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THEN shall the kingdom of said, Verily I say unto you, ^I

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know you not.

13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

a Eph. v. 29, 30. Rev. xix, 7; & xxi. 2, 9.—6 ch. xiii. 47; & xxii. 10.-c 1 Thes. 5, 6.--d ch. xxiv. 31. 1 Thes. iv. 16-e Luke xii. 35—| Or going out.—f Luke xiii. 25. -g ch. vii. 21, 22, 23.—ĥ Ps. v 5. Hab. i. 13. John ix. 31. ich. xxiv. 42, 44. Mark xiii. 33, 35. Luke xxi. 36.

1 Cor. xvi. 13. 1 Thes. v. 6. 1 Pet. v. 8. Rev. xvi. 15.


In the structure of this

parable we find an allusion to certain marriage ceremonies, common and well known in Eastern countries. It was usual for the bridegroom to conduct the bride to his

own house, with great pomp and state, in the evening or at night. A party of friends attended the bridegroom and bride on their journey; and another party was in readiness to receive them on their arrival. Torches or flambeaux were used on these occasions, partly for necessity, and partly for ornament and splendour.

The interpretation of the parable is, for the most part, obvious. The ten virgins denote professors of religion. The wise are they who are faithful, watchful, and diligent; the foolish are the careless and worldly

minded, who are not prepared to meet their God. The lamps or torches denote the profession of religion; oil in the vessels, corresponding grace and duty. While the bridegroom tarried,i.e. before the day of judgment, they all slumbered and slept, i. e. all these professors died. The sudden midnight cry is the summons to meet the Lord in judgment. Then the faithful and vigilant are admitted into the joy of the Lord; but the negligent and unholy are shut out from his presence, without any means of obtaining admission, or of restoring themselves to his favour. And hence it appears that it is at once our duty and our privilege to be always


READER.-Five of these were wise and five were foolish. To be a Christian, and a true Christian, are two very different things.-A true Christian sets his pattern before his eyes; and because his salvation depends on it, he resolves to make it the rule of his life. He studies, therefore, the truths and the duties of the Gospel; prefers the light he meets with there to all other. He resolves that what the gospel declares he will believe, let what will be said against it; that what it recommends, he will follow that, and avoid what it forbids. If, upon examining his conscience, he finds that he does anything contrary to what the Gospel prescribes, he is ashamed and sorry for it; begs

God's pardon, and his grace to observe it better for the time to come; watches over his inclinations; avoiding every temptation that may lead him into sin; never consulting the world, its authority, its customs, or its favours, for what he ought to do or what to avoid. And, by doing this, he secures the favour of God, his grace here, and eternal happiness hereafter.-On the other hand, those Christans who live, as too many do, in a general forgetfulness of God; taking no care of their souls; contenting themselves with some outward formalities, and bare shadows of religion, without feeling its power; who make the world their pattern, notwithstanding the caution Jesus Christ has given us, not to follow its ways and maxims ; such people, under the name of Christians, are very heathens, will be rejected of God, and are reserved for a punishment dreadful to be named.

Christians must not, to excuse themselves, say that they cannot be what the Gospel requires them to be. It is no less than blasphemy to say so. For God's grace is sufficient; his grace may be had for asking; and he requires no more of us than what (upon our sincere prayers and endeavours) he will enable us to perform.-WILSON.

They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them; but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.-This we ought to be constantly intent upon, as the business of our lives, our daily work, to get our spirits so attempered and

fitted to heaven, that if we be asked, What design we drive? What are we doing? we may be able to make this true answer, We are preparing ourselves for eternity!-Let us consider; are we conscious of no unfitness for that blessed state, to dwell in the presence of the holy God? to be associated with the heavenly assembly of pure intellectual spirits? to consort and join with them in their celebrations and triumphant songs? Can we espy no such thing in ourselves as an earthly mind, aversion to God, as pride, disdain, wrath, or envy, admiration of ourselves, aptness to seek our own things with the neglect of others, or the like? And do not our hearts then misgive, and tell us we are unready, not yet prepared to approach the divine presence, or to enter into the habitation of his holiness and glory? And what then have we to do, but to set ourselves to our preparatory work; to set our watches, make our observations, take strict notice of all the defections and obliquities of our spirits, settle our methods, hasten a redress? Do we not know this is the time and state of preparation? And since we know it, how would the folly torture us, by reflection, of having betrayed ourselves into a surprisal! None are ever wont to enter upon any new state without some foregoing preparation. Every more remarkable turn or change in our lives is commonly (if at all foreknown) introduced with many a serious forethought. If a man be to change his dwelling, employ

ment, condition, common discretion will put him upon thinking how to consort with the place, business, converse, and way of living he is next to betake himself to. And his thoughts will be the more intense, by how much more momentous the change. But what so great change as this can the nature of man admit, that a soul, long shut up in flesh, is to go forth from its earthly mansion and to return no more; expecting to be received into the glorious presence of the eternal King, and go act its part among the perfected spirits that attend his throne? How solicitous endeavour of a very thorough preparation doth this case call for !-HOWE.

