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THE MYSTERIES OF THE KINGDOM,
THE TEN VIRGINS.
"They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps."
That must be indeed a great self-deception which could bring the soul into the presence of the Saviour and not know its need of acceptance until it was there. Cain came before the Lord with an offering, and, as far as we can judge of the state of society then, he had nothing to induce him to come but his own inward feelings, and yet Cain came and presented an unaccepted offering before the Lord. Had there been no plain visible manifestation of the divine favour to Abel, Cain might have gone away a self-satisfied and yet unaccepted worshipper. These virgins are represented as going out to meet the bridegroom, and it is not until their going out to meet him that they find they have no oil in their vessels. It seems to us an extraordinary folly that they would venture to
without first asking themselves whether they had oil; and if our blessed Saviour were to come this night it seems to us as if not one of us would venture voluntarily to walk out to meet him except we were quite sure of
having examined ourselves and answered the question, -satisfactorily answered the question, whether we were ready to meet him or no. Brethren, are we coming less really to meet him when we come up to the house of prayer? Or is that less real in which he has said, “in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee and I will bless thee?” And we may be sure that the heart that is self-deceived in coming to the house of prayer, without a previous examination as to whether that heart is bringing the unction or oil of God's indwelling spirit, that that same self-deceived heart would go out to meet the bridegroom and go in vain; and that it is indeed in the use of present things that we can best test our fitness for the future things; "he that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much; he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” He that makes a bad use of the means of grace on earth would make a bad use of the blessedness of glory in heaven; and we may therefore make a most profitable use of parables such as this, in applying them to our present condition as well as to our future hopes. The Lord speaks here of the foolish virgins that came forth to meet the bridegroom and took no oil, although they took their lamps and their vessels ; and of the wise virgins who took not only the lamps with them, but the vessels for containing the oil, and the oil in those vessels.
This morning we considered this parable in its predictive character, and in some degree in its moral and spiritual teaching, but I have deferred until this evening to consider more minutely the scripture notices of these vessels of oil, and the spiritual application of these lamps and vessels which we are enabled by other parts of scripture to apply to the means of grace and so to the hope of glory. It is indeed a blessed and solemn subject; may all our hearts be now prepared by the grace and power of God's indwelling spirit to receive the oil of his truth and the grace of his love, that if hitherto we have been in any part foolish virgins we may cease to be so, and before the midnight cry is heard, prepare to have the oil in our vessels, remembering that gracious promise, your heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him.
Now, here we have to examine what other parts of scripture say of the lamps, of the vessels, of the oil. We have the lamps and the candlesticks explained to us in the 1st chap. of Revelation where we read that, “the seven candlesticks are seven churches.” and if we compare this with the 4th chap. of Zechariah, we have there all the figures that are needed to explain this part of the. parable. In the 2nd verse we read that “the angel said unto me, what seest thou, and I said I have looked and behold a candlestick all of gold with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps which are upon the top thereof, and two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl and the other
the left side of the bowl.” In the 11th verse we read again, “ Then answered I and said unto him, what are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick, and upon the left side thereof? I answered again and said unto him what be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves ? And he answered and said knowest thou not what these be ? and I said, no my Lord ; then said he, these are the two anointed ones that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” Now, learning from the book of Revelation that the candlestick is the appointed figure of the church, we have here a golden
candlestick setting before us the church of God, and we have two olive trees setting before us the two anointed ones, that pour, through golden pipes, oil, into the receptacle
upon the top of that candlestick-oil into the church of God. Now, if we compare this with the 11th chap. of the book of Revelation, we find that that was not merely true of the Jewish dispensation, but that it is equally true of the Christian dispensation, for in a similar symbolic description of the Church of Christ, in the 11th chap. of Revelation, we read, “I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three score days clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth."
Many persons draw a most unscriptural distinction between the Jewish and the Christian dispensations, but here we can have no mistake because we have the mind of the spirit setting before us in these figures that whatever was taught under the Jewish dispensation repecting the golden candlestick, and the bowl upon it, and the oil within it, the olive trees, and the golden pipe, the same is taught under the Christian dispensation by the very same figures, and that these two olive trees are represented here as being men who bear witness for God, and whose office it is not only to stand before the Lord of the whole earth, but, according to the prophet Zechariah, to pour oil into God's candlestick-his church—his lifegiving church upon earth. Now, if we return again to Zechariah, we find him there speaking of these olive trees as those who are standing before the Lord of the whole earth,—the anointed ones. Men were anointed under the old dispensation for three offices,-prophet, priest, and king: but although these three offices were anointed,
but two are said in scripture to stand before the Lord of the whole earth. The king is an anointed one, but he is not said in scripture to stand before God, but the prophet is represented in scripture as standing before the Lord, and so is the priest. We find in the 17th chap. of the 1st book of Kings, that Elijah claims this charaoter for himself as the prophet of God,—that he stands before the Lord of the whole earth, And Elijah, the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, as the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word." Here then we have scripture explaining itself that the anointed one who stands before the Lord is a prophet. If we turn to the 10th chap. of Deuteronomy, and the 8th verse, we have the same applied to the priest:—“At that time the Lord separated the tribe of Levi, to bear the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord, to minister into him, and to bless in His name, unto this day.” The two olive trees,God's two witnesses in the world, are therefore the prophet and the priest, -the anointed ones to stand before the Lord of the whole earth, to minister in his
A great deal of mistake has arisen respecting the priesthood in the Christian church, because of the awful corruption of the doctrine by the Church of Rome, and of the similar effort to corrupt the doctrine by the Tractarian party in our own church. It arises from confounding the High-Priest with the priest. There is no typical High-Priest in the Christian church as there was in the Jewish church, because in Jewish days there was no real High-Priest : the Son of God had not then become incarnate ; but, since we have had a real High