Evidence from Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ, by William Miller, , at sacred-texts.com
PARABLES are always given to illustrate some doctrine or subject which the speaker wishes to communicate, and is an easy or familiar manner of making his hearers or readers understand the subject, and receive a lasting impression. Nothing has so good an effect on the mind as to teach by parables moral precepts or spiritual truths. In this way we are taught by visible things, or familiar objects, to realize, in some measure, the truths and subjects presented. This was the manner Christ taught his disciples and followers, that their memories might the more easily retain, and be often refreshed, when they beheld any scene like the representation of the parable; and in this way, they might always keep in view the important truth that is likened to the parable. A parable, rightly applied and clearly understood, gives good instruction, and is a lasting illustration of the truth. But if we apply the parable wrong, if we put on a false construction, it will serve to lead us into an error, and blind us, instead of producing light,--as Christ said of the Pharisees, he spake to them in parables, that, "seeing, they might see and not perceive, and hearing, they might hear and not understand." Men often explain parables by fancy, to suit their own notions, without any evidence but their own ingenuity; and by this means there will be as many different explanations as there are ingenious men. But I dare not trifle thus with the word of God: if we cannot, by the word of God, explain, we had better leave the same as we find it, and not attempt what must only result in guess-work at last; but follow Scripture rule, and we cannot get far from the truth. Christ has given us rules by which to explain parables, by explaining some himself. The explanations given by Christ of the parable of the tares and the wheat, is a rule that will bear in about all cases. That he has given rules, is very evident in his answer to his disciples, when they asked him concerning his parables. Mark iv. 13, "And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? How, then, will ye know all parables?" That is, if ye understand how I explain this parable, you will know how to explain all others; but if you do not understand how I explain this, you cannot explain all others." This is the rule. Christ made all the prominent parts of a parable figures; such as the sower, Son of man; good seed, children of the kingdom; tares, children of the wicked one; harvest, end of the world; reapers, the angels; "as, therefore, the tares are gathered and burned, so shall it be in the end of the world," &c. Here is a sample; good seed, tares, harvest, and reapers, are figures representing other things, as we have shown. "But how," say you, "shall we always know what these figures represent?" I answer, By the explanation given in other parts of the Bible. For the word of God is its own expositor, or it can be of no manner of use to us; for if we have to apply to any other rule, to explain the Bible, then, the other rule would be tantamount, and have a precedence, and the Bible must fall of course. But it is not so. Then, to explain our subject, I shall,
I. Show what is meant by the figures used in the parable.
II. The time to which this parable is applicable, and,
III. Make an application of our subject.
I. I will explain the figures in the parable; and, 1st, "kingdom of heaven" means the gospel day, or circle of God's government under the gospel dispensation. This I shall prove by the word of God. Matt. iii. 1,2, "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." That is, the gospel day is come. Again: "Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand." Luke xvi. 16, "The law and the prophets were until John; since that time the kingdom of God is preached." That is, the gospel day commenced with John, since which time the gospel is preached.
"Ten virgins" means mankind in general, in a probationary state, liable to be wooed and betrothed to the Lord, under the gospel, and during the gospel day. See Isaiah lxii. 1-5, "For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee; and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee." It is evident, by the second verse, that Gentiles and Jews are both included in this prophecy.
"Five wise virgins" is a figure of believers in God, or the children of the kingdom. Psalms xlv. 13, 14, "The king's daughter is all glorious within; her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needle-work; the virgins, her companions that follow her, shall be brought unto thee." "That I might comfort thee, O virgin daughter of Zion." Lam. ii. 13.
"Five foolish" represents the unbelieving class of mankind, while in this probationary state, under the means of grace. This will be sufficiently proved by the following passages--Isa. xlvii. 1, "Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon; sit on the ground; there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans." Jer. xlvi. 11, "O virgin, the daughter of Egypt: in vain shalt thou use many medicines; for thou shalt not be cured." These texts prove, beyond a doubt, that the wicked class of men are called virgins by the Scriptures.
"Lamps" is a figure of the word of God; for that only can tell us about the New Jerusalem; that only can inform us when Christ will come again to the marriage supper of the Lamb. The word of God is the means of moral light, to light our steps through moral darkness, up to the coming of the bridegroom to receive the bride unto himself. This I shall prove by the cxix. Psalm, 105, "Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path." Also, Prov. vi. 23, "For the commandment is a lamp, and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life."
