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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?” 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, 6 end of the age,” to which I am perfectly willing to agree ; but what age? is the question. 1 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.
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 yirgins, 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 bridegroon 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 ? 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 implies 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 Inarriage, 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 and 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. Rings have opened their coffers, and favored those engaged in the work; nobles have used their influence, and have cast
into the treasury of the Lord of their abundance; rich men have bestowed of their riches; and in many cases the miser has forgot his parsimony, the poor have replenished the funds of the Lord's house, and the widow has cast in her mite. How easy to work the work of the Lord when the hearts of men are made willing by his power . But shall we forget those who have forsaken the land of their fathers, the home of their nativity, and have spent lonesome years of toil among strangers, yes, worse than strangers, among heathen idolaters, and the savage of the wilderness, in the cold regions of the north, and under the scorching rays of a vertical sun, among the suffocating sands of the desert, or in the pestilential atmosphere of India; who have risked their lives to learn a language, and prepare themselves to trim a lamp for those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death 2 No, we will not forget them; the prayers of thousands have ascended before the golden altar, morning and evening, on their behalf, and Israel's God has been their protector. Surely we may hope that these have oil in their lamps, who have sacrificed so much to bestow a lamp upon others. But remember, my brethren, the Lord he is God, and let him have all the glory. This is the time, and the same time that Gabriel informed Daniel, “many should run to and fro, and knowledge should increase.” This, too, is the same time when the angel flying through the midst of heaven had the everlasting gospel to preach to them who dwelt upon the earth. Here are Christ's words fulfilled, where he says, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” 2dly. It is plain to any diligent observer of the signs of the times, that all the societics for moral reform in our world at the present day are parts of the fulfilment of the parable, giving more light. What of our Bible societies? Are not these trimming the lamp for millions of human beings P. Thirty years past, more than three fourths of the families in what we call Christian lands were without the lamp of life, and now nearly all supplied. Many of those who sat in heathenish dark
ness then, are now rejoicing in the light of God's book, And much of this has been performed through the instrumentality of Bible societies, and not only through the agency of the church, but political men, men of the world, the great men, merchants of the earth and those who trade in ships, all who live under the influence of the gospel, the “kingdom of heaven,” have engaged in the work. Will not the most skeptical acknowledge, that this society has succeeded beyond the most sanguine expectation of its most ardent advocates? And is not this strong circumstantial evidence that the Bridegroom is near, even at the door? 3d. The missionary societies of all sects and denominations, which have been established within forty years, have as far exceeded all former exertions of this kind as the overflowing Nile does the waters of the brook Kidron. See the missionary spirit extending from east to west, and from north to south, warming the breast of the philanthropist, giving life and vigor to the cold-hearted moralist, and animating and enlivening the social circle of the pious devotee. Every nation, from India to Oregon, from Kamtschatka to New Zealand, have been visited by these wise servants (as we hope) of the cross, proclaiming “the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God,” carrying the lamp, the word of God in their hands, and oil, faith in God, in their hearts. All classes of men are engaged in this cause, from the gray hairs of old age down to the sprightly youth of ten years. Who, then, can doubt but that the virgins in this sense have and are trimming their lamps, and the bride is making herself ready ? “Go ye out to meet him.” 4th. The Sabbath schools and Bible classes are but a part of the fulfilment of the parable, yet clearly an evidence that the virgins are now trimming their lamps. This system of teaching the young and ignorant took its rise between forty and fifty years since, at the very time that the Christian world were praying, and ardently praying, for the coming of Christ, before that part of the Savior's prayer was forgotten, “Thy kingdom come.” From a little fountain this stream of water has be