There is an ancient parable which says that the dove once made a pitiable complaint to her fellow birds, that the hawk was a cruel tyrant, and was thirsting for her blood. One counselled her not to fly but stay on the ground—but the hawk can stoop for its prey; another advised her to soar aloft—but the hawk can mount as high as she. A third suggested she hide herself in the woods, but alas! these are the hawk’s own territories, where he holds his court. A fourth recommended her to stay in the town, but there man hunted her, and she feared that her eyes would be put out by the cruel falconer to make sport for the hawk. At last one told her to rest herself in the clefts of the rock. There she would be safe, since violence itself could not surprise her there.

The meaning of the parable is easy to figure out; reader, do not fail to catch it, and to act upon it. The dove is your poor defenceless soul. Satan is your cruel foe; don’t you want to escape from him? Your poverty can’t protect you, because sin can stoop to the poor man’s level and devour him in the cottage, and drag him to hell from a hovel. Your riches are no security, for Satan can make these a snare to you, and if you should mount ever so high (in wealth), this bird of prey can follow you and tear you in pieces! The busy world with all its cares can’t shelter you, for here it is that the great enemy is most at home; he is the prince of this world, and seizes men who find their joys there as easily as a hawk catches a sparrow. Nor can retirement secure you, for there are sins peculiar to times of peace and quiet, and hell’s dreaded vulture soars over our periods of solitude to find defenceless souls, and tear them in pieces. There is only one defence. O may you and I fly to it at once! Jesus was wounded for sin; faith in him saves at once and for ever.

Adapted from “Feathers for Arrows” by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

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