"Oil" is a representation or emblem of faith; as oil produces light by burning, so does faith, in exercise by the fire of love, produce more light, and gives comfort in adversity, hope in darkness, love for the coming bridegroom; and the light of faith assists us to watch for his coming, and to know the time of night, and to go out to meet him: such are called the children of light, because they are believers, children of faith, "sons of oil." "Because of the savor of thy good ointments, thy name is as ointment poured forth; therefore do the virgins love thee," Sol. Song, i. 2. "Faith works by love." See 1 John ii. 27, "But the anointing which ye have received of him, abideth in you; and ye need not that any man teach you; but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him." It is evident, that the anointing here, and elsewhere spoken of, means faith, faith in his name, &c.
"Vessels" represent the persons or mind that believes or disbelieves in the word of God, as in 1 Thess. iv. 4, "That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor." Also, 2 Tim. ii. 21, "If any man, therefore, purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor."
"Bridegroom" is the figurative name for Christ; as the prophet Isaiah says, "And as a bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee." And Christ says, "How can the children of the bride-chamber mourn, while the bridegroom is with them?" alluding to himself. This proves that Christ means himself, in person, by the bridegroom in the parable.
"The door was shut," implies the closing up of the mediatorial kingdom, and finishing the gospel period. I shall prove this by Luke xiii. 25-28, "When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know ye not whence ye are. Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunken in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
"Marriage" is the time when Christ shall come the second time without sin unto salvation; gather his elect from the four winds of heaven, where they have been scattered during the dark and cloudy day; when he comes to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe; when the bride hath made herself ready, and the marriage of the Lamb is come, then he will present her to his Father without spot or wrinkle, and there marry the bride before his Father and the holy angels; removes her into the New Jerusalem state, seats her upon the throne of his glory, where she will ever be with the Lord. When this takes place, the whole body will be present; the whole church must be there, not a member missing, not a finger out of joint. She will be perfect in beauty, all over glorious. See Rev. xix. 7-9, "Let us rejoice and be glad, and give honor to him, for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he said unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb." Daniel says, "Blessed is he that waiteth and cometh to the 1335 days." John says, "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection." All these are at one and the same time; and how can we expect to be free from sorrow, mourning, and tears, until the bridegroom comes and moves us into the beloved city? Rev. xxi. 2-4, "And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them," &c.
"Midnight cry" is the watchmen, or some of them, who by the word of God discover the time as revealed, and immediately give the warning voice, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him." This has been fulfilled in a most remarkable manner. One or two on every quarter of the globe have proclaimed the news, and agree in the time--Wolf, of Asia; Irwin, late of England; Mason, of Scotland; Davis, of South Carolina; and quite a number in this region are, or have been, giving the cry. And will not you all, my brethren, examine and see if these things are so, and trim your lamps, and be found ready?
"Trimming the lamps." You will recollect, my friends, that the word of God is the lamp. To trim a lamp is to make it give light, more light, and clearer light. In the first place, to translate the Bible would make it give light, in all languages into which it should be translated. Then, to send to or give every family in the known world a Bible would make the Bible give more light. And thirdly, to send out true servants of God who have made the Bible their study, and true teachers, who would teach the holy precepts and doctrines contained therein, and to employ many Sabbath school teachers, would in the hands of God be the means of its giving clearer light. This would be trimming the lamp; and so far as the foolish virgins assisted in translating the Scriptures, in sending them among all nations, and employing missionaries and teachers to teach mankind its principles, so far would they trim their lamp; but if they had no faith in it, their light would be darkness, and the lamp to them would go out. If the friend of the bridegroom should proclaim the approach of him whom they all expected, and should prove it ever so plain by the lamp, but having no faith, the lamp would go out; they would not be ready to enter in to the marriage supper, and the door would be shut. This is undoubtedly the meaning which Christ intends to convey in this parable. I shall, therefore, show,
