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righteous Judge, and a gracious Father. The Messiah is just, and having salvation. Some of God's perfections are suited to inspire with sacred awe; others to win and allure the heart to himself. A discovery of his holy majesty, without a proportionate view of his grace, tends to unbelief, sinful discouragement, and bondage ; while a view of his love and grace, without a proportionate sense of his majesty and purity, gives occasion to pride, carnal security, and presumption. In divine revelation the display of different excellencies is wisely adjusted ; but in our actual view of them, it is often otherwise. While one truth is regarded, another is partly forgotten, to our great injury. The defect opens, if I may so say, a back door for the tempter.

Sometimes experience may greatly degenerate. For want of watchfulness, Christians are carried away by false zeal, by corrupt affections ; defects become greater, evil mixtures increase, and greatly tarnish the beauty of our profession.

THIRDLY: What is the duty of professors in regard to this danger ?

They should look to themselves; examine whether they be in the faith ; prove their ownselves; keep the heart with all diligence ; look well to their state, frame, actions, and affections ; generally, and on particular occasions; and examine the springs of action. Be incessantly on your guard against error, on the right, and on the left. The way of truth is a narrow way; and we have many enemies and

Beware of declension. The beginnings of apostasy may be small, unnoticed by others. Beware of lukewarmness. Sin is like a wedge: once admitted, it makes a wider breach. When a serpent's head gets in, it is hard to keep his body out. A little thing may draw off the heart from God : fondness for dress; company ; irreligious, or even religious company, may lead to evil. Greater evils creep on by slow degrees : intemperance, impure passions, vile indulgencies, bitterness. If the Spirit of God be grieved by self-confidence, or secret sin, he may withdraw, and sudden temptation over

Beware of an evil heart of unbelief; of the present evil world ; of the devices of Satan. Resist him, and he will flee from you. Study your constitutional defects, distempers,

snares.

come.

and failings. Be concerned to grow in grace ;

in

every grace. Labor to win others to God. Seek to be a blessing.

FOURTHLY: Why are faithful ministers so anxious not to lose the things they have wrought?

Our reward cannot be fully enjoyed, but as we see souls brought to Christ : Christ formed in them, and honored by them. Now we live, if ye stand fast. For ye are our glory and joy.

It is our sweetest reward to see our doctrine confirmed; our labors succeed ; a number presented perfect in Christ Jesus. Your support, applause, and respect, will not satisfy us. But your holiness and happiness will.

CXLIX.

ON LUKEWARMNESS IN RELIGION.

Rev. iii. 16. So then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches. This warning against lukewarmness concerns all professors, in all ages and places. It is represented as an evil peculiarly disgustful to our blessed Lord, yet

found in some measure in one of the primitive churches. Can we flatter ourselves that all modern professors are free from a similar charge, or that we ourselves are in no danger of an evil which often spreads like an epidemic distemper. Let us endeavor carefully to investigate,

First, The nature, symptoms, and causes of lukewarm

ness.

Lukewarmness in religion is opposed to zeal, or the glowing ardor of holy love. It consists in a cold, formal indifference towards evangelical truth, and the want of fervent affections towards God and Christ, and of active, vigorous exertions for God's glory. We do not charge all who are infected with this evil as being conscious hypocrites, nor even as certainly destitute of all spiritual life; but while this distemper prevails, it will be impossible, and would be unprofitable, exactly to discriminate who are sincere and who are not.

As to the nature of lukewarmness, it may be twofold: like that of a dead corpse lying in the sunshine ; or, that of a living body, in a temporary swoon. The former, indeed, will soon grow putrid, and the sooner for the external heat to which it is exposed. The latter will again discover life, by a recovery of vital warmth of activity.

The symptoms of spiritual lukewarmness, are forgetfulness of God; sceptical indifference to the most important truths of revealed religion. Or, a mere speculative assent, without corresponding impressions on the heart ; neglect of ordinances, or unaffectedness under them ; formality in worship; conformity to the world, inordinate attachment to it; anxiety about it; misimprovement of temporal advantages; not aiming, in all changes of circumstances or situation, at the glory of God, and the good of our own souls. Other symptoms are, little concern respecting growth in grace ; falls into various outward sins, without deep humility and speedy repentance; sensuality, pride, covetousness, injustice, or unmercifulness; the secret indulgence of unmortified, corrupt dispositions of mind ; levity, foolish conversation; envy, passion, or discontent, distrust, rebellion, &c. All this indicates the absence or decline of holy love. Backwardness to religious conversation; the want of brotherly love; being easily provoked to contention, and hard to forgive others; want of compassion for souls; unconcerned for the cause of Christ. No exertion for God; unwillingness to leave the world, and go to Christ.

