2 Peter 3:18
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
Sermons
A Psalm for the New YearC. H. Spurgeon.2 Peter 3:18
Christian GrowthW. H. H. Murray.2 Peter 3:18
Christian Life a GrowthW. Currrie.2 Peter 3:18
Grow in GraceW. Nevins, D. D.2 Peter 3:18
Growing in GraceA. Raleigh, D. D.2 Peter 3:18
Growing in the Knowledge of Christ2 Peter 3:18
GrowthBishop Ryle.2 Peter 3:18
GrowthA. Maclaren, D. D.2 Peter 3:18
GrowthW. J. Lowe, M. A.2 Peter 3:18
GrowthJ.R. Thomson 2 Peter 3:18
Growth in GraceH. M. Villiers, M. A.2 Peter 3:18
Growth in GraceJ. Edwards, D. D.2 Peter 3:18
Growth in Grace2 Peter 3:18
Growth in GraceS. Lavington.2 Peter 3:18
Growth in GraceJ. M. McCulloch, D. D.2 Peter 3:18
Growth in Grace and KnowledgeA. Gibson, M. A.2 Peter 3:18
Growth in Grace by Ordinary MeansR. Chew.2 Peter 3:18
Growth in the Grace of ChristW. Skinner.2 Peter 3:18
Growth in the Knowledge of ChristW. Skinner.2 Peter 3:18
Growth in the Knowledge of GodH. W. Beecher.2 Peter 3:18
Growth the Test of Christian LifeH. W. Beecher.2 Peter 3:18
Increase in the Knowledge of ChristD. Watson.2 Peter 3:18
Of Growth in GraceT. Watson.2 Peter 3:18
On Growth in the Knowledge of ChristJohn Jardine.2 Peter 3:18
Religious GrowthJohn MacLeod.2 Peter 3:18
Signs of Growth in Grace and Motives Inviting to ItG. Mathew, M. A.2 Peter 3:18
Soul CultureA London Suburban Minister2 Peter 3:18
Soul EducationD. Thomas, D. D.2 Peter 3:18
The Christian's ImprovementN. Marshall, D. D.2 Peter 3:18
The Growth of GraceN. Emmons, D. D.2 Peter 3:18
The Means of Growth in GraceA. McLeod, D. D.2 Peter 3:18
Advancing the Second AdventJ. Vaughan, M. A.2 Peter 3:11-18
Desire for the Day of GodW. C. Wilson, M. A.2 Peter 3:11-18
Disturbances in Nature an Argument for Holy LivingG. B. Spalding, LL. D.2 Peter 3:11-18
Duty in View of Second ComingR. Finlayson 2 Peter 3:11-18
Immortality and ScienceT. T. Munger, D. D.2 Peter 3:11-18
The Day of GodCanon Liddon.2 Peter 3:11-18
The Day of GodSketches of Four Hundred Sermons2 Peter 3:11-18
The Dissolution of the WorldD. Malcolm, LL. D.2 Peter 3:11-18
The End of All ThingsH. Melvill, B. D.2 Peter 3:11-18
The Influence of Belief in Tire Coming of the Day of GodCanon Liddon.2 Peter 3:11-18
Things and Persons, Here and HereafterH. Batchelor.2 Peter 3:11-18
What Manner of Persons Christian Professors Ought to BeH. Foster, M. A.2 Peter 3:11-18
A Tender Concluding AppealU.R. Thomas 2 Peter 3:14-18
BewareJ. R. Macduff, D. D.2 Peter 3:17-18
Christian PerseveranceN. Brady.2 Peter 3:17-18
Salutary WarningsScientific Illustrations2 Peter 3:17-18
Seducers of FaithThos. Adams.2 Peter 3:17-18
Spiritual SteadfastnessJohn Barlow, D. D.2 Peter 3:17-18
Stop the Beginnings of SinJeremy Taylor.2 Peter 3:17-18
Young ChristiansT. de Witt Talmage.2 Peter 3:17-18
The Apostle Paul is recorded to have enjoined his converts to "continue in the grace of God." And this is necessary to the Christian life, but it is not all that is necessary. To abide is not to be stationary. The Apostle Peter here instructs us that it is required of Christians that they not only continue in grace, but grow in grace.

I. THE DIVINE LAW OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH. It is well that the tree be planted in a rich and suitable soil; that there be room for its roots to strike forth as far as the most spreading of its goodly boughs; that it be by rivers of water, through whoso moisture it may be green; that the winds of heaven may freely rustle through its leafage, and may swing its lithe young branches to and fro. But to what end does the tree possess these advantages? Not that it may remain a tender sapling, not that having grown for a while it may be pollarded, or its growth so checked that it may remain a stunted deformity; but rather that, through all the rough yet kindly forces of nature, the tree may wax greater and stronger year by year; that its heart may be sound, its sap full flowing every spring; that it may "hang all its leafy banners out;" that its branches may give homes to the birds of the air, and shade to the beasts of the field; that its outline may be beautiful to the eye, and its fruit grateful to the taste. So is it the intention of God, and the duty of the Christian, that there should be spiritual growth. It is for those who dwell in the land of privilege, who enjoy the care of the heavenly Husbandman, upon whom are shed the soft influences of heaven, to profit by this fostering culture and these genial powers, to make constant and unmistakable progress in those graces which are the strength and beauty of the Christian life.

II. THE RESPECTS IN WHICH GROWTH IS TO TAKE PLACE. "The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree; he shall grow like the cedar in Lebanon." "Israel shall grow as the lilies." In such declarations the reference is evidently to spiritual progress.

1. In the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. By this expression we are to understand the grace of Christ as revealed, bestowed, and experienced. The grace in us is to be over against, in correspondence with, the grace which is in him. Christian character and excellences are the sign and the effect of spiritual participation in the favour of our Lord.

(1) In the number of Christian graces. These are enumerated in the first chapter of this Epistle. Let every reader ask himself - Am I possessed of the graces thus catalogued? or am I not painfully lacking in some one or more? Now, tile possession of one does not compensate the lack of another. There is room for supplying many deficiencies.

(2) In the strength of Christian graces. In degree every virtue is capable of development; and it is by exercise that the desired increase is to be attained. He who gives play and scope to his holy emotions shall find that they become purer and quicker. If righteous purposes and endeavours have room to act, they will gain in vigour and effectiveness.

(3) In the harmony of Christian graces. Symmetry of character is essential to moral perfection, as is physical symmetry to the perfection of bodily figure and features. Harmonious as well as vigorous development of the renewed nature should be the aim of all whose desire is to please God. Instances abound in which the possession of one excellence is presumed to compensate the absence of others. But to be bluntly honest and uncourteous, or to be discreet and untender; to be amiable but unable to resist evil influence, - is spiritual deformity. Whilst perfection is to be found in God alone, each follower of Christ aspires to grow up in all things unto him who is the Head. "Ye are complete in him." The tree which has been hindered from growing on one side fails in symmetry; it is the same with the disciple of Christ who has evidently failed in learning some of the Master's most essential lessons.

2. In the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul prayed, on behalf of the Colossians, that they might increase in the knowledge of God. And our Lord himself deemed this knowledge so important that he made it a petition of his great intercessory prayer that his disciples might "know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he had sent." Now, all human knowledge is susceptible of increase; and the Lord and Saviour in whom we trust is a theme, an object of knowledge, so vast as to be inexhaustible.

III. THE MEANS BY WHICH GROWTH IN GRACE IS ACHIEVED. As the plant needs soil, air, light, culture, in order that it may grow, as the body needs food and many and varied necessaries in order that the child may develop into the man, so are there conditions indispensable to spiritual progress. There it is for all who desire to advance in the Divine life, to discover and to use. The study of God's Word, the diligent attendance upon Church ordinances, constancy in prayer, faithfulness in work, - these are acknowledged "means of grace." The reading of biographies of great, good, and useful men may be mentioned as a subsidiary but valuable means to spiritual progress. And at the same time, it is important to observe and to avoid and strive against those hindrances to growth which in great variety beset us on every side, and by which very many have been injured, if not ruined.

IV. THE EXTENT AND LIMIT OF CHRISTIAN GROWTH. With regard to this world, such progress is intended to be lifelong. If growth be constant, it cannot matter to us at what precise stage of advance the earthly development comes to a close. Let death come when it may to the Christian who is making progress in Divine grace and knowledge, it cannot come inopportunely.

"It is not growing, like a tree,
In bulk, doth make man better be,
Or standing long an oak, three hundred year,
To fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sere;
A lily of a day
Is fairer far in May,

Although it fall and die that night -
It was the plant and flower of light.
In small proportions we just beauties see,
And in short measures life may perfect be." Beyond this life, who can set a limit to such growth as is here inculcated? The scope is boundless and the opportunity is infinite. - J.R.T.







But grow in grace.
Almost every created thing seems to have within it the principle of growth. The tree grows from a seed. The bird, fish, beast of field, all come to maturity by growth. The human body grows from feeblest infancy into the strength of manhood. And mind grows as well as matter. The reasoning faculty, the imagination, the memory, expand and strengthen. So, too, the moral and spiritual affections of the soul. Hence religion, which consists of love to God and man, may grow also.

I. GRACE, in its strict sense, is the free favour of God to the unworthy. The grace of God toward men produces piety; grace is the cause, piety the effect.

1. To grow in grace is to grow in virtue, faith, meekness, gentleness, patience, a spirit of forgiveness, usefulness.

2. In this growth of all right principles there will be going on at the same time in the soul the weakening and decay of all wrong principles.

II. We may overlook too much THE IMPORTANCE OF RELIGIOUS GROWTH. We may be in danger of feeling that when one is introduced into the kingdom by conversion and the joining of the Church, the great work is done. Not so our Saviour. How much He laboured to train His disciples.

III. Having life by union with the Saviour, we grow in grace BY USING THE MEANS OF GRACE. There is a law of spiritual growth just as fixed as the law of natural growth. The means of grace, suited to advance us in the Divine life, are daily provided, not only in the house of God, but in every engagement of the world. Every human being you meet may offer you a means of grace, for there is a Christian feeling to be cherished toward all, and a Christian way of treating all.

IV. That we may grow in grace, we need to USE THE MEANS OF GRACE IN THEIR DUE PROPORTION. Meditation is good, but where it becomes exclusive it is evil. So outward activity, in labouring for the salvation of men, is of the highest importance; but let this absorb the Christian, and the most fruitful piety will wither and die.

V. Nor are we to despise OUTWARD FORMS AND SYMBOLS AS HELPS IN RELIGIOUS GROWTH. It may be asked, What matters the form if I have the spirit? But will you have the spirit as fully without the aid of the form? We are not purely spiritual beings; we are body as well as spirit. And there is an action of the body that harmonises with and helps the spirit. Nor can devotion prosper well without set seasons; we need the aid of habit to assist in the formation of spiritual character.

VI. He who will grow in grace must be READY TO SUFFER. The natural life in us dies not without some species of internal agony. For one Christian God has one form of trial; for another, another form.

VII. GROWTH DEMANDS EARNESTNESS. No one grows who does not mean to grow.

VIII. GROWTH DEMANDS EXERCISE. As fast as we learn duty, we must apply it. "To him that hath shall be given." Every act of faith increases the principle of faith; as every battle Washington fought for his country only increased his patriotism.

(John MacLeod.)

I. THE MEANING OF THE EXPRESSION ITSELF. "Grow in grace." The Christian is not a lifeless machine. He is not to satisfy himself with going through a cold round of duties. Wherein are you improved?

II. THE MEANS OF GROWING IN GRACE.

1. Faith, to be strong, must be exercised. Commit your ways to God. Trust Him. Your faith will increase.

2. Another means which may be suggested is prayer. If you will only wrestle with God in prayer as Jacob did, you will succeed.

3. I may specify Scriptural reading.

4. A further and most important means for advancing in our heavenward journey is meditation upon the promises of God.

5. I will only mention one other means of growth in grace, self-examination. Prevention is better than cure; when you know your deficiencies, then you may guard against them; thus mischief may be kept away.

