The Choir of Graces
2 Peter 1:8-9
For if these things be in you, and abound…

In ancient Athens there was a class of officers called chorus-leaders, who represented the various tribes and at public festivals or religious rejoicings for a victory, brought out a chorus to lead the songs of the people. These leaders were not always singers or practical musicians, but they equipped the chorus and paid the cost of marshalling it upon public occasions. Hence the term which denoted their office came to mean in general, "one who provides supplies," and, therefore, as in the text, add to or supply to faith, virtue, and the whole train of graces. Faith is the leader of this choir; virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly-love, and charity are marshalled under faith as their leader, to swell the praises of Christ from an obedient and loving soul. Faith is the clef which gives the key in which these seven notes of the perfect scale are sounded. Faith organises and sustains the chorus and has a place for each in its well-trained band. When all are assembled faith drills them into harmony. But if any one be wanting faith itself appears defective, and the soul is out of tune. It is as if the first violin were wanting at a Philharmonic concert, or the trumpet obligate should fail to sound in the resurrection scene of Handel's "Messiah."

1. That one who is wanting in these graces and takes no pains to cultivate them has no warrant to believe himself a Christian. Every one of these virtues being thus inward and spiritual, and having an intimate and necessary relation to faith in Christ, where these are wanting there can be no living germinating faith. I do not understand the apostle to teach that completeness in each of these virtues, and the exact proportion and harmony of the whole are essential to a Christian character; but are not these graces themselves, each and all of them, so essential to that character that if any one of them is wholly wanting, neither possessed nor sought after, he who is thus deficient is blind and destitute as to the Christian character and life? A true Christian may betray a lack of moral courage in certain emergencies, as did Peter after the arrest of Jesus. But suppose Peter had continued to deny Christ at every approach of danger, should we not have classed him with the apostate Judas? One may be a true Christian whose knowledge of Christian doctrine is meagre, and who makes frequent mistakes in practice. But if, after five, ten, twenty years, one knows no more of the Bible and has no more heart-knowledge of Christ, shall we continue to regard his experience of conversion as genuine? A Christian may sometimes neglect a call of charity, or set aside a real claim upon his love. But if he never heeds such a call, can he be a child of our Father in heaven? Moreover, since all these graces may be imitated, the positive and entire lack of one proves the rest to be counterfeit or superficial.

2. A full and symmetrical development of these graces is the most satisfactory evidence and the most beautiful exhibition of Christian faith. The mind delights its symmetry. The symmetrical development of the human form, in which each member and feature, perfect in itself, is well proportioned to every other, is our ideal of beauty. This symmetry of form and feature, extending to every line of the countenance and every muscle of the anatomy, is the life-like perfection of the statue; proportion is indispensable to beauty in architecture; symmetry and perspective to the harmony of colours, to the effect of painting; chord and harmonies, preserved even in the most difficult combinations of sound, are the highest charm of music; rhythm, the measured and regular succession of sounds, is essential to good poetry; the proportion of numbers and of mathematical laws enters into every science which aims at completeness. But in nothing is this symmetry so strenuously insisted upon as in moral character. The sharp and sometimes carping criticism of men of the world upon the faults and even the peccadilloes of professed Christians shows the demand of conscience for completeness of character, and does homage to Christianity itself

as a complete system of morality. Hence the New Testament lays much stress upon completeness of Christian character; for the word "perfection" signifies not so much the absolute sinlessness of a sanctified nature, as the completeness, the full symmetrical development of the renewed man in all the graces of the Christian life. This conscious, steady, visible growth in all the graces is the best evidence of a renewed heart. This full and symmetrical development of the Christian graces makes to the world a most beautiful and convincing exhibition of the Christian faith. A perfect Christian character is one in enumerating whose graces you can always say and, and never interpose a but. The average Christian character is sadly marred by that little disjunctive conjunction — He is a very good man — but; He is kind and charitable at heart — but rough and irritable in manner; he is temperate and patient — but lacking charity; he is reverent and devout — but lacks moral courage.

3. The abounding of these graces in the soul will make it fruitful in the knowledge of Christ — will insure for it a progressive and rewarding piety. The relation of heart-culture to the enjoyment of religion is like that of good agriculture to a good crop. You cannot have a garden by merely purchasing a place. The soil may be of excellent quality, and the situation most favourable; the title may be well secured, and the party of whom you buy may make most abundant promises as to the fertility and beauty of the ground; but unless you give all diligence to make and stock the garden, unless you dig and plant, and weed and trim, your title, deed, and promises will not give you a single shrub or flower. If well-selected fruits and flowers are in your garden and abound, they will make you fruitful in the knowledge of its capacities and in the enjoyment of its pleasures. Two reflections are obvious here.

1. If Christians find no enjoyment in religion, it is because they have failed to cultivate its particular and combined graces.

2. The highest fruitfulness of a Church is to be secured by the perfecting of personal character in its members.

(Joseph P. Thompson.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

WEB: For if these things are yours and abound, they make you to be not idle nor unfruitful to the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our Lord Jesus Christ
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