« AnteriorContinuar »
God; for though there may not be wanting some plausible excuses on this head, drawn from the influence of a complaint so completely nervous, yet I am too sensible of pride at the bot. tom :-a sin, I believe, from my own experience, the most difficult of all to root out of the heart! Lord, assist me by thy Spirit,-subdue the evil propensities of my nature,-form and increase within me those graces which evidence and adorn the christian profession,-and may my present trial be eminently blessed to the promotion of so desirable an end!
'I have once more, this evening, solemnly examined myself on those points which can never be too fully or satisfactorily made out. In the presence of Almighty God, I have seriously asked, Is it my supreme desire to be the Lord's? Can I submit myself to him in all things?— content to suffer the loss of earth.
ly comforts and prospects if he please,-yea, in every event to acquiesce in his will without murmuring or repining? My faith feebly answers, 'I trust I can.' Thanks be to God for this hope! It assures me, that I am prepared for whatever may 'All is yours, whether life or death, things present or things to come; all is yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's.' I have, in the best manner my feeble frame would enable me, and I humbly hope, confiding in superior aid, devot. ed myself afresh to the Lord
desiring that he would accept me as his child, adopt me into his covenant, and so teach me, by his Spirit, that I may in future see all things in God, and God in every thing: that I may love him more, serve him more faithfully, and be enabled, by faith, to look forward, with unshaken confidence, to the moment that finishes my earthly career, as the period when my bliss is consummated and secured for eternity! Surely, if such be the issue of my troubles, I need not repine at the continuance of the stroke. 'God in himself is bliss enough, take what he will away;' for these light afflictions, which are but for a moment, shall work out for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory!
"If sin be pardon'd I'm secure,
Death hath no sting beside; The law gave sin its damning pow'r, But Christ, my ransom, died!'
I could wish to enlarge on so pleasing, so animating a topic; but, for the present, I must forbear. My spirits, too great for my strength, begin to sink under the infirmities of the body. O that I may be enabled to cultivate with care the christian 'till full perfection growth, crown my hopes in everlasting bliss!'
Such was his close and serious
inquiry in the view of eternity;
and who can doubt of the sincerity of his design, or the happy result of his examination!
(To be concluded in our next.
IN the 24th chapter of Matthew, we have a remarkable prophecy, delivered by the great Prophet from heaven, on the mount of Olives, just before the scene of his final sufferings. In that prophecy, though it had throughout a direct and primary reference to the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the Jewish age; and was strikingly accomplished in that signal catastrophe; yet there was an allusion and ultimate reference to the end of the world, and the judgment of the great day; when some of the particulars of the prophecy will have a more literal and stupendous accomplishment. As the amazing scenes of the final consummation were thus solemnly presented in prospect, the Divine Monitor, by a very easy and obvious transition, immediately in connexion with his prophecy, addressed to his disciples, and through them to others wherever his gospel should be known, a most serious warning, on the importance of being in readiness to meet their Judge. In the 25th chapter, we have the continua. tion and conclusion of the same admonitory discourse. In this chapter the warning to be in readiness to meet our Judge is most impressively enforced, by the memorable parables of the ten virgins, and the ten servants entrusted with different talents;
and the discourse concludes with
a direct view of the final judgment, in a very explicit and sol
emn representation of the tre mendous scene.
The immediate subject of present contemplation is the parable of the TEN VIRGINS; a subject not unsuitable to engage the serious attention; of all, especially at the season of passing the monitory bourn from an old to a new year.
This parable, as already inti. mated, is principally designed to enforce the warning to all, and particularly to the professors of religion, to be in preparation to meet their Lord, in the final judgment. It deserves, however, to be particularly considered that, though the parable seems to refer directly to the judgment day; yet it was evidently designed to be applicable, in all its monitory force, not to those only who should live in the last age of the world, but to those also who should live in each preceding age. The disciples of Christ and others of that age, were warned to be in expectation of their Lord's coming, and to hold themselves in readiness for the judgment. Those also who lived in the next age after them, and in each succeeding age since, have been warned to the same effect by this same parable. We of the present age are in like manner warned; and the warning is intended to apply to every following gener ation, till the Judge shall actually appear. But how could it have been proper for the Divine Monitor to warn his disciples and
others, who lived eighteen hundred years ago, to be in readi. ness for the judgment; represent ing to them, at the same time, that they knew not how soon their Lord would come; when he knew that the day of judgment was then many ages distant?
This apparent difficulty is easily obviated. The solemn truth is, mankind, from age to age, are passing on, in rapid succession, to the judgment. They have their probationary periods sev. erally allotted to them, which periods terminate at death; and then their respective accounts are closed and sealed up for the public audit of the great and decisive day. As their characters are at death, so will they appear at the judgment; and according to the deeds done here in body, will be the final retribution, either of happiness or of misery, then, in the presence of the universe, to be awarded to them.
To all men, therefore, of every age, death, in a very proper and important sense, is a summons to the judgment; and in the same proper and important sense, the day or hour of death is to them, in the language of the parable "the day or the hour of the coming of the Son of man." The disciples then and others of that age might be warned, and we of the present age may be warned, to be in readiness for the judg. ment, and in constant expectation of our Lord's coming, with the same propriety, as if the solemnities of the great day had been then, or were now, actual. ly near at hand. For no man knows how soon he may receive the summons; how soon, with respect to him, the Son of man will come; how soon his proba
tion will close, and his momentous account be sealed up for public and final audit.
