberal hand ? If not," thou art lukewarm.” Art thou separate from the world; art thou striving to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour by a life of devotedness and holy constancy? In fine, hast thou said unto the Lord—“Lord, I and mine, and all that I have is thine, and thine supremely, and thine only ?" If not, “ thou art lukewarm."
Brethren, it matters little what opinions you may have entertained, or what opinion you now entertain of yourselves; he that judgeth you is the Lord, and if you are not his in heart, in word, in deed, it is because, self-deceived, you either have but “a name to live and art dead,” or “because thou art lukewarm.”
And is this situation of lukewarmness one which may be continued in with indifference? Is it one which may be continued in without the most imminent peril of perdition? I shall not be able till the next discourse to tell you of its amazing peril; but let me beseech you, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, who will judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom, to bear in mind, and in the interval which may be allotted you between this and the next Lord's-day, to meditate upon, and to pray with earnestness over the solemn declaration which will then be enlarged on. “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.” I will utterly reject thee; reject thee with abhorrence; reject thee for ever.
LUKEWARMNESS IN RELIGION,
ILLUSTRATED IN THE
HISTORY OF THE CHURCH IN LAODICEA.
REVELATION iii. 14-22.
AFTER occupying your attention, brethren, during the course of the last lecture, in describing the sin of lukewarmness, and in enlarging on its various characteristics, I was compelled to close with a mere passing remark as to its awful danger; and this consideration, to which we advance at the present, constitutes the
IIId general division of my subject embraced in the following words—“So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold or hot, I will
thee out of my mouth.”
My 1st object will be to explain the meaning of the peculiarly strong phraseology—“I would thou wert cold or hot."
2d. To explain, as far as may be necessary, the
emphasis of the terms—"Because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”
3. To state the reason why a lukewarm state of mind and heart justifies such strong expressions of abhorrence.
1. It would be a strange perversion and misconception of the meaning of our Saviour, to suppose that it was a matter of indifference to him which side of this contrast was chosen; for though he does say, “I would that thou wert cold or hot,” yet he does not say that he is as willing that they should be one as the other. By the phrase is to be understood the strongest possible expression of the necessity of decision on the subject of religion, and there are several passages of Scripture where precisely the same character of phraseology is used, for precisely the same purpose. Thus—“See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; in that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply; and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.” Here life and death are set before the people, and their solemn choice is required; not that it was a matter of indifference, for their eternal interest was involved in it, but that still it must be their choice, and one or the other they must have. Again: “Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the
Lord, choose ye this day whom ye will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served, that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods.” Thus also the prophet Elijah—“Why halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him; but if Baal, follow him." He does not set it before them as if there could possibly be any comparison in the choice, but strongly to express the necessity of a prompt and vigorous determination. Similar to this is the language of the text; our Saviour here expresses his views of the state of the Laodiceans-not that coldness or fervour is equally acceptable, or that coldness is at all acceptable, for reason and revelation concur to assure us that the open and avowed rejection of the Gospel and contempt of religion is a most aggravated wickedness—but he desires to intimate that lukewarmness is also an aggravated wickedness. If his language is susceptible of paraphrase, it would appear to be this: Lukewarm professors, your spiritual state is so bad, that you can hardly change for the worse; I would rather that you were almost any thing than what you now are; you cannot be in a worse situation; for if you were open and notorious profligates, you would be but in danger of hell fire, and as you are lukewarm, you are in danger of the same. So far as your eternal interests are concerned, you are in no better condition than the worst enemies which I have, for though you are not professedly my foes, yet you are not decidedly my friends. In short, my brethren, the language of our Saviour, interpreted