III. WE ARE NOT TO SUPPOSE, HOWEVER, THAT OUR COURSE IS TO BE ONE OF CONTINUED SUCCESS. There are many hindrances.

1. I may name, as the chief hindrance, the corruption of our hearts.

2. Connected with this hindrance is that which I may term the weakness of the flesh.

3. I pass on to that indifference to the truth of religious doctrines now so common amongst men. It leads men away from the contemplation of Christ. It makes them afraid to maintain their cause boldly before their fellows. Their minds become less affected with the sense of the preciousness of Jesus.

IV. I will not add any lengthened detail of THE ENCOURAGEMENTS to seek this growth in grace. The certainty of success. Your Father which is in heaven will help you.

(H. M. Villiers, M. A.)

I. By the grace of God we understand the favour or love of God; but in the Christian Scriptures it means THAT ESPECIAL EXERTION OF HIS LOVE, WHICH IS APPLIED TO MANKIND AS SINNERS, AND TO THE RECOVERY AND FINAL SALVATION OF A GUILTY WORLD.

II. WHAT THAT IS IN WHICH OUR GROWTH IN SUCH GRACE MAY BE DISCERNED.

1. It may be in an especial manner discerned in humility. The virtue required of us is no abjectness of spirit. It is that heart which feels its own infirmities and sins.

2. An abjuration of our favourite sin.

3. A genuine love of virtue for the love of God, and a uniform preparation of heart against the various temptations which may assail us. "If the first sparks of evil were quenched, how should they ever break forth into a flame? How shall he kill, who dare not be angry? Be adulterous in act, who does not transgress in desire?

III. Permit me to remind you of THE SOLEMNITY AND GRANDEUR OF THE DOCTRINES WHICH YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF JESUS CHRIST COMPRISES. Say, therefore, whether this knowledge of your Lord and Saviour lead you not to those virtues which we have now been discussing, as adapted to your state of grace. Say whether under such a God anything can be so indispensably requisite as humility; whether under such a Saviour anything can be so required as abjuration of sin; whether under such a Comforter anything can be so becoming as firmness of heart; whether under such promise of forgiveness and of glory anything can come so directly from the soul as sorrow for our sin.

(G. Mathew, M. A.)

I. THE SEVERAL STEPS AND STAGES OF THE CHRISTIAN'S PROGRESS.

II. THE NECESSITY AND ADVANTAGE OF THIS GROWTH AND IMPROVEMENT.

1. That our sincerity in religion can no otherwise be well approved.

2. Our perseverance cannot be ensured whilst we are at a stand.

3. As grace is the seed of glory, that seed must rise by gradual advances to its full maturity.

III. SOME OF THE MEANS WHEREBY WE ALL MAY BE THUS BUILT UP.

1. Since those habits of virtue which are essential to our improvement are contracted by a frequent repetition of single acts, let us by all means cherish the opportunities of exerting those acts.

2. Therefore we should work up our minds to a full persuasion that religion is the most important business of our lives.

(N. Marshall, D. D.)

I. IT WILL APPEAR TO BE HIGHLY REASONABLE, YEA NECESSARY, THAT YOU GROW IN GRACE, AND THAT BOTH IN RESPECT OF YOURSELVES AND IN RESPECT OF GOD. First, in respect of yourselves, and that upon this fivefold account.

1. Because your present condition which you are now in requireth it. It is true in the first creation of the world all creatures and species of things were made perfect. Trees and plants sprung up to their height at the first. But it is not so since either in nature or grace. Thus our state being imperfect here, and we coming not to a height at once, it is requisite that we increase our strength gradually; that is, that we be every day growing, and that we constantly make accessions to our feeble virtues and graces.

2. A continual growth in grace is very reasonable and necessary, because our duty is so large and comprehensive. "The commandments of God are exceeding broad." Christianity especially is a vast work.

3. We cannot show the truth of grace in us unless we daily increase; for this is one great sign of it, and that an inseparable one. The true sons of Sion go from strength to strength (Psalm 84:7). It is a sign of insincerity and unsoundness to sit down and rest satisfied with a mean degree of holiness. "He was never good indeed," saith St. Bernard, "who endeavoureth not to be better."

4. Growth in grace is necessary in order to joy and comfort.But as growth and increase in grace are requisite in respect of ourselves, so, secondly, in respect of God, and that upon this fourfold account.

1. Because growth in grace is answerable to God's expectation from us.

2. This is answerable to Christ's design, as you read in John 15:5.

3. This is answerable to the means appointed by God and Christ, as praying, the Word read and preached, the blessed sacrament of the Lord's Supper, the gifts and graces of others, holy conference, meditation, and the like.

4. By our growth in grace God is most signally glorified.

II. How You MAY EXAMINE YOURSELVES as to this weighty matter, that you may know you are of the number of those persons who really grow in grace.

1. He that truly grows in grace hath a greater sense of his defects and failings than ever he had before. First, a greater sense of the shallowness of his understanding. Secondly, of the sinfulness of his life. In the first place, he daily grows more apprehensive of the defect of his knowledge. Again, if we grow in grace, we shall have every day a greater sight and sense of our sins.

2. Profound humility is an undeniable mark of a man that increaseth with the increase of God.

3. If your desires of grace increase, it is an argument that your graces themselves do so. The sharpness of the appetite is some indication of bodily growth and nourishment. If you experience these fervent longings, you may conclude that the graces of the Holy Spirit grow in you.

4. The true growth of a Christian is proportionable and uniform; by which I mean that he is one who grows in all his parts. The new man is not monstrous in its accretion.

5. You may know your growth in grace by the easiness you find in religion. You will certainly perform all duties with facility and dexterity.

6. There will be uneasiness and pain as long as you are hindered from religious exercises and holy duties. Lastly, if your conversation be in heaven, if your thoughts, desires, and longings tend thither, if you ardently wish to depart and to be with Christ, this is a good evidence of your growing in grace and goodness. But yet here great caution is to be used, lest you be mistaken in this important point which I have been treating of.You must therefore remember these four things —

1. When I say that every true believer grows in grace, it is not meant that he doth so every moment or every hour of his life. As it is in the natural body, there may be some disease or malady that will retard the growth for a time.

2. All Christians have not a like growth.

3. All graces grow not alike in the same person.

4. Remember this also, that grace may grow insensibly sometimes; it may increase, but you may not perceive it.

III. TO DIRECT YOU TO THE USE OF THOSE MEANS WHEREBY YOU MAY MOST EFFECTUALLY GROW IN VIRTUE AND GODLINESS. You will certainly make great progress in religion by an uninterrupted exercise of your graces and by a constant performing of your duties. Think not highly of yourselves by reason of any progress you have made. For this may stop you, but it will never promote your farther proceeding. Set before you the examples of the eminent saints and servants of God. It will not be amiss to observe the practices and examples of the wicked. They stand not still, they increase in vice; like crocodiles, they grow as long as they live. Every day adds to their hatred of God and goodness, to their love of sill and vice, and to their dextrous practice of it. Lastly, observe how in all other things men strive who shall make the greatest proficiency, and let this be one help to further your growth in grace. You will find theft Christians are compared in the gospel to merchants, bankers, stewards, who are persons that are busy to increase their own or others estates. This may teach the professors of Christianity what they are to do, viz., to improve what they have. Add to your attainments, be they never so great.

IV. TO PRESS THIS DUTY WON YOU BY SOME COGENT MOTIVES.

(J. Edwards, D. D.)

I. Soul education is GROWTH. This implies —

1. That the soul is a vital existent. That soul education is a growth, implies —

2. That the soul is a vital existent possessing developable powers. There are living things theft have not the power of growth. Some, perhaps, have been created with their nature fully developed. There is no power in them of coming to any higher point. And others have passed through all the stages of development, and are exhausted. It is not so with the soul. Its potentialities are unbounded. Omniscience only knows what greatness of intellect, grandeur of character, splendour of achievements, come within the power of every mind, however humble. That soul education is a growth, implies —

3. That the soul is a vital existent, possessing developable powers, requiring developable conditions. The seed may contain a germinant power capable of covering continents with fields of golden grain; yet if it remains shut up in the granary, or buried under a rock, it will never be anything more than dry dust. It is so with the soul. Soul education, then, is growth. Not the growth of anything imparted to it, but the growth of itself; not the growth of any of its particular faculties, but the growth of its entire self, simultaneously and symmetrically.

II. Soul education is growth in CHRIST. "Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." These two words represent the two great elements by which alone the human soul can be educated. "Love and truth."

1. Christ is the ideal after which the soul is to grow.

2. Christ's character is the element in which alone the soul can grow. His "grace" and His "knowledge" furnish the only atmosphere in which the human soul can healthfully live, thrive, and grow.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

I. WHAT IS MEANT BY GROWING IN GRACE? To grow in grace is to increase in a spirit of conformity to the will of God, and to govern our conduct more and more by the same principles that God does.

II. SOME THINGS THAT ARE NOT EVIDENCES OF GROWTH IN GRACE ALTHOUGH THEY ARE SOMETIMES SUPPOSED TO BE SUCH.

1. It is not certain evidence that an individual grows in grace because he grows in gifts. We naturally increase in that in which we exercise ourselves. We may pray ever so engagedly, and increase in fluency and apparent pathos, and yet have no grace.

2. Growing in knowledge is not evidence of a growth in grace. In hell no doubt they grow in knowledge, but never in grace.

3. It is not evidence that a person grows in grace because he thinks he is doing so. A person may be favourably impressed with regard to his progress in religion, when it is evident to others that he is in fact declining.

III. SOME THINGS THAT ARE EVIDENCES OF A GROWTH IN GRACE.

1. When an individual finds he has more singleness of heart, and more purity of motive in his conduct, it is evidence that he is growing in grace.

2. An individual who grows in grace is more and more actuated by principle, and less and less by emotion or feeling. By principle, in contradistinction from feeling or emotion, I mean a controlling determination in the mind to do right.

3. Another important evidence of growth in grace is more love to God. By this I do not mean that there will be in all cases a conscious increase of emotions of love to God, but that there will be a strengthening of real attachment to God's character and government. And this increased attachment will evince itself in a growing veneration for all the institutions of religion, and for all the commands of God.

4. Another evidence of growth in grace is when a person increases in love to men as well as love to God.

5. Those who grow in grace feel more and more self-loathing. This is the natural result of having a clear view of God. It makes a person sink down in self-abasement.

6. An increased abhorrence of sin is another mark of growth in grace. When a person feels, day by day, less and less disposed to compromise with any sin, in himself, or in others, it is a sign that he is growing in grace.

7. He who grows in grace has less relish for the world. He has less and less desire for its wealth, its honours, its pleasures.

8. Increasing delight in the fellowship of the saints is another evidence of growth in grace.

9. He who grows in grace finds it more and more easy to exercise a forgiving spirit, and to pray for his enemies.

10. Growing more charitable is an evidence of growth in grace. But he is mere ready to ascribe a person's apparently wrong conduct to mistake, or misapprehension, or some other cause, than to direct evil intention.

11. Having less and less anxiety about worldly things is an evidence of growth in grace.

12. Becoming more ready to bestow property is a sign of growth in grace.

13. He feels less and less as if he had any separate interest. It is a great thing, in regard to growth in grace, to feel that all you have is Christ's, and that you have absolutely no separate interest in living, or in dying, or in holding property, or children, or character.

14. It is an evidence of growth in grace when a person becomes more willing to confess faults to men.

15. Growing in grace raises a person more and more above the world. The growing saint regards less and less either the good or ill opinions of men. He feels that it is of little importance, only as it may affect his usefulness.

