Harmony of Christian Character.
“And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity.”—2 PE. 1:5-7.
In my first letter, I spoke of the importance of growth in grace, and enumerated some of the fruits of the Spirit. I revert to the same subject again, for the purpose of showing the importance of cultivating the several Christian graces in due proportion, so as to attain to a uniform consistency of character.
Nothing delights the senses like harmony. The eye rests with pleasure on the edifice which is complete in all its parts, according to the laws of architecture; and the sensation of delight is still more exquisite, on viewing the harmonious combination of colors, as exhibited in the rainbow, or the flowers of the field. The ear, also, is ravished with the harmony of musical sounds, and the palate is delighted with savory dishes. But take away the cornice, or remove a column from the house, or abstract one of the colors of the rainbow, and the eye is offended; remove from the scale one of the musical sounds, and give undue prominence to another, and harmony will become discord; and what could be more insipid than a savory dish without salt?
So it is with the Christian character. Its beauty and loveliness depend on the harmonious culture of all the Christian graces. If one is deficient, and another too prominent, the idea of deformity strikes the mind with painful sensations, somewhat similar to those produced by harsh, discordant musical sounds, or by the disproportionate exhibition of colors.
It was, probably, with an eye to this, that the apostle gave the exhortation above quoted. He was exhorting to growth in grace; and he would have the new man grow up with symmetrical proportions, so as to form the “stature of a perfect man in Christ Jesus,” not having all the energies concentrated in one member, but having the body complete in all its parts, giving a due proportion of comeliness, activity, and strength to each. Thus, he says, Add to your faith virtue. By faith, I suppose we are to understand the elementary principle of the Christian character, as exhibited in regeneration; or the act which takes hold of Christ. But we are not to rest in this. We are to add virtue, or strength and courage, to carry out our new principle of action. But this is not all that is needed. We may be full of courage and zeal; yet, if we are ignorant of truth and duty, we shall make sad work of it, running headlong, first into this extravagance, and then into that, disturbing the plans of others, and defeating our own, by a rash and heedless course of conduct.