Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.
1. A story we have often heard or read, however fascinating at first, will gradually lose much of its interest. If read for amusement it would be quite out of the nature of things that a book should please us so much on the second or third perusal as on the first: but if read for instruction the case is somewhat altered. We are conscious that many parts are imperfectly mastered, and we do not hesitate to apply ourselves again and again to the study. But even when instruction is the object, a truth which has once settled in our minds will lose its power of gaining our attention.
2. When we pass from human literature to Divine, we carry our dispositions and habits with us, and we shall be tempted to reckon ourselves so well acquainted with certain portions of the Bible as to reckon further study of them superfluous. Now there is no truth of Christianity that will not repay further outlay of time and attention. Whatever our progress, we are only beginners. Yet while the text sets itself against that craving for novelties in religion which is the mark of a mind diseased, it does not circumscribe the range of inquiry. "The same things" were confined to no narrow groove.
I. THE NATURE OF SCRIPTURAL TRUTH DEMONSTRATES THAT REPETITION CAN NEVER BE USELESS. It is a property of the truths of the Bible that the simplest involve the most difficult, while the more sublime and mysterious prove, under some shape or another, the plain and the elementary. It is a simple truth, e.g., that the Eternal Son of God died as the Surety of the lost human race, but you introduce with it a whole library of divinity, for there is not one truth of our religion that is not contained in it — the guilt of sin, the love of God, the Trinity, etc. And if the most elementary doctrine is virtually a summary of the Bible, then to ply men with it is virtually to ply men with the whole system of Christianity. And then if I have the fact that Christ died for sin put continually before me, it is a mistake to suppose that it will always call up the selfsame idea. I shall sometimes view the atonement as demonstrative of Christ's love; sometimes of the greatness of man's sin, etc., etc. And these doctrines derived from the atonement will gain power and clearness from their association with it. And so with the rest.
II. THE AGENCY BY WHICH SCRIPTURAL TRUTH IS EXPOUNDED PROVES THE USEFULNESS OF REPETITION. That agency is the Spirit of God. Hence it comes to pass that a text may have been read or heard a hundred times without making any impression, and yet on the next occasion it may seem charged with electric light and the whole mind within disturbed. And what holds good in conversion holds good for the whole course of Christian experience, and thus the Bible, however diligently studied, is always a new book, and its best known portions instead of being exhausted will often seem to have been indicted again. We have, therefore, an incontrovertible reason why "the same things" should be always useful.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.