IV. HOW TO GROW IN GRACE.

1. Watch against besetting sins.(1) Levity.(2) Censoriousness.(3) Anger.(4) Pride.(5) Selfishness, in all its forms. Here is the great root of all the difficulty. This is the foundation, the fountain, the substance, and sum total, of all the iniquity under heaven. Watch here; look out constantly; see where self comes out in your conduct, and there set a guard.(6) Sloth.(7) Envy. If you see others going ahead of you in prosperity, in influence, or in talents, examine your feelings, and see whether you are pleased at it. If the sight give you pain, beware!(8) Ambition. By this sin angels fell, and it is impossible to grow in grace without suppressing it.(9) Impure thoughts. It is necessary to make a covenant with our eyes, and with our ears too, and all our senses, or they will prove the inlet of temptation and sin. If you find yourself in danger, turn your thoughts away instantly.

2. Another direction for growing in grace is, take care to exercise all the Christian graces. Exercise yourself especially in those things where you find yourself most deficient. If you are exposed to a particular sin, guard there. If you are deficient in a particular grace, exercise that.(1) Suppose you are naturally worldly-minded, and in danger of being carried away by the love of the world. Shut down the gate, and determine that you will on no account add to your wealth, or lay field to field.(2) Suppose you are in danger of being flattered and lifted up with pride. As a reasonable being you are bound to know this, and be on your guard.(3) If you find that you are reluctant to confess your faults, break right over it, and confess to everybody that you have injured. Practise it on all occasions, till you get the victory.

3. Exercise decision of character. To walk with God a man must walk contrary to the course of this world. He must face public sentiment.

4. To grow in grace, a man must possess great meekness. If a man suffer himself to be fretted by opposition, and thrown into a passion by obstacles that are thrown in his way, he may rest assured that Satan will manage to keep him in such a state of mind that he will by no means grow in grace.

V. SOME THINGS THAT ARE EVIDENCES OF DECLENSION.

1. The person who grows weary of being asked to give for promoting the kingdom of Christ is evidently declining.

2. Becoming backward to converse on the subject of religion, and particularly to converse on spiritual, and experimental, and heart-searching points, is evidence of declension.

3. When a person is less disposed to engage in the duties of devotion, public, social, or private, it is a sign of declension.

4. Taking more delight in public meetings than in private duties and secret communion with God, is another evidence of a declining state.

5. Feeling less delight in revivals of religion is a sad token of declension.

6. A person that becomes captious about measures used in promoting revivals is in a declining state.

VI. HOW TO ESCAPE FROM A STATE OF DECLENSION.

1. You must admit the conviction that you are in a state of declension.

2. Apply to yourself all that God says to backsliders, just as if you were the only individual in the world in that condition.

3. Find out the point where you began to decline. See what was the first cause of your backsliding, and give that up. You will often find this first cause where you did not expect it, in something which you called a little matter, or that you tried to make yourself believe was not a sin.

4. Give up your idols. If it be an article of property, dispose of it in some way; give it away, sell it, burn it, away with it, rather than have it stand between you and God.

5. Be careful to apply afresh to the Lord Jesus Christ for pardon and peace with God.Remarks:

1. There is no such thing as standing still in religion.

2. The idea that persons grow in grace during seasons of declension is abominable. Their whole progress is the other way.

3. There are but few persons that do grow in grace. How many, instead of setting themselves resolutely to obey God, and setting their faces as a flint against all sin, passively commit themselves to the stream, and expect to be wafted home to glory in this lazy way, without the trouble of a conflict.

4. We see the great fault of ministers. How little pains they take to train up young converts.

5. Unless ministers grow in grace it is impossible for the Church to grow. "Like priest like people" is a maxim founded on principles of correct philosophy.

6. Great pains should be taken by young ministers to grow in grace.

7. It is just as indispensable in the promotion of a revival, to preach to the Church, and make them grow in grace, as it is to preach to sinners, and make them submit to God.

(C. G. Finney.)

A London Suburban Minister.
The words are suggestive of two thoughts: that growth implies life, and that life requires culture.

I. Life is characterised by RECEIVING. There are four things indispensably requisite to the growth of plants. The elements essential to the growth of spiritual life are analogous.

1. There must be light. The Word of God is to the growth of a soul as necessary as light to vegetation.

2. There must be also heat. Knowledge without life- truth without love — resembles a frosty moonlight. Flowers open to the sun, and hearts open to Christ, when the constraining power of His love is felt as a burning heat. The soul must build its conservatory on the south side of the temple of truth. This will make the soul of the Christian a Divine sunflower.

3. Moisture is essential to the growth of plants. In rain and dew the tree receives those influences without which neither beauty nor fruitfulness can exist. What moisture is to vegetation the Spirit of God is to soul-growth.

4. To the growth and healthiness of vegetation there must be air. "Of all common things, air is the most common. No space or place is accessible to us that is not filled with it. It is, of all material wants, that which is most indispensable to our existence. The character of a tree, plant, or flower will be determined by the air of the neighbourhood where it is planted. Impure air will affect the vitality of a plant as truly as it does the lungs of an animal. "The life of God in the soul of man" cannot thrive save in an atmosphere somewhat congenial with its heavenly character. It must move in an air higher and purer than that of earth. We must know what it is to have "fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ," and with His saints. To "grow in grace" we must surround our selves with the elements of a Divine life. The character and complexion of our daily life will be the natural result and outgrowth of the company we keep, the society in which we move, the religious atmosphere we breathe.

II. The second property of life is that of GIVING. The flower gives its fragrance and loveliness; the plant its nourishment and healing; the tree its shadow and fruit. The animal gives its strength of sinew, bone, and muscle. Man does the same, with the additional contribution of intellectual strength. Without this giving forth there would be no true or perfect development of life. The man that lives for self is a man of stunted growth. A Christian that lives for self is a spiritual dwarf.

(A London Suburban Minister.)

I. A DIVINE INJUNCTION WITH A SPECIAL DIRECTION: "Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." "Grow in grace." What is this? It must be in the outset implied that we have been quickened by grace. Dead things cannot grow. Growth shall prove your life. Grow in that root-grace, faith. Seek to believe the promises better than ye have done. Let your faith increase in extent, believing more truth; let it increase in firmness, getting a tighter grip of every truth; let it increase in constancy, not being feeble or wavering, nor always tossed about with every wind; let your faith daily increase in simplicity, resting more fully and more completely upon the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ. See to it that your love also grows. If ye have loved with a spark, pray that the spark may become an all-consuming flame. Ask that your love may become more extended — that ye may have love unto all the saints; more practical, that it may move your every thought, your every word and deed; more intense, that ye may become as burning and shining lights whose flame is to love God and man. Pray that ye may grow in hope, that the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints; that ye may by hope enter into the joys of heaven while ye are on earth; that hope may give you immortality while you are yet mortal — may give you resurrection before you die. Ask that you may grow in humility, till you can say, "I am less than the least of all the saints"; that ye may grow in consecration, till ye can cry, "For me to live is Christ: to die is gain"; that ye may grow in contentment till ye can feel, "In whatsoever state I am, I have learned therewith to be content." Advance in likeness to the Lord Jesus, that your very enemies may take knowledge of you that ye have been with Jesus and have learned of Him. Pray that ye may grow downward; that ye may know more of your own vileness, more of your own nothingness; and so be rooted in humility. As ye root downward, seek to grow upward. Send out the topshoot of your love towards heaven. Then pray to grow on either side. Stretch out your branches; let the shadow of your holy influence extend as far as God has given you opportunities. But see to it also that ye grow in fruitfulness, for to increase the bough without adding to the fruit is to diminish the beauty of the tree. We are not compared to trees, but to children. Let us grow as babes do, nourished by unadulterated milk. Steadily, slowly, but surely and certainly. Little each day, but much in years. But do ye inquire why and wherefore we should thus grow in grace? Let us say that if we do not advance in grace it is a sorrowful sign. It is a mark of unhealthiness. It is an unhealthy child that grows not, a cankered tree that sends forth no fresh shoots. More; it may be not only a sign of unhealthiness, but of deformity. If a man's shoulders have come to a certain breadth, and his lower limbs refuse to lift him aloft, we call him a dwarf, and we look upon him with some degree of pity. Now to grow may be, moreover, the sign of death. It may say to us, Inasmuch as thou growest not, thou livest not; inasmuch as thou dost not increase in faith, and love, and grace; and inasmuch as thou dost not ripen towards the harvest, fear and tremble lest thou shouldst only have a name to live and be destitute of life, lest thou shouldst be the painted counterfeit; a lovely flower-picture drawn by the painter's skilful hand, but without reality, because without the life-power which should make it bud and germinate and blossom and bring forth fruit. Grow in grace, because to increase in grace is the only pathway to enduring nobility. Oh! would ye not wish to stand with that noble host who have served their Master well, and have entered into their eternal rest? But to grow is not only to be noble — it is to be happy. That man who stays growing refuses to be blessed. Forward is the sunlight! forward is victory! forward is heaven! But here, to stand still is danger; nay, it is death. O Lord, for our happiness' sake, bid Thou us advance; and, for our usefulness' sake, let us ascend. I have thus explained the Divine exhortation; but you perceive it contains a special injunction, "And in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." We must see to it that we ripen in the knowledge of Him — of Him in His Divine nature, and in His human relationship to us; in His finished work, in His death, in His resurrection, in His present glorious intercession, and in His future royal advent. We must study to know more of Christ also in His character — in that Divine compound of every perfection, faith, zeal, deference to His Father's will, courage, meekness, and love. Above all, let us long to know Christ in His person. This year endeavour to get better acquaintance with the Crucified One. Grow in the knowledge of Christ, then. And do ye ask me why? Oh! if ye have ever known Him you will not ask thai question. He that longs not to know more of Christ, knows nothing of Him yet.

II. A GRATEFUL THANKSGIVING, WITH A MOST SUGGESTIVE TERMINATION: "To Him be glory both now and for ever. Amen." The apostles very frequently suspended their writing in order to lift up their hearts in praise. Praise is never out of season, and it is no interruption to interrupt any engagement in order to laud and magnify our God. "To Him be glory." Yes, to Him, ye atheists, who deny Him; to Him, ye Socinians, who doubt His Deity; to Him, ye kings, who vaunt your splendour, and will not have this man to reign over you; to Him, ye people, who against Him stand up, and ye rulers who against Him take counsel; to Him, the King whom God hath set up upon His holy hill of Zion; to Him be glory. To Him be glory as the Lord: King of kings and Lord of lords; "Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." To Him be glory as Saviour. He alone hath redeemed us unto God by His blood; He alone hath "trodden the wine-press," and "cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah, glorious in His apparel, travelling in the greatness of His strength." "To Him be glory." Church of God respond! Let every pious heart say, "To Him be glory." But the apostle adds "now" — "to Him be glory now." Oh, postpone not the day of His triumph; put not off the hour of His coronation. Now, now; for now, to-day, He hath raised us up together, and made us sit in heavenly places with Christ Jesus. "And for ever." Never shall we cease our praise. Time! thou shalt grow old and die. Eternity! thine unnumbered years shall speed their everlasting course; but for ever, for ever, for ever, "to Him be glory." But, now, there is a conclusion to this of the most suggestive kind — "Amen."

1. First, it is the desire of the heart, "Behold, I come quickly; Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus." We say "Amen" at the end of the prayer to signify," Lord, let it be so it is our heart's desire.

2. But it signifies more than this; it means the affirmation of our faith. We only say amen to that which we really believe to be true. We add our affidavit, as it were, to God's promise, that we believe Him to be faithful and true.

3. But there is yet a third meaning to this amen. It often expresses the joy of the heart. As you see King Jesus sitting upon Mount Zion with death and hell beneath His feet, as to-day you anticipate the glory of His Advent, as to-day you are expecting the time when you shall reign with Him for ever and ever, does not your heart say "Amen"?

4. But, lastly, amen is sometimes used in Scripture as an amen of resolution. It means, "I, in the name of God, solemnly pledge myself that, in His strength, I will seek to make it so; to Him be glory both now and for ever."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. HOW MANY WAYS MAY A CHRISTIAN BE SAID TO GROW IN GRACE?

