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History Column

Growth in Grace

Dr. Ch.Finney

8. Increasing delight in the fellowship of the saints, is another evidence of growth in grace. 

The growing Christian loves to unite with others in acts of devotion, and other religious exercises, and loves to enjoy religious intercourse. Do you know what this is, beloved? Do you increase in these?

9. He who grows in grace finds it more and more easy to exercise a forgiving spirit, and to pray for his enemies. 

There is nothing in which men, who are in their natural state, more resemble the devil, than in their harboring angry and revengeful feelings toward those who have injured them.

A young convert often finds it hard to forgive. When he feels himself injured, very often he finds he cannot pray. Now if he lets it rankle in his bosom, till he gets angry, it is most likely he will backslide. He does not mean to be angry, but if he does not heartily forgive the one that he thinks has done him wrong, it will run on till darkness fills his soul, and his revengeful feelings will destroy his religion.

If a person is growing in grace, he will find it more and more easy to forgive. He will find that he is less apt to lay up any thing against another, and that it costs him less trouble to get over supposed injuries, so as to be able to pray. Do you find this to be so, you who hear me tonight; is it easier for you to forgive, can you forgive the greatest injuries at once, so that nothing of the kind can come up between you and God, to hinder your prayers?

10. Growing more charitable is an evidence of growth in grace. I do not mean by charitable, that he should be more ready to believe every body a Christian who professes to be so. But he is more ready to ascribe a person’s apparently wrong conduct to mistake, or misapprehension, or some other cause, than to direct evil intention. Nothing more satisfactorily shows the Christian. If you find an individual inclined to put the best construction on actions, whenever they are susceptible of two constructions; as, for instance, if an act appears on the face of it to be unkindness or neglect, and the individual is apt to think it was not designedly wrong, but only done through a mistake, or some other motive of that kind, you have evidence that such a person is growing in grace.

11. Having less and less anxiety about worldly things is an evidence of growth in grace. A growing Christian will more and more perfectly obey the command, “Be careful for nothing,” that is, “Be not anxious, “but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.” All anxiety about the world is wicked. Persons who grow in grace have more and more confidence in God, and less and less love for the world, and of course will be less liable to feel anxiety about worldly things.

12. Becoming more ready to bestow property is a sign of growth in grace. If a person is growing in grace he will be more and more ready to give, and willing to give ALL that is in his power. He will rejoice to be called on. He will give more and more yearly. If he gives from the right motives he will be glad when he has given. And the more he gives, the more he loves to give. His giving will be a part of his religion, and he will grow in it just as in prayer. Now you know, the more a person prays, the more he loves to pray. Do you find this evidence that you are growing in grace? Is it more and more a pleasure to you to give, according to your ability, for every good object, according as you have opportunity? Do you give according to your ability, or do you give only just as much as is necessary to keep up appearances?

13. He feels less and less as if he had any separate interest. It is a great thing, in regard to growth in grace, to feel that all you have is Christ, and that you have absolutely no separate interests, no private interest in living, or in dying, or in holding property, or children, or character. “Whether we live, we live unto the Lord, and whether we die, we die unto the Lord; whether we live, therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.” This is a great and solemn lesson to learn. Persons who grow in grace feel that their time, talents, property, life itself, have value, only in their relation to Christ’s kingdom.

14. It is an evidence of growth in grace where a person becomes more willing to confess faults before men. It is a great thing to be ready to confess to men. It is a point often hard to learn. Men are willing to confess to God, because they have not so far to stoop to do this. But to confess fully and frankly to men is a great stoop to a proud heart. But when they grow in grace, they would just as soon confess a fault, and confess as frankly, to a servant, or an enemy, or the lowest member of society, as to the most exalted individual. Do you know this? Do you feel it is less and less painful to confess a fault? There is no man who knows his own heart, that has not found a struggle necessary to bring his mind to confess to individuals. A man can confess to God, but many cannot without a struggle confess a fault to a friend, or a servant, or an enemy. But as he grows in grace, he will become ready to confess, if he has done wrong to anybody, yes, to the entire universe. If he is perfectly humble, he will be willing to confess, if all the universe should hear. If you cannot do this, be sure you are not growing in grace, if you have any grace.

(To be continued)