You did run well; who did hinder you that you should not obey the truth?
It is the insidiousness of the disease which makes it so difficult to cope with, and so likely to be fatal. The resemblance is continually forced upon us, between what our medical men call consumption, and what our theologians call spiritual declension. You know very well that the presence of consumption is often scarcely suspected, till the patient is indeed past recovery. The worm has been eating out the Core of life, and yet its ravages have been overlooked, for the victim has hardly seemed to languish, and if the hectic flush may have occasionally excited a parent's fears, they have been quickly allayed by the assurance that no pain was felt, and by the smile that seemed prophetic of life And even when no doubt could exist in the minds of others as to the presence and progress of the malady, it is, we might almost say, one symptom of the complaint, that it flatters the patient, so that often he may be expecting recovery even on the day of his death. Now this disease, so insidious, so flattering, so fatal, is the exact picture of spiritual decline. There is, indeed, one point of difference; but that only makes the moral malady the more formidable of the two. It may be hard to make the consumptive patient see his danger, but that disease is apparent enough to others; friends and neighbours, however unsuspicious at the first, become well aware of the painful truth, as disease is more and more confirmed. But where there is spiritual decline, it may be unsuspected to the last. Ministers and kinsmen may perceive no difference in the man; equally regular in the public duties of religion, equally large in his charities, equally honourable in his dealings, equally pure in his morals. The fatal symptoms may be all internal; and because they are not such as to draw observation, there may be no warning given by ethers; and the sick man, not examining himself, and not finding that his religious friends suppose his health to be on the decline, will be all the more likely to be persuaded of his safety, and to learn his disease, alas! only from his death. See to it, then, whether or not there be amongst you this spiritual cankerworm. You may find out by the symptoms already indicated, whether or not you are in any measure ceasing to "run well." But you must be honest and bold with yourselves. The case is not one for trifling. You are not to shrink from proving yourselves diseased. Go down into your hearts; try the pulse there; use the thermometer there. Stay not upon the surface, where a thousand things may preserve the appearance of animation, and induce what may pass for the glow of life and health; but descend into yourselves, search into yourselves, and be content with no evidence but that of an increasing love of God and an increasing hatred of sin.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?