II. The time this parable is applicable to.
In the chapter previous our Savior had answered three questions which his disciples had put to him on the mount of Olives, when they came to him privately, "saying, Tell us, when shall these things be?" That is, when Jerusalem should be levelled with the ground. "And what shall be the sign of thy coming?" That is, his second coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, as he had before informed them, which is yet future. "And of the end of the world," or, as some translate it, "end of the age," to which I am perfectly willing to agree; but what age? is the question. I answer, The gospel age, or the kingdom of heaven. See 14th verse, "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." "The law and the prophets were until John, since which time the kingdom of heaven is preached." The Jewish economy is no where called the kingdom of heaven; but this expression belongs exclusively to the gospel; and of course any age in which the gospel or kingdom of heaven is preached can never be applied to the Jewish age. Any novice in Scripture interpretation must readily admit this. These were the questions proposed by the disciples to their divine Master, and were answered in the following manner: From the 4th to the 14th verses inclusive of the 24th chapter of Matthew, Christ informs his disciples of the troubles, trials, persecutions, and distress which they and his followers should suffer, down to the end of the gospel age. He also informs them by what means they must suffer--by false brethren, by deceit, by wars, rumors of wars, clashing of nations, earthquakes, afflictions, death, hatred, offences, betrayals, false prophets, coldness, iniquity, famines, and pestilence, and these to the end of the gospel age. From the 15th to the 22d inclusive he alludes to the destruction of Jerusalem, and particularly gives his followers warning of what they shall suffer, and informs them what to do at that time; he tells them what to pray for, and how to escape from the siege, and how to avoid certain consequences which must follow this great tribulation.
From the 23d to the 28th inclusive, he warns his disciples against the error that false teachers would promulgate, that Christ did or would come at the destruction of Jerusalem. He told them plainly to "believe it not," for his second coming would be as visible as the lightning, and then every man would be gathered to his own company; so there would be no room for deceit.
In the 29th verse he prophesies of the rise of anti-Christ, the darkness and fall of many into superstition and error, and the persecution of the true church. 30th and 31st verse, He gives a sign of his coming, the mourning of the tribes of the earth, and then speaks of his coming and what he will do. 32, Is the parable of the fig tree. 33, He enforces it by saying, "So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the door." 34th and 35th verses, He gives his disciples a comfortable promise, which was to this amount, that his children should not be all destroyed from the earth. But "this generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled." To prove the word generation is so used, I will refer you to Psalm xxii. 30, "A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation." 1 Peter ii. 9, "A chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation." The word generation, in the Scriptures, when used in the singular, I believe almost invariably means the children of one parent; as the generation of Adam, children of Adam, chosen generation, children of God, generation of vipers, children of the devil. So Christ, talking to his children, and instructing them only, says, "This generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." His kingdom shall not be destroyed nor given to another people.
36th verse, He informs his disciples that the day and hour of his coming is known only to God, has never been revealed, meaning day and hour only, whether at midnight, at cock crowing, or in the morning.
Verses 37-44, inclusive, He informs them that his coming will be like the deluge; unexpected to the wicked, as then. He tells them the manner; that he will separate the righteous from the wicked; one shall be taken and another left. He then gives them a charge to watch, and repeats, "they know not the hour." Christ illustrates his warning by the figure of the good man of the house, and then charges them to be also ready, as the good man would, if he knew in what watch the thief would come, showing us plainly that all true believers will know near the time, as Paul says, "But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day shall overtake you as a thief."
From 45-47, he tell us of the faithful and wise servant who watches and gives warning of his coming, and speaks of the blessings that servant shall inherit when he comes and finds him so doing.
48-51, Christ gives us the marks of an evil servant: 1st mark, he will "say in his heart, My Lord delayeth his coming." He may not preach or speak against Christ's coming; no, he will only say it to himself. But he will not say he will never come; no, he will only think in his heart, "My Lord delayeth his coming." When he hears the voice of the faithful servant saying, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh," he will say nothing in public against it; no, not so bad as that. Neither will he say any thing in favor of the cry; but mutter in his heart, "My Lord delayeth his coming." The second mark, "And shall begin to smite his fellow-servants." It does not say he will beat and bruise his fellow-servants, or the faithful servant who watches and cries; but he shall begin to smite, &c., meaning he will begin the persecution, set others on, and himself he will keep back, in his heart deceitful. 3d mark, "And to eat and drink with the drunken." To eat and drink with the drunken--it does not say he gets drunk; no, it only says he eats and drinks with them that are so. By this I understand he fellowships with them, and is engaged in, and employs his time, his talents, his mind, to build up some popular and worldly object, which men of the world would be pleased in promoting. He courts popular applause; he seeks to please men more than God. "The Lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour he is not aware of. And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps and went forth to meet the bridegroom." I think we cannot be mistaken in the application of this parable. "Then," that is, at the time when the wise servants are looking for and proclaiming his coming, and when the evil servant says in his heart, My Lord delayeth his coming. Then, too, when he will come, and they that are ready go in to the marriage, and the door is shut. This must mean the time when Christ comes to judgment, for he cuts off the evil servant, and appoints him his portion, and shuts the door against the foolish virgins; and when they knock, he opens not, but tells them, I know you not.