As to the causes of this evil, no wonder it should prevail in mere professors. Their profession was only the effect of custom, or of human suasion, influenced by worldly motives, or by transient impressions of legal terror, or self-righteous hopes ; of it they founded a confidence of safety, or a false or perverted view of the gospel. As all their religion was selfish, as soon as conscience is lulled asleep in carnal security ; they want nothing more : their flighty joy soon sinks down into a dull ease and carelessness. The heart remains unchanged ; sin unsubdued ; they have no vital union with Christ, no indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And as to those of whom we hope better things, great is the power of indwelling sin

the snares of the world are entangling; and the artifices of Satan are many.

A measure of unbelief prevents their thoroughly realizing the testimony of the divine word; and thus zeal declines, and they depart from the living God. Carnal security and neglect of self-examination, bring on a lukewarm spirit. The infection of others makes it spread; and its gradual approach makes it less noticed.

SECONDLY: The criminality and awful consequences of lukewarmness.

You perceive our Lord represents, by very strong terms, the odiousness and disagreeableness of a lukewarm spirit; he treats it as that which is loathsome and disgustful. For he considers himself as more dishonored by the inconsistencies of the lukewarm, than by the opposition of the avowed infidel, or the openly profane. The prevalence of this temper in a community, lays a natural foundation for their finally renouncing the very form of godliness, or embracing the grossest errors. It has been followed by the entire removal of the gospel, or by providential scourges and desolations. This is remarkably the case with Laodicea, at this very day. Its ruins indicate its former magnificence, while it is inhabited only by wolves and foxes.

But let us consider the consequences of lukewarmness chiefly as to the cases of individuals. If it be the lukewarmness of mere professors, such will lose all the labor they once took. They will have a poor reward, even though they should retain a dull, lifeless profession to the last. They are liable to total apostasy, and endless ruin,

But if the case should not prove quite so bad, the lukewarm will lose the comforts of religion, and that perhaps when they most need them. They render the evidence of their sincerity very doubtful; grieve the Holy Spirit; wound Jesus in the house of his friends; disgrace their profession ; dishonor the cause of God; injure others; distress the lively; harden other backsliders; forfeit their own privileges; make bitter work for repentance; bring down divine chastisements; and will probably experience a gloomy death-bed.

Let the lukewarm reflect, what it is respecting which they are thus indifferent. The care of their own precious souls;

the service of the ever-blessed God; the honor of the Redeemer, who bought them with blood; the advancement of his kingdom; and the eternal welfare of men.

How strange must it be, to profess to admit the truth on these heads, and yet be but little affected! To allow the soul is immortal, and exposed to endless ruin, and yet not be very earnest in seeking its salvation ! To allow the necessity of being found in Christ, and yet not treat all as loss for the excellency of the knowledge of him! To allow our obligations to him, and yet not devote ourselves entirely to him! To allow the noble ends of his death, and yet not fully comply with them ! not deny ourselves for him, who so greatly denied himself for us! To say he did all for us, and yet be scarcely willing to do any thing for him! Not care much for his cause, nor be much concerned for others to be brought to acceptance with him !

Oh! examine if this evil be at all chargeable on you. Shall your love grow cold, when you are getting every day deeper in his debt ? Some of you did run well : what has hindered you? Do you thus requite the Lord ? O foolish and unwise !

Are there no young people growing lukewarm, who set out plausibly and zealously some years ago ? seduced by trifles, and drawn aside by lying vanities? How soon has your love grown cold! Oh, dread the beginnings of declension. Forsake not the assemblies of the saints. It is hard to keep a single coal burning ; but many live coals laid together, keep up a vehement flame. Unite in prayer, and keep up private devotion. One duty will fit for another ; private for social, and social for private duties.

Are any old professors sunk into lukewarmness? What! after so many years of profession, so many years of mercy! It is high time to awake out of sleep, for now is your salvation nearer than when you believed : unless, indeed, all has been a form ; which God forbid.

Lament that you should be in any degree infected with so hateful a distemper of soul, which our Lord loathes. Be zealous and repent.

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