1 Thessalonians 1:1
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace to you.
Sermons
Address and SalutationT. Croskery 1 Thessalonians 1:1
Grace be unto You and PeaceC. Bradley, M. A.1 Thessalonians 1:1
In God the FatherJ. Leckie, D. D.1 Thessalonians 1:1
IntroductionR. Finlayson 1 Thessalonians 1:1
PeaceT. Guthrie, D. D.1 Thessalonians 1:1
Peace of ChristScottish Christian Herald1 Thessalonians 1:1
Phases of Apostolic GreetingG. Barlow.1 Thessalonians 1:1
SilvanusW. L. Bevan, M. A.1 Thessalonians 1:1
The AddressB.C. Caffin 1 Thessalonians 1:1
The Introduction to the EpistleA. S. Patterson, D. D.1 Thessalonians 1:1
The Note of a True ChurchJ. Hutchison, D. D.1 Thessalonians 1:1
The Pastor's PrayerJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Thessalonians 1:1
TimotheusBleek.1 Thessalonians 1:1
To the ChurchProf. Jowett.1 Thessalonians 1:1
At a point almost midway between the apostle's call and his martyrdom he penned this first of his thirteen Epistles, which was, perhaps, the earliest book of New Testament Scripture, and addressed to one of the primary centers of European Christianity.

I. THE AUTHORS OF THE SALUTATION. "Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy." Simply Paul, without official adjunct of any sort, for there was no one in the Thessalonian Church to challenge his apostleship or his relationship to Christ. He associates Silvanus and Timothy with himself in the salutation as they were associated with him in the original foundation of the Church; Silvanus being placed next to himself, because he was of older standing and greater weight in the Church than Timothy, a comparatively young evangelist.

II. THE CHURCH TO WHICH THE SALUTATION WAS ADDRESSED. "To the Church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."

1. Its situation. Thessalonica was the capital of all Macedonia, and is still the second city of European Turkey. Important then as now by its commerce; important by its place on the great road which connected Rome with its Asiatic dependencies; but more important in the eye of the apostle as a grand center of missionary operations both by laud and sea, and with a mingled population of Jews and Gentiles.

2. Its true character as a Church. It was "the Church of the Thessalonians" - a regularly organized community of Christians, mostly Gentiles, having the root and ground of its spiritual existence in union with the Father and the Son. They were "in the fellowship of the Father and the Son," because they were "dwelling in God, and God in them," and "they were in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ." The one fellowship implies the other; for Jesus said, "No man cometh unto the Father but by me;" yet it is also true that it is "God who calls us into the fellowship of the Son" (1 Corinthians 1:9). This double fellowship is secured by the bond of the Holy Spirit. As enjoyed by the Thessalonians it implied:

(1) Their devotion to the truth; for only "as abiding in the doctrine of Christ" they would have "both the Father and the Son" (2 John 9 1 John 2:24). There is no fellowship but in the truth. To be in darkness is to be out of fellowship (1 John 1:6).

(2) Their unity. "Even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us" (John 17:21).

(3) Their love to one another. "If we love one another God abideth in us" (1 John 4:12).

(4) Their boldness in the day of judgment (1 John 2:28).

(5) Their ultimate perfection. "I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one" (John 17:21-23). Behold thus the high dignity and blessed privilege of the Church at Thessalonica.

III. THE SALUTATION. "Grace and peace be unto you." (See homiletical hints on Galatians 1:5; Colossians 1:2.) - T.C.







Paul and Silvanus and Timotheus (see
But what an astronomer he would be who should sit at his telescope, watching the instrument, praising its lenses, magnifying the honour of its maker, cleaning, fixing, and adjusting it, and never seeing anything through it! It is what is beyond the telescope, it is what the telescope reveals and brings to you, that gives it its value. Without that, it is good for nothing. Now the Church is God's telescope; and if it enables you to see through the visible to the invisible, if it brings you truth, if it brings your time —thoughts into the relations of eternity, if it brings God, as a veritable person — yea, as a Father — near to your heart and near to your moral sense, then it is the Church of God to you. Otherwise, it is the Church of man. If it be opaque; if it stop your thought with itself; if you have got only so far as that you are a Churchman, you have not started on the true Christian course.

