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 prefer the rendering given by the revisers: "least we should drift away from them"; it is a more exact translation of the Greek term, and brings into prominence a truth which is almost entirely concealed by the common version. The writer is anxious to warn his readers of something which might happen to them before they were aware. On my first tour through Switzerland I visit d the quaint old city of Thun, along with three intimate friends. We stay, d at a hotel built on the side of the lake, just at the place where the Aar runs rapidly out of it, and we went to amuse ourselves for a season by rowing about in a little boat. After awhile a difference of opinion sprang up among us as to the direction we should take. One said, "Let us go yonder"; another answered, "No; let us rather make for that other point"; a third had another suggestion, and we ceased rowing until we should make up our minds; but meanwhile the current was settling the question for us, and unless we had speedily bent to the oars with all our might, we should have been hurried along into a dangerous place, out of which we could only have been rescued, if rescued at all, by the assistance of others. The influences, therefore, against which we are warned by the text are these of currents which are flowing just where we are, and which may operate so insidiously that we may not know of their effect until perhaps it is too late to resist their power.
I. Take then, first, that which I may call THE AGE-CURRENT, or what a re-eat English essayist, borrowing from the German, has called the "Time-spirit." A physical science which has taken up with the doctrine of development, and has insisted that what is at best an ingenious hypothesis shall be accepted as a demon. strafed fact, has prepared the way for an agnostic philosophy which refuses to believe that anything can be known save that which can be perceived by the bodily senses, aided by the scalpel and the microscope, and that, in its turn, has given birth to a rank atheism, which has adopted as its creed the terrible negation, No God. If it be true that the standard of piety and morality is lower among Christians than it was formerly; if it be the case that the Church is less of an aggressive force in our large centres of population than it was a generation ago; if the numbers of those enrolling themselves in its ranks are smaller than they have bees in other days, may it not be owing to the fact that we have not been taking heed to guard against this age-drift which has been flowing beneath us? Let us get back to Christ, and anchor fast on Him.
II. The second current to which I would refer is that of THE PLACE IN WHICH WE DWELL. Every city bus its own peculiar influence. We must guard against the slightest backsliding; and to succeed in that we must constantly test ourselves by the things which we have heard from Jesus. The navigator is saved from danger from unknown currents by his daily observations. The tides of ocean do not affect the heavenly bodies; and by testing himself by these he knows precisely where he is. So the principles of the temper are not shifted by the tendencies of anyplace; and when we measure-ourselves by them, we may discover how it is with us. Let us not take it for granted that because we are making some effort in the right direction, therefore we must be going forward. For these efforts may not be enough to resist the force of the current, and we may be drifting backward after all. You remember the case of Sir Edward Parry's crew in the Arctic regions. They set out one day to draw a boat over the ice, expecting thereby to get farther northward and in the open water, but after they had journeyed thus far, if I remember rightly, a day and a half or two days, they took an observation, which revealed to their surprise that they were farther south than they had been when they set out, because while they had been going toward the pole, the ice on which they were had been carried by the drift of an under-current in the opposite direction. I fear that in this great business mart, where we are so exclusively occupied in buying and selling, and getting gain, many Christians among us are like these northern voyagers: they make exertions, and they seem, too, to be making progress; but, alas I the drift that carries the whole place has carried them with it, and in reality they are not so far advanced as they were, it may be, years ago.
III. A third current, to the influence of which we are exposed I would call THE PERSONAL DRIFT, the drift in each of us individually. In making astronomical observations, one operator is never precisely the same as another. Some are quick, others are slow; some are exceedingly precise, and others not so perfectly exact; and these differences, of course, affect the results at which they arrive. Therefore, to neutralise, as far as possible, any error which may be thereby occasioned, there is what is known as a "personal equation" for each, and by that his conclusions are rectified before they are sent forth for general acceptance. Now, in a similar way, spiritually, each man has his individual tendencies, which easily carry him in one direction or another. This personal drift, as I have named it, is the same thing as the writer of the Epistle from which my text is taken calls in another place the "sin that doth most easily beset us," and by yielding to that many are carried at last into perdition. How easy it in to acquire an evil habit!
(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
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.