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not away your humble, but unfeigned trust in Christ. If you can appeal to him that you are grieved that you love him so little, and that it is your desire to love him more,—that on his blood alone you daily endeavour to rest your hope, and that you would not relinquish your trust in him for the wealth of a world; yours is a promising case. Though clouds may envelop your path throughout your pilgrimage ; yet at length your darkness shall be turned into light, and your doubts exchanged for unmingled and uninterrupted assurance. “Weeping may endure for a night; but joy cometh in the morning.” “ Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.” *
* Psalm xxx. 5; xcyii. 11.
NATURE AND PROPERTIES OF GROWTH IN GRACE.
Introductory observations.-1. Growth in grace obviously implies its real existence in the soul.-2. The divine seed from which it springs, is usually at first small and weak.-3. The Holy Spirit is the great efficient cause of growth in grace.—4. It is usually effected by the diligent use of means.-5. The Christian does not always grow in grace.-6. When grace grows, its effects are always visible.—7. Growth in grace is generally im. perceptible to the Christian himself.-8. It is usually most discernible in the early stages of the Christian life.-9. The Christian may grow in some graces, and but little in others.-10. Progress in growth in grace is exceed. ing various, but is usually proportioned to Christian diligence.-11. Growth
in grace is a blessing which is promised, and after which every Christian is ! both commanded and inclined to aspire..
The highest attainments to which the children of God can reach, while sojourners on earth, come far short of that perfection required by the Divine law, and which they are encouraged to expect. Sensible of this, the most eminent among them have felt, confessed, and bewailed their deficiences; and panted and laboured after nearer conformity to the will and image of God. Even they who have obtained assurance of their salvation, and shared most abundantly of the consolations of Christ, have always thirsted most after a growing meetness for the pure delights of heaven.-Such was the case with the apostle Paul. Notwithstanding he enjoyed unshaken confidence of his interest in the Saviour's love, and had made great and rapid advances in sanctification ; he saw and acknowledged his imperfections, and
aspired after a higher degree of holiness :—“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended ; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."* In accordance with these sentiments, he thus expresses himself to the members of the church at Ephesus :—“When Christ ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ : till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ ;-and speaking the truth in love, may grow up into bim in all things, who is the head, even Christ.”+ The apostle Peter, also, after many salutary exhortations to the persecuted saints to whom he wrote, thus closes his epistle ;—“ Ye, therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness : but grow
and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
• Philip. iii. 12–14. * Ephes. iy. 8-15. # 2 Peter iii, 17, 18.
Growth in grace, therefore, or progressive advancement in holiness, is what every Christian needs, and is bound in duty, as well as by interest, to endeavour to obtain. Consequently, it must be of vast importance, that every one of them should possess scriptural and correct views of the manner in which this is to be effected, and be put on his guard against the most common and dangerous obstructions to its attainment. To aid you in this, I shall endeavour to set before you, the nature and properties of growth in grace,—its evidences,—its preventives,—the means by which it may be promoted,--and its important advantages. To the first of these topics I shall confine myself in the sequel of this chapter.
1. Growth in grace obviously implies, its real existence in the soul.- This is a remark so self-evi. dent, that to some it may appear altogether superfous. Everyone knows, that seed cannot grow where it has not been sown, nor a tree where it has no root. Living seed must be put into the soil, ere its verdure and fruit can appear. A living plant must first be in that portion of ground where we expect it to grow, otherwise our labour in cultivating and watering that spot of earth, must be useless.-Equally necessary is it, that the living and incorruptible seed of grace be first implanted in the soul, before growth in grace can be rationally expected.
This observation, unnecessary and trifling as some may regard it, is of primary importance. Obvious. though it be, it is nevertheless too commonly over
looked. There is, alas ! too much need to press it on the attention of multitudes who have a Christian profession. How many of this stamp who are destitute of the saving grace of God, and who might know this if they would take the pains to inquire, are disposed to view it as a matter not to be doubted, that they already are Christians. They have assumed the name of disciples of Christ,—they are treated as such by their fellow-men,-and they manifest a decent regard to the public institutions of religion. Though unrenewed in the spirit of their mind, they carefully avoid a particular scrutiny of their state ; and willingly Aatter themselves that they already are partakers of the grace of God. When they pray, it is for the blessings and comforts of God's children, rather than for the implantation of that grace, essential to their being put among his children. In a word, without seeing their need of a new heart, they expect to grow up, in their present state, in meetness for heaven. Thus, from ignorance of their true character, they mistake what should be their first and their chief aim. Instead of seeking grace, they dream only of glory. They please themselves with the hopes of a heavenly harvest, while yet the seed of it is not sown.
This consideration strongly enforces the necessity of careful and diligent self-examination. Every man who desires to grow in grace-to be adorned with every Christian temper and practice, and to acquire a meetness to be made a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light, must seek to know his calling