(H. W. Beecher.)

What is summer worth in the desert of Sahara? It found it sand, and leaves it sand. The sun and the summer are worthless to the desert. And what is the Church worth to you? It is worth just what it develops in you, as an educating institution. Its whole design is to hold you up in weak hours; to inspire you with higher thoughts and with sweeter dispositions; and to give you power to lift yourself up to the invisible. The Church is neither to be worshipped nor to be rested upon. You are not safe because you are in it, any more than the child is learned because it has been at school. The school is of great value; there knowledge is gained more readily than it can be gained elsewhere: but we do not undervalue it when we say that you should not worship it. And the Church — should I disparage that — I, a minister, that have received its blessings, and that have seen them imparted to others? No; but its value is in this: that it teaches you. to neglect the lower, and to centre your affections on the higher. For nothing less than God can satisfy the human soul — no ordinance, no service, nothing but love, down dropping from the everlasting Fountain of sympathy, of pity, and of compassion. The love of God can satisfy you; and the uniting with the Church is good to you just in proportion as you, through the Church, look up and see God.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Peace
Through the Middlesex Narrows, the Winooski River rushes with impetuous torrent. When nearly through the Narrows the waters dash with tremendous force against a great rock that rises majestically many feet into the air. On this rock, near the top, is a hollow place of considerable size into which the rain falling collects and so forms a beautiful pool. So tranquil this pool becomes that it lies there a mirror reflecting the blue sky, the fleecy clouds, and the glories of the setting sun. Below, at the foot of the rock, the waters are in wild commotion. So on the Rock of Ages, rising high above and withstanding the world's wild rushing flood, peacefully rests the believer reflecting the glories of the world above — kept in perfect peace.

We are bound to thank God always for you
I. THANKSGIVING IS A DEBT THAT WE OWE TO GOD FOR HIS BENEFITS.

1. Justice requires it, for our mercies were given on this condition (Psalm 50:15). We ourselves consent to this covenant. We seldom pray in distress without promising thankfulness (Hosea 14:2). Yet how backward are we to perform (Luke 17:18). It is a kind of theft if we crave help in our necessities, and then act as though it came from ourselves.

2. God expects it — not de facto actually; He expects no more than is given — but de jure, of right He might expect (Luke 13:7; Isaiah 5:4; 2 Chronicles 32:25). Therefore a good man should make conscience of his returns (Psalm 116:12).

3. It keeps up our intercourse with God. By the laws of Ezekiel's temple the worshippers were to go in at one door and out at another, that no back might be turned on the Mercy seat (Ezekiel 46:9). God cannot bear to have men turn their backs upon Him when their turn is served. Prayer and praise should be our continual work (Hebrews 13:15).

4. It provides for the succession of mercies. The more thankful we are the more we receive; as a husbandman trusts more of his precious seed to a fruitful soil. The ascent of vapours makes way for the descent of showers (Psalm 67:5, 6; Colossians 2:7).

5. It exercises and promotes all spiritual graces.(1) Faith, when we see the invisible Hand that reaches out our supplies (1 Chronicles 29:14; Hosea 2:8).(2) Love (Psalm 116:1, 2). Self-love puts us more on prayers, but the love of God on praises.(3) Hope, as Abraham built an altar in Canaan when he had not a foot of land in it (Genesis 13:18).(4) Humility. The humble are most delighted in the praises of God, the proud in their own (Hebrews 1:16; Genesis 32:10; 2 Samuel 7:18).

6. It prevents many sins, as —

(1)Insensibility to God's blessings.

(2)Murmuring (Job 2:10; Job 1:21).

(3)Distrust and carking cares (Philippians 4:6; Psalm 77:10, 11).

(4)Spiritual pride (1 Corinthians 4:7).

II. IN THANKSGIVING SPIRITUAL BENEFITS ARE TO BE ESPECIALLY ACKNOWLEDGED, because —

1. They are discriminating, and come from God's special love. Corn, wine, and oil are bestowed on the world, but faith and love on the saints (Psalm 106:4). Protection is the benefit of every common subject, but intimate love and near admission the privilege of favourites. Christ gave His purse to Judas, but His Spirit to the others.

