Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.…
I. MOORED TO JESUS CHRIST. It is a long while now since men began to represent their life as a running stream. It was inevitable the figure should suggest itself to them as soon as they began to think — we air feel its appropriateness as often as we reflect upon the ceaseless vicissitude that laps our own lives round, and that is bearing us so quickly away. How remorseless the current is that flows beneath us, sometimes so noiseless, sometimes rippling in laughter against the sides of our bark, sometimes rising in foam and wrath and threatening our destruction, yet always bearing us onward upon its bosom, steadily onward to the unknown! And, when we consider it, not only how remorseless but also how rapid the movement is! How many scenes we pass through on our way! How many new reaches of experience we discover, then leave behind! How many faces flit and fade around us! How fast we all live! Of course, it would be sinful to think of this ceaseless movement in which we are all involved as if it were a mere brute fate to which we must perforce submit. This constant chance to which we are all committed is, for one thing, the condition of progress. Without it life would not become the deeper, broader, larger thing which somehow it does become as our years go on. And, besides, how flat and stale it would otherwise he! And yet every one must feel that were there only ceaseless change in our earthly lot — no anchor sure and steadfast for us anywhere — life would be terrible indeed. It is only children that seek perpetual novelty — children, and those who, though they have become men, have not laid aside childish things. Wiser men begin to perceive ere long that life is not a pleasure ,all after all, that the currents are stronger than they think, and may carry them away. Only Christ abides! Christ — the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever! Christ — who outlives the seeming changeless heavens themselves. Christ the True, the Unalterable Love, the Immovable Friend.
II. DRIFTING FROM CHRIST.
1. A storm may have broken out in your life, and driven you away from Christ.
(1) It may have been a storm of doubt. There are always some minds for whom it is peculiarly difficult to bold on to Jesus Christ. They find it. hard to accept implicitly those half-revealed truths, like the incarnation, and the Cross, and the working of God's Spirit in the heart of man, much harder than others find it. They cannot help themselves. Their mind works speculatively. They must peer over the edge of the known truth into the unknown abysses beneath, and there they stand amazed, affrighted. Also, perhaps, in our own lime it is more difficult than ever for such persons to believe. A vast number of new ideas have been thrown lately into the general mind which there has hardly been time as yet to estimate and assign to their proper place; and then, perhaps, men, becoming acquainted with these ideas, as they must, are at a loss to know how exactly to adjust the old view of things to them.
(2) Or the storm may have been a storm of trouble. Sometimes, I know, a storm of this kind may drive men to Christ rather than away from Him. But sometimes, too, it happens that the tempest that sends one man to Jesus Christ drives another away. He cannot see the meaning of a visitation so sore, or the righteousness of it, or any light upon it at all. Existence darkens round the man, and everything he once was sure of slips away from him- everything, including Christ.
2. Or, again, it may be an influence less obvious that does it. I question very much whether we make a much allowance as we should for what you may call the ebb and flow of the tide of life in us all. Perhaps it is because we understand so little about it. The fact appears to be that it is with man as with Nature. We know how the heart of Nature beats time to a mysterious mighty rhythm, and how regularly recurring arc those deep respirations of her life which we name summer and winter, and night, and day. But we forget how our own tiny being seems to share in this hidden law. Our very body is attuned to it; there are periods in our life at which our vitality is greater; others at which it is less; nav,in every twenty. four hems a wave of life-force rises within us, then falls again — so that a doctor will tell you beforehand at what),our the sufferer's strength will flicker up most brightly, when it will be spent and die. Now, on this physical basis I believe more of the moral phenomena of our lives depend than we are aware. Our temptations mix themselves up strangely with this ebb and flow that ceaselessly goes on within. Our animalism takes advantage of the flowing tide of lustihood in youth to come in upon us like a flood. With the ebb of manhood's early vigour enthusiasm and the capacity of an ardent faith and love are apt to ebb also. And even at intervals much more frequent the same sort of thing occurs. If you will watch your temptations — especially the more notable of them — carefully you will find they almost obey a law of periodicity. As hunger and thirst assert themselves (roughly speaking) at regularly recurring intervals, so do our temptations. Our sins, like ourselves if they slumber for a time, awake with renewed energy.
3. If it has been neither of these, then it may have been something more slow and subtle and secret still. You have seen a vessel, owing to no sierra or the rise of any tide, but simply through the restlessness of the element in which it floats, gradually loosen from it- moorings, and little by little be borne out to sea. And even when lie more powerful currents are passing around us there is this infinite restlessness in all our lives which may of itself be fatal, Repose is an impossibility here. A thousand varying cares and moods and occupations agitate the surface of our lives. And with this there comes a chafing which may by slow degrees wear out the strands of loyalty that bind us to our Lord. Indeed, when Christians drift from Christ it is probably, in the vast majority of cases, due to this very cause.
III. REGAINING ONE'S MOORINGS. You will observe that the counsel the writer gives is with a view rather to prevent so sad a lapsing. It is the same prescription that apples here, whether the case be one of prevention or of cure. And certainly no prescription could well be simpler. It is by no violent efforts, no beating up against the adverse forces of his life, that any man will regain his old attachment to Jesus Christ, but just by giving "earnest heed — the more earnest, heed to things he has heat d about Him." It is contemplation of the truth that brings him back again, and contemplation, not so much of any new discoveries he may make concerning Jesus Christ, but just of those familiar aspects of His person and His work that first won his trust. There is that in Jesus Christ which, if He is pondered humbly, has the power to draw the heart as with the force of gravity to centre and stay itself once more on Him. It is a great thing to keep near the old familiar fruit s — to keep near the old familiar Christi The stable Christian is always the simple Christian. Think of the staunchest believer you know, the least moved by any strums; how, you a-k, has this steadfastness come to him? Infallibly thus: through going much apart with God to muse and pray; through often saying within his heart, "Jesus, my Friend, is God"; through kneeling at the cross till the conviction has begun to stir within him, "He loved me, He gave Himself for me"; through pondering the vastness of forgiveness; through much looking in the Spirit towards that crown of righteousness which is laid up for him against that day. Such a believer has many an anchor to hold him. Neither things present not things to come will separate him from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Alex. Martin, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.