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SERM. tution ;) if they find some virtuous DifII. positions in their Minds, some Inclinations

towards the Leading of a virtuous Life, and have, in any Measure, put those Inclinations into Execution ; they presently conclude, that the Work is over, that there is a thorough Change wrought in their Souls, and that they are become the Children of God, and Inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven. To break off our Sins by Repentance is, indeed, a very good Beginning, the first Step towards a good Life, the Dawning of Grac in our Souls, and the Seed-time of a plentiful Harvest, of which we shall reap the Fruit, if we faint not : But unless we proceed from one Degree of Grace to another, unless we press forward to the Mark of the Prize of our high Calling, and add to our Faith Virtue, and abound in every good Work ; though we have begun well, yet if we do not persevere, if we do not go forward in the same Path, we shall finally miscarry, and our End will be miserable. And therefore, after the Apostle St. Peter, in the former Part of this Epistle, had laid down many excellent Rules for the Government of Men's Lives, and inforced them with several pathetical Exhortations; and, in the last

Chapter

Chapter of this second Epifle, had pro-SERM, posed the most powerful Motive, the Confi- II. deration of that great and terrible Day of Judgment, which was, at least, typified by the Destruction of the Jews; he closes up all, with this remarkable Memento, But grow in Grace, and in the Knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be Glory both now and for ever. I shall make the first part of this Verse the Subject of my present Discourse; But grow in Grace.

The full Import and Meaning of which Words that we may understand, I shall consider,

1. What is meant by growing in Grace. II. The Reasons why every Professor of

Christianity ought to be careful to grow

in Grace. III. What Means ought to be made Use

of, to promote our Growth and Im

provement in Grace.
IV. By what Signs and Marks we may

know, whether we grow in Grace, or
not. And,

I. What is meant by growing in Grace. And, here, I shall not trouble

you

with the many Acceptations of this Word,

Grace,

SERM. Grace, or the different Notions forne II. Writers have affixed to it; of which I

shall only take Notice of two, because they are the most remarkable. Grace, therefore, is taken either actively, for that Love and Favour of God, whereby we are accepted in Jesus Chrift; or, passively, for the several Gifts and Graces wrought in us by God's Holy Spirit. Now it is plain, that, in the Text, Grace is taken in the latter Senfe, for, since the Love and Favour of God towards us is either increased, of diminished, in Proportion to our proceeding; or going backwards in Virtue and Godliness of Living, therefore, the plain Meaning of these Words, Grow in Grace, must be, that it is our Duty so to cherish the blessed Influences of God's Holy Spirit, fo to fecond all his Motions, that we may daily improve in virtuous Living, and yield a more exact and uniform Obedience to all the Commands of God; that our Faith may wax stronger, our Charity be enlarged, our Patience meeker, our Obedience more intire, our Consciences more pure and sincere: Not to endeavour to be just fo good, as may intitle us to eternal Happiness, and free us from the Terrors of Hell-Torments, but to make it our Business to be as good

as

as we can possibly be; not to enquire Serm. after the lowest Degree of Grace, but to II. covet and strive earnestly after the best Gifts, to examine ourselves daily, to find out our own Faults and Defects, and endeavour to amend them, and to persevere in so doing, to the End of our Lives, This is to grow in Grace ; and, the more we thus grow in Goodness, the more we shall grow in God's Favour, and the Light of his Countenance will shine in upon us more brightly, in the Enjoyment of which, our chiefest Happiness in this World doth confift. But this I shall further enlarge upon, whilst I consider,

II. What are the Reasons why every Professor of Christianity ought to be careful to grow in Grace. And they are such as these :

1. BECAUSE it is the Nature of all true Grace, to grow and increafe. Grace is an active Principle, which informs and inlivens the Soul, and puts it upon he, that has once tasted how good and gracious God is, cannot but desire to drink more plentifully of these Rivers of Pleafure, and to recommend himself to the Favour of his munificent Benefactor by a more exact Conformity to his Holy Will. That Man who is good, out of a

upon Action

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SERM. right Principle, will still endeavour to be II. better ; for the same Motives, which en

g aged him to enter upon a good Life, will grow still more strong and prevalent, and engage him to persevere in the right Way. The longer we practise the Rules of Virtue, the more sensible we shall be of the Deformity of Vice, and, the longer we walk in the Paths of Religion, the more beaten will the Track be; and, as true Grace is in its own Nature prolifi, fo doth it become much more so, by that supernatural Assistance, which is continually

showered down on it from above ; to Mat. xiii. him who bath, it shall be given, i.e. he

who makes Use of that Grace which God has given him, and improves those Seasons which God has put into his Hands, and cherishes the blessed Influences of his Holy Spirit, and seconds them with his active and vigorous Endeavours; to such a Man God will give more Power, and more Ability to persevere in the Performance of his Duty, and he shall receive more Strength to grapple with his spiritual Enemies, and more Ability to conquer and subdue them. But,

2. If we do not grow in Grace, and go forward in the Paths of Virtue and Religion, we shall go backward, and the

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