1. He grows in the exercise of grace; his lamp is burning and shining.

2. He grows in the degree of grace (Psalm 84:7).

II. WHAT IS THE RIGHT MANNER OF A CHRISTIAN'S GROWTH?

1. To grow less in one's own eyes.

2. To grow proportionably — in one grace as well as another.

3. When a Christian has grace suitable to his several employments and occasions.

III. WHENCE IS IT THAT TRUE GRACE CANNOT BUT GROW?

1. It is proper for grace to grow; it is the seed of God.

2. Grace cannot but grow from the sweetness and excellency of it; he that hath grace is never weary of it, but still would have more.

3. Grace cannot but grow from a believer's ingrafting into Christ; he who is a scion, ingrafted into this noble, generous stock, cannot but grow.

IV. WHAT MOTIVES OR INCENTIVES ARE THERE TO MAKE US GROW IN GRACE?

1. Growth is the end of the ordinances.

2. The growth of grace is the best evidence of the truth of it.

3. Growth in grace is the beauty of a Christian.

4. The more we grow in grace, the more glory we bring to God.

5. The more we grow in grace, the more will God love us.

6. What need have we to grow in grace? There is still something lacking in our faith. Grace is but in its infancy and minority, and we must still be adding a cubit to our spiritual stature.

7. The growth of grace will hinder the growth of corruption. As some plants have an antipathy, and will not thrive if they grow near together, as the vine and the bay tree: so, where grace grows, sin will not thrive so fast.

8. We cannot grow too much in grace; there is no excess there. The body may grow too great, as in the dropsy; but faith cannot grow too great: "your faith groweth exceedingly"; here was exceeding, yet not excess. As a man cannot have too much health, so not too much grace.

9. Such as do not grow in grace, decay in grace. "Not to advance in the path of life is to return."

10. The more we grow in grace, the more we shall flourish in glory.

V. HOW SHALL WE KNOW WHETHER WE GROW IN GRACE?

1. The signs of our not growing in grace, but rather falling into a spiritual consumption.

(1)When we have lost our spiritual appetite.

(2)When we grow more worldly.

(3)When we are less troubled about sin.

2. The signs of our growing in grace.(1) When we are got beyond ore" former measures of grace.(2) When we are more firmly rooted in religion, rooted in Him, and established: the spreading of the root shows the growth of the tree.(3) When we have a more spiritual frame of heart. More spiritual in our principles, affections, and performance of duty.(4) When grace gets ground by opposition. The fire, by an antiperistasis, burns hottest in the coldest season. The martyrs' zeal was increased by persecution. Here was grace of the first magnitude.

VI. WHAT SHALL WE DO TO GROW IN GRACE?

1. Take heed of that which will hinder its growth — the love of any sin.

2. Use all means for growth in grace. It is better to grow in grace than gifts; gifts are for ornament; grace is for nourishment, to edify others, to save ourselves.

VII. HOW MAY WE COMFORT SUCH AS COMPLAIN THEY DO NOT GROW IN GRACE? They may mistake; they may grow when they think they do not. The sight Christians have of their defects in grace, and their thirst after greater measures of grace, makes them think they do not grow when they do. Let Christians be thankful for the least growth. If you do not grow so much in assurance, bless God if you grow in sincerity; if you do not grow so much in knowledge, bless God if you grow in humility. If a tree grows in the root, it is a true growth; if you grow in the root grace of humility, it is as needful for you as any other growth.

(T. Watson.)

The command is that we enlarge ourselves; that we pass up by graduation from one class to another class in the great school of life, of action, of understanding. The injunction pre supposes that we are capable, that we have faculties susceptible of being disciplined and trained. It pre-supposes that we are intelligent and ambitious after good, and desirous of higher attaimnent. The germ idea contained in the word "education" is that of leading forth the natural capacity of the man. An educated person is a person who has been led forth, or brought out, or developed from what he was into something larger, and fuller, and more complete. Moral education is, there fore, the leading forth of the moral capacity of man. Human nature is a nature of capacity; it is susceptible of great development in any direction and toward any state of being. It can be led out toward the good or toward the bad; can be made to seek its affinities among the high or the low. It can be influenced toward heaven or it can be influenced toward hell. As far as we can see, there is no limit to this development of man's capacity. The whole human machinery impresses one in its every part with the idea of motion, and the assertion that the mind and soul will ever come to a dead standstill, whether here or in the hereafter, is one repugnant to the very genius of their construction. The endless activity of God, according to its capacity to receive it, seems to have been imparted to His last and finest creation, man. Now, this marvellous being, whose capacity of growth is endless, is located in the midst of a thousand incentives of growth. Regard him simply as an animal, and what that he needs does the earth and the air refuse him for food? Look at him, as a student, as an embodiment of mental faculties, and behold how multitudinous are the objects that elicit his inquisition. The earth on which he walks swells with problems that challenge' solution; the air he breathes is charged with forces and combinations of elements which provoke him to analysis. Contemplate him as a social being, and see in the midst of what quickening and vital associations he lives. Love, sympathy, tenderness, mercy, pity — each through its own channel sends down its crystal stream to swell the tide of his ever-widening life. Or examine him in his spiritual connections. What capacity of moral discernment do we not find in him? What magnificent equipment of sensibilities is his; what profound depth of life he has; what energy to aspire, what power to feel, what force to execute, what ability to acquire impressions distinguish him? The education of such a being must be, to every thoughtful mind, one of the gravest subjects within the whole range of human inquiry. The worst thing that any man can do is to think of himself as a creature of little value. I care not how ordinary you may be in your own eyes; I care not how little gifted you may be as others might judge, still I beg you to remember that you are of the highest dignity in the eye of your Maker. It is safe to say that there is not a creation of God, there is not a combination permitted by Him, the object of which is not man's education. You are to look upon the whole world in all its growths, in all its ever-revolving changes, as ordained for your instruction and assistance. There is not a tree, there is not a spire of grass, there is not even a daisy-head that you passed this summer in the fields, that was not created and put in growth and bloom for you. Wisdom as to these is wisdom as to God, and he is wisest as regards the Creator who comprehends most clearly all the use and relation of created things. Now, bearing these things which we have suggested in mind, we submit to you, if the appliances for the leading forth of your nature, in all manner of admirable ways, is not a matter of wonder and gratitude. If you will put yourself in connection with all these helps, so bounteously given; if you will only co-operate with the agents and agencies devised in your behalf, how can your natures fail to be daily enlarged by what is about you? Who can say what knowledge a babe gets out of its mother by feeling with its little hands about the mother's face? This we must remember also, that we are not educated along one line or by a single contact with men, but along many lines and by means of association with many. Hence God groups us. Like stars, men are clustered in constellations, and move on in systems, mutually attracting, mutually repelling each other. There is no education equal to that which a man or woman can get in the sweet school of family life. It is the school in which love should be master and mistress. In it the only law known should be that of affection; the highest privilege, that of serving. This family life may be lived in humble circumstances, as men count surroundings; but its influence on your soul may be as precious, and the results as happy, as if you had lived within the sentinel-guarded doors of a palace. As Christianity enlarges the domain of its sovereignty over men, this family principle gets wider and wider application. The ties of blood cease to bound the limits of affectionate regard, and a spiritual brotherhood unites you to a larger circle. Ultimately the whole race will be kin to each member of it. In order that this education of human nature may go forward unto its complete triumph, it is necessary that every organisation, every form of government, and the entire social structure, should be of a pro, per kind. There is no pressure that can be brought to bear upon a man more potent than that of organisation. If the organisation of the family be wrong in its spirit, in its tone and temper, then will each member of the family be wrong in his or her tone and temper. A. family whose government rests on the principle of force, of authority that speaks only by the infliction of punishment, will make children in it cowardly, hypocritical, and brutal. A Church whose organisation rests on a bigoted foundation will make its members bigoted. The influence of its pulpit, and even of its prayers, will educate men and women into narrowness of thought and harshness of opinion. You cannot base a Church of Christ on anything less wide, less liberal, less sympathetic, than the heart of Christ. Education is thus for ever progressive, and the human mind at the dawn of each generation goes in search of the undiscovered as birds go forth from their groves with the coming of every morning to canvass the fields for their food, and feel in the movement of their flight the joy of a fresh experience. Thus you see that education includes the idea of growth. The educated man is the grown man. He has grown out of old forms of thought into new ones. He has left one plane of feeling and been lifted to a higher plane. That which was difficult for him to understand has become plain. He walks as those who walk in the light. Christianity, as measured by its effect on humanity, if properly interpreted and understood, is movement. It builds no permanent encampment for its followers. Its army is for ever on the march, and every night finds them in a new camp-ground. We must remember that we are all school-children in spiritual education. We are not far advanced — we are on the lower benches, and are sitting at the feet of the Master. We are not studying the high sciences of God. We are not able to fathom the "deep things" of His will. We are only being instructed in the first lessons of good manners. We are only being taught, here and now, how to behave. By and by, when we have learned how to behave, when we have become obedient, cheerful, patient, and good; by and by, when our spiritual senses have become organically so developed as to create a hunger for finer knowledge, and have begun to long to see the things that eye hath not seen, and to hear the things that ears have never heard, God will lift us and honour us with higher seats where the older scholars sit, and we shall begin to be wise as well as good. For this education of which I am talking, this leading out of man's moral faculties, is a thing not of to-day, nor a movement of time as men count time; it is a thing of the ages. It is a movement which rolls itself on into eternity. As to extent, there is no end to it. I close with this word of cheer. The theme suggests it. Whatever your state spiritually may be, you need not remain in it. You can grow out of that state into a better one. You who have failed can grow out of your failure into success. You who are despondent can grow up into the condition of hopefulness. You who are sad God will lift into joy. You who are in the midst of sin can be redeemed out of that sin, and become upright. You who are weak in the structure of your virtue can be braced with the bands of everlasting power. The heavens are full of attractions, and by their sweet might you can be lifted until you stand higher than the stars.

(W. H. H. Murray.)

I. WHAT IS IT TO GROW IN GRACE.

1. The Christian should be ambitious to increase in the number of his graces.

2. We should grow in the measure of our graces.

3. We should grow in the use of our graces.

II. WHY GROWTH IN GRACE SHOULD BE SOUGHT.

1. Because God has afforded a variety of helps to promote it.

2. As we are otherwise in continual danger of losing what we have already obtained.

3. Our advancement in glory will be in proportion to our present improvement in grace.

III. HOW GROWTH IN GRACE IS TO BE ATTAINED.

1. Ascertain that the good work is really begun.

2. Cherish a lively sense of your imperfections.

3. Carefully avoid whatever would hinder your growing in grace.

4. As you must be diligent in the use of the means of grace, so you must take care not to place any confidence in them.

(S. Lavington.)

I. A SENSE OF INSUFFICIENCY IS AN INDISPENSABLE PREREQUISITE TO GROWTH IN GRACE.

II. BUT A SELF-RENOUNCING DEPENDENCE ON DIVINE HELP MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO SUPERSEDE OR TO SLACKEN YOUR OWN ENDEAVOURS.

III. GROWTH IN GRACE IS A PROCESS WHICH CANNOT GO ON WITHOUT SOONER OR LATER MANIFESTING ITSELF BY ITS FRUITS.

1. A growing reliance on Christ.

2. Increasing power over temptation.

3. The increasing influence of conscience.

4. Increasing disinterestedness of religious feeling.

5. Increased complacency in thinking of death and eternity.

(J. M. McCulloch, D. D.)

1. In growing better, the first thing is to become good; or rather this is preliminary to all improvement. The foundation must be laid before the building can rise. No digging about and enriching, no ever so auspicious alternation of sun and shower can bring forward a plant which has no life in it. Yet in morals this is what some are endeavouring to do; they would feed death and cultivate sterility. The sinner must pass from the state of nature to that of grace before he can grow in grace.

