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Ci lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And 66 five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They 6 that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with 66 with them; But the wise took oil in their vessels with 66 their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all 66 slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry 66 made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet 66 him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their 66 lamps, And the foolish said unto the wise, Give uş 66 of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise 66 answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for só us and you; but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy 66 for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bride« groom came; and they that were ready went in with 6 him to the marriage; and the door was shut. Afterward 65 came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open
to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto 66 you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know “ neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man 66 cometh."
To the ten virgins mentioned in this parable may be compared all those to whom the Gospel is preached. To these all Christian professors may be likened, who, taking the lamp of Christian faith, go forth to meet the bridegroom; that is, prepare themselves as candidates for the kingdom of heaven, and desire to be admitted with Christ, the celestial bridegroom, into the happy mansions of immortality. It must be remembered, that there always was, and always will be, a mixture of good and bad in the church, till the great day of separation arrives. The weakness of the foolish is represented by those virgins who took no oil in their vessels with their lamps; that is,
lamp of a profession, and never think of furnishing it with the oil of Divine grace, the fruit of which is a life of holiness. Whereas the wise, well knowing that a lamp, without the supply of oil, would be speedily extinguisbed; that faith, without love and holiness, will be of no consequence, take care to supply themselves with a sufficient quantity of the Divine grace, and to display in their lives the works of love and charity.
In order to shew us more clearly the nature and use of Christian watchfulness, to which our Lord exhorts us at the conclusion of the beforementioned parable, he delivered another, in which he represented the different characters of a faithful and slothful servant, and the difference of their future acceptation. This parable, like the former, is intended to stir us up to a zealous preparation for the coming of our Lord, by diligence in the discharge of our duty, and by carefully improving ourselves in holiness; and at the same time to expose the vain pretences of hypocrites, and to demonstrate that fair speeches and out. ward form, without the power of godliness, will be of no service in the last day of accounts.
In delivering this parable, our Blessed Lord told his disciples, that the Son of man, with respect to his final coming to judge the world, might be likened - unto a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several abilities; and straightway took his journey." Matth. XXV. 14, 15. Immediately on their master's departure he that had received the five talents lost no time, but went and traded with the same, and his increase was equal to his industry and application; be made them other five talents. He that had received the two talents did the same, and had equal success. But he that received one, very unlike the conduct of his fellow-servants, went his way, digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money, idle, useless, unemployed, and unimproved.
After some time, and at an hour when they did not ex. pect it, the lord of those servants returned, called them before him, and ordered them to give an account of their several trusts. Upon this, he that had received five talents, as a proof of his fidelity, produced other five talents, saying, “ Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five « talents, behold I have gained besides them five talents 6 more." His lord, highly applauding his industry and fidelity, said to him, " Well done, thou good and faith“ ful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I “ will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into
n and he shaltaken away able se
ļi the joy of thy Lord.” Matth. xxv. 21. In like manner, he that had received two talents declared he had gained two other; upon wbich he was honored with the same applause, and admitted into the same joy with his fellow-servant. After this, he that had received the one talent came, and, with a shameful falsehood, to excuse his vile indolence, said, “ Lord, I knew thee that thou “ art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and 6 gathering where thou hast not strawed; and I was « afraid, and went and hid the talent in the earth; lo, 6 there thou hast that is thine." This perversion greatly excited the resentment of his Lord, who answered, « Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knowest that “ I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have « not strawed; thou oughtest, therefore, to have put my “ money to the exchangers, and then, at my coming, I 6s should have received mine own with usury. Take, 66 therefore, the talent from him, and give it unto him 6 which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath 6 shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but from 66 him that hath not shall be taken away, even that which 66 he hath. And cast yé the unprofitable servant into 66 outer darkness; there shall be weeping and guashing 66 of teeth.” Matth. xxv. 26, &c.
