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How rich the justifying merit of his righteousness! For his fake the Holy Spirit will dwell with men, and powerfully apply what the Redeemer purchased. He renews their souls, bestows his graces, and by a progressive fanctification, prepares them as a bride adorned for ber hus. band.
But is this the great work which God has wrought ? Is this the work which he has been carrying on in the hearts of his people in every age? And are there thou. fands now upon earth, who are united to Christ, and, by growing in grace, are preparing to dwell for ever with bim? Let it alarm your minds, and excite in you most earnest and fervent desires to participate in the same bles. fing: 0 that you may obtain grace to surmount every obstacle, and resolve to join the company of the redeemed! O that you may say and perform what you say, we will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you !
This world is the first stage of our existence. Here we are preparing for future scenes, where our state will be unalterably fixed in happiness or woe. Now is the accepted time for us, bębold now is the day of salvation. Dream not of any probation hereafter. From hell there is no reprieve. The wicked will go away with the irrevocable curse of the Supreme Judge, and remain sealed down into an everlasting, an absolutely everlasting punilhment. There scripture leaves them, and tbe fmoke of their torment afcendeth up for ever and ever. While life then remains, and the means of grace are enjoyed, harden not your hearts, and wrong not your own souls. The Son of God has come to you in a preached gospel ; see that you reverence him.-Kiss the Son, left he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little : -Blessed are all they tbat put their trust in him. Amen.
GROWTH IN GRACE.
JOHN H. LIVINGSTON, D. D. S. T. P. One of the Ministers of the Dutch Reformed Church,
2 PET. iii. 18. But grow in Grace.
THE service in the Temple, under the Old Testa
ment, was fitted to the dispensation of the church before the coming of the Mesliah. The types and sacrifices directed the views of believers to the Lamb of God, who was to take away the sins of the world ; and when their faith was in exercise, they attended the offerings with raised affections, and surrounded the altar with songs of praise. At their three great stated fealls, they repaired to Jerusalem with great willingness, and chearfully surmounted the difficulties and discouragements which attended them on the way. The Psalmist celebrates this in the 84th psalm, and pronounces a blesling upon those, in whole hearts are the ways of them; who having fixed their happiness in God as their highest end, rejoice in all
the ways which lead to him, and are faithful in using the means he has appointed to strengthen their graces, and keep up their communion with him. They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God. As they travelled towards the temple, their company increased by the accession of more from the towns through which they passed ; and with respect to individuals, instead of wearying with the fatigues of the journey, they found their strength recruited the nearer they came to Jerusalem.-What is said of the Israelites in that psalm, is fully accomplished in the highest sense of the words in all believers under the New Testament difpensation. They go from strength to strength. They grow in grace, and shall at last become perfect in glory. The righteous shall hold on their way; and they that have clean hands shall be stronger and Aronger.—They are changed from one degree of glorious grace to another, until at length every one of them appeareth before God in Zion. Blessed therefore is the man in whose heart are the ways of them; who loves, and earnestly improves the means of grace, because of their connection with the end, and has no care, delight or pleasure so near his heart.What those means of grace are, we now, my brethren, are particularly to consider.
In a former discourse upon growth in grace, I proposed
1. To explain the exhortation of the Apostle. And,
2. To direct you to the best means for complying with it.
The first I have finished.--.It now remains to attend to the second. What are the MEANS appointed of God? In what way, and by what method can we best attain a G3
growth in grace? I shall first premise a general answer, and then descend to particulars.
First, I anfwer in general, that we cannot expect to grow in grace without vigorous exertions. The progr e ss of Christians is always mentioned in scripture, by terms which imply the most active and resolụte efforts. It is called a warfare, a wrestling, a race; and the exercises of believers are described as such, which call up all their at. tention, and require their utmost exertions. They are to give all diligence to be strong, to quit themselves like men, to watch, and to be fober; they are to strive to enter in, and in a certain fense, are to use violence, for the violent take it by force. The obstacles which render such efforts necessary, are not on the part of religion, in itself considered, for the ways of wisdom are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace; but they arise from the remaining depravity in our own hearts; that law in our members, which wars against the law of our minds, and too often brings us into captivity to the law of fin. We are not therefore to suppose when we are justified by be. lieving in Christ, our whole work is done. Then first we put on the armour, and must fight the good figbt of faith before we can obtain the crown. If we sleep, the enemy will soon low tares; our corrupt natures, before we are aware of the danger, will prevail against us, and fins and lusts which for the time appear dead, will arise and put on new strength. It is the band of the diligent that maketh rich, as well in religion, as in the common affairs of life. To grow in grace, we must be active, we must be vigilant. Again, I answer in general, that to grow in grace, the believer must always remember his total dependence for direction and assistance in every duty, upon the Lord Jesus. Work out, says the Apostle, your
own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his own good pleasure. Exertions on our part are altogether compatible with the operation of God in and upon us. So far from proving an objection against salvation through grace, this very union of duty and promise, of our efforts and the Divine aid, is a strong argument of its truth, and recommends it as worthy of all acceptation. These very exertions prove that of ourselves we are insufficient, and that our life is bid with Cbrift in God. We are not called to this warfare in our own strength, or fent out upon our own charge. My son, says Paul to Timothy, be Strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.-Without remembering this, the Christian will find himself, however well furnished in other respects, like David when girded in the armour of Saul, incumbered with weight, but un. fit for the combat. I cannot go with these, said the strippling hero to the monarch ; and I cannot go with these, will be the reply of every believer, whom experience has taught; but I will go in the strength of the Lord God : I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only.
But let me specify particulars, and enumerate some of the principal means, which are most efficacious, with the Divine blessing, to promote our growth in grace. · The first I shall name and recommend to you is, a frequent meditation upon the once crucified but now exalted Saviour. This I name first, not only because it is a leading motive, but because our Apostle has mentioned it in this very verse before us, as most intimately connected with growth in grace.
In the life of the bleffed Jesus, we have the brightest display of the beauty of holiness. The law of the Lord was within his heart. Zeal for his Father's glory like a G4