“They are dead fish which are carried down the stream.”
Living fish may go with the stream at times, but dead fish must always do so. There are plenty of such in all waters: dead souls, so far as the truest life is concerned, and these are always drifting, drifting, drifting as the current takes them. Their first inquiry is “what is customary?”
God’s law is of small account to them, but the unwritten rules of society have a power over them that they never think of resisting. Like the Vicar of Bray*, they can twist round and round if the stream is running in an eddy; or, like the sluggard, they can remain at their ease if the waters are stagnant. They stand in awe of a fool’s banter, and ask of their neighbor leave to breathe.
Is this a right state to be in? Each one of us must give an account for himself before God; should not each one act for himself? If we follow a multitude to do evil, the multitude will not excuse the evil nor diminish the punishment. Good men have generally been called upon to walk by themselves. We can sin abundantly by passively yielding to the course of this world; but to be holy and gracious needs many a struggle, many a tear.
Where, then, am I? Am I sailing in that great fleet which bears the black flag, under Rear Admiral Apollyon**, who commands the ship Fashion? If so, when all these [ships] come to destruction, I shall be destroyed with them. Better part company, hoist another flag and serve another sovereign.
Come, my heart, canst thou go against the stream? It is the way of life. The opposing waters will but wash and cleanse thee, and thou shalt ascend to the eternal riverhead, and be near and like thy God. O thou who art Lord of the strait and narrow way, aid me to force a passage to glory and immortality.
Taken from “Illustrations and Meditations: Or, Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden,” distilled and dispensed by C.H. Spurgeon. Work is in the Public Domain.
* The Vicar of Bray refers to an individual who is happy to change even his most fundamental views in order to adapt to changing conditions and thus remain in his position as a clergyman.
** Apollyon is named in Revelation 9:11 as “the angel of the bottomless pit.”