2. Then the soul being born again, the principle of spiritual life being communicated to it, it must have nourishment in order to grow; the principle of spiritual life is not independent of aliment any more than that of animal life. Now truth is the nutriment of the soul, and it must be taken, or the soul will not grow, and in a little while will cease to live. They say it is no matter what a man believes, or whether he believes anything, so he but practises aright, which is as if one would say, it is immaterial what a man eats or whether he eat at all, so he but lives. Can he live without eating, and eating wholesome food? If error is not injurious, poison is not; and if ignorance is not hurtful, starvation is harmless. The man who is indifferent to the interests of truth is also to those of virtue. It is impossible to love the one without loving the other. Truth is the principle and pabulum of virtue. The Word of God must be understood, believed and meditated on, and especially its testimony concerning Christ, otherwise there can be no growth in grace.

3. The exercise of the moral powers and gracious dispositions in you is essentially necessary to their growth and expansion. How can one grow in benevolence or in compassion unless he obeys its dictates? in temperance unless he habitually practises temperance? how increase in humility unless he frequently, humble himself? And as they cannot be exercised without trials and afflictions, hence the necessity of these to the growth of those virtues and the perfection of the human character. God is the author, upholder, and finisher of good in us. No use of means, and no making of exertion are of any avail without His secret, spiritual efficiency; hence a spirit of dependence on God must be cultivated and exercised, and hence is prayer an indispensable means of growth in grace. The Holy Spirit is promised only to them who ask Him.

5. Watchfulness is another important means of growth in grace. The plant of grace requires the most anxious attention and the most constant care. It has many enemies — some that grub the earth, and some that infest the air — and it is exposed to many evil influences. It must be assiduously watched.

6. Christians are members of a mystical body of which Christ is the head, and from Him, in consequence of this connection, they derive strength, grace, nourishment, and every needed good. Now faith is the bond of this union, and the stronger the faith, the closer the bond, and the more free the communication. Hence, if one would grow in grace, he must habitually exercise faith in Christ, and increase in faith.

7. Striving against sin is all-important to growth in grace and holiness.

8. Sensual indulgence is a formidable foe to growth in grace; and, when carried far, is incompatible with its existence. Hence the necessity of abstinence and self-denial.

9. The love of the world is another enemy to holiness. There is a wonderful moral efficiency in the Cross of Christ to destroy this inordinate affection.

10. Finally, the promises exert a sanctifying influence when contemplated and applied (2 Peter 1:4).

(W. Nevins, D. D.)

I. THERE IS SUCH A THING AS GROWTH IN GRACE. I do not for a moment mean that a believer's interest in Christ can grow. I do not mean that he can grow in safety, acceptance with God, or security. I only mean increase in the degree, size, strength, vigour, and power of the graces which the Holy Spirit plants in a believer's heart. I hold that every one of those graces admits of growth, progress, and increase. I hold that repentance, faith, hope, love, humility, zeal, courage, and the like, may be little or great, strong or weak, vigorous or feeble, and may vary greatly in the same man at different periods of his life. One principal ground on which I build this doctrine of "growth in grace," is the plain language of Scripture. "Your faith groweth exceedingly" (2 Thessalonians 1:3). "We beseech you that ye increase more and more" (1 Thessalonians 4:10). "Increasing in the knowledge of God" (Colossians 1:10). "Having hope, when your faith is increased "(2 Corinthians 10:15). "The Lord make you to increase in love" (1 Thessalonians 3:12). "That ye may grow up into Him in all things" (Ephesians 4:15). "I pray that your love may abound more and more" (Philippians 1:9). "We beseech you, as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more" (1 Thessalonians 4:1.) "Desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby" (1 Peter 2:2.) "Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18). The other ground on which I build the doctrine of "growth in grace," is the ground of fact and experience. What true Christian would not confess that there is as much difference between the degree of his own faith and knowledge when he was first converted and his present attainments, as there is between a sapling and a full-grown tree? His graces are the same in principle; but they have grown. Let us turn away to a more practical view of the subject before us. I want men to look at "growth in grace" as a thing of infinite importance to the soul.

1. "Growth in grace" is the best evidence of spiritual health and prosperity. In a child, or a flower, or a tree, we are all aware that when there is no growth there is something wrong.

2. "Growth in grace "is one way to be happy in our religion. God has linked together our comfort and our increase in holiness. He has graciously made it our interest to press on and aim high in our Christianity.

3. "Growth in grace" is one secret of usefulness to others. Our influence on others for good depends greatly on what they see in us.

4. "Growth in grace" pleases God. The husbandman loves to see the plants on which he has bestowed labour flourishing and bearing fruit. It cannot but disappoint and grieve him to see them stunted and standing still (John 15:1, 8). The Lord takes pleasure in all His people, but especially in those theft grow.

5. "Growth in grace" is not only a thing possible, but a thing for which believers are accountable.

II. THERE ARE MARKS BY WHICH GROWTH IN GRACE MAY BE KNOWN.

1. One mark is increased humility.

2. Another mark is increased faith and love towards our Lord Jesus Christ.

3. Another mark is increased holiness of life and conversation.

4. Another mark is increased spirituality of taste and mind.

5. Another mark is increase of charity.

6. One more mark is increased zeal and diligence in trying to do good to souls.

III. THE MEANS THAT MUST BE USED BY THOSE WHO DESIRE TO GROW IN GRACE.

1. One thing essential to growth in grace is diligence in the use of private means of grace.

2. Another essential is carefulness in the use of public means of grace.

3. Another essential is watchfulness over our conduct in the little matters of every-day life.

4. Another essential is caution about the company we keep and the friendships we form.

5. There is one more thing which is absolutely essential to growth in grace, and that is regular and habitual communion with the Lord Jesus.

(Bishop Ryle.)

I. THE HEART MUST BECOME ROOTED IN LIVING, CHRIST-LIKE PRINCIPLES.

II. THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION IS TO BE CULTIVATED.

III. DUE ATTENTION MUST BE GIVEN TO THE LAW OF SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT.

IV. THE LAW OF GROWTH WORKS ITS PURPOSE THROUGH CHANGING SEASONS.

V. THE GROWING LIFE WILL MANIFEST ITSELF.

(W. Currrie.)

The want of growth is the want, generally speaking, of organisation. Rocks do not grow, soil does not grow. Growth belongs to the higher stages of development, and as things grow, not by accretion, but by definite formation, by their growth we judge of their vitality. When anything ceases to grow its end is near. Any man that has ceased to grow is waiting for his undertaker, and the longer he has to wait the greater is the pity for everybody about him. There are, of course, in so compound a creature as man, several concentric circles of growth. There is bodily growth, but that usually takes care of itself, and needs no exercitation. Then there is physical culture, a growth not in dimensions alone, but in other ways. One may develop strength; it may be increased by his purpose. One may develop activity; one may develop skill of hand or alertness and quickness of foot. This is the lowest form of growth, and yet the lowest growth even of the body is a worthy one, and justifies our endeavour. A healthy and well-developed body is a chariot fit to carry a hero's soul. To grow up in good sound health, without violation of the great canons of morality, and with the law of moderation fixed upon every appetite and passion, is itself no insignificant ideal for a young man or woman. But, then, we are familiar, in this land where education is almost an atmosphere and a byword, with growth in intelligence and knowledge. These two things are very different. Intelligence implies a certain condition of the knowing faculties. Knowledge is the fruit of intelligence. There is just as much difference between them as there is between skill and the product of skill, or between husbandry and the harvests that husbandry can produce. A man may have intelligence and scarcely any knowledge. A man may have a good deal of knowledge and hardly any intelligence. But where one has both intelligence and knowledge, and is growing in them both, that is a transcendently noble thing. It is the direct tendency of intelligence and knowledge to produce morality. I declare that education, or the development of the knowing parts of a man, gives him so large a view of the field of life that he is more likely to see that morality is safety than if he were ignorant; and that the general fact stands proved that intelligence and knowledge tend, on the whole, by immense measure, toward goodness, respectability, virtue, and morality. So if we grow in aptitude for intelligence and knowledge we shall make a long stride away from animalism, and from the dangers that beset the passions and appetites of human life. Now, while bodily growth, intellectual growth, and growth in knowledge are to be esteemed, and are not to be thrown into the shade by any misconception of the value of grace and religion, I affirm that the highest growth, because it is the one that carries all these others with it more or less, or blesses them, is growth in grace. Self-sacrifice, that is one element of it. Meekness and humility are other elements of it. Good nature, which is called kindness in the text of Scripture, is another element of it. Easiness to be entreated is one of the elements of growth. In regard to that manhood which springs from the activity of our highest spiritual and moral functions, in regard to this eminent spiritual-mindedness, I must say that it does not belong to the cave nor to the cloister. The serene wisdom of love, and the guidance of God's presence with a man, will prosper him more, in the long run, in every relation of life, than the turbulent wisdom that springs from vanity, from pride, from avarice, from passion. Men adopt a lower form of power when they undertake to carry out the ends of life by the selfishness that prevails in human society. It requires more skill in the beginning to wield this higher power — to learn the trade, that is, of piety in its application to life. It also requires more time for reaping the fruit. Some harvests are sown in autumn, and the sun leaves them; but they come to ripeness next summer. Some things can be sown in spring and reaped before midsummer. In regard to moral and spiritual elements, it takes more time to develop them and procure their final results in secular wisdom than it does to take the lower and superficial forms and achieve success, but when once they are established they do not go back. A man that fears and loves God, and therefore stands intact under the temptations of life, men will give large premiums to get. It is ripening growth that is demanded. In other words, it is not enough for our religion that we have revivals of it; it is not enough that we have flashes of any or all of these spiritual feelings and experiences. What is wanted is, that they shall become steadily a part of us and abide in us, so that they constitute our character. Then growth in grace amounts indeed to a sure victory. The piety that comes and goes is better than nothing — scarcely more than that; but the higher spiritual qualities of a man's nature that abide with him, and grow stronger, and throw their roots deeper, and take hold on life with more multiplied hands, are the qualities that constitute the true man. When such things shall have been thoroughly developed, the stability and habitualness of the highest Christian experiences will work spontaneity. The mind's action in this channel will become automatic. Then, too, there will be harmony. It will not be simply a few feelings that will run in this line, but the whole soul. Like an orchestra well trained, it will be harmonious, and will increase in force from year to year. For while prophecy and teaching and knowledge do not abide, while we are in the childhood of the human race, and know everything only in fragments and parts, there are some things that death itself does not change. We are told that they are faith, hope, and love. These go on ineradicable and unchangeable. Such men walk with God. If you liken human life and development to a dwelling, the lower story is on the ground, and made of clay. How roomy and how full of men that live next to the dirt! Above that, however, is a story of iron. There are men of energy, and of a ruling purpose irresistible, seeking and gaining their ends at all hazards, and this story is populous too. The next story is dressed in velvet and carved wood, and here are they that dwell in their affections, and are brought together by the sympathy of a common gentleness and kindness, but on the lower levels of life. Above that is a room of crystal and of diamonds, and there are but few that dwell in it. From its transparent walls one may behold the heavens and the earth. Out of it men may see the night as well as the day — men who live a life so high, so pure, and so serene that they may be said to. dwell at the very threshold of the gate of heaven itself.

(H. W. Beecher.)

It is implied that we are not perfect in grace, that there is wide room for growth. Another thing implied is that we may and can grow if we will. God knows our abilities and our inabilities, our dispositions and indispositions, the moral outflow and the moral recoil, and, knowing all, He says, "Grow in grace."

I. DIRECTIONS. How to grow in grace? We cannot but remember that growth, to be real and healthy, must be free. It may seem, therefore, an impertinent thing to interpose directions at all. But in truth we do not interpose them with any authority. We shall bring them, such as they are, within sight. Use them if they are suitable. If not, find other modes more akin with your spirit's life. Only grow.

1. Might not one try this among other things, at least for a little while — say for one week — that one shall take a strong morning thought concerning it.

2. Then, in the next place, let there be an actual arrangement of things, in so far as he has the power — of the employments and circumstances of the day — with express view to the accomplishment of this the supreme purpose.