While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.-Let us live, expecting a period to be ere long put to our life on earth. For remember, there are keys put into a great hand for this very purpose, that holds them not in vain. It is appointed for all men once to die;

when that once shall be, it belongs to him to determine. And from the course we may observe him to hold, as it is uncertain to all, it can be very remote to none.-How wise and prudent a thing to accommodate ourselves prudently to his pleasure, in whose power we are; and to live as men continually expecting to die !-HOWE.

At midnight there was a cry made, Behold the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, &c.-How long soever the end of the world and the day of judgment may be delayed, yet we

have great reason immediately to prepare for it. This life is the only time we have to prepare for it. Death puts an end to our account for eternity; for we shall be judged according to what we have done in the body, whether it be good or bad; and the final sentence will pass on us according to that state which death finds us in.-Whatever the intermediate state be, how long soever it be between Death and Judgment, yet our account is the same; and to be surprised by Death before we are provided for it, is the same thing as to be surprised by Judgment.-SHERLOCK.

They that were ready went in with him to the marriage.—The heavenly bridegroom intends to entertain all pious men with an everlasting supper; to make them a never ceasing jubilee; and treat them with such sumptuous magnificence that there will not be tongues enough among them all to publish his praises, and their own thankfulness. Only you must remember that the entertainment he will give them is himself, and they will feast eternally upon his blessed presence. Their happiness will be to see God, to behold the glory which is given to our Lord; that is, to know him, and to be filled with his wisdom, love, and likeness. Their life and felicity consists in a clear and distinct perception of him; in a close union and conjunction of heart and will with him; in a feeling of the pleasures that are in him. Thither if we can but get, we shall love as much as we are able, and be able to love far more than we can


now think. The greatness of the object will enlarge the affection. The vastness of the good will force the will to desire and love more than else it would. We shall enjoy according to the wideness of our capacity; and all our capacities will be so enlarged, that they will exceed the extent of our present thoughts, as much as our present thoughts exceed our present enjoyments. is a life wherein we shall do nothing but what we desire; and wherein all things shall be just as we will ourselves; and wherein we shall will nothing but that which is most to be chosen ;-a life, every act of which must needs be sweet, and full of joy, beyond all the measures of all our present wishes. When we think, we shall rejoice; when we love, we shall rejoice; when we adore or praise, we shall rejoice. Whatsoever we do, it will have infinite delight and pleasure in it; and when we have done it ever so often, it will be eternally to be done again ; and we shall likewise have more power to do it; and every repetition of such act will be a fresh addition of contentment in the doing of them. There is no satiety nor loathing in the enjoyment of that good; no fainting nor growing weary; but we shall always think we have enough, and yet still be enjoying more; we shall be in a perpetual youth and vigour, and yet daily growing more strong and able to converse with God. For that great good cannot be known at once, nor can all the sweetness of that life be instantly tasted, nor the uses of those

pleasures be drunk up at one draught: but fresh delights will continually entertain us; new pleasures will be springing forth unto us; and a flood of joy that we never knew before will overflow us, out of that full fountain which now issues forth in so many streams, and diffuses himself in such great varieties in this world; that our minds may be every moment employed in some rarity of nature, which, till then, did never affect their eyes. A happy life that will be, when we shall have before us such an inexhausted ocean of good to fill us, and such great appetites to be filled, and such repeated satisfaction in the filling of them, and such an increase of strength by their satisfaction; and wider capacities also created by the continual flowing in of that good upon us, which will enlarge our souls by its enjoyment, to make us more able to enjoy it.-PATRICK.

And the door was shut.-Though the happiness or misery of the next world may increase, yet the state can never alter. If we die in a state of grace aad favour with God, we shall always continue so if we die in a state of sin, under the wrath and displeasure of God, there is no altering our state in the other world; we must abide under his wrath for ever. It ought to be the work and business of our whole lives to prepare for death, which comes but once, but that once is for eternity. What an unpardonable folly for any man to be surprised by death,-to fall into the grave without thinking of it!-We can die but once, and if

we miscarry that once, we are undone for ever.-Who would try how long death will delay its coming? how long he may sin on safely, without thinking of death or judgment, whether death will give him timely notice to repent, or whether God will give him grace to repent if it does? Who would venture the infinite hazards of death-bed repentance ?-If men sin on, till they harden themselves in sin, and are forsaken of the grace of God; if death comes long before they expected, and cut them off by surprise and without warning; if their dying and despairing agonies and horrors should not prove a true godly sorrow, nor that repentance to salvation never to be repented of, they are lost to eternity! And what wise man would expose his soul to such a hazard as this?SHERLOCK.

Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.—Were we always in a preparation to die, with our lamps trimmed and burning, like virgins who expect the bridegroom, to die then without notice, without fear and apprehension, without the melancholy solemnities of dying, were most desirable. But the danger of a sudden death is that men are surprised in their sins, and hurried away to judgment, before their accounts are ready:-that they are snatched out of this world before they have made any provision for the next. And the only way to prevent this, is to be always upon our watch, always in expectation of death, and

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