But let us notice this in particular. The belief in God, which we have from nature, valuable as it undoubtedly is, has the effect merely to bring men under condemnation, unless it is followed by something further. And this is essentially true also of the incipient steps, the beginnings of a really gracious experience. On what principle, therefore, or in what way is it, that having but little light, whether it be the light of nature or the light of grace, we may reasonably expect to get more? I know of no principle and of no way or method, but that of spiritual correspondence with God according to what we now have; in other words, the way of humbly and unreservedly giving ourselves to God to be his, according to our present light; trusting in him for wisdom and strength, and for all that we need. Every thing, which has relation to our progress in the divine life, seems to depend upon the position which we here take, viz. upon our conformity to this rule on the one hand, or our rejection of it on the other. If we do not give ourselves to God in correspondence with what he has imparted to us, but on the contrary, rejoice in the light which we have as our own light, which is the same thing as to rejoice in ourselves, and thus turn away from God, we can make no advancement. But if, entirely renouncing our own strength and wisdom, and giving ourselves wholly to God, we receive and rejoice in the light which we have as God’s light, and in the deep feeling of our dependence look to God for more, we are in the way of increased light and of true salvation.
This, therefore, seems to be the law of inward progress, viz. WITH WHAT YOU HAVE, OBTAIN MORE. Be faithful to what is given, and the giver will add to his gifts. A law, enforced by the penalty already alluded to, viz. that the gifts of nature without the additions of grace, and the incipient gifts of grace without grace super-added, so far from essentially benefiting us, will only add to our condemnation. Or, as the Scriptures express it, “whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.”
We will suppose, that the reader of these pages is a Christian. God has given you, in addition to the unavailing light of nature, (unavailing if it remain merely what it is,) the light of grace; so that you can say that you have some faith in God and some communion with him. It is an interesting inquiry, how you shall increase it? The Savior has given the answer on various occasions and in various forms of expression; but all to the same import, viz., improve what you have, and you shall have more. Just in proportion as ye seek not honor, one from another, but the honor which cometh from God only, ye shall have faith, and shall find that faith increasing. “If any man be a worshiper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth,” John 9:31. “Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things.” Matthew 25:23. Be all to me according to the light, which I have condescended to give you; and I will be all to you in return.
— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 15.