« הקודםהמשך »
and animating and enlivenieg the social circle of the pious devotee. Every nation, from India to Oregon, from Kamskatka 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 fulfillment 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 Saviour's prayer was forgotten,“ Thy kingdom come.” From a little fountain this stream of watering has become 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 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 preventatives 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 scriptural truths; they are pioneers, in many in
stances 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 virgin's lamp: " Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps." Has not God's hand been seeti 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 wbich 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 virgin's last resort. The Judge stands at the door, go ye out to meet him. This society, like the others before inentioned, 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 wbich 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 soul's 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, ve intemperate 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, 1 know you not. Watch, therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the son of man cometh.” the wise shall understand," says Daniel, xii. 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 threshhold of the glorified state of the righteous. Then examine 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 bad 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 never 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 antedeluvians believed not. The citizens of the plain laughed at the folly of Lot. And where are they now? Suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
MATT. xvi. 3.-“ But can ye not discern the signs of the times?"
Our text is a question proposed by Christ to the Pharisees and Sadducees, at a time when they came to him, tempting him for a sign from heaven; and is a reproof upon them for their unbelief in the signs already given by the old testament writers, which they professed to believe, and which were actually fulfilling before their eyes, yet disregarded. The Pharisees and Sadducees were two of the most learned and popular sects among the Jews; many of them were scribes, lawyers, doctors and teachers of the law; yet so perfectly blinded that they could not or would not apply the most simple rules of interpretation to the law or prophets. They would apply the rules of common observation and common sense to the weather; but neither the one or the other were used in understanding the scriptures. They were well versed in the skill to tell the weather for the morrow, but had no skill in the promises, prophecies and word of God. “When it is evening, ye say it will be fair weather, for the sky is red : and in the morning, it will be foul weather to-day, for the sky is red and lowering. Oye hypocrites ! ye can discern the face of the sky, but can ye not (by the same simple rule) discern the signs of the times ?»
All the signs given in the word of God concerning the first coming and person of the Messiah, were fulfilling bebefore their eyes; yet they were demanding more and greater signs from heaven. Christ had and was then performing miracles which no man on earth could perform, and they ascribed it to the power of Beelzebub. No Evidence had or could be presented, which they were not ready to evade or deny; and yet they claimed all the learning, all the wisdom, and all the piety of that day. This was the character of those whom Christ calls hypocrites, and to whom he addresses the question, “But can ye not