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different explanations as there are ingenious men. But I dare not trifle thus with the word of God: if we can. not, by the word of God, explain, we had better leave the same as we find it, and not attempt what must only result in guess-work at last; but follow Scripture rule, and we cannot get far from the truth. Christ has given us rules by which to explain parables, by explaining some himself. The explanations given by Christ of the arable of the tares and the wheat, is a rule that will ear in about all cases. That he has given rules, is very evident in his answer to his disciples, when they asked him concerning his parables. Mark iv. 13, “And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? How, then, will ye know all parables?” That is, if ye understand how I explain this parable, you will know how to explain all others; but if you do not understand how I explain this, you cannot explain all others.” This is the rule. Christ made all the prominent parts of a parable figures; such as the sower, Son of man; good seed, children of the kingdom; tares, children of the wicked one; harvest, end of the world; reapers, the angels; “as, therefore, the tares are gathered and burned, so shall it be in the end of the world,” &c. Here is a sample; good seed, tares, harvest, and reapers, are figures representing other things, as we have shown. “But how,” say you, “shall we always know what these figures represent?” I answer, By the explanation given in other parts of the Bible. For the word of God is its own expositor, or it can be of no manner of use to us; for if we have to apply to any other rule, to explain the Bible, then, the other rule would be tantamount, and have a precedence, and the Bible must fall of course. But it is not so. Then, to explain our subject, I shall, I. Show what is meant by the figures used in the parable. II. The time to which this parable is applicable.
Il iii. Make an application of our subject. I. I will explain the figures in the parable; and, 1st,
“kingdom of heaven” means the gospel day, or circle
of God's government under the gospel dispensation, This I shall prove by the word of God. Matt. iii. 1, 2, “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” That is, the gospel day is come. Again: “Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand.” Luke xvi. 16, “The law and the prophets were until John; since that time the kingdom of God is preached.” That is, the gospel day commenced with John, since which time the gospel is preached. “Ten virgins” means mankind in general, in a probationary state, liable to be wooed and betrothed to the Lord, under the gospel, and during the gospel day. See Isaiah lxii. 1–5, “For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee; and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.” It is evident, by the second verse, that Gentiles and Jews are both included in this prophecy. “Five wise virgins” is a figure of believers in God, or the children of the kingdom. Psalms xlv. 13, 14, “The king's daughter is all glorious within; her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needle-work; the virgins, her companions that follow her, shall be brought unto thee.” “That I might comfort thee, O virgin daughter of Zion.” Lam, ii. 13. “Five foolish” represents the unbelieving class of mankind, while in this probationary state, under the means of grace. This will be sufficiently proved by the following passages—Isa. xlvii. 1, “Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon; sit on the ground; there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans.” Jer. xlvi. 11, “O virgin, the daughter of Egypt: in vain shalt thou use many medicines; for thou shalt not be cured.” These texts prove, beyond a doubt, that the wicked class of men are called virgins by the Scriptures. “Lamps” is a figure of the word of God; for that only can tell us about the New Jerusalem; that only
can inform us when Christ will come again to the marriage supper of the Lamb. The word of God is the means of moral light, to light our steps through moral darkness, up to the coming of the bridegroom to receive the bride unto himself. This I shall prove by the cxix. Psalm, 105, “Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” Also, Prov. vi. 23, “For the commandment is a lamp, and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.” “Oil” is a representation or emblem of faith; as oil produces light by burning, so does faith, in exercise by the fire of love, produce more light, and gives comfort in adversity, hope in darkness, love for the coming bridegroom; and the light of faith assists us to watch for his coming, and to know the time of night, and to go out to meet him: such are called the children of light, because they are believers, children of faith, “sons of oil.” “Because of the savor of thy good ointments, thy name is as ointment poured forth; therefore do the virgins love thee,” Sol. Song, i. 2. “Faith works by love.” See 1 John ii. 27, “But the anointing which ye have received of him, abideth in you; and ye need not that any man teach you; but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.” It is evident, that the anointing here, and elsewhere spoken of, means faith, faith in his name, &c. “Vessels” represent the persons or mind that believes or disbelieves in the word of God, as in 1 Thess. iv. 4, “That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor.” Also, 2 Tim. ii. 21, “If any man, therefore, purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor.” “Bridegroom” is the figurative name for Christ; as the prophet Isaiah says, “And as a bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.” And Christ says, “How can the children of the bride-chamber mourn, while the bridegroom is with them?” alluding to himself. This proves that Christ means himself, in person, by the bridegroom in the parable.
“The door was shut,” implies the closing up of the mediatorial kingdom, and finishing the gospel period. I shall prove this by Luke xiii. 25–28, “When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know ye not whence ye are Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunken in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
“Marriage” is the time when Christ shall come the second time without sin unto salvation; gather his elect from the four winds of heaven, where they have been scattered during the dark and cloudy day; when he comes to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe; when the bride hath made herself ready, and the marriage of the Lamb is come, then he will present her to his Father without spot or wrinkle, and there marry the bride before his Father and the holy angels; removes her into the New Jerusalem state, seats her upon the throne of his glory, where she will ever be with the Lord. When this takes place, the whole body will be present; the whole church must be there, not a member missing, not a finger out of joint. She will be perfect in beauty, all over glorious. See Rev. xix. 7–9, “Let us rejoice and be glad, and give honor to him, for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he said unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” Daniel says, “Blessed is he that waiteth and cometh to the 1335 days.”. John says, “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection.” All these are at one and the same time; and how can we expect to be free from sorrow, mourning, and tears, until the bridegroom comes and moves us into the beloved city? Rev. xxi. 2–4, “And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them,” &c. “Midnight cry” is the watchmen, or some of them, who by the word of God discover the time as revealed, and immediately give the warning voice, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.” This has been fulfilled in a most remarkable manner. One or two on every quarter of the globe have proclaimed the news, and agree in the time — Wolf, of Asia; Irwin, late of England; Mason, of Scotland; Davis, of South Carolina; and quite a number in this region are, or have been, giving the cry. And will not you all, my brethren, examine and see if these things are so, and trim your lamps, and be found ready ? “Trimming the lamps.” You will recollect, my friends, that the word of God is the lamp. To trim a lamp is to make it give light, more light, and clearer light. In the first place, to translate the Bible would make it give light, in all languages into which it should be translated. Then, to send to or give every family in the known world a Bible would make the Bible give more light. And thirdly, to send out true servants of God who have made the Bible their study, and true teachers, who would teach the holy precepts and doctrines contained therein, and to employ many Sabbath school teachers, would in the hands of God be the means of its giving clearer light. This would be trimming the lamp; and so far as the foolish virgins assisted in translating the Scriptures, in sending them among all nations, and employing missionaries and teachers to teach mankind its principles, so far would they trim their lamp; but if they had no faith in it, their light would be darkness, and the lamp to them would go out. If the friend of the bridegroom should proclaim the approach of him whom they all expected, and should prove it ever so plain by the lamp, but having no faith, the lamp would go out; they would not be ready to enter in to the marriage supper, and the door would be shut. This is undoubtedly the meaning which Christ intends to convey in this parable. I shall, therefore, show,