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all the benefits of his great salvation. It was he who
agony and bloody sweat, by his cross and passion, by his precious death and burial, by his glorious resurrection and ascension, rescued them from the bitter pains of eternal death, and opened up a way of access to eternal glory. He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him.
Now, my brethren, permit me to ask you, in the tenderest terms of this Gospel, is a lukewarm and indifferent state of heart and conduct in reference to that for which Christ died-is it, in the name of all that is rational and spiritual in your condition—is it a suitable return for that amazing love which brought him from the realms of his bright and eternal glory to suffer and to die? Is it a suitable return for that love which made him to endure the cross, despising the shame? Let this subject come over your hearts with an energy measured by its importance. In no sense was Christ indifferent about your salvation; in no sense was he lukewarm as to your eternal welfare. The salvation of your souls from the bitter pains of everlasting death, was the one object of his daily and nightly effort during his pilgrimage of wo on earth, and it was the nearest and the dearest object of his heart when he drew nigh to the agonies of death. His love did, indeed, show itself strong as death; many waters could not quench it, nor the flood drown it. Now, my friends, to neglect him after all; to forget him; to think of him and his salvation with indifference; or to be lukewarm in his service, is ingratitude which language wants the power to describe—it is crime, ay, aggravated wickedness, which can scarcely be paralleled. Is it strange
then, that in relation to the lukewarm he says“I will spue thee out of my mouth."
Another reason which justifies the strong language of the text is, that lukewarmness pours an uncommon measure of dishonour on the cause of Christ. From the avowed worldling, or the infidel, we expect the cause of Christ to be opposed, and ridiculed, and abused; but there is no wound so deep and so difficult to heal, as that which religion receives from those who, by an outward profession, rank themselves among her friends. It is laid down as an incontrovertible position, and fully justified in all experience, that an unsound, hypocritical, formal, inconsistent or lukewarm professor of Christianity, has been in all ages the greatest obstruction to its progress. The fires of persecution never did so much injury as the lives of many who have called themselves by the name of Christ. Take an illustration: It is the remark of the first missionary who ever attempted to preach the Gospel to the Indians of our land, 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. And, my brethren, this is the case in every quarter of the globe. It is one grand obstacle in the east, where the powerful establishment of the India Company, employing, as it does, so many merely called Christians, still spreads, by the example of its agents, a most dreadful moral contagion. This cause ope- . rates in Africa and the islands of the ocean. It operates with a most amazing moral force in the Holy Land; where the Turks, by all their cruelties, do
not oppose so great a barrier to the truth, as the lazy, formal, superstitious, lukewarm Christians there residing, as belonging to the Greek and Catholic Churches. The same thing exists here, ay, in our land, in our city, in our Churches. Lukewarm, indifferent, careless professors, give irreligious people an idea that religion cannot be very valuable, when those who profess it appear careless and unconscious as to its vital interests. And, arguing from such
premises, the conclusion is natural: for who can think that truly important, which occupies but an indifferent place, and produces but a lukewarm state of feeling in the hearts of those who take its name? The language of worldly, irreligious men, is, these people try to make us believe that religion is valuable; why, they do not themselves believe it, for you see them not earnestly engaged in seeking first the kingdom of God, as the one thing needful, as they profess to do; you do not see them straining every nerve to advance the interests of their Redeemer's cause; you do not see them separate from the world in its doings and pleasures. Indeed, we see them coming among us-some of them unblushingly; some with shame and blushes—but you still see them coming among us to taste a little of our pleasures and vanities, and to drink a little of our cup. You hear them renounce the devil and all his works, the pomps and vanities of this wicked world, and all the sinful lusts of the flesh, and this sounds very well; but where is the exhibition? where is the evidence that this is not hypocrisy ? You hear them say, we now offer and present ourselves unto thee, O Lord, to be a holy and living sacrifice; and yet they love the world, and seek it just as much as we do. Now, my brethren, can it possibly be supposed, that worldly and irreligious people will believe religion to be valuable, when their eyes look upon these abominations, and their ears hear them? Will they believe it necessary for them to lay hold on eternal life; to repent, and believe, and obey, when they mark these glaring, palpable inconsistencies? And if lukewarm professors are thus the occasion of stumbling to others, and deceive their own souls; if they thus bring down religion from its elevated standard, and strive to make it coalesce with the world ; if they thus give it its deadliest stab, tell me,
, if our Lord used too strong language when he said, “I would thou wert cold or hot ?" Do you not know, that an unfaithful servant retained in the family, does infinitely more mischief than if he was dismissed; so lukewarm professors do more harm in the way I have described, than can be done by hosts of enemies without. The language is not too strong“I will spue thee out of my mouth."
Brethren, this subject is one not only of painful interest, but of most melancholy fruitfulness; and there are many reasons yet remaining to justify the strong language of our Saviour. I must, however, make a selection among these, and then conclude the subject.
4. A lukewarm state justifies the strong language of our Saviour, because there is a peculiarity in the danger of this condition which renders the access of truth more difficult, and seems to put the most insurmountable obstacle in the way of repentance. It is this: A lukewarm professor is apt to be satisfied with his conduct, and thus to think himself safe. This was precisely the conduct and disposition of the
Laodiceans. They said that they were rich and increased with goods and had need of nothing, while they were all the time poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked. And so it is with all. A lukewarm profession of religion satisfies the mind, so that when we preach repentance, they say, We have been baptized and confirmed and are communicants; what need we more? This is not meant for us; we are not such grievous sinners. When we preach the necessity of faith they say, Oh, we do believe in Christ; this cannot be meant for us.
When we say come out from the world, ye cannot serve God and mammon, the friendship of the world is enmity with God; they say, We only indulge ourselves in allowable gratifications, innocent amusements; God is not a hard master. So that there is no situation in which it is more difficult to force the way of truth.
Brethren, my object has been at this time to say just what I am commanded in the Scripture, and my pole-star has been the declaration of God to Ezekiel—“Say unto the people, thus saith the Lord.” Now, in relation to the point on which I am speaking, the difficulty of bringing truth to the consciences of the lukewarm, I speak the parallel language of our Saviour to the Pharisees. The Pharisees, you know, trusted that they were righteous; they were members in the full communion of the Jewish Church, if I may so speak, and yet their religion was formal; it had no life and spirit. Now mark our Saviour's language to them—“The publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of heaven before you.” Why, is not this a strange doctrine, that such abandoned characters as these were actu