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Il. The time this parable is applicable to.
In the chapter previous our Savior had answered three questions which his disciples had put to him on the mount of Olives, when they came to him privately, “saying, Tell us, when shall these things be P” That is, when Jerusalem should be levelled with the ground. “And what shall be the sign of thy coming?” That is, his second coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, as he had before informed them, which is yet future. “And of the end of the world,” or, as some translate it, “end of the age,” to which I am perfectly willing to agree ; but what age 2 is the question. I answer, The gospel age, or the kingdom of heaven. See 14th verse, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” “The law and the prophets were until John, since which time the kingdom of heaven is preached.” The Jewish economy is no where called the kingdom of heaven; but this expression belongs exclusively to the gospel; and of course any age in which the gospel or kingdom of heaven is preached can never be applied to the Jewish age. Any novice in Scripture interpretation must readily admit this. These were the questions proposed by the disciples to their divine Master, and were answered in the following manner: From the 4th to the 14th verses inclusive of the 24th chapter of Matthew, Christ informs his disciples of the troubles, trials, persecutions, and distress which they and his followers should suffer, down to the end of the gospel age. He also informs them by what means they must suffer — by false brethren, by deceit, by wars, rumors of wars, clashing of nations, earthquakes, afflictions, death, hatred, offences, betrayals, false prophets, coldness, iniquity, famines, and pestilence, and these to the end of the gospel age. From the 15th to the 22d inclusive he alludes to the destruction of Jerusalem, and particularly gives his followers warning of what they shall suffer, and informs them what to do at that time; he tells them what to pray for, and how to escape from the siege, and how to avoid certain consequences which must follow this great tribulation.
From the 23d to the 28th inclusive, he warns his disciples against the error that false teachers would promulgate, that Christ did or would come at the destruction of Jerusalem. He told them plainly to “believe it not,” for his second coming would be as visible as the lightning, and then every man would be gathered to his own company; so there would be no room for deceit. In the 29th verse he prophesies of the rise of antiChrist, the darkness and fall of many into superstition and error, and the persecution of the true church. 30th and 31st verse, He gives a sign of his coming, the mourning of the tribes of the earth, and then speaks of his coming and what he will do. 32, Is the parable of the figtree. 33, He enforces it by saying, “So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the door.” 34th and 35th verses, He gives his disciples a comfortable promise, which was to this amount, that his children should not be all destroyed from the earth. But “this generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled.” To prove the word generation is so used, I will refer you to Psalm xxii. 30, “A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.” 1 Peter ii. 9, “A chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.” The word generation, in the Scriptures, when used in the singular, I believe almost invariably means the children of one parent; as the generation of Adam, children of Adam, chosen generation, children of God, generation of vipers, children of the devil. So Christ, talking to his children, and instructing them only, says, “This generation shall not so till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” His kingdom shall not be destroyed nor given to another people. 36th verse, He informs his disciples that the day and hour of his coming is known only to God, has never been revealed, meaning day and hour only, whether at midnight, at cock crowing, or in the morning. Verses 37–44, inclusive, He informs them that his coming will be like the deluge; unexpected to the wicked, as then. He tells them the manner; that he will separate the righteous from the wicked; one shall be taken and another left. He then gives them a charge to watch, and repeats, “they know not the hour.” Christ illustrates his warning by the figure of the good man of the house, and then charges them to be also ready, as the good man would, if he knew in what watch the thief would come, showing us plainly that all true believers will know near the time, as Paul says, “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day shall overtake you as a thief.” From 45–47, he tell us of the faithful and wise servant who watches and gives warning of his coming, and speaks of the blessings that servant shall inherit when he comes and finds him so doing. 