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the words of Christ to our soul's profit, and none of us be found amongst the foolish ones unto whom it shall be said in that day, “I know you not.” It is the admoni. tion of Christ our Saviour, “watch therefore for
know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”
This parable speaks of the Kingdom of Heaven in its need of oil; the next parable speaks of the Kingdom of Heaven in its responsibilities, in the use of talents,-the one the need that the believer has of the unction of the holy Spirit of God to make him meet for the Son of man when he comes,— the other the need that the believer has to consider what are the trusts committed to him now, that he may be able to give an account of his stewardship when the great Lord of the steward comes, and the closing chapter gives us the holy judgment of the Son of man when all nations shall be gathered before him, and he shall separate the one from the other as the shepherd divideth the sheep from the goats. The first parable speaks of the inward state of our souls, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his; the second, of the responsibility of our duties, that he who is the truth cannot say to those who have not done well, - well done good and faithful servants enter into the joy of your Lord,” while the description of the judgment at the coming of the Son of man presents to us that important truth which we should ever keep before our minds, that religion, spiritual mindedness, does not make us the less men, and that the duties of religion and the holiness of religion do not prevent us being men in the ordinary duties of our common humanity. The rule given us there is— have we fed the hungry?-have we clothed the naked ? - have we visited the sick ?-have we gone to the prison
to comfort those who were bound in prison ?-and in doing so have we shown the nature and the character of him who was the Son of man, the brother of the whole human race, who is the Lord of his church, the bridegroom of his believing people?
But now in this parable we have that most important question,—have we the unction of the Spirit of God ?—and is it a bright light in us that may cast the beams of its brightness around the midnight darkness? “Then shall the Kingdom of Heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, give us of your oil for our lamps are gone out : but the wise answered saying not so lest there be not be enough for us and you ; but go ye rather to them that sell and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage ; and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, verily I say unto you I know you not. Watch therefore for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh."
I. I shall first consider the civil circumstances to which our Lord refers.
II. Its prophetic application.
I. The civil circumstances to which our Lord refers are the accompaniments of a wedding, that when any one was going to be married, while he and his bride were engaged in the marriage ceremony, those who were honoured with being the attendant virgins upon that bride on her return to her house with her newly married husband, waited at the night time until the bride and the bridegroom were ready to come back and return to their house; and they were expected to be ready with their lamps, and those lamps lighted to accompany that bridal procession home to the house of the bride; that those who were ready with their lamps would not only accompany them
upon that return of the bridal procession but be admitted into the wedding feast; and that those who were not ready would be disgraced by not being permitted to accompany them, nor to enter into the wedding feast. This was an image familiar to every one who heard Christ at that time. The apostles could make no mistake about these circumstances for they were well acquainted with them.
We have here ten women waiting for the return of the bride and the bridegroom, and they had every means of being properly ready for that procession. They were virgins, they had lamps, they had vessels with the lamps, they had the opportunity of getting oil, and they were all waiting there; the one set neglected their oil, the other brought oil in their vessels with their lamps. This is the only point of difference remarked by our blessed Saviour: they agreed in every particular but the oil. They had no doubt that they were appointed there to wait upon the bride and the bridegroom; they had no reason to doubt of their acceptance when he should come; they knew their position and they knew their duty; but the one part forgot their responsibilities and the means of being ready. Here, therefore, we have the natural circumstances which our Lord brings before our thoughts, as illustrations of the relation in which we stand to himself.
II. Now let us consider what he intended these things to illustrate, that we may be able to understand the prophetic character, that is, the predictory character of this parable. We can make no mistake of who is the bridegroom, we know that it is the Lord Jesus Christ; we need make no mistake about the bride, for we know that it is the spirits of just men made perfect, who are now being gathered together in heaven. The bride, the Lamb's wife, is declared by St. John in the book of Revelation, to come down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. The bride and the bridegroom are not the point of this parable, but the attendant virgins; that when the Lord Jesus Christ is to come back from heaven, and when the Lord Jesus Christ is to bring back his redeemed and glorified spirits with him from heaven, they shall be his bride in that day, and then there will be on earth expectant attendant virgins, ready to meet him, and that the kingdom of heaven in that day will be compared to ten virgins: “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins." That is, that at whatever hour our blessed Saviour is to return from heaven to this world, that the then state of the Church of Christ on earth shall be like to ten virgins expecting their Lord.
Now, through the whole Church of Christ from one end to the other, every Sabbath day comes forth the declaration of faith, he is coming again in glory to judge both the quick and the dead, and that
whatever mistake there may be in the Church of Christ, there has been but one voice from the time of our Saviour's resurrection down to the present hour—the whole church believes that he will come again to judge both the quick and the dead. On this there never has been a mistake; there never has been a dubious cry in the Church respecting that point. And here our Saviour represents no unbelief on this point, the virgins are all represented as actually expecting his coming, only there are some who are so far forgetful of the need of preparedness for his coming that they are not ready. It is not unbelief, but unpreparedness, that is the great point of this parable. They agreed in being virgins : the scriptural application of a virgin is not an individual, but a community. It is a symbolic parable that is given to us here, and therefore we must treat the images symbolically. We have no where in scripture an individual christian represented as a virgin ; it is a community or church that is compared to a virgin. We read of the virgin daughter of Israel, and we read of the virgin daughter of Babylon, and St. Paul, in the 11th chap. of the 2nd Corinthians, speaks of the Corinthian community or Church, when he says “I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy, for I have espoused you to one husband that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” How much does one word of our blessed Saviour suffice to settle many painful disputes that prevail in the Christian Church. We have men disputing whether the Church of Rome be a church, or whether the Eastern churches be churches, or whether so fallen, so foul communities, as many of them are, can be churches. Does not our blessed Saviour teach us here, that there may be a virgin, that there may be a church