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As children, from the time they are born, are every day advancing towards the stature of men, so the children of God are growing towards the fulness of the stature of a perfect man in Christ Jesus. The growth in both cases may be interrupted for a time, and there may sometimes seem to be a decay. However, upon the whole, there is an evident increase. “ The path of the just is as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” “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, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”

As for the manner of growing in grace, it is not to be explained, nor perceived, any more than the growth of a tree, or an herb. Though you look at them a long while, you cannot perceive them to vegetate. But if you compare them with what they were a month or a year ago, you see that they are evidently grown. So true believers, who are anxious about their spiritual improvement, cannot perceive how this important work is effected: but when they look back to what they were some time ago, they may be convinced, that they are stronger and better. They have grown either downward, in the root of humility, or upward, in the branches of fervor or holy activity. “So is the kingdom of God,” says Christ, “ as if a man should cast seed into the ground, and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should spring, and grow up, he knoweth not how, So the



earth bringeth forth of herself, first the blade, then the ear, and, after that, the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.”

But I observe more particularly, in the first place, that the Christian should be anıbitious to increase in the number of his graces. “ Add to your faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly-kindness, and charity. For, if these things be in you, and abound, they make you, that ye shall neither be barren, nor unfruitful, in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We should call that child a monster, at least we should not consider it as perfect and well formed, which was born with only one eye, or one hand, or one foot; and what must we call that Christian, who has a little knowledge, a little love, a little zeal, a little godliness, but no temperance, no patience, no meekness, no gentleness? Or what should we think of one who has a little patience and temperance, but no godliness and knowledge ? Surely this is not“ being perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” We should grieve to see another shine in any grace that we possess not ourselves. You know that those who are curious in plants and flowers, if they find any thing new and beautiful in the garden of another, are impatient till they have a root or a slip of it, to put into their own. Christians should have the same emulation, the same spiritual covetousness, if I may so call it, with respect to the graces of the Spirit of God. If we sre one of our fellow disciples exemplary for faith, who, like Abraham against hope, believes in hope, we should give ourselves no rest, and, I was going to say, we should give God no

rest, till we also had obtained like precious faith. When we meet with another eminent for love and zeal, we should pray earnestly and incessantly, that the Lord would shed abroad his love in our hearts, and bestow upon us a like heavenly fervor. The same we may say as to the other graces of the Spirit. It is true, that one excellence may be most conspicuous in one Christian, and another in another; as meek

' ness in Moses, patience in Job, faith in Abraham, humility in Paul, zeal in Peter, or love in John. But the seed of every grace is in every Christian, and will show itself on various occasions. It should be our ambition to be continually making additions. We should not be concerned merely to acquire every thing that we see amiable and excellent in our fellow Christians, for that were comparatively a poor attainment: but we should go on in the pursuit of every grace, till we be perfect, as our Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Secondly, we should grow in the measure of our graces.

“ Furthermore, then, we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that, as ye have received of us, how ye ought to walk, and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.” We should grow in knowledge. It is a mercy that we know any thing truly, for by nature our understandings are darkened. We may, indeed, get a little speculative knowledge by reading and hearing : but we know nothing as we ought, till the Lord has been pleased to enable us to see; and then a sight of the new world, which opens upon our view, fills us with astonishment and pleasure. But the most enlightened Christians

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see only in part. We should, therefore, endeavour to know more of God, his perfections and promises, and the various methods of his providence and grace.

, We should seek a more intimate acquaintance with ourselves, our sins, our wants, and our infirmities, We should endeavour to know more of the world, especially with respect to its vanity and deceitfulness; and of Satan's devices, that we may avoid or overcome the designs and attempts of this dangere ous enemy. But, above all, we should be concerned to grow in the knowledge of Christ. Those who know him, are not acquainted with half of his excellencies. We never meet and converse with bim, but we discover something new, to admire, to imi. tate, and adore, in his matchless character. We should, therefore, “ count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord;" and think that we can never know him enough.

We should grow also in faith. Here, too, our defect is lamentably great. When we have every thing agreeable to our wishes, we can speak highly of the wisdom, the power, and the love of God; and tell him, that we cheerfully leave all to his care and disposal. But when the clouds begin to gather, or the sky looks dark and lowering, we are presently dejected. We charge God foolishly; and cannot be persuaded that there is either kindness or wisdom in such severe dispensations. We can scarcely think that we can live after so many shocks; and least of all can we believe that such ruinous calamities can do us any good. Well might the Lord reproach us, and say, “ O ye of little faith, wherefore do ye doubt :)" Let us then, for our comfort, as well as

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for the glory of God, and the honour of our Christian profession, earnestly pray that the Lord would in, crease our faith. Thus, when we are walking in darkness, and can see no light, when we are tempt. ed to exclaim, “ All these things are against us," and the Lord seems, in his providence, to be coming against us as an enemy, our hearts will be able to say, “ Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.”

Again, we should grow in the graces of self-denial and patience. This will prevent us from being uneasy and fretful at every little rebuke of Providence; and from being clamorous as soon as we are put into the furnace to be taken out again. We should “ know how to be abased, as well as how to abound; and learn in whatsoever state we are, therewith to be content."

We should grow in humility, in spirituality of mind, in a holy indifference to the world, in a hatred of whatever is sinful. Indeed, we should increase in every particular grace that belongs to the Christian life and temper, that there may be an uniformity in our experience and practice. How would it appear, if a child should grow fast in its head, but not at all in its body; if its hands should become as large as a man's, and its feet remain small as an infant's ? Such then in religion are those persons who grow in knowledge, but have very little faith ; or who should attain to the flaming zeal of an apostle, but have only the knowledge of a babe in Christ Jesus. It is observable, that our Lord, in his parable, compares grace to a grain of mustard seed; which is the least of all seeds; but when it is grown, it be. comes the greatest among herbs. It is like a little seed, not a little stone: for a seed, let it be never so

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