“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that hears my word, and believes on him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” John 5:24
IF, then, the first implantation of the divine life in the soul is sudden; the advance of that work is in most cases gradual. Let this be an encouragement to any who are writing hard and bitter things against themselves in consequence of their little progress. The growth of divine knowledge in the soul is often slow-the work of much time and of protracted discipline. Look at the eleven disciples-what slow, tardy scholars were they, even though taught immediately from the lips of Jesus; and “who teaches like Him?” They drank their knowledge from the very Fountain. They received their light directly from the Sun itself. And yet, with all these superior advantages-the personal ministry, instructions, miracles, and example of our dear Lord-how slow of understanding were they to comprehend, and how “slow of heart to believe,” all that He so laboriously, clearly, and patiently taught them! Yes, the advance of the soul in the divine life, its knowledge of sin, of the hidden evil, the heart’s deep treachery and intricate windings, Satan’s subtlety, the glory of the gospel, the preciousness of Christ, and its own interest in the great salvation, is not the work of a day, nor of a year, but of many days, yes, many years of deep ploughing, long and often painful discipline, of “windy storm and tempest.”
But this life in the soul is not less real, nor less divine, because its growth is slow and gradual: it may be small and feeble in its degree, yet, in its nature, it is the life that never dies. How many of the Lord’s beloved ones, the children of godly parents, brought up in the ways of God, are at a loss, in reviewing the map of their pilgrimage, to remember the starting-point of their spiritual life. They well know that they left the city of destruction-that by a strong and a mighty arm they were brought out of Egypt; but so gently, so imperceptibly, so softly, and so gradually were they led-“first a thought, then a desire, then a prayer”-that they could no more discover when the first dawning of divine life took place in their soul, than they could tell the instant when natural light first broke upon chaos. Still it is real. It is no fancy that he has inherited an evil principle in the heart; it is no fancy that that principle grace has subdued. It is no fancy that he was once a child of darkness; it is no fancy that he is now a child of light. He may mourn in secret over his little advance, his tardy progress, his weak faith, his small grace, his strong corruption, his many infirmities, his startings aside like “a broken bow,” yet he can say, “Though I am the ‘chief of sinners,’ and the ‘least of all saints’-though I see within so much to abase me, and without so much to mourn over, yet this ‘one thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see.’ I see that which I never saw before-a hatefulness in sin, and a beauty in holiness; I see a vileness and emptiness in myself, and a preciousness and fullness in Jesus.” Do not forget, then, dear reader, that feeble grace is yet real grace. If it but “hungers and thirsts,” if it “touches but the hem,” it shall be saved.