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where is our watchfulness, our fer- had but one thing at heart; and this vour, our exertion, our thirst after he pursued with persevering labour growth in holiness?
and exertion. On the contrary, inIt is important, therefore, to dwell stead of being ardent and active, we on the argument which arises from are often dull and heavy and luke. the apostle's example, that our con- warm : we become weary in wellsciences may be awakened and our doing: we relax in our first love diligence roused.
and our first works. Growth in grace The object, then, which St. Paul is no easy matter : it is indeed the pursued, and whigh we must pursue most difficult thing in the world. as believers in Jesus Christ, is con- It demands constant watchfulness stantly to grow in all the parts of the and prayer. It requires a simple Christian character. We are to aim dependance on the grace which is daily at a greater knowledge of God in Christ Jesus. It calls for laboin Christ Jesus, a greater insight into rious diligence, for painful conflicts, the glorious plan of redemption, for habitual mortification of sit, more holy contemplation of the per- denial of self, examination of the fections and love of God in that stu- heart, and sacrifices to duty. And pendous work, more sincere re- this course is 10 be continued till we pentance, more living faith, more “ awake up after God's likeness. spiritual communion, more abiding Then, and not till then, the bath hope, more heavenly joy, more sta- will be over, the victory secured ble peace in the Holy Ghost. We the race finished, and the gloriou are to advance in abborrence of sin prize obtained. and love of holiness ; in watchful- If this then be the nature of tha ness and prayer; in lowliness and constant progress in holiness whic resignation of heart; in patience, the apostle's example enforces upo contentment, forgiveness of injuries, us, let us go on to consider, benevolence, gentleness, purity, and II. Some scriptural consideration truth. We are to grow in separation which may confirm the argument. from the pleasures and spirit of the 1. Consider that far higher altain world; in holy tempers and dispo- ments are possible. - Whatever or sitions ; in attention to every thing advances in the knowledge of Chri which is becoming the Christian may be, there is still a vast field by character ; in a conscientious dis
And the same grace whic charge of every relative duty ; in made St. Paul what he was, is read a uniformly consistent conduct. lo and sufficient for us.
There i a word, the Christian is a new crea- therefore, no difficulty in our wa ture ; let him advance to the perfect which we may not overcome. man, He is placed on Christ, the 2. The word of God lays a great stre sure foundation ; let the building be on growth in grace.
Many are til scared. He is planted in the garden of eramples we there find of emine God; let the tree flourish and bear boliness. How remarkable was tl fruit. He is a candidate for heaven; grace of Enoch and Abraham, let bim become more and more meet Moses and Job, of Joshua and S for the inheritance of it.
muel! What a saint was David, ti In pursuing this object, he is 10 man after God's own heart, and Joh imitate the apostle's astonishing the beloved disciple! Especial! ardour of soul.-Here lies the great what a pattern was the apostle Pay difficulty. A few faint efforts are whose character has been alrea: not enough. Some attendance on described ! the means of grace, sone sincerity The exhortations of Scripture, in prayer, some desires after fure this point, are very numerous. The ther advances in religion, are insuf- are various duties commanded in ! ficient. St. Paul was eager as the Bible, and we judge of their i: racer in the Olympic games. He portance according as they are e
forced earnestly and frequently. the road to destruction, on purpose Now the exhortations to a progress that he may have life; that he may in godliness make up a large portion run the race to heaven, and at length of the whole Scripture. Every part seize the prize of a glorious resurof it tends to this point, that the rection. Indeed, Christ “ gave himChristian, having received the prin- self for us, that he might redeem us ciples of the oracles of God, is to go from all iniquity, and purify unto op unto perfection.
