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. WHAT IS THIS DRIFT? It is the dying out of impression, the decay of faith, the gradual loss of force. The writer is not contemplating a change of attitude towards the gospel brought about by a preview as intellectual movement to which the man himself had been a party, but one which very slowly, but very certainly, reflects the silent action of unseen and unrecognised forces which are at work within and around him, and the ultimate effect of which may be an utter loss of all which once he most valued, and an abandonment to influences which once he regarded with mingled hatred and dread.
1. There is here clearly an anticipation of drift both in doctrine and practice. The two re regarded as so united that the one can. not suffer and the other be uninjured. The truth which holds a man rules his life, and the only way of getting rid of the effect, is to remove the cause.
2. The survival of Christian life after the loss of Christian faith is a contingency the sacred writer does not contemplate. The drift is a drift of the entire man — affections, aims, motives, as well as principles.
3. Drift is always to evil. It is by struggle that we advance heavenward; but there are countless influences inclining us t. a retrograde course. Wit, out a strong force within, and without constant communications of Divine grace to maintain and strengthen it, we shall infallibly go back.
II. MARK THE SOURCES OF THIS EVIL.
1. It is not easy — if it be not impossible — for a Christian to live in the world without being exposed to influences unfriendly to his faith and loyalty.
2. It is in the tendencies o the age — tendencies which may have much in them that is beautiful and admirable — that this peril lies They assail us on the side where we least expect danger, and they have so fair and winning an aspect that it is hard to meet them with stern resistance.
3. These tendencies often, in their more exaggerated form, shape public sentiment, and the fear is lest we yield to the influence which they unconsciously exercise without sufficient discrimination between the good and the evil which may be in them. The spirit ,.f the age is against severity, whether in doctrine or practice; is easily moved by an appeal for Christian charity, and, with equal readiness, is excited to a righteous indignation against bigotry, and if it can itself be guilty of any approach to intolerance, is intolerant only of intolerance. The drift is to change; to greater breadth of thought, sympathy, and action; to creeds less elaborate and minute; to laws of conduct less exacting and severe, to enlarged freedom everywhere.
III. Is it necessary to point out THE POSSIBLE AND EVEN PROBABLE CONSEQUENCES. A little vessel which has been torn from its moorings, and is being carried far out to sea by the strong currents which are bearing it whithersoever they will, may be engulfed in some hidden quicksand, dashed to pieces on some rugged rock, carried thousands of miles away and stranded on a distant shore. The possibilities of evil are limitless to the ship which has lost helm and rudder, or has no one capable of using them wisely, and is at the mercy of wild winds and waves. There need be no truer picture of a soul that is drifting. It has elasped from the truths which once held it with a certain degree of force, which was a restraint from evil and a stimulus to good. Day by day they are receding into the distance, and becoming more dim and uncertain, while the soul, acted upon, by all varieties of influence, is borne hither and thither, uncertain in its aims, unstable in its course, unconscious of the fat to which it may be hastening. One thing only is sure about it — it is every day being carried further and further from all which once it loved and valued. Rocks of barren unbelief, or whirlpools of seductive pleasure and indulgence, may be in the path on which it is advancing, but there seems no power to arrest its course. The man has left himself to be the sport and plaything of outside circumstances or influences harmonising only too well with inclinations within, and now he is drifting before them to a miserable shipwreck of faith and of a good conscience.
(J. G. Rogers, B. 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.