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of gold set with rubies. When they were thus seated, the bridegroom turned himself towards the bride, and put a golden ring upon her finger; he then took out a pair of bracelets and a necklace of pearl, and fastened the bracelets about her wrists, and the necklace around her neck, and said, “ Accept these pledges ;” and as she accepted them he kissed her, and said, “Now thou art mine;" and he called her his wife. On this all the company cried out, “ May the divine blessing be upon you !” These words were first pronounced by each separately, and afterwards by all toge. ther; a certain person sent from the prince as his representative also pronounced them for him, and at that instant the ante-chamber was filled with an aromatic smoke, which was a token of blessing from heaven: then the servants in wait. ing took bread from the two tables near the candelabra, and cups, now filled with wine, from the tables at the corners of the room, and gave to each of the guests his bread and his cup, and they ate and drank. After this the husband and his wife rose up, and the six virgins attended them with the silver lamps, now lighted, in their hands, to the threshold, and the married pair entered the bedchamber, and the door
748. Afterwards the conducting angel discoursed with the guests about his ten companions, acquainting them how he was commissioned to introduce them, and shew them the magnificent objects contained in the prince's palace, and other wonderful sights; how they had dined at table with him; and had afterwards conversed with certain wise men of the society: and he added, “ May I request, that they be permitted to enjoy the pleasure of your conversation also ?” So they drew nearer and discoursed together. Then a certain wise personage, who was one of the marriage-guests, said, “Do ye understand the signification of what ye have
“ But little," they replied ; and then they asked him, “Why was the bridegroom, who is now a husband,
clad in that particular manner?” " Because the bride. groom,” he answered, “who is now a husband, represented the Lord; and the bride, now a wife, represented the church, for nuptials in heaven represent the marriage of the Lord with the church ; this is the reason why he wore a mitre on his head, and was clad in a robe (pallium), a tunic, and an ephod, like Aaron, and why the bride had a crown on her head, and was clad in a mantle (chlamys), like a queen; but to-morrow they will be clad after a different manner, because this representation lasts no longer than to-day.” “ Since he represented the Lord, and she the church, why,” they asked, “ did she sit at his right hand ?”
Because there are two things,” the wise personage replied, " which constitute the marriage of the Lord and the church; these are, love and wisdom; the Lord is love, and the church is wisdom, and wisdom is at the right hand of love; for every member of the church is wise as of himself, and in proportion as he is wise he receiveth love from the Lord; the right hand also signifieth power, and love hath power by means of wisdom : but, as just observed, after the nuptials the representation is changed, for then the husband representeth wisdom, and the wife the love of his wisdom : this love however is not primary love, but secondary, for the wife has it from the Lord, through the wisdom of the husband ; the love of the Lord, which is the primary love, is the love of being wise abiding with the husband; wherefore after the nuptials, both together, the husband and his wife, represent the church.” But again they asked, “ Why did not ye men stand beside the bridegroom, now the husband, as the six virgins stood beside the bride, now the wife?" « The reason is,” the wise personage replied, “because we to-day are numbered among the virgins, and the number six signifies all, and what is complete.” But they said, “Explain your meaning:" “ Virgins signify the church,” he replied, “and the church consists of both sexes ; hence we also, as members of the church, are virgins : that this is the case, is evident from these words in the Revelation : "These are they which were not defiled with women, for they are VIRGINS, and follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth,' chap. xiv. 4: and as virgins signify the church, therefore the Lord "likeneth il lo ten virgins invited to the wedding,' Matt. xxv. and whereas the church is signified by Israel, Zion, and Jerusalem, mention is therefore so frequently made in the Word of the VIRGIN AND DAUGHTER OF Israel, of Zion, and of Jerusalem: the Lord also describeth His marriage with the church in these words :
ON THY RIGHT HAND DID STAND THE Queen in gold of Ophir, her clothing is of wrought gold; she shall be brought unto the king in RAIMENT OF NEEDLE-WORK; THE VIRGINS, her friends, thaT FOLLOW her, shall come to the palace of the king,' Psalm xlv. 9 to 16.” “But is it not expedient," they afterwards enquired, “that a priest be present and minister at the nuptial ceremony ?”