3. If in the general review and arrangement of the life some things are found, perhaps in the very structure of it, or hanging closely to the structure, which are seen to be hindrances, then let them be laid aside without reserve, without delay. A thing may not be a sin, and yet it may serve the sinful cause as effectually as if it were. If you planted apple trees in your orchard in the hope of feasting your eyes in a while with their wealth of blossom and heaping your baskets with the sweet-smelling fruit, would you hang weights on the branches to see how much they would bear and still grow? Would you gather up the withered branches and hook them on to the fresh green ones? If you did they might not kill them, but would they not mar the beauty, would they not hinder the growth? It may seem to be hardly necessary to say anything regarding the renunciation of sin as such. We have spoken of hindrances both slight and serious. Now let me say that a man should hold himself ready to take all gracious helps for gracious growing. These helps are manifold and very near. It is therefore exceedingly important that the soul should be in a receptive state. Everything about the kingdom of grace is in such a state of readiness that in a moment God can give help if the soul is prepared to take it. Now to be ready does not mean having an assemblage of great thoughts in the mind. It does not mean having the feelings or the frame of the heart in a theological or so-called evangelical state. It means being humble and looking up with desire to God. One more hint. It is this. That we should maintain a constant connection with the fountain-head of grace in God by everything which constitutes prayer. God's windows are open. God's fountains are flowing. God's lights are streaming, and His vital airs are breathing forth, and every prayerful spirit will catch a double measure of those heavenly gifts and treasures as they come.

II. INDUCEMENTS.

1. The first is the ease with which this growing can be accomplished when we heartily incline to it. If we would but hold ourselves in simplicity in the garden of God, and abide where we are planted, by His rivers of water, the fruit would be in season and the leaf would never wither.

2. Another inducement is found in the principle of necessary growth which belongs to every rational soul. We must grow in something, and if not in grace, you know in what the growth will be. "Ye therefore, beloved, beware, lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness." And now, when you see the danger, how are you to act to avoid it? "Grow in grace." That will keep you safe and well in the right faith, in the right practice. If we do not believe the truth and grow in that we shall soon be heretics, holding fallacies, believing lies. If we do not love the Lord Jesus Christ, and grow by that pure and infinite affection, the longing, unportioned heart will soon have another in His place. It will wind itself, like the ivy, around anything that comes, be it no better than mouldering wall or rotting tree, rather than live in vacuity or sink into utter negation. We must grow; then let our growing be in lily-like beauty, in cedar strength, in "smell as Lebanon." Every other kind of growth is uncertain, limited, transient. But growth in grace is for ever; there is nothing in grace which indicates, far less necessitates, decay. It is for every place; for land and sea, for earth and heaven. It is for all time, now and evermore. It is for the whole nature of man — body, soul, and spirit.

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

I. WHAT IS MEANT BY THEIR GROWING IN GRACE.

1. They must exercise grace more constantly.

2. Uniformity as well as constancy is implied. Some shine in one grace and some in another, while very few shine in all the beauties of holiness.

II. WHY GROWTH IN KNOWLEDGE IS NECESSARY IN ORDER TO THE GROWTH IN GRACE.

1. Knowledge tends to increase their obligations to grow in grace. The knowledge of duty always increases an obligation to do it.

2. Divine knowledge not only increases the obligations of Christians to grow in grace, but actually increases the holiness of all their holy affections. The degree of holiness in every exercise of love to God is always in proportion to the light or knowledge which the person has at the time of exercising that particular grace. A Christian has a much clearer and more extensive view of God at one time than at another, and his love is always virtuous in exact proportion to the degrees of his present knowledge. One exercise of faith is more virtuous than another, because the believer may have much greater knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ at one time than he has at another. The same holds true of submission, joy, gratitude, and every other Christian grace. The celebrated Howard, who spent his property and his life in relieving the objects of charity in Britain and in various other parts of Europe, was a man of benevolence, and his benevolence was in proportion to his knowledge. As he had a far more extensive view of the miseries of mankind than Christians in general, so his exercises of kindness and compassion were much more virtuous than theirs towards similar objects.

III. THE IMPORTANCE OF THEIR GROWING IN BOTH THESE RESPECTS.

1. The honour of religion requires Christians to grow in knowledge and grace. Though the men of the world are disposed to despise religion, yet they are constrained to respect it in those professors who appear to be both knowing and growing Christians.

2. It is of great importance that Christians should grow both in knowledge and in grace, not only on the account of others, but on their own account.(1) For, in the first place, their growth in these respects will be the most effectual security against the gross and dangerous errors to which they are continually exposed in their present imperfect state.(2) Growth in knowledge and grace will happily tend to remove darkness and doubts from the minds of Christians.(3) Furthermore, growth in knowledge and grace will prepare Christians for the delightful and acceptable performance of every duty.(4) It is, finally, of great importance that Christians should make continual advances in knowledge and grace to prepare them for the closing scene of life. If they neglect to improve their minds in knowledge and their hearts in holiness they may expect to live in bondage and die in darkness, for Christians commonly die very much as they live.IMPROVEMENT.

1. If knowledge be necessary to promote the growth of grace, then the most instructive preaching must be the most profitable.

2. If religious knowledge be conducive to the growth of religious affections, then that religious conversation among Christens is the most useful which is the most instructive.

3. If Divine knowledge has a tendency to promote all the Christian graces and virtues, then growing Christians have an increasing evidence of their good estate.

(N. Emmons, D. D.)

I. I ask, first, INTO WHAT WE ARE TO GROW? Now, the Revised Version throws some light upon the connection of the two things specified in my text by a very slight but significant alteration. It reads, "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour." Both are connected with Him; He is the source of the grace; He is the object of the knowledge. Thus we get the thought that all our Christian progress, in its deepest meaning, consists in penetrating more deeply into Christ, and what He has and is. We hear a great deal about "progress" in these days; and very much of it consists in departure from Jesus Christ. Those of us who know and possess most of Him have but a drop from the great ocean; one sparkle from the star; a pittance from the storehouse. We have an infinite treasure, and our growing wealth consists in our pressing further into its rooms filled with bullion, and taking more and more of Him into ourselves. For, again, the true notion of Christian progress consists in the growing reception of a gift. We advance, not by our own unaided efforts. Reception is growth; and the more we open our hearts to receive, the more we advance in the Christian life. Instead of toilsomely trying to struggle up the steep mountain, we are borne up on wings as eagles. Hence the blessed distinctive mark of Christian progress is that, in the midst of the most strenuous efforts, there may be perpetual calm. To have more of Christ — that is growth. But if we look at the two points which the apostle separates here, a word may be said about each of them. Our reception of Jesus Christ is a growing reception of His grace. Now, "grace" here seems to mean, not so much His undeserved love to inferiors, as the consequences of that love in His gifts to us. Or, to put it into other words, what is meant by "the grace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" in this connection is the bestowing upon us, in our spirits, that we may work them out and manifest them in our lives, all the excellences and virtues of a Christlike character. And I lay this on your hearts, that growth in grace is not so much the blessedness of private, personal experience, or the welling up of certain emotions in heart and mind, as conduct in the life, aspiring after, and showing in exercise "whatsoever things are lovely and of good report." If these things be in you, and grow in you, you are growing in grace. Then consider the other side of this exhortation — grow in the "knowledge of Christ." That probably concerns mainly what we call intellectual processes, and yet not altogether. For if it is a Person that is known, then the process of knowing cannot be altogether a mere matter of dry brain-work. It may be enough to begin the Christian life that a man should have but a little acquaintance with Jesus Christ, but there is not enough to keep it up unless that acquaintance is ever growing, becomes tenderer, deeper, quieter, more assured, more impossible to be ever altered. There is no fear of exhausting Christ! But we may look at this exhortation in a slightly different way. "Grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ" means not only grow in personal acquaintance with Him, but grow in the perception of the truths which are embodied in His person and work. Now, there is a great deal of so-called progress in Christian knowledge which largely consists in getting away from the initial truths and going out into other regions. That is not growth; that is decay. For the initial truths are the most important truths, and when a man has learned that "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life," he has learned what only needs to be pondered upon and followed out, and above all lived by, in order that it shall open into a boundless universe of truth and wisdom. Progress into Christ is like that of the bee that buries itself more deeply into the flower, and draws honey from its innermost recesses. First Christ may be seen as but a speck, then He is a disc of brightness in the dark, and then he is a flaming sun that lightens all the sky.

II. HOW ARE WE TO GROW? My text is a commandment; therefore growth comes through our own efforts. Now, there are many metaphors in the New Testament for this conception of Christian progress. One set of them represents it as being spontaneous, automatic, effortless. As, for instance, when our Lord says, "First the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear , there is no effort there. But that is only one side of the truth. Another side to the answer to the question, How we are to grow? is involved, as I have just said, in the fact that we are commanded to do so. So, very characteristically, when the Apostle Paul speaks of this same subject he rarely uses the metaphor of growth. And what are the figures which he prefers? The race, which implies strenuous strain of the muscles, and is not to be won without effort, dust, and sweat. The fight, for there is resistance to be faced and overcome. With these figures my text falls in, and suggests that there can be no growth in the Christian life without strenuous endeavour. No doubt the progress of the Christian life consists mainly in reception, but reception is not passive. If you do not hold the cup out, it will not be filled. What, then, have we to do? First, and mainly, to keep very near to our Lord. Communion with Jesus Christ is the secret of all growth. If we are close by Him, He will pour Himself into our hearts. Food is needed for growth. If a Christian starves his soul by neglecting to feed on the bread which came down from heaven, no wonder that he is stunted. Exercise is essential for growth. Unused muscles atrophy, like the fakir's arm that has been held up for twenty years in one position, and now is stiff and rigid as a bar of iron. Use the grace that you have, and practise the truth that you are sure of, and the grace will grow and other truths will be made clear.

III. Lastly, WHAT HAPPENS TO US IF WE DO NOT GROW? My text begins with a "but," and that throws us back to what goes before. The connection which is thus established is very noteworthy and monitory. "Beware lest ye also... fall from your own steadfastness; but grow." So, then, the only way to prevent falling is growth; and if you are not growing, you are certainly falling. No weight will stand at rest on an inclined plane. If it is not being hauled up it will be hurtling down. The student who is not advancing in his science will forget what he has learned. Water that stagnates gathers a scum. The talent that is wrapped in a napkin rusts; and the oxidising diminishes its weight and also dims its brightness. I feel ,that all our churches are full of cases of arrested development. Let me put a plain question: Are we more like Jesus Christ than we were a year ago? Let us remember that the process of growth begun here will go on for ever.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

I. THE CHARACTERISTICS OF GROWTH.

1. The first characteristic of growth that we would notice is its silence. It is of all things the most calm, the most quiet, the most dignified. Whatever else may give rise to agitation and commotion and excitement, it is not spiritual growth. To this the analogy of nature clearly points. This the Great Teacher Himself flatly affirms. "The Kingdom of God," He says, "cometh not with observation." Silently the Spirit of Truth makes use of the instrumentality of the truth in communicating to our nature that life without which we know not what it is to live. Silently the same Spirit helps us to draw from the storehouse of the truth the nourishment that is needful to sustain and strengthen the life that has been given. Thus it is that the process of spiritual growth begins, and thus it is that it is carried onward and forward toward a higher and fuller development.

2. A second characteristic of growth is, that it is a gradual process. People sometimes feel discouraged by the littleness of their attainments in the Christian life and the tardiness of their spiritual growth, and too often there is cause for humiliation on this score; but, for my part, I would prefer the slowest rate of progress that is compatible with growth to that unnatural rapidity of development that is sure to fall into rapid consumption. If the progress of the cornstalk which comes to maturity in a few months be scarcely measurable at the interval of a week, and if the progress of the oak tree which comes to maturity in a century or more be barely observable in a year, what are we to say of that spiritual growth which shall not be consummated and completed until all the cycles and the aeons of eternity have run their course, and become buried in the bosom of the infinite past? If the interval at which progress may be measured and ascertained is to be lengthened in proportion to the period of growth, how long must that interval be in the case of the Christian's advancement in the life divine?