2. They concern the better part, the inward man (2 Corinthians 4:16). It is a greater favour to heal a wound than to mend a garment. The soul is more than the body; and a soul furnished with grace than one furnished with gifts (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

3. They are secured at greater cost than temporal blessings. The latter are bestowed by God as Creator and Upholder; saving grace He bestows only as the God and Father of Christ (Ephesians 1:3).

4. They are pledges and beginnings of eternal blessings (John 5:24; Romans 8:30; 2 Corinthians 3:18).

5. They incline and fit the heart for thankfulness. Outward benefits give us the occasion, these the disposition (Psalm 63:5).

6. They are never given in anger, as temporal benefits sometimes are (Matthew 13:11; Philippians 1:19).

7. They render us acceptable with God. A man is more accountable for worldly blessings, but not of greater account (Luke 12:48); but saving graces are acceptable (1 Peter 3:4).

8. They should be acknowledged, that God may have the sole glory of them (James 1:17; Revelation 4:10, 11; Isaiah 26:12; 1 Chronicles 29:14; 1 Corinthians 15:10; Luke 19:16).

III. SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS VOUCHSAFED TO OTHERS MUST BE ACKNOWLEDGED WITH THANKFULNESS.

1. It suits with our relation as members in the same mystical body of Christ, and so is part of the communion of saints (1 Corinthians 12:26; Philippians 1:7; Romans 12:15; Colossians 1:3, 4).

2. The glory of God is concerned in it. Wherever His goodness shines forth, especially with any eminency, it must be acknowledged (Romans 1:8; Galatians 1:24).

3. Our profit is concerned in it, inasmuch as it conduces to a common good. The good of some is the gain of the whole; we are benefited by their example, confirmed in their companionship (1 Thessalonians 1:7, 8; 1 Corinthians 1:4, 5; Romans 1:2).

4. If the salvation of our brethren be dear to us, whatever is given in order thereto we must reckon among our benefits, and we should rejoice in one another's gifts and graces as our own.

5. We increase their faith and comfort by such thanksgiving (Philippians 1:3-6).

IV. IN THANKSGIVING FOR SPIRITUAL BENEFITS, WHETHER TO OURSELVES OR OTHERS, THE INCREASE OF GRACE MUST BE ACKNOWLEDGED AS WELL AS THE BEGINNING OF IT. The degree is from God. He that begins perfects (Philippians 1:6).

1. Not our own free will (John 6:44).

2. Not the strength of our resolutions (Psalm 73:2).

3. Not the stability of gracious habits (Revelation 3:2).

4. But God only (1 Peter 5:10; Luke 17:5).

(T. Manton, D. D.)

In some of the Epistles we have the Church presented in a declining state, and suitable admonitions are given to her; in other Epistles we see her prospering, and hear the counsels of infinite wisdom proclaimed unto her. The Thessalonian Church was of the latter character, and seems to have been eminently favoured of her God. She was high in the esteem of the apostle; and deservedly so, because conspicuous among all the Churches of that age for high attainments.

I. THE HAPPY STATE OF THE THESSALONIAN CHURCH. In her infant state she was highly commended for "her works of faith, and labours of love, and patience of hope"; but here we view her in her adult state.

1. Her increasing faith. This "had grown exceedingly," being daily more vivid in its apprehensions, more vigorous in its actings, and more uniform in its effects. Their faith had evinced its growth in that it had enabled them to see, almost as with their bodily eyes, the Saviour they loved, enthroned above all powers, invested with a fulness of spiritual gifts, ordering all things in heaven and earth, and, by His prevailing intercession at the right hand of God, securing to His believing people all the blessings of grace and glory. A corresponding energy, too, was felt through all the powers of their souls, accompanied with a fixed determination to live for Him who lived and died for them.

2. Her abounding love. In almost every Church there are comparative alienations of heart, if not some actual disagreements; but here "the charity of every one of them all toward each other abounded." One spirit pervaded the whole body; and time, instead of giving occasion to the enemy to foment differences, had only cemented and confirmed their mutual affection, so that they were greatly assimilated to the very image of Him whose name and nature is Love. Happy people!

