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ous of all sciences, and the most honourable of all professions, neglecting, “ while they do stand, to take care lest they fall” from their steadfastness, and wax cold in their zeal, they come very soon to retrograde, even in their Christian career ; and then settle down, in the end, too often, alas! never more to rise, into a state of most perilous, or, indeed, of finally hopeless repose. Such, my friends, without stopping here, to trace the natural and easy transition from indifference in the concerns of heaven, and the interests of immortality, to ultimate consummation in depravity and crime, or to shew how exceedingly apt men are, who fancy that every religious obligation has been performed by them already, to remain deaf to the calls of duty, wholly unarmed against the assaults and temptations of the world and the flesh, and, therefore, prepared almost at once for every guilty excess—such, I would go on to say, is the mode in which our great spiritual adversary, Satan, applies the unction of death to the souls of men ! If you remind persons, under this state of delusion, of their woeful condition towards God, and warn them of their impending ruin—if you ply them with the most urgent solicitations to “flee from the wrath to come,” and tell them of their need of Christ of his wisdom to guide—of his strength to assist entirely—and of his righteousness, and it only, to entitle them to eternal life, you will be speaking just unto dead men. They will disregard every expostulation. And although, having entered already upon the stage of their soul's disease, corresponding to that where mortification, the immediate precursor of dissolution, hath set in on the body, they regard themselves as “ whole,
not needing a physician,” dreaming that they are comely in the sight of the Lord, whereas, on the contrary, they are infinitely the reverse, “ the whole head being sick, and the whole heart faint; from the sole of the foot even unto the head, there being no soundness in them, but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores, which have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment !”
2. A second cause of our “ lukewarm” spirit in religion is, too great love of the world. “ If any man,” we are told, “ love the world, the love of the Father is not in him ;” and where there is no affection towards God, there can be no true zeal for religion ; and nothing but gross apathy and lifelessness will ensue, if not, indeed, total abandonment of the Gospel claims. “ Demas," saith the Apostle, “ hath forsaken us, having loved this present world!” How incessantly, brethren, did our blessed Saviour himself, inveigh against the false pretensions of “ unrighteous Mammon,” and the impious worship that was paid to him by so large a proportion of the Jews, during his ministry upon earth! And how very numerous are the occasions in which, throughout the Sacred Scriptures generally, we do meet with exposures of, and terrible denunciations against, the sinful tendency of mankind to engage in the exclusive pursuit of worldly and sensible objects, while they evince hardly concern at all for the things that pertain to the Divine glory and their own salvation! The profits and pleasures of the world—vain, unsatisfying, and perishing though they are, and such, in our moments of reflection, we admit them to be still continue, breth
ren, to engross too universally the thoughts of beings destined for immortality—to the consequent neglect of religious matters. The outward accommodations of human life prefer a more powerful appeal to our serious consideration than those matters; a circumstance of which we possess most remarkable illustration in the character and tendencies of the present day. The triumphs of science are perpetually disclosing new scenes of social magnificence and melioration. The genius of man has subordinated to his resistless sway the once indomitable elements of fire and water; and made them his willing hand-maids in distributing over the globe's wide compass, not only the necessaries, but likewise the luxuries and refinements of civilized life and that with astonishing, yea, electric rapidity! Yet, in spite of these results, so many, so marvellous, there has emerged, withal, from a state of things, in respect to which, we have so much reason for proud and thankful gratulation-a foul spirit of utilitarianism, inimical to piety, and freezing to Christian ardour-a lust after wealth, and lustre, and station, and influence
-drawing down the soul from loftier and diviner aspirations, and constituting even the present period of unexampled material splendour, vastly below the standard of vital godliness, and Scriptural excellence, which obtained, perhaps, in remoter and far less brilliant epochs of our country's history! Cast your eyes abroad over society, and what vigorous enterprise do you see on the part of its various members, what labour and toil—what hurry, and noise, and confusion about their worldly affairs—about riches and honours, pleasures
and elegance ! Men are there really and truly in earnest. Their careless efforts and spiritual sloth, they reserve all for heaven and eternal interests ; instead of dedicating to these the most impetuous energy, the utmost vigilance, and the most unwearied perseverance. In the bustle of our commercial towns and amid the industrious activity of our whole country, we see merchants and tradesmen, travellers and cultivators of the soil, peasants and paupers, all ingulfed in the giddy vortex of this earth's ambition, of its passing events, and busy interests ; without one moment's leisure, it may be, to contemplate themselves in the capacity of pilgrims through time, sinners against God, and candidates for eternity-and indifferent whether they are sinking down into perdition in hell—the darkest, the
deepest dungeon, and the most mournful prison-house · in the universe—with “ the devil and his angels;" or
ascending upwards more and more in their moral and spiritual qualification for the glories of that “ new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” — the destined inheritance of them who have 66 come out of great tribulation,” and who have been “washed, and sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God!”
3. A third cause to which only I shall farther refer is, the inclination to ease in our nature, or that constitutional indolence of soul which indisposes so many professing Christians to active exertion. In the business of this world, such sluggish disposition of mind wholly incapacitates for success and distinction ; destroying effectually the power of vigorous and concentrated
effort, by which alone, as you all know, signal success, or any important acquisition—whether as to literature, or science, or secular matters, can, under heaven's blessing, be achieved. And its effects upon our character and prospects as Christians, are similarly calamitous. There too, it induces indefinite procrastination, and confines only to feeble endeavours-causes us to put off the awfully momentous work of salvation from day to day — keeps us still resolving, but never labouring-like a door upon its own hinges, constantly going, but making no real progress, and spending our whole lives in performing the same profitless and ultimately disastrous round, it may be, of sinning and repenting, and repenting and sinning again
-destitute of all that passionate love of God and of our neighbour-of that holyimpatience for His enjoymentof that burning indignation at whatever offends against the Divine nature, or name, or laws—and above all, of that unremitting career of new obedience, which, as they constitute the essence, will ever be found the concomitants of true, genuine, practical Gospel zeal.
III. We shall submit to you a few CONSIDERATIONS, whereby ye may become divested of your “ lukewarm” habits in religion, and excited to greater “ fervency" in its service.
1. The slothful servant, or careless Christian, blessed, as, of course, we assume him to be, with privileges, and walking in the noonday light of the Gospel, may be the object of as much, or, it may happen, even of more, of the Lord's aversion and anger, than the open and avow