3. There are many other characteristics of growth, but of these we shall mention only one, and that is the tendency of growth whenever found to develop in a definite direction. Nature has a certain model or type to which the growth of the seed must conform. And she keeps that before her, and to the best of her ability she builds up blade and stalk and ear after the fashion of this particular model. So it is with the acorn. It grows after a long lapse of years into an oak. This is the type toward which nature was working all the time. To the filling up of this model the growth of the tree always tended. So it is with everything else in nature. So it is with the Christian. Spiritual growth is in a definite direction. It tends to a perfect type. It advances in the direction of Christ.

II. This brings us naturally to consider in the next place the CONDITIONS OF GROWTH.

1. There is first the condition of previous life. As well expect a corn seed to grow into an oak as expect the man who is destitute of spiritual life to "grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." How does that life become ours? It is not ours by nature. It is ours only in union with Christ.

2. The other condition of growth to which we would refer is the presence of favourable surroundings, or to put it in the language of modern science, the existence of an appropriate "environment." Spiritual life is what you might call a hardy plant. It will grow in almost any situation, in castle and cottage, under peasant's roof-tree, under monarch's dome, in the shop and the counting-house and the study, in the factory and the market, and the farm. But when all this has been allowed, it must still be admitted that neither soft nor atmosphere in this world is such as to ensure a perfect growth. The perfect type cannot be cultivated in this unsuitable soil and in this unfavourable climate. It needs to be transplanted to another sphere, to a more kindly soil and to a more congenial clime before the perfect ideal can be approached or approximated. Meantime it is our duty and our privilege, by Divine grace, to make the most of the circumstances in which we find ourselves here. But further, we are to grow in the knowledge of Christ. And how do you grow in the knowledge of a person? By associating with him. By attending carefully to the different way. in which he reveals himself. If you would know Christ you must make Him your constant companion and counsellor, you must speak with Him, and above all you must hear Him speak with you.

(W. J. Lowe, M. A.)

I. THE ORDINANCES OF THE NEW TESTAMENT ARE MEANS OF IMPROVEMENT IN RELIGION.

1. Divine revelation, by its influence on the understanding, the heart, the will, and the conscience of man, in every condition of life, promotes the Christian's growth in holiness, in comfort, and in usefulness.

2. The sacraments are means of improvement in religion.

3. Conversation among private Christians is one of the means of growth in knowledge, in holiness, and in usefulness. It is itself a part of our religious enjoyments; and the means of increasing both the desire and the capacity for more enjoyment.

4. Prayer.

II. JUDICIOUS REFLECTIONS UPON OUR PERSONAL CONCERNS, IN THE LIGHT OF DIVINE REVELATION, HAVE A GREAT INFLUENCE UPON OUR RELIGIOUS IMPROVEMENT.

1. Let us consider the sinfulness of our disposition and deportment.

2. A due consideration of God's providence respecting us tends to our personal progress in true religion.

3. Meditations on the love of God are conducive to the improvement of the Christian character.

4. Judicious reflections upon our own mortality, and the future state which we are daily approaching, have a tendency to prepare us for both.

III. DIVINE INFLUENCES ARE REQUIRED AND EMPLOYED IN THE PROGRESSIVE IMPROVEMENT OF THE SAINTS.

1. The Spirit presents to the saints the proper objects of pursuit.

2. The Spirit directs the affections of the heart to spiritual objects.

3. Divine influence strengthens the saints for every duty.Conclusion:

1. I observe that there are different degrees of gracious attainments, and I urge upon all ranks the duty of further progress — "Grow in grace."

2. Be not discouraged although your progress in religion is neither as uniform nor as rapid as you first expected it should actually prove.

(A. McLeod, D. D.)

1. Have we not need to grow in the lowliness of Christ?

2. The unselfishness of Christ is brought out by the evangelists in a striking manner.

3. An uncompromising enemy of Pharisaism and all hypocrisy, there was not the slightest taint of cynicism or misanthropy in Christ.

4. Notice one more outstanding feature in the character of Christ — His beautiful enthusiasm in the cause — that is, our cause — which He has espoused. Such an example of joyful self-sacrifice the world never witnessed before, and never will do again. "Grow in the grace of Christ," that is, if true Christians, we have the grace of Christ in some germinal measure: but that is not enough, there must be growth in it, and continual growth in it. To a sincere follower of Christ there can be no contentment with partial growth.

(W. Skinner.)

This higher life is attained and maintained chiefly by the diligent and right use of ordinary means — prayer, praise, worship, reading the Word, etc. Extra means may stimulate, but they do not largely feed; hence, those who principally depend on the irregular, the sensational means, are always spiritually poor and feeble. The stimulant is in excess of the nutriment, and is followed by reaction and exhaustion. All God's highest and best works are accomplished by ordinary means, by light, and heat, and moisture; by regular and orderly growth. The thunder, whirlwind, and flood, though useful at the time, yet contribute but a small share in effecting the grand result of Nature's processes. It is so in the spiritual world. The thing most needed is not extra means, but extra diligence in the use of ordinary means.

(R. Chew.)

And in the knowledge of our Lord... Jesus Christ
The best persons have need of improvement. The possibility of growing in grace will be readily admitted by the true Christian. But what is meant by growing in the knowledge of Christ?

1. By the knowledge spoken of, first, we may understand the evidences of the Christian religion.

2. But that knowledge in which Christians should grow may be taken to include, or even to consist of, a familiar acquaintance with the contents of the Bible, both historical and prophetical, doctrinal and practical.

3. There is a species of knowledge in its very nature progressive, and which above all other knowledge it concerns us to acquire; I mean self-knowledge. Our growth in this will also cause us to grow in the knowledge of Christ, and show us the need we have of a Redeemer. But there is another branch of self-knowledge equally proper for man to study; I mean not the weakness of his nature, but the strength. As none ever pushed his capacity for intellectual improvement as far as it was able to extend, so in matters of morality, few or none ever exerted their strength as far as it would have carried them in the pursuit of virtue.

(A. Gibson, M. A.)

I. WHAT IT IS TO GROW IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST.

1. The knowledge of Christ is of the greatest excellency. Other kind of knowledge is like light from the stars; this like beams from the sun. To know Christ assimilates and makes us like Him.

2. The knowledge of Christ is of absolute necessity.

3. The knowledge of Christ is by supernatural revelation.

4. The knowledge of Christ was communicated in a degree under the Old Testament.

5. The revelation of Christ under the New Testament is more clear. Therefore to be ignorant of Him is the more without apology.

6. All true believers in Christ have some knowledge of Him (Romans 10:14).

7. Those who know most of Christ know Him but in part. Therefore are they to be urged to grow in knowledge.(1) Growing in the knowledge of Christ implies a fuller apprehension of His Godhead.(2) A clearer sight of His humanity.(3) A more plain discerning and full persuasion that He was foreordained to be a Redeemer.(4) A greater insight into His sufferings.(5) A more fruitful eyeing of His resurrection and going to His Father.(6) Greater satisfaction about His imputed righteousness.(7) A more constant and fiducial eyeing of His intercession, and the pity and compassions of Him that intercedes.(8) Being better acquainted with His great power, and continual presence with His Church which is so nearly related to Him.(9) A better understanding of Him as "Mediator of the New Covenant."(10) A more earnest looking for His appearing.

II. WHAT PROPERTIES ARE REQUIRED IN THIS KNOWLEDGE.

1. This knowledge of Christ should grow more and more certain.

2. It should more and more humble the Christian.

3. It should grow more spiritual.

4. It should encourage to a more settled reliance upon Him.

5. It should raise Him higher and higher in Christians' estimation.

6. It should have a great aspect upon whatever else is revealed in the Word of God.

7. It should be operative still in a greater measure.

8. It should cause great glorying and joy.

III. HOW TO INCREASE AND GROW IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF JESUS CHRIST.

1. Be sensible of your remaining ignorance.

2. Compare all other knowledge with this, and see the vast difference in point of excellency.

3. You must not lean to your own parts and understandings.

4. Heedfully attend to the word of the truth of the gospel.

5. Look unto Jesus Himself (Colossians 2:3).

6. Cry for more knowledge, and eye the promise of the Spirit of wisdom and revelation.

7. Take heed of seducing spirits.

8. Abstain from worldly and fleshly lusts.

9. Associate yourselves with those who have a great measure of the knowledge of Christ.

10. Let your end in desiring a greater degree of the knowledge of Christ be right. Not that you may be puffed up in your own minds, or admired of men; but that Christ may be more admired and esteemed by you.IMPROVEMENT.

1. TO unbelievers.

(1)Christ is willing to receive the very worst of you, upon you returning and believing.

(2)Christ is willing to give Himself to you.

2. To saints.

(1)Improve the knowledge of Christ with reference to God Himself.

(2)To the law of God.

(3)To sin.

(4)To angels both good and bad.

(5)To this present world.

(6)To duties, grace, and perseverance.

(7)To comfort.

(W. Vincent, M. A.)

To increase in the knowledge of God is distinctly commanded, not in this passage alone, but in very many. The progress of the mind in the knowledge of physical truth, scientific truth, depends very much upon the exercise of the senses upon matter; but the growth of knowledge in moral truth depends upon the exercise of moral feelings. While sense is the source of physical or scientific knowledge, disposition is the source of the knowledge of moral truth. Growth in the knowledge of a Divine Being unites both of these.

1. The earliest knowledge which we have of Divine existence is derived, undoubtedly, from teachers And parents. It differs, therefore, in children, according to the instruction which they receive. It is ampler or scantier, it is more wisely or less wisely imparted, according to circumstances. If the notion entertained by children could be analysed, I think it would be found to consist largely of the social and moral qualities which exist in the family, framed and bordered with their imaginations, in which physical qualities largely inhere.

2. I suspect that the next stage of growth consists in clothing these abstract notions, which we gain very early, and which are taught out of catechisms, with the facts of the history of the Lord Jesus Christ as they are narrated by the evangelists. So that it may be said of hundreds of people, that their God is literally, yet entombed in the Bible. They do not use these records as building materials out of which to develop an ever-increasing conception of heavenly excellence.

3. But if one be of a devout nature, and he be earnestly alive to moral growth, then his reading and his childhood instruction, after being subject to reflection, to mental digestion, will carry him forward one step further in the growth in the knowledge of God. His conception of the Divine nature will begin to enlarge and fill out in every direction if only there is a real, active, earnest moral life going on within him. In this work the imagination will be the architect, reason will be the master-builder, and the materials will come largely from experience. Men's minds are magnets. One man going into the Bible, or into the realm of experience, his mind seeks that which shall feed his strongest faculties — his ideality, his self-esteem, his conscience, and his reason; and he draws those elements out, and leaves all the others. He sees those, and feels those, and he is astonished if anybody can resist the evidence which is so irresistible to him. He has a Calvinistic conception of God which is overwhelming to him, and to every other man who is organised just as he is. But here is another man that stands near him whose magnet draws another kind of filings, and who is just as true to himself. He has an inward want of a conception that is all beaming, and genial, and sweet, and tender. He does not disbelieve in righteousness, nor in conscience, nor in law, nor in government; but he is relatively insensitive to these as he is sensitive to those other elements. This man's constitutional endowment draws to him all that goes to make up this partialism, and he is amazed to hear one talk so like a fool as his brother does. He has read the Bible, and he has seen no such evidence as that which his brother professes to have seen. Why, to him it is as clear as noonday that God is all summer. A third man, standing and looking upon these disputants, says, "They are fools, both of them. I do not think God cares much about government, or much about this benevolence. It seems to me that God is a lover of things in order, full of taste, full of proportion, and full of harmony. He is all music, and all blossom, and all beauty as I conceive Him." That part of this man's mind which craves these things being most sensitive, he takes just that class of materials. His magnet draws those things and no others.

4. There is a powerful influence at work in the formation and growth of the knowledge of God as derived from experience. If a person lies sick, to him all the world is cut off, all hopes are ended, all life seems sad. He does not turn to the jubilant side of God. He turns to those sides on which God declares that He comforts the sorrowing as a mother comforts her children. Another person is put in circumstances by God's providence where he needs perpetual nerve and perpetual enterprise. The sterner, the more active elements of the Divine nature, are congenial to his want and to his experience. And so he ponders these most, and comes to these most. Is one discouraged? He looks for something in his God that shall encourage him. Is one sad from remorse and repentance? He looks to the forgiving side of God. Is one set to defend the truth in a period of backsliding and persecution? He instinctively goes after the prophet's God.

