2 Peter 1:5
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge;
The Christian Virtues in Their CompletenessU.R. Thomas 2 Peter 1:3-11
A Downright Christian2 Peter 1:5-7
Activity Necessary to PietyChristian Armour.2 Peter 1:5-7
Additions to FaithW. Jay.2 Peter 1:5-7
An Apostle's Method of Silencing ObjectorsJ. Sherlock.2 Peter 1:5-7
An Incongruous AdditionJames Hamilton, D. D.2 Peter 1:5-7
Apostolic ChristianityH. W. Beecher.2 Peter 1:5-7
Brotherly KindnessA. Maclaren, D. D.2 Peter 1:5-7
Brotherly KindnessThos. Adams.2 Peter 1:5-7
Brotherly KindnessW. R. Williams.2 Peter 1:5-7
Brotherly KindnessD. J. Hamer.2 Peter 1:5-7
Brotherly KindnessJoseph P. Thompson.2 Peter 1:5-7
CharityA. Maclaren, D. D.2 Peter 1:5-7
CharityThos. Adams.2 Peter 1:5-7
CharityW. R. Williams.2 Peter 1:5-7
CharityD. J. Hamer.2 Peter 1:5-7
CharityJoseph P. Thompson.2 Peter 1:5-7
CharityU. R. Thomas.2 Peter 1:5-7
Christian CourageW. E. Griffis, D. D.2 Peter 1:5-7
Christian DiligenceThos. Adams.2 Peter 1:5-7
Christian DiligenceExpository Outlines2 Peter 1:5-7
Christian FortitudeJ. Evans.2 Peter 1:5-7
Christian GrowthH. Macmillan, D. D.2 Peter 1:5-7
Combination of Christian GracesJames Hamilton, D. D.2 Peter 1:5-7
Connection with Preccding VersesA. R. Fausset, M. A.2 Peter 1:5-7
CourageM. G. Pearse.2 Peter 1:5-7
DiligenceA. Symson.2 Peter 1:5-7
Exercise Develops StrengthC. Graham.2 Peter 1:5-7
FaithThos. Adams.2 Peter 1:5-7
Faith and VirtueD. J. Hamer.2 Peter 1:5-7
Faith the Root of Christian LifeW. R. Williams.2 Peter 1:5-7
GodlinessA. Maclaren, D. D.2 Peter 1:5-7
GodlinessJoseph P. Thompson.2 Peter 1:5-7
GodlinessJoseph P. Thompson.2 Peter 1:5-7
GodlinessW. R. Williams.2 Peter 1:5-7
GodlinessD. J. Hamer.2 Peter 1:5-7
Goodness is True ManlinessCanon Teignmouth Shore.2 Peter 1:5-7
KnowledgeA. Maclaren, D. D.2 Peter 1:5-7
KnowledgeW. R. Williams.2 Peter 1:5-7
KnowledgeJoseph P. Thompson.2 Peter 1:5-7
Of Brotherly Kindness and CharityJ. Abernethy, M. A.2 Peter 1:5-7
Of Christian FortitudeJ. Abernethy, M. A.2 Peter 1:5-7
Of GodlinessJ. Abernethy, M. A.2 Peter 1:5-7
Of KnowledgeJ. Abernethy, M. A.2 Peter 1:5-7
Of TemperanceJ. Abernethy, M. A.2 Peter 1:5-7
Of the Practice of GodlinessJ. Orr, D. D.2 Peter 1:5-7
PatienceA. Maclaren, D. D.2 Peter 1:5-7
PatienceW. R. Williams.2 Peter 1:5-7
PatienceD. J. Hamer.2 Peter 1:5-7
PatienceJoseph P. Thompson.2 Peter 1:5-7
Practice Necessary to PerfectionC. H. Spurgeon.2 Peter 1:5-7
Religion a Principle of GrowthW. R. Williams.2 Peter 1:5-7
Self-ControlT. G. Selby.2 Peter 1:5-7
Self-GovernmentA. Maclaren, D. D.2 Peter 1:5-7
Self-MasteryU. R. Thomas.2 Peter 1:5-7
TemperanceW. R. Williams.2 Peter 1:5-7
TemperanceThomas Adams.2 Peter 1:5-7
TemperanceJoseph P. Thompson.2 Peter 1:5-7
TemperanceD. J. Hamer.2 Peter 1:5-7
The Christian ChorusO. P. Gifford.2 Peter 1:5-7
The Power of DiligenceA. Maclaren, D. D.2 Peter 1:5-7
To Virtue KnowledgeThos. Adams.2 Peter 1:5-7
True Christian CharacterU.R. Thomas 2 Peter 1:5-7
VirtueA. Maclaren, D. D.2 Peter 1:5-7
VirtueU. R. Thomas.2 Peter 1:5-7
VirtueJoseph P. Thompson.2 Peter 1:5-7
VirtueJoseph P. Thompson.2 Peter 1:5-7
VirtueW. R. Williams.2 Peter 1:5-7
Personal Diligence Needed for SanctificationC. New 2 Peter 1:5-11

The former verses say that God gives the knowledge of himself in the Word of promise, as the means by which grace and peace are to be multiplied; these verses say, to that must be added by you "all diligence."

I. WE HAVE HERE AN ENUMERATION OF CERTAIN GRACES OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. It begins with "faith" and ends with "love," and between these are two or three words which need attention. Next to "faith," "virtue" is mentioned; but "virtue" includes the whole group of graces, whereas Peter is thinking of something distinct. The classical meaning of the word is "manliness" - courage; so if we paraphrase it thus, we shall probably have the right idea. So with "knowledge," which is a different word to that rendered "knowledge" in the eighth verse, and here refers to "practical knowledge" or "prudence." "Temperance" is literally "self-control," and "godly reverence" is the idea in the word "godliness." "Faith, courage, prudence, self-control, patience, godly reverence, love of the brethren, love," - that is the list.

1. These are all subsequent to faith. Faith is supposed. The Epistle is addressed to those who "have obtained like precious faith through the righteousness of God and our Saviour;" and these excellences come after faith, and in the Christian have a character of their own, which nature cannot produce, and are, indeed, as much above nature as Jesus was above the sons of men.

3. Many try to be holy without saving faith; it is a useless effort; only from faith can those spiritual graces spring whose crown is love to all.

2. Every grace needs to be supplemented by another. No grace can stand alone; the text seems to urge that. The word "add" is the same as in the eleventh verse, where it is translated "minister." Each grace needs to be ministered to by another. There is not one which, if it be alone, will not speedily become an evil. One grace is to wait on, to supplement, to protect, to perfect another. For instance, to faith ministers courage - courage to confess the Christ believed in; to courage ministers prudence, for if courage be not discreet, it is destructive. Beware of being men of one grace.

3. The believer is not to be contented till he has acquired all the graces. What a list this is! The leading features of a perfect character; and Scripture gives a plain command to the Christian to acquire these. And nothing can be more assuring than this command, for God does not call us to impossibilities; and he is prepared to supply what is needed for its attainment.

II. WE HAVE HERE A DEMAND FOR DILIGENCE TO POSSESS THESE GRACES. Diligence is the burden of the passage: "Giving all diligence, add;" and in the tenth verse, "Give diligence."

1. Diligence implies that spiritual increase requires personal effort. Speedy and spontaneous sanctification is what we should prefer, but that idea is not encouraged in Scripture. It is true growth is the law of life - life naturally increases to maturity, as Peter says, "Grow in grace;" but he also says, "Giving all diligence, add." If we cherish the idea that sanctification is given immediately, as pardon is given, by one surrender of the will, as it is said, this passage ought to disabuse us; it clearly affirms that sanctification is progressive, and demands constant endeavour.

2. Diligence is encouraged by the fact that God hath given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness. The previous verses are, "His Divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness... whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises," etc.; when the next clause reads, "And for this very cause "(as the Revised Version has it), "giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue," and so on, we see what lies behind the diligence, what spurs it on, what sustains it. Sanctification is not human work, as it is sometimes supposed to be, when the need of effort is enforced, as though, redeemed by Christ, we have to sanctify ourselves - it is of God; yet it is through us, into our effort he will inspire his own Divine and victorious energy.

3. Diligence also involves that the increase of Christian graces comes from the personal culture of each. If the text were not in Scripture, but simply part of a sermon, it would be said to be mechanical and formal. It is to be feared the prominent features of our Christian character are often merely the result of natural disposition, or early training, or of circumstances beyond our control. Now, this passage claims that we do not leave it to accident what graces we shall have; it lays down a list of what is required of us, and bids us give all diligence to culture each. This is a discriminating, hourly, lifelong work.

III. WE HAVE HERE STRONG REASONS FOR THE PUTTING FORTH OF THIS DILIGENCE. Three reasons urged from the eighth verse to the eleventh, and they refer to past, present, and future.

1. The graces (which are the result of diligence) are the necessary means to spiritual wealth. The particular meaning in the eighth verse of the word "in" - "in the knowledge" - is shown in the Revised Version, where it reads, "unto the knowledge," and thus throws great light on the expression. The graces which come from a knowledge of Christ lead to a still greater knowledge of him - that is it. All the care we give to the culture of Christian graces leads, not only to the wealth of possessing them, but to the greater wealth of knowing Christ better.

2. The graces (which are the result of diligence) are the least that can be expected from one who is purged from his old sins. "He that lacketh these things is blind.... having forgotten that he hath been delivered from his old sins." That takes us back to the cross. It pleads our obligation to Christ, who laid down his life that we might be holy. The assurance of pardoned sin is the strongest stimulus to piety.

3. These graces are the only ground of assurance of entrance into heaven. Without them we may well doubt our election of God. Where calling and election are sure, ye shall never fall; but how can we be sure that we are among the called? Only by the fact that that to which they are called is being wrought in us. If we have a title to heaven, the spirit of heaven is already begun. - C.N.

Giving all diligence.
It is not fit that heaven should take all the pains to bring earth to it; earth must do somewhat to bring itself to heaven. God's bountifulness is beyond our thankfulness; yet thankfulness is not enough; there is matter of labour in it. If the lord of a manor have given thee a tree, thou wilt be at the charges to cut it down and carry it home. He who works first in thy conversion hath in wisdom made thee a second. Thou seest God's bounty; now look to thine own duty.

I. DILIGENCE. Here, first, for the quality. There is no matter wherein we hope for God in the event, accomplished without diligence in the act. He that expects a royalty in heaven must admit a service on earth. The good man is weary of doing nothing, for nothing is so laborious as idleness. Satan's employment is prevented when he finds thee well employed before he comes. It is observable that albeit the Romans were so idle as to make idleness a god, yet they allowed not that idle idol a temple within the city, but without the walls. There are four marks and helps of diligence:

1. Vigilance. A serious project, which we can hardly drive to our desired issue, takes sleep from our eyes.

2. Carefulness (Ecclesiastes 5:1).

3. Love. This diligence must fetch the life from affection, and be moved with the love of virtue.

4. Study (2 Timothy 2:15).

II. GIVE DILIGENCE. Not a pragmatical business in others' affairs; but rectify thy diligence, confining it principally to thyself. Dress thine own garden, lest it be overrun with weeds.

III. ALL DILIGENCE. Here is the quantity — "all."

1. The working up of salvation is no easy labour; thereto is requirable all diligence. Such a diligence respects so great an object, and such an object requires so great a diligence. Refuse no labour for such a reward. The best things are the hardliest come by (Matthew 11:12). Spare no invention of wit, no intention of will, no contention of strength about it. Will we adventure our estates, our lives, to find out new lands where may be gold, and spend no diligence for that where we are sure there is gold, and such as cannot perish?

2. God requires "the whole duty of man" (Ecclesiastes 12:13); that is God's due. What, nothing left for this world? Yes, moderate providence; the saving of souls hinders not provision for bodies, but furthers and blesses it (Matthew 6:33). Follow thou Christ; the rest shall follow thee.

IV. BESIDE THIS... ADD. Thus much for the addiction: now to the addition, wherein we find a concession, an accession that He requires — "add." You have done something, yet there is a "besides." I yield a beginning, I ask a proceeding (Hebrews 6:1). God's arithmetic principally consists in addition. To give every man his own is but equity; but the addition of charity makes blessed. And as addition teaches us to add grace to grace, so there is a multiplication required to increase the effects of those graces in a multiplicity of good works. Knowledge not improved will be impaired. If there be no usury, we shall lose the principal. As in generation, so in regeneration, we must be growing up to a full stature in Christ (Ephesians 4:13). As a traveller passes from town to town till he come to his inn, so the Christian from virtue to virtue till he come to heaven.

(Thos. Adams.)

I. Now as to THE HOMELY VIRTUE ITSELF, "giving all diligence." We all know what "diligence" means, but it is worth while to point out that the original meaning of the word is not so much diligence as haste. It is employed, for instance, to describe the eager swiftness with which the Virgin went to Elizabeth after the angel's salutation and annunciation. It is the word employed to describe the murderous hurry with which Herodias came rushing in to the king to demand John the Baptist's head. It is the word with which the apostle, left solitary in his prison, besought his sole trusty companion Timothy to "make haste so as to come to him before winter." Thus, the first notion in the word is haste. which crowds every moment with continuous effort, and lets no hindrances entangle the feet of the runner. When haste degenerates into hurry, and becomes agitation, it is weakness, not strength; it turns out superficial work, which has usually to be pulled to pieces and done over again, and it is sure to be followed by reaction of languid idleness. But the less we hurry the more should we hasten in running the race set before us. But, with this caution against spurious haste, we cannot too seriously lay to heart the solemn motives to wise and well-directed haste. The moments granted to any of us are too few and precious to be let slip unused. The field to be cultivated is too wide and the possible harvest for the toiler too abundant, and the certain crop of weeds in the sluggard's garden too poisonous, to allow dawdling to be considered a venial fault. Little progress will be made if we do not work as feeling that "the night is far spent, the day is at hand." The first element, then, in Christian diligence is economy of time as of most precious treasure, and the avoidance, as of a pestilence, of all procrastination. "Now is the accepted time." "Wherefore, giving all haste, add to your faith." Another of the phases of the virtue, which Peter here regards as sovereign, is represented in our translation of the word by "earnestness," which is the parent of diligence. Earnestness is the sentiment, of which diligence is the expression. So the word is frequently translated. Hence we gather that no Christian growth is possible unless a man gives his mind to it. Dawdlers will do nothing. There must be fervour if there is to be growth. The engine that is giving off its steam in white puffs is not working at its full power. When we are most intent we are most silent. Earnestness is dumb, and therefore it is terrible. Again we come to the more familiar translation of the word as in the text. "Diligence" is the panacea for all diseases of the Christian life. It is the homely virtue that leads to all success. If you want to be a strong Christian — that is to say, a happy man — you must bend your back to the work and "give all diligence." Nobody goes to heaven in his sleep. No man becomes a vigorous Christian by any other course than "giving all diligence." It is a homely virtue, but if in its homeliness we practised it, this church and our own souls would wear a different face from what it and they do to-day.

II. Note THE WIDE FIELD OF ACTION FOR THIS HOMELY GRACE. First, note that in our text, "giving all diligence, add to your faith." That is to say, unless you work with haste, with earnestness, and therefore with much putting forth of strength, your faith will not evolve the graces of character which is in it to bring forth. He has just been saying that God has "given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, and exceeding great and precious promises." The Divine gift, then, is everything that will help a man to live a high and godly life. And, says Peter, on this very account, because you have all these requisites for such a life already given you, see that you "bring besides into" the heap of gifts, as it were, that which you and only you can bring, namely, "all diligence." The phrase implies that diligence is our contribution. "Diligence" makes faith fruitful. Diligence makes God's gifts ours. Then, again, the apostle gives an even more remark able view of the possible field for this all-powerful diligence when he bids his readers exercise it in order to "make their calling and election sure." If we desire that upon our Christian lives there shall shine the perpetual sunshine of an unclouded continence that we have the love and the favour of God, and that for us there is no condemnation, but only "acceptance in the beloved," the short road to it is the well known and trite path of toil in the Christian life. Still further, one of the other writers of the New Testament gives us another field in which this virtue may expatiate, when the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews exhorts to diligence, in order to attain "the full assurance of hope." The last of the fields in which this virtue finds exercise is expressed by our letter, when Peter says, "seeing that we look for such things, let us be diligent, that we may be found of Him in peace with out spot, and blameless." If we are to be "found in peace," we must be "found spotless," and if we are to be "found spotless" we must be "diligent." What a beautiful ideal of Christian life results from putting together all these items! A fruitful faith, a sure calling, a cloudless hope, a peaceful welcome, at last!

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

1. That it is not enough to flee and abstain from our fleshly lusts, and so perform the duty of mortification, unless also we add unto the same, faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, and the like Christian graces.

2. That naturally we are sluggish, slothful, and dull in the performance of holy duties, and therefore have need to be often roused up, admonished, and warned to perform our duty with all diligence.

3. That we cannot attain unto any of the graces of God's Spirit without diligence, painful labour, and travail.

4. That the gifts and graces of God's Spirit are worth the pains taking, worthy I say, both in regard of their nature and in regard of the recompense which we receive by them.

5. That neither the unlawful pleasures of this world are to be sought at all with any diligence, or the lawful pleasures and profits thereof with all diligence.

6. That this diligence which is required must be total, both inward and outward — = outward in every member of the body, inward in every faculty of the soul.To the first I answer, that God doth require this great diligence in the apprehension and application of His benefits.

1. Because of the worth and excellency of His benefits.

2. Because of their inefficacy unto us if not apprehended and applied by us.

3. Because of the great profit which we shall reap thereby, being by us rightly apprehended and with all diligence applied.

4. Because of the great diligence which Satan and his adherents, the world and the flesh, do use to deprive us of the same.

5. Because the work is great, we unwieldy, our time both short and uncertain, yea, and not being diligently apprehended as they are diligently offered, they are not afterward so easily attained.

(A. Symson.)

Expository Outlines.

II. THE CONSIDERATIONS BY WHICH THESE EXHORTATIONS ARE ENFORCED, By cultivating these various graces we shall show —

1. That our piety is not merely speculative and nominal.

2. They will contribute materially to our spiritual illumination.

3. A consciousness of our personal acceptance.

4. Perseverance in the face of temptations and difficulties.

5. A joyful and triumphant death.

(Expository Outlines.)

It was the saying of a shrewd thinker: "If it is worth while being a Christian at all, it is better to be a downright Christian."

To purity activity seems essential. Fill your room with the purest air, and shut it up for one month, and when you open it the air is foul. Its stagnation has made it impure. The same is true of water; no matter how pure it may be, let it become stagnant, and it grows fetid and deleterious. The spiritual world presents an analogy. Idleness is the stagnation of the mind, and, like that of the air and water, it breeds impurity.

(Christian Armour.)

"As He hath given us ALL things needful for life and godliness (so), do you give ALL diligence," etc. The oil and flame are given wholly by God's grace, and "taken "by believers; their part is to trim their lamps.

(A. R. Fausset, M. A.)

A neighbour near my study persists in practising upon the flute. He bores my ears as with an auger, and renders it almost an impossibility to think. Up and down his scale he runs remorselessly, until even the calamity of temporary deafness would almost be welcome to me. Yet he teaches me that I must practise if I would be perfect; must exercise myself unto godliness if I would be skilful; must, in fact, make myself familiar with the Word of God, with holy living, and saintly dying. Such practice, moreover, will be as charming as my neighbour's flute is intolerable.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

As in the body so is it in the soul, exercise develops strength. The Laplanders and the Patagonians are in climates almost equally cold. The Laplanders are a small race, the Patagonians a large one. What makes the difference? The Laplanders, supported by their reindeer, spend most of their time in indolence; the Patagonians are an active race, and spend much of their time in fishing and hunting. Hence the stunted development of the one, and the large dimensions of the other. It is thus grace expands by the activity of love.