48–51, Christ gives us the marks of an evil servant: 1st mark, he will “say in his heart, My Lord delayeth his coming.” He may not preach or speak against Christ's coming; no, he will only say it to himself. But he will not say he will never come; no, he will only think in his heart, “My Lord delayeth his coming.” When he hears the voice of the faithful servant saying, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh,” he will say nothing in public against it; no, not so bad as that. Neither will he say any thing in favor of the cry; but mutter in his heart, “My Lord delayeth his coming.” The second mark, “And shall begin to smite his fellow-servants.” It does not say he will beat and bruise his fellow-servants, or the faithful servant who watches and cries; but he shall begin to smite, &c., meaning he will begin the persecution, set others on, and himself he will keep back, in his heart deceitful. .3d mark, “And to eat and drink with the drunken.” To eat and drink with the drunken— it does not say he gets drunk; no, it only says he eats and drinks with them that are so. By this I understand he fellowships with them, and is engaged in, and employs his time, his talents, his mind, to build up some popular and worldly object, which men of the world would be pleased in promoting. He courts popular applause; he seeks to please men more than God. “The Lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour he is not aware of And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps and went forth to meet the bridegroom.” I think we cannot be mistaken in the application of this parable. “Then,” that is, at the time when the wise servants are looking for and proclaiming his coming, and when the evil servant says in his heart, My Lord delayeth his coming. Then, too, when he will come, and they that are ready go in to the marriage, and the door is shut. This must mean the time when Christ comes to judgment, for he cuts off the evil servant, and appoints him his portion, and shuts the door against the foolish virgins; and when they knock, he opens not, but tells them, I know you not. Where, then, is the millennium ? say some. After the judgment sits, and not before; after the bridegroom comes, and the beloved city is completed; when Christ shall move his saints home, and live and reign with them on the new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. If there could have been a millennium before Christ should come and gather his saints into one body, it must be a very imperfect one. A part of the body in heaven, a part in the earth, and the remainder under the earth; separated, divided, wounded, and torn by enemies and death, absent from our head. No, it cannot be ; if in this life only we have hope, we are of all men most miserable. If we are to have a temporal millennium, why did not our Savior mention it on the mount of Olives, as preceding his coming 2 He did not, neither has any of the apostles; but all speak of troublous times, departure from the faith, iniquity abounding, and the love of many waxing cold in the latter days. Our parable, to which we are now attending, says, at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. “At midnight;” this teaches us that at the time of his coming there will be much apathy and darkness on this subject; that is the coming of the bridegroom. The parable im- . plies the same. “For while the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.” Can we not bear witness that
this has been the true state of the church for a number of years past? The writers on the word of God have adopted in their creeds, that there would be a temporal millennium before Christ would come. I call it temporal, because they have all of them taught that it would be in this state of things, not in an immortal state, neither in a glorified state; and that Christians would have all kingdoms under their control; that is, in a temporal sense; and that they would be married and given in marriage, until the coming of Christ after this 1000 years, or, as some say, 360,000 years. This has been, and is yet, the prevailing opinion among our standard writers and great men. No wonder, Christ says, they will say in their hearts, My Lord delayeth his coming, and that the wise ahd foolish are all sleeping and slumbering on this important subject. For while we look for a temporal kingdom, behold, he cometh and destroys all that is perishable, all that is temporal, and erects upon these a new heaven and a new earth, which is immortal, and that fadeth not away, eternal in the heavens. I shall now, III. Make an application of our subject. And, 1st. The time of the fulfilment of this parable is evidently come, in part at least. The world for a number of years have been trimming their lamps, and the wise and foolish have been engaged in translating the word of God into almost every language known unto us upon the earth. Mr. Judson tells us that it has been translated into one hundred and fifty languages within thirty years; that is, three times the number of all the translations known to us before. Then fourfold light has been shed among the nations, within the short period of the time above specified; and we are informed that a part if not all of the word of God is now given to all nations in their own language. This, surely, is setting the word of life in a conspicuous situation, that it may give light to all in the world. This has not been done by the exertions of Christians or professors only, but by the aid of all classes and societies of men. Kings have opened their coffers, and favored those engaged in the work; nobles have used their influence, and have cast