« PreviousContinue »
are as immortal as its guests; and its interest can no more flag than the energies of the glorified can wane. The Savior saith, “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out." A place at that banquet once gained, it shall never be lost. When the ready virgins went in,
“ The door was shut.”
It was the signal of eternal perpetuity to the honors to which they had attained. Henceforward every thing that might mar their joy or ripple the deep flow of their peace is forever barred out. No enemy of their souls can ever follow them there. No improper company can ever disturb them there. The very avenue of return to the state of sin and sorrow and imperfection and waiting, from which they came, is closed to be opened no more. They are now at home,—at last at home,—with Jesus at home,-in all the bigh honors and prerogatives of “the Church of the first-born" at home,--forever at home.
Survey that blessedness, O man, and rejoice that the invitation is thine to be a partaker of it all. And as thou art called with so high a calling, let nothing keep thee from the preparation needed to take thy place at that everlasting feast.
THE FATE OF THE FOOLISH VIRGINS/COMMON IMPRESSIONS REFUTED
-THEY WERE NOT LOST-AUTHORITIES QUOTED-A SURVEY OF FACTS BEARING UPON THE PROPER EXPLANATION-DIFFERENT CLASSES OF THE SAVED-“CHURCH OF THE FIRST-BORN"-SOME "SAVED" WITH “LOSS”—WHOLE CASE OF THE FOOLISH VIRGINS
REVIEWEDNO ONE SAFE WITHOUT AIMING AT THE HIGHEST
“ Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us.
But he answered and said, Verily, I say unto you, I know you not.”—Matt. xxv. 11, 12.
RUDOLF STIER, whose great commentary on the Words of Jesus is so highly esteemed by Biblical interpreters, remarks, that in these words lie hidden general prophetic hints which the future alone will unseal. He has, therefore, made no attempt to explain the fate of these unwise virgins. He agrees that they stand for true Christians as distinguished from hypocrites and false professors, and that they failed to go in with the Bridegroom to the marriage only on account of an unreadiness at the moment, which they very soon had repaired. He says that they came too late, and were “left behind only for this time." But what became of them he does not pretend to say.
It seems to me, however, that, if the distinguished doctor had undertaken an explanation, he would not have found the subject so closely sealed, after all. Without expecting to clear up every point, or to answer every question that may be raised concerning it, I will endeavor to go through this part of the parable, as I have gone through the other parts, gathering up what rays of light may be brought to bear upon it from other portions of Scripture, and setting it forth in its connections with the general scheme of the Divine purposes. The integrity of this exposition depends in some measure upon a reasonable explanation of the fate of these unready and belated virgins; and the interest which has been excited on the part of some respecting it demands that I should not withhold what I have to say
It is a common impression that these unwise virgins, having been shut out from the marriage, were lost, or represent such as are finally and forever excluded from the favor of God and the blessings of redemption. Many think that the door that was shut against them was the door of mercy and salvation, and that Christ's refusal to know them as his Bride was an everlasting refusal to know them in any gracious capacity. But this view of the case so weakens the meaning of some of the most important terms and figures employed by the Savior, and so entirely ignores certain very marked items in the parabolic narrative, and interpolates such terrific penalties where the Author of the parable has in
serted none, that the best expositors have rejected it. It cannot be maintained either on exegetical or moral grounds, and would find no acceptance but for the narrow and imperfect views of the grand scheme of Providence with which the Church has been too willing to satisfy itself. It conflicts with the justice of God's administrations, that “virgins" should be visited with the same doom as sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters." It is irreconcilable with the humility, honesty, and charity of true saints that they should give such advice as these unfurnished virgins received in the hour of their perplexity, if their case was already and forever hopelessly decided. It is also a reflection upon the goodness of the Savior himself, to suppose that any should come to him at any time, as these virgins finally did, with their virginity preserved and the oil no longer wanting in their lamps, and be repulsed with the condemnation of the dissolute and the graceless.
And, as these virgins do not cease to be virgins, and every change in their case from the time of the midnight cry is in the direction of improvement, how can their portion be other than that which appertains to virgins ? They are delivered from their folly, as intimated in the fact that they are no longer called “foolish.” They also procure the requisite supplies of oil. And though these preparations are effected too late for them to move with the bridal party or to share in the marriage, that does not exclude them from the proper claims of virginity, and from all kind:
regard from Him who was once willing to make them his Bride. When a man marries a maiden, all others are, of course, excluded from being his wife, but they are not therefore to be held and reprobated as unchaste and forever excluded from his friendship and respect. No such logic ever applies in the ordinary affairs of life. Common sense would repudiate it as the height of folly and injustice. Why, then, insist on forcing it into our interpretations of the word of God? There is also a great incongruity and selfcontradiction in assigning to these virgins blackness of darkness" whilst they retain their lamps all filled, trimmed, and brightly burning. How can he walk in darkness who has a lighted flambeau in his hand ?
The answer of the Bridegroom to these virgins, when they came praying to be admitted to the marriage, upon first view might seem to imply that mercy had clean gone from them. Somewhat similar language is used elsewhere, in such evident connection with judicial exclusion from all further interest in the Savior's mercies, that we are hence, perhaps, too much predisposed, without sufficient evidence, to take what is here said by the Bridegroom as if it were the
In three instances, and once in writing, since I commenced remarking on this parable, have I been asked what I make of the Savior's saying to these unwise virgins, "I never knew you." My answer is, that I make nothing of it, as the Savior has not said 80. The words are simply, “I know you not,”—and these uttered, not as a judge passing final sentence,