(C. Graham.)

Our age is writing "progress" on its banners. It bids us to forget the things that are behind, as incomplete and unsatisfactory, and to press toward those which are yet before us. We believe that the gospel, and it alone, adequately meets this deeply-seated craving of our times. Religion is a principle of perpetual progress. Setting before us, as the great end of our existence, and as the only perfect model of moral excellence, the Infinite Jehovah, it requires, and it also ministers an ever-growing conformity to Him. "Grow in grace," is the apostle's injunction to all recipients of that grace. It is the secret and rule of personal reform, constantly advancing, and of social amelioration, enfranchisement and elevation.

1. The Church needs in this age to be kept in mind of the great truth, that there remains yet much land to be possessed.

2. And if, from the peculiar state and needs of the churches, we turn to review the present aspect of the world, we seem to discover similar reasons why the churches should not, now at least, overlook the fact that the gospel is, to its obedient disciples, a principle of continuous advancement, a law of expansion and moral elevation. The world, falsely or with justice, is shouting its own progress, and promising in the advance ment of the masses, the moral development of the individual. It is an age of rapid discovery in the physical sciences. The laws and uses of matter receive profound investigation, and each day are practically applied with some new success. Yet physical science can certainly neither create nor replace moral truth. The crucible of the chemist cannot disintegrate the human soul, or evaporate the moral law. But besides these advances in physical science, our age is one of wondrous political revolutions. It is again, even in lands and governments where political revolution is not needed or is not desired, an age of social reform.

3. And now, having seen how in the aspects, both secular and ecclesiastical, of our age, Christians were especially summoned to evolve what of progression there was in their own faith, let us see how in the inspired presentations of that faith, the fullest provision is made for man's moral growth. Were there no other precept: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect," would be sufficient to show how a limitless expansion of our intellectual and moral stature was set before us in the gospel. To man, the heir of immortality, it prescribes the law and warrants the hope of an immortal progression. There are stages in Christian attainment; and one but prepares for another, and, without all, the Christian cannot be fully useful or perfectly blessed.

4. From the word "add," a heedless reader might infer that all the graces thus clustered were independent each of the other, and might be selected or omitted as each disciple saw fit; and that a man might at least be safe in having but the first, though in his negligence lacking all the rest. But such is not the apostle's meaning. The believer is called upon to furnish not a single and isolated grace, but to supply "adding "one to another, the whole consenting train, and harmonious interwoven troop, the complete sisterly choir of Christian graces. He is to look upon the one in this cluster of Christian excellences as fragmentary and untuned without the others. The one grace is the supplement and complement indispensable to the symmetry and melody of all its sister graces. Now in this choir or train Faith is the elder born, and upon it all these other graces depend. It alone justifies, but as the old theologians were fond of saying, not being alone. It comes singly to the task of man's justification, but in the heart and life of the justified man it does not come as a solitary, building there its lonely hermitage.

(W. R. Williams.)

The word which has been translated "add "is a very pictorial term, and refers to a choir of well-trained musicians. The musical illustration of Christian growth is a very pro found and far-reaching one. Keats says that "heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter," implying that there is a music which appeals to the soul finer than anything that can be expressed by human voice or musical instrument. Beethoven was deaf, heard no outward sounds, but the soul of music was in him, and therefore with the deeper inner ear he heard continuously the Divine music to which all things are attuned. Music is the great principle of order. It enters into the essence of all things. The music of the spheres is not a mere poetic, but a scientific phrase. Everything speaks to the ear of the thoughtful of the wonderful rhythm of the universe. What nature does unconsciously and willlessly, we are to do consciously and willingly. We are to keep step and time to the music of the universe — and to add to our faith virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity — and thus practically make the statutes of the Lord our song in the house of our pilgrimage. There are two ways in which we may add to our faith all the graces which the apostle enumerates. We may add them as a builder adds stone to stone in his wall; or we may add them as a plant adds cell to cell in its structure. Whether, therefore, we take our illustration from architecture or from plant life, the essential point, as implied by the significance of the word "add" in the original, is that growth should be harmonious. Architecture is said to be "frozen music." This is true of the commonest wayside wall. What is it that makes the sight of a well-built wall so pleasing to the eye? What is it that makes building a wall such an interesting employment that children take instinctively to it? Is it not the love of symmetry — the delight in shaping large and small, rough and smooth, pieces of stone, adapting them one to the other, and placing them in such a way that together they make a symmetrical structure? And if we see this curious harmony in the humblest rustic building, how grandly does it come out in the magnificent Gothic cathedral, where every part blends faultlessly and carries out the design of the architect; and clustered pillar, and aerial arch, and groined roof soar up in matchless symmetry, and the soul is held spellbound by the poetry which speaks through the entire structure! There is a remarkable peculiarity in the text in the original which must be specially pointed out. The preposition which we have translated "to" should be rendered "in," and so rendered, we are significantly taught, that Christian growth is not by mechanical addition, but by vital increase. We are to add not "to" our faith, but "in" our faith, virtue, and "in" our virtue, knowledge, and so on. The first thing that we are commanded by the apostle to "add" to our faith is virtue, meaning by this term vigour, manliness. Our faith is to be itself a source of power to us. We are to be strong in faith. It is to be to us the power of God unto salvation, enabling us to overcome the temptations and evils of the world, and to rise above all the infirmities of our own nature. Our faith should be manifested as it was in olden times by a victorious strength which is able to overcome the world, which fears the Lord and knows no other fear. To this strength or manliness we are further commanded to "add" knowledge. In our manliness we are to seek after knowledge. The quality of courage is to be shown by the fearlessness of our researches into all the works and ways of God. We are not to be deterred by any dread of consequences from investigating and finding out the whole truth. The wisdom from above includes not only the knowledge that we are pardoned sinners, but also all that can furnish the understanding and fill the soul with food for its high capacities and boundless appetites. With wonderful sagacity the apostle commands us to add to our knowledge temperance; for there is a tendency in knowledge to puff us up and fill our hearts with pride. Temperance gives us just estimates of ourselves and of the world. It gives us the true knowledge of all things. It enables us to use our knowledge aright, to convert thought into action, and vision into life. We are to know ourselves and our relations to God's Word in order to regulate our life accordingly. To this self-government we must add patience. As the plant slowly ripens its fruit, so we are to ripen our Christian character by patient waiting and patient enduring. It is a quiet virtue this patience, and is apt to be overlooked and underestimated. But in reality it is one of the most precious of the Christian graces. The noisy virtues — the ostentatious graces have their day; patience has eternity. And while it is the most precious, it is also the most difficult. It is far easier to work than to wait; to be active than to be wisely passive. But it is when we are still that we know God; when we wait upon God that we renew our strength. Patience places the soul in the condition in which it is most susceptible to the quickening influences of heaven, and most ready to take advantage of new opportunities. But to this patience must be united godliness. Godliness is Godlikeness, having the same mind in us that was in Christ Jesus, viewing everything from the Divine point, and living in our inner life as fully in the light of His presence as we live in our outer life in the light of the sun. And exercising ourselves unto this godliness, our patience will have a Divine quality of strength, endurance, beauty imparted to it such as no mere natural patience possesses. We wrong God when we are unkind, ungenerous, and uncourteous to each other. But brotherly kindness is apt to be restricted towards friends only — towards those who belong to the same place or the same church, or who are Christians. It must, therefore, be conjoined to charity. In our brotherly kindness we are to exercise a large-hearted charity. Such, then, are the graces which we are enjoined by the apostle to add to each other, to develop from each other, not as separate fruits dispersed widely over the branches of a tree, but as the berries of a cluster of grapes growing on the same stem, mutually connected and mutually dependent. This is the ideal of a perfect Christian character. It must have these parts; it must be characterised by these qualities, These are the fruits of the Spirit. These are the products of genuine faith. They are not like the links of an iron chain, manufactured separately, and mechanically added to each other; but they are like the living cells of a growing plant, in which one cell gives birth to another, and communicates its own qualities to it.

(H. Macmillan, D. D.)

"Add to your faith virtue." "You have faith." This is assumed, you perceive. "Now," says the apostle, "let your faith be associated with virtue." The word is used in only three passages in the New Testament. It is a word derived from the name of the Greek god of war, and hence would give some countenance to those who would simply make it to mean fortitude, or courage. Others take it in another sense, by associating it with rectitude of conduct — everything that is "lovely and of good report," in conduct. For my part, I do not see how we can do without either meaning. The apostle speaks, in one of his passages, of our being "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, to show forth the virtues of Him who hath called us" that is, "to show forth the praises"; so to exhibit God in connection with our faith in His Son, that men may praise Him, seeing how His name and His law are magnified in the work of redeeming love. In another passage, in the Philippians, the Apostle Paul uses, in a more general sense, the same word: "If there be any virtue" — if there be anything at all commendable. Now, I think, we must look at the word as having both these senses. "See," the apostle says, "that your profession of faith is in connection with such conduct that the name of God may be magnified in you and by you." But, then, why should we exclude the idea of courage? Right conduct in the midst of evil men; consistency of conduct in the midst of a world lying in the wicked one; forgetting all distinctions of time, or country, or circumstances, to take God's mercy, and apply it to our own souls; to accept Christ as God's well-beloved Son; to look right into the grave, and think of the judgment-seat will require fortitude; and take the word, in whatever sense you please, fortitude and courage and rectitude of conduct must, says the apostle, be associated with your profession of faith in Christ Jesus. But then the apostle says we are to associate also "knowledge"; that is, he enjoins upon us to be intelligent professors of faith in Christ Jesus. God puts none of our faculties under ban; God does not ask any man whom He has endowed with faculties, by which He may be glorified by His creature, to keep them in abeyance, to leave them uncultivated. We are to have the soul filled with wisdom from above, and to seek all kinds of wisdom, that we may consecrate them to the service of God. And mark how necessary it is for the believer in Christ Jesus ever to be growing in intelligence. New errors creep into the Church; new forms of error are presented to the believer. He is not to be satisfied with the instruction which God blessed to the bringing him into living relationship with Christ Jesus. We ought, as a matter of conscience, and as a matter of duty, to seek to increase our intelligence, that we may be ready always to give an answer to every man, and a reason of a hope that is in us. And then the apostle enjoins "temperance" upon us. The simple meaning of the idea is self-government, or self-restraint, rather. This was one of the virtues which the Grecian philosophers laid great stress upon, in this general sense, not simply in eating and drinking, but in everything that referred to the passions of men. As the apostle says, "Be angry, and sin not." If there is just cause of anger, we are to be moderate in our anger. And the Apostle Paul speaks of persons who are "lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God"; that is, they are not temperate in their pleasures. There is nothing contradictory between this temperance and earnestness. Now, a man may be earnest without intelligence; he may be zealously affected even in a bad cause; but temperance — prudence, that is, moderation in our views, and in the mode of carrying out our views — may be found in connection with great earnestness. But, then, to "temperance" we are to add "patience." Even when you regulate yourselves most, and have your spirits under the directing influences of the Spirit of God, you cannot possibly live and act for Christ without finding some difficulties. "But," says the apostle, "just quietly endure all things; just patiently persevere in all that concerns your Christian course." "And, then," says the apostle, "associate also with these things godliness." The word means certain acts of worship presented to God; but it means more than this, it means a reverential spirit, by which our acts of worship are regulated. Is it not remarkable how much our religious worship is dependent upon certain influences, certain associations, certain circumstances? You perceive a man who has associated early in life with persons who frequent the house of God, and he contracts a kind of habit, and it is a long while before he can shake off this habit. Now, just change a man's position in society; see what the increase of this world's goods will do for a man; you see him slackening his attendance at the house of God, and leaving certain acts of worship that he once regularly engaged in. I have seen men who rigidly observed certain outward acts of worship when they were at home. I have seen them give the lamentable proof that it was all a matter of external influence. And therefore the apostle says, "Associate with everything that is right, everything that is virtuous in conduct, godliness": that is, a devout and a reverential spirit, manifested in connection with your devotedness to Christ and Him crucified. But the apostle says, "Not simply towards God, but towards your fellow-men." Christ Himself enjoined upon His disciples love towards each other, by which they should manifest that they loved Him.

(J. Sherlock.)

I. THE ADDITIONS WHICH YOU ARE TO MAKE TO YOUR FAITH. The apostle does not exhort Christians to seek after faith. This he supposes them to possess already. You say you have faith — but faith without works is dead, being alone. Faith resembles a foundation, of high importance in case of a building, but useless ii no superstructure be reared. It is only a beginning, which is nothing without progress. What are clear notions unless they influence; or proper motives unless they impel? Moses had faith, and he esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.

1. The first addition which he requires of you as believers is virtue — courage. This principle in the whole of your Christian course will be found indispensably necessary. You live in a world unfriendly to religion. It will be found no easy thing to deny yourselves and take up your cross, to pluck out a right eye. Some of these difficulties, indeed, might be avoided if you were only to be religious and not to appear so. If we trace things to their origin we shall find a thousand evils springing, not from ignorance but cowardice. Pilate condemned a Saviour of whose innocency he was conscious because of the Jews. Many of the Pharisees "believed on Him, but feared to confess Him lest they should be put out of the synagogue." The disciples were afraid and forsook Him.

2. A second addition is knowledge. And this very properly follows the former. It teaches us that courage is a force which wisdom is to employ; courage may urge us to undertake the war, but judgment is to manage it. And hence it will be easy to determine the nature of this qualification. It is practical knowledge; it is what we commonly mean by prudence, which is knowledge applied to action. It is what Paul recommends when he says, "Be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. Walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise. Walk in wisdom towards them that axe without, redeeming the time." This kind of knowledge results principally from experience and observation; and he is blameable indeed who does not grow wiser as he grows older, and who does not make every day a correction of the former. Our own history affords us some of the best materials to improve and embellish our character. We should derive strength from our weaknesses, and firmness from our falls. But, alas I what numbers are there upon whom the continuance of life and all means of improvement seem to be thrown away. They have eyes, but they see not; ears have they, but they hear not. Whereas "the wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way." "The prudent man looketh well to his going." He draws down his knowledge from speculation, and uses it in common life. He judges of the value of his notions by their utility. He studies his character and condition. He examines his dangers, his talents, his opportunities.

3. You are to avoid intemperance. There is a sense in which this word may be applied to the mind as well as the body.

4. You are to add to your temperance patience. There is an obvious and striking relation between these. The one requires us to bear, the other to forbear. The one regards the good things, the other the evil things of the world. By temperance we are preserved under the smiles of prosperity, and by patience we encounter the frowns of adversity.

5. Godliness is indispensable. Courage and prudence, temperance and patience, would be no Christian qualities, if in the exercise of them we were not influenced by suitable regards to God. Without this reference our religion is nothing more than morality.

6. We are to add to godliness brotherly kindness.

7. To brotherly kindness, charity.

II. INQUIRE HOW THIS IS TO BE ACCOMPLISHED. The apostle tells us. It is by giving all diligence.

1. These things deserve your diligence. It is pitiable to see men employing their zeal and consuming their strength upon trifles. But this cannot be said of spiritual blessings and graces. These are in the sight of God of great price. They are necessary to man. They purify his passions, and tranquillise his conscience, They enrich, they dignify him, they are his perfection. They make him happy.

2. Diligence will infallibly secure these things.

3. There is no attaining these things without diligence. Diligence is indispensable.(1) Indispensable if we appeal to analogy. You must labour even for "the meat that perisheth."(2) Indispensable if we appeal to the character of a Christian. He is a merchant, a scholar, a husbandman, a traveller, a soldier — the anxiety of the merchant, the application of the scholar, the hardy toil of the husbandman, the wearying progress of the traveller, the painful exercise of the soldier, are images which ill accord with indolence and ease.(3) Indispensable if we appeal to the promises of the gospel. These all require it, encourage it, produce it.

(W. Jay.)

The word translated "add" takes us back to an old Grecian custom; it means to be a chorus-leader, to furnish a chorus at one's own expense. The Greeks worshipped their gods through a hired chorus. When the poet had completed his work, he called upon the archon (or city mayor) to grant a chorus. He in turn appealed to a wealthy citizen called a choragus, who collected a chorus, hired a trainer, and in time rendered the poet's composition to the delight of the citizens and the glory of the gods. As a reward he received a tripod, which he consecrated, and in some cases placed on a monument. The Athenian street lined with these memorials was called "the avenue of tripods." Into this custom as a mould Peter pours the truth of God's gift and man's duty. Vers. 2-4 set forth God's gift to man, the composition of Jehovah, the sacred score, the expression of His life and love. Grace and peace are allotted to us; they are not obtained by effort, but are gifts of God. All that pertains to life and godliness comes through precious promises. He who takes the promises of faith takes the life of God into his soul. Here stands the poet with his finished work, pleading for a chance to help the people and honour the gods. He has put himself into the composition, it is as yet only a promise of harmony; the chorus is organised, trained, the people gather, the soul of the composer finds expression, the people are inspired to nobler lives, the gods are glorified. Until the archon accepts the poet's promise, and the chorus renders it, the poet is dumb. God has given Himself in great and precious promises, completed His work, and now calls upon men to accept and fill the universe with Divine harmony. Vers. 5-7 give us man's duty growing out of God's gift. His work is the inspiration to, not the substitute for our work. God operates, man must co-operate. The air is free, therefore breathe it; the earth is rich, therefore till it; the seed is vital, sow it; the sea is wide, launch out upon it. Opportunity means duty; gifts bring obligations. Peter is writing to Christians — to "them that have obtained like precious faith." Faith is a present possession, something assumed, to which other things are to be added. Yet faith is but one grace, one instrument in chorus; without it the others are useless; with it alone you can never render God's composition. A solo is not a chorus. Beethoven and Wagner cannot be rendered by one instrument; much less can God be set forth by one virtue. "Add to your faith virtue." Not virtue in the narrow sense of moral excellence, but of the energy which Christians are to exhibit, as God exerts His energy upon them. Faith in "the God and Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" must be an energetic faith. The verb of life is passive toward God, but active toward men. The poet threw himself into his composition; the chorus was simply to take in what he gave, and pour it out upon others. God has put Himself into this gift of His; receiving it we are to yield our powers to it, and let His energy control us. A lazy Christian is a contradiction in terms. "And to energy knowledge" — intelligence, understanding, spiritual discernment. This looks two ways: understanding of truth, and discernment of what is right and wrong in life. As the years go by we should "know more and more of God's will as made known in His Word. Astronomy is ever finding new stars. Christians should find new depths, new heights, and new breadths in God's Word as the years go by. "And to knowledge temperance" — self-control, the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions. Keep the beast beneath the saddle. Eyegate and eargate must be guarded lest the enemy capture man's soul, and the door of speech be kept; for "If any man offend not in word," etc. "And to self-control patience" — the characteristic of a man who is unswerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings. Not only endurance of the inevitable, but the heroic, brave patience, with which a Christian not only bears but contends. Faith, energy, self-control count for little unless you endure; there are many Galatian Christians, who run well for a time; but the crowns are given to men who complete the race. Quick response on the part of the soil is no guarantee of a harvest; depth is as needful as willingness. "And to patience godliness" — reverence, respect, piety toward God; the confession of human dependence upon God manifested in conduct and conversation. Having faith, energy, self-control, and patience, there is danger lest we lose the fine sense of reverence; danger that we become irreverent. At the beginning of the Christian fife there is an awful sense of God; in too many cases this wears off, we become familiar with and degrade holy things and places, forget to bow in prayer, to close the eyes in worship. "And to godliness brotherly kindness" — love of the brethren. Nearness to Christ as the head means nearness to one another as members in particular; the muscles that bind the members to the head bind them to one another; the nerves that give the head control of the members are nerves of mutual icy and suffering. Godliness cannot be solitary and selfish, but must be social and unselfish; he who loves God must love his brother also. "And to brotherly kindness charity" — love, the broad affection which should characterise Christians, the love of men as men, "God is love." The object of God's love is the world; likeness to God means love to all mankind. Paul calls it the bond of perfectness, the sash which binds all other graces into place, the girdle over all; here it is the last instrument; without it you cannot render God's composition to the world. The first is faith" in God, the last is love to man, for faith in God begets His likeness in us. Yonder is God, the great composer, bidding us render His composition. What powers He must see in us; what confidence in our powers He must have; what a calling is ours! When St. Cecilia played the angels responded; well may they respond when human powers are counted worthy to render God's opera. Oh, men and women, rise to the dignity of your powers and possibilities! God waits for expression, angels wait to hear God expressed. There are eight instruments called for, the octave, the perfection of harmony; though the chorus be what no man can number, yet at the heart of it is the octave, and God calls on each man to use the powers in himself; each man has the octave in himself, and is called upon to chorus his powers, to train his gifts. Then we have (ver. 8) the consequences of faithful service. Grace and peace are multiplied through knowledge, and knowledge comes through faithful use of these powers. The musician who gives himself to the works of the master gains knowledge of the score, and is transformed into a sort of human photograph, possessed by and giving out the genius of the composer. So the Christian who tries to render God's composition comes into a fuller knowledge of it, sympathy with it; God's thoughts become his thoughts, and God's ways his ways; he no longer lives, but Christ lives in him. The composition controls the performer. On the other hand, "He that lacketh these things is blind," etc. The word "blind" here carries with it a curious figure, "darkened by smoke." Smoke-blinded, squinting his eyes up, forgetting the door of entrance and exit, bewildered, he gropes about searching in vain for the way out of sin. Refusing to give himself to God's gift, to cultivate the Christian graces, his horizon narrows, his life shrinks; what he has mastered sinks from him: forgiveness forgotten, sin returns, and he is lost. Hear God's call to constant practice, "Give diligence to make your calling and election sure." God's work is done, Christ has offered the finished opera; in grace as in nature the end of His work is the beginning of your work; where the composer stops the performer begins, and at this point the composer becomes dependent upon the performer. Enter diligently upon your part of the task; "by patient continuance in well-doing" thou shalt reach the final reward. And that is "an entrance shall be ministered unto you," etc. "Ministered" is the passive of the same verb that is translated "add" in ver.

