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Growth in Grace.

Growth in Grace.

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Published by glennpease



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Published by: glennpease on May 15, 2013
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GROWTH I GRACE.PUBLISHED BY THE AMERICA TRACT SOCIETY.BY REV. THOMAS GOODWI, D. D.PREFATORY REMARKS.1. There are, among Christians, two sorts of converts :those who, at the time of conversion, are sensible of thechange wrought in their minds ; and those to whom thechange is not, at the time, perceptible.As to the first, the suddenness of the change producesgreat effects in them. The powers of their minds aregreatly excited. Their feelings are unusually strong. Theyhave great sorrow and deep humiliation for sin. Theirsouls are watered with copious dews and showers fromheaven ; till all the streams swell to a flood. But, by andby, the waters abate, and flow in an ordinary channel"; andthen, those who had supposed tlieir joys were always to last,ignorant of the cause of their interruption, begin to indulgein sorrow, give way to distressing doubts, and in the end,perhaps, are ready to conclude that they are not subjectsof grace.Those who have never been sensible of any suddenchange in their views, are exercised with doubts of anotherkind. Conversion was to them as the morning light, notperceptible at first, but " shining more and more unto theperfect day." They are therefore distressed that they can-not tell when the streams began to flow.Thus hath God in his wisdom ordered it, that neitherthe one class nor the other should rest in any works wroughtin them ; but all fly to Christ alone.2. Those who grow in grace, do not appear to them-roL. H. "23'''O GROWTH I GRACE.
selves to be growing more holy ; on the contrary, they aremore and more sensible that they are great sinners. True,they loathe sin more than ever, and are less than ever underits dominion ; yet, having more perfect views of God'scharacter and law, they daily become better convinced of their own exceeding depravity and vileness.3. Earnest desires after greater degrees of grace areexcited in Christians by a discovery of their deficiencies.When they see so many wants, they are often ready to think they do not grow in grace. " There is," sajth Solomon," that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches." Be-cause he enlarges his desires, therefore he thinks himself poor. But to determine our bnproveinent, we are not to com-pare our writing with our copy ; but our writing now, withwhat it was at jirst.4. It is not to be expected, that growth in grace will beas discernible as the change wrought at first conversion.Then, the change is from entire sinfulness to a beginningof holiness. Afterwards, in growth of grace, the change isonly from one degree of holiness to another ; the additionof something more of the same kind.5. To discern growth in grace, time must be allowed.Christians do not grow perceptibly, till after some space.or are those things which grow the fastest, always themost excellent. Rushes and willows grow fast, but theyare weak plants : oaks grow slowly, but they are solid, andattain to great size.6. In the degree and manner of growth. Christians arenot alike. To some God gives more grace at first, whenhe has immediate use for them ; as to Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles. To some he gives five talents : to others, two.And some who are soon to die, God fits early for heaven.Again, there are some who grow almost without inter-mission, while others are continually meeting with obstaclesin their way ; and perhaps, for a time, cease to grow.Such are to determine their growth, not by a part of theirlives, but by comparing their whole lives together.GROWTH I GRACE.
MISTAKES REMOVED.It will be my object here, to point out several things,ichich are often made measures of growth in grace, butlohich in reality are evidences nowise to he depended upon.1. Growth in grace is not to be measured by groioth ingifts.Hypocrites may grow in gifts. Believers too may growin gifts, as in praying, preaching, and exhortation, whilethey gain nothing in grace. Gifts are desirable, and theapostle bids us " covet earnestly the best gifts." But headds, " yet I show unto you a more excellent way." Thismore excellent way, he tells us, is charity : that is, truegrace, holy love, love exercised towards God and our neigh-bor. And what stronger language could he have used, thanwhen he further adds, " Though I speak with the tonguesof men and of angels, and have not charity, 1 am becomeas sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal." Gifts may ena-ble us to edify others ; nothing short of grace can save ourown souls.We ought, indeed, to endeavor to grow in gifts, that wemay be more serviceable to those around us ; and for thisreason it is, that we are commanded to covet the best gifts.But there is a wide difference between cultivating gifts, andmaking them the measure of grace. The one is directlyenjoined upon us in Scripture ; the other is forbidden, andis manifestly full of danger.It should never be forgotten by us, that the greater giftswe possess, the greater obligations we are under to becomeeminently useful. If our gifts come from Christ, and wevise them for him, they will aid our growth in grace ; if not,they will only prove a hindrance, and serve to enhance ourfinal condemnation.Here it should be remarked, that by increasing in grace,men often, yea, commonly, increase in gifts ; and that, for

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