In my John Newton studies I stumbled upon a gold mine of 18th century Christian writings. There is a magazine from the UK called The Gospel Magazine, it has been in publication (minus a few years in the late 1700s) since 1766. Amazingly they have many of their old editions online. In their May 1766 edition a question is asked, “How can I know that I am growing in grace”.
As an answer to this question there are a few general observations that I find helpful:
- Growth in grace is in general imperceptible to the Christian himself
- Sometimes growth in grace is more quick and visible
- We may, upon the whole, have some progress in the Christian life, though for the present we may appear to be going backward
- We may grow in one respect, though we may not grow in all
- We are not to judge of our spiritual growth by the growth of others
I find these general observations helpful. But also the specific things mentioned as (possible) evidence of growing in grace:
- Growth in grace discovers itself in an increase of spiritual light and knowledge
- When we are enabled to go more out of ourselves, and depend more upon Christ, we may be said to grow in grace
- We are making some advances, when we find a true relish for duties [what we would call spiritual disciplines in our day], and grow more spiritual in them
- We make advances in grace, when we are more humble, submissive, and thankful
- We grow in grace, when we find our corruptions weaken, and the power of sin more and more subdued in us
- When we find less of an earthly and more of an heavenly disposition, we may be said to grow in grace
What do you think of this list? Do you disagree with any of them? What would you add?