5. As the city honoured the man who assumed the burden of the chorus, giving him a public triumph, rearing for him a tripod on the broad avenue, so God shall minister to those who chorus His works of grace mighty triumph in the kingdom of His Son.

(O. P. Gifford.)

Men are very fond of looking at the Divine government from that side where it can be the least seen, and where they are most subject to the errors of their own fluctuating imaginations, and to the obscurities of philosophy, falsely so called. It is far better, wherever we can, to look at the great truths of the Divine moral government, at the mystery of God's dealing with men in this world, from the human side. And this is what is done in this passage. It is, in brief, the inspired disclosure of the purposes of God in respect to men. What it is that the grace of God is attempting to do with those who are called in the Lord Jesus Christ, is set forth. We are called of God. In our version it is "to glory and virtue," but in the original it is "by glory and virtue," as if the call was not by the nature of man, but by the nature of God. By His own being, by the glorious and virtuous power of His own Spirit, He calls us up out of our lower life — out of that nature of ours which is physical. The apostle goes on to say, "On account of this, giving all diligence." You are called. The call is one which is to be answered. There is to be working together of the inspiration of the Divine Spirit and human endeavour, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God which worketh in you." "On account of this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue." What is faith? Supersensuousness. Well, what is supersensuousness? It is all that truth which exists beyond the discermnent of the senses. Now the apostle says, "Add to that faith virtue." "Add to this vision-seeing tendency of yours, which may etherealise itself and go off in a cloudy dream — add to this the practice of a wise and righteous kind. Add to your faith virtue, in the old Roman sense — true manhood." By the way, I have jumped a thought. It does not say "add to" in the original; it says, "Provide," or "develop in." It is as if he had had in his mind the thought of a plant. "Add to your faith, or in your faith, virtue; in other words, develop out of your faith virtue that is, practical godliness; and in your virtue or front out of your virtue, develop knowledge." By this is not meant, evidently, that knowledge which we gather by our senses — scientific knowledge, ideas, facts; but a higher knowledge that subtle intuition of truth which men have who live high and noble lives. That which is meant by temperance is self-government. And in temperance, or front it, develop patience — endurance — the spirit of bold, quiet waiting. "And to patience, godliness." That is, let your patience be not stoical. Let it not be stubborn, sulky. Let it be the waiting and endurance of a man who believes that God reigns, and that all the affairs of the universe are in His hands, and shall work toward good. "And to godliness, brotherly kindness." That is, let there be in your godliness a warm sympathy and affection, not only for yourself, but for your family, for all your near neighbours, for all your neighbours that are more remote, for all your townspeople, for all the world. "And to brotherly kindness, charity." Local affection and universal affection — add these. Here, then, is the apostle's conception of a Christian man's character, development, and destiny; and I remark —

I. This ideal destiny of man is one that shall lead hint into the likeness, into the sympathy, and into the participation of the Divine nature. The reason why we know so little of the Divine nature is, that we have so little ill ourselves that interprets it to us. I have groped to see if there are not at least some traces along the line of this march, and I think I see some. I observe, for instance, in the progress of the lower animal in man up toward the higher, that when it reaches the human race, the difference between undeveloped men and men who are developed, is the power to discern the invisible. That is, men whose forces are muscular are inferior to men whose forces are mental. And when the apostle says that we are to be partakers of the Divine nature, I say that the declaration is in harmony with everything that I see going on in human nature. We rise away from the animal toward the spiritual. We advance from lower manhood to higher manhood. The line is from the flesh toward the spirit. Therefore, it might naturally be expected that Christian character would consummate itself in the development of the Divine nature. That is the highest form of spiritual existence, and when the apostle says this is so, I am prepared to receive it, and to rejoice over it.

II. No man was ever converted to Christianity at one flash. No man ever built a house at a single blow, except in a summer dream. The conversion by which the Spirit of God starts a man, just starts him — that is all. It turns him away from the wrong direction. It turns him toward the right model. It gives his heart an inspiration for things higher, and then says to him, "Work out your salvation." A man who has a musical ear goes into a workshop and sees lying there large quantities of material of various kinds — iron, and steel, and copper, and brass — and he says, ".Let me make these available." And he takes the various kinds of metal, and puts them into a furnace and melts them, and pours the liquid which they form into a mould; and when it is cool and brought out it is a bell. Such is the result of the combination of all these incoherent substances. And when it is struck it is musical. And he says, "I have hit it! It is perfect!" But it is a monotone; and after some thought he says. "No, I have not reached perfection yet. There is more material here. What if I should make another bell?" So he goes to work and makes a second bell. And then he makes a third; and then a fourth. And some musician says, "Hang them up in yonder tower," and they are lifted up into the tower; and, swinging there, they ring out through the air glorious chants which call men to God's house. God has lifted up the spire or tower of the human soul, and has set in it some thirty bells; and they are all to be brought into accord. There are two or three that strike bass notes musically; but it is our business to bring harmony into the whole mighty collection of musical instruments that are swinging in the belfry of man's soul. No man is perfect until all his faculties are brought into harmonious play. God never put a faculty into a man which was not necessary; and if we are to be perfect, every one of our faculties must be developed and used. As God looks upon men, they are not perfect until they are built up into the lines and lineaments of the Lord Jesus Christ, and have partaken in part of the Divine nature. Then they are sons of God; and to be a son of God is something transcendently glorious.

III. The glorious ideal of Christianity, compared with all the current ideas, stands up in bright and rebuking contrast. How many are calling men to church-membership! How many are calling men to morality! How many men are called to philosophy! How many men are called to philanthropy! But such is not the call of God. God calls men to be partakers of the Divine nature. And the providence of Divine grace is working on that pattern incessantly. What the gardener means, and what Nature means, are very different things. What the grape-vine means is to drive out its branches, rank and strong, far and wide. What the gardener means is grapes; and therefore he cuts back the vine on every side. "Let me grow," says the vine. "Bear," says the vintner. "Give me more room for my leaves," says the vine. "Then give me more grapes for my wine," says the gardener. Men in this world are seeking to develop forces that shall be for their pleasure. God is meeting those who are His own with blows at every step, and beating them back. He is tempering this man's zeal by various shames. He is subjecting another man to such tests as shall compel him to come to endurance. In various ways God's providence is meddling with us. We are all praying that God's will may be done; but we do not like the answer to our prayer when it comes. The soul is a temple, anal God is silently building it by night and by day. Precious thoughts are building it. Disinterested love is building it. Joy in the Holy Ghost is building it. All-penetrating faith is building it. Gentleness, and meekness, and sweet solicitude, and sympathy are building it. All virtue and all goodness are workmen upon that invisible temple which every man is. "Ye are the temple of God." The foundations are laid, the lines are drawn, and silently, night and day, the walls are carried up, tier after tier being laid; and when the temple is built it shall seem as if it were composed of precious stones — of beryl, and amethyst, and topaz, and diamond — so that at last when it is completed, and there comes the shout of "Grace, grace, unto it," it shall be a temple built in darkness to reveal light; built in sorrow to produce a joy which shall never die.

IV. If these views are generally correct, we may see in them the correction of many of the popular sayings and tendencies of the day. I am met at every step by those who say, "I ought to conform to the laws of my being." Which way is the eagle's nature, where he lies in his nest, or where he is, in the might of his power, poised under the sun, on a summer day? Is a man's nature that which he is born to, or that which he comes to by unfolding? Is a man's nature that which is furthest from, or nearest to, that which God meant should be the final estate to which he is to come? A man's real nature lies far beyond his present sphere. Nature in a man is not what he came from, but what he is going to. I am not, therefore, to take my models and patterns from behind; but this one thing I am to do — I am to forget the things which are behind, and to look on beyond, and to take my conceptions of true manhood and noble nature from the ideals which I form of God- and they are interpreted in my experience by God's Spirit.

(H. W. Beecher.)

You would think that flower-garden very defective which grew only one kind of flower, however beautiful that one may appear. It is the large variety of flowers that gives interest and pleasure in a garden. Thus, if you see a Christian with only one predominant grace, whatever it may be and however fine, he is lacking. It is the variety of graces, and their combination in the one life of experience and practice, that give charm and glory to Christian character, as it is the combination of colours that makes the light of the day.

(James Hamilton, D. D.)

As it is always incongruous to see a mighty foundation with a trivial superstructure, a block of granite the basis, and a mud wall the building, a foundation of jasper, and the remaining corners all brick; so where there really is precious faith to begin with, you grieve that there should not be added courage, knowledge, temperance; but wood, hay, stubble, trivial tastes, narrow notions, sectarian prejudices, a sour or censorious spirit, and manifold infirmities of the flesh and spirit.

(James Hamilton, D. D.)

When the Vatican issued the celebrated Bull Unigenitus, the occasion of so many scandals, and of such protracted controversy, and in which it condemned, as abounding with most portentous errors, the excellent commentary upon the New Testament of the pious Father Quesnel, it selected as one of those errors, a remark of the good Jansenist upon the chapter before us, that "Faith is the first of graces, and the source of every other." And yet what else than this very sentiment does the language of the apostle here suggest? Faith is put by him first in order; and is it not so put by Peter's Lord? (John 3:36.)

I. FAITH, IN ITS WIDEST SENSE, IS TRUST OR BELIEF; confidence in the word, character, or work of another. Though requisite in religion, it is as much requisite elsewhere. Human society in its whole framework is so held together; and the kindreds and amusements and business of the world are presenting to the most earthly-minded, continual images and intimations of that faith which, when demanded of him by the Church and by the Word of God, he may sometimes affect to regard as strange and unexampled. The generous confidence of soldiers in a tried and heroic leader; the implicit confidence of his correspondents in a merchant of known means, and of proved integrity; the trust of the voyager in the intelligence and vigilance of the navigator; the unshaken assurance of a friend in the worth and affection of one whom he has long known and intimately loved — these are all but examples, in daily recurrence, of the use and the need, of the sweetness and of the power, of a reasonable faith and a well-placed trust. The faith of the gospel is something more than these, only as being trust in God. It is trust as to matters of higher concernment, and upon better warrant, and in a greater and better Being. It is a reliance on His true testimony. It is not irrational, for it has overwhelming evidence. Instead of its being, as the bigots of scepticism (for infidelity has its blind and bitter bigotry) represent it, a bandage for the eyes; and a manacle for the free hand, faith is really, to the eyes of the soul, a telescope bringing near the far glories of heaven: "the evidence of things not seen, and the substance of things hoped for." And it is, to the hand, a clue leading our steps out of the mazy dungeon of sin, and through the labyrinth of earth. It is a magnet pointing the voyager to his desired haven; the charter, to the criminal, of an undeserved and full pardon. And as this faith is trust in the truth of the ever-truthful God, it is highest wisdom, as it is reliance on the Omnipresent, the Almighty, and the everlasting Jehovah, it is the surest, the only safety.

II. And should it be asked, WHY HAS IT THIS PRIORITY IN THE CHRISTIAN SYSTEM, we answer, it may well occupy this place of precedency in the scheme of man's salvation, for various reasons.

1. Man's history required it. Unbelief, the opposite of faith, had the primary place in man's fall and perdition.

2. It occupies the first place, again, from the nature, respectively, of God and man. He, as the Infinite and Omniscient, knows much which man, as the finite being of limited faculties and existence, can know only through His Divine testimony.

3. Again, God's unutterable tenderness and goodness have assigned to faith this post of precedency. The babe, yet but a prattler, may have full trust in the parent who cherishes it. Before it can reason, or even speak, it may believe in its father and mother.

4. And man's besetting sin — the pride which, after all the deep descent of the Fall, clings so persistently to him, however degraded, made it fitting, that the mode of his acceptance before God should be one that allowed no occasion for boasting.

III. BUT WILL NOT A SCHEME OF SALVATION, THUS FREE AND INDISCRIMINATE, BREAK DOWN ALL VIRTUE, AND "THE DIGNITY OF HUMAN NATURE," and abolish law, and holiness, and truth? So, in all ages, objectors have argued. But the providence of God, and the history of the churches, have sufficiently answered these cavillings. The faith that justifies is implanted by a transforming Spirit, and reconciles to a holy and sin-hating Father, and unites to a Redeemer detesting and destroying iniquity. Whilst faith then accepts pardon as God's free gift, it accepts as the inseparable concomitants of that pardon, penitence for sin, gratitude to the Giver, ingenuous love, adoption into the household of God, and assimilation to the Elder Brother — the Head of that household.

IV. FROM THE NECESSITY OF ITS NATURE THE IMPLANTED FAITH BECOMES A ROOT OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH, AND A PRINCIPLE OF PRACTICAL DEVELOPMENT. In its earlier stages faith is generally but feeble. That it should remain so, is not the will of Him who implants and who sustains it.

1. From the nature of faith, and of the human mind itself, faith, where well placed, on a trustworthy object, must grow and strengthen by exercise and continual repetition.

2. The growth set before our faith appears, again, from the character and structure of Scripture, the volume on whose testimonies faith fastens, and in whose rich pastures she must ever feed. God might have made it a book to be exhausted at one reading; or a record of the past, unavailing to the men of the present; or a mysterious outline of the future, of little clearness or usefulness till the times of its fulfilment had come. Instead of this, it is a book of all times, full of the ancient past, and the busy present, and the dread or gorgeous future. It has the simplest teachings interwoven inextricably with its most fathomless mysteries. Now, when faith is presented with such a manual, not to be mastered in weeks or years, but still evolving new lights to the latest studies of the longest lifetime, does not the structure of the book proclaim the intent of God, that faith should not sit down content with present attainments, and its as yet immature strength?

3. And so, too, the character of God Himself proclaims the same great law of the constant growth of faith. "Acquaint thyself with Him and be at peace," is the demand of reason, no less than Scripture. Man has capacities and aspirations that the earthly, the perishable, the finite, and the sinful can never satisfy.

4. The office and character of the Holy Ghost, the Author of faith, point to the same results. The Saviour Himself described the influence of this Spirit's indwelling "as a well of water" in the disciple "springing up into everlasting life."

(W. R. Williams.)


1. Our apostle, to build the house of Christianity, lays this as the foundation. Philosophy lays her ground in reason, divinity in faith; the first voice of a Christian is, "I believe."

2. The necessity of faith appears —(1) In respect of God (Hebrews 11:6; Romans 10:14; Matthew 8:13).(2) In respect of the devil (1 Peter 5:9). He is too strong for thee if thou meetest him with thy virtue, or with thy good works; for he will object sins enough to outweigh them. Solon cannot meet him with his justice, nor Solomon with his wisdom; every poor sinner can overcome him with his faith (Ephesians 6:16).(3) In respect of thyself.(a) Thou art ignorant. There is no understanding of God but by faith.(b) Thou art originally corrupt, naturally hateful to God; nothing canst thou do to please Him, till thyself be first made acceptable to Him. The doer is not acceptable for the deed, but the deed for the doer. Hadst thou all the succeeding graces, and not this foundation of faith, whereby thy person is made accepted in the Beloved, when thou art judged, thou couldst not be saved.

II. ITS SINGULARITY. Not faiths, but faith (Ephesians 4:5). There is but one faith in the church, as but one church in the faith; one faith in nature, not one in number. Every man hath his own faith, yet all have but one faith.


1. "Your faith," because you have a right and interest to this faith. Divers gifts are appropriated to divers men; but faith is general to all the elect.

2. "Your faith," because every one must have a proper and peculiar use of faith. Thou canst not see Christ with another's eyes, nor walk to heaven on another's feet.

IV. ITS SOCIETY. "To your faith"; "to" implies some accession. Faith is a great queen; it is base to let her go without a court and a train.

(Thos. Adams.)

Isaac Taylor has told us we may find an illustration of this apostolic injunction by taking a view at large of church history. If we do so we shall "discern beneath the scientific phraseology of the passage, a condensed but comprehensive caution against each of those prominent corruptions that have developed themselves in the course of eighteen centuries. They are readily enumerated, and may be put somehow in this fashion."