3. Her invincible patience. Great had been the trials of her members from the beginning (1 Thessalonians 2:14, 15); but they were not intimidated: "they held fast the profession of their faith with out wavering," "in nothing terrified by their adversaries"; "for they had respect unto the recompence of the reward." They even glorified in their sufferings; and so "possessed their souls in patience," and allowed "patience to have her perfect work." What an enviable state was this!

II. THE LIGHT IN WHICH THE APOSTLE VIEWED THIS STATE.

1. He regarded it as a fit subject of thanksgiving to God. "Of Him," and Him alone, "was their fruit found." To Him therefore St. Paul gave the glory, "as it was meet" he should, and as he felt himself "bound" to do. So should we acknowledge God in all that is good, and glorify Him for it.

2. He regarded their state also as a fit subject of commendation to other Churches. He gloried of them in those where he ministered, in order to stimulate them to greater exertions, and encourage them to expect greater measures of Divine grace, in order to their own more exalted proficiency.

3. He further regarded their state as a fit subject of congratulation to themselves. Their graces, exercised under very trying circumstances, sufficiently demonstrated that there must be a future state of retribution, where the present inequalities of the Divine procedure would be rectified, and when "they should be accounted worthy of that kingdom" for which they suffered so much.

III. THE LESSONS WE SHOULD LEARN FROM THIS CHURCH.

1. That opposition, how formidable soever it may be, is no excuse for our turning back from God. What are our persecutions in comparison of those which they endured? Yet they were "stedfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord." Should we then be intimidated? No; we should take up our cross cheerfully; and having counted the cost, should be content to pay it.

2. That whatever proficiency we have made in the Divine life, we should still press forward for higher attainments. The Thessalonians, through mercy, had attained a rare eminence in the Divine life: so should we, forgetting all that is behind, reach forward to all that is before. We should "grow up into Christ in all things." Application:(1) How different from the Thessalonian Church are the generality of those who call themselves Christians!(2) How diligently should the most exalted Christians press forward in their heavenly course!

(C. Simeon, M. A.)

Observe:

I. IT IS A COMFORT THAT OUR INWARD MAN IS IN A GOOD STATE WHATEVER IT BE WITH OUR OUTWARD. The Thessalonians were poor and afflicted (1 Thessalonians 1:6). Yet their condition before God was prosperous, and matter of thanksgiving rather than lamentation (so 2 Corinthians 4:16). We should count this world's goods well exchanged if by the want of them our spiritual graces are increased. If God by an aching head will give us a better heart; by a sickly body a healthy soul (3 John 1:2); by lessening us in the world make us rich in faith (James 2:5), we should not barely submit, but be thankful (Psalm 119:71; 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10; Hebrews 12:11).

II. IT IS NOT ENOUGH BARELY TO BE GOOD, BUT WE MUST GROW FROM GOOD TO BETTER AND BE BEST AT LAST.

1. God's children wait on the Lord, and He is not wont to be sparing to those who attend upon Him (Isaiah 40:31).

2. They are planted in a fertile soil (Psalm 92:13, 14).

3. There are ordinances by which they receive a supply of the Spirit (Psalm 84:7).

4. They find new encouragement in God's ways (Proverbs 10:29).

5. Our reward should encourage us (Philippians 3:14).

6. The way is so pleasant that we have no occasion to tire in it (2 Peter 3:18).

7. God expects it (Hebrews 5:12; Luke 12:48; John 15:2).

III. THEIR GROWTH WAS CONSIDERABLE. Certainly they did not overgrow their duty, but it was a wonderful growth considering the difference between what they once were and what now, and between them and others, even their contemporaries in the faith. We should not only grow, but excel in grace. To this end we should be —

1. More humble (James 4:6).

2. Diligent in the use of gifts (Luke 8:18).

3. Thankful (Colossians 2:7).

4. Obedient to the Word of God as our rule, and the sanctifying motions of the Spirit as our principle (Jeremiah 8:9; Ephesians 4:30).

IV. THEIR GROWTH WAS IN BOTH FAITH AND LOVE.

1. These are inseparable (Colossians 1:4; 1 Timothy 1:13), the one concerning our personal, the other the Church's benefit. We are to edify ourselves in faith, others in love.

2. This connection is necessary, because all religion is exercised by these graces. The mysteries of religion are received and improved by faith, and its precepts and duties acted by love (1 Corinthians 16:13, 14).

