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awfully dangerous. “Let no man deceive you with "vain words:" let none persuade you to consider this as a trifling matter. "If any man be in
Christ, he is a new creature, old things are "passed away; behold all things are become new.” He has not only adopted a new creed; but he has received a new heart, and leads a new life: he "is "created in Christ Jesus unto good works."— How then can it be possible for a man to know that he is in Christ, unless he be conscious of this change, and manifest it in his whole disposition and conduct? Will any one say, he knows himself to be in a state of acceptance, because he has a strong impression that this is his privilege; because texts of scripture were brought to his mind to assure him of it; and because he has had many comfortable seasons under religious ordinances? If this spirit and practice do not at all accord to that of the Christian, as described in the oracles of God, ought he not to conclude that "Satan,
transformed into an angel of light," has deceived him and that he builds upon the sand, by hearing the words of Christ, and not doing them? And how can he know, but that the storms and floods of death and judgment will sweep away his baseless edifice, with most tremendous destruction? They who call Christ, Lord, and do not the things that he says; even if they perform many wonderful works in his name, and receive extraordinary gifts from him, will at the last day be
compelled to "depart as workers of iniquity:" and what will then become of their anti-scriptural confidence?
The tares and the wheat must grow together till the harvest; the wise and foolish virgins will form one company till the coming of the Bridegroom; and guests who have not the wedding-garment may remain unnoticed, till the King come to see them but the final discrimination, with its eternal consequences, will be dreadful to those, who had a name to live, and yet were dead.
Supposing, however, a man's lukewarmness not fatal; yet the uncertainty and the apparent danger of his condition are sufficient to excite great alarm and distress. If he be saved it will be "as by "fire" and what a gloomy prospect, what terrors and remorse upon a death-bed, are before him? These are the only tokens for good, of which his case can admit: for, unshaken confidence at the hour of death, succeeding an evidently lukewarm profession, proves that a man is given over to a strong delusion. Remember then, and may the Lord impress it deeply on every heart! that consternation and anguish, when death approaches, form the brightest prospect. of the lukewarm Christian. And is this the provision you are making for that awful crisis? Is this your intention when you yield to indolence, temptation, and the seduction of bad examples?
You may probably, my brethren, censure my
address as harsh and severe, but I hope you will observe, that it is far below the energy of reproof and warning, employed by the loving Saviour himself: yet he spake to those, among whom some persons seem to have had a few feeble sparks of grace, as fire covered and almost extinguished by the ashes.
But some perhaps continue to quiet their minds, by thinking that they make no pretensions to religion, and are not therefore concerned in the rebuke. Let me however demand of you, whether you have not been " baptized in the name of the "Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost?" Have you then openly renounced your baptism, and abjured Christianity? Or do you expect to be called Christians? If you do, this implies a profession of religion, however unmeaning and hypocritical : and your indifference about these subjects proves you the most lukewarm of all that bear the name of Christ. And is this your confidence? or do you intend to plead this before the tribunal of your Judge? Would not such an excuse then prove before men and angels, that you had "cruci"fied Christ afresh and put him to open shame?" and that you had "done despite to the Spirit of grace," by a course of conduct diametrically opposite to the religion which you professed?
Should these solemn reflections excite any of you seriously to enquire, what you ought to do, the answer is obvious. Consider the salvation of
your souls as your grand concern: forego or postpone all other pursuits, rather than suffer them to retard your course in seeking an interest in the Saviour of sinners. Be diligent, earnest, and persevering in attendance on all the means of grace. Repent, and bring forth fruits meet for repentance: separate from the world with all it's sensual pleasures and stupifying dissipations: and seek your present happiness, as well as future safety, in the favour and service of our gracious God and Father.
If you doubt whether all this be necessary, I appeal to the Law and to the Testimony. Search the scriptures see whether they do not require us to give the Lord our hearts and devote ourselves entirely to him; and whether the language of Christ, concerning self-denial, renouncing the world, enduring the cross, labouring and striving to enter in at the strait gate, be not much stronger than any thing here stated. If any of you should not be able to reconcile these passages to your views of salvation by grace; be assured that your views are unscriptural; and beg of God to open your understanding, that you may more clearly discern the truth as it is in Jesus. But beware of indolence and partiality in reading the scriptures: do not select a few passages, and pass over the rest, as unsuitable to your system, or uninteresting to you; for this springs from lukewarmness, and tends to its rapid increase.
But are any of you convinced, that you have hitherto been infected with this Laodicean spirit, and almost ready to tremble for the consequences? Let me call your attention to the subsequent part of our Lord's address to such luke-warm professors. He condescends to say even to them, "I counsel thee to buy of me, gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white rai
ment that thou mayest be clothed, and that the "shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and a"noint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou may"est see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; "be zealous therefore, and repent."
Think then frequently and intensely on eternity and its infinite importance: meditate seriously on the death of Christ; the design, manner, causes, and effects of it; the instructions conveyed and the obligations conferred, by that great event.Pray earnestly for the sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit, which alone can prevent or cure lukewarmness, and maintain the life and power of godliness in the soul. Examine particularly every part of your disposition and conduct be willing to know the whole of your case as it really is.Withdraw from the company of the lukewarm, and associate with zealous christians and never admit a doubt, but that the more fervent, diligent, and fruitful you become, the greater will be your peace and comfort in life and death, and the more abundant your gracious recompence in the realms of blessedness.