Page images
[ocr errors]

chronological mistakes of the people of God in other times, and who adduce them as an argument why we should let the whole subject alone and have no expectation with reference to it. I fear that those who thus shrink from all outgoings of anxious desire and anticipation of the speedy coming of the Bridegroom, and who are so impatient with the subject, are not yet in such deep harmony with the spirit of grace and hope as to render them altogether safe if that day were to come upon them in their present condition.

Again to use the words of the eloquent preacher already quoted, “Nature,-uncorrupted nature,– through all her regions, cries aloud for Him who is to rectify her unwilling disorders, to repair her shattered structures, to restore her oppressed energies, to vindicate her voice of conscience, long despised, her sublime testimony to the Creator, so long questioned or overlooked. But what is this to the demand of grace for the coming of Him who is not only the great God, but our Savior? If the whole creation groaneth and travaileth together in pain for the manifestation of the sons of God, what shall be the desires of the sons of God themselves! What shall be their ardor to realize that liberty of the children of God, of which such great things are spoken! to behold their own lowliness glorified in the glory of the man of Nazareth, their humble labors recognized by the approval of a God once more manifest in the flesh, their persevering faith vindicated, their hope consummated, their charity bright

ening into a reward eternal and infinite! They know well the value of that union which identifies the triumph of the Savior and the saved. They rejoice to think that, as a humiliated Redeemer came first to point us the path of humiliation, so must a glorified Redeemer point us the path of glory; that the Captain of salvation, who bore the cross in front of his army of believers, must come to teach them also how to wear the crown. Yes: all proclaims and demands the return of Christ to the world, -all, but the unsanctified heart of man ! There alone no voice is heard to welcome the mighty stranger. There alone the dawn of this eternal orb is contemplated with hatred, horror, and dismay. Hearts that are inured to the world's corruptions, how shall they hail an immortality of meekness, simplicity, and love? Spirits habituated to seek unholy ends by means yet more unholy, how shall they endure the bringing in of an everlasting righteousness? Those whose whole hopes, prospects, and calculations are bound up with the fortunes of the world as it is, how shall they regard otherwise than with terror this awful revolution in the administration of the universe, when He who now rules behind a mass of permitted evil shall himself personally and visibly assume the reins of universal empire?" And those who are disposed to sport and jeer at the over-haste in the anticipations of the saints in former ages, and refer to their. miscalculations by way of casting odium upon those of similar disposition in the present, have reason to suspect that there is yet something wanting in their own souls to fit them for the solemn administrations toward which we are all hastening.

Let each one, then, search himself with reference to this point, and see to it that there be no secret skepticism of heart and no hidden idolatry of self at the bottom of this boasted superiority of enlightenment, and this proud and sport-making indifference toward the great subject of the Lord's speedy return. If we have not learned to "love his

appearing" and are not ready to welcome its speedy arrival, depend upon it, there yet remains a great revolution to be wrought in us before we are properly attuned to the spirit of the New Testament or prepared for “the inheritance of the saints in light.” May God forgive the unbelief of his professed people, and change the hard-heartedness of those who verily deal with this subject as if they would rather the world should never be redeemed, than that Jesus should return to it as he has promised!

Second Discourse.





“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,” &c.—Matt. xxv. 5–13.

I COME now to call attention to what befell these virgins "while the Bridegroom tarried.” The Savior gives it in very few words :

They all slumbered and slept.. What is to be understood by this drowsiness, has been variously explained. Some of the fathers took it as denoting the sleep of death and the slumber of the grave. I cannot so interpret it. The word rendered "slumber," and which expresses one stage of this drowsiness, is from a root which signifies to nod;* which does not very well describe a deathscene, and which is nowhere used in such a connection. Again, the unfurnished virgins, even after being aroused from their sleep, were directed to go and buy the lacking oil from those who had it to sell, and so repair their deficiency; which does not at all agree with that fixedness which death is everywhere supposed to put upon moral character and condition.

* vuotaţw, from vEvw, to nod the head from sleepiness.

“Life is the time to serve the Lord,

The time to insure the great reward.” When life is once past, and the Judge has sent forth his summons to awake the dead, their time for procuring the necessary provisions against that hour will be over and gone. Again, if we take this slumbering and sleeping to be death, we must assume that there will be no true Christians living on the earth when the Lord comes. As "all" the virgins slept, so all denoted by the virgins would be dead at the time of the Bridegroom's arrival; which would be contrary to many plain declarations of Scripture. (1 Cor. xv. 51.) The awaking of these virgins is also represented as occurring some little time, at least, before the Bridegroom himself comes ; whereas the resurrection of the saints from the dead is everywhere spoken of as contemporaneous with the advent. Besides, the whole machinery of the parable is disjointed by referring this sleep to death; the very thing which it was meant to enforce upon the living is precluded, and the Savior is presented in the absurd attitude of exhorting living people to be on the alert for an event which can come only to the dead.

Others, again, take this slumbering and sleeping to refer to a certain "carnal security” which is to come over the Church of the last times,—at least, "a certain acquiescing in the present time and in the

« PreviousContinue »