5. One of the most powerful influences, aside from those which I have mentioned, for the shaping of our conceptions and the development of our knowledge of God, is the necessity or the attempt to employ the Divine nature in the rescue and education of our fellow-men. To bring the Divine nature home to all the phases of character which surround us, to all the conditions of life, and to the subjugation of the strong attributes of the mind; to find men just where they are in all their infinite variations of condition; to find that which arrests their attention; to find that which shall inspire in them some moral reaction; to find that which shall feed them — this is one of the most potential of all influences for developing in you the growth of the Divine idea. For there is no material like human nature, and there is no dignity like working in it, and there is no grandeur like success in thus working. It is declared that he who saves a soul from death shall shine like the stars of the firmament in the future kingdom of God. These are the principal ways that suggest themselves to me in which we grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. And if we be living Christians, true men, we are growing. Our conception of the Divine nature never remains at the same stage for any considerable length of time. It is enlarging itself by experience; it is enriching itself by the position and circumstances in which we are placed, so that no man can compass in words what he believes of God. If he believes all things that come through his intensified affections, through his various wants, and through the wants of those round about him, these, methodised by reflection, and vitalised by imagination, constitute an air-filling notion of God, so vast and so continually changing that anybody would say, "It is impossible for a man to write what he thinks or to say what he thinks" — as we should suppose it would be if God is infinite and is overflowing according to the conception which the thought of infinity inspires. And so every creative mind, every active mind, that is really in union with God, by prayer and affinity, and is working like Him, as well as with Him, and day by day is still augmenting in these various ways his realisations of God, having the Divine spirit in him, and growing evermore up into Him in all things, who is the Head, Jesus Christ — every such man has a growth of which he himself is not conscious, and which he never can and never could represent to others. This view should lead persons to study and consider what their condition is whether they have any living influential conception of God. You have been taught that He is the Ruler, that He is the Governor. Is He your Guide? Is He your Master? Is He your Friend? Is He your Companion? Does He smile on you? Does He converse with you? Is He the Toiler with our toil? Does He rest when you rest, and travel when you travel? Do you live and move and have your being in Him? If so, you have a God, and you have reason for endless congratulation and joy. One evidence that we have a true conception of God is, that it is growing. Why, the whip that stood before my door has become a bush; and the bush has become a large shrub, and the shrub is mounting up into a tree, and the tree shall yet spread its branches wide abroad. And that little germ which first came up, and that vast tree, are the same, although they have differed every year more and more by development and growth. And so does our conception of God grow abroad, multiplying its branches, and sub-dividing them into infinite twigs, but they all cohere in the unity of the original idea of conception. Growth does not imply the abandonment of our former notions, then. It is simply the unfolding, in a line or direction, more, not less, and differing, not by rejecting one element and inserting another, but by making each element that was true yesterday more true to-day by fulness, variety, and application in all directions. And this variety, renewing multiplicity and intensity of conception, is of more benefit to man than are selectness and definiteness of statement. That which you see most in God I am not bound to beat down because I see another quality more than you see it, and do not see the one that you see as much as you see it. Men are the complements of each other. Some men interpret God through beauty. They are my brothers, though I may be deficient in interpreting the Divine nature through this quality. I am your brother, though I may not gain the same conception of God that you do. One stands in Milan Cathedral, under the nave, and looks up into those mysterious depths until he seems as though he would exhale and fly into space. There, in the brooding darkness, the feeling of reverence weighs upon his very soul. And the Milan Cathedral to him is that which it seems to be when the low-lying sun has shot through the window and kindled the whole interior. At the very same moment there stands upon the roof another man, and about him are those three thousand statues carved and standing in their several niches and pinnacles; and everything looks like the bristling frost-work in a forest of icicles; and far above and far on every side swell the lines of beauty. How different is his conception from that of the man who stands in the nave below! But, at the same time, a man stands outside looking at the cathedral's fretted front and its wondrous beauty and diversity; while a fellow-companion and traveller is on the other side looking also at the exterior. Here are four men — one before the structure, one behind it, one on the roof, and one in the interior I and each of them, as he gives his account of the Milan Cathedral, speaks of that which made the strongest impression upon his mind, and that most carried him away. But it takes the concurrent report of these four men to represent that vast work of architecture. Is it so with a man-built cathedral? and shall it not be so with the mighty God who is from eternity to eternity? Is there any man that can take the reed of his understanding and lay it along the line of God's latitude and longitude as if he were measurable as a city? Is there any man that can cast his plummet into the depths of the Infinite and say, "I have sounded God to the bottom"? Each man has that conception of God which he is capable of receiving. This is added to the common stock. And it is these concurrent differences, these harmonious separations, that make the symphony of knowledge. We do not want unison: we want harmony. Harmony is made by different parts, and not by the repetition of the same sounds and tones.

(H. W. Beecher.)

At first sight it would appear as if Peter had inverted the natural order of things when he puts growth in the "knowledge" of Christ, after and not before, growth in the "grace "of Christ. How can we grow in the grace of Christ if we do not first possess a knowledge of Him? To know Christ, in the highest sense of that word, we must first seek to grow in the grace which distinguished Him so signally among the children of men. I stand with a great artist before a famous picture. I make bold in my ignorance of art to confess that I can see nothing extraordinary in it at all. "What," exclaims my companion, somewhat indignantly but with great enthusiasm, "don't you observe the splendid manipulation?" and forth he launches into a glowing analysis of the picture before us. While he is explaining I can discern more clearly than I did before what made the picture famous in the eyes of others, but yet at the close I had to exclaim, "Well, my friend, I have no doubt I would speak as you have done if I had your eyes, but I confess I don't see what makes you so enthusiastic. I should much like, however, to possess your knowledge and enthusiasm, and shall be glad if you will only show me love." "There is only one way of possessing the knowledge," replies my companion; "you must begin to learn the first elements of drawing and colouring, and as you .progress in the acquisition of the art of painting you will know." Without striving to grow in the graces of the painter's pencil, you will never understand the feelings of the painter himself. Turning now to moral qualities we are not infrequently surprised by the strength and the beauty of character which some of our fellow-creatures display. Here is one with a spirit which nothing can ruffle or disturb. To us, so easily provoked, so hasty to resent, so strong in speech "not seasoned with salt," that person is a mystery. "There is but one way to a knowledge or understanding of this man. We must begin where he began, by curbing the hasty passions of the heart, by continuous efforts to return good for evil, and then, by striving, to grow in his grace, we will be in a position to grow in knowledge of him. So it is with regard to the knowledge of Christ. If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine." Before we can be said to know the spirit, the life, of our Master, or enter upon the full possession of the truths He came to reveal, we must first strive to grow in the grace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. By knowledge of Christ it will be seen that we mean such an entering into sympathy with the springs and motive forces of His life as shall, by its gradual increase, lead us into the perfection of spiritual life.

1. Those who have had much to do with newly-quickened souls, or those who can recall the first experiences of the Divine life within their own hearts, will bear me out in this, that love to Christ is, at such a time, the one absorbing passion of the soul. The mind seems able only to grasp one truth — and it is a grand one — "Jesus so loved me that He gladly endured the shame and agony of the Cross in order to save me." Love is the first beautiful impulse of the heart. It is the root of all the virtues. It may be blind in the first stages of its existence, but it soon attains, at least, to partial vision — vision which will grow from more to more if rightly used. We often love each other impulsively, but there is little harm done if the impulse will but lead up to reason. But the test of growth in the knowledge of Christ is when we love Him for what lie is in Himself, and not so much for what He has done. The latter is not free from a taint of selfishness. Applying this test to Christ, do I love Him most because He is the incarnation of virtue and goodness? Then is my love not altogether worthy of Him. It has, at any rate, lost the alloy of impulse and selfishness, so apt to spoil the most precious ore of the heart.

2. The soul does not long remain under the genuine influence of Christ when it learns that to live like Him is better than simply to love Him, however ardently. It is necessary that the Saviour should be first revealed to the sinner in the first act of salvation, but once this is accomplished the Teacher sent from God leads the soul up from himself, so to speak, to a knowledge of the Holy Ghost and God the Father. When adopted into the family of God, we have many graces lying dormant, and not a few faculties impaired or withered by courses of sin. We need the Holy Ghost to quicken those graces in life, and to put new life into those withered faculties. This fact we will come to recognise only when comparing our lives with that of Christ: we then see our barrenness and emptiness. Love for Him will lead us in that case to desire to be like Him. But to live the life of Christ we need a nature balanced and sustained like His. How shall we reach this most desirable state of life? By the influence of the Holy Spirit alone. "He will take the things of Christ and show them unto us." But to live this life, what is it? Simply this. I recognise that God has given me powers and virtues as well as the opportunity to exercise them, and that, therefore, He means me to use them for some purpose. Now, what is that purpose? The answer is found in Christ. Here is a Divinely inspired and quickened life; how is it spent? In making sorrow less, in making joy more to abound. That is the simple philosophy of the life of Christ. This then is to be my life — a continual expenditure of vital forces in order to complete the work which Christ began — the redemption of the whole world from the blight of sin. Can any grander conception of life enter your imagination? Did we but possess more of the spirit of our Master we would gladly suffer a daily crucifixion if thereby we could bless the race. Yes, a true-hearted heroic man will always consider that good service is infinitely better than joy which is selfish, and will therefore look upon life as the vantage ground of Divine service and not of selfish pleasure. This we learn; up to this state we may hope to climb by growing in the knowledge of Christ.

3. Life, then, to us should not, and in fact does not pass like a dream of bliss. No one who has eyes to see can ignore the cruel wrongs, the sickening spectacles of lust and crime with which the world is full. No one with ears to hear can deny that the air is full of discords, and the ear is often stretched and strained in vain to catch the under tone of harmony which some hope and some allege may be heard underneath. The penalty of growth in true life is growth in care, mental perplexity, and pain. The more we know, the more of mystery there is to us, the more Christ-like we are, the more sensitive we become to the desolation which sin has wrought in this beautiful world of ours. Hence we come to recognise the need of another truth which most likely has not hitherto come prominently in view — that for our life to be vigorous and well sustained under all circumstances we must have our faith firmly grounded in the Fatherhood of God. Resting by a firm faith on the omnipotence, the unerring wisdom, the infinite love of God, the heart will bravely face the blinding storm of life, heroically grapple with its mysteries, and hush its doubts and fears with the inspiring whisper, "The Father reigneth."

(W. Skinner.)

I. TO GIVE SOME ACCOUNT OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST.

1. The knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ is necessary to salvation.

2. The knowledge of Christ is attained by the study of the Holy Scriptures.

3. The saving knowledge of Christ is effectually obtained by the teaching of the Holy Spirit.

4. The knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ is desirable and delightful.

II. What is implied in growing in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; or WHAT OF CHRIST HIS DISCIPLES should grow in the knowledge of.

1. They should grow in the knowledge of the Person of Christ.

2. Believers should grow in the knowledge of the love of Christ.

3. They should grow in the knowledge of the perfection of the righteousness of Christ.

4. They should grow in the knowledge of the word and way of Christ.

III. TO SPECIFY SOME OF THE EVIDENCES THAT THE DISCIPLES OF CHRIST ARE GROWING IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIM.

1. He will be rising higher and higher in the estimation of your souls.

2. You will be growing in a filial dependence on Him.

3. The more you grow in the knowledge of Christ the more you will be assimilated to His glorious image.

4. The more you grow in the knowledge of Christ you will the more cheerfully worship, honour, and obey Him.

(John Jardine.)

When the Pilgrim Fathers first came to America they did not discover all — the iron, the coal, the natural gas. So with Christ. There are many needs in us of which the young convert dreams not.

(D. Watson.).

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