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Prophetic Expositions, vol. 1

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    THE TEN VIRGINS—MATTHEW TWENTY-FIFTH CHAPTER

    Verse 1. “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins which took their lamps and went forth to meet the bridegroom.”PREX1 162.1

    When shall the kingdom of heaven be likened, etc.? When the foretold signs are taking place;-within one generation of the second coming of Christ. For this condition of the kingdom of heaven is as much one of the signs, as any of the foregoing signs.PREX1 162.2

    The kingdom of heaven.” By the kingdom of heaven, I understand here, the earth and its inhabitants. It being promised to Christ as the theatre of his everlasting kingdom, but yet suffering violence and being held of the Gentiles by force; but it is his promised inheritance. Thus, in the parable in Matthew 13:47-50: “The kingdom of heaven is like a net that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind; which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.” The net is the world or earth which contains and receives all the inhabitants who come into it, good and bad. Like the tares and wheat which grow together until the harvest, or end of the world, the net is also to gather good and bad to the same period. Then Christ will send his angels to separate between the good and bad. “They shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and cast them into a furnace of fire.” “They gather the good into vessels, and cast the bad away.” All the inhabitants of the earth are citizens of the kingdom of Christ, as occupying the territory he is to possess, when he comes in his glory. The inhabitants of the earth are like the ten virgins, five wise, and five foolish. When the predicted signs were taking place, they, like the virgins, took their lamps and went forth to meet the bridegroom.PREX1 162.3

    Verses 3, 4. “They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them. But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.”PREX1 163.1

    Their lamps.” The lamp is a light-bearer. The light-bearer of the moral world is the word of God. It is not light of itself, but bears light, and is a means of communicating it to us. The Infidel has the Bible as well as the Christian, but it affords him no light; he cannot see that there is a God, a future state, a Saviour, a devil, and angels. The Christian finds all these things plainly revealed. A lamp will give no light without a wick. The wick is the capacity to read. We may have the lamp, the Bible, and be able to read it, but if there is no oil in the lamp to feed the flame when once the wick is ignited, it will be but a meteor glare, and all will expire. That oil is faith. The word of God can do us no good unless we have faith in it. This is the difference between the Christian and Infidel; one has light from the Bible, the other has not: because the one believes it, and the other does not. The world is being rapidly supplied with the Bible, and have been for many years spreading it abroad.PREX1 163.2

    But not all who have the Bible are wise unto salvation, because they have not faith; they are the foolish virgins. The pious are the wise; they do believe God’s word and rejoice in it.PREX1 164.1

    Went forth to meet the bridegroom.” Was there any special movement in the world during the last and present centuries, in reference to the coming of the Bridegroom? Answer. There most certainly was. Toward the close of the last century, and during the career of Bonaparte, a very unusual excitement prevailed on the subject of the fulfilment of the prophetic Scriptures. More was written and said on the subject than had been before for ages. In 1775, John Fletcher, the bosom friend of Wesley, wrote a long epistle to Mr. W. on the second advent, and the prophetic times. He declared it, as his firm belief, that the second advent would be pre-millennial; and thought the periods would expire during the last century. “But come,” he adds, “it most certainly will, before three generations have passed off.”PREX1 164.2

    It was the age that drew forth a host of writers on the prophecies, in England, and other European countries. It was the age that called forth Spaulding and Smith, with a long list of others, in our own country. The dark day, the French revolution, the fall of Popery, and wars of Bonaparte, unquestionably awakened the public mind, in an unusual degree, to the fulfilment of prophecy. Many were in expectation that every successive battle would be the battle of the great day. “But when,” said an eminent British writer, “the battle of Waterloo was over, and peace was restored to Europe and the world, we were thrown back fifty years, and knew not where we were.”PREX1 164.3

    From that time it is true “that while the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.” The world went to sleep together on the subject. He did not come as they had expected; they knew not when he would come, or the prophecies would be fulfilled.PREX1 165.1

    The cry was then made that the prophecies were obscure and uncertain; and that while so much was plain and practical, we had better attend to it, instead of troubling ourselves about the prophetic Scriptures. The efforts of the Bible and Missionary Societies came into operation, and their success was great, and excited the strong hope that the world would be converted, and a long period of peace and triumph ensue. This syren song fairly put the world to sleep on the second advent. And most sweetly they slumbered; aye, and dreamed too! The expectation of the speedy coming of Christ, a few years ago, was scarcely named in the pulpits of this land.PREX1 165.2