himself a peculiar people, zealous The promises of God are given of good works." Titus ii. 14. with the same design. There are 5. This also is the design of the promises to encourage the Christian work of the Holy Spirit.-He under all the dangers and difficulties strengthens us with all might, that of his heavenly race. God engages we may run and not be weary in to bear prayer, to give wisdom and our course. He assists us in prayer. strength, to bestow power on the He comforts us in trouble. He enfaint, to fill the hungry with good lightens us in darkness. He sheds things, to console the sorrowful, to the love of God abroad in our deliver the tempted. He has made hearts. He enables us to mortify Christ unto us “ wisdom, righteous- sin, and overcome ihe world. Thus, Dess, sanctification and redemption.” he becomes the earnest, and pledge, He grants bis Holy Spirit to all that and foretaste of the heavenly kingask him. He “ works in us to will dom, which we strive to attain; and and to do.” He " withholds no good seals us to the day of redemption. thing from them that walk up-. 6. Consider, in the next place, rightly."
that growth in spiritual religion 3. Consider further, that every enables us to honour God in every blessing we receive from God binds relation of life.-—" Herein is my 23 to press forward in the ways of Father glorified,” said our Lord, miration. It is our highest duty, as “ that ye bring forth much fruit.” Creatures, to love the Lord our God The active Christian glorifies God with all our heart. This duty is in- in his family. “ As for him and his tinitely increased by the mercies of house, he serves the Lord.”
“ He redemption. By nature, we were walks in his house with a perfect "children of wrath even as others.” heart.” By religious instruction, If then God has visited us with his by daily prayer, by kind admonigrace; if he has pardoned and jus- tions, by a holy example, he directs tified us; if he has adopted us into his household in the way to heaven. his family; if he has given us un- To do this, a man must be alive and Dambered blessings, and set before active, and humble and spiritual. us an eternal inheritance; if he has Perhaps there is no part of our duty borne so often with our unpro- more difficult than family piety ; fitableness and rebellion;-surely because there we are most seen, our hearts must be harder than a there we are most off our guard, rock, if we do not say, with the there our real frame of soul most Psalmist,“ What shall I render shews itself. Accordingly the de. into the Lord for all bis benefits?” clining Christian dishonours God
4. Again : Constant growth in holi- greatly in his family by evil reas is the very object for which we tempers, coldness in religious duty, we " apprehended of Christ.”-St. and inconsistency in his whole spirit Paul tells us, that he followed after and conduct. He has little heart to greater degrees of grace, that he speak for God, or to act for him. might apprehend, or lay hold of, He is a worse man in his family that glorious prize, for which also than he is any where else. And his he was apprehended, i.e. laid hold household differs but little from that of and converted, by Christ Jesus. of the ungodly. So that the Christian is stopped in
He honours God in the church.
He is not a stumbling-block and a disease of the church. There are scandal, as the inactive professor is, many who appear to be neither cold but a blessing to the church. How nor hot. They are too proud, and much did the corrupt practices and careless, and disputatious, and covet unholy spirit of the Corinthians dis- ous, to have much time or inclinagrace the Gospel by divisions and tion for that holy, spiritual, ardent sects and beresies! Whereas growth self-denying pursuit, which fills the in grate promotes unity and peace. soul of the advancing. Christian This the apostle implies in the words Now, whatever is the prevailing evi which follow my text; “ Let as of our times will insensibly injur many as be perfect be thus mind- us, unless we are doubly watchful. ed;" let those who are established 9. Consider, in the next place in Christ have this most ardent de- that growth in grace brings peculuu sire after further holiness; “and, if consolation into the mind.-1 do no in any thing ye be otherwise mind- say always, but commonly, and ed,” variously minded among each where there is no special obstacle other, “ God shall reveal even this enjoyment follows activity. Thus, h unto you ;' your differences of sen- · who loves God in Christ Jesus mos timent will lessen as you grow in fervently, and follows after a gloriou grace. As Christians become world- resurrection most ardently, has ge ly, they are divided : as they are nerally most consolation. His sou spiritual, they are united.
is in healih and prospers.—Besides Need I say that it is only the im- by this very progress, he obtain proving Christian who glorifies God clearer evidences of his state befor in the world? There is nothing God. He “makes his calling an which is so calculated to touch the election sure.” As in the natur consciences of sinners as the loveli- world, so in the spiritual, there is a ness of a Christian's conduct, who is stronger sign of life than growth. evidently indifferent to wealth and In this way also, he has peculia honour and worldly pleasure ; whose communion with God. “If any ma affections are manifestly fixed on love me," said our Saviour, " he wi the glorious prize before him; and keep my word, and my Father wi who is supremely anxious to adorn love him, and we will come uni the doctrine of God his Saviour in him and make our abode with him. all things.
