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.“ Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord
and Saviour Jesus Christ.”—2 PETER iii. 18. MHE “grace" here spoken of is not God's
I grace or favour to us, but the grace which God gives us, the holiness which He puts into us. Those who have this grace, are to “grow" in it. Instead of remaining like dwarfs, stunted in their growth, they are to become as giants, in the height and strength of their spiritual life. They are to grow even“ unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” himself.
We cannot make ourselves grow by merely thinking about it. “Which of you by taking thought,” said Jesus,“ can add one cubit unto his stature ?” So it is with our souls. To measure our height now and then will show whether we are growing or not; but it cannot make us grow. We cannot grow, either in soul or body, except by God's blessing.
But God's blessing is given on the means which are used for our growth. The babe would not grow to be a youth, nor the youth grow to be a man, if he were not fed. No more can our souls grow without food. There is food suited for the soul. Weare told,“like newborn babes" to "desire the sincere milk of the word,” that we may“ grow thereby.” And when we are a little more fully grown, we shall find other parts of the Bible that are like “strong meat” to nourish us more, and to make us grow faster. Let us study that holy book, and especially what it tells us about Jesus; for we best “grow in grace" by growing in“ the knowledge" of Christ,—that is to say, in the knowledge of Christ as "our Lord and Saviour."* "Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which
I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn
them, and keep, and do them.”—Deut. v. 1. M HIS verse has in it a little ladder of thought.
1 There are four rounds, or steps. Each is given in one word. Hear; Learn; Keep; and
We must begin with hearing. There can be no second step, where the first has not been taken. Hearing God's truth is a very needful thing. The Apostle Paul asks, “How shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed ? and how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard ?" There must be hearing-and attentive hearing—with the outward ear.
But this will not be enough. What we hear, we must also mark and learn. Moses was speaking; and the people were listening. But they had yet to learn with the heart. They had to open the ear of the soul, and let the truth in.
The next step consists in keeping what is learned. When the truth has been let into the heart, it must not be let out again. “Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go; keep her; for she is thy life.” What we learn must not be allowed to run off, “as out of a leaking vessel.”
The right end of all our hearing, and learring, and keeping, is the practice of what we have heard, and learned, and taken fast hold of. Our hearing is useless, our learning is in vain, our keeping is thrown away, unless we really do what we know to be right. The more we hear, and understand, and remember, the more we are bound to act according to our knowledge.
6. Yo observe days, and months, and times, and
years.”—GALATIANS iv. 10. MIMES and seasons may be observed, if ob.
1 served rightly. When Sunday-schools had flourished for fifty years, a jubilee was kept, not from pride, but out of thankfulness to God. When a birth-day comes round, we may set it apart for prayer, and praise, and holy rejoicing. It is when times and seasons are foolishly or sinfully kept, that it becomes wrong to observe them. It is better not to keep a birth-day, than to keep it as Herod did his, when he began with drinking and dancing, and ended with folly and sin. For our village-children to keep May-day by weaving a simple flower-garland, would be no harm; but it is better not to do this, than to get into evil company, and learn evil ways, and dress in evil dress. For the poor children in our towns to make their August grotto of oystershells, would be no harm; but it is better not to do this than to make it an excuse for the bad babit of begging in the streets.
Those for whom our text was first written, were observing wrong seasons, and in a wrong spirit. They were still keeping the Jewish feasts, which should all have ceased when Christ had died. They were keeping them, as if this had been needful for their salvation. They had not learned to look alone to Jesus. They were trying to mix up their good works with His. Let us not do as they did. Let us keep God's day ;-let us keep Christ's feast; let us keep the Holy Spirit's law; but let us not lean on any of these things, as if we could be saved by them.
“While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
ROMANS v. 8. TF Christ had not died for our salvation while I we were yet sinners, there would have been no hope for us. If He had waited till we turned from sin, or even till we wished to turn from sin, He would never have come to save us. If He had refused to die for us till we had first made ourselves a little holier, or even a little more wishful to be holy, He would never have died at all. In this is seen the great love of God to us, that He sent His Son to die for the ungodly, to die for the ungodly while they were yet without strength, without holiness, without even a desire after holiness.
As Christ died for us while we were yet sinners, so it is as sinners that He is willing to receive us. He does not ask us to make our. selves holier before we come to Him. He bids us come just as we are. Remember this. Do not keep away from Christ, thinking that when you are older, you will be fitter to come :
“If you tarry till you're better
You will never come at all.” Now, you are invited to come. As you are, you are invited to come. You are sinful, but He waits to cleanse you. You are weak, but He is ready to strengthen you. You are in darkness, but He will give you sight. You are unrighteous, but He will clothe you with a spotless robe. You are unholy, but He will make you pure. He asks not whether you are worthy, : but whether you are in need. Only come, and all you need will be given you.