Where, then, is the millennium? say some. After the judgment sits, and not before; after the bridegroom comes, and the beloved city is completed; when Christ shall move his saints home, and live and reign with them on the new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. If there could have been a millennium before Christ should come and gather his saints into one body, it must be a very imperfect one. A part of the body in heaven, a part in the earth, and the remainder under the earth; separated, divided, wounded, and torn by enemies and death, absent from our head. No, it cannot be; if in this life only we have hope, we are of all men most miserable. If we are to have a temporal millennium, why did not our Savior mention it on the mount of Olives, as preceding his coming? He did not, neither has any of the apostles; but all speak of troublous times, departure from the faith, iniquity abounding, and the love of many waxing cold in the latter days. Our parable, to which we are now attending, says, at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. "At midnight;" this teaches us that at the time of his coming there will be much apathy and darkness on this subject; that is the coming of the bridegroom. The parable implies the same. "For while the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept." Can we not bear witness that this has been the true state of the church for a number of years past? The writers on the word of God have adopted in their creeds, that there would be a temporal millennium before Christ would come. I call it temporal, because they have all of them taught that it would be in this state of things, not in an immortal state, neither in a glorified state; and that Christians would have all kingdoms under their control; that is, in a temporal sense; and that they would be married and given in marriage, until the coming of Christ after this 1000 years, or, as some say, 360,000 years. This has been, and is yet, the prevailing opinion among our standard writers and great men. No wonder, Christ says, they will say in their hearts, My Lord delayeth his coming, and that the wise and foolish are all sleeping and slumbering on this important subject. For while we look for a temporal kingdom, behold, he cometh and destroys all that is perishable, all that is temporal, and erects upon these a new heaven and a new earth, which is immortal, and that fadeth not away, eternal in the heavens. I shall now,
III. Make an application of our subject. And,
1st. The time of the fulfilment of this parable is evidently come, in part at least. The world for a number of years have been trimming their lamps, and the wise and foolish have been engaged in translating the word of God into almost every language known unto us upon the earth. Mr. Judson tells us that it has been translated into one hundred and fifty languages within thirty years; that is, three times the number of all the translations known to us before. Then fourfold light has been shed among the nations, within the short period of the time above specified; and we are informed that a part if not all of the word of God is now given to all nations in their own language. This, surely, is setting the word of life in a conspicuous situation, that it may give light to all in the world. This has not been done by the exertions of Christians or professors only, but by the aid of all classes and societies of men. Kings have opened their coffers, and favored those engaged in the work; nobles have used their influence and have cast into the treasury of the treasury of the Lord of their abundance; rich men have bestowed of their riches; and in many cases the miser has forgot his parsimony, the poor have replenished the funds of the Lord's house, and the widow has cast in her mite. How easy to work the work of the Lord when the hearts of men are made willing by his power! But shall we forget those who have forsaken the land of their fathers, the home of their nativity, and have spent lonesome years of toil among strangers, yes, worse than strangers, among heathen idolaters, and the savage of the wilderness, in the cold regions of the north, and under the scorching rays of a vertical sun, among the suffocating sands of the desert, or in the pestilential atmosphere of India; who have risked their lives to learn a language, and prepare themselves to trim a lamp for those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death? No, we will not forget them; the prayers of thousands have ascended before the golden altar, morning and evening, on their behalf, and Israel's God has been their protector. Surely we may hope that these have oil in their lamps, who have sacrificed so much to bestow a lamp upon others. But remember, my brethren, the Lord he is God, and let him have all the glory. This is the time, and the same time that Gabriel informed Daniel, "many should run to and fro, and knowledge should increase." This, too, is the same time when the angel flying through the midst of heaven had the everlasting gospel to preach to them who dwelt upon the earth. Here are Christ's words fulfilled, where he says, "And the gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come."
