Imágenes de páginas

out sun to ripen it; a withered branch, cut off from the sustaining vine. And thus it is that the lukewarm, with all his negative virtues and fair outside, is an abomination in the sight of God: that while the world looks on, perhaps, and almost worships him as an idol, God may look down and rank him lower, and mark him for deeper damnation, than he does the wretch who drinks in impurity like water, or than he does the midnight ruffian, who ends a life of public crimes upon the scaffold.

Make the case your own. Suppose you had conferred on two persons, with an unsparing hand, all the tokens of disinterested, boundless affection :that


had come forward at the cry of their distress—that you had saved their lives—that you had wiped away their tearsthat you had struck off the chains of their captivity, and led them forth to light and liberty. Suppose, also, that in this ministration of mercy, you had encountered the most trying difficulties; brought down upon yourself accumulated misfortunes; and waded through seas of trouble and of sorrow, far deeper than all the waters that had gone over their souls. Suppose then these two persons, owing life and all its hopes to you, to go forth into the worldOne of them, betrayed by faithless promises, misled by bad example, overpowered by


world. They are both ungrateful to the kindest benefactor, the most generous of all friends. But, surely, the deeper shade of baseness and degeneracy belongs not to the conscious wretch who flies affrighted from his presence, but to the man who, on settled principle, withholds the fulness of his heart from God, who makes a calm and deliberate distribution, gives part to the world, and presents the impious offering of the rest to heaven.

But besides the guilt of such a state, the means of recovery from it are peculiarly difficult. The man who lives in open sin, cannot mistake the nature of his conduct: he cannot commit murder, or adultery, without knowing that he is a transgressor of the law. But these outward and positive commands the lukewarm do not transgress. Against that law, whose seat and sanctions are in the soul, they do indeed sin with a high hand. But the danger is, that they can do this without knowing it. The spirituality of God's law is veiled from their eyes. All beyond the forms of religion, they soberly consider as enthusiasm. Talk to them of faith, as that by which the mind holds converse with the eternal and unseen world--talk to them of the love of God, as a principle of the purest happiness, as heaven already opened in the soul-and they do not heave a sigh,

because they cannot see or feel these blessed truths; but in candour and sincerity they think them wild fancies, eccentric notions, dangerous delusions.

And thus while the open offender sins against his conscience, and carries about him a monitor, who, though unheeded, warns him ; the lukewarm rejects the Gospel with the full sanction of his own judgment. The one disobeys his director, but may, at some happier moment, follow him. The other has seduced, or rather bewildered, his guide, and now goes after a blind leader of the blind. How awful is this state! If the light that is in us be darkness, how great is that darkness ! Nor will it avail in 'extenuation to say, no man can be blamed for acting and thinking as his convictions lead. Perhaps the heaviest charges against the reprobate at the day of final reckoning will be, that they have perverted their moral sense, that they have abused their conscience, that they were capable of thinking as they did.

66 There is a way," says Solomon,

“ which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."

Guarded by discretion and by worldly prudence, the lukewarm shun those snares, and escape those miseries, which nevertheless often arrest us in a course of sin, and call the peni

[ocr errors]

tent back to God. The outcast from the pale of human intercourse, fainting in the deep waters, and buffeting with the waves of infamy and destitution, is sometimes driven, by these very extremities, to the throne of grace. He feels his lost estate—he flies for pardon to the blood of Jesus he calls on God in his trouble, and he delivers him out of his distress. Here the remedy is hazardous indeed, altogether desperate in the case of any who could, on calculation, try the experiment, and venture down the precipice themselves. Nevertheless by thus feeling sin in all its horrors, brands have been sometimes plucked out of the burning-souls have been converted to God-publicans and harlots have passed the gates of heaven, and left the self-righteous, the wavering, and the lukewarm behind, in outer darkness.

But the evil stops not here. The lukewarm are to others the instruments of a delusion no less fatal than their own. And in no instance does this more lamentably appear, than where their influence and counsels come in contact with a soul just upon the point of turning from darkness unto light.

A man has, perhaps, been living like the world around him; outwardly decent, but inwardly a stranger unto God. In this state,

[merged small][ocr errors]

conscience shines for a moment with a truer light, and refuses to say peace where there is no peace. The slumberér begins to doubt whether this heartlessness in religion may not be the sleep of death; and whether Christianity may not be, after all, that very thing which he had scorned, and scouted as fanaticism and folly. Here the lukewarm often interpose. They are at a loss to know why one so punctual in his duties, should now imagine that any change is necessary. They resolve all these notions into mere low spirits, or nervous dejection. They dread the consequences: they are fearful lest this melancholy should end in loss of life, or reason; and thus every expedient is tried, every engine set at work, to persuade the unhappy sinñer that all his scruples were but fancies ; 'to pły him with business, or hurry him on with what are called amusements, 'till all these fancies are, indeed, effectually forgotten—till the struggle is over, and the soul goes down again into the darkness of this present world.

But we may picture to ourselves a still more affecting instance of this kind ; and would to God' that a melancholy experience did not furnish us with examples. A heedless youth has been, we will suppose, pursuing the mad career of wild extravagance, and been sunk in all the

« AnteriorContinuar »