GROWING IN GRACE
Here is a short description of a ‘Men’s’ meeting held at AchterneedÂ—the scene of Donald Duff’s labour in the pastÂ—in the summer of 1880, a few years before he died. Such meetings were occasionally held in the district between services during summer
communion seasons. The account given of this particular service is from the private Diary of Margaret Nicol, Resolis.
Conducting the meeting on this occasion was the worthy Mr. Gilmour, resident lay agent at Strathpeffer. The singing was conducted in the traditional way. But Ross-shire’s sweet singer and Doctor Kennedy’s favourite precentorÂ—Angus Macdonald UrrayÂ— was no longer present. After several of the men had engaged in prayer, Mr. Gilmour exhorted the company in the words of Peter:
‘But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.’ The good man went on to say: ‘Will any grow but those who have grace? Yes; men may grow in knowledge, they may grow in ability to speak, they may grow in boldness and presumption, and have no grace. But all such growth is of nature only. But what is grace? Grace in God is an unfathomable ocean of favour and mercy. In the creature it is a principle of life planted in the heart in regeneration. It is kept alive and nourished by God breathing upon it. Grace enables its possessor to do those duties towards God which otherwise he could not fulfil. Grace in the soul discovers our inward depravity and helplessness. It destroys our self-sufficiency. Thus the roots of a true child of God grow downward in humility and dependence on the sovereign grace of God. As grace grows in the soul the old man is crucified. There is also a growth upwards. If his roots, like those of Lebanon, go down, he shall also “grow up as the lily.”
‘Those who are young in grace are often happy. They rejoice in what they hear when God’s word is preached. They rejoice in what they read of God’s word. They rejoice in what they feel in their own heart. Therefore they are apt to say, “Oh! if I live for twenty or thirty years in God’s service what joy and happiness I shall have!” But they little know what is to follow. God will not suffer them to have their roots in these frames and comforts. They soon discover that sin is in all their members, and they abhor themselves before an Holy God. The world draws them down to itself and they cry, “My soul cleaves to the dust, quicken me according to Thy Word.” Sin now becomes their daily bondage and they cry out for deliverance. This cry is the evidence of God’s life in the soul, and of an inward growth in grace. When they find their hearts and minds going out after the poor trifles and vanities of time to the neglect of the great concerns of the soul and eternity, they cry out for more holiness and truth in the inward parts. Where are their roots then? Only in the everlasting Covenant of Grace which is ordered in all things and sure. In our outward walk, however, the world should see in us an uprightness which it cannot gainsay. The natural conscience of Saul made him weep over the upright-ness and love of David whose life he himself would have destroyed . . .”
“Gleanings of Highland Harvest”, M. Campbell.