1. Pusillanimous or inert faith.

2. The licentious abuse of the gospel.

3. A fanatical or haughty subjugation of animal desires.

4. Anehoretic pietism.

5. Sectarian or factious sociality.Thus our apostolic canon is seen to hold up as in a mirror the history of the degenerate Christianity of all ages." Now let us think of faith and manly energy combined. It would be better to inquire at this point, what is the New Testament conception of "virtue"? We have to thank the gospel of Christ for the force of the meaning which we at present attach to the word. You are familiar with the history and some of the literature of the great heathen nations the Greeks and the Romans. You know what "virtue" meant with them. Patriotism, first and chiefly; willingness to endure all, to give up all for the safety or benefit of their country; fearlessness of danger; implacability of hatred of the enemy; scorn of physical suffering; insensibility to the common sympathies of men; the cultivation of a brave war-spirit; this was courage, manliness, "virtue," in those days. We have, as I said, to thank the gospel that the meaning of the word has changed, that we understand true manliness to consist in the full and free development of all that is good in human nature; the cultivation of some of those tenderer emotions which were so haughtily scorned; the recognition of the fact that, in quiet, unanswering submission, there may be majesty of soul as true or truer than is evident in the man who does battle with fortune and writhes under her hand; that love, mercy, forgiveness of injury, are not tokens of an effeminate heart, but of manliness; that a man is most victorious when he conquers himself, and most free when he yields ready, grateful obedience to the will of God. The manliest man must be the Christian; and what strikes us chiefly in thinking of the great names of pagan history, men of the type of Aristides, of Pericles, of Socrates, of Decius, of Brutus, is that it was the inspiration of this truth that they lacked for their perfection. This manly energy, then, is to be cultivated, conjoined, mixed up with that faith in the promises of God which is the only true basis upon which spiritual character can be built. Now, such a command would not have been given if the apostle had not foreseen that the tendency of human nature would be to divorce these two things, as either incompatible with each other, or, at all events, as not necessarily connected. Some of you have not lived beyond the remembrance of your first Christian experience. What effect was produced upon you by the vivid consciousness that you stood cleared from sin in the presence of a merciful Father; that eternal life was yours, that all the promises of the rich heavenly inheritance were yours? Was not the effect that your inclination was just to sit still, and ponder thankfully the marvellous grace of God, in revealing such blessing, in assuring to you such a glorious future? Such a desire for quiet contemplative enjoyment of this new experience tilled yon, that you regarded with distaste anything which threatened to break in upon it. Now you see the wisdom of it all. Now you see the necessity of the apparent harshness of some of that life. As some one has said of the early Christians, "they were daily brought upon a path of danger which made them such men of action, of promptitude, and of courage, as they were men of meditation; while, more than any others, they lived in correspondence with things 'unseen and eternal,' more than any others also they wrestled with things earthly, being embarrassed amid common cares, exhausted by hunger, thirst, and toil, distracted by fears, and often actually engaged in encountering the anguish of cruel deaths. Thus they were compelled, by the very position they occupied, to 'mingle with their faith, virtue.' "Such has been, in varying fashion, the course of God's providence with all of us. Our nature is such that the active and the passive emotions must both have play, or the man is not proportionate in his development — the man is not manly. It is no small evidence of the Divinity of Christianity that such a precept as this is found as part of its ordinance, showing that the religion is adapted for the man by a wisdom above his own. Faith cannot thrive without some expression in action. Faith without activity ends in superstition. Now, just glance at the other side of the truth. There must be this Christian manliness evident and active, but it must have faith as its basis, as its very life. While language helps thought, language without thought would be nothing. Activity without faith leads to infidelity, utter and complete atheism.

(D. J. Hamer.)

I. Consider, first, WHAT THIS VIRTUE IS. No better suggestion has been made than that which takes it as meaning a certain manly energy, vigour, and firmness of disposition, which is the first outcome of Christian faith, and may well be the first aim of Christian effort. Now that strength of nature, firm tenacity of character, will at bottom be neither more nor less than a good strong will; for a man's strength is the strength of his will. And that being understood, what are the shapes in which this manly energy will manifest itself? There should flow from faith a tenacious vigour which masters circumstances and does not let them work with us as they please. True, the ship can only be carried by the wind and the currents, but, equally true, if there be a good strong hand on the tiller, and the canvas be wisely set, she can sail almost in the wind's eye. Circumstances do make us, but it depends on us what they make us. Though they supply the force, the guidance ties in the hand that holds the reins and pulls the bit. The strength of the Christian man will manifest itself in ruling outward things, and making them subservient, whether they be sorrowful or joyful, to the highest end of all, even his larger possession of a fuller Divine nature. And, in like manner, the "virtue" of my text will manifest itself in the rigid subjugation, by the energy of a strong will, of all my own inclinations, desires, tastes, passions, and the like; which all seek to assert themselves, and which the more mightily and ungoverned they work, the weaker a man is. In like manner, this manly energy, which all Christians are bade in the very first place to cultivate, will teach us independence of other people. Learn not to live upon their smiles, dare to be voices and not echoes, and to take your commandments, not from the habits of your class or of your calling, but from the lips which alone have power to command, and whose approval is praise indeed. Let me remind you that the gentle Christ is the pattern of this manly force as of everything else. All that the world adores as power looks weak, hysterical, strained by the side of the calm gentleness of that life which bears no trace of effort, and yet is mightier than all besides. He is Power, because He is Love.

II. And now observe THE ROOT OF THIS VIRTUE, OR ENERGY, IN FAITH. A faith which does not grow into virtue and knowledge, and all the other links in this chain is, if not dead, at least ready to perish if it has not vitality enough to fruit. And then need I say that the exercise of confidence in God, as revealed to us in Jesus Christ, has a direct tendency to produce this strong form of character of which my text speaks? Faith as the realisation of the Unseen will bring strength.

III. And now a word as to THE CULTURE OF THIS "VIRTUE" BY OUR OWN EFFORT. The original word is very graphic and picturesque. It means, "Bringing in by the side of," when fully and clumsily and yet accurately translated. "Bringing in your diligence by the side of" — what? By the side of that, "partakers of the Divine nature." God's gift does not make my effort unneccssary, but rather demands it as its completion and consequence. The best way by which we can give diligence to make ourselves strong, is by nurturing the faith which strengthens. Get into the habit of thinking about Jesus Christ all through your days, get into the habit of bringing mind and heart and will under the dominion of the principles of the gospel, and you will find the strength flowing into you and you will be mighty by Him. And we can get this strength in larger measure, too, by the simple process of habitually acting as if we possessed it. That is to say, you may cultivate the habit of suppressing yourselves, of stopping your ears to men's voices, of mastering and coercing circumstances. The Will gets dominion by asserting its dominion. There are no better ways of evolving this strenuous vigour from faith than these two — First, live near the source of it — "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength." And then, exercise the little that you have got, and it will grow by exercise.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)


1. What a Christian ought to be. Not feeble, vacillating, pusillanimous; but brave, strong, trustworthy.

2. How a Christian ought to endure.

3. How a Christian ought to resist.

III. THE NEED FOR THIS CHARACTERISTIC. There is no high goodness without strength.


1. A deep conviction of its necessity.

2. Fellowship with heroes who have embodied it.

3. Communion with its great source.

4. Exercise of as much of it as we possess.

(U. R. Thomas.)

In common speech every moral excellence is called a virtue. We also give the name "virtue" to that outward conformity to the law of God which constitutes a good moral character. Thus honesty is a virtue; veracity is a virtue; chastity is a virtue, etc. It is evident, however, that the text does not use the word in either of these significations. It cannot intend by virtue moral excellence in general, since it goes on to enumerate several particular moral excellences, such as temperance, patience, godliness, and charity, which must be added to virtue in order to complete the Christian character. It cannot intend any one in particular of those moral traits which we sometimes call virtues, since in addition to virtue it specifies most of these by name. For the meaning of the apostle we must go back to the primary idea of virtue — which is, manhood, manly vigour, a courageous tone of mind. The old martial Romans, from whom our word virtue is directly inherited, used this term to denote primarily the sum of all corporeal or mental excellences in their ideal of a man. The use of virtue in the sense of power or energy is common in old English; and there are some traces of this elsewhere in our version of the Scriptures, which help to determine the meaning of virtue in the text. The Greek word here translated virtue occurs but four times in the New Testament. As used by Paul in Philippians 4:8, it has the sense of moral excellence. But as used by Peter with respect both to God and to man, the word clearly denotes force, energy, power. There is another word (δύναμις) whose primary meaning is power, which our translators, following Wiclif, sometimes render by virtue, thus showing that they attached to virtue the old Latin sense of energy or force (Luke 8:46; Luke 6:19). Here virtue denotes not moral goodness, but miraculous healing power. Wiclif uses virtues as the equivalent of miracles. Where our version speaks of the "mighty works" done in Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, Wiclif styles these "virtues." Again, "He could there do no mighty work"; Wiclif reads, "He must not do there any virtue (Mark 6:5). Milton applies the phrase celestial virtues to the fallen powers and dominions" of heaven, risingMore glorious and more dread than from no fall.Here the word "virtues" conveys no idea of moral excellences, but is the equivalent of potentates. It is obvious, then, that in old English and in the first English version of the Bible the word virtue had its primitive Latin sense of manliness, a vigorous or energetic spirit, and that it sometimes retains this meaning in our version and also in good poetry. This is the meaning which most fitly renders the original term in the text. It is almost impossible to express this idea of virtue by any one English synonym. Isaac Taylor paraphrases it as "manly energy, or the constancy and courage of manly vigour." The one word which comes nearest to it, while it has the abundant sanction of good English writers, is hardly domesticated in the pulpit; yet both the word and the thing were strikingly expressed by an honoured foreign missionary, when urging upon the American Board the immediate and thorough occupation of Turkey, with men and means for the service of Christ. Said Dr. Schauffler, "After all the discouragements and disasters of the Crimean campaign, official mismanagement, army jealousies, camp sickness, and the discomforts of winter, the soldiers held on and took Sevastopol, not by science but by pluck" — and what we need is Christian pluck to take possession of Turkey in the name of Christ. This is the virtue which all Christians are expected at all times to cultivate. "Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue. The apostle speaks to those whom he fully recognises as one with himself in Christ. The faith that bringeth salvation is already theirs. But they are not to rest in that faith as the whole of the Christian character and life. Add to your faith, virtue; as followers of Christ cultivate a true Christian manhood.




1. The virtue of which the apostle speaks — boldness, vigour, courage, manhood — is not to be confounded with rashness. In his earlier experience as a disciple, Peter was sadly deficient in the very virtue which he here recommends, though he was by no means wanting in a rough physical vigour, and the courage which that inspires.

2. This manly virtue should not be confounded with wilfulness. Stubbornness of will is not strength of character. It is doggedness or mulishness, not manliness. If wilfulness were a virtue, then Pharaoh was the most virtuous of men. A resolute, unfaltering purpose to do right, a will to honour God and to stand by truth and duty, a will which cannot be broken upon the wheel, nor relaxed by the fires of martyrdom, but like steel grows more firm and inflexible under pressure and heat — such a will is, indeed, a manly virtue. But will-worship," the magnifying of self-will, adherence to a position or course, not because it is known and felt to be right, but because it has been taken, and pride forbids to change — this wiifulness is as far from Christian manliness as a spoiled child is from an angel.

3. But the virtue of which we speak, while it is neither rash nor wilful, is always bold, firm, and determined in maintaining truth and performing duty: it is a manly and energetic tone of mind.(1) An obvious constituent of this state of mind is an intelligent conviction of truth and duty. "A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways." Steadfastness in purpose is impossible where the mind is doubtful as to the object in view. A purpose springing from mere feeling is apt to prove unstable, since feeling is a variable quantity. Manly resolve rests upon intelligent conviction. Strength of conviction gives courage to resolution.(2) But in order to this manly virtue, the principle of obedience to God must be established in the soul as final, above all personal interests, above all earthly goods, above all merely human custom or law, above whatever would obtrude itself between the personal soul and a personal God, its Creator, Ruler, and Judge. You cannot cower down a soul that rests implicitly on God. When Luther stood before that court of the German empire which held his life in its hands, it is said that he was the only person in the assembly who was perfectly undisturbed. Luther was ready to die fox" the doctrine of justification by faith, since he himself had added to faith — virtue, a manly courage, a holy energy of soul — proceeding from an intelligent and principled obedience to God.(3) One other constituent enters into this manly virtue — that is, frankness or sincerity in avowing one's convictions of truth and duty. He who would be manly must be open. Frankness is not forwardness; it does not require that one should be always thinking aloud; neither is it bluntness; but it does forbid one from a selfish motive, to conceal his convictions when truth and duty are in question. When the Jewish Sanhedrin threatened Peter and John, and forbade them to speak or teach in the name of Jesus, the apostles fell back upon conscience and the law of Christian obedience, and said, "Whether it be right in the sight of God, to hearken to you more them to God, judge ye; for we cannot but speak the things which we hi, ye seen and heard." That was Christian manliness. Peter had now learned to add to his faith, virtue.

I. THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS VIRTUE TO COMPLETENESS OF CHARACTER IS EVIDENT WITHOUT ARGUMENT. There call be no sterling character without this. The annals of Christian martyrdom often exhibit this manly virtue grafted upon child-like faith.


1. Study the examples of those who have manifested virtue. Look at Noah, standing up against the cavils of an apostate world to do the command of God a preacher of righteousness. Look at Abraham, with firm tread walking trackless wastes to Unknown lands, his courage rooted in faith. Look at Moses confronting the stubborn will of Pharaoh. Look at Paul, ready to face a Jewish mob, or the prejudiced Sanhedrin, or pagan governors and Roman captains, or the wild beasts at Ephesus, or the dungeon at Rome, and to stand in Caesar's palace as a witness for Christ.

2. To attain the full vigour of Christian manliness, you must exercise this virtue whenever you have opportunity. Virtues will not come to serve us upon great occasions unless they are trained and developed day by day. The young Christian should begin early to cultivate this holy courage — learn to say "no" to every solicitation of evil; learn to say "yes" to every call of duty.

3. Since virtue rests upon faith, you can strengthen and develop it by increasing faith as a living power in the soul. Much as we may discipline ourselves to virtue, our strength must lie not in ourselves and our purposes, but in God our Saviour. "He giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might He increaseth strength." A living faith secures a manly piety.

(Joseph P. Thompson.)

The term ἀρετὴ, translated virtue in the text, denotes strictly manhood, prowess, manly qualities. Stephanus defines it by "virtus, sed proprie virtus bellica; martial courage or valour. He cites a gloss on Thucydides 1:33; where arete" is expressed by industria, navities, virtus, fortitudo; activity, zeal, manliness, fortitude. Suidas denotes "arete" to be "Constantia et animi vigor"; firmness and strength of mind. Homer applies it to his heroes to denote valour in battle, and other manly qualities. The Mycenaean Feriphetes is said to have been "superior in all kinds of virtues (ἀρετὰς), whether in the race or in the combat (I1. 15:642). Here virtue denotes physical qualities, such as speed, strength, prowess. So the god-like Polydorus" in the agility and valour which he displayed in fight, is said to have exhibited "virtue of feet" or limbs (ποδῶν ἀρετὴν. I1. 20:411). The same term is applied to the "valour" of Meriones (I1. 13:277), and to the "bodily vigour" of Menelaus (Il. 23. 578). This primary sense of ἀρετὴ is strictly expressed by the Latin virtus, from which virtue is derived. This, in its literal sense, is manhood, valour; and is applied to physical courage and to energy of character — vigour of mind in dangers and labours. Cicero speaks of something akin to virtue in animals, as in lions, dogs, and horses; but insists "that virtue of the mind" (animi virtus), being the offspring of reason, is to be preferred to "physical virtue" (corporis virtuti anteponatur. De Finibus 5:13, 38). He also speaks of "the Divine force and virtue of the orator." Here virtus is a pleonasm, reiterating the idea of vis.

(Joseph P. Thompson.)


II. As early as the days of apostles there were in the Christian Church THOSE WHO WOULD MAKE FAITH SUFFICE WITHOUT VIRTUE. Some really loving and practising piety, have yet, in their crude theories, discredited morality and virtue, for the purpose of extolling, as they supposed, religion.

III. BUT THERE IS ANOTHER CLASS WHO PROCLAIM THE SUPERIORITY OF VIRTUE TO FAITH, and the sufficiency before God and man, for this life and the next, of virtue without faith. But if virtue be but the small portion of man's duties that he owes in this life to his fellow-mortals, and man be formed for another life as well as this, and have a God as well as human society to regard and propitiate, it seems impossible on any rational principle to establish it that the discharge of this small portion of his obligations shall be accepted in full for his neglect of yet higher duties to a yet higher Being. And if, in matters of human courtesy and friendship even, you are wont to look at the motive as determining the worth or worthlessness of the service rendered, does it not seem necessary even to the claim of true virtue for these social and human duties, that the man discharging them do it from right motives, from the true love of man and the paramount love and fear of Almighty God? From mere vain craving after honour and praise, men may discharge the duties. But are such duties, so prompted by lower motives, genuine virtue? Again, take a few of the more eminent of those whose virtues are thus held up as surpassing the fruits of Christian faith. Take Hobbes, the philosophical oracle of the court of the last Stuarts. Take Hume, whom his friend, Adam Smith, pronounced among the most faultless of human characters; or in later times Bentham. And after a close analysis of the lives and influence of these men, do you not find the inquiry of the apostle remaining still in full force, "Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Christ? "Was the morality of any of these men superior to the average morality of their times? Did virtue do in them what faith achieves in the Christian — overcome the world? Again, did it tend to improve that world, recovering its degraded, and uplifting its oppressed classes? Go out as missionaries of the new lights of philosophy without Christianity; and who of you would hope to see the new creed, like the faith of the New Testament, teaching the barbarian, taming the cannibal, making freedom possible, and law and duty sovereign over the nations?

IV. BUT TURN TO DWELL RATHER UPON THE UNION THAT SCRIPTURE MAKES BETWEEN THE TWO PRINCIPLES, which we have seen isolated and divorced, requiring as those Scriptures do, the man of faith to become the pattern of virtue, abounding in every good word and work. The problem is not to guide the sinless, but to recover the sinful. How can you efface the brand of sin on their souls? Morality has not the atoning calvary. It cannot call down on its pentecostal aspirations the rushing fires of the Holy Ghost. The virtue that would be thus recuperative on the masses must be preceded by a faith, with which shall go the regenerating power of God, and for which shall have been first provided the great remedial and reconciliatory process of the redemption. Let the Pharisee or the Sadducee go with another doctrine than that of faith to Zaccheus, would they have won his fourfold restitution of aught wrongly gained? The God that shall answer by fire, He is God. Faith can produce virtue. Look again at the way in which she instructs virtue. Read the twelfth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, or take the same apostle's discourse of charity and its fruits, in the thirteenth chapter of his first letter to the Corinthian Church. Saw you ever such full, and brilliant, and unmatched portraitures of virtue as this? But beside these preceptive instructions, remember that all the doctrines and mysteries that faith receives have their practical lessons. The fall, and original sin, how they teach humility and dependence on God — the first lessons of moral progress. The incarnation and redemption — is that a mere logomachy? On the contrary, see in it a great scheme for the subdual of sin, and the implantation of hope, and love, and gratitude. But must faith produce always virtue? It must, or it is not genuine. The inseparable accompaniment of true faith in Scripture is repentance; and what is repentance but the practical and the outward and inward renunciation of sin?

(W. R. Williams.)

I. First, let us consider THAT WHICH MUST ACCOMPANY OUR WHOLE DUTY, THE MANNER OF PERFORMING IT, OR APPLYING OURSELVES TO IT, "GIVING ALL DILIGENCE." It is not to be confined to one point, but runs through the whole detail of the Christian graces which is here given. We should summon all the powers of our souls continually to attend this very thing, and watch every occasion of doing and of receiving good. The necessity of this will appear if we reflect on the constitution of human nature, and the Divine wisdom and condescension in accommodating to it the way of conferring the greatest blessings upon us. The blessed Author of our beings has a regard to their frame while He carries on His merciful designs towards us. He does not deal by us as unintelligent machines, but rational creatures. He does not make us happy without our own knowledge, choice and concurrence. I will add but one observation more on this subject, that religious industry will produce constancy, as its natural effect. Whatever obligations we are under to diligence in our duty at any time do equally bind us at every time; and there can be no sure evidence of our sincerity without a persevering steadfastness in the work of the Lord.