    But “at midnight,” when sleep was most profound, “a cry was made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him.” That such a cry has been made cannot be denied. That it came at a time when it was little expected by most, is also true. It was about twenty-four years ago, 1818, that persons in different parts of the world, and entirely unknown to each other, made the discovery that the 70 weeks and 2300 days of Daniel’s prophecy began together; and, of course, that the 2300 days would end in 1810 years after the end of the seventy weeks. Some, thinking the 70 weeks did not end until four years after Christ’s death, carried the end of the vision to 1847. Those who take the ground that the 70 weeks ended with the death, or at most, the ascension of Christ, end it in 1843. Among those who, about the same time, saw this point and began to teach it, were Mr. Davis, of South Carolina; A. J. Krupp, of Philadelphia; William Miller, of New York state; David McGreggor, now of Falmouth, Me.; Edward Irving and Rev. Mr. Way, of England; Joseph Wolff, the Jewish missionary; and a great many others of more or less note. So that, within the last fifteen or twenty years, the cry that is being made, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh,” has been most distinctly announced in both hemispheres. In Wolff’s journal of his missionary labors, we learn that he proclaimed it all through the east, where he travelled and awakened public attention to the subject. At most of the missionary stations in the east, he preached the doctrine in 1831-2-3-4; had free conversation with most of the missionaries on the subject, as also with both Jews and Mahomedans. Some of his discussions with the Mahomedans are very interesting. More than twenty years ago, as we learn from a missionary in Tartary, in a letter published in an English magazine, a Tartar priest discovered from the Bible that the prophetic times were nearly run out, and fixed on 1844 as the time. “Within the last three years, there have been sent from our office in this city, second advent publications to nearly all the English and American missionary stations on the earth. They have been sent to China; to Burmah; to Hindostan; to the East Indies; to Persia, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, Greece, Constantinople; into Africa, the W. India Islands, the Islands of the Pacific; the Indian missions both sides of the Rocky Mountains. They have also been scattered broadcast all over these States, and in the Canadas, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, etc. There are now probably five or six hundred ministers of the gospel in the United Stales who are engaged more or less in preaching the doctrine of the speedy coming of Christ, and a large number who are devoted entirely to the work. The doctrine has made more progress within the last four months than in all previous time. Is not this the midnight cry?PREX1 165.3

    Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.” To trim a lamp, is to put it in order to burn and give light. Has the world been aroused to the study of the Bible on the subject of Christ’s coming? This is undeniable; the time never was when there was so universal a searching of the Scriptures as at present. All are at it, whether Christians or Infidels, professors or profane. Are these things so? is the great inquiry; but some scoff.PREX1 167.1

    But the foolish said unto the wise, give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out.” Take a lamp with a wick, and ignite it, and it will blaze for a moment without oil, but must soon expire. So with the unbelieving world; they hear and read what is preached and written, and are almost ready to yield to their convictions of its truth. It is the fact with a great part of the congregations who hear a course of lectures on the subject. But they go away, meet with scoffers, their unbelief sets in, and they lose all interest in the question and go into the dark. There is another class who have faith in whatever the Bible teaches; they are simple of heart, and willing to obey God. When they find it in God’s book, however against their former opinions, they receive it; they are the wise virgins. They have oil as well as a lamp. “Give us of your oil.” Nothing is more common than for believers to be accosted in this way: “Well, now if you can see it so plainly, why, cannot you tell me, so I can see it?”-or, “Do you believe in Christ’s coming in ‘43?” “What do you think of this new doctrine? “etc. “Give us of your oil.” “Our lamps are gone out.” How many tell us, “I did feel interested for a while, but lately I have not thought much about it. I can’t believe it. There is more to be done before Christ comes!”PREX1 167.2

    Not so; go to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.” Those who believe cannot give faith. If it is obtained at all, God must give it. Ask of him, then, who gives to all liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given.PREX1 168.1

    While they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and they that were ready went in to the marriage, and the door was shut.” Some have concluded, from this text, that there will be no time for obtaining oil after the cry is made; but if so, why direct the foolish virgins to go and buy? There is time. But two difficulties are in the way of obtaining oil in season. First, they wait too long before they go to buy, and have not time after they start. The second is, they go to the wrong shop. Our citizens do not go to a hard-ware store to purchase dry and fancy goods. If some of the awakened virgins should happen to mistake Newton, Andover, New Haven, and other such schools of the prophets, for the very place where they have the oil of faith to sell without money and without price, very likely while they are gone the bridegroom will come, go in, and shut the door. Reader, take care that this case be not yours. Go direct to Christ, and you may be sure you will obtain it in good time.PREX1 168.2

    The question is frequently asked, “Do you think a belief in this doctrine essential to salvation?” I answer, I believe a love for the glorious appearing of the Saviour is essential to salvation. I do not believe that those who dislike the idea of his appearing, and are unwilling he should come, are in a state of readiness for his coming. But to come more to the point; the Scriptures do distinctly teach that Christians are all of the light and of the day, and that they are not in darkness, that that day should overtake them as a thief. God has promised, by Daniel 12:10. that “the wise shall understand.” The parable before us teaches that all the wise virgins had oil and went in. But none of those whose lamps were gone out, so that they had no light, went in. They came, but too late. They believed when they saw; they would not before. I must believe, if I believe God’s promise, that every true Christian, at the time of Christ’s coming, will be in expectation, looking out for his appearing; every moment. Nor do I believe one soul will go in who is not found thus watching. There are, undoubtedly, a great many of the wise virgins who are yet asleep to this subject, who are to be awakened, and will be, before that day comes. Faith in the doctrine is not now a test of Christian character, but the time is coming when it will be. Reader, on which side of the line are you? Are you awake or asleep? Are you wise or foolish in this business? Time is short for you to awake, trim your lamp, and get oil. Begin without delay, and prepare for the coming of the Lord.PREX1 169.1

    This sign has been most strikingly fulfilled. And I cannot but regard the midnight cry, which is now being uttered long and loud, as one of the most striking of the foretold signs of the Redeemer’s speedy appearing.PREX1 170.1

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