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and prospects grew brighter and brighter, the nearer they approached to the confines of death and eternity. Hear the last words of David. “Although my house

“ be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire.” Hear also the language of Paul, whose growth in grace enabled him to say, “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous Judge shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” The more christians grow in knowledge and grace, the better they are prepared to perform their last great act on the stage of life, to the glory of God, to the honour of religion, to their own joy, and to the benefit and consolation of those whom they leave behind.

IMPROVEMENT.

1. If knowledge be necessary to promote the growth of grace; then the most instructive preaching must be the most profitable. Many are fond of making a distinction between sentimental and practical preaching, and consider the latter as much more useful than the former. They insinuate, that christians at this day, do not need to be instructed in the doctrines of the gospel, but only to be quickened and animated to the practice of the duties of religion and morality. But there is reason to believe, that saints as well as sinners, at this day, stand in great need of being instructed in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This knowledge lies at the foundation of all true deyotion, and true devotion lies at the foundation of all clear to perform them. But when they grow in knowl: edge and grace, they intuitively see what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God, which they ought to follow. Hence says Solomon, “A wise man's heart is at his right hand.” And again, “A wise man's heart discerneth both time and judgment.” And again, “The wisdom of the prudent is to understand bis way.” This Solomon knew, by happy experience; for while he was growing in knowledge and grace, he prayed for a wise and understanding heart, and his request was abundantly answered. In consequence of having such a heart, he found less difficulty in knowing, and less reluctance in doing his duty. Growing saints are ready to hear the voice of God in his word and providence, and to run in the way of his commandments, with peculiar pleasure and delight. And the more readily they discern, and the more cheerfully they perform the various duties devolved upon them, the more sincere and acceptable are all their services in the sight of God.

It is, finally, of great importance that christians should make continual advances in knowledge and grace, to prepare them for the closing scene of life. They are every day drawing nearer and nearer to the time of their decease, when they must leave this world, and go the way of all the earth.

of all the earth. If they neglect to improve their minds in knowledge and their hearts in holiness, they may expect to live in bondage, and die in darkness and distress; for christians commonly die very much as they live. But if they make it their business to perfect holiness in the fear of God, and to go from strength to strength in their journey towards heaven, they may humbly hope to triumph over death and the grave, and be able to say, “O death! where is sting? O grave! where is thy victory?" It appears from the sacred history of growing saints, that their hopes and prospects grew brighter and brighter, the nearer they approached to the confines of death and eternity, Hear the last words of David. “Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire.” Hear

” also the language of Paul, whose growth in grace enabled him to say, “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous Judge shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” The more christians grow in knowledge and grace, the better they are prepared to perform their last great act on the stage of life, to the glory of God, to the honour of religion, to their own joy, and to the benefit and consolation of those whom they leave behind.

IMPROVEMENT.

1. If knowledge be necessary to promote the growth of grace; then the most instructive preaching must be the most profitable. Many are fond of making a distinction between sentimental and practical preaching, and consider the latter as much more useful than the former. They insinuate, that christians at this day, do not need to be instructed in the doctrines of the gospel, but only to be quickened and animated to the practice of the duties of religion and morality. But there is reason to believe, that saints as well as sinners, at this day, stand in great need of being instructed in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This knowledge lies at the foundation of all true deyotion, and true devotion lies at the foundation of all commanded to avoid all vain and evil speaking, and to converse instructively and profitably on all occasions. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers.” There are a great many christians, who might be extremely useful, if they would aim at edifying, rather than gratifying one another, in talking upon experimental religion. It is their duty freely and frequently to converse together upon those glorious truths and objects, which they will delightfully converse upon, when they shall meet and dwell together in the kingdom of glory.

3. If divine knowledge has a tendency to promote all the christian graces and virtues; then growing christians have an increasing evidence of their good estate. Our Saviour compares grace in the heart to seed sown in the earth, which springs up and grows very gradually and insensibly. Though the best of christians grow very gradually, yet they carry about with them marks of their increasing holiness, which is an increasing evidence of their being the subjects of a saving change, and of their having gone forward, rather than backward, in their religious life. And if they critically and impartially examine the exercises of their own hearts, they will find more or less of the following effects of the growth of grace.

They will find that they have become more and more sensible of the essential difference between nature and grace. Natural and spiritual affections often put on a similar appearance, when they flow out towards the same objects; which renders it the more difficult to distinguish them from each other. Christians are very liable to put nature for grace, and selfishness for benevolence. When their natural affections unite with

the most pleasing and popular, it is the most necessary and profitable. This appears to be true, by universal observation and experience. If we search the history of the Church from Christ's day to the present time; we shall find that devotional and fractical piety has always flourished the most under the most sentimental and instructive preaching.

2. If religious knowledge be conducive to the growth of religious affections; then that religious conversation among christians is the most useful, which is the most instructive. They should often speak one to another upon religious subjects, and endeavour to promote their mutual edification and growth in grace. But they too often converse without much edification or benefit, because they do not aim at giving or receiving instruction. If their conversation turn principally upon the general stupidity of sinners, or the general coldness of professors, or the great corruption, obstinacy, and deceitfulness of their own hearts, it rather tends to nourish spiritual pride and self-complacency, than any truly gracious affections. But if they converse freely and familiarly upon the peculiar doctrines, duties, and promises of the gospel; or upon the peculiar nature of the christian graces; or upon the best means of promoting vital piety; or upon their own obligations to walk worthy oi their high and holy calling, they cannot fail of instructing each other, and of promoting their mutual love, zeal, and activity in their christian course. Christ always conversed instructively with his disciples and others, and on one occasion he so clearly and fully opened the Scriptures, that he made the hearts of those with whom he conversed, to burn with a holy love and joy. This example his friends ought to follow in their free and fa miliar intercourse together. Indeed they are expressly

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