2dly. It is plain to any diligent observer of the signs of the times, that all the societies for moral reform in our world at the present day are parts of the fulfilment of the parable, giving more light. What of our Bible societies? Are not these trimming the lamp for millions of human beings? Thirty years past, more than three fourths of the families in what we call Christian lands were without the lamp of life, and now nearly all supplied. Many of those who sat in heathenish darkness then, are now rejoicing in the light of God's book. And much of this has been performed through the instrumentality of Bible societies, and not only through the agency of the church, but political men, men of the world, the great men, merchants of the earth and those who trade in ships, all who live under the influence of the gospel, the "kingdom of heaven," have engaged in the work. Will not the most skeptical acknowledge, that this society has succeeded beyond the most sanguine expectation of its most ardent advocates? And is not this strong circumstantial evidence that the Bridegroom is near, even at the door?
3d. The missionary societies of all sects and denominations, which have been established within forty years, have as far exceeded all former exertions of this kind as the overflowing Nile does the waters of the brook Kidron. See the missionary spirit extending from east to west, and from north to south, warming the breast of the philanthropist, giving life and vigor to the cold-hearted moralist, and animating and enlivening the social circle of the pious devotee. Every nation, from India to Oregon, from Kamtschatka to New Zealand, have been visited by these wise servants (as we hope) of the cross, proclaiming "the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God," carrying the lamp, the word of God in their hands, and oil, faith in God, in their hearts. All classes of men are engaged in this cause, from the gray hairs of old age down to the sprightly youth of ten years. Who, then, can doubt but that the virgins in this sense have and are trimming their lamps, and the bride is making herself ready? "Go ye out to meet him."
4th. The Sabbath schools and Bible classes are but a part of the fulfilment of the parable, yet clearly an evidence that the virgins are now trimming their lamps. This system of teaching the young and ignorant took its rise between forty and fifty years since, at the very time that the Christian world were praying, and ardently praying, for the coming of Christ, before that part of the Savior's prayer was forgotten, "Thy kingdom come." From a little fountain this stream of water has become a great river, and encompassed the whole land. Every quarter of the globe are drinking at this fountain or stream of knowledge, and the youth are taught to trim their lamps. And when the bridegroom shall come, may we not reasonably hope that the thousands of the young men and young women who have assisted in giving light to others, may be found having oil in their vessels, and their lamps trimmed and burning, and they looking and waiting for the coming of their Master, that when he comes they may rise to meet him in the air, with ten thousand of their pupils, who will sing the new song in the New Jerusalem forever and ever? Search diligently, my young friends, and see to it that ye believe in this word, "which is able to make you wise unto salvation."
5. Tract societies are of much use, and are an efficient means to help trim the lamps; like snuffers that take away the preventives to the light, so are tracts. They take away from the mind the prejudice that thousands have against reading the word of God. They remove those rooted and groundless opinions which many have that they cannot understand the Bible; they serve to excite the mind to this kind of reading; they enlighten the understanding into some scriptural truths; they are pioneers, in many instances, to conversion; they can be sent where the word of God cannot at first be received; in one word, they are the harbingers of light, the forerunners of the Bible. And in this, too, all men in this probationary state seem to be more or less engaged, from the king on the throne down to the poor peasant in the cottage, writing, printing, folding, transporting, paying, or reading, these silent little messengers of the virgins' lamp. "Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps." Has not God's hand been seen in all this? Yes, glory be to him who hath disposed the hearts of men to work the work that God bids them, and to fulfil the blessed word which he hath given them. This institution took its rise about the same time with the Bible society.