"This is expedient on earth," the wise personage answered, “but not in heaven, by reason of the representation of the Lord Himself and the church; on earth they are not aware of this; and yet with us a priest ministers in whatever relates to betrothings, or marriage contracts, and hears, receives, confirms, and consecrates the consent of the parties : consent is the essential of marriage, and all succeeding ceremonies are its formalities.”
749. After this the conducting angel approached the six virgins, and gave them also an account of his companions, and requested that they would vouchsafe to join company with them : they accordingly came, but when they were near them they suddenly retired, and entered the women's apartment, where they mixed with the virgins their friends : on seeing this, the conducting angel followed them, and asked, why they retired so suddenly without conversing with the strangers : they replied, “We cannot approach :” “Why not?” he asked ; and they answered, “We do not know, but we perceived something which repelled and drove us back again; we hope they will excuse us.” So the angel returned to his companions, and told them what the virgins had said, and added, “I conjecture that your love of the sex is not chaste; in heaven we love virgins for their beauty and the elegance of their manners, and we love them intensely, but chastely:" hereupon his companions smiled, and said, “You conjecture right; who can behold such beauties near, and not feel some degree of desire ?"
750. After much entertaining converse the nuptial-guests departed, and also the ten strangers with their attendant angel, and the evening being far advanced they retired to rest. At day-dawn they heard a proclamation made, this DAY IS THE SABBATH : then they arose, and asked the angel what it meant: he replied, “ It is a call to the worship of God, which returns at stated periods, and is proclaimed by the priests; the worship is performed in our temples, and lasts about two hours; wherefore, if it is agreeable, come along with me, and I will introduce you.” So they made themselves ready, and attended the angel, and entered the temple; it was a large building capable of containing about three thousand persons, in the form of a semi-rotunda, with benches or seats carried round in a continued sweep, according to the figure of the temple. The pulpit in front of the seats was drawn a little from the centre; the door was on the left hand behind the pulpit. The ten strangers entered with their conducting angel, who pointed out to them the places where they were to sit, telling them, “ Every one who enters the temple knoweth his own place, and this by a kind of innate perception, nor can he sit in any place but his
own; in case he takes another, he hears nothing, and perceives nothing, and also disturbs order, and when this is disturbed, the priest is not inspired.”
751. When the congregation was assembled, the priest ascended the pulpit, and preached a sermon full of the spirit of wisdom : the subject was on the sanctity of the Holy Scripture, and the conjunction of the Lord with both worlds, the spiritual and the natural, by means of it: illustrated as he then was, he fully proved, that that Holy Book was dictated by Jehovah the Lord, and that consequently He is in it, so as to be the wisdom it contains ; but that the wisdom which is Himself therein, lieth concealed under the sense of the letter, and is opened to none but those who are in truths of doctrine and at the same time in goodness of life, and thus who are in the Lord, and the Lord in them. To this discourse he subjoined a votive prayer, and descended. As the audience were going out, the requested the priest to speak a few words of peace with his ten companions; so he came to them, and they conversed together for the space of half an hour: he discoursed on the Divine Trinity, that it is in Jesus Christ, in whom all the fulness of the Godhead dwelleth bodily, according to the declaration of the apostle Paul; and afterwards on the union of charity and faith, but he said, “the union of charity and truth,” because faith is truth.
752. After expressing their thanks, they departed home; and when they were come thither, the angel said to them, “ This is the third day since you ascended into the society of this heaven, and as ye were prepared by the Lord to stay here three days, it is now time that we be separated; put off therefore the garments sent you by the prince, and put on your own.” When they had done so, they were inspired with a desire to be gone; so they departed, and descended, the angel attending them to the place of assembly; and there they gave thanks to the Lord for vouchsafing to bless them with knowledge, and so with intelligence, respecting heavenly joys and eternal happiness.