3. The qualification which entitles us to the privileges of the new covenant in faith working by love (Galatians 5:6). Faith without love is dead, and love without faith is but a little good nature.

4. Both graces are recommended by the same authority (1 John 3:23).

5. The one refers to God, the other to man. The one keeps us from defection from God, the other from a schism with our fellow Christians.

V. THIS GROWTH AND PROFICIENCY WAS FOUND IS ALL. Not only some were eminent for faith and charity but all.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

I. IT IS THE DIVINE WILL THAT FAITH SHOULD GROW. Growth is one of the characteristics of God's work. The oak that breasts the storm, and fights in savage fury with the gale, is after all only the outgrowth of the acorn, once carried in a child's pocket, and thrown with childish glee down the ravine. The eagle, that looks with unblinking eye upon the sun, was once the tiny eaglet in the nest, who feared to spread the wing. The Goal of nature and the God of grace are one. Beloved, God's trees, the trees of His right hand planting, attain not their full proportion in a moment. Think not because you have not yet attained the faith and joy of So-and-so that there has been no work of genuine grace in your heart. He who has commenced the work will carry it on by successive stages, for growth is our Lord's method of working; perhaps some will ask the question "Why?" May we not venture to suggest that the growth of a believer is part of God's joy? There is a pleasure in watching growth. Is it not your greatest joy to mark the tender growth of the body, and the gradual development of the mind, of the little light of the home? Shall He who implanted that joy lack it Himself? Moreover, it is by this process of gradual growth that we best learn our Lord. Were we to attain maturity at once, we should lose many a sweet experience; we should have but little knowledge of His lovingkindness, and know but little of His long suffering tenderness.

II. GROWTH IN FAITH IS GOD'S WORK. This we gather from the form of expression used in our text, "we are bound to thank God." Paul recognized the growth of faith in the Church at Thessalonica as God's doing. Man has never yet been able to place that secret thing into any of His works which will cause them to grow. The sculptor may chisel the marble block into a form of loveliness until it almost seems to breathe, but it has no inherent power of development, a century of time will find it, as his hand left it. The artist may fashion in wax, flowers that deceive the sight, but to impart that power which will cause the bud to open into a flower is beyond his skill. The prerogative to cause growth is God's alone, and that growth is as much His work as the first implanting of the principle of life. The tree grows not by violent efforts of its own, but simply by living in the sunshine, and God's children grow not by their own vows and resolves, but by dwelling in the light of His countenance, who is the "Sun of Righteousness." Do you ask, how He makes our faith to grow?

1. By placing in faith itself, a principle that compels its growth. As in the infant so in faith there is that which naturally develops itself, a stillborn faith such as a devil may have can never grow, but a living faith, living because it's God given, must grow.

2. But growth requires nourishment, and by nourishment God increases faith. The child grows by food, and the tree grows not unless it draws its nourishment from earth and air, and the author of our faith has provided for faith a continual banquet. I mean the promises. Now a child will not grow by nourishment alone, it wants exercise. Growth in bulk is not always growth in strength. It is not the sitting at the dinner table, but the running out of doors in healthy exercise that makes the child grow. The tree grows not alone through sunshine and soft summer breezes, but by the wintry gale. A week's campaign in the battlefield will make a better soldier than a year of parade.

3. God makes His children's faith grow strong by exercise. To Abraham's faith He gives a Mount Moriah; to Jacob's, the loss of a Benjamin. To Daniel's, a den of lions; and to Job's, a succession of messengers of evil; and think not believer that you will be an exception.

III. GROWTH IN FAITH IS A CAUSE FOR REJOICING. "We are bound to thank God, brethren, because your faith groweth exceedingly."

1. Because He knew that in proportion as their faith grew, so also would their happiness. Faith and happiness always walk hand in hand.

2. I think also Paul rejoiced because he knew that in proportion as their faith increased so would their capacity for labour. A great work is too much for the hands of weak faith, and a heavy burden would break its back. Weak faith walks in the rear, of the army only, strong faith in the van. Little faith can do a useful work in hoeing and raking and watering the plants of the garden, but only strong faith is qualified to go out as pioneer into the backwoods of sin, and with lusty blows make the first clearing.

