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change, merely because they have been in great anxiety, and distress, and afterwards felt peculiar love, and joy, and peace. For love, and joy, and peace, may flow from an appropriating faith, or a belief, which has no evidence from scripture, sense, or reason, that Christ died for them in particular, and intends to save them. Such religious affections, which flow from such a false faith, afford no evidence of the renovation of the heart. But on the other hand, those have a right to hope, that they have passed from death to life, if they are conscious of having loved God for what he is in himself, of having hated sin because of its odious nature, and of having loved Christ for honouring God, and opening the door of mercy to perishing sinners. Such repentance and faith flowing from such supreme love to the divine character, afford good evidence of a sound conversion. For these are the love, the repentance, and the faith, which the holy Spirit always produces in those whom he renews and sanctifies. And such sanctification of heart is the only evidence of justification, and a title to eternal life. The Antinomian faith precludes all self examination. Those who place faith before love, hold that it is a sin for those who have once believed, that Christ died for them in particular, to doubt of their gracious state. The reason is obvious. If a faith before love, and without love, be a justifying faith; then assurance belongs to the essence of faith, and consequently, there is no occasion for sanctification, to prove a believer’s justification. But let no man be deceived; for if he have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

were true converts; soon lost all their religious affections, and turned bitter enemies to the gospel of Christ. This gave Christ occasion to warn his hearers against the danger of entertaining false hopes, which would not stand the test of the last day. “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Men are in as much danger of forming and living upon false hopes now, as ever they were. They are in danger of being deceived, by the great enemy of souls, who often appears in the form of an angel of light, to deceive and destroy. They are in danger of being deceived by false teachers, who come to them under the garb of the ministers of Christ, and of the friends of truth, And they are in still greater danger of being deceived, by the deceitfulness of their own hearts. Surrounded by so many dangers of deceiving themselves, in respect to their religious hopes, they need to be very strict and impartial in examining the nature of theirreligious affections. Hence says the apostle, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves, know ye not your own selves how that Jesus Christ, isin you, except ye be reprobates.” And again he says to the same professors of religion, “I am jealous over you with a godly jealously. I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” This he said in direct reference to false teachers. It is commonly through the means of some false doctrines, that men deceive themselves, with false hopes of being the subjects of grace. They have no right to hope, that they have experienced a saving change, merely because they have been in great anxiety, and distress, and afterwards felt peculiar love, and joy, and peace. For love, and joy, and peace, may flow from an appropriating faith, or a belief, which has no evidence from scripture, sense, or reason, that Christ died for them in particular, and intends to save them. Such religious affections, which flow from such a false faith, afford no evidence of the renovation of the heart. But on the other hand, those have a right to hope, that they have passed from death to life, if they are conscious of having loved God for what he is in himself, of having hated sin because of its odious nature, and of having loved Christ for honouring God, and opening the door of mercy to perishing sinners. Such repentance and faith flowing from such supreme love to the divine character, afford good evidence of a sound conversion. For these are the love, the repentance, and the faith, which the holy Spirit always produces in those whom he renews and sanctifies. And such sanctification of heart is the only evidence of justification, and a title to eternal life. The Antinomian faith precludes all self examination. Those who place faith before love, hold that it is a sin for those who have once believed, that Christ died for them in particular, to doubt of their gracious state. The reason is obvious. If a faith before love, and without love, be a justifying faith; then assurance belongs to the essence of faith, and consequently, there is no occasion for sanctification, to prove a believer's justification. But let no man be deceived; for if he have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

1. They must exercise grace more constantly. It is generally and justly supposed, that the best of christians in their present state of imperfection, are not always in the actual exercise of grace. Whether there can be any such thing as grace, without exercise, I shall not stand to consider; but supposing the common opinion to be true, that christians are not always in the exercise of grace, it must be allowed, that they ought to exercise grace more constantly, which is actually growing in grace. For the more constantly and uninterruptedly they exercise purely holy affections, the more they conform to the divine will, and do really advance in the divine life. They follow the example of the apostle Paul, while growing in grace and pressing forward towards the mark of sinless perfection. So far as they fail in the constancy of their gracious exercises; just so far they fall short of that moral perfection, which is their indispensable duty. If they let their thoughts wander with the fool's eyes to the ends of the earth, their gracious affections will certainly be interrupted, and vain thoughts and evil affections will creep into their hearts. Some christians, who are circumspect and watchful, and keep their hearts with diligence, have many more right affections than others, who are in a low and declining state of religion. They carry about with them the spirit of the gospel, and pursue their secular concerns, as well as perform their religious duties, with gracious sincerity. Whether they eat, or drink, or whatever they do, they mean to do all to the glory of God. They live as seeing Him who is invisible, and endeavour to keep themselves in the fear of the Lord all the day long. This is what all christians ought to do, to grow in grace, and make progress in a holy and devout life,

junction in the text applies, with all its force, to the feeble and humble followers of Christ, at this day. They need to make continual advances in grace, and in that knowledge, which is conducive to their spiritual strength and edification. There is the same connexion between knowledge and grace, that there is between means and ends. It is not to be expected, that christians will grow in grace, unless they grow in the knowledge of Christ, as he is revealed in the gospel. This, therefore, will be the leading sentiment in the present discourse:

That christians must grow in knowledge, in order to grow in grace. I shall,

1. Consider what is meant by their growing in grace.

II. Consider why they must grow in knowledge in order to grow in grace.

III. Show the importance of their growing in both these respects.

1. We are to consider what is meant by their growing in grace. The word grace is used in various senses in Scripture. It sometimes signifies the love of God to all mankind in sending his Son to die for them. It sometimes signifies his peculiar love to those, whom he renews and sanctifies by the influences of his holy Spirit. And it sometimes signifies the love, the faith, the repentance, and all the holy affections of true believers or real christians. In this sense, the apostle uses the word grace in the text. He supposes, that all who have cordially embraced the gospel, have begun to live in the exercise of holy affections, and he exhorts them to

and press forward in their chris- . tian course. The question now is, How shall they perform this duty? This leads me to say,

grace

grow in

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