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come a great river, and encompassed the whole land. Every quarter of the globe are drinking at this fountain or stream of knowledge, and the youth are taught to trim their lamps. And when the bridegroom shall come, may we not reasonably hope that the thousands of the young men and young women who have assisted in giving light to others, may be found having oil in their vessels, and their lamps trimmed and burning, and they looking and waiting for the coming of their Master, that when he comes they may rise to meet him in the air, with ten thousand of their pupils, who will sing the new song in the New Jerusalem forever and ever? Search diligently, my young friends, and see to it that ye believe in this word, which is able to make you wise unto salvation." . 5. Tract societies are of much use, and are an efficient means to help trim the lamps; like snuffers that take away the preventives to the light, so are tracts. They take away from the mind the prejudice that thousands have against reading the word of God. They remove those rooted and groundless opinions which many have that they cannot understand the Bible; they serve to excite the mind to this kind of reading; they enlighten the understanding into some scriptura] truths; they are pioneers, in many instances, to conversion; they can be sent where the word of God cannot at first be received; in one word, they are the harbingers of light, the forerunners of the Bible. And in this, too, all men in this probationary state seem to be more or less engaged, from the king on the throne down to the poor peasant in the cottage, writing, printing, folding, transporting, paying, or reading, these silent little messengers of the virgins' lamp. “Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.” Has not God's hand been seen in all this? Yes, glory be to him who hath disposed the hearts of men to work the work that God bids them, and to fulfil the blessed word which he hath given them. This institution took its rise about the same time with the Bible society.
6. Temperance societies. These serve one purpose in trimming the lamps and preparing the way for the
virgins to go out and meet the Bridegroom. Our world, twenty years ago, might be called a world of fashionable drunkards; almost all men drank of the intoxicating bowl, and thought it no harm. But when the lamp began to dart its rays around our tabernacles, it was found by woful experience that those who drank of the poisonous cup were totally and wholly unprepared to receive the warning voice, or hear the midnight cry, “ Behold, the bridegroom cometh." No, “ they that were drunken, were drunken in the night," says the apostle. “Therefore let us watch and be sober.” And Peter tells us, “ But the end of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer." How foolish would it have been for a drunken man to be set on a watch, or a praying man to be found drunk! Therefore, in order that men might be in a suitable frame of mind to receive instruction at the close of this dispensation, and be in a situation to listen to the midnight cry, God ordered the virgins, and they arose and trimmed their lamps ; and in all human probability thousands who would have met a drunkard's grave if this society had not arose, are now watching, with their lamps trimmed and burning, ready to meet the Bridegroom at his coming. Perhaps this temperance society is the virgins' last resort. The Judge stands at the door; go ye out to meet him. This society, like the others before mentioned, is a general thing, and all sects, denominations, and classes of men are engaged in it, and it has an important influence upon all men who are in this probationary state, and who may be termed, as in our text, “ virgins.” This society is of later origin than the others, and seems to be a rear guard to wake up a few stragglers which the other societies could not reach. And now, drunkards, is your time; Wisdom stands at the door and knocks ; let go the intoxicating bowl, be sober, and hear the midnight cry, “ Behold, the bridegroom cometh.” For your souls' sake drink not another draught, lest he come and find you drunken, " and that day come upon you unawares, and find you sleeping.” O, be wise, ye in-' temperate men, for they only went in to the marriage who were found ready, “and the door was shut.*. “ Then came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily, I say unto you, I know you not. Watch, therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh.” “But the wise shall understand," says Daniel, sii. 10.
And now, my Christian friends, let me inquire, Are your lamps trimmed and burning? And have you oil in your vessels? Are you prepared for the coming Bridegroom? And are you awake to this important subject? What say you? If this parable, to which I have directed your minds, has reference to the last day and the coming of Christ; if the “ virgins” has reference to all men in this probationary state, and dividing them into two classes, wise and foolish; if the “lamp" is the word of God, and “ oil " means faith in his word, or grace in the heart, as some say, then my conclusions are just, and the evidence is strong that we live at the end of the gospel kingdom, and upon the threshold of the glorified state of the righteous. Then cxamine your Bibles, and if you can as fairly prove any other exposition of this parable, as I have this, then believe yours, and time must settle the issue ; but if you can find nothing in the Scriptures to controvert plainly my explanation, then believe, and prepare to go out to meet the Bridegroom; for behold he cometh. Awake, ye fathers and mothers in Zion; you have long looked and prayed for this day. Behold the signs! He is near, even at the door. And, ye children of God, lift up your heads and rejoice, for your redemption draweth nigh. For these things have begun to come to pass. And ye, little lambs of the flock, remember Jesus has promised to carry you in his arms, and that he will come and take you to himself, that where he is there ye may be also. But remember, all of you, the wise had oil in their lamps, and they were trimmed and burning. Search deep; examine yourselves closely, be not deceived; and may the Spirit which searcheth all things, and knoweth what is in the mind of man, assist you.
But, my impenitent friends, what shall I say to you? Shall I say, as the master in the parable, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh: go ye out to meet him”? Prepare to meet your Judge. Now he has given you a time for repentance ; you have had a probationary season, and possibly now the sceptre of mercy is held out to you. Repent, or it will soon be said to you as Jeremiah said to the virgin, the daughter of Egypt, “In vain shalt thou use many medicines; for thou shalt not be cured ;” or as in the parable, " I know you not.” Have you no oil in your lamps ? Delay not a moment; believe the gospel, and you will live; believe in the word of God; receive the love of the Bridegroom, and make no delay; for while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage, and the door was shut. O, think what must be the exercise of your minds when these things shall be real; when you will stand without and knock, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us. Again I ask, Will you repent, believe, and be saved ? Are you determined to resist the truth until it is too late? Say, sinner, what think ye? “ We will risk the consequence. We do not believe in your day you tell us of. The world is the same it always was; no change, nor ever will be; but if it should come, it will not this ten thousand years; not in our day,,certainly. You do not believe yourself. If you did, we should call you a fool.”
Are these your arguments, sinner? Yes. Well, if I had brought no more, no stronger arguments than these, I would not blame you for not believing, for not one of yours can you or have you supported with a particle of proof. They are mere assertions ; your believing or not believing will not alter the designs of God. The antediluvians believed not. The citizens of the plain laughed at the folly of Lot. And where are they now? Suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
LEVITICUS xxvi. 23, 24. And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but wil.
walk contrary unto me, then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins.
We are in the habit of reading the judgments and threatenings in the word of God, as denunciations against some other people but ourselves. We are very fond of throwing back upon the Jews what, upon the principle of equity and justice, would equally belong to us Gentiles. By this mode of reasoning, wicked, unbelieving idolaters, murderers, whoremongers, adulterers, and all liars, may and do resist the force of God's word, and flatter themselves, in their lustful career, that the judgment is past, and that they may go on in sin with impunity. But it is not only this abominable class of mankind who pervert the word of God to their own condemnation, but many of those who profess to be pious, and even teachers and expounders of the word, do take the same unholy ground, to limit the Holy One in his justice and judgment. And by this means they not only wrest the Scriptures to their own condemnation, but others, who follow their pernicious ways, are led into the saine errors, and the way of truth is evil spoken of.
This manner of expounding Scripture has been used as the last resort against my appeals to the heart and consciences of sinners, to prepare to meet God in judge ment. Let me use what passage I please in the Scrip. tures, whether in the old or New Testament, these