It is to them that obey him that Go 7. Remember further, that Satan vouchsafes the richer visits of h particularly opposes a Christian's ad- grace. The Christian who quenche vance in religion.--Ile uses every art the Spirit by indifference and world to draw him aside, to lessen' his ly-mindedness, cannot expect peac watchfulness, to cool bis zeal, to of conscience. He has grieved th abate his spirituality, 10 damp his Comforter. “ The secret of the Lor love. As he deceived Eve, so be suill is with them that fear him, and h aims at “corrupting our minds from will shew them his covenant." the simplicity which is in Christ.” 10. Consider, again, that a coi If he can induce men to sleep, he tinual advance in holiness is the on then sows his tares. Sometimes he way in which we can walk, if attacks as a roaring lion, and somie- would reach eternal glory. - This times he allures as an angel of light. the narrow road that leadeth to lif Now, shall the devil be thus vigi. We enter upon it when we belie lant to destroy our souls, and shall on Christ for justification. And, not we be diligent to press forward, daily growing in grace, we proce in spite of all his wiles, towards our onwards in it towards eternal glor eternal inheritance ?
" Without holiness no man shall 8. The devices of Satan are very the Lord.” St. Paul “ kept und much assisted by the spirit of the pre- his body, and brought. it into su sent day.-Spiritual sloth is now the jection, lest, by any means, after
had preached to others, he himself in actual attainments; in grief and should be a cast-away." It is by pain and humiliation of soul, under the holy fear which such alarming our remaining imperfections; and thoughts raise, that the Christian is in eager and persevering exertion preserved from departing from God. after further holiness? We should He thus “works out his own salva- also inquire how far the consideration with fear and trembling, re- tions of the importance of growth in membering that, at the last solemn grace, here set forth, touch our conday of account, “every one will re- sciences? Whether we consider that ceive the things done in his body, the possibility of higher attainaccording to that he hath done, whe- ments; the examples, exhortations, ther it be good or bad.”
and promises of Scripture; the 11. Nor should we forget that blessings we have received of God; larger measures of grace will increase the design of the death of Christ, our final reward.-" The works of and of the work of the Spirit; the the Christian do follow him.” We importance of honouring God in are " to see that we lose not the our family, in the church, and in things we have wrought, but that we the world; the opposition of Satan, receive a full reward.” If we add and of the spirit of the times; the to “our faith virtue, knowledge, comfort of our own souls; the netemperance, patience, godliness, bro- cessity of holiness, if we would reach therly kindness, and charity, an en- heaven; larger degrees of glory; trance will be ministered unto us and the danger of spiritual decays; abundantly, into the everlasting do not form such a body of evidence kingdom of our Lord and Saviour' on the immense importance of growJesus Christ."
ing in grace, as may well cover us 12. I only add, as a most power- with confusion as to the past, and ial consideration, that, if we are not fill us with ardour and diligence as freezing in grace, we are declining to the time to come? --Now, unto 12 . –There is no standing still. Him who alone can keep us from He who is not going forward, is falling, and present us faultless be. going backward. The stone which fore his presence with exceeding u to be forced up a hill, must be joy: to the only wise God our Saconstantly pushed forward, or it will viour, be all honour and glory, dobe carried down by its own weight, minion and power, both now and As there is no consolation, so there
Amen. 3 ao safety, in religion, without habitual progress. A decay in boly tections should as much alarm 95as a fever or consumption. It To the Editor of the Christian Observer. 25 necessary for
us to press forward with holy ardour' to. Very inadequate are the views pewards heaven, as it is for the sol- nerally entertained of the nature dier to be valiant in the fight, -as it and malignity of sin. How often, s for the wrestler tó be eager in the in the cases of the sick and the 'dystruggle, -as it is for the racer to ing, are acknowledgments made of each fonh with constant exertion the frequent commission of iniquity,
utterly unaccompanied by any imIn the next discourse, I shall pro-' pression of its certain and dreadful ceed to give some Directions to as- consequences! Yet as a right knowist us in growing in grace.
