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We are assured, by Christ himself, that God is more willing to give his Spirit to them that ask him, than are earthly parents to give good things to their children. This is a declaration of amazing depth. There is nothing upon earth upon which I would calculate with more confidence than the tender regard of parents for their own offspring. It may sometimes fail; it often has failed; but it is one of the very last things to fail. Even when all else has broken and every other attachment has yielded and gone, this usually holds with a firmness and tenacity which it is next to impossible to destroy. The most degraded child of Adam, and the vilest and most execrable of men, if he has a father and a mother, may yet securely count that he is not altogether without sympathy, and that there is still somewhere a heart that softens when it thinks of him, and yearns to do him good. In all this wide world'there is not a deeper, stronger, more copious, more inexhaustible fount of kindliness and wishes of good and blessing than a mother's heart. Earth has no symbol, no living sign, to represent what God has planted there. Whatever may be the degradation of the nature or the impurity of the life, this still remains, as a jewel set by Jehovah's hand, uncorrupted and undimmed by all the surrounding filth. Tell me, ye that are parents, what is there in all the range of your imaginings that could grind out of your spirits the kindly wish of good and blessing to your children? Is it not for them you live, and for them that you are most anxious as you contemplate your dying day? And if God is as willing to give his Spirit as you are full of these kind parental desires, who shall tell the depth of that willingness ! But our heavenly Father is even "more willing" than this; yea, “much more” willing,-as “much more" as he is greater and better than you! Oh, what an abyss of kindness and mercifulness is thus opened up to us in the heart of the dear God that made us and daily watches over us! showing that if the Savior comes and finds us unfurnished with the holyunction of the Spirit, the fault will lie with us, and with an intensity of crimination which makes me shudder while I think of it.
Arise, then, O needy soul; make thy application, and take to thyself the supplies which are now offered thee in such rich abundance. Seek, and thou shalt find; ask, and thou shalt receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto thee. At once this very hour-put in thy bid. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
THE CRISIS OF THIS PARABLE — THE COMING AGAIN OF CHRIST
THE GREAT HOPE OF THE
CHURCH - THE OBJECT AND
OF THAT EVENT - READINESS FOR IT-THE MAR
“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.”—Matt. XXV. 10.
WE come now to the great crisis in this parable, which also points forward to the great crisis in all human affairs, as respects both the Church and the world,--the return of Christ to end the present order of things and to introduce another administration and a new era.
I need not enter here upon the many clear testimonies that our blessed Lord is to come again to the earth, as literally and really as he went up from it. It was but recently that I pointed out the scriptural basis upon which this doctrine rests, and referred"in some detail to the confessional acknowledgment which it has received from the whole Christian Church from the beginning until now.* Even Enoch, before the flood, prophesied of it. (Jude 14, 15.) Peter says that God has given promise, “by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began,” that “he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you, whom the heavens must receive until the times of the restitution of all things.” Christ himself, when about to leave the world, said to his disciples, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go,"—or, as some with good reason think the words ought to be rendered, —"as surely as I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; 'that where I am, there ye may be also.” So also said the angels who attended upon him at his ascension :-"Ye men of Galilee, ... this same Jesus, which is taken up from
* The Day of the Lord, pp. 4–8.
you. into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” He is the Bridegroom whom these virgins went out to meet, and the expectation of whose coming was the spring of all they did. It was this that drew them forth from the common world to their position of waiting. It was this that constituted the potent centre of all their thoughts, and the great joy and consolation of their hearts.
The Church is now half widowed. She is in a state of semi-bereavement, by reason of the personal absence of her Lord. She is not without many precious gifts and tokens of his affection for and great interest in her. She knows that he lives, and that he has graven her upon the palms of his hands. And sometimes, in the strength of vigorous faith, she realizes in some measure the blessedness for which she hopes. But, with all, there is a sense of pri
vation upon her which can be relieved only by his personal presence with her. These are the days of fasting, in which the Bridegroom is taken away; the days of lamentation and weeping while the world rejoices; the times of sorrow, which shall be turned to joy only when are fulfilled the words, “Yet a little while, and ye shall see me." From the time that Christ was taken up, the Church has been in the discomfort and suspense of the virgins waiting in darkness. The betrothed feels it to be a dreary blank in which her Lord is away. No present glory of the Church, nor comforts of the Spirit, nor millennium of triumph and peace, can compensate for the sense of bereavement that is upon her, until Christ himself comes.
It is with that coming that every thing for which she hopes is connected. It is with that coming that all her future glory is wrapped up. It is upon that coming that the fulfilment of all the great promises that have been given her depends. It is only at that coming that she is to be invested with her high prerogatives as the Queen of the “King of kings and Lord of lords."
And so, wherever the Church has been most herself—that is, in her purest periods and in her best members—there has always been an earnest longing and waiting for the speedy coming again of Jesus, and a constant recurrence to it as her great hope, on which every thing in Christianity is staked. When the Thessalonian converts were turned from their idols, it was, on the one hand, "to serve the living God," and, on the other, “to wait for his Son from