“The Little Foxes”

The railway from Mexico City on the central plateau, 8,000 feet above sea-level, down to Vera Cruz on the Gulf, is a most wonderful engineering enterprise. About 60 miles of the line extend through the mountain region between the coast and the great Mexican plateau. This portion of the road has an average grade of 2½ feet in 100, or 133 feet to the mile, carried along the flanks of lofty mountains, through long tunnels and over bridges spanning deep ravines, affording the grandest and most picturesque scenery. When it is remembered that only one foot in the hundred is usually allowed in ordinary railroad building, some idea may be obtained of the difficulties and dangers attending the descent of this line. A traveller, commenting on the risks attending travel on this portion of the road, says “Few accidents, however, have occurred; no doubt because they have been so constantly anticipated. It is when men are heedless from a sense of perfect safety that real danger lies — not in the iron bridge watched carefully from hour to hour, but in the little culvert or the loosened rail.”

Is not this the secret of many a fall among the saints of God? Is it not the little, the unlooked-for things, which find them off their guard, that cause their fall? The great outstanding sins of the world around them, sins “open before-hand, going before to judgment,” are seldom charged against them. But decline begins with little things usually — in habits indulged, a questionable practice followed, it may be in business, in private life, at school, or factory, the shop, the farm. It is in these small beginnings that real danger often lies; it is here that a downward spiritual course usually has its beginning.

“Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil (rob) the vines,” is the exhortation found in Song of Solomon 2:15 — those cunning little animals that do the mischief unperceived. “Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!” the apostle James declares, emphasizing his warning with the exclamatory, “Behold!” For, be assured, Christian reader, the danger is very real. We need to be constantly on our guard against “hidden dangers, snares unseen.” I know of a case in which a shameless course, requiring exclusion from the Lord’s table, commenced by attending “just one movie.” It was the spark which set “on fire the course of nature.” Another began by taking a “little nip” now and then. If “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” in the political world, how much more in spiritual things in which Satan’s wiles are encountered! We must be ever on our guard, for the flesh within us so easily responds to temptations; and prayer must be coupled with watching, for has not our faithful Leader cautioned us, “Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation?”

“Few accidents have occurred,” says the traveller, “because they have been constantly anticipated.” And fewer falls by far would occur among the heavenward pilgrims if falls were feared, dreaded, and borne in mind as a possibility. “It is when men are heedless from a sense of perfect safety that real danger lies.” Yes; and it is when saints indulge in a sense of false security — their long experience, perhaps, or their knowledge of Scripture, previous triumphs over temptations, natural strength of will, freedom from carnal desires, etc. — those often give an ill-founded sense of security, and self-judgment, constant prayer and watchfulness are no longer considered necessary; then comes the derailment, the fall!

O fellow-believer, shall we rock ourselves to sleep because of our Shepherd’s everlasting love, and our Father’s almighty hand? Shall we for this have no concern as to our walk, our habits, our words, the company we keep, or the places we go to? Nothing can “separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord;” let us thank God for that! But it gives me no guarantee that I may not fall by the way, nor warrants me in letting up in constant watchfulness against every approach of worldliness or sin.

Yes, the “great iron bridge” of the true believer’s eternal security stands; but let us watch the “little culverts,” and be on the lookout for the inconspicuous, unsuspected, “loosened rail.” Here is where we are most exposed to shipwreck of faith, getting off the track, and landing broken and ruined in some gulch or quagmire by the way.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom be may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). And remember, he is more dangerous still when he stealthily comes as “an angel of light.”

C.Knapp