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is the office of the Spirit? It helps our infirmities; and the person who is aided by the Spirit, and with living faith apprehends the truth, discovers in it a light, and a glory, that was invisible before. It would seem rather that the fire, which enkindles the torch, or lamp, into a blaze, represents the warming or illuminating influences of the Holy Spirit. We have then, in this parable, embodied the essential features of the Advent movement. The virgins representing the believers; their action in going forth, the demonstration of their faith by works; their lamps, the word of God contained in the Bible; their oil, faith in that word ; and the fire that lighted up those lamps, adding grace and glory to the whole, the quickening power of the Holy Ghost.
The purer the oil, the clearer the light; so the stronger our faith, the brighter the light. All who were identified with the Advent body in going forth to meet the bridegroom, a few years ago, will remember the blaze of celestial light that enveloped the hosts of waiting Israel, like a pillar of fire shining from heaven. They will remember how the sacred oracles were all luminous, pouring streams of light from every page, and all centering on our position, as a focal point, rendered it effulgent as with sunbeams of glory. When the point of time in the divine economy had been reached, when the thrilling moment had arrived, and the command was issued, go forth “ to meet the bridegroom,” the true virgins possessing their “vessels in sanctification and honor," so that faith could act with full play, and with mighty power, applied their oil of faith to the lamp of the word ; and thus the word preached," being mixed with faith in them that heard it,” became the power of God, and the wisdom of God unto salvation; and as the ranks of Zion moved, the Spirit of the living God developed a resplendent light from those oracles in which their confidence was founded. It was an era in the history of the church, to which no parallel is found in the records of the past.
If we are correct in the positions we have taken in this work, then the prophetic periods are just expiring, and the last note of warning is being sounded in relation to chronology; and if the watchmen are to blow the trumpet, and sound an alarm in God's holy mountain, referred to in the parable, then a moment has arrived of still more intense and thrilling interest than the former. The time has now come for the midnight cry to resound through the ranks of Zion. A crisis is impending, more important, MORE EMINENTLY MOMENTOUS, than the world has yet seen. May God prepare us for the sublime events, the stupendous scenes, just be
If it be objected, that the virgins will not again be aroused on the subject of time, we ask, what but chronological data was it, that in the first instance, gave a point to their sword, and a power to their faith, and a light on their position? If, then, it was specific time, that awakened them to action, what, but specific time, will arouse them again? In verse 5, the Greek evidently conveys the idea, that while the bridegroom tarried, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. This was a natural consequence of the long delay. By late watching, and continued disappointment, the power of sleep would steal insensibly upon them till they lost themselves in its embraces. Just in this manner has the vitality of our faith been paralysed, by insensible degrees, and consequently the light became dim on the subject of time; and certainly on this point, and this only, have the wise virgins slept; and as the same sleep is attributed to the wise and foolish, they must all have slept on the same subject. If, therefore, that subject be time, it follows, by consequence, that it must be time alone that will break that sleep, and arouse them again to action. If it was the prolonging of the time that induced drowsiness, and ultimately sleep, then when the delaying, or tarrying time ceases, the power of slumber is broken, and the whole moral being of the wise virgins is again wrapped in the visions of light, and moved with the energy of faith, and filled with the fulness of love. We need not shrink from this subject, or falter in our faith, for if we have fulfilled one portion of the parable, we must the remain
and God says “If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” When the Lord pours upon a soul the infinite riches of His grace, and points to a course of action all resplendent with heavenly light, it is peculiarly offensive to the author and finisher of our faith, that that soul should recede from the light, and “cast away his confidence, which hath great recompense of reward," and prove recreant to the cause of truth. St. Paul, in Heb. x: 37, 38, evidently quotes from the Greek Septuagint; for the phraseology is almost precisely the same, as that of Hab. ii: 3, 4. We are therefore confident that the tarrying of the vision in Hab. is the delay of our com
ing King, as intimated by Paul; and from both passages we learn, that faith is the essential element in the life of the saint; and that, clothed in this panoply, he will win the day, and triumph at last; but while destitute of this vital principle, none can secure the favor of heaven, for “without faith, it is impossible to please God.” It is plain from these scriptures, that whoever falls back through fear, or falters through unbelief, in consequence of the delay of the bridegroom, or tarrying of the vision, incurs the special displeasure of God. But the wise virgins are not of them who draw back unto perdition ; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”
But here we anticipate an objection. Why do you exhort to faithfulness in this closing event, since the wise virgins will assuredly enter in; while the foolish will as certainly be excluded from the marriage feast? On this point, we believe there has been a misconception of the instruction conveyed in the parable. The misapprehension has resulted from regarding the virgins as individuals, instead of representing classes, or bodies of professed christians. Now it should be observed, that the whole subject is presented in miniature, and therefore the life of each individual believer in the coming of Christ cannot be shadowed forth, but only general principles established, in relation to the movement, and different classes represented. We are told that the wheat and tares shall grow together until the harvest, and the harvest is the end of the world ; therefore when we come down to this last movement in the Church, we find there are two classes, the faithful and the unbelieving. Now from the first going forth of the virgins, or Advent believers, individuals may change from wise to foolish, or vice versa, and yet the identity of the two classes be preserved. If the fact that the five foolish virgins obtained no oil, and consequently were shut out from the marriage, proves that no soul can be converted after the midnight cry is sounded, then the fact that the scene opens with ten virgins, and that number remains unchanged, proves there was no accession to the number of believers, from the time the movement in going forth commenced. The fact also that all were virgins in the beginning, would, by parity of reasoning, also show that there would be no conversions during the entire work of fulfilling the Parable. But we must remember that “the word was unto them, precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” In this parable we have some precious items, but from the omissions in this passage we must not draw inferences, that would conflict with other portions of the word. The parable must not be regarded as a literal history of individual believers, but a figurative representation of different classes, and therefore particular persons may change and apostatize, while others are converted and brought in to fill up the ranks. Thus changes may be constantly going on in relation to individuals, while the position of the two classes remains the same. So that is one who believes the doctrine should cast away his confidence, he immediately becomes identified with the “ foolish virgins ;” while, on the other hand, if a hypocritical disciple obtains true faith, he becomes identified with the “wise," who “shall understand.”