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*putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33 So likewise when ye shall see all these things, 'know that it is near, even at the doors. 34 Verily I say unto you, "This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. 35 "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. 36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood.came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 40 "Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 43 'But know this, that if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 44 "Therefore be ye also ready for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. 45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 47 Verily I say unto you, That "he shall make him. ruler over all his goods. 48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; 49 And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; 50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of. 51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
k Luke xxi. 29. / James v. 6. Or, he. m Chap. xvi. 28, xxiii. 36; Mark xiii. 30; Luke xxi. 32. n Psal. cii. 26; Isa. li. 6; Jer. xxxi. 35, 36; chap. v. 18; Mark xiii. 31; Luke xxi. 33; Heb. i. 11. o Mark xiii. 32; Acts i. 7; 1 Thess. v. 2 2 Pet. ii. 10. Zech. xiv. 7. q Gen. vi. 3-5, vii. 5; Luke xvii. 26; 1 Pet. iii. 20. r Luke xvii. 34. 8 Chap. xxv. 13; Mark xiii. 33; Luke xxi. 36. t Luke xii. 39; 1 Thess. v. 2: 2 Pet. iii. 10; Rev. iii. 3, xvi. 15. u Chap. xxv. 13; 1 Thess. v. 6. Luke xii. 42; Acts xx. 28; 1 Cor. iv. 2; 1 Heb. iii. 5. y Rev. xvi. 15. z Chap. xxv. 21, 23; Luke xxii. 29. | Or, cut him off. a Chap. viii. 12, xxv. 30.
These verses contain the practical application of the foregoing prediction. In general, we must expect and prepare for the events here foretold. ¶ Now learn a parable of the fig-tree, vers. 32, 33. Now learn what use to make of the things you have heard; so observe and understand the signs of the times, and compare them with the predictions of the Word, as from thence to foresee what is at the door, that you may provide accordingly. The parable of the fig-tree is no more than this-that its budding and blossoming are a presage of summer. The beginning of the working of second causes assures us of the progress and perfection of it. Thus when God begins to fulfil prophecies, he will make an end. There is a certain series in the works of providence, as there is in the works of nature. The signs of the times are compared with the prognostics of the face of the sky (chap. xvi. 3), so here with those of the face of the earth. When that is renewed, we foresee that summer is coming, not immediately, but at some distance; so likewise ye, when the gospel day shall dawn, count upon it, that through this variety of events which I have told you of, the perfect day will come. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. The word of Christ is more sure and lasting than heaven and earth. The accomplishment of these prophecies might seem to be delayed, and intervening events might seem to disagree with them, but do not think that therefore the word of Christ is fallen to the ground; for that shall never pass away. Though it be not fulfilled either in the time or in the way that we have prescribed, yet in God's time, which is the best time, and in God's way, which is the best way, it shall certainly be fulfilled. We are instructed as to the time of them, vers. 34, 36. As to this, it is well observed by the
learned Grotius, that there is a manifest distinction made between "these things" (ver. 34), and "that day and hour" (ver. 36),-which will help to clear the prophecy. As to "these things," -the wars, the seductions, and persecutions, here foretold, and especially the ruin of the Jewish nation, this generation shall not pass away, till all these things be fulfilled (ver. 34). There are those now alive that shall see Jerusalem destroyed, and the Jewish Church brought to an end. Because it might seem strange, he backs it with a solemn asseveration—Verily I say unto you. You may take my word for it, these things are at the door. But as to that day and hour which will put a period to time, that knoweth no man, ver. 36. Therefore take heed of confounding these two, as they did, who, from the words of Christ and the apostle's letters, inferred that the day of Christ was at hand. 2 Thess. ii. 2. No, it was not; this generation, and many another, shall pass before that day and hour come. There is a certain day and hour fixed for the judgment to come; it is called "the day of the Lord," because so unalterably fixed. That day and hour are a great secret. No man knows it; not the wisest by their sagacity, not the best by any divine discovery. The uncertainty of the time of Christ's coming is, to those who are watchful, a savour of life unto life, and makes them more watchful; but to those who are careless, it is a savour of death unto death, and makes them more careless.
We are to prepare for these events, and we have a caution against security and worldly-mindedness in vers. 37-41. Though notice has been given of the day of judgment from Enoch, yet when it comes it will be unlooked for by the most of men. The latter days, which are nearest to that day, will produce scoffers, that say, "Where is the promise of his coming?" 2 Pet. iii. 3, 4; Luke xviii. 8. Thus it will be when the world that now is shall be destroyed by fire; for thus it was when the old world, being overflowed by water, perished. 2 Pet. iii. 6, 7.
