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“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of his majesty. ... We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.
No prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation.”—2 Pet. i. 16, 19, 20.
THERE are two things to be considered in this passage. The one, the truth itself declared by the Apostle-—" For we have not followed cunningly devised fables when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ;" and the other, the reasons he adduces in its support, namely,
“We were eye-witnesses of his majesty;' and again, “ We have also a more sure word of prophecy.” Following in this line, beloved people, I shall try to open up and explain this Scripture.
There were among the ancients, in their heathen mythology, certain fables, which were myths — mere myths; which fact the Apostle doubtless has in his mind when he says, "We"-we apostles, we Christians -“have not followed cunningly devised fables.” A fable is that which hath no foundation in fact; which must give way when needed as a rest or a refuge. We
have not believed or followed that on which we cannot rely, which will not or cannot bear examination.
A myth, as the term shows, indicates its own folly and uselessness; nor less or more than such can it ever be, however elaborated, or “cunningly devised.” What we have, implies the apostle, is as true, secure, and immutable as God. We have got hold of that which, instead of being a myth, a mere sham, is vast and vital, saving and eternal ! It is not for me, in this brief moment this morning, to spread out before you the length and breadth, the height and depth, of the immeasurable truths of which the apostle speaks; truths, so unlike the mere cobweb of a myth which an infant's fingers even could not touch but to destroy; truths, in the study of which angels find their loftiest employ; truths which, like a fair sea 'neath summer skies, may well tempt one to go out on them as on a long navigation; I say it is not for me to speak so much of them just now, but the rather to draw a few solemn and practical deductions arising out of a sense of their reality.
And, first, I draw a deduction for the sinner. 0 sinner, if we are not following a myth, if God be a reality, and Jesus Christ a reality, and a futurity of glory be a reality, and a futurity of hell be a reality ; and if thy soul, in all its vast undying instincts, be a reality; and if the judgment day, in which God will meet thee, and will call thee to an account for the way in which thou hast treated His eternal truth, be a reality, what a warning-true as God, high as heaven, and deep as hell—is sounding in thine ears to-day ! And the warning is, that the sooner thou makest thy peace with God, the better, for truly thou mayest say
“Lo, on a narrow neck of land,
Yet how insensible!
Or shuts me up in hell."
Ah! sinner, if the soul and salvation were not a reality, I would go and take my place with the beasts that perish. If they were not a reality, God would never have given His Son, the only Son of His love, Christ Jesus, to suffer and to die for us on the accursed tree. Ah! no; if God were not true, I would hold to the sentiment of the philosopher, (falsely so called,) and for the rest of my days say, “Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.” But God is a reality; heaven and hell are realities; Christ is a reality; and thy lost state at this moment, a reality. And I draw from it this solemn deduction, That thou, being yet in thy sins, and dying as thou art, it were better for thee never to have been born; better for thee to have been strangled at thy birth-to have had no existence, never to have seen the light. Oh! haste sinner! sinner, haste to be wise! Lay hold on eternal life! Let not one day intervene, for I am speaking to dying men. Sinner! I may never speak to thee again ; my eye may never glance, as it now doth, into thine again ; the burning marl of hell may soon divide between thee and peace
Sinner! think, oh, think-Heaven or hell! damnation or salvation! God or devils !
Such thy portion soon. Repent before the day of thy doom come; and, lo, it comes upon thee fast; for, O'sinner! “We are not following cunningly devised fables." Ours is a reality. “Prepare to meet thy God.” “It is God that justifieth. It is Christ that died." lieve and live.” “Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die?”
And another inference to be drawn from the truth to which the Apostle refers is, that to give a preference to anything else, to the neglect of salvation, is an act of the highest folly. What of that five yoke of oxen, that new domestic arrangement, or business, or profession, or any other of the engagements now occupying thy time? Better break with them all
than be lost. “ What would it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?" If he had all knowledge, all riches, all honour, all affections, what would it profit him, if he had only these in the one scale, and a lost soul in the other? Weighed in the balance, he would be found wanting. Ah, what would it avail thee to gain the whole world—to stand as on a mighty pedestal, surveying a world thou hast conquered, whose possessions and homage thou hast won, and then to look up hopelessly into that other world from which, by thy choice, thou hast eternally excluded thyself? Say what would it profit thee if thou wert to gain the whole world, and then, at death, to be eter nally excluded from life and hope, and associated with the damned, the miserable, and the vile_herded, shall I say, with the lost in hell--lost! lost! lost! What, I ask, would it profit thee to gain all, all, and yet lose yourself—for your sonl is yourself?
Ah, beloved, it is this that makes preachers of us-we believe in the reality of hell—we believe in the reality of heaven—we believe in the reality of God, and Christ, and the soul. As for me, if I had the Queen or the Prince sitting on those seats, I should speak just as I am doing now. You know there are three things that equalize us all. The Gospel equalizes, deals with us as sinners; and death equalizes; and the day of judgment equalizes ;—it is appointed unto men once to die, and after death, the judgment. And were the highest in the land here, I cannot but speak the things that I believe and know
Careless, myself a dying man,
Of dying men's esteem;
Happy, O God! For Thou, O God, art a reality. I believe in God! Before I see Him visibly in His Son, as I shall do, I believe Him to be a reality. “I believe in Jesus,
who died for the ungodly, whose blood gives peace. And I thank my God that I can stand here as in Christ's stead, beseeching you to be reconciled :
“ Careless, myself a dying man,
Of dying men's esteem ;
Though all beside condemn.” How blessed is it to preach to sinners, not of hell but of salvation, grace, life! - Woe be unto me if I preach not the Gospel !" We, believers, are to meet by-and-by round the Lord's table, and blessed are the moments we spend there
“Sweet the moments, rich in blessing,
Which before the Cross we spend." But, right happy, precious as they are, I could give up all ordinances to speak for Christ and souls as I am doing now. I could go, like Paul, over the two worlds the Jewish and the Pagan—and scarcely, for myself, think of ordinances. When I think of the rock of reality on which I stand; when I think of God, what He is, and how He has engaged Himself in the salvation of man, and for His own Name's sake ; when I think of perishing sinners—of millions dying in darkness because they kuow not God, know not Jesus—necessity is laid upon me, yea, woe be unto me, if I preach not the Gospel! Ah, dear saint, will you not love the unconverted ones sitting alongside you this morning ? Will you not pity them? They may, by-and-by, lift up their eyes being in torment. How canst thou bear to see the destruction of thy kindred ? Ah, we are dealing with no myth—no cunningly-devised fable; but a deep, solemn reality.
And now, if there be a dark side, like the mystic cloud of old, there is also a bright side. I speak now to you Christians. You have a reality. You said, as did Paul, at conversion, “Lord, who art thou?" Is