II. I now come to THE FIRST PARTICULAR WHICH THE APOSTLE EXHORTS US TO ADD TO OUR FAITH, AND IT IS VIRTUE. This virtue carries in it the idea of hazards and difficulties, and the excellence of it consists in a magnanimous superiority to all dangers and all opposition. As it is peculiar to a probationary state, or a state of discipline, like ours, it is that without which there can be no real goodness, at least no steadfastness in such a state. The "flesh lusteth against the spirit"; our senses and inferior appetites always minister the occasion of evil. Now, these must be resisted by a Christian. Here, then, is another occasion for the exercise of Christian fortitude, which may in some cases require all our strength. How difficult must it be to stand unmoved against a train of sufferings in our outward estate. And how much invisible wicked agents may contribute to the difficulties and trials of the Christian life, who can certainly say? Having thus shown you the proper object of Christian fortitude, or the occasion of its exercise, I will next consider the exercises and dispositions of mind which are necessary to it, or do concur in it. And let us, first of all, observe that it is very different from a blind passion. Nothing is more necessary in the whole of our religion than that we be sedate and deliberate; and particularly that our zealous resolutions for God be formed upon a just and solid ground of calm and mature consideration. Secondly, having proceeded so far, the next thing necessary is steadfast resolution. It is of consequence to us that we hold on in a religious way, that we endure to the end. Then certainly we should fortify our minds against temptation by firm purposes; we shall find the firmest we can enter into weak enough. Thirdly, the virtue which the apostle here exhorts us to add to our faith imports bearing trials, uneasiness and fatigues with equanimity. A Christian has the same sense of pleasure, profit, and honour with other men: and yet he bravely denies them. He has the same feeling of pain, and yet is not moved by it to forsake his duty; and herein he acts reasonably, for the tendency of such disagreeable sensations is overruled by superior motives; he sees such an excellence in religion, finds such an inward peace and comfort in his integrity, has such a solid joy in the prospect of a future glorious reward, as is sufficient to bear him up under all his present uneasiness. Here, then, is the exercise of religious fortitude.

(J. Abernethy, M. A.)

I. I am to EXPLAIN THE NATURE OF THIS GRACE OF CHRISTIAN COURAGE OR FORTITUDE. Courage, in general, is a temper which disposes a man to do brave and commendable actions, without being daunted at the appearance of dangers and difficulties in the way.

1. For what it is to be exercised. It is courage in Christ's cause; that is, in maintaining the profession of the Christian faith, and adhering to the practice of our duty.

2. Against what Christian courage is to be exercised. It supposes oppositions, trials and dangers in our way, else there would be no occasion for it. It is a temper for which there will be no room in heaven.(1) The power, the subtilty, and activity of the powers of darkness call for courage in a Christian.(2) The oppositions from within ourselves require courage.(3) The several discouragements or dangers we may meet with from other men, in the way of our duty, and even for our duty, make courage necessary.

3. Wherein or in what acts and instances it should express itself.(1) In deliberate and vigorous resolutions for God and our duty, upon counting the cost.(2) In the suppression of distracting fear of evils at a distance.(3) In a vigorous application to our Christian work, notwithstanding the stated and constant difficulties and oppositions attending it.(4) In a readiness to undertake hard and difficult services when God calls to them.(5) In a uniform steadiness of conduct under all the trials we actually meet with.

II. WHAT MAY BE INTENDED IN THE EXHORTATION TO ADD VIRTUE, OR COURAGE, TO OUR FAITH. When we are called to make this addition we are only required to build the most proper and natural structure upon our most holy faith. The fortitude required by the gospel is distinguished from all other fortitude, not only as it is upon account of the truths and duties of Christianity, but as it is founded upon Christian principles. Christian faith is most fit to inspire with Christian fortitude.

1. Faith discovers Divine providence as engaged for us and with us in all our difficulties.

2. Faith proposes the Divine Spirit as directly provided to help our infirmities. Particularly for this very purpose, to inspire us with needful courage.

3. Faith represents our main enemies as already vanquished, and as having their chief power broken.

4. Faith gives us particular assurance that our trials shall not exceed our strength; either the strength we have, or that which shall be imparted (1 Corinthians 10:13).

5. Faith sets in view greater evils to be feared from our cowardice than can be feared from our adherence to God.

6. Faith assures us of the certain and glorious success of our courage. That our endeavours against our powerful enemies shall issue in a full conquest (Romans 16:20.)

7. Faith represents to us the noblest examples of such holy fortitude upon the same principle.Lessons:

1. Consider this grace of fortitude as a matter of the utmost importance in the Christian life. The variety of oppositions and difficulties in our way make it necessary.

2. Cultivate therefore your faith, in order to the forming of your minds to holy fortitude.

3. Use all farther additional means to fortify your minds. Be prepared for the worst, by counting frequently the cost. Make clear the goodness of your cause, for which you may be called to exert your courage. Carefully exercise good conscience: without this the best cause in profession will be very faintly maintained in an evil day.

(J. Evans.)

Whatever the Christian was in the early days, he could not well be a coward, He could not live in any fear as to what people would say about him: there was no doubt about that. And he could not live with a miserable counting of the loss or gain that religion should bring him. He knew full well that it would mean abuse, loss, danger, perhaps death. So in the old time Christianity first demanded faith that took hold of the promises- and then demanded courage that held on to them at any risk though earth and hell raged furiously. To-day religion is not so much a battlefield as it is a hospital for sick and disabled folks; it is very often only a round of poultices and plasters and nourishing diet, where the talk is of troubles and trials and what we have to go through. Look at fire company in which this valour is found. "Add to your faith valour." St. Peter is writing to those who have obtained like precious faith in the Saviour. But it is not good for Faith to be alone; to live in luxurious ease; hers is a high and sacred calling. So is it that at her right hand must stand the tall and stalwart captain of her guard, Courage, my Lord Courage, strong in action, resolute in danger, fearless always. And at her left is her Prime Minister, and councillor, old Knowledge, with lofty brow, and ready understanding of the times and its requirements, and skilful in devices for meeting them. Then comes the Comptroller of the Household, a goodly gentlemen of clear eye and of fair complexion, my Lord Temperance. Then cometh the Lady-in-Waiting, Patience, fair Patience, whose cheery song keepeth the palace bright in troublous times. "Bear bravely," Patience sings, "it is all well that cometh down from Him; and it is ever well for them that journey up to Him." Then cometh the Queen's chaplain, Godliness, who moveth amidst the rest having a deep and holy sense of God's claim, a steadfast eye to His commandments, a lofty sense of His greatness, and a glad obedience to His will. Then come the two almoners who dispense the Queen's bounty — Brotherly Kindness and Charity. Thus only is Faith secure, and thus only can she rightly discharge all her duties and claim all her honours, when she is attended by each of these.

I. THAT CHRIST'S RELIGION ASKS FOR COURAGE SHOULD GIVE IT A STRONGER CLAIM UPON US. I ask you to-day to come and pledge yourself to the Lord Jesus Christ, because it does need courage.


III. IN THESE BUSY TIMES MANY A MAN WANTS COURAGE TO DEAL WITH CIRCUMSTANCES THAT HINDER HIM. "Well:" says somebody, indignantly, "must I sacrifice my business? "Yes; or anything else, if you can dare to call it a sacrifice, seeing what infinite gain is at stake.

IV. OTHERS NEED COURAGE TO DEAL WITH DAMAGING INFLUENCES ABOUT THEM. There is some companion, or some pursuit, or some pleasure that takes away all the heart and appetite for the service of the Lord Jesus. It leaves you like a garden in winter — nipped, withered, dead, without bud or bloom or beauty. There are things that make prayer such hard work that it seems impossible, and the Bible is a weariness, and the service of God is a dreary restraint. Resolve by God's help to have done with them bravely for the sake of the King, and for the sake of your own true life.

V. THERE ARE OTHERS STILL WHO NEED COURAGE TO DEAL RESOLUTELY WITH BESETTING SINS. Your only hope is to add to your faith courage — to have no terms with the enemy. You must perish or your foe; the two cannot live together.

(M. G. Pearse.)

It is not physical courage, the courage of the brute, the courage of the man without nerves; it is the courage of the man who has moral sense developed and spiritual ideas strong. I suppose you have heard the story of the Duke of Wellington, who, seeing in the thin red line which shines in Britain's glorious story a man trembling in battle but who would not retreat, said: "There is a brave man; he knows his danger, and he faces it." Another story is that two men were once standing together in battle, one strong with accumulated flesh and blood, phlegmatic, not knowing what fear was, and the other thin and pale and nervous; and as he trembled so much that his spirited horse trembled also, his phlegmatic companion turned to him and said: "Humph! afraid, are you?" "Yes," said he, "if you were as much afraid as I am you would rum" And so sometimes in the Christian life apparently the weakest one is called to bear the heaviest strokes of Providence. He staggers under his affliction even as Jesus, pale and weak and trembling, staggered beneath the Cross. So we are not called to physical courage — that is good enough in its way — but to moral courage.

(W. E. Griffis, D. D.)

There is nothing really brave, really manly, really womanly, on earth, unless it is also good. To be good and to do good — that alone is manly. There are two Latin words for man. The one — homo — means merely a man as an animal distinguished from a dog or a horse. But the other word — vir — means a man in the best and truest sense; and that gives us our word "virtue," Never forget, virtue and manliness are one.

(Canon Teignmouth Shore.)

I. WHAT EXACTLY IS MEANT BY THIS SECOND LINK OF OUR CHAIN. What is meant here is a practical insight into what Christian people ought to do, not only in general, but at each moment in accordance with the circumstances and demands of the instant. The more we can rule our lives by the intelligent application of principles, and not by mere use and wont, instinct, imitation, mechanism, necessity, the more we shall be the men and women that God meant us to be. But Peter does not stop with such a mere toothless generality as that; for everything depends on what the law is which we apply to conduct. So this knowledge is not only of what it is right and wise to do at the moment; but it is knowledge of what it is right and wise, on Christian ground, to do at the moment and in the circumstances. Let the perception of duty be a perception illuminated and determined by the principles of the gospel, and bring that law to bear upon all life. Such a continual reference of daily exigencies and circumstances to the great principles that lie in Christ and His revelation will take the place of that selfish and secular tact and instinct which the world prizes so highly. It wilt give delicacy to roughness, sympathy to the hard, tact to the clumsy, and will bring a simplicity of motive and a suppression of self which are the best possible precautions for seeing clearly what the will of the Lord is. "Supply in your strength knowledge."

II. THE CONNECTION OF THIS LINK IN THE CHAIN WITH THOSE THAT GO BEFORE. The believing man is the truly sagacious man. The real prudence is got in communion with Jesus Christ. The eye that looks at the sun is blinded, but the eye that looks constantly at God sees all things as they are, and is delivered from the illusions which deceive the rest of mankind. To see all in God and God in all, that is the way to understand the depths of things, and to know what, at each moment, they call upon us to do. What we want to know is not only what circumstances and self-advantage require, but what Christ requires, and that we shall learn when we keep near to Him in faith. In like manner the strength, of which my text has been speaking, naturally produces — when it gets fair play, and when men give themselves honestly to work out all that is in it — it naturally produces this happy certitude and illumination upon the path by which we should walk.


1. First, study, and keep very near the pattern of Jesus Christ. There is nothing more wonderful in that wonderful life than the unconscious facility and certainty with which He did the very act, and said the very word that the moment required.

2. Then, again, I would say try and get a more firm and intelligent grip of the principles of the New Testament as a whole. I believe there is the weakness of much of our modern popular Christianity. You do not read your Bibles half enough.

3. Let me say again what is only a deduction from what I have already said — regard all Christian truth as being meant to influence conduct. We write up in churches the Creed on the one side, and the Ten Commandments on the other. Christ is creed and Christ is commandment.

4. Again, let us see to it conversely, that we bring all the actions of our lives under the grip of our Christian principle. The lawyers say, "De minimis non curat lex. The law does not take care of the very small things." Perhaps it does not; Christ's law does. It stretches out its hand over all life, and the smallest duties are its special sphere.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Virtue without knowledge were like a beautiful damsel blind, or a fair house that hath not a window in it. Virtue is like a pearl in the shell; there must be knowledge to break the shell, or we cannot come at the pearl. Ignorance is dangerous. Thus the devil carries many to hell, as falconers carry their hooded hawks, without baiting. There is no wretchedness so pitiable as that which is not known to the sufferer. If men will not know God, God will not know them. The work of regeneration begins at illumination. The first thing that sunk in our first parents was knowledge: now where the wound began, there must begin the medicine. Knowledge is the light of virtue.

1. By knowledge is here meant an insight into heavenly things.

2. This earnest exhortation to knowledge intimates that naturally we want it. The first way to knowledge is to know our own ignorance.

3. Knowledge is not the cause of sin, but ignorance; for virtue is begotten and nourished by knowledge.

4. Seeing we must join with our faith knowledge, it is manifest that an ignorant faith is no faith.

5. This knowledge must be added to virtue also.

(Thos. Adams.)

I. There is in the Church of God, as well as in society generally, A DISPOSITION TO EXALT PRACTICE AT THE EXPENSE OF THEORY; AND YET ALL PRACTICE IS BUT THE EMBODIMENT OF SOME THEORY. There is in some minds a disposition to mock at all science and all patient thought as being but idle and unprofitable speculation. Common sense is lauded at the expense of study and research. The labourer is exalted above the thinker, and the man of experimental activity is pronounced the truly useful, whilst the studious and reflecting is denounced as a thriftless and unprofitable cumberer of the earth. But society and the Christian Church need the thinker as much as they require the labourer. Every seaman is not expected to construct his own nautical tables, or every miner to build his own steam-engine that may uplift the ore or drain off the superfluous waters. Yet without the aid of the astronomer and the machinist, of what avail would be the practical energy of the hardy mariner, or the begrimed miner toiling in his ever dark and narrow gallery? So, in religion, a just, religious practice must grow out of just, religious principles. And although a simple and childlike faith may readily grasp the great outlines of these principles, it requires that faith should be patient and studious, in order that these principles may be fully understood and justly stated, may be seen in their due position, and may be held in their just proportion, and in their mutual dependence and symmetry.

II. Now our text and, in full harmony with it, the entire body of the Divine Scripture, require THAT THE CHRISTIAN PROFIT IN HIS RELIGIOUS COURSE, BY GOING ON FROM FAITH TO VIRTUE, AND FROM VIRTUE TO KNOWLEDGE. The first great necessity of our nature is that we know ourselves, that we learn from the book of God our origin, destiny, and redemption. But to have a just and safe knowledge of ourselves it is needful that we know our God. Framed by Him and for Him we cannot ascertain the moral bearings or calculate, so to speak, the latitude and longitude of our own drifting course over the ocean of life; but, as we refer to Him whose will is the meridian line by which we estimate the position of all beings, and whose favour is the Light and central Sun of our moral life. And knowing ourselves, and knowing our God in Scripture, we are called upon to know this world, that portion of it called Nature which we can reach and survey; and that march of the Divine purposes in the government of the race which we call history; and to know life, or those arts, and occupations, and relations, and human laws, and local customs that are to affect us in the discharge of our duties to our fellows. We are required to know man, not only as he should be, and as in his original innocence he was, but man as he is, in his selfishness, craftiness, and wretchedness, and yet, withal, in the long and tangled train of all his susceptibilities, and his capabilities, and his hopes and his fears, his grovelling desires and his soaring aspirations.

III. THE ORDER OF CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE AS FOLLOWING AND TENDING TO GUARD AND CROWN FAITH AND VIRTUE. Why should it be set here, and not at an earlier place, in the rank of Christian excellences?

1. We suppose the reason to have been this: it was to remind us of a great truth, that practical obedience or virtue is necessary if we would gain any great advancement in Christian knowledge. Not only is such obedience an evidence of a sound understanding, but it is also a safeguard for it. No man can keep a healthy and sound intellect who is perpetually sporting with known error, and wallowing in known iniquity. The very conscience may become defiled, and the eyes of the soul contract blindness, by disuse and misuse.

2. Virtue was again made to precede knowledge, in order to protect against a great error that began to be promulgated ere the first apostles had quitted the arena of the Church militant for the thrones of the Church triumphant. Gnosticism, or the system of knowledge, claimed in the early Christian Church the highest prerogatives. It sought to plant knowledge, or the teaching of its own wild and foul philosophy, as the very basis of faith. Much of the Rationalism and Pantheism of our own times proceeds on the same most false and most fatal principle. Instead of going out of ourselves to lind, by faith in God's testimonies, what He is and what we ourselves are, and to obtain the recuperative grace that sanctifies the heart and so enlightens the intellect, this system drags the God and the oracle and the revelation into man's self, makes its own purblind reason, and its own hasty and crude utterances, in the natural state of alienation from God and moral blindness, the law of judgment, to God and to His teachings.

3. The gospel does not proscribe knowledge: it requires it. It makes knowledge possible to the savage by awakening aspirations where before were only appetites; and by letting out on every side the horizon of his cribbed and narrow intellect, into the wide eternity and the high infinity around and above him. It not only patronises and diffuses knowledge; it classifies it as humanity unaided cannot do it. See in modern missions the usefulness and glory of consecrated learning in a William Carey and a Henry Martyn, a Morrison and a Judson; and is it not evident that, whatever else the gospel be, it is not the patron or the parasite of ignorance?

4. Physical science in our day has made rapid progress. Religion frowns not on it. But far as physical science claims to be paramount and sufficient and exclusive, it has usurped honours that are not its due. It would, in so doing, treat man as a being of mere bodily organs, without conscience, without a God, and without an eternity; and in so regarding our race it robs and degrades us. Religious knowledge comes in to prevent the degradation and to denounce the usurpation. Religious knowledge comes in to remedy the deficiency, and to right the wrong. Political enfranchisement, or the recovery of the rights of the masses, is another most popular subject of thought and debate. But when was humanity so elevated as when the Creator assumed its likeness in Bethlehem? How is fraternity to be expounded and established, but by bringing men to look on themselves, as being in common amenable to the Last Judgment, and as being also in common interested in the great propitiation? The gospel it is, then, that gives the best knowledge; ascertains the relative rank and worth of all knowledge; popularises, diffuses, and defends it; and above all gives to man, the sufferer, the knowledge of the Consoler; and to man, the sinner, the revelation of the atonement; and to the groping captive of sin and heir of the pit, announces liberty and holiness, citizenship in heaven and sonship with God.

(W. R. Williams.)

I. WHAT KIND OF KNOWLEDGE IS THE SUBJECT OF THIS EXHORTATION? Knowledge is an attainment very suitable to a reasonable nature, and is the glory of man because it is the improvement of that faculty which is one of his distinguishing privileges. But there is a great diversity in the kinds of knowledge, which chiefly depends on the quality of the object and the importance of the ends it serves. That knowledge which the text recommends is, according to this rule, the most valuable (Proverbs 9:10.) If we observe the connection of the apostle's discourse, that he has placed knowledge in the middle of the Christian virtues, it will appear plainly enough that he means a right understanding of them, such a knowledge as is necessary to our practising them. We should constantly study to be more and more acquainted with the Christian virtues, to understand the mind and will of God, and be making daily proficiency in the exact knowledge of our duty. We should use our own active endeavours that we may grow in knowledge, for the purposes of usefulness and goodness. Secondly, another thing intended in this exhortation is a disposition to improve knowledge to the proper practical ends of it.