On this principle obviously, the parable before us is predicated; and on this principle it is so constructed as to be equally applicable to enforce the warning to be ready, in every age. After thus much said, therefore, to explain the principle and to justify the propriety of the parable, we may now proceed more directly to contemplate the parable itself.
"Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, who took their lamps and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels, with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not su; lest there be not enough for us and you ? but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 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. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you
The parable is founded on the
ceremonies of a marriage solemnity; and in order to be clearly understood, some knowledge of the manner in which nuptial solemnities were anciently conducted, is necessary. It was common we may then observe, for the bridegroom, on those occasions, first to repair, with some of his immediate connexions, to the house, or father's house of the bride; where the friends on that side were convened, and where an entertainment was furnished, which often continued for several days, varying, however, from a longer to a shorter time, according to the quality or circumstances of the parties. About the close of the entertainment at the house of the bride, the marriage was solemn. ized in due form; and then the new-married pair were conducted to the bridegroom's house. This part of the solemnity, when the parties were of respectable quality, was made a very splen. did ceremony, and was usually exhibited late in the evening, or in the night. From the bride's, to the bridegroom's house, they moved in regular processions, lighted with flambeaux, or lamps, and accompanied with music; and while on their way, but usually near to the bridegroom's house, they were met by a company of young females, the relatives and friends of the bridegroom, who went forth with their lights to welcome the bride; and who on meeting, took their place in lead of the procession, and moved on with the rest to the house, where a supper was provided. Those only, who were present to go in with the procession, were admitted to the entertainment; and when they were
all in, the door was shut." This simple account explains at once the leading particulars of the parable.
The bridegroom, then, is the Lord Jesus Christ, who repeat. edly in the Scriptures is designat. ed as the bridegroom of the church. The ten virgins, or the company of female friends, who were to go forth to meet the bridegroom, are the professed friends of Christ; not indeed, all, it would appear, who profess to be his friends, but such as are credible professors: for the fool. ish are represented as not having been distinguished from the wise, until the trying hour came. The lamp is here intended to symbol. ize the profession of christiani. ty, or the external shew of relig. ion; and by the oil in the ves. sels, we are doubtless to under. stand true grace in the heart, or those holy affections, which con. stitute the essence of the true christian character. The wise virgins are true Christians; the foolish virgins are those, who have nothing more of religion, than a credible profession, or a fair ex ternal shew. Their taking their lamps and going forth, or preparing to go forth to meet the bridegroom, denotes their coming forward in a public profess ion, or open declaration of friendship to Christ; and the delay of the bridegroom, the intermediate time between their profession, or their real or supposed conversion, and their death, or their summous to meet their Judge. By the slumbering and sleeping both of the wise, and the foolish virgins, we are to understand the unwatchfulness and inactivity in religion, which is but too commonly witnessed,
not in false professors only, but even in true Christians. The cry at midnight of the bridegroom's coming, denotes the solemn call by approaching death, often indeed very unexpected, to meett he Judge; and the virgins' rising and trimming their lamps, strikingly represents the solemn wakefulness, and the earnest in quiries respecting the state of their souls, to which both true and false professors are very commonly roused, by the strong apprehension of immediate death and the consequent judgment. The application of the foolish virgins to the wise for some of their oil, no less strikingly represents the case of unsound professors, when, alarmed by the approach of the trying hour, and convinced of their utter destitution of grace, they earnestly and anxiously call for help, from those, whom they suppose to be real christians. The direction, given in return by the wise virgins, to go rather to the venders of oil, and buy for themselves, denotes the direction, very properly given by Christians to those, who, under alarm, call for their help, not to trust in any human aid, but to apply directly to the Fountain of all grace. The coming of the bridegroom, in the mean time, while the distressed foolishvirgins were seekingfor oil, is designed solemnly to impress the consideration, that death is not to be put off by the greatest alarm, or the most distrusting anxiety; but the Judge will come at his own appointed time, whether men are prepared to meet him or not. On the coming of the bridegroom, the wise virgins, being in readiness, went in with him to the marriage. VOL. II. New Series.
Though true Christians slumber for a while with others; yet as they have grace in their hearts, when waked by the summons of their Judge, on trimming their lamps, they will be found prepared to enter with him in. to his joy. But the door was shut and afterwards, when the foolish virgins came and begged for admittance, the bridegroom answered, “I know you` not." The meaning is, as obvious as it is terrible. When once this probationary scene is closed, the door of mercy is shut, for ever shut, against those who die without unfeigned repentance, without true grace in their hearts; and utterly unavailing afterwards will be their most earnest entreaties, their loudest cries, their bitterest lamentations.
The leading sentiments of this solemn and deeply interesting parable may now be drawn into several distinct and serious reflections.
In the first place then, how affecting is the representation here given of the state of the christian church. Of the ten virgins of this parable, intended by our blessed Savior to represent those, who make a credible profession of friendship to him, five were wise, and five were foolish. We would fain hope, indeed, that this was not meant to indicate, that even of those, who pass in his church for credible professors, the one half are unsound, and no better than hypocrites. Can we, however, avoid the serious apprehension, that the proportion of these is not inconsiderable? But how affecting the apprehension ! When we cast our eyes round, in an extensive survey, we can2P