Such is the parable of the talents, which contains the measures of our duty to God, and the motives that enforce it, all delivered in the plainest and most simple allusion. But its views are so extensive and affecting, that while it instructs the meanest capacity, it engages reverence and attention from the greatest, and strikes an impression on the most improved understanding. We are to consider God as our Lord and Master, the author and giver of every good gift, and ourselves as his servants or stewards, who, in various instances and measures, have received from his goodness such blessings and abilities as may fit us for the several stations and offices of life to which his Providence appoints us. But then we are to observe, that these are committed to us as a trust or loan, for the due management of which we are accountable to the donor. If, therefore, we faithfully acquit ourselves of this probationary charge, we shall receive far greater in.
and gener describe this parable
Sent raystal judgment, whener of his coming
stances of God's confidence and favor; but, if we are rea miss and negligent, we must expect to feel his displeasure and resentment.
After delivering this parable, our Blessed Lord proceeded to describe the manner of his coming to the last and general judgment, when, surrounded with the refulgent rays of his glory, he should summon all the people that ever lived in the world to appear before him. “ When 6 the Son of man (said he) shall come in his glory, and 66 all the holy angels with him, then shall be sit upon the 6 throne of his glory. And before him shall be gathered 66 all nations; and he shall separate them, one from 66 another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the 6 goats; and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, 6 but the goats on the left.” Matth. xxv. 31. Here our Blessed Lord compares good men to sheep, on account of their innocence; and wicked men to goats, for their exorbitant lusts. He does not, however, pursue the allegory farther, but describes the remaining, and, indeed, the greatest part of this awful scene in terms perfectly simple and intelligiblo. Here the judgment of all nations is exhibited; and the particulars on which these awful trials are to proceed, displayed by the great Judge himself. Here we learn that we shall be condemned or acquitted, according as we have neglected or performed works which flow from the great principles of faith and piety, and which the very heathens are, by the light of nature, invited to perform. Good men can at best but consider their present state as exceeding wretched : a state in which they are often exposed to innumerable temptations, to persecutions, to poverty, reproach and contempt. But the consideration that they are travelling towards the heavenly Jerusalem, a place prepared for them when the foundations of the world were laid, will be abundantly sufficient to support their spirits, and ren. der them more than conquerors. The glory laid up for them in the mansions of eternity, and which the great Judge will, at the awful day of accounts, confer upon them, will animate them to bear the violences of their oppressors, and even defy the malice of men and devils. Say, they will behold with contempt the flourishing pros
Ch flow 10 very good m
perity of the wicked, and look forward to that glorious and immortal crown, which will be given them by their great Redeemer. 66 Then shall the King say unto them “ on the right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, in66 herit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation 66 of the world. For I was an hungred, and ye gave me 66 meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a " stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed “ me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” The righteous shall then ask, with great reverence and humil. ity, when they performed these services, as they never saw him in want, and therefore could not assist him: 6 Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or 6. thirsty, and gave thee drink? when saw we thee a 6 stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed 66 thee? or wlien saw we thee sick in prison, and came 66 unto thee? And the King shall answer, and say unto " them, Verily, I say unto you, insomuch as ye have “ done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye 6 have done it unto me.” Matth. xxv. 37, &c. This is truly astonishing indeed! The united wisdom of men and angels could never have discovered a more proper method to convey an idea of the warmth and force of the Divine benevolence to the sons of men, or offer a more forcible motive to charity, than that the Son of God should, from his seat of judgment, in presence of the whole race of mankind, and all the hosts of blessed spirits from the courts of heaven, declare that all good offices done to the afflicted are done to himself. During the time of his dwelling with human nature in this vale of tears, he suffered the most unspeakable injuries; and therefore he considers all the distressed virtuous, as members of his body, loves them with the utmost tenderness, and is so greatly interested in their welfare, that he rejoices when they are happy.
The awful judge himself having told his disciples what would be the happy fate of the righteous, next proceeded to inform them what would befal the wicked, on whom he passed the following sentence of condemnation: “ De6 part from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared