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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 oil here, “We are made unto God kings and priests.” The priest in his first preparation for the priesthood was washed, but in his completed preparation for the priesthood he was annointed : and there is that two-fold application of God's Spirit in the Church ; in our entrance into the Church we are baptized, for an admission to the Lord's table we are confirmed. The one symbolizes the washing of the Spirit; the other the anointing of the Spirit. A man is not entitled to the Lord's table by simple baptism, he is confirmed as an admission to that holy communion; and our ever blessed Saviour fixes our thoughts upon this two-fold work of the Spirit when he says, “ he dwelleth with
you and shall be in you." And St. John tells us the spirit was not yet given because that Jesus was not yet glorified. That there is a gift of the Spirit subsequent to our faith and our acceptance by faith : “in whom, says the apostle, after that ye believed ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.” Individually, therefore, the great teaching of this parable is a solemn admonition to us to enquire whether we have the unction of the Spirit of God. We have all had that which is symbolized by the washing of the Spirit of God, for the experience of every one of us teaches us that God is speaking in us by his holy Spirit. The profane man has the voice of God within him warning him of the danger of sin ; the careless man has the voice of God within him, occasionally making him solemn, and telling him to flee from the wrath to come. Every man has his measure of the Spirit of God given to him, to enlighten, to instruct, and to guide. Jesus is the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world : but every man has not the oil of God's Spirit within him : this, and this only, is that which seals us as his children unto everlasting
life and blessedness. He who hath anointed us and sealed us is God, who hath also given to us the earnest of the Spirit. This is that witness of the Spirit, the comfort of them that are sanctified by the blood of Christ, as the apostle says in the 10th chap. of Hebrews, “Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us; after that he had said before, this is the covenant that I will make with them after those days saith the Lord, I will put my law into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” That unction of God's Spirit is declared to be like the oil that maketh man's face to shine ; it heals spiritual diseases as well as makes to shine our outward character; and this is that unction, brethren, which indeed it becomes us to ask ourselves whether we have in deed and in truth this mark of God's children or no. We may not by it be able to understand the dark mysteries of scripture perhaps, nor to interpret the difficult symbols of all the obscure prophecies: or by it understood the ancient history of the nations, or the various questions that may be raised respecting theological truths : but he that has the teaching of that Spirit is taught of God to come to Jesus Christ his Saviour and only Redeemer; he is enlightened of God to see Christ at the right hand of God, as truly to see him with the eye of his mind as the dying martyr of old did with the eye of his body. And seeing the Son he is taught of God to believe on him, to commit all his whole being to him, saying, with him who declared, “I know in whom I have believed, that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him unto that day.” Surely we must all know whether we have this confidence in Jesus which is indeed the sealing power of God's holy Spirit. Every one of you must know whether at this moment you are able thus to look up to Christ, able to come to him, feeling the drawing of his Spirit; able to see him, having the light of his Spirit ; able to love him, having the love of his Spirit shed abroad in your hearts; able to live with him; having the oil of his Spirit, making your lives to shine by the unction of that blessed Spirit upon you, and having the healing power of his Spirit, taking away gradually the spiritual diseases that defile and disgrace the character of our Christian profession, and making us more and more to progress towards that spiritual health which is indeed the power of God's holy Spirit.
The unction of the Spirit is also referred to here as belonging to a community, and here our Saviour speaks of oil in the vessel and oil in the lamp, and the need of a continual supply of oil from the vessel to the lamp. There is in that a very blessed and a very deep teaching, which will profitably occupy our thougbts this evening; for the means of providing the oil is indeed a most important truth, and very clearly taught us in the figures of the prophetic word. Brethren, let us take these truths home to our hearts, and let us ask ourselves earnestly, solemnly ask ourselves, do we thus feel the power of the grace of the Son of God?
thus believe Do we thus receive from him that power which is able not only to make us wise unto salvation, but to do all things through Christ that strengtheneth us? Where is the need of complaining of weakness to him that has the grace of Christ at hand to strengthen him? Where is the need of walking in darkness to him that has the light of Christ's Spirit to shine upon him ? Where is the need of living in sin to him that has the life of Christ's Spirit to give him spiritual life?