ledge of this point is evidently the For the present, let us ask our first link in the chain, the first step selves
, whether this argument, drawn towards the reception of the mercies from the apostle's example, weighs of the Gospel, it' is of the greatest upus og minds? Whether we see importance to illustrate its nature. how far we fall short of the apostle 1. The evil of sin may appes
after the prize.
then, in the first place, from the nu- God. Open the Bible, and you wil merous obligations it violates.- We observe God claiming the titles of admit that every relation in which father, a master, a husband, a be we stand to others, produces corre- nefactor, a king. The breach spondent obligations, which it is therefore, of any of his laws mus shameful and wicked to despise. involve the guilt of violating siai For example, are we children? We lar obligations to those by whic are bound to the love of our parents. we are bound in domestic and socii Their protection of our infancy, life. Thus strikingly do the Scrip their support of our childhood, their tures speak: “Hear, o heavens ; ar care, their instruction, their unnum- give car, O earth ; for the Loru hal bered kindnesses and incessant spoken: I have nourished ar watchfulness, claim at our hands the brought up chlidren, and they ha returns of obedience, submission, rebelled against me.” “Surely love, reverence, and attention.-Are a wife treacherously departeth fro we servants? The wages we receive, her husband, so bave ye dealt tre the sustenance we obtain, call upon cherously with me, O house of us to give back industriously to our rael.” “ A son honoureth bis masters the fruits of fidelity, honesty, ther, and a servant his master: diligence, and zeal.- Are we the then I be a father, where is mi offspring of misfortune, early be- bonour? and if I be a master, wh queathed as orphans to the arms of is my fear? saith the Lord charity, and indebted to the tender- hosts." The same guilt, infan ness of a benefactor for all the com- and shame, which generally folle forts we enjoy? His voluntary the contempt of human ties, od anxiety, and unwearied benevolence, therefore to follow the contemp! ask from us continual gratitude, and the divine laws. every possible proof of it, in our But there are still higher obli conduct through life.--Or (to rise tions which bind us to the Almig! from individual to public relations), He is our God, our Creator; we are we members of a state, receiving the existence of our bodies and s protection and deriving benefits to his will and power; we from its laws, authority, and civil completely dependent on his ca regulations? We naturally are re- we possess nothing which we have quired to yield back loyalty, obe- received from him. Can, then, we dience, respect to the king, and to express the daring rebellion wl the magistrates under his appoint- disobedience to his laws implies ment.
is the “rising up of the clay aga All these obligations are plain, the potter;” of the creature aga and intelligible, admitted and felt the hand by which it was created by every one. The breach of them But our obligations rise yet big is accounted a disgrace, a reproach. if God's act of redemption is co We abhor, without hesitation, an un- dered. As the mere creatures of kind and neglectful child, a dis- power, we are in existence only honest and slothful servant, an un- render service and obedience to grateful offender against a disinter- Maker; but as his redeemed ested benefactor, a rebellious subject, tures, as sinners rescued by us a despiser of law and good order. rited and unutterable mercy, we We perceive at once, in their cha- in a yet more emphatic sense racters, something unnatural, unbe- property of God. Now we are corning, base, and unworthy; some deed, « no longer our own, but thing that outrages our feelings, and bought with a price, that we sh revolts against our notions of what glorify God with our bodies is decent and right. Now all these spirits, which are his.” Do we relations are far more than con- ask the guilt incurred by offent tained in that in which we stand to God? It is the insulting Him