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without the light of God's Spirit, and yet a virgin still. They therefore agree in this, that they are Churches, and they agree in this, that they all have lamps, that is, they have the vessels provided for them, that they were made fit to receive the oil. It was therefore no want of means to receive the oil that constituted the deficiency of these virgins, and here again we find the whole kingdom of heaven represented as being furnished with the appointed means of receiving and containing the unction of God's holy Spirit. Again we read that there were vessels to receive the oil and to pour it into the lamps, and here also in the furnishing of these virgins we do not read of any differente, except that they wanted oil on the one side and they had oil on the other.
Further we are told that while the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept; and this represents the whole kingdom of heaven as being in a slumbering, sleepy state. How truly has this been fulfilled with respect to the Christian Church, for although there are here and there individuals who are waiting for their Lord's coming, and making it a practical reality that they do not know the day when he shall come, yet where is the voice of the whole Church of Christ indicating that there is any community on earth
a community are practically expecting the Saviour's coming? that are in the condition that even the heathen saw the Thessalonians to be in, waiting for the Son of man from heaven, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come? Ask any body of ministers of any Church on earth, how soon do you expect the Lord's coming ? Are you as a body rousing up the body of Christ to be ready, not knowing the day nor the hour of his coming? And there is not a single Church on
earth that could answer with truth, we are as a whole stirring up our own people to practical preparedness for the unexpected and speedy coming of the bridegroom and his bride, the Saviour and his redeemed from heaven. “They all slumbered and slept.”
Here, then, we have the spiritual interpretation of these symbols; but this prediction marks a point of time, “then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins,” and considering it as applicable peculiarly to that point of time that takes the kingdom of heaven and divides it into two nearly equal parts, we may expect, towards the coming two great divisions, not of individuals, but of Churches; that we may expect on the one side, one set of Churches which will be eminently distinguished for having the light of God's Spirit, and on the other side, another set of Churches that shall be dark, without the light of God's Spirit. We are not, brethren, to enter into the judgment seat and condemn our brethren; when we pass opinions it is not giving judgment; but yet we cannot look upon the state of the Christian world and not see this very thing taking place at this moment. The Church of England and the Church of Rome are occupying in the Christian world, at this moment, an awfully important position. We have, blessed be God, in the midst of all our sins a great awakening in the Church of England; she is sending forth her light through the world; she is rousing herself to a greater conviction of her duty. We have our princes, our nobles, and our people; and we have our bishops, and priests, and deacons, and people, more aroused and more awake than ever they have been at any former period. We have the preaching of the Gospel and the Saviour's coming announced more clearly than ever it
has been before ; but it is not in our new churches, in our increased ministers, or in our better attended sacrament, or in our extending missions, that we are to rejoice, for this is not the point that is brought before us here, but it is in this solemn question, is all this done under the unction and with the light of God's holy Spirit ? There were as many virgins at the one side as at the other; there were as many lamps at the one side as at the other; our great question is this, have we reason to believe that our bishops are more anxious to have spiritual men, that our ministers are more anxious to be holy and spiritual men, that our people in coming better to public worship, and in being more frequent in attendance at the holy communion, and in their attention to their duties, are manifesting that it is in the light and unction of God's Spirit that they are doing so ? Otherwise they do not come under the class of those wise virgins spoken of here. On the other hand we are to expect Churches that are expectant of the Lord's coming, but not ready to meet him: and without daring to judge the Church of Rome, but yet looking at her in the light of God's revealed word, can we go anywhere that we do not find her activity? Do we not find her like Ishmael to Isaac face to face with the Church of England, wherever we go through the whole world? We are making converts even amongst the Eastern Churches, and she has been for long doing the same thing. We are sending out our bishops to the colonies, she is sending out her bishops and arch-bishops in the same way. We are stirring ourselves up to greater activity, she is doing the same. We see her even in our own land gathering converts out of our own Church : and what does she make them ?. Very zealous for ordinances, very great professors of a brighter
holiness and a deeper piety than ourselves : but we do not see the fruits of the Spirit; we do not see her repenting of that awful decree of the Council of Trent, that if any one shall say that justifying faith is nothing but a confidence in the divine mercy pardoning sins for Christ's sake, let him be accursed. We find no repentance in the Church of Rome for all her abominable lies and blas. phemy respecting her false miracles, and for that article in the creed of Pope Pius, that if any one will not say it is the true Catholic faith to worship with outward veneration a wooden image he must be damned. We do not find the Church of Rome repenting of her saying, that if any one will not believe all her ecclesiastical traditions he must be damned. We have this awful blot upon the Church of Rome unrepented of, and truly the Spirit of God is not in these things. We have those who go over to the Church of Rome very zealous about worshipping a woman and praying to saints, and whatever they may have there, the Spirit of God is not there. We see in our own land that those who join her communion are not zealous for truth, they are not promoters of Scriptural holiness, and they do not circulate God's word. What do we see upon the Continent ? If we look through European Christendom do we find the peace-giving power of the Gospel of Christ ? Or do we find, that wherever Romish priests have power, and the Romish Church has power, an instructed people, an enlightened community, and the peace of God giving the peace of man? Or do we find the very head quarters of that fallen and unhappy system kept together, not by the power of the Gospel, but by the power of a foreign bayonet ? Brethren, these are signs of the times upon which we should fix our very solemn and very
earnest attention, that we may be instructed in the things that belong to our blessed Saviour's coming, and see whether we are now ready to meet him.
If our time permitted us, but we shall have other opportunities of going over the same subject, we might go through the prophets and show how the last struggles of the last days are between two great powers, the king of the north on the one side and the king of the south on the other. But there is no struggle mentioned here, because the object of the parable was not to represent a struggle, but to represent this one thing upon which our Saviour fixes our thoughts, the possession of the ever blessed Spirit of God in his sealing unction. As a prediction, therefore, Christ warns us here that the Church of Christ, the professing Church of Christ, will be found at the time of his coming divided into two great communities, whose primary and essential differences shall only be this, the want of oil and the possession of oil. People are often stumbled at the Church of England being so like in its forms to the Church of Rome; it is her glory instead of her blot, for this is the truth taught in this very parable. Christ does not make the one unlike the other; it is this, and this only, in which we should desire to differ, that we should keep close to the animating power of God's holy Spirit.
III. And lastly, let us consider here the moral and spiritual teaching. A community consists of a number of individuals, and the character of each individual goes to compose the character of the whole community, and therefore if we look at it in its public or in its individual aspect it teaches us essentially the same lesson that Christ directs our thoughts to, which is, have we the oil of the Spirit's unction. There is a deep teaching with reference to