II. THE REASONABLENESS OF OUR ENDEAVOURING TO ATTAIN KNOWLEDGE, AND MAKE DAILY PROGRESS IN IT. II knowledge be absolutely necessary to our doing our duty acceptably, then all the arguments which press us to the one do also oblige us to the other. First, this is the way to be preserved from snares, of which we are always in danger through temptation and the deceitfulness of sin. Secondly, in proportion to the measure of our knowledge, so is our steadfastness; if it is of a rational kind. Thirdly, this unsteadiness, together with weakness of understanding, which is one cause of it, renders men in a great measure unprofitable to the world and to the Church. There is not anything a Christian should have more at heart than to promote the common edification of the body of Christ. And that this may be effected, adding knowledge to our faith and virtue is the best expedient.


1. The first is a high esteem of it. If it be pleasant to our souls, if we have a just sense of its excellency, and thus our affections are captivated to it; it is the best preparation of mind we can have for this most important acquisition.

2. Let us use the means of attaining knowledge with great diligence and care. There is no other way to prove our sincerity and our love of wisdom.

3. But it is above all things necessary that we use the means of knowledge, and particularly that we search the Holy Scriptures without prejudice and prepossession.

4. The best means of attaining to religious knowledge, is doing what we know to be the will of God.

(J. Abernethy, M. A.)

— The meaning of the term "knowledge" must be ascertained by a comparison of the text with other passages in which this word occurs. It is of course knowledge with respect to spiritual things and religious duties of which the apostle here speaks. This word is used in the New Testament some thirty times, and with various shades of signification. Sometimes it denotes a supernatural gift, knowledge by immediate inspiration. Perhaps it is in this sense that the "word of knowledge" is classed with the gifts of healing and of tongues, and with other miraculous powers. But since all Christians are exhorted to add knowledge to their faith, the apostle cannot intend a miraculous gift which God only could bestow. And for the same reason he cannot here intend the power or faculty of knowing in which sense the word is used when it is said that "the love of Christ passeth knowledge," i.e., is beyond the natural comprehension of men. We cannot add a new sense or faculty to our natural endowments. Again, the word "knowledge" is used for the object of knowledge, and especially the system of truth made known in the gospel. But this must be known, in a measure, before we can have faith; and the knowledge spoken of in the text comes after faith. Knowledge is used also to denote a general apprehension of religious truth; but, as this is essential to the act of faith in Christ, it could hardly be referred to as a something to be added to faith. Isaac Taylor says this knowledge is "neither human erudition nor general intelligence, but that specific knowledge of which the gospel is the subject." There is another use of the word which applies it to the deep, clear, and cordial perception of truth, followed by the discriminating adaptation of truth to practical ends. Thus the apostle Paul speaks of the Christians at Rome as "full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able to admonish one another" (Romans 15:14); i.e., they possessed that discriminating insight into truth which would shed light upon questions of practical duty. Knowledge is a spiritual apperception of Divine things, forming and controlling the practical judgment. A soul informed by such knowledge discerns the way of truth and duty. This knowledge is not the mere perception of the truths of the gospel in their objective form, but an apperception of gospel truths in their inward spiritual relations.




I. This inward experimental knowledge of Christ and His truth differs from the intellectual perception of truth, just as the feeling that we know the mind and heart of another differs from the knowledge of his person which we gain through the eye; it is the difference between heart knowledge and knowledge merely by perception or intellect[on. Now we may know Christ, and yet may not know Him; may know Him as to His person revealed as Divine; we may know Him as to His character recorded in the four Gospels; we may know Him as to His doctrine and His work; and still we may come far short of really knowing Christ. Such knowledge is objective; i.e., it exists in our thought as an object, and does not bring us into personal sympathy with Christ as our Saviour and Friend. It is in the brain but not in the heart.

2. And here, again, this knowledge differs from faith. Faith is that belief in Christ upon the evidence of the Gospels which leads the soul to rely upon Him as its Saviour, and to commit itself to His service. This faith rests upon a degree of knowledge as its warrant. But having gained this faith, and rested ourselves in it, we are exhorted to add to it knowledge; not the mere knowledge of the doctrine of Christ as a Saviour — for that we have already — but knowledge of Christ Himself, which comes through the heart, proving His doctrine, His promises, His love, in its own blessed experience.

3. But this inward knowledge of Christ has its outward expression in a judgment wisely exercised upon truth and duty. We need to cultivate the judgment as well as to fortify the spirit, to attain to a sound discernment of duty as well as to firmness in duty. It is a proverb that discretion is the better part of valour; a critical judgment as to the time and manner of acting is important to the success of the boldest and bravest action. In his description of the good man the Psalmist happily combines a sound judgment with boldness and firmness as essential qualities of his character. "He will guide his affairs with discretion; surely he shall not be moved for ever. His heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord. His heart is established, he shall not be afraid." Such knowledge is not what men of the world call prudence, which is exercised more in the cautious avoidance of evil to one's self than in devising and executing that which is good. There are two or three words which somewhat approach to this meaning — discernment, discretion, and discrimination; these all in their radical idea mean "to separate," "to distinguish," to "make a difference," especially between the true and the false, the right and the wrong, in theory and in practice. This discrimination as to truths and motives duly exercised by the mind itself, and faithfully applied to our outward conduct, constitutes knowledge as a practical thing.


1. By the prayerful study of Christ as He is set before us in the gospel. The mere tourist sauntering through a gallery of art recognises in one painting a work superior to the rest; but the artist lingers before that picture and scans its every point till, without the help of catalogue or cicerone, he discovers it to be a Titian, a Tintoretto, a Murillo, and feasts his soul upon those diviner touches that reveal the master's hand. You must not look only, or read by catalogue or note-book, but must study. Prayer is the life element of such a study.

2. We gain this knowledge by a diligent and teachable seeking after the will of Christ. The spirit of obedience helps to the knowledge of duty. This determination to do the will of Christ is like a signal rocket piercing the gloom of night from a ship on an unknown shore.

3. We gain this knowledge by studying questions of right and duty in the closet. The place for calm, mature judgment is the place of secret prayer.

4. We may gain this knowledge by being willing to learn, and to correct mistakes. The key of knowledge is humility.

5. We may cultivate this knowledge by often testing ourselves by our principles. If we were careful to keep a daily balance-sheet of our actions and principles, we should be more quick to detect errors of judgment, and to increase our stock of practical wisdom. True principle is a fixed quantity. It rests upon the eternal base of truth and justice, and is firm as the pillars of heaven. As the old Egyptians took their astronomical bearings from the sun-line upon the pyramid, so should we take our moral bearings by the light of Christ's teaching and life, giving the meridian line of principle and duty.


1. This knowledge, combined with firmness in faith, gives beauty and dignity to character. We have seen that virtue gives energy, strength, resolve; but a character in which force and earnestness predominate is one-sided; may easily run into extremes.

2. This knowledge gives us power over ourselves. Man was created a power, and not a thing. In proportion as the soul gains a true spiritual power over its inferior desires does it become a power over the world.

3. This knowledge gives us power for good and even great achievements. It is no modern discovery that "knowledge is power."

4. This knowledge of Christ gives us power over evil and over death. It is half the battle to know the enemy, his ground, his resources, and his tactics. Classical usage helps us little as to the meaning of γνῶσις (gnosis) in the New Testament. Plato uses it commonly of "understanding," though sometimes of a deeper philosophical insight. But with the Neo-Platonists, gnosis came to be almost a technical term for higher insight, deeper wisdom, a certain mysterious knowledge reserved to the initiated. In this sense of deep spiritual insight, but without the associations of mysticism or mystery, the word gnosis is often used in the New Testament. It is a term peculiarly liable to abuse by enthusiastic minds, and before the close of the apostolic age there began to appear a sect of Gnostics, who claimed to have "an extraordinary insight into Divine things beyond the system of faith, which the people commonly received on authority." This insight they professed to have gained through certain secret traditions handed down from Christ, the higher light. Their gnosis corresponded to the esoteric doctrines of the old Greek philosophers, mysteries to be communicated only to the initiated. The Epistles of John seemed to have been aimed in part at this Gnostic tendency. The true Christian knowledge is as far as possible both from the obscureness of mysticism and from the pretensions of clairvoyance. The gnosis of the New Testament is the privilege of all Christians alike.

(Joseph P. Thompson.)

I. TEMPERANCE IS THE CURB, bringing into subjection all those passions of human nature that tend to voluptuousness, just as patience and meekness check and keep under the fiercer passions or those tending to violence. Christian temperance sets itself in opposition to the drunkard's bowl, and the glutton's banquet, and the revels of the profligate, and the anxious longings of the covetous, and against the immoderate desire of what is net ours, as well as against the undue and immoderate abuse of what is ours. It includes, thus considered, sobriety, and chastity, and moderation — all the varieties of a wise self-discipline, imposed on man's fierce quest of pleasure.

II. LET YOUR KNOWLEDGE, then, said the apostle to the readers of his Epistle, DEFEND ITSELF BY THE COMPANIONSHIP OF TEMPERANCE. Why, it may be asked, should this be selected, and not any other of those clustering graces which go to attest the energy and fruitfulness of the Divine Spirit in the work of his moral renovation? Let it be remembered, then, that in the sin of our first parents, the knowledge which they sought, beyond God and His instructions, was knowledge which brought with it a sin against the holy temperance that had before been the law of Paradise, and the defence of primeval innocence. Was it not then fitting that the victim of the Fall should be perpetually reminded of his need to be on his guard evermore against that dominion of the bodily senses into which the Fall betrayed us? In Satan's school knowledge brought forth intemperance; but it must not be so in Christ's school. Is it not, again, a fact, sustained by the history of the Christian Churches, that even when men enjoy this gospel their knowledge, both in things secular and spiritual, is but too often perverted into a license for casting off the self-control and the serene moderation of Christian principle? Is not a palmy civilisation often found shading a feverish and lawless sensuality? Was it not thus that Solomon — after his wide research, that wrote of plants from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop on the wall, and in consequence of his growing acquaintance and his large converse with heathen society — became in his old age a doting conformist to the lewd idolatry of Ashtaroth?

III. To glance at THE BEARING OF THIS CHRISTIAN GRACE ON THE TEMPERANCE REFORMATION OF OUR TIMES. But we suppose that the best friends of temperance will yet find that, to give it permanence, it needs the broader basis and the deeper root of a religious movement; and that there, as in so many other earthly reforms, the controlling motives — the effectual lever, must rest on some stronger and firmer basis than earthly considerations. Drunkenness is enough to damn a man; but the mere absence of drunkenness is by no means enough to save him.


1. It is necessary to true piety. The knowledge and love of God cannot lodge in a heart crowded and dragged downward by debasing and sinful pleasure. If men are Christ's, they are crucified with Him to the flesh and the world.

2. It is necessary to Christian usefulness. The man who would be really and truly useful must have an unselfish sympathy. Now, of this the lovers of pleasure are notoriously destitute. Few things more rapidly bring a seared callousness over the heart than the habitual pursuit of gross and selfish pleasure.

3. It is necessary to national well-being and prosperity.

(W. R. Williams.)

I. THE VIRTUE ITSELF, AND WHEREIN IT CONSISTS, WILL BE EASILY UNDERSTOOD BY ANY ONE WHO ATTENDS TO THE PRESENT CONSTITUTION OF HUMAN NATURE, and what our experience will obviously suggest to us. The Author of our being has implanted in us passions which excite us to such action as is useful for our safety; and herein His wisdom and goodness appears, making provision for the continuance, the comfort, and all the purposes of our existence in this world. But, as the highest ends of our being are not confined to the present state, the same wise Creator has endued us with nobler powers and affections, by which we are deter mined to the pursuit of more excellent objects, wherein our true perfection and happiness consists; it is plain these inferior appetites were ordained to be in subjection to reason, and to be gratified within such limits as to be consistent with superior enjoyments, and with the proper exertion of superior powers. To consider this subject a little more particularly —

1. In the first place, it is plain that sobriety or temperance does not require the rooting out or an obstinate refusal to satisfy or comply with the original appetites of nature.

2. But, on the other hand, temperance requires such a regulation and restraint of our desires towards sensible objects, or the pleasure of the external senses, that they shall not possess that room in our esteem which is due to things of vastly greater excellence and value. Temperance not only forbids all excesses, but requires such an habitual moderation that the freedom of the mind may be preserved, its powers in a constant readiness for better exercises, and that it may have a taste for intellectual and moral pleasures. The natural effect of a customary indulgence to carnal desires is a confirmed habit which increases the desire so as it prevails against better inclinations; and then experience shows the truth of what the apostle teaches, "that fleshly lusts war against the soul"; they tend to enervate its powers, impair its liberty, and bring it into bondage.

3. I observe that sobriety, like all other virtues, is seated in the mind. The appetites take their rise from the body, but the regulating them belongs to the higher faculties of the soul. It is in the superiority of the soul in its freedom, and in the dominion of reason and conscience over the lower desires and passions that the virtue chiefly consists.

II. To PROPOSE SOME MOTIVES TO SOBRIETY OR TEMPERANCE. This particular virtue of temperance stands upon the same foot with the rest, and is, like them, recommended by its own native beauty and intrinsic worth, which at first strikes any mind which attends to it. It is impossible for any one, upon a deliberate comparison, not to acknowledge in his heart that the sober man is more excellent than his neighbour who is intemperate; that it is a more lovely character and more worthy of the human nature to have the rule over one's own spirit. Besides, intemperance naturally tends to make life not only mean and contemptible, but miserable. But I intended principally to insist on these considerations which are contained in the gospel. It deserves the serious attention of Christians that the blessed Author of our religion Himself, and His apostles after Him, very earnestly inculcate this virtue. Let it never enter into our thoughts that great professions of respect or pretended faith will please Jesus Christ if we continue in carnal impurity and live after the flesh. But there are two arguments Which you will find often urged in the new Testament: one is taken from the circumstances of our present state compared with the future. The second is, that temperance is an excellent preservative from snares and temptations.

(J. Abernethy, M. A.)

One of the old Italian masters has left us his conception of temperance on the walls of a little chapel, where he has painted a heroic female figure with a bridle upon her lips, and her right hand binding the hilt of a sheathed sword to its scabbard. And that conveys in symbol and emblem an idea of a self-command that restrains the utterance of emotion and sheathes the sword of passion.

I. THIS SELF-COMMAND IS A UNIVERSALLY ADMITTED NECESSITY. A man has only to look at himself to see that he is so made as that bits of him are meant to be governed, and bits of him are meant to govern; that there are some parts of his nature which are intended to be kept down under hatches, and some that are meant to be on the quarter-deck, with the helm in their hands. We have only to look, for instance, at the way in which the necessities and the appetites which belong to our bodily organisation work, to see that they were never meant to have the mastery, or to be left to operate as they please. A man is hungry, thirsty, feels the sting of some perfectly innocent, legitimate, fleshly need, and that appetite is as blind as a bat to all other considerations except its own gratification. No matter what lies between it and its object, its tendency towards the object is the same. And is a man to let such a mere unintelligent and almost involuntary impulse drive him? And ii is just as true, too, about other bits of our nature, for instance — emotions and passions. Anger is a very good thing; God puts it in us. It is meant to be exercised. Yes! But it is meant to be governed. And so joy, mirth, fear, and all the rest of them; all these are inseparable from the perfecting of a man's nature. But their unbridled working is the ruin of a man. And then excellences want to be controlled, in order that they may not run to faults. Some edible plants, if they once run to seed, are ruined for food; so a man's good qualities need to be kept under, in order that they may not become exaggerated into weaknesses. And a man's bad qualities, natural weaknesses and defects of character, which are too deeply engrained in him ever to be got rid of — these want control in order that they may be turned into excellences, as it is quite possible for them to be.. What did God put a will into you for, but that you might be able to say not "I like"; or "I was tempted, and I could not help it"; but that you might, before each action, be able to say "I will"; and that passions, and the stings of lust and sense, of appetite and flesh, and emotions and affections, and vagrant fancies and wandering thoughts, and virtues that were running to seed, and weaknesses that might be cultivated into strength, might all know the master touch of a governing will, and might obey as becomes them? And what did God give you a conscience for, but that the will, which commands all the rest, might take its orders from it?

II. THIS ABSOLUTE NECESSITY IS A PROVED IMPOSSIBILITY. From the beginning moral teachers of all sorts have been saying to men, "Rule yourselves"; and from the beginning the attempt made to govern myself by my unaided self is doomed to failure. Not absolute failure, thank God! I would not be understood as if I were denying that, to a large extent, every man and woman has this power of self-government. But I do want you to consider that the worth of self-control depends, to a large extent, on the motive from which it is practised; and that, unfortunately, for twenty men that will exercise it for the sake of temporal purposes and immediate advantage, there is one who will exercise it for the sake of higher motives. A great deal of the moral reformation and restraint which the best of men, who are not Christians, put in practice upon themselves, is exactly like taking a child with scarlet fever and putting it into a cold bath. You drive in the eruption, and that is about as much as you do, except that you make the disease worse, because you have driven it in. But, beyond that, when once a man's passions, or affections, or desires, or any other part of him, have got the bit between their teeth, and have cast off control, it is impossible to bring them again into obedience. When the very instrument by which we are to coerce the worst part of our nature is itself tainted, what, in the name of common sense, is to be done then? When you send out the military to suppress the mob, and the military, bayonets and all, go over to the mob, there is nothing left for the sovereign but to abdicate. As somebody has said about such a matter, it is a bad job when the extinguisher catches fire. And that is exactly the condition which men stand in who are seeking to exercise a thorough-going self-restraint, when the self which should govern is itself tainted and evil, the will bribed and enslaved, the conscience sophisticated and darkened. What is the use of saying to such a man, "Govern thyself"?

III. HERE WE HAVE A CHRISTIAN CERTAINTY, IF WE CHOOSE TO MAKE IT SO. Let these three things, faith, strength, insight, work upon you, and they will make the impossible possible. That is to say, if you want to govern yourselves begin with faith. We rule ourselves when we let Jesus Christ rule us. The Christian man, thinking of his conflict, and knowing that with his ten thousand it is hard for him to meet the twenty thousand who are arrayed against him, invokes, as some petty chief of a weak tribe might, the aid of the great emperor whose dominions are at hand, and when he stretches his protecting power over the little territory there is liberty and there is victory for the trembling prince. So hand over the authority and the sovereignty of thy soul to Jesus Christ, and He will give thee the strength to govern thyself. And, in like manner, we have here implied another prescription, "Add to thy strength, temperance." II I am in Christ it is not a question of one bit of my nature against the other, but it is a question of the higher nature, which is His, flowing into mine, and so enabling me, the true me, which is Christ in me, to keep down the animal and the evil that attaches to me. And, in like manner, there is the third condition of self-command here; that knowledge of which the preceding clause speaks, which is mainly a clear insight into Christian duty. If we have once clear in sight the dictates of an enlightened conscience, felt to be Christ's will, then it will not be so hard to put the screw on all that rebels against Him, and to stimulate (for that is a part of self-command) the lagging and slothful graces of our hearts. So it comes to this, the necessity, which is an impossibility for everybody else, is a possibility for the weakest among us, if we let Christ rule in our hearts. Put the reins into Christ's hands, and He will make you kings over yourselves, and priests unto Him.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The grace of temperance may be here diversely understood.

I. FOR SUCH A DISCRETION AS MAY SEASON ALL THESE GRACES; So taken it is the salt of every virtue. Devotion without discretion is like a hasty servant that runs away without his errand. Profession of faith without temperance is turned into hypocrisy or preposterous zeal; virtue without it is folly. Patience without discretion wrongs a good cause. Godliness without temperance is devotion out of its wits. Brotherly kindness without temperance is brotherly dotage. Charity without temperance is prodigality; it gives with an open hand and shut eye.

