Part of the redefinition of terms in our vocabulary seems to be aimed at making sin more attractive and a life of virtue to be rather milquetoast. A compliment means something like “He lived life to the fullest” and “He lived a life of virtue” as a bit of a putdown for living a boring life. Event though to live life to the fullest is to indeed live a life of virtue.
I was thinking about this after reading this passage from “Meditations On Christian Dogma Volume 2” by Rev James Bellord D.D. regarding a treatise on “Virtue in General.”
III. Virtue according to its etymology signifies force. It does not consist in a lowered vitality, nor in exemption from temptation, nor in any deficiency in the lower elements of human nature, nor in a colourless tranquillity of life. It is the source of the positive energies of good, which must oppose and ultimately prevail over the negative energies of evil. A virtuous life is a life of continual activity and struggle; it must always be a matter of difficulty, and it requires great strength, courage, self-sacrifice and perseverance, beyond all the daring enterprises of natural energy. To lead an easy life without effort or conflict is always to lead an ignoble life, and generally a degraded one. “The life of man upon earth is a warfare” (Job vii. 1). Virtue that has not been tried by difficulties and temptations may be pleasant, but it is wanting in merit and in resemblance to the virtues of Jesus Christ. Remember that glory is not for sluggards: “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away” (Matt. xi. 12). Let your virtue be militant and patient.
I found this paragraph to really encapsulate what virtue means and a glimpse into the Christian life. I have always been attracted to some extent to the idea of living virtuously even as I have always been really bad at it. The term said more to me than I could understand at the time. My attractiveness to this term is why I am apt to refer to myself as a “Virtue voter” instead of a “Values voter.” Everybody has values, but those values often don’t lead to virtue. Virtue is a battle over self and you just can’t walk away from the battlefield. It is no surprise how often we choose to become pacifists in this battle. To raise the white flag and say “I’m just human” or “I’m no saint” when it does not even have the merit of being a humble acknowledgment of sin. Instead these declarations just provide an excuse not to join into battle.
Note: I am currently in the process of proofreading this book for format errors from and OCR conversion. The first volume is already available on my free ebooks page.