Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (epiphany) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13
THE DEVELOPMENT OF CHRISTLIKENESS – PART 7
Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.
2 Peter 1: 5-11
SPECIFIC APPLICATIONS under the heads of the lines of procedure will now be discussed:
II. SPECIFIC APPLICATION
A. Adding the Higher Primary Graces
2 Peter 1: 5-7: “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue [hope]; and to virtue [hope] knowledge; and to knowledge temperance [self-control]; and to temperance [self-control] patience; and to patience godliness [piety]; and to godliness [piety] brotherly kindness [brotherly love]; and to brotherly kindness [brotherly love] charity [love].”
This passage covers the first line of procedure in developing Christlikeness, by telling us what to do, which will enable us to complete this line of procedure. “Add,” that is, cause the graces of faith, hope, self-control, patience, piety, brotherly love and charity to grow, until full grown. Our efforts to begin this must be preceded by the first two processes: (1) we must maintain our spirit of consecration just entered into (Hebrews 3: 14); and (2) we must arouse ourselves to activity (1 Corinthians 15: 34). If these two processes are properly energetic, they lead us to exercise the first mode – setting our affections upon the good (Romans 12: 9) (Colossians 3: 1, 2). Its sphere of activity is the religious organs alone; and therefore, it will use only so much of the first mode of procedure as requires the direct use of the religious organs only.
Thus to cultivate faith according to the first line of procedure requires that the organ spirituality, and spirituality alone, be attached to the things that should be believed. To cultivate piety according to the first line of procedure requires that only conscientiousness and veneration be attached to the persons, God and Christ, whom justice requires us to love with all the heart, mind, soul and strength. Thus all the other religious sentiments are to be attached to their fitting objects. The new will acting through whatever of the primary graces we have cultivated before consecration is the agent in working the preceding first and second processes and upon these as a basis operates the first mode, setting the religious affections upon their proper objects. By repeatedly doing this it produces the higher primary graces, that is, adds them. Thus it effects the third process, the production of good, in the religious sentiments, and completes the first line of procedure.
A number of methods will be found useful in operating successfully this line of procedure. The first mode of procedure required in exercising this “adding” is identical with the third special method for developing good, that is, setting the affections on the good. Therefore, this special method will have to be used here. Two other special methods for developing good will also be found helpful in adding the higher primary graces in the religious organs, that is, the first and the second: (1) imitating God and Christ by devout contemplation of their characters; and (2) subjecting our hearts and minds to the influence of the Divine Word by holding its pertinent parts on them. Also the use of any and all of the general methods for developing good will be found helpful.
B. Making the Higher Primary Graces Active
As antecedents to operating this second line of procedure, the first three processes: (1) maintaining our spirit of consecration; (2) arousing our powers to activity; and (3) producing growth, and that in the religious organs alone; the first mode (setting our religious affections upon their objects) and the first line of procedure (adding the higher primary graces in the religious organs) are indispensable. It is upon these that the second line of procedure is built. The mode to be used in this line of procedure is the first, in its application to the religious faculties – setting them upon the good. The methods that this line of procedure has to use are the same as those of the first line of procedure.
The only difference between this and the preceding line of procedure is that the latter brings the higher primary graces into full growth, while the former uses them continually after they have grown and thus effects the fourth process – strengthening that which has grown. The first produces, the second increases, good works toward the Father, the Son, the brethren, the world and our enemies. Both the first and second lines of procedure prepare the way for the third, and for the subsequent processes and modes of procedure. Thus equipped with all that we have attained through the activities already explained, we find ourselves prepared to take up the most needed and difficult of the three lines of procedure.
C. The Abounding of the Higher Primary Graces
The three lines of procedure in cultivating a Christlike character are the most important things pertaining to its development. We will discuss it from two standpoints: (a.) to the higher sentiments, their qualities and relations; and (b.) to the lower sentiments, their qualities and relations.
a. Abounding of the Higher Primary Graces Toward the Higher Sentiments, Their Qualities and Relations
1. With respect to the evil.
There are different degrees of evil connected with our higher religious sentiments. Sometimes they are attached to wrong objects, for example, instead many people trust in creed idols, loves, trusts and hopes in false gods, etc. Sometimes our religious organs by nonuse and misuse have connected with them higher primary faults: the antithesis of the higher primary graces, for example, instead of faith, unbelief and doubt are present; instead of hope, discouragement, despondency and despair are present, etc. The abounding of the higher primary graces will exercise itself toward these through the second, third and fourth modes of procedure and by these not only remove the religious faculties from wrong objects, but will suppress the efforts that these wrongly directed organs and the faults connected with them make to control our higher primary graces as well as maintain the inactivity of these misdirected religious sentiments and their faults.
First, the higher primary graces in abounding toward evil in our higher sentiments will lay hold on our religious sentiments, when they are clinging to wrong and unsuitable objects and detach them therefrom. The new will through these is the active agent in this work. The fifth process, destruction of evil, will work in this activity. All the general and three of the special methods for overcoming evil will contribute assistance in this work, in addition to the first special method for overcoming evil, that is, detaching the affections from evil, which first method is the second mode of procedure. The three other special methods are: (1) cleansing from evil by subjecting the evil to the influence of God’s Word; (2) displacing the evil by the opposite good; and (3) restraining the evil by other than the opposite good.
HIGHER PRIMARY GRACES SUPPRESS WRONG DESIRES
The second thing the higher primary graces do in abounding toward our religious organs with respect to the evil in them is to suppress their desires when clinging to a wrong object, and the faults connected with them, when these attempt to control us. Here, the third line of procedure, “abounding,” works with the third mode – suppressing the wrong and unsuitable sentiments and their faults, when they seek to control the higher primary graces. Here again, the new will is the active agent acting through the higher primary graces. The same methods referred to in the preceding paragraph are applicable through the third mode. The results attained by this application of “the abounding” are: the fifth process, destruction of evil, a weakening of resistance to the higher primary graces, an increase of strength in them, and more freedom for them to engage in other activities, as well as increased deliverance from falling into wrong.
The third thing the higher primary graces do in “abounding” toward evil in our higher sentiments and their faults is the fourth mode of procedure – presenting impenetrable sentiments and graces in resistance to attacks from our faults, thereby securing and maintaining the inactivity of the religious sentiments when they seek to cleave to wrong objects, and the inactivity of the higher primary faults when they seek to exercise themselves. The same agents act as in the other applications. The fourth mode is applied, by maintaining amid temptation and trial the results secured by the higher primary graces in abounding through the second and third modes described in the two preceding paragraphs. The higher primary graces are helped in this way of “the abounding” by using the general methods of overcoming evil and the three following special methods: (3) evasion of evil; (4) diversion of heart and mind from evil; and (7) presenting an impenetrable heart and mind to evil. The results of this application of the abounding are the completion of the fifth process, the destruction of evil in the religious organs, and maintaining the results of the second and third modes of procedure.
(to be continued)