II. FOR SUCH A DISCRETION AS MAY MODERATE KNOWLEDGE, and qualify that heat to which it is addicted (1 Corinthians 8:1). Temperance is not so much a virtue itself as a marshal or moderator of virtues. It is not enough to do a good work unless the due place, fit manner, and convenient time be observed.



1. In lust; so it is called incontinence. This may be avoided —(1) By subduing the body to the soul (1 Corinthians 9:27).(2) By debarring the flesh all lust-provoking meats and drinks, High diet is adultery's nurse.(3) By avoiding temptations (1 Corinthians 6:18).(4) By meditating on the punishment. What men think most pleasing is most plaguing; to have their lusts granted (Psalm 81:12).

2. In apparel. Christ says the body is more worth than raiment; but some strive to make their raiment more worth than their bodies; like birds of paradise, their feathers are better than their carcases.

3. In meats.(1) For the manner; this is merely circumstantial, and may thus he expressed: too Soon, too late, too daintily, too fast, too much, is gluttony.(2) For the measure: it is an insatiate desire of delicacies (Luke 12:19; Philippians 3:19). As too much rain drowns the fields which moderate showers would make fruitful; so this plethory of diet, instead of conserving nature, confounds it.(3) For the matter: it is great feasting.(4) The effects are manifold and manifest.


(b)Macilency of grace.

(c)Consumption of estate.

(d)Sickness of body.

(3)Rottenness and death. The finest food shall make no better dust.

(i)Abstinence is man's rising, as intemperance was his

(ii)It is God's blessing that makes fat, and not meat.

4. In drinks.

(1)It makes room for the devil.

(2)It overturns the estate.

(3)It poisons the tongue.

(4)It woe to itself (Proverbs 23:29).Learn we how to avoid it —

(a)Because we are men. While the wine is in thy hand, thou art a man; when it is in thy head, thou art become a beast.

(b)Because we are citizens, and therefore should lead civil lives; drunkenness is an uncivil exorbitance.

(c)Because we are Christians (1 Timothy 6:11; Titus 2:11, 12; Luke 21:34).

(Thomas Adams.)

This is the third figure in that sum in compound addition the footing up of which makes the complete Christian character. Our modern use of this word temperance restricts it mainly to abstinence from strong drink. Abstinence alone does not fully express the idea, since this presents rather its negative side. The word means strictly "ruling with a strong hand," having the mastery; and when applied to a person, the temperate man is he who governs himself firmly, who has the mastery especially over the passions and appetites of his lower nature.

I. WHAT THIS SELF-CONTROL INVOLVES OR IMPLIES. Ἐγκράτεια is used by Plato and Aristotle to express self-discipline, self-mastery. Xenophon uses it to express the government of all the passions and appetites; such a mastery of the natural desires for food, drink, and sensual gratification, and such a power to endure cold, heat, fatigue, and want of sleep, as become a good general in time of war. (Mem. 1.2, 1; 1.5, 1; 2. 1, 1.) So Paul used the word when addressing Felix, who lived in open adultery with Drusilla, and who indulged every selfish and sensual passion; he reasoned of "righteousness, temperance, and judgment," till the wretch trembled. The Latin temperantia, from which our word temperance is derived, has the same meaning; moderation, regulation, government, self-restraint. And it is applied not only to sensual appetites, but to the government of the tongue, the eyes, the temper; to the restraint of the emotions of grief under calamity or of exultation in victory. Cicero defines temperantia to be that which teaches us to follow reason, both in what we seek and in what we avoid; a firm and judicious control of reason over impulse and desire (De Finibus 1, 14, and 2, 19).


1. This Christian temperance or self-control implies and demands the absolute subjection of all evil appetites, passions, and desires. Those grosser social vices with which the pagan society of the old world was thoroughly infected, and which the old pagan religion encouraged — vices which destroyed home, corrupted literature, debased art, and defiled the altars of the gods — were so little thought of as evils, were so fully sanctioned by custom, were so gilded over by the example of public men, the toleration of law, and the flattering arts of genius, were so protected by the priests, who made them a means of revenue, that it was an easy thing for a Christian at Corinth, at Ephesus, at Antioch, or any like luxurious capital, to slide into sins the bare suggestion of which we should resent with abhorrence. Anger, in the common use of the word, is an evil passion. A passionate man cannot exercise self-control. Some ancient philosophers used the word temperance as the specific opposite of irritability. Self-indulgence in appetite, whether under the form of drunkenness or of gluttony, is a sin. It is a sin against the body, whose beautiful mechanism we strain and impair by any excess. It is an offence against the mind, whose faculties we clog and stupefy by excess. It is a sin against God, the gifts of whose bounty are perverted. Covetousness is specified again and again in the Word of God as one of the worst forms of carnal passion; and the subjection of this is indispensable to self-government. The greed of gain must be subdued, or it will choke the life of godliness in the soul. The Christian must learn to moderate his views and desires of worldly possessions. The tendency to a self-satisfied and even luxurious enjoyment of the world is, perhaps, the strongest antagonist in our times to a simple scriptural piety. Sensual appetite, pleasure-seeking for its own sake, and frivolity in the methods of enjoyment, a vain love of pomp and show — these proceed from a propensity which cannot be reconciled with the love of God.

2. Besides this absolute subjection of all evil passions and propensities, the law of temperance requires that those natural desires which are in themselves innocent and lawful, should, both as to the manner and the measure of their indulgence, be regulated by a regard for the highest good of the soul. Appetites and tastes we have which were never designed to be our tempters and tormentors — making the body a mere battlefield of the soul — but were meant to minister to a pure and healthy enjoyment. But the peculiarity of these native appetites and tastes in man is that they do not, like the instincts of animals, regulate themselves, but require the mild restraint of reason. That is a nice point — a hair-line — where desire instead of ministering to rational enjoyment, oversteps the bounds of reason, and becomes an ungovernable passion. Keep well within that line.

3. It has been assumed in this discussion that since all sin concentrates in a selfish will, this of course must be subdued in order to a sound and perfect self-control. But I wish to insist upon the idea that selfishness is not merely to be restrained, held in check by compromises, but to be conquered, if ever the soul would gain the mastery of itself for God. Our love of God, to be complete, must be unconditional. The existence of a calculating, selfish spirit is incompatible with the very idea of love.


1. Not by mere force of will, determining to override, and if possible to annihilate the sensibilities and propensities of our nature, whether for good or evil. The cold impassiveness of marble is not self-control, nor can the Christian perfect his moral nature by cutting away all natural emotions and sympathies. One may conquer many an appetite and passion by mere force of will, and in so doing may strengthen the will itself in resistance to God, and may stiffen that will with the pride of self-righteousness.

2. Neither is self-control to be attained by the arbitrary mortification of the body, by means of denials and penances. Christianity was not made for the desert and the convent, but for the living and hostile world; and we are not to become saints by secluding ourselves from the outer world, but are to be saints in it by the power of a new life.

3. But in order to gain self-control we must study ourselves, especially as to our weak points of character, and aim to conquer specific modes or habits of evil to which we are prone.

4. Again, the power of self-control will be strengthened if we cherish habitually the sense of God's presence and of His watchful eye. And not only the thought of God as ever nigh to us, but the presence of God by His spirit within us must be cherished if we would govern ourselves by His law. The apostle enumerates temperance, self-government among the fruits of the Spirit. And now, in conclusion, let me urge you to give all diligence to add this grace to your character; to perfect yourself in the government of your own heart.(1) I urge you to this diligence by the greatness of the object to be obtained. Consider what it is to gain the mastery over a single passion. Think of the poets, the statesmen, the warriors who have sunk under the inebriating cup and have left a dishonoured name.(2) I exhort you to be diligent in this self-conquest because it is made practicable by timely diligence. Passions indulged have a rapid and fearful growth.(3) I exhort you to this self-control for your own peace of mind.(4) Your duty to Christ and your professed hope in Him require that you shall govern yourself in His spirit. "He died for all, that they should not henceforth live to themselves, but to Him who died for them and rose again."

(Joseph P. Thompson.)

I. The NATURE of self-mastery.

II. The DIFFICULTIES of self-mastery.

1. Hereditary.

2. Surrounding.

3. Inherent.

III. The ADVANTAGES of self-mastery. The evils from which it saves — physical, social, spiritual.

IV. The MEANS of self-mastery.

1. Fellowship with other self-conquerors.

2. Communion with Jesus Christ.

3. Help from heaven.

4. Earnest, brave endeavours.

(U. R. Thomas.)

Temperance, self-mastery, the power of self-restraint, is a necessary part of Christian life, natural to it, indispensable to its perfection. Let me illustrate what I mean. You have a servant: he comes to you unacquainted with the perfect working of your system of business, strange to you, strange to the service he has to render; you do not take him into your full confidence at first; you give him such detailed directions that he cannot well make a mistake. By and by you give him your confidence, you throw him upon his honour; he knows as well as if you were always telling him what you want him to do. If there comes to pass a transaction different from what he has been engaged in, he knows your principles so well that he can complete it without referring to you at all. Detailed instruction is no longer necessary. It strikes you, too, very forcibly sometimes, does it not, that the higher position which the servant now occupies may be much more abused than the lower — the more mechanical office? He is freer in one sense from control, and, if he be a good man, the very fact that you put him on his honour in your service makes him doubly dutiful. But you know that confidence may be abused, and the fuller the trust, the greater the possibility of abuse. You know that freedom — leaving a man to act for himself, with nothing but well-instilled principles to guide him — means possibility of delinquency as well as possibility of uprightness. You say, in a word, that the man has knowledge; and that knowledge will be a dangerous thing for him and for you unless it be conjoined with self-mastery, self-restraint. You say, in other words, that in this high, confidential, honourable position in which the servant stands, to be faithful and perfect in his service he must "add to his knowledge, temperance." You have raised your servant from being little better than a machine, and you have made a man of him; the risk increases with the dignity. Intemperance is of two kinds — asceticism and licentiousness; temperance is the mean between the two. If a man is of such a nature that he cannot use his freedom without abusing it, if he must go to one extreme or the other, it is better that he should be an ascetic than a theological libertine, just as it is better for a man who must be either an entire abstainer or a drunkard, that he should be the former. Both extremes are equally intemperate; but, of course, while there is not much more than self-denial in the one, there is sin in the other.

(D. J. Hamer.)

A river is usually an unmixed blessing to a country. It fertilises adjacent lands. It presents a matchless highway for commerce. But there are exceptions to the rule. One of the largest rivers in the world is known by the name of "China's sorrow." The banks through which the Yellow River flows for nearly a thousand miles of its course are so low and so friable that, with the first flash of the spring floods, away they sink, and thousands of square miles of country are laid under water. It is not hemmed in by granite or limestone gorges like its great and incomparably useful neighbour the Yang Tsze. Its torrents are unrestrained. Within historical times it has shifted its course altogether, and discharges itself into the sea some hundreds of miles away from the old mouth. Although a river of first-class dimensions, counted by the volume of water it discharges, for nearly a thousand miles of its course it is scarcely navigable. It is a colossal power for good wasted through the lack of strong, binding power in its banks. And there are not a few people who are like this capricious river in the career they follow. We might, perhaps, describe them as the "Church's sorrow." There is uncommon virtue or potency in their characters, and they are not altogether wanting in knowledge. But through the lack of this temperance or "self-restraint" they break out at given periods like "China's sorrow," and make schism and faction in the Church, and fritter away their own capacity for usefulness, and possibly in the end shift their course into altogether unexpected channels.

(T. G. Selby.)

I. THE CHRISTIAN ATTITUDE IN REFERENCE TO ALL THAT IS UNWELCOME AND SORROWFUL. "In your self-control supply patience." Is there one of us who is not aware of some crook in the lot? Well, then, this is true wisdom, quietly take it and let it work as it is meant to work. It is Christian patience that is here enjoined, not the mere stoical, submitting to the inevitable; not the mere pride of not showing my feeling; not the mere foolish attempt to argue myself into insensibility. This Christian patience has for its very first element the recognition of the bitterness of the cup that He gives us to drink. The second element in Christian patience is quietly bearing, with submitted and acquiescent will, the pain or sorrow that comes upon us. Now, remember where, in our series of Christian graces, this wise endurance of the inevitable and God-sent suffering comes. It comes after self command. That teaches us that it will take a great effort of self-control to keep the quivering limb quite still, if undrugged by any false anesthetic, under the gleaming knife. But we can do it. And remember, too, that this injunction of Christian patience comes in a series which is all dependent on faith. Patience is possible when beneath all the sorrows, be they great or small, we recognise God's will. And in another way faith ministers patience by teaching us to understand and recognise the meaning of sorrows.

II. THE CHRISTIAN ATTITUDE TOWARDS ALL DIFFICULTY, THE ARMOUR FOR THEM THAT STRUGGLE. What we have to deal with here is Christian perseverance. And about that I have only two things to say. First, how impossible it is to get any wholesome, vigorous Christian life without it; and in the second, how faith likewise ministers to all persistent effort and energy. As to the first, no course of life which has in view a far off end, towards which all its efforts are to be directed, but runs the risk of wearying ere the end is attained. The quiet persistence with which the leaf "grows green and broad, and takes no care"; the quiet persistence, with which from tiny knob, hard and green, the grape advances to blushing purple, and juicy sun-warmed mellowness, is the type of the fashion in which alone the harsh crudities of nature can be turned into the sweetnesses of grace. "Add to your faith persistence." And be thankful to remember that our gospel alone gives men motives and power thus to persevere to the end.

III. THE ATTITUDE OF THE CHRISTIAN SOUL TOWARDS LONG-DEFERRED GOOD. There is an element of hope in the New Testament conception of patience. In fact, in some passages the word seems almost to be a synonym for hope, and we read in other places of the patience of hope. This view of the "patience of hope" suggests to us a thought or two. The weakness and the misery of all earthly anticipation is that it is full of tumult and agitation. Hope is not calm, but the very opposite. As usually entertained it leads to impatience and not to patience. And the reason why hope is impatient is because we foolishly set our hopes on things that are too near us, and on things that are uncertain. The man that is only going a railway journey of an hour's duration will be more tired at the end of the first half-hour than a man who is going a journey of a day's duration will be at the end of the first half of the day. If we were only wise enough to fling our hopes far enough forward, and to set them upon that future upon which they may fasten, which is as certain as the past, there would be no need and no possibility of the agitations that perturb all earthly anticipations. And you can get the patience that endures and persists where you get everything else — from Him who is its example as well as its giver.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Patience is, in the estimation of some, a mere rudge among the virtues. In Scripture she is a queen, magnanimous and dignified. How it is and why it is that the disciples of temperance or self-restraint are immediately commended to the cultivation of a gentle and forbearing spirit, will, as we think, appear if we but advert to the petulance which all rigorous and abstinent self-control is apt to foster. Thus, during the great fast of the Mohammedans, the Ramadan, observed by severe abstinence from food through all the hours of daylight, travellers have noted the querulous spirit that seems for the time to reign through a Turkish city. A recent British missionary speaks of the devotees of Hindooism, whose austerities are most rigid, and who proclaim superiority to all passion, as being notorious for "a general irritability." The ascetic, of all times and of all forms of faith, has been subject, and not without some plausibility, to the imputation of sourness.


1. The patience of the disciple of Jesus is not stoical apathy, nor acquired or affected obduracy to all physical suffering.

2. Nor, much less, is Christian patience a meek indifference to all error and wickedness in the world around us. The standard of Christian piety adopted by some, which is all softness and repose, would have no room for men like the lion-hearted Knox who did, under God, so thorough and good a work before a licentious court, and a frowning nobility, and a raging priesthood, for the Scottish nation. Patience shines forth in such a spirit at such a time triumphant. It is the patience that dares brave all anger, and loss, and suffering; but that dares not sacrifice truth or duty, or make the fear of God to bend to the fear of man.

II. WHAT THEN IS CHRISTIAN PATIENCE? We understand by it "a calm endurance of evil for God's sake." Now, evil is both physical and moral. Physical evil includes pain, want, disease, and death; moral, errors, sorrows of soul, and wickedness in all its varying shades, and in all its hideous shapes. Taken in this largest sense, patience includes the grace of meekness, from which, however, in other portions of Scripture, it is distinguished. Meekness is the quiet endurance of wrong from man, and patience is the endurance of woe appointed of God. But in our text we suppose the word patience to include both meekness and patience strictly so called. It is the quiet endurance of evil for God's sake. That it is endured, implies that the evil is not self-invented and self-inflicted. If the physical evil be the effect of our own utter neglect, the passive endurance of it is not sufficient to make the sufferer a patient Christian in the truest sense of those terms. Against moral evil it must bear patiently its bold protest; but the want of immediate effect to that protest, and the presence of that evil in the world, and its temporary triumph, must not shake the Christian's patient reliance on the wisdom and justice of the Divine Providence. For Christian patience is essentially hopeful. It must quietly wait for the salvation of God. So is it also in the New Testament represented as bound up with Christian diligence or industry. The Bible tells us of "patient continuance in well-doing," and sends the pleader of the promises and the keeper of God's precepts to learn of the husbandman, who, having sown the seed, must have long patience for the harvest. We have seen its needfulness to fill out Christian temperance.


1. Ours is a day of religious effort for reform at home and evangelisation abroad. Look at the need of patience to preserve the spirit of the labourers in working order, and to render their endeavours successful. Mackintosh praises Wilberforce as being a model reformer, because of his immovable sweetness, as well as his inflexible persistency. But many good men assay, without this patient sweetness, to reform others by the virtual tyranny of harsh and unreasoning criminations. They resort to moral coercion where they should use moral suasion.

2. Again, as a preservative of faith and knowledge and godliness, patience is indispensable. It was said by the illustrious philosopher Newton, that if he had accomplished anything in science, it had been "by dint of patient thought." The believer in Scripture who would feed, from its full pages, his faith and knowledge and piety into richer development and greater vigour, must be patient in searching, patient in pondering and comparing, and patient in praying over those sacred lines.

3. Again, virtue and godliness and charity, all practical Christian excellences, need patience for their development. "Confidence," said a British statesman, "is a plant of slow growth." True, consistent piety is also such, and needs long and meek study of God's providence and Word to refine and perfect it. Carey said, modestly, in his old age, when his grammars and versions of Holy Scripture were almost a library in themselves, "I can do one thing — I can plod." Men, families, nations, have pined and dwindled because they could not plod. In the soul's struggle heavenward we do well to recollect that he "who endureth to the end shall be saved, and that by faith and patience we inherit the promises.

IV. LET US NOW CONSIDER THE MOTIVES THAT SHOULD PERSUADE US TO BE PATIENT AS CHRISTIANS. For as patience includes meekness under wrongs of our fellow-men, we must forgive or we may not hope ourselves before God to be forgiven. As patience includes submission to the Divine appointments, let us remark that our trials are lessened by serene meekness and resignation. God lightens and removes them more early, and they do not so deeply wound and empoison the soul. We are to remember, too, the necessity of this grace to success and influence with our fellow-men. It is the patient perseverance in well-doing that builds up consistency, and influence, and weight of character. We are, again, all to remember our own unworthiness before God, and our liability to pay ten thousand talents, ere, in our fretfulness, we chide man harshly, or murmur bitterly against our God and His providence. Nor is it unfitting that we remember how much of mercy and kindness there is in God's allotments.


