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petual watchfulness: not a continual thinking of that one those many things which may endanger us; but it is a continual doing something, directly or indirectly, against sin. He either prays to God for his Spirit, or relies on the promises, or places himself at the feet of good men to hear their wise sayings, or calls for the church's prayers, or does the duty of his calling, or actually resists temptation, or frequently renews his holy purposes, or fortifies himself by vows, or searches into his danger by a daily examination; so that, on the whole, he is ever on his guard. This duty and caution of a Christian is like watching lest a man cut his finger. Wise men do not often cut their fingers, yet every day they use a knife. And a man's eye is a very tender thing, and every thing can do it wrong, and every thing can put it out, yet because we love our eyes so well, in the midst of so many dangers, by God's providence and a prudent natural care, by winking when any thing comes against them, and by turning aside when a blow is offered, they are preserved so certainly, that not one man in ten thousand does, by a stroke, lose one of his eyes in all his life time. If we would transplant our natural care into a spiritual caution, we might, by God's grace, be kept from losing our souls, as we are from losing our eyes; and because a perpetual watchfulness is our great defence, and the perpetual presence of God's grace is our great security, and that this grace never
leaves us unless we leave it, the precept of a daily watchfulness is a thing not only reasonable, but easy in many ways to be performed.— TAYLOR.
Therefore be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.-It must be the business of our whole lives to prepare for death. Our accounts must be always ready, because we know not how soon we may be called to give account of our stewardship: we must be always on our watch, as not knowing at what hour our Lord will come.-Some men talk of preparing for death, as if it were a thing that could be done in two or three days, and that the proper time of doing it were a little before they die. But I know no other preparation for death but living well; and thus we must every day prepare for death, and then we shall be well prepared when death comes; that is, we shall be able to give a good account of 1 our lives, and of the improvement of our talents. He who can do this is well prepared to die, and to go to judgment.
Think what a sad thing it will be when your soul must remove out of that little cottage in which it now dwells, not to be bettered by the removal, but thrust out into outer darkness. Whereas, if ye would give up sin, and embrace Jesus Christ as your joy and your life, in him you would presently be put into a sure, unfailing, right to eternal life.-LEIGHTON.
O Sun of Righteousness, that comest to bring light unto the world
by thy word and example, and illumination of thy Holy Spirit; let thy Spirit lead us, thy example guide us, thy word teach us, that we may not love darkness more than light, but may keep thy righteous judgments, according to our many purposes and our vow of baptism. Keep us from the snare of the ungodly; and from ourselves, the dangers of our own concupiscence, and the miseries of our infirmity. Leave not our souls in our own hands, but keep them under thy protection and government, lest we swerve from thy commandments; but that, applying our hearts always to fulfil thy statutes even unto the end, we may possess thy law as our portion and our inheritance for ever. Grant this, O blessed Jesus, for thy promise and thy mercies' sake, that we may glorify thee in the unity of the most mysterious Trinity, now and for evermore. Amen.TAYLOR.
The lord of that (evil) servant, shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites.-Grace is the new nature of a Christian, and hypocrisy the art that counterfeits it. The more exquisite it is in imitation, the more plausible it is to men, but the more abominable to God. It may frame a spiritual man in image so to the life, that not only others, but even the hypocrite himself, may admire it, and, favouring his own artifice, may be deceived so far as to say and to think it lives, and to fall in love with it but he is no less abhorred
by the Searcher of hearts than plea
sing to himself. Surely this mischief of hypocrisy can never be enough inveighed against. When religion is in request, it is the chief malady of the church, and numbers die of it; though because it is a subtle and inward evil, it be little perceived. It is to be feared that there are many sick of it who look well and comely in God's outward worship. They may pass well in good weather, in times of peace, but days of adversity are days of trial. The prosperous estate of the church. makes hypocrites, and her distress discovers them. But, if they escape such trial there is one inevitable day coming, wherein all secret things shall be made manifest. Men shall be turned inside out; and among all sinners that shall then be brought before that judgment-seat, the most deformed sight shall be an unmasked hypocrite, and the heaviest sentence shall be his portion.-LEIGHTON.
Alas, what hourly dangers rise,
O gracious God, in whom I live,
Increase my faith, increase my hope,
Whene'er temptations fright mine heart,
Oh! keep me in thy heavenly way,
And bid the tempter flee;
And let me never never stray
CHAP. XXV. 1-13.
The parable of the ten Virgins.
THEN shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet "the bridegroom.
2 And five of them were
wise, and five were foolish.
10 And 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.
11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, "Lord, Lord, open to us.
12 But he answered, and said, Verily I say unto you, *I 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. 35-1 Or going out.-f Luke xiii. 25. —g ch. vii. 21, 22, 23.—h Ps. v 5. Hab. i. 13. Johnix. 31. ich. xxiv. 42, 44. Mark xiii. 33, 35. Luke xxi. 36. Rev. xvi. 15.
3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil 1 Cor. xvi. 13. 1 Thes. v. 6. 1 Pet. v. 8.
and trimmed their lamps.
8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
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 ready.
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 vil 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
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.
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 While the bridegroom tarried, they tell us we are unready, not yet pre- all slumbered and slept.-Let us live, pared to approach the divine pre- expecting a period to be ere long sence, or to enter into the habitation put to our life on earth. For reof his holiness and glory? And member, there are keys put into what then have we to do, but to set a great hand for this very purpose, ourselves to our preparatory work; that holds them not in vain. It is to set our watches, make our obser- appointed for all men once to die; vations, take strict notice of all the-when that once shall be, it belongs defections and obliquities of our to him to determine. And from spirits, settle our methods, hasten the course we may observe him to a redress? Do we not know this hold, as it is uncertain to all, it can is the time and state of preparation? be very remote to none.-How wise And since we know it, how would and prudent a thing to accommothe folly torture us, by reflection, of date ourselves prudently to his having betrayed ourselves into a pleasure, in whose power we are; surprisal! None are ever wont to and to live as men continually enter upon any new state without expecting to die !-Howe. 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 be to change his dwelling, employ
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