IV. FAITH SHOULD NOT ONLY GROW, BUT GROW EXCEEDINGLY. "I do not think the apostle Paul so much thanks God in this text for the growth of faith in the Church at Thessalonica, as for the fact that it grew exceedingly. It was not a small but a great increase of faith He saw in them. Be not content with a mere canoe faith, only meant for fine weather, and swamped through a capfull of wind; but pray for a leviathan faith that sports itself in the deep when lashed in wildest fury.

(A. G. Brown.)

I. THE INCONVENIENCES OF LITTLE FAITH.

1. When faith begins it is like a grain of mustard seed, but as the Spirit bedews it with His grace it germinates, begins to spread and becomes a great tree. When faith begins it is —(1) Simply looking unto Jesus, perhaps through a cloud of doubts, with much dimness of eye.(2) When faith grows it rises from looking to coming to Christ.(3) That done faith lays hold on Christ, sees Him in, His excellency, and appropriates Him.(4) Then it leans on Christ, casting on Him the burden of its sins and cares.(5) Next, faith puts in a certain claim to all that Christ is, and has wrought.(6) Lastly, it mounts to full assurance, and out of heaven there is no state more rapturous and blessed. But there are some Christians who never get out of little faith. There are many such in the "Pilgrim's Progress." There is Ready-to-halt, who went all the way to the celestial city on crutches, and then left them when he entered Jordan; Feeble-mind, who only lost his weakness when he came to the same place where he buried it; Mr. Fearing, who used to stumble over a straw, and get frightened if he saw a drop of rain; Mr. Despondency and Miss Much-Afraid, who were so long locked up in the dungeon of Giant Despair that they were almost starved to death.

2. The inconveniences of this little faith.(1) While it is always sure of heaven it seldom thinks so. Little-faith is as sure of heaven as Great-faith. When Christ comes to count up His jewels, He will take to, Himself the little pearls as well as the great ones. Little-faith cost as much as Great-faith. God loves Little-faith and will do so to the end. Yet he is so afraid — because he feels himself unworthy, doubts that he has been called aright, his election, and that he will not hold out to the end. But Great-faith is sure of all these points.(2) Although he has grace enough he never thinks so. Great-heart wont have more than sufficient to carry him to heaven, and this is what Little-faith has. But see the latter in trouble — he says he will never be able to keep his head above water; in prosperity he is afraid that he will intoxicate himself with pride; when he meets with the enemy he fears defeat. How different with Great-faith!(3) When tempted to sin he is apt to fall. Strong-faith can well contest the enemy, for his courage and strength are full and his weapons sharp.

II. RULES FOR STRENGTHENING LITTLE-FAITH. If you would have your little faith grow you must —

1. Feed it, by meditation on the Word. He who deals largely with the promises will soon find that there is room for believing them.

2. Prove the promise. When in distress take the promise and see whether it is true. The older you are the stronger your faith should become for you have so many facts to support it. Every instance of God's love should make us believe Him more.

3. Associate yourselves with godly and much tried people. Young believers will get their faith much refreshed by talking with well-advanced Christians.

4. Labour to get as much as possible free from self. Live above the praise and censure of self, and wholly on Christ. Self is like the sucker at the bottom of the tree which never bears fruit, but only sucks away nourishment from the tree.

5. Many can only get faith increased by great trouble. How do the old oaks become so deeply rooted? Ask the March winds and they will tell you. We don't make great soldiers in barracks. So with Christians. Great faith must have great trials.

6. Exercise what faith you have. The reason why the blacksmith does not tire is because he is used to it. It is no wonder that lazy Christians have little faith. It ought to be little; you do but little, and why should God give you more strength than you mean to use. If you want to get warm, don't rub your hands in front of the fires but run out and work. True works won't save you, but without works faith is frozen to death.

7. Commune with Christ, then you cannot be unbelieving. When you cannot see Him, then you doubt Him.

III. A CERTAIN HIGH ATTAINMENT TO WHICH FAITH MAY IF DILIGENTLY CULTIVATED, CERTAINLY ATTAIN. A man's faith can never grow so strong that he will never doubt. He who has the strongest faith will have sorrowful intervals of despondency; but he may so cultivate his faith that he may be so infallibly sure that he is a child of God, that all his doubts and fears will not get an advantage over him. A man may in this life be as sure of his acceptance in the beloved as he is of his own existence. "I know whom I have believed."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

St. John tells us that he had no greater joy than to hear that his children walked in the truth (3 John 1:4); and surely next to the joy of seeing the sinner receive the truth, the next that can fill the heart of a minister must be to see him walk in the truth, but especially in these days when a profession of the gospel is so easily taken up and laid down. But a man may abide in the truth and not walk in it, have faith and not increase in it, and look back on past happy days of progress with regret.

I. There is such a thing as GROWTH IS THE DIVINE LIFE. It is so in human life. The babe becomes a boy, a youth, a man. It is so in vegetable life — the seed becomes a tree; and so there are babes, children, men, and old men in Christ; and the command is, "Grow in grace." Of this grace the central principle is faith, and in proportion as that grows all the rest will grow. There is weak faith, and it results in a weak Christianity; but as it strengthens all the virtues strengthen and flourish with it.

II. THE SYMPTOMS OF AN INCREASE OF FAITH.

1. When Christ becomes more exceedingly precious; when we are taken more and more off self and reliance in the means to dependence on Christ. The question of questions is, "What think ye of Christ?" Many, if they spake honestly, would have to answer, Only what we have been told or have read, but nothing in the way of personal value and real estimation. But a child of God regards Christ as his all, and as Christ gradually fills up the circumference of thought and action do we grow in faith.

2. When we become more and more conformed to Christ — in spirit, in word, in deed. For faith is the assimilating power.

3. When we distinguish more and more clearly between faith and feeling. Many Christians are occupied too much with feeling. Every feeling that is not based upon faith is worthless. Learn to depend on faith whether feeling results or no.

III. THE MEANS BY WHICH FAITH IS INCREASED. Its source is the Holy Spirit, but He works through means. Amongst others we may note —

1. Secret prayer.

2. A constant looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of faith.

(J. H. Evans, M. A.)

To increase in faith is —

I. A SUBJECT FOR DEVOUT THANKSGIVING. Paul gave thanks because —

1. The blessing of increased faith is of unspeakable value. Little faith will save, but strong faith is that which builds up the Church, overcomes the world, and glorifies God.

2. The blessing came at a seasonable time — the time of persecution. Such a time tests the reality of faith. If sound it will grow in spite of obstacles, as Israel in Egypt. The present is a time of trade depression, abounding vice and grievous departure from the faith. What need to be rooted in the faith when the days are so evil.

3. If there be any growth in faith it is the work of God's spirit. Faith is all through the gift of God. In nature we ought to admire God's hand as much in growth as in creation. So progress in faith reveals the same power as its commencement. Let God have all the glory from its Alpha to its Omega. If thou be a strong man in Christ do not sacrifice to thine own net, glorify thine own experience as if thou madest thyself strong and rich in the things of God.

II. AN OBJECT FOR DILIGENT ENDEAVOR. If you have it not labour to attain it.

1. Why? Because —(1) The proof of faith lies in the growth of faith. A dead faith will not grow. If you have not more faith it is to be feared that you have none.(2) God's truth deserves it; we, as children, ought to believe our Father by instinct even as the eyes see and the ears hear.(3) It will be so much for our own spiritual health and joy. As your being an Englishman does not depend on your health or wealth, so neither does your salvation turn upon the strength and joy of your faith, but much does depend on it. Why not have foretastes of heaven. These you cannot have without growing faith.

