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PARABLES XXIV, XXV, XXVI.
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which 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 so; 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 not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour, wherein the Son of man cometh.'— MATT. XXV, 1—13.
'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. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents, went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. After a long time, the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came, and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents; behold, I have gained besides them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant ; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came, and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents; behold I have gained two other talents besides them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strewed; And I was afraid, hid thy talent in the earth; lo, there thou hast that is thine. swered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant,
and went and
His lord anthou knewest
that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strewed; thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received my own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give unto him whicn hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance; that hath not, shall be taken away even that which he hath. the unprofitable servant into utter darkness; there shall be gnashing of teeth.’—MATT. . XXV, 14-30.
but from him
And cast ye weeping and
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory. And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats; and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was an hungered, and ye gave me 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 sick, and ye visited me I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee au hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer, and say unto them, Verily, I say unto you, in as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them saying, Verily I say unto you, in as much as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.'-Matt. xxv, 31-46.
There are three parables in this chapter, and it is believed that they all represent the same things. And they are all applied, by divines, to what they call the last and general Judgment. The five foolish virgins in the first parable, the servant who received the one talent in the second, and those who are called goats, on the left hand of the Son of man, in the third are
supposed to represent the same characters; and divines, who believe in the doctrine of a final separation of the human family, in the future world, and the endless happiness of one class and the endless misery of the other, uniformly apply the characters above mentioned to the class which is to be finally and forever miserable.
Having the case thus clearly stated, let us next determine to whom the Saviour delivered the discourse which contains these parables. See chapter xxiv, 3: 'And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?' Here it is of importance that we carefully. notice the fact, that all which follows in this 24th chapter and the following, is one continued reply to the several questions which the disciples asked him, as above; and also, that this long reply was delivered to the disciples only, and to them in private.
The question now arises why the divine teacher did not deliver these parables to the scribes, Pharisees, elders, doctors and the Jews in general? Again, the inquiry presents itself, why the Saviour did not urge it upon his disciples, that they should state these parables to the people, in their preaching, and tell them, in plain language, that these parables all alluded to the last judgment, and to the final separation of the human family? It does not appear that the disciples were directed to preach these parables to the people; nor can we learn that it ever came into the minds of the apostles to use these parables as they are now used, by those who apply them as has been stated, to a final division of the human family.
It is one of the most important labors, to which, what is now called, the christian ministry is directed, to urge the people to the consideration of the religion, with a view to be prepared to meet their judge at the solemn and awful tribunal, which our preachers contend is set forth in this 25th chapter of Matthew.
Our queries, on this subject, have already called up the questions, why Jesus Christ did not deliver these parables to the Jews, nor direct his disciples to state to them their substance? or why the disciples, in their ministry afterward never preached this last judgment to the people, as their master had preached it to them?
By a careful attention to the manner in which this general subject was introduced, and to the order in which the wisdom of the Saviour directed it, we may very easily dispose of the foregoing queries, and arrive at a satisfactory understanding of the several parables under consideration.
This general subject begins in chapter xxiii, which contains a denunciation on the religious enemies of Christ, such as scribes, Pharisees and doctors of the law, and on the city of Jerusalem. The two following particulars the reader is requested to keep in recollection: 1. That those on whom the Saviour denounced the judgments of heaven, he repeatedly called hypocrites; and 2. That he assured them, verse 16, that the judgment which he denounced would be executed on that generation.
When Jesus had ended his communication to the rulers of the Jews, and to all the different characters whom he addressed, as stated in chapter xxiii, he went out and departed from the temple. He had now finished his ministry, as it respected the Jews, and de
livered to them his last message. And whoever will carefully read this chapter, will marvel at the plain dealing with which Jesus treated those dignified professors of righteousness, on whom he denounced the righteous judgments of God. 'As he departed from the temple, his disciples came to him, for to show him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, there shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down.' This declaration concerning the temple was evidently connected with what he had just before delivered to the scribes, Pharisees and doctors, in the temple, in hearing of his disciples; for Jesus had just before closed his statements to the Jews, by speaking of the desolation of their house. The account proceeds in chap. xxiv, verse 3: 'And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the world?' The reply of Jesus commences with the 4th verse of this chapter, and continues to the end of the 25th chapter. Beginning with the 4th verse of chapter xxiv, Jesus, in his reply, speaks of the destruction of the Jews and their city, together with the signs which should precede that most terrible event, until he comes to the 36th verse. In the 34th verse he assured his disciples that that generation should not pass away till all the things of which he had been speaking should be fulfilled. The reader is requested duly to notice, that this declaration is evidently connected with the one made just before, which the reader has already been requested to keep in mind, viz. that the judgments denounced on the Jews should be executed in that generation. See chapter xxiii, 36.