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inconsiderate in their preparation and too improvident in their arrangements to be ready at the time: and the palaces of the first-born they failed to enter. Having foolishly neglected to supply themselves with a sufficient stock of self-sacrificing devotion, they were left to find companionship with lower ranks, and to take their places with those whose works are burned. Their “ crowns” others “ take." ward” they receive not. Though "saved,” “with shame” they are made to “take the lowest room." They are not slain with the Lord's “enemies," but they are not invested with dominion, as their better and more faithful fellow-servants. They are not deprived of shelter somewhere in the “many mansions" of the “Father's house," but a place on that high mount where “the hundred and forty-four thousand" first-fruit “virgins” stand before the throne of God, they never reach. Though children, and not wholly disinherited, they belong to the congregation of the after-born, whose portion is but onehalf that of the rest and is attended with no rights of rulership and no priestly dignities. The inheritance of the one class is co-heirship of all things with Christ; the inheritance of the other class is simply salvation, with none of the princely distinctions and sublimer beatitudes with which a meek and faultless life and a proper investment of holy deeds and activities for Christ can adorn it. They reach the plain of“ the common salvation,” (Jude 3,) but they are not permitted to ascend the mountain-summits of exaltation and glory which spring from that plain into higher heavens.
It occurs to me to remark, here, that it has been suggested whether this view of the case might not rock the cradle of carnal security, and tend to quiet some people into contentment with inadequate preparation for heaven. It has been thought that it might perhaps encourage some to say,—as many are already too prone to say,—“Well, we know that we do not live right; but, if foolish virgins are saved, there is hope for us, and we need be no further alarmed.” But I submit it whether there is any thing in this explanation tending in the least to beget in you such feelings or conclusions. I do not believe that it is possible to make such inferences from what I have been saying, except by gross perversion of my words, --for which I am not responsible. I have not let down the conditions of eternal life one single jot. I have all along been insisting that these improvident virgins were Christians,—real Christians, Christians of a very decided character, Christians who had and did and experienced all that is written of their wiser comrades, except that the amount of oil they had was. not enough to carry them into the marriage. Not a word have I uttered to give the impression that salvation is to be had on any other terms than those of a true, sincere, and heart-renewing Christianity. This parable shows nobody saved but “virgins;" by which I can understand none other than really pure people, people in whom the true faith of the gospel has become living and practical,-people who have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus and beautified by his heavenly grace. If any are in a condition lower
than this, they are not “virgins," and can find no hope or comfort from this or any other portion of Scripture. Instead of reducing the requirements so as to make men think they can be saved by less activity, watchfulness, and consecration to God, the whole tenor of my remarks, as the whole object of this parable, has been to show that unless we all put forth more earnest efforts, and set ourselves to exhibit more of that apostolic spirit which lays every thing on the altar of Christ, our places in the kingdom, if we get there at all, will be those of “hewers of wood and drawers of water" (Josh. ix. 19, 20) rather than those of kings and princes. The whole strain is one of the most awakening sort, as the Savior meant that it should be. It is to show us that we do vainly dream of inheriting the judgeships and princedoms of the world to come, without a corresponding depth of devotion and completeness of consecration to our Lord. The word is, not that we can reach heaven with less, but that we can only rise to the rewards and honors of heaven by more. An honest filling out of the common Christian profession may save us, but it will not put us into "the Church of the first-born,” nor fit us to go in to the marriage when the Bridegroom comes. It is only hard service that brings reward, and a real bearing of the cross that secures the crown. The men of easy Christianity, whose religion costs them no pains, no self-denial, and no sacrifices, may perchance get to heaven; but they shall never reign as kings, and they are not such as shall be present at the marriage of the Lamb or share the high honors of his Bride.
In most awakening power, therefore, does this parable speak to every one of us. It shows us high honors to be obtained, for which it invites all of us to become competitors. It points us to the sublimest dignities of heaven as within our reach if we adopt the right measures to secure them. But it tells us plainly that unless we lay by more than that which currently passes for true Christianity, and augment our stock of self-denying consecration beyond what is the common import of our profession, we shall be left behind when the Savior comes, and at best only be saved at a loss which shall damage our joys for
Let each one, then, arouse himself, and earnestly press for the highest prize, lest, by being content to aim at less, he fail altogether.
WHICH IT IS TO BE DIRECTED-WHAT IS IMPLIED IN IT-GENE
RAL STATEMENT OF THE LESSONS INCULCATED BY THIS PARABLE
"Watch, therefore ; for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”—Matt. xxv. 13.
THESE words bring us to the practical application of this parable, and the object for which it was given. And as the crisis of it is the coming of the Bridegroom, so the essence of its teaching is to enforce the duty of watchfulness for that great event.
It is also remarkable how full and pointed the Scriptures are in holding forth and impressing this particular duty. The Savior enjoins it over and over, with the utmost solemnity and urgency. “Watch," says he, "for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” “Know this, that if the good-man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye
think not, the Son of man cometh.” Then comes this awakening parable to enforce these admonitions, to which it is added, “Watch, therefore; for ye