6. Temperance societies. These serve one purpose in trimming the lamps and preparing the way for the virgins to go out and meet the Bridegroom. Our world, twenty years ago, might be called a world of fashionable drunkards; almost all men drank of the intoxicating bowl, and thought it no harm. But when the lamp began to dart its rays around our tabernacles, it was found by woful experience that those who drank of the poisonous cup were totally and wholly unprepared to receive the warning voice, or hear the midnight cry, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh." No, "they that were drunken, were drunken in the night," says the apostle. "Therefore let us watch and be sober." And Peter tells us, "But the end of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer." How foolish would it have been for a drunken man to be set on a watch, or a praying man to be found drunk! Therefore, in order that men might be in a suitable frame of mind to receive instruction at the close of this dispensation, and be in a situation to listen to the midnight cry, God ordered the virgins, and they arose and trimmed their lamps; and in all human probability thousands who would have met a drunkard's grave if this society had not arose, are now watching, with their lamps trimmed and burning, ready to meet the Bridegroom at his coming. Perhaps this temperance society is the virgins' last resort. The Judge stands at the door; go ye out to meet him. This society, like the others before mentioned, is a general thing, and all sects, denominations, and classes of men are engaged in it, and it has an important influence upon all men who are in this probationary state, and who may be termed, as in our text, "virgins." This society is of later origin than the others, and seems to be a rear guard to wake up a few stragglers which the other societies could not reach. And now, drunkards, is your time; Wisdom stands at the door and knocks; let go the intoxicating bowl, be sober, and hear the midnight cry, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh." For your souls' sake drink not another draught, lest he come and find you drunken, "and that day come upon you unawares, and find you sleeping." O, be wise, ye intemperate men, for they only went in to the marriage who were found ready, "and the door was shut." "Then 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." "But the wise shall understand," says Daniel, xii. 10.
And now, my Christian friends, let me inquire, Are your lamps trimmed and burning? And have you oil in your vessels? Are you prepared for the coming Bridegroom? And are you awake to this important subject? What say you? If this parable, to which I have directed your minds, has reference to the last day and the coming of Christ; if the "virgins" has reference to all men in this probationary state, and dividing them into two classes, wise and foolish; if the "lamp" is the word of God, and "oil" means faith in his word, or grace in the heart, as some say,--then my conclusions are just, and the evidence is strong that we live at the end of the gospel kingdom, and upon the threshold of the glorified state of the righteous. Then examine your Bibles, and if you can as fairly prove any other exposition of this parable, as I have this, then believe yours, and time must settle the issue; but if you can find nothing in the Scriptures to controvert plainly my explanation, then believe, and prepare to go out to meet the Bridegroom; for behold he cometh. Awake, ye fathers and mothers in Zion; you have long looked and prayed for this day. Behold the signs! He is near, even at the door. And, ye children of God, lift up your heads and rejoice, for your redemption draweth nigh. For these things have begun to come to pass. And ye, little lambs of the flock, remember Jesus has promised to carry you in his arms, and that he will come and take you to himself, that where he is there ye may be also. But remember, all of you, the wise had oil in their lamps, and they were trimmed and burning. Search deep; examine yourselves closely, be not deceived; and may the Spirit which searcheth all things, and knoweth what is in the mind of man, assist you.
But, my impenitent friends, what shall I say to you? Shall I say, as the master in the parable, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh: go ye out to meet him"? Prepare to meet your Judge. Now he has given you a time for repentance; you have had a probationary season, and possibly now the sceptre of mercy is held out to you. Repent, or it will soon be said to you as Jeremiah said to the virgin, the daughter of Egypt, "In vain shalt thou use many medicines; for thou shalt not be cured;" or as in the parable, "I know you not." Have you no oil in your lamps? Delay not a moment; believe the gospel, and you will live; believe in the word of God; receive the love of the Bridegroom, and make no delay; for 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. O, think what must be the exercise of your minds when these things shall be real; when you will stand without and knock, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us. Again I ask, Will you repent, believe, and be saved? Are you determined to resist the truth until it is too late? Say, sinner, what think ye? "We will risk the consequence. We do not believe in your day you tell us of. The world is the same it always was; no change, nor ever will be; but if it should come, it will not this ten thousand years; not in our day, certainly. You do not believe yourself. If you did, we should call you a fool."
Are these your arguments, sinner? Yes. Well, if I had brought no more, no stronger arguments than these, I would not blame you for not believing, for not one of yours can you or have you supported with a particle of proof. They are mere assertions; your believing or not believing will not alter the designs of God. The antediluvians believed not. The citizens of the plain laughed at the folly of Lot. And where are they now? Suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.