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WISE AND FOOLISH VIRGINS
BEING THE SUBSTANCE OF
TWO SERMONS DELIVERED AT MONKWELL STREET MEETING, ON FEBRUARY 14 & 28, 1797.
THE LIGHT OF THE RIGHTEOUS REJOICETH,
WHEN THE LAMP OF THE
WICKED SHALL BE PUT OUT. PROV. xiii. 9.
THE WISE VIRGINS DESCRIBED.
MATTHEW Xxv. 4.
"But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps."
THE intention of this parable is, to shew to the saints the case and state of the church of God towards the close of time, when the Judge will be standing before the door; when the sun of righteousness will be going down over a sinful world; when the shadows of the evening, of the gospel dispensation, will be stretched out, and the midnight cry just ready to be ushered in.
Then, "then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom." By the kingdom of heaven here is not meant ultimate glory, nor the gospel; though both these are called the kingdom: nor is the empire of grace in the heart intended; but the visible crowd of professors, whether real or nominal. The subjects of Christ's kingdom are what is here meant, consisting of two
sorts: some real subjects, internally so by grace; and others only externally so in appearance and by profession. The number ten shews the small quantity of professors that will be found in the world at that time; for it will be as it was in the days of Noah and Lot. When the Son of man cometh the world will be very busy, professors very few, and vital godliness at a very low ebb.
The title given them is that of virgins, because of their outward and apparent adherence to Christ, his truth and worship, and to an open profession of his name.
Their going forth intends their turning their back upon the world, and joining themselves to, and associating with the children of God.
What they had in view at their setting out was, to meet the bridegroom. This is what they all aimed at. They expected that he would appear as their lover, not as an angry judge, and to be embraced by him, and received into his presence. This was their hope and expection, as appears by the confusion they were in when shut out, and by their earnest entreaties to be admitted. But they were disappointed of their hopes, and their expectations were cut off; and no wonder, for one half of this company was wrong at their first setting out, and so they were at their journey's end. For five of them were foolish. These took not their vessels, nor had they any oil with them; and therefore their lamps went out when they had the greatest need of them, namely, at midnight. Nor
did the spiritual Aaron, our great high-priest, either trim their lamps, or feed them; and there. fore they of course went out; and, when out, they were left in the dark, which to them is an earnest and a prelude to everlasting darkness.
My design is to handle these two sorts of virgins separately, that you may see the one from the other. I intend to discourse on the wise virgins at this time, and at some future period I will treat of the foolish. Now for the words of my text.
"But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps." In handling this subject I will endeavour to describe,
Lastly, How they fared at their journey's end.
The term virgin is given to a young unmarried woman, who has kept herself chaste and undefiled. Hence we read of virgins whom no man hath known.
Sometimes it signifies a young woman newly married, and who hath lost her husband by death: "Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth," Joel i. 8.
This name is often given to a city which hath not been forced by siege, nor taken, conquered, sacked, or rifled. Hence we read; "Come down,