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ration and conversion to the Lord God, as our reconciled Father in Christ Jesus, and under views and apprehensions of him as such, through the sacred and inward teaching of the Lord the Spirit. Sanctification is the fruit of spiritual life communicated to us from Christ the fountain of it, and conveyed to our souls in our new birth by the Spirit of Christ. It is expressed by the apostle to be “ Living unto God.” The effects of which are two-fold, viz. mortification of sin and a living exercise of grace. All those seeds of everlasting life, those principles of holiness, those graces, and holy dispositions implanted in the new nature, which the Holy Ghost hath begotten in us by the word and through his own divine energy, are drawn forth into act and exercise in our spiritual walk with God, and before him to the view of others; and also in our spiritual warfare against sin, satan, the world, self, death, and hell: and hereby proof is given that we have been with Jesus, The believer, in his living unto God and as admitted into real communion with him, learns from the word and by the Spirit to know, that the Father loves him in Christ with an everlasting love,
that he hath accepted him in the beloved, that his person and state in Clirist are immutably blessed, -that he is called to make use of Christ and his fulness for all the purposes of spiritual life, and that he cannot die to sin, live unto God, nor grow in grace, but as he liveth out of, and entirely off himself, and all that he is in himself, on the fulnefs of him that filleth all in all..
Growth in Grace is inseparably connected with an INCREASING KNOWLEDGE OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST. Thus saith Peter, “ Grow in grace and in the knowledge “ of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: “ to him be glory both now and for “ ever. Amena.”
It is commonly asserted, and even by some who are great divines, and also champions for the free and sovereign grace of God and doctrinal divinity, that sanctification is a progressive work in the soul. There is, say they, something wanting in our faith, and hope, and love; and consequently there are increase and growth in sanctification and holiness. To which I would reply, if regeneration be at once complete, and sanctification and personal holiness be the real fruits of it, then what is commonly styled growth in sanctification and holiness will be found on the strictest examination, to be but the fruit of faith. In that case, though
a 2 Pet. ii. 18. ..
there be a growth in faith, it will not follow that it can be strictly and properly said, that there is a growth in sanctification and holiness; unless bringing forth the fruits of it in our life and conversation be called by that name. To this it may be objected, that the apostle John speaks of babes in Christ, also of young men, and Fathers in Christ, which evidently proves, that all God's children are not of one and the same spiritual growth and advancement in the school of Christ: and that consequently there must be allowed to be a spiritual growth in real christians. . It is most readily acknowledged, that the scriptures treat of true, real, and spiritual growth in the called people of God, which is styled in the infallible word Growth in Grace, growing up into Christ, &c. But though there are innumerable circumstantial differences in the cases and experiences of the called people of God, and though there is a growth which is suited to them, consi. dered as babes, young men, and fathers; yet there is but one common life, in the various stages and degrees of the same life carried on to its perfection by the Holy Spirit, until it issues in glory eternal. The work of God the Holy Ghost in regeneration is eternally complete. It admits of no increase nor decrease. It is one and the same in all believers. There will not be the least addition to it in Heaven :-not one grace, holy affection, desire, or disposition then, which is not in it now. The whole of the Spirit's work, therefore, from the moment of regeneration to our glorification, is to draw out those graces into act and exercise, which he hath wrought within us. And, though one believer may abound in the fruits of righteousness more than another, yet there is not one of them more regenerated than another. This work of the Spirit, in which our meetness for the eternal fruition of God consists, is alike in all, in each, and every one, that is born of the Spirit. And the babe in Christ, dying as such, is as capable of as high communion with God as Paul in the state of glory. Because all depends on the eternal Spirit's drawing out the graces of the new creature into an actual exercise on God in Christ as his exceeding joy. The regenerate soul cannot have any addition to the holiness of that new principle imparted from the Spirit to eternity. He cannot be a partaker of every grace of the Holy Spirit more completely than he is already. He is in Christ complete. And he can be but complete in glory. So that it appears to me to be most scrip
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tural to say, that though there is a growth of Grace, yet none in inward sanctification and holiness. And the believer's view of his spiritual state, as a new creature in Christ Jesus, hath a divine influence on his growth in grace. He should consider his heavenly Father's love to him to be without increase or diminution : as one eternal and consummate act in the infinite mind, which knows no changes towards him. He should view the finished work of the Son to be his everlasting salvation, in which he stands before the throne eternally complete. He should remember, that the revelation of the Father's love and the Son's redemption is once for all made and applied to him by the Holy Ghost; so that, in all these respects, he cannot have greater evidence than he hạs of his union with Christ, and of his title to all spiritual blessings in him; and that the Father's love and these inestimably precious truths are made realities to his spiritual mind by the witness and testimony of the Holy Ghost.
This leads into an acquaintance with grace in its original, — with grace in the doctrine, influence, and efficacy of it; which is, as considered in God the fountain, his free, sovereign, and royal favour, wherein there is life.. All