On Spiritual Infancy and Christian Growth
by Richard Baxter
Be very thankful for the great mercy of your conversion: but yet overvalue not your first degrees of knowledge or holiness, but remember that you are yet but in your infancy, and must expect your growth and ripeness as the consequent of time and diligence.You have great reason to be more glad and thankful for the least measure of true grace, than if you had been made the rulers of the earth; it being of a far more excellent nature, and entitling you to more than all the kingdoms of the world. . . “Rejoice not that the spirits are subject to you; but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). Christ will warrant you to rejoice, though enemies envy you, and repine both at your victory and triumph. If there be “joy in heaven in the presence of the angels” (Luke 15:10) at your conversion, there is great reason you should be glad yourselves. If the prodigal’s father will needs have the best robe and ring brought forth, and the fat calf killed, and the music to attend the feast, that they may eat and be merry (see Luke 15:23), there is great reason that the prodigal son himself should not have the smallest share of joy; though his brother repine.But yet, take heed lest you think the measure of your first endowments to be greater than it is. Grace imitateth nature, in beginning, usually, with small degrees, and growing up to maturity by leisurely proceeding. We are not new-born in a state of manhood, as Adam was created. Though those texts that liken the kingdom of God to a grain of mustard seed, and to a little leaven (see Matt. 13:31,33) be principally meant of the small beginnings and great increase of the church of kingdom of Christ in the world; yet it is true also of His grace or kingdom in the soul. Our first stature is but to be “newborn babes desiring the sincere milk of the word, that we may grow by it” (I Pet. 2:2). Note here, that the new birth bringeth forth but babes, but growth is by degrees, by feeding on the word. The word is received by the heart, as seed into the ground (see Matt. 13). And seed useth not to bring forth the blade and fruit to ripeness in a day.
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