In the time of Noah they were sensual and worldly; they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. It is not said, they were killing, and stealing, and swearing (these were, indeed, the horrid crimes of some of the worst of them-the earth was full of violence); but they were all of them, except Noah, over head and ears in the world, and regardless of the word of God; and this ruined them. They were secure and careless; they knew not, until the flood came, ver. 39. Knew not!-surely they could not but know. Did not God, by Noah, give them fair warning of it? Did he not call them to repentance, while his long-suffering waited? 2 Pet. iii. 19, 20. they knew not; that is, they believed not. They might have known, but would not know.
As the coming of the flood upon the old world, so shall the coming of the Son of man be. That is, in such a posture shall he find people,-eating and drinking, and not expecting him. Security and sensuality are likely to be the epidemical diseases of the latter days. All slumber and sleep, and at midnight the bridegroom comes. All are off their watch, and at their ease. As the flood took away the sinners of the old world, irresistibly and irrecoverably; so shall secure sinners, that mocked at Christ and his coming, be taken away by the wrath of the Lamb, when the great day of his wrath comes; which will be like the coming of the deluge-a destruction which there is no fleeing from, vers. 40, 41.
A general exhortation to watchfulness is contained in vers. 42-44. To watch implies not only to believe that our Lord will come, but to desire that he would come-to be often thinking of his coming, and as always looking for it as sure and near, and the time of it uncertain. To watch for Christ's coming, is to maintain that gracious temper and disposition of mind which we should be willing that our Lord, when he comes, should find us in. These verses also contain two reasons which should induce us to watchfulness.
The issue of our Lord's coming shall be very happy and comfortable to those that shall be found ready; but very dismal and dreadful to those that shall not, ver. 45, &c. This is represented in a parable, by the different state of good and bad servants, when their lord comes to reckon with them. Concerning the good servant-he is one whom his Lord has made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season. The Church of Christ is his household, or family, standing in relation to him as the Father and Master of it. It is the household of God-a family named from Christ. Eph. iii. 15. Gospel ministers are appointed rulers in this household; not as princes (Christ has entered a caveat against that), but as stewards, or other subordinate officers; not as lords, but as guides; not to prescribe new ways, but to show and lead in the ways that Christ has appointed ;as overseers, not to cut out new work, but to direct in, and quicken to, the work which Christ has ordered. They are rulers by Christ. What power they have is derived from him, and none may take it from them, or abridge it to them; he is one whom the Lord has made ruler. The work of gospel ministers is to give to Christ's household their meat in due season, as stewards; and therefore they have the keys delivered to them. This work is to give; not to take themselves (Ezek. xxxiv. 8), but give to the family what the Master has bought-to dispense what Christ has purchased. The good servant in the parable was faithful to his trust-he was vigilant, industrious, and
1 The paraide of the ten virgint, 15 end of the talents. 01 Ain the desengo a off the last
3 They that any foolish 4 But the wise took oil bridegroom tarried, they there was a cry malé, meet him. ↑ Then all
THEN HEN shall the kingdom of Leaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and wont forth to meet the bridegroom. five of them were wise, and five were foolish. took their lamps, and took no oil with them: in their vessels with their lamps. 5 While the all slumbered and slept. 6 And at midnight Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to those virgins arose, 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. 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, 25, 21, Hev. xix. 7, xxi. 2,9. Chap. xiii. 47, xxii. 19. c 1 Thess. v. 6. d Chap. xxiv. 31; 1 Thess. iv. 15. eLkx. 35. $ Or, going out. ƒ Luke xiit, 25. Chap, vii. 21-23. h Psal. v. 5; Hab. i. 13: John ix. 31. xxiv. 42, 44; Mark xin. 33, 35; Luke xxi. 36; 1 Cor. xvi. 13; 1 Thess. v.6; 1 Pet. v. 8; Rev. xvi. 15.
That which is here illustrated is, the kingdom of heaven-the state of things under the gospelthe external kingdom of Christ, and the administration and success of it. Some of Christ's parables show us what it is like now, in the present reception of it (as chap. xiii.); this tells us what it shall be like, when the mystery of God shall be finished, and that kingdom delivered up to the Father. The administration of Christ's government, towards the ready and the unready in the great day, may be illustrated by this similitude; or, the kingdom is put for the subjects of the kingdom. The professors of Christianity shall then be likened to these ten virgins. These virgins, doubtless, represent the Church-a name given to it because it is pure and holy. See 2 Cor. xi. 2; Lam. i. 15, ii. 13.
