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A Sermon



"But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen."-2 Peter iii. 18.

BEHOLD, beloved, our perpetual dangers. Whither can we go to escape from peril? Where shall we fly to avoid temptation? If we venture into business, worldliness is there. If we retire to our homes, trials are there. One would have imagined that in the green pastures of the Word of God there would have been perfect security for God's sheep. Surely no lion shall be there, and no ravenous beast shall go up thereon! Alas! it is not so. For even while we are reading the Bible we are still exposed to peril. Not that the truth is dangerous, but that our corrupt hearts can find poison in the very flowers of Paradise. Mark what our apostle saith of the writings of St. Paul, "Wherein are some things which are hard to be understood." And mark the danger to which we are exposed, lest we, being unlearned and unstable, should wrest even the Word of God itself to our own destruction. With the Bible before our eyes, we may still commit sin; and pondering over the hallowed words of inspiration, we may receive a deadly wound from "the error of the wicked." Even at the horns of the altar we need that God should still cover us with the shadow of his wings. It is a very pleasing reflection that our gracious Father has provided a shield by which we may be sheltered from every ill, and in our text the evil of heterodoxy finds a suitable preventative. We are in danger, lest misinterpreting Scripture we should make God to say what he does not; and lest by departing from the teaching of the Holy Spirit, we should wrest the letter of the Word and lose its spirit, and from the letter draw a meaning which may be for our soul's ruin. How shall we escape this? Peter, speaking by the Holy Ghost, has in the words before us, pointed out our safeguard. While ye search the Scriptures and grow in acquaintance with them, see to it that ye grow in grace; and while ye desire to know the doctrine, long above all to grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; and let your study of Scripture, and your growth in grace and in the knowledge

of Christ, still be subservient to that higher object, that you may live to bring glory both now and for ever to Him who hath loved you and bought you with his blood. Let your hearts say evermore, "Amen" to the doxology of praise, so shall ye be kept from all pestilent errors, and ye shall not "fall from your own stedfastness." It appears, then, that our text is adapted to be a heavenly remedy for certain diseases to which even students of Scripture are exposed; and I am persuaded it may serve also as a most blessed directory to us through the whole of the coming year.

I might divide my text, this morning, as good old Adams does. He says there are here two trumpets. One is blown from heaven to earth"Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" the other sounds from earth to heaven-"To him be glory both now and for ever." Or I might quote him again. He says, here is first a point of theology, "Grow in grace;" secondly, a point of doxology, "To him be glory both now and for ever." We will take the text in the same natural divisions with other headings, and just notice, first, that we have here a divine injunction, with a special direction; and secondly, a grateful doxology, with a suggestive conclusion.

I. To begin, then, at the beginning, we have here first of all, 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, otherwise this text cannot apply to us at all. Dead things cannot grow. Only those who are alive unto God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, have in them any power or capability of growth. The great Quickener must first implant the seeds of life, then afterwards those seeds can germinate and grow. To you, therefore, who are dead in trespasses and sins, this text has no application. You cannot grow in grace, because as yet you are under the curse of the law, and the wrath of God abideth on you. Tremble, repent, believe, and may God have mercy on you. But being alive from the dead, and quickened by the Spirit of God which is in you, beloved brethren, you who are born again are bidden to grow, for growth shall prove your life. A post planted in the earth grows not; but a tree rooted there, increases from a sapling to a forest king. Drop a pebble into the richest soil, and it will be a pebble still of the same size; put in there the grain or the pulse, and it will spring up and produce its stalk and its flower. Ye who are alive unto God, see to it that ye grow in all the graces. Grow in that root-grace, faith. Seek to believe the promises better than ye have done. Go from that trembling faith which says, "Lord, I believe: help thou my unbelief," upward to that which staggers not at the promise, but which, like Abraham, believes that he who has promised is able also to perform. 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 entirely, and more completely upon the finished work of your 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. If ye have brought to Christ some little, pray that ye may bring your all; and may offer that all in such a fashion, that like Mary's broken alabaster box, the king himself may be satisfied with the perfume. 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 love to 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 be looking for that blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; that the hope not seen as yet may enable you with patience to wait for it; 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-may give you to see God, while as yet the glass darkly parts you from him. 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. In fine, if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, if there be anything that is lovely and of good repute, if there be anything that can increase your usefulness, that can add to your happiness, that can make you more serviceable to man and more glorious towards God, grow in it, for ye have not yet attained, neither are ye yet already perfect.

Following up an illustration furnished by the holy Scriptures, let me remind you all, ye faithful believers in Christ, that ye are compared to trees-trees of the Lord's right hand planting. Seek to grow as the tree grows. Pray that this year ye may grow downward; that ye may know more of your own vileness, more of your own nothingness; and so be rooted in humility. Pray that your roots may penetrate below the mere topsoil of truth, into the great rocks which underlie the uppermost stratum; that ye may get a good hold of the doctrines of eternal love, of immutable faithfulness, of complete satisfaction, of union to Christ, of the eternal purpose of God, which he purposed in Christ Jesus before the world was. These deep things of God will yield a rich and abundant sap, and your roots shall drink from the hidden fountains of "the depth which lieth under." This will be a growth which will not add to your fame, which will not minister to your vanity: but it will be invaluable in the hour of storm, a growth the value of which no heart can conceive when the hurricane is tearing up the hypocrite, and hurling into the sea of destruction the "trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots." As ye root downward, seek to grow upward. Send out the topshoot of your love towards heaven. As the trees send out their spring shoot and their midsummer shoot; and as you see upon the top

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