2 Peter 3:18
But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
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.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.