Which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. The lamps used on such occasions were rather torches or flambeaux. They were made by winding rags around pieces of iron or earthenware; sometimes hollowed so as to contain oil, and fastened to handles of wood. These torches were dipped in oil, and gave a clear light. Marriage ceremonies in the East were conducted with great pomp and solemnity, and were performed commonly in the open air, on the banks of a stream. Both the bridegroom and bride were attended by friends. They were escorted in a palanquin, carried by four or more persons. After the ceremony, succeeded a feast of three or seven days, according to circumstances. This feast was celebrated in her father's house. At the end of that time the bridegroom conducted the bride, with great pomp and splendour, to his own home. This was done in the evening, or at night. Jer. vii. 34, xxv. 10, xxxiii. 11. Many friends and relations attended them; and besides those who went with them from the house of the bride, there was another company that came out from the house of the bridegroom to meet them, and welcome them. These were probably female friends, and relatives of the bridegroom,
who went out to welcome him and his new companion to their home. These are the virgins mentioned in this parable. Not knowing precisely the time when the procession would come, they probably went out early, and waited by the way till they should see indications of its approach. In the celebration of marriages in the East at the present day, many of the peculiar customs of ancient times are observed. At a Hindu marriage, says a modern missionary, the procession of which I saw some years ago, the bridegroom came from a distance, and the bride lived at Serampore; to which place the bridegroom was to come by water. After waiting two or three hours, at length, near midnight it was announced, in the very words of Scripture, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. All the persons employed now lighted their lamps, and ran with them in their hands, to fill up their stations in the procession. Some of them had lost their lights, and were unprepared; but it was then too late to seek them, and the cavalcade moved forward to the house of the bride; at which place the company entered a large and splendidly illuminated area, before the house, covered with an awning, where a great multitude of friends, dressed in their best apparel, were seated upon mats. The bridegroom was carried in the arms of a friend, and placed in a superb seat in the midst of the company, where he sat a short time, and then went into the house, the door of which was immediately shut, and guarded by soldiers. I and others expostulated with the doorkeepers-but in vain. Never was I so struck with our Lord's beautiful parable as at this momentAnd the door was shut.
The Bridegroom, in this parable, is our Lord Jesus Christ; he is so represented in the 45th Psalm, Solomon's Song, and often in the New Testament. It bespeaks his singular and superlative love to, and his faithful and inviolable covenant with, his Church.
The virgins are the professors of religion, members of the Church; but here represented as her companions (Psal. xlv. 14); and their office is to meet and hail the Bridegroom, to bid him welcome, and rejoice with him; which is as much their happiness as their duty. They come to wait upon the Bridegroom when he appears, and in the meantime to wait for him.
It was the folly of the foolish virgins, that they took their lamps, and took no oil with them, They had just oil enough to make their lamps burn for the present, to make a show with, as if they intended to meet the bridegroom; but no cruse or bottle of oil with them for a recruit, if the bridegroom tarried. Thus hypocrites have no principle within. They have a lamp of profession in their hands, but have not in their hearts that istock of sound knowledge, rooted dispositions, and settled resolutions, which is necessary to carry them through the services and trials of the present state. They have no prospect of, nor any provision for, what is to come. This thought is the ruin of many professors; all their care is to recommend themselves to their neighbours, whom they now converse with-not to approve themselves to Christ, whom they must hereafter appear before; as if any thing will serve, provided it will but serve for the present.
It was the wisdom of the wise virgins, that they took oil in their vessels with their lamps, ver. 4. They had a good principle within, which would maintain and keep up their profession. The heart is the vessel, which it is our wisdom to get furnished; for, out of a good treasure there, good things must be brought; but if that root be rottenness, the blossom will be dust. Grace is the oil which we must have in this vessel. In the tabernacle there was constant provision made of oil for the light. Exod. xxxv. 14. Our light must shine before men in good works; but this cannot be, or not long, unless there be a fixed, active principle in the heart, of faith in Christ, and love to God and our brethren, from which we must act in every thing we do in religion, with an eye to what is before us. While the bridegroom tarried, those that waited for him grew careless, and forgot what they were attending. They all slumbered and slept, as if they had given over looking for him; for when the Son of man cometh, he will not find faith. Luke xviii. 8. Those that inferred the suddenness of it from its certainty, when that answered not their expectation, were apt, from the delay, to infer its uncertainty. The wise virgins kept their lamps burning, but did not keep themselves awake. Too many good Christians, when they have been long in profession, grow remiss in their preparations for Christ's second coming; they intermit their care, abate their zeal, their graces are not lively, nor their works found perfect before God; and though all love be not lost, yet the first love is left. If it was hard to the disciples to watch with Christ an hour, much more to watch
with him an age. "I sleep," saith the spouse, "but my heart wakes.”
At midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh, ver. 6. Though Christ tarry long, he will come at last; though he seem slow, he is sure. In his first coming, he was thought long by those that waited for the consolation of Israel-yet in the fulness of time he came; so his second coming, though long deferred, is not forgotten. His enemies shall find, to their cost, that forbearance is no acquittance; and his friends shall find, to their comfort, that the vision is for an appointed time, and at the end it shall speak, and not lie. The year of the redeemed is fixed, and it will come. Christ's coming will be at our midnight-when we least look for him, and are
most disposed to take our rest. His coming for the relief and comfort of his people, often is when the good intended seems to be at the greatest distance; and his coming to reckon with his enemies, is when they put the evil day farthest from them. It was at midnight that the first-born of Egypt were destroyed, and Israel delivered. Exod. xii. 29. Death often comes when it is least expected; the soul is required this night. Luke xii. 20. Christ will come when he pleases, to show his sovereignty; and will not let us know when, to teach us our duty. When Christ comes, we must go forth to meet him. As Christians, we are bound to attend all the motions of the Lord Jesus, and meet him in all his outgoings. When he comes to us at death, we must go forth out of the body, out of the world, to meet him with affections and workings of soul suitable to the discoveries we then expect him to make of himself. Go ye forth to meet him, is a call to those who are habitually prepared, to be actually ready.
The distress which the foolish virgins were in, for want of oil (ver. 8, 9), bespeaks the apprehensions which some hypocrites have of the misery of their state, even on this side death, when God opens their eyes to see their folly; or, however, the real misery of their state on the other side of death, and in the judgment-how far their fair but false profession of religion will be from availing them any thing in the great day. Their lamps are gone out. The lamps of hypocrites often go out in this life; when they who have begun in the Spirit end in the flesh, and the hypocrisy breaks out in an open apostasy. 2 Pet. ii. 20. Yet many a hypocrite keeps up his credit, and the comfort of his profession, such as it is, to the last; but what is it when God taketh away his soul? Job xxvii. 8. If his candle be not put out before him, it is put out with him. Job xviii. 5, 6.
They would gladly be beholden to the wise virgins for a supply out of their vessels-Give us of your oil. The day is coming when carnal hypocrites would gladly be found in the condition of true Christians. Those who now hate the strictness of religion, will, at death and judgment, wish for the solid comforts of it. They were denied a share in their companions' oil. It is a sad presage of a repulse with God, when they were thus repulsed by good people. The wise answered, Not so. That peremptory denial is not in the original, but supplied by the translators. These wise virgins would rather give a reason without a positive refusal, than (as many do) give a positive refusal without a reason. They were well inclined to help their neighbours in distress; but, we must not, we dare not, do it, lest there be not enough for us and you (charity begins at home), but go and buy for yourselves. Those that would be saved, must have grace of their own. Though we have benefit by the communion of saints, and the faith and prayers of others may now redound to our advantage, yet our own sanctification is indispensably necessary to our own salvation. The just shall live by his faith. Every man shall give account of himself; and therefore let every man prove his own work; for he cannot get another to muster for him in that day.
While they went to buy, the bridegroom came: With regard to those that put off their great work to the last, it is a thousand to one that they have not time to do it then. Getting grace is a work of time, and cannot be done in a hurry. They that were ready went in with him to the marriage. To be eternally glorified, is to go in with Christ to the marriage, to be in his immediate presence, and in the most intimate fellowship and communion with him, in a state of eternal rest, joy, and plenty. Those, and those only, shall go to heaven hereafter, that are made ready for heaven herethat are wrought to the self-same thing. 2 Cor. v. 5. The door was shut, as is usual when all the company is come that are to be admitted. The door was shut, to secure those that were within, and to exclude those that were without. The state of saints and sinners will then be unalterably fixed, and those that are shut out then will be shut out for ever. The foolish virgins came when it was too late, ver. 11. There are many that will seek admission into heaven when it is too late. God and religion will be glorified by those late solicitations, though sinners will not be saved by them. The vain confidence of hypocrites will carry them very far in their expectations of happiness. They go to heaven-gate and demand entrance, and yet are shut out; lifted up to heaven in a fond conceit of the goodness of their state, and yet thrust down to hell.
For the kingdom of heaven is 'as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; "to every one of them according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. 16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. 18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's
Luke xix. 12. Chap. xxi. 33. A talent is £187, 10s.; chap. xviii. 24. m Rom. xii. 6; 1 Cor. xii. 7, 11, 29; Eph. iv. Il