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of the once famous' churches of Lesser Asia. Our «.Blessed Lord, who is the Amen, the faithsul and true Witness, charges them, in the verse immediately preceding our text, with this indifferent spirit: " I "know thy Works," fays he, " that thou art neither "cold nor hot." They had taken upon them the prosession of Christianity ; they owned'the truths and laws of Christ, and the obligations resulting from them and fo they were not abfolutely cold. But, on the other hand, there was no spirit in their religion, no vital influence animating their hearts. Their principles were not lively and active. They did not behave as those who are in earnest in what they prosess. In a word, they did not love Christ in an eminent degree, and, of consequence, were destitute of that warmth, and vigour, which characterise his disciples. In the following part of the verse, cur Lord declares his disapprobation os this temper of mind; " 1 would," -fay9; lie, " thou vert cold or hot." As if he had faid,you would act more consistently with yourselves, and it would be more for my honour, if either you would entirely-quit your Christian prosession, or be more inearnest in the practice of all Christian1 duties.
And then, in the text, he expresses his displeasure at their indifference irr stronger terms, and' threatens them with utter rejection: "So then, because thou "art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue "thee out of my mouth." The metaphorical language employed on this occasion, is strongly expressive of Cod's hatred against indifference in religious matters, and eonveys an awsul threatening of the punishment which he will inflict on men of this character.
This unconcerned and indifferent spirit, then,-thetrue character of formal prosesfors, who never engaged' themselves heartily in the ways of God, is a spirit which he hates. And this spirit, being evidently too-! such indulged by us at present, I'shall endeavour, by Divine assistance, to lay before you its nature anifc S 3 consequences,. consequences, by pointing out to you, first, Some distinguishing characteristics of those who are indisferent and careless in their religious prosession, from which you may know whether you belong to this class of men. Secondly, The causes of this indifserence in religion; and, Lajlly, The import of the threatening in the text, as an argument to alarm your sears, ami excite you to greater warmth and activity in the service of God..
I.- I begin, then, with briefly pointing out to you, some distinguishing characteristics of those, who may justly be denominated, indifserent in their religious prosession.
1. Men of this character, are those who have: name to live, and yet are dead; who have too much religion to be esteemed carnal, and too little to be truly spiritual; a generation that has too much •worldly wisdom to venture much, and yet are so foolish as to lose all. They are unwilling to forsake truth altogether, and^still more so to exert themselves with diligence in following it. The form of godliness they affect as an honour; the power of it they esteem a burden.
They are divided in their heqrts and affections between God and the world. Like the Israelites in the days of Ahab, they halt betwixt two, as if uncertain which to follow. Nay, they would sain serve both God and Mammon; though it be true, that these two masters are contrary to each other, and that theresore' it is impossible to serve the one, without abandoning the other.
a. Those also are indisserent in religion, who secretly indulge, and shelter any beloved lust and sinsul passion under the covert of a prosession, or allow themselves to practise them in their liv«. A sincere regard to the glory of God, and the interests of religion, operates on every part of the conduct. It insluences , the heart, and. inclines us to sacrisice every licentious defae. There are men, on the other hand, who, while they with to serve God, have yet a secret reserve for the gratisication of some savourite lust. They are convinced of the propriety of being religious, but this conviction has an impersect influence on their conduct. Like Naaman the Syrian, they are willing to pay homage to God, while, at the same time, they would gladly indulge in any secret sin, to which they happen to be devoted: "Thy servant," said Naaman to Eli/ha, " will henceforth osser neither burnt-offer"ing nor sacrisice unto other gods, but unto the "Lord. In this thing the Lord pardon thy ser"vant, that when my master goeth into the house "of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on "my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rim"mon: when 1 bow down myself in the hous; of Rim"mon, the Lord pardon thy servant in this thing (a)." And yet this secret sin, which they perhaps consider* as of little importance, like a worm at the root of a plant, will make them die, and wither at last. The genuine love of God, teaches us to hate every evil and' wicked work, to lay aside every weight, and the sin which most easily besets us; and the person who discovers indisference in one point, may be justly said to be indisserent to the glory of God, and to offend in all.
3. and lajily, Those also are indisserent prosessors, who have no hearty concern for the interests of Christ's kingdom, and the salvation of others. Give them but enough of this world; let their corn and wine abound, and it is of equal importance to them, whether religion prosper or decline. They mind not the asflictions of Joseph; they have no sympathy with those that suffer; nor do they mourn for the ark of God when it is in danger. Like Gallio, or rather of a worse temper; they care for none of those things; and, like those in the parable, go their ways, one to his sarm, and another to his merchandize. In a word, they are of a narrow, selsish, contracted spirit; and,
(a) % Kings V. 17, 18.
provided things go wdl with themselves, in their private worldly concerns, they dwell at ease in Zion, and seek not the things that are Christ's.
These, then, are the distinguishing characters of such as are indifferent in religion; the fymptoms of that deadly disease, which the great Physician of fouls condemns in the church of Laodicea; and for which, he threatens them with his highest displeasure. I now proceed,
IL To point out to you, the causes that- concur in producing this indifferent spirit.
1. Indifference in religion, often flows from too great love to the world. "Demas hath forfaken"us," fays the apostle, "having loved this present world."—" If any man," fays John, "love the world, "the love of the Father is not in him;" and where there is no love to God, there can be no zeal for his glory. It is no wonder, that those, whose hearts are devoted to this world, and who have no sirm and steady faith of a better, should be indifferent as to the matters of God; for these, as I before observed to you, are two masters, whose interests and commands are fo abfolutely incompatible, that it* is impossible to serve both. This is beautisully illustrated by our Saviour, in the parable of the marriage supper: "When the servant came to call them that were bid'"den, they all, with one consent, began to make ex"cuse: one had bought a piece of ground, and "he must needs go and see it; another had bought "sive yoke of oxen, and he must go to prove them; "and the third had married a wise, and therefore ** could not come (h)." Thus, the pleasures of the world on the one hand, and the prosits of it on the other, occupy the minds of men, and render them careless and indifferent about religion: For, while their affections are thus%deeply engaged in the pursuit
(A) Luke xhr.
suit of earthly and sensible objects, they have neither esteem nor inclination for the things that concern the glory of Christ, and their own salvation. For the truth of this, may I not appeal to the experience of many.of you? Do you not sind, for instance, that the love and cares of the world distract your mind, when you are engaged in the duties of religious worship, and render you listless and inattentive to the spiritual performance of them? Nay, do you not sind, when your time, your zeal, and activity, are chiesly employed about the things of this world ; when you are most solicitous in making provision for the siesh, either to sulsil the lusts of it, or, with the rich man in the parable, to have goods to lay up for many years, that then you are most indisferent and careless, in the discharge of your duty to God? Beware then, lest the pleasures and pursuits of this world, divert your minds from the one thing needsul, and make you careless and unconcerned about it.
2. IndisFerence, in matters of religion, proceeds often from self-conceit; a proud, overweening opinion of our own merit and sufficiency. This, we sind, our blessed Lord assigns as one cause of it in the church of Laodicea. They boasted that they were rich, and increased with goods, and had need of nothing; w hile, in the mean time, they were wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. They were contented with the improvement they had made, and considered higher attainments as impossible or unnecessary. And this,' indeed, is a natural effect of pride and self-conceit. For, when persons have a high opinion of themselves, of their own merit and abilities, it lulls the,m into a state of spiritual ease and fatal security; they are careless of their duty, and! unwatchsul against sin. If you remind them of their danger, and warn them to fly from the wrath to come; if you tell them of their need of Christ, and put them upon applying in good earnest to him for