1. By the study of Scripture. We see there glorious examples and inspiriting promises, and the most solemn warnings, and the most apposite models and precepts.

2. Let us pray. Does the spirit in us lust to envy? And would envy swell into wrath, or blasphemy, or murder? The apostle's reply is, "He," our God, "giveth more grace." And He gives it in answer to prayer. The apostles when bidden by their Lord often to forgive the offending and injurious, prayed, "Lord, increase our faith." Repeat the petition. For its teacher yet lives to be its answerer.

3. Above all, be in communion, much and habitually, with Christ.

(W. R. Williams.)

Now let us look at this matter fairly. Jesus Christ does not want to put us, as His disciples, in an artificial world. He has thought for us in the future and also in the present. He takes up the conditions of our life here, He takes up all the powers of our nature; and the truth which He reveals so asserts itself that when fully grasped and acted out the powers of our nature are most fully ordered and developed, the conditions of our life are most perfectly met. We are placed in certain circumstances, and Christ knows them. Christ would so teach us, so mould our nature, that we fulfil all the conditions of our earthly course in such a way as to be best prepared for entering on the fuller realities of the heavenly and eternal life. Patience, then, power of endurance, power of perseverance, is a necessary part of Christian character. Take one or two simple reminders and this will appear clearly enough. Men are in a condition of suffering in this world. Account for it as you may, expound the purpose of it as you may, the fact remains. Somehow or other we seem to be always playing at cross-purposes with ourselves. Who ever formed a plan and found no hindrance to the carrying of it out? And is it not in these smaller matters that our chief causes of discomfort lie? The big, thick clouds that altogether shut out the light from a man's life only gather once or twice perchance in his history. Yet all men have to suffer, and to suffer severely, from minor trials every day; and to meet these some firm, abiding principle regulating the life is needed. Does it not also suggest itself to you that the position in which Christianity puts a man in relation to God, to himself, wen, to things present and things future, is such as to require that he, at all events, of all men should be possessed of this grace of "patience," this energy of quiet perseverance. If it be a necessity in every-day life apart from Christianity, it is all the more a necessity to the Christian. He sees things to which other men are blind; he has burdens laid upon him which other men know nothing of; and he of all men must be specially strengthened to endure. A man takes a piece of rough iron and fines and hardens it into steel. It is sterner and stronger than it was in some respects, but is more susceptible in others. It will glitter with brilliant polish, but a breath can dim and tarnish it. The finely tempered sword must be kept ensheathed, or it will lose its lustre. So Christianity takes a man in his rough, natural state and refines his nature. He is stronger and yet more susceptible than he was before. It comes, then, to this alternative: he must be moved from the risk of danger, taken, in a word, out of the world, or he must have a new power of endurance given to him which will enable him to resist contaminating influence. A gardener takes a flower root; what it has of beauty is wild and fitful, it has many rough defects. He cultures it, and by care and scientific appliance he makes the same life bring forth more beautiful blossoms. But the plant has a fragile beauty; it cannot now weather the storm, it must be guarded against the nipping frost and the rude wind. So Christianity takes a man and puts such grace into his heart that his life bears flowers and fruit "unto holiness"; but he cannot bear unconsciously what he could before. It conies, then, to this alternative: that he must be removed from contact with the storms of this world's experience, or else he must have what the gardener cannot give his cherished plant, special and increased power to withstand and to patiently endure. So you see this grace of which Peter speaks, and which at first sight seems rather incongruous with the rest, is really a necessary and inherent part of the Divine life in man. Christianity would deal cruelly and fatally with us if "patience "were not inalienably connected with the life which it cherishes. But there are other points in which such necessity as I have asserted is clearly seen besides that arising from the keener susceptibility of the Christian. We set out with a high ideal. Our whole nature thrills with the new life that has begun to stir within us. The sense of deliverance is precious. We feel that new motives, new aims, new desires have come to us. Sin and misery have fled away; hope and joy and peace will fill our heart. Such happy life is to be for our constant enjoyment. Are these not the thoughts which fill the soul when it first passes from death unto life? Has such experience, then, been an unchanging one with you? Have you never been thrust back from what you thought a sure and safe position of advance? Sin does not lose its hold upon us all at once. We are weak, and only by patient perseverance can we be made strong. We are subject to temptation, and only by patient watching can we hope to escape. We are ignorant, and only by patient learning can we attain unto knowledge. A war is carried on within us in which the good principles do not come scatheless from the conflict. These rebuffs and disappointments and failures are sure to meet us. Our Master had to contend with evil, and led the way by His example of faith and patience to the inheritance of the promises: so must we persevere and endure unto the end.

(D. J. Hamer.)

I. THE ELEMENTS OF A TRUE CHRISTIAN PATIENCE. The literal meaning of ὑπομονή is "remaining behind," or "remaining in the house"; i.e., abiding — das zuruckbleiben, zuhausebleiben (Passow). Hence constancy, stability, steadiness. "Our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding" (1 Chronicles 29:15). The Septuagint here uses ὑπομονή to denote stability, the opposite of that which is transitory and fleeting. In the text De Wette renders ὑπομονη by Standhaftigkeit, steadfastness. It is something more than submissiveness, by which Isaac Taylor defines it. Patientia denotes the quality of bearing or enduring. Cicero applies it to the endurance of hunger and cold. In analysing patience into its elements we must view it both upon the negative and the positive side.

1. Patience does not imply a want of sensibility to suffering, sorrow, or wrong. A North American Indian would think it unmanly or cowardly to betray a consciousness of pain, to utter a cry or shed a tear for any physical suffering. We may not seek for patience in an insensibility to suffering, whether natural or forced, nor in a sullen disregard of personal consequences in carrying out some proposed end or meeting an imagined fate.

2. And here we may note more particularly that patience does not argue indifference to the issue of the trials or labours which are upon us. The mind will forecast its own future, will have hopes, will have fears, will have a choice as to events affecting its own happiness; no logic or philosophy or schooling can destroy these essential qualities of the human soul; take away these, and man ceases to be a man. He who professes not to be troubled about events because he does not care what happens is not an example of the patient man. The true patient man does care what happens. The care-nothing spirit is not true Christian patience.

3. Neither is a do-nothing spirit to be identified with patience. There are times when patience counsels to inaction, when "the strength of Israel is to sit still." But this patience of waiting is not the inaction of sluggishness nor of despondency. It is a watchful inaction, like-that of men sleeping upon their arms, with their camp-fires always lighted and the sentinels at their posts. The shipwrecked mariner in an open boat without oar or sail has nothing to do but wait for the appearance of relief. But if he has a compass and a paddle and knows himself to be within a hundred miles of land, then patience will be shown not in idle waiting or in praying for some chance relief, but in working on without murmuring and without despair, though the hand is weary and the head is faint, and neither sun nor star appears over the waste of waters.Viewed, then, positively patience requires —

1. The consciousness of a right intent. This removes from within all disturbing causes which might irritate and unsettle the mind, and enables us to commit our way to the Lord in confidence. We shall grow patient under trials in proportion as we grow unselfish. And so too of labours; if we enter upon these with a pure intent, if we rise above all selfish feeling to the grandeur of working for mankind and for God, then shall we hold on by the attraction of the work itself, never ruffled by opposition nor disheartened by difficulty. Hence the exercise of a true Christian patience demands a conscience void of offence towards man and God.

2. The exercise of Christian patience demands implicit confidence in God and in our cause as approved by Him. Patience and faith go hand in hand. The main element in patience is Christian submission to the will of God. This rests upon confidence as its basis — confidence in the wisdom, the power, and the love of God.

3. Patience must have in it the element of hope. Patience is incompatible with despair. Patience under trial expects God's appearing. Patience in labour awaits God's help. The virtue of patience, by reason of its quiet and retiracy, commands but little notice and admiration from men. Men do not lay the stress of greatness upon the passive virtues.


1. This virtue of patience we need in all our labours for the cause of Christ and the good of men. In working against evil we are prone either to irritation or to despondency. Our weak natures are annoyed by the opposition we encounter in a good cause.

2. We need this patience under the afflictions and wrongs which we personally suffer — afflictions at the hand of God, persecution, calumny, wrong from our fellow-men. How sweet is patience under the hand of God! It is like sunlight and flowers in the chamber of sickness. But it is easier to bear great and prolonged afflictions which come directly and visibly from the hand of God than the petty vexations and wrongs which arise from untoward circumstances and evil men. Great occasions rally great principles and brace the mind to a lofty bearing, a bearing that is even above itself. But trials that make no occasion at all leave it to show the goodness and beauty it has in its own disposition.

3. We need patience with respect to the fulfilling of God's plans of mercy for the world. God's promises are like century plants. They grow silently, almost imperceptibly, through wind and storm, by day and night, and year by year.

(Joseph P. Thompson.)

At first sight it appears strange to find "godliness" ranked among the special virtues of the Christian character, whereas it is a very much more general expression than any of these specific excellences which precede it in this list. Nor is it less singular to find it inserted in the midst of a catalogue of Christian graces, whereas we should rather expect it to stand as the all-inclusive foundation of them all. What do we mean by godliness? The fundamental idea is reverence toward God. That reverence expresses itself both inwardly and outwardly — inwardly by habitual communion with Him in spirit; outwardly by habitual service of Him in act. The word covers substantially the same ground as the Old Testament expression, "the fear of the Lord." If, then, we take that for the meaning of the word, the singularity of its insertion in this catalogue may be found to be the means of teaching important truths.

I. The first lesson that I would gather is as to THE ROOT OF REAL RELIGION. We must never forget, in considering this series of Christian virtues, that faith is regarded 'as the foundation of them all. It is the raw material, so to speak, out of which all these other graces and excellences are made. And this is especially the case with regard to the sense of reverence to God manifesting itself in habitual communion with Him and habitual service of Him which is meant by this word godliness. Some of us say that we believe in Jesus Christ and are living by faith. Does your faith lead you to this continual godliness? Are you brought by it into continual communion with Jesus Christ, and, through Him, with God? Do you constantly refer all your actions to Him?

II. We have here the other lesson that REAL RELIGION IS A THING TO BE CULTIVATED BY THE STRENUOUS EXERCISE OF CHRISTIAN GRACES. No man becomes "godly" by mere desiring. The bridge between faith and godliness is made of manly strength, discrimination and discernment of duty, rigid self-control, patient perseverance. If you have these things your faith will effloresce into godliness; if you have not, it will not. You will want all these virtues and graces which precede godliness in my text. You will want manly strength — for a hundred reasons, because of the condition of things round about you, which is always full of temptations to draw you away, because of your own proclivities to evil. And you will want manly strength, because you can get no hold of an unseen God except by a definite effort of thought, which will require resolute will. Further, for godliness, we need to cultivate the habit of discrimination between good and evil, right and wrong, because the world is full of illusions, and we are very blind. And we need to cultivate the habit of self-control and rigid repression of passions, and lusts, and desires, and tastes, and inclinations before His calm and sovereign will, because the world is full of fire and our hearts and natures are tinder. And we need to cultivate the habit of patience in all its three senses of endurance in sorrow, of persistence in service, and of hope of the future, because the more a man cultivates that habit, the larger will be his stock of proofs of the loving-kindness and goodness of his God, and the easier and more blessed it will be for him to live in continual communion with Him. Exercise thyself into godliness, and do not fancy that the Christian life comes as a matter of course on the back of some one initial act of a long-forgotten faith in Jesus Christ.

III. Then another lesson to be gathered from this catalogue of graces is that TRUE RELIGION IS THE BEST PRESERVATIVE AND STRENGTHENER OF ALL THESE PRECEDING EXCELLENCES. Do not spend your time upon merely trying to cultivate special graces of the Christian character, however needful they may be for you, and however beautiful they may be in themselves. Seek to have that which sanctifies and strengthens them all. Faith is the foundation, godliness the apex and crown.

IV. And the last thought is that THIS TRUE RELIGION OR GODLINESS UNITES IN ONE HARMONIOUS WHOLE THE MOST DISSIMILAR EXCELLENCES OF CHARACTER. Notice that in this series all the excellences which precede my text are of the sterner, the more severe, and self-regarding kind, and that those which follow it are of the gentler sort and refer to others. If I might so say, it is as in some Alpine range, where the side that faces the north presents rugged cliffs and sparse vegetation, and close-knit strength to breast the tempest and to live amidst the snows, whilst the southern side has gentler slopes and a more fertile soil, a richer vegetation, and a sunnier sky. And in like manner the difficult problem of how tar I am to carry my own cultivation of Christian excellence apart from regard to others, and how far I am to let my obligations to help and succour others overcome the necessity for individual cultivation of Christian character, is best solved as Peter solves it here. Put godliness in the middle, let that be the centre, and from it will flow on the one side all needful self-discipline and tutoring, and on the other all wise and Christlike regard to the needs and sorrows of the men around us.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

A religious man is he who practically makes his accountability to God the law of his life, who is bound to God with the sense of personal obligation for all that he receives, in all that he does. What, then, is that godliness which is capable of being nurtured as an addition to saving faith in Christ and to the several virtues before enumerated? Some understand the term in the old English sense of god-like-ness, a moral resemblance to God. But this does not express the objective sense conveyed in the original word. God ward-ness, if we might make such a term, would be nearer this than God-like-ness, a state of mind which is toward God as the sole object of its adoration and religious reverence, the central, supreme object of its trust and love, the final source of moral obligation and authority. One may have a certain faith in Christ who is yet wanting in a just and commanding reverence toward God. A mind that believes in Christ as historically revealed in the New Testament, accepts Him as a Divine Teacher, and even regards His death as in some way connected with the redemption of mankind, but which does not recognise a necessity for that death as an atonement between human guilt and Divine justice, is wanting in that godliness of which the apostle speaks. It has not attained to that reverence for God in the holiness of His Being and the purity of His law which makes the atonement at once a moral necessity for the soul itself and a legal necessity for the Divine government. A mind that looks to Christ as the author of a universal and indiscriminate salvation for the race, and admits no distinction in the results of probation between those who accept and those who reject the terms of that salvation, is surely wanting in this godliness. A just reverence for God as lawgiver and judge is wanting.


1. That it is most inward in its seat and power. The Apostle Paul has in view this internal spiritual quality of true godliness when, writing to Timothy, he says, "Follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness." Here godliness is distinguished from righteousness. Righteousness, as it stands in this catalogue of Christian qualities, denotes rectitude of action; godliness points to the inward spring of that action, and the ground of its righteousness, in a just sentiment of veneration toward God. True godliness has the soul for its seat and God for its object. "Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts."

2. This sentiment is equally compounded of love and fear. That veneration or reverence toward God which is true piety is grounded in a love of His holiness. There is a veneration whose chief element is awe; a reverence for dignity, station, greatness, power, which is cold and formal and distant. Such is the veneration which barbarian tribes manifest for the mysterious powers of Nature. But the veneration of the Christian mind for God is not a dim awe of invisible power, a dread of that Almighty force which heaped up the mountains, but is a reverence for that which is greater than physical force, however sublime and terrible, even the greatness of a good and just and holy character. The poet Shelley disowned a personal God; yet what one has aptly styled "the atheistic hunger of his soul" caused him to fill the universe with invisible powers to which he paid that credulous homage which atheism always pays to mystery. But with this love and adoration of the character of God should mingle always a salutary awe of His majesty. "By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil."


1. We should cherish this reverence for the being of God when we approach Him in prayer. Abraham and Moses, and Samuel and David, with all their importunity in supplication, were filled with reverence and godly fear when they drew nigh to God in prayer.

2. We should cherish reverence for the name of God.

3. True godliness implies a reverence for the law of God as the supreme and final rule of moral action. "Thy Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee."

4. We should cherish also a profound reverence for the will of God as manifested in His providence. "I opened not my mouth, because Thou didst it." The godly mind rises above all secondary causes in nature and all intermediate human agencies to perceive and acknowledge the hand of God in its afflictions.


1. We are cautioned not to confound gain with godliness. The Apostle Paul warns Timothy against "men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness." At first view this seems a strange and almost incredible form of heresy. But call to mind the fact that under the Old Testament dispensation temporal prosperity was promised to godly living, and you will readily see hew the idea might arise, as it did, that outward prosperity was always a mark of inward piety. This substitution of gain for godliness is one of the most subtle and depraving devices of the enemy of souls. It is making a calf of gold under the very brow of Sinai, and setting aside the Holy One of Israel for an image of Mammon.

2. The other error is thus characterised by Paul. He speaks of men who are "lovers of their own selves; lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God," who yet have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof. Manifold are the forms under which such godliness appears. There is a poetic form of godliness, a sentiment which takes the air of reverence and breathes the name of the Divinity when singing of the grander forms of nature. The old Greek and Latin poetry peopled the invisible with gods, whose presence and agency it represented in all the mysteries of nature and in all leading events of human experience. The machinery of Homer's great epic lies within the supernatural; the gods played their part in every Greek tragedy. Indeed, we know the religion of Greece and Rome mainly through their literature. But while true godliness is true veneration for God, not all veneration is godliness. It may lead the soul to God, or it may not lie deeper than the sentient and the imaginative. There is an artistic or aesthetic form of godliness. The Greek mind, which under the fairest clime and the most liberal government was stimulated to the highest culture in taste and art, expressed its devotion through artistic forms, especially in sculpture. But taste and art, however subsidiary to the expression of devotion, can never be of the essence of godliness. There is a dogmatic form of godliness, a creed-worship, a veneration for dogmas and authorities in religion. Wherever the creed is put before the life as evidence of piety, the profession of the lips before the confession of the heart, there the form of godliness is substituted for its power. There is a mechanical work-form of godliness. This puts all the religious energy of the soul into such outward visible acts as seem to be deeds of piety, but which may be only deeds of self-righteousness. The methodical and laborious Southey was once describing to a friend his minute allotment of time for his diversified labours in reading and writing — such an hour being given to French, the next to Spanish, the next to a Review, the next to classics, the next to history, etc. "But pray, Mr. Southey," interrupted the friend, "at what time do you think?" Might it not be asked of some who abound in the drill-work of religion, "At what time do you pray?"


1. That God is as He is. Could we but form a conception of God as revealed in the Scriptures, surely we must bow reverently and walk softly before Him.

2. The blessedness of godliness both here and in the hereafter.

3. The fact that we shall soon meet God face to face.

(Joseph P. Thompson.)

The term εὐσέβεια, here translated godliness, is used in the New Testament to denote that reverence toward God which is a spontaneous feeling of the heart in view of His character (see in Robinson). Cornelius was "a devout man (εὐσεβής), and feared God." The prevailing use of ευ᾽σε>βεια by classic writers gives to it this same objective sense. Plato, Thucydides, Desmosthenes, use it to express veneration toward the Deity (πρὸς Θεοὺς). See in Stephanus, Suidas, and Passow ed. Rost und Palm. In the "Definitions" sometimes ascribed to Plato, εὐσέβεια is defined to be Δικαιοσύνη περὶ Θεοὺς, that which is just, fitting, meet, as toward the gods. The Stoics defined it to be ἐπιστήμη Θεο1FC0;ν θεραπείας — the appreciative or becoming service of the gods. Stephanus defines it by religiositas, thus expressing the same idea of reverence toward God. De Wette, in his note upon 2 Peter 1:6, says "Ehrfurcht und Liebe gegen Gott" — veneration and love toward God. This use of the word precludes the idea of God-like-ness, and favours the less euphonious, but more expressive term, God-ward = -ness. It denotes also something deeper than a formal outward reverence for the demands of God, and refers directly to the reverence of the soul toward God.

(Joseph P. Thompson.)

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