2. How? By the Holy Spirit: but still He uses us for the increase of our faith. If we are to grow —(1) Negatively —(a) avoid continual change of doctrine. If you transplant a tree often it will yield scanty fruit. Those who are "everything by turns and nothing long," are "ever learning, but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth."(b) Do not give up the ground in which your souls should grow. If you dig away the earth from a tree you impoverish it. So doctrine after doctrine is given up until nothing is held to be important. The experiment of the Frenchman who had just brought his horse to live on a straw a day when he died is being repeated among us, faith being literally starved to death.(c) Do not overshadow your faith by worldliness, tolerated sin, love of riches, pride and care, and so prevent its growth. You cannot expect a sapling to grow under the shadow of an oak.(2) Positively. Faith grows by —(a) an increase of knowledge. Many persons doubt because they are not instructed — They doubt whether they shall hold on to the end: despair because they find evil in their hearts, etc. Study God's Word, and you will find how vain they are.(b) Experience. When a man has proved a thing his confidence is increased. When you have tested a promise again and again nobody will be able to shake you, for you will say, "I have tasted of this good word."(c) Meditation and walking with God. If you want to believe in a man you must know him. So with God: when your communion is close and stedfast your faith will grow exceedingly.(d) Prayer with faith and for faith.(e) Obedience. A man cannot trust in God while he lives in sin.(f) Exercise. The man who uses the little faith he has will get more faith. Brick by brick up rose the pyramids.

III. THE SOURCE OF OTHER GROWTHS. Increasing faith promotes —

1. Increasing love. If we are not filled with brotherly love it is because we are not firmly believing that truth which worketh by love.

2. Unity. Who shall separate men who are one in Christ by the grip of a mighty faith?

3. Patience. Some Christians make large demands on our patience; but faith in Christ and the possibilities of grace will work wonders.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The growth of trees is no less complete than it is constant; and, though it be little it is a little all over. An apt illustration of all growth, of all culture, which is real. It is not merely the growth of one faculty of the soul, but it is the cultivation of the whole soul itself; and, though it be not much, it should be more and more. Even so, the foliage shall be fuller, the flowers more numerous, and the fruit more plentiful; and, as in the case of the tree, every year shall leave its ringed record of expansion, and enlarged stem and lengthened branches shall tell of seemly and shapely growth. The trimly-cut pollard, on the one hand, and the stalk all awry, on the other, may tend to vary the view; but they are miserable warnings, after all! You are not growing unless it is you that grows.

(J. Gordon.)

I. THE INTERNAL AFFECTION MUST INCREASE (Philippians 1:9) to God and our neighbours, especially to those who are God's. There are so many things to extinguish it, or make it grow cold, that we should always seek to increase this grace, that it may be more fervent and strong, and not grow cold and dead.

II. THE EXTERNAL EXPRESSIONS SHOULD ABOUND.

1. As to acts. In duties of charity we should not be weary. Now we may be weary upon a double occasion —(1) because we meet not presently with our reward (Galatians 6:9). Duties of charity have their promises annexed, which are not presently accomplished, but in their season; they will be either in this life or in the next;(2) or because of continual occasions, when there is no end (Hebrews 6:10, 11). As long as the occasion continueth, so long should the charity continue, that at length they might meet the reward, "Ye have ministered, and do minister." This is tedious to nature and to a stingy heart, but love will be working and labouring still, and ever bringing forth more fruit. Where this heavenly fire is kindled in the soul, it will warm all those that are about them. But love is cold in most; it will neither take pains, nor be a charge to do anything for the brethren; but Christian love is an immortal fire, it will still burn and never die; therefore we should continue the same diligence, zeal, and affection that formerly we had.

2. As to objects. Christ telleth us, "The poor ye have always with you" (Matthew 26:11). As long as God findeth objects, we should find charity; and the apostle saith (Galatians 6:10), "As we have opportunity, let us do good to all men." Expensive duties are distasteful to a carnal heart. It may be they would part with something which the flesh can spare, and will snatch at anything to excuse their neglect; they have done it to these and these; but as long as God bringeth objects to our view and notice, and our ability and affection doth continue, we must give still. If our ability continueth not, providence puts a bar and excuseth; but if our affection doth not continue, the fault is our own.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

This is the will of God, that we wax and increase in all holiness. Hereby we know whether we be of God, or no. We may not stand at a stay, but must be renewed. "Whosoever mendeth not himself in the practice of virtue, he groweth worse." God hath placed us in a race to run: we must so run, that we may attain the prize. We are grafts of the Lord's planting: we must grow to the height and breadth of a tree, and bring forth fruit. We are pilgrims and strangers, and pass by the wilderness of this world into our heavenly resting place; we may not stay by the way, but must remove our tents, and continually march on forward, until that day come, when we shall enter into the land of promise.

(Bp. Jewell.)

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