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ligion; it is a subject that never gives us any concern.' Then indeed you are not chargeable with lukewarmness : you are clear of that crime: but if you pretend to no religion, what do you pretend to i Do you profess yourselves children of disobedience and of wrath, and heirs of hell? Is this your meaning, your character, your expectation? For, whatever you may suppose, these things alone belong to those who avow that they disregard God and religion.

But leaving such men to their own reflections, we observe that lukewarmness pre-supposes the form and appearance of a church; and that, possibly, neither very erroneous in doctrine nor corrupt in morals. In like manner the lukewarm professed Christian may retain “the form of sound “ doctrine,” avoid gross vices, and continue in communion with some religious society: he may even manage so well that no specific charge can be substantiated against him; no foul spot be visible in his character; no proof brought that he has renounced his profession. He may observe in some measure all the forms of godliness : but he wants the spirit, life, and activity of religion. We cannot say that he is dead: yet he resembles a deeply wounded man, for whom great fears are entertained even while symptoms of life seem discernible.

Ministers, who are conversant with the state of their flocks, generally class people according to their apparent characters, in their private judgment of them. Some are evidently in “ the broad

way;” others are thought more promising, at least they desire to be so esteemed. But, among

some favorable tokens, many things appear very exceptionable: we would hope the best; but“ what “ meaneth this bleating of the sheep and lowing “ of the oxen that we hear?” Something criminal or suspicious is observable in the shop or in the family: some duty is evidently neglected, or slightly performed : and this damps our fond expectations concerning them. Others are not wholly irreligious, nor is there

any

remarkable blemish in their conduct: but they are “neither “ cold nor hot :” they do not appear serious, active, or zealous! and therefore we grieve over them, and stand in doubt as to the event of their profession. But there are some of another description ; who are “our hope, and joy, and crown of rejoicing:” may God exceedingly increase the number of them! These are the ornament and credit of the gospel; from them the light shines with efficacious splendour: and their bright example, with the energy of their influence and fruitfulness, counteracts the pernicious tendency of loose profession to wound the interests of truth, and retard its progress.

But let us enumerate some particulars in which lukewarmness especially discovers itself. This may

be observed, in the conduct of persons professing attachment to the peculiar doctrines of the gospel, in respect of the ordinances of public worship, and all the means of grace. The lively

“ I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord.” “O God, thou art my God, early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for

Christian says,

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thee, in a dry and thirsty land where no water “ is; to see thy power and glory, as I have seen “ thee in the sanctuary. Because thy loving kind“ness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.” Hence you see him anticipating the opportunity of waiting upon God, as a man expects any season of pleasure and delight; and making preparation lest any thing should deprive him of the satisfaction he expects. He suffers not a trivial hindrance to prevent his attendance on religious duties; and, if he cannot break through intervening obstructions, he finds it difficult to bring his mind into a due resignation to the divine will. He does not inquire how often he is bound to attend the house of God: but rather rejoices when an opportunity offers on any day, which he can embrace consistently with other duties.

On the contrary, the lukewarm come reluctantly to the ordinances of divine worship; and are seeretly pleased when an excuse, deemed sufficient, is suggested for absenting themselves. A visit or an invitation from a friend, some trivial business, a slight indisposition, or the inconvenience of unfavourable weather, is no unwelcome hindrance to their attendance at the house of God.—The same also is observable in respect of the Lord's supper, in which the lively Christian delights to commemorate the Redeemer's love; unless his mind has entertained some misconception about it. But such frivolous excuses, as keep the lukewarm from public worship, operate still more effectually in leading him to absent himself from the Lord's table: unless it be a convenient part of that form, by which he maintains his credit and quiets his conscience ; for in other respects he regards it as a matter of indifference.

We may further observe, that lukewarm persons commonly consider the sermon as the principal object, and think little of joining with reverence and fervency in other parts of divine service, They commonly therefore come late to the places of worship, and disturb the devotions of such as are more zealous. They are also ready to say to ministers, “ Speak to us smooth things ;” Dis

course on soothing and consolatory topics; avoid “awful and distinguishing subjects, and do not offend the audience with plain dealing. Such persons are peculiarly attentive to the manner, the voice, and delivery of the preacher: if these be graceful and suited to their taste, they are more easily satisfied in other respects. Above all they recommend brevity : 'Let the sermon be short, 'the prayer short, and make haste to dismiss us.' For they are soon weary of an employment so little congenial to their prevailing disposition. They attend from custom, or amusement, or to pacify conscience; they delight not in the sacred service, and are reluctant to be “ detained before “ the Lord.”]

But, if this be the case as to public worship, what can be expected in respect to family-religion? If this be not totally neglected, it is very superficially and irregularly conducted. Business, engagements, amusements, or visitants, easily induce the lukewarm to omit it entirely; or it is hurried over at an unseasonable hour, when perhaps several of the family are half asleep. Thus the souls of children and domestics are neglected : and every person of discernment and observation must be convinced, that, according to all human probability, the religion of such persons, whatever it be, will die with them. Indeed the families of the hukewarm have few advantages above those of the irreligious : while they are led to believe, that an evangelical creed will suffice to bring a worldly man to heavenly felicity.

11 Sam. xxi. 7.

Some of the old divines have observed, that apostacy begins in the closet;' and the same may certainly be said concerning lukewarmness : for, even when our hearts are truly engaged in religion, we find it difficult to maintain habitual fervour and devotion in secret duties. It is therefore obvious to conclude, that they who are cold and formal in public and family worship must be still more remiss in private. This, however, falls not under observation, but the lukewarm cannot but be conscious of it. Indeed the grand difficulty of the Christian's course consists in duly attending to self-examination, meditation, and secret devotion : our sharpest conflicts with Satan and our own hearts will generally be about these duties. While all goes well with us in this respect, we shall be carried through trials and services with comfort and advantage; but, when we grow negligent in secret, our public conduct will after a time be less respectable and edifying. This is, as it were, the pulse of the soul, by which we may best judge whether it be healthy or otherwise. So tha the difference between a lukewarm and a

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