Dear Brother Beebe; Having to make a remittance to you, I have concluded to give you such views as I have on the parables of the ten virgins and the talents, recorded in the 25th chapter of Matthew. The ten virgins represent the church of Christ in her gospel organization, the lamps the public profession of each member when they follow Christ in the first duty of baptism; the oil the different gifts or graces bestowed upon each member by the same Spirit for the edification and comfort of the whole body; the contemplated coming of the bridegroom refers to the visitation of the Savior by the refreshing influences of his Spirit, or by the gospel ministry, or angel flying in the midst of heaven or gospel church. Rev.14:6. Each member in his place discharging every duty, exercising such gift as has been bestowed, as faithful and obedient children, or soldiers of the cross, then they are ready at any time for the coming of the Bridegroom, because their lamps are trimmed, with oil in them, or their christian graces or different gifts in lively exercise; for as oil causes the wick to burn and give light, so do christians let their light shine by discharging the duties the Bridegroom has enjoined upon them. But in this imperfect state, in dark and trying night seasons realized by the saints in their pilgrimage, when the Bridegroom seems to delay, many of them become entirely careless, and too often conformed to the world, living after the flesh, and die to the enjoyment of the things of the kingdom of God, and their light ceases to shine, like the lamp without oil, while others keep up the form of discharging their duty, always at their place, and their lamps are burning, because they have oil [or christian graces] in their vessels, though with but little religious enjoyment; and often all slumber and sleep together, and when aroused up, through preaching, or by the judgments of God, and notified that the Bridegroom is coming, and they are called to go out to meet him, then all rise up [because they are not dead, but were sleeping] and begin to make ready by trimming their lamps, [or searching whether or not their works had been according to their profession] and such as had been diligent in discharging their duty and keeping their different gifts in exercise, are ready to go in and sup with him and he with them; but others, [foolish virgins] who had neglected their duty, or digged in the ground and hid their Lord’s money, having not exercised the gifts bestowed upon them, now discover that their lamps are gone out, for they have no oil in their vessels, and then desire the more diligent members [wise virgins] to divide with them. But this they could not do lest they themselves should not have enough. Truly all the gifts bestowed are useful in their place, and none to spare. Hence these negligent ones are advised to go rather to them that sell and buy for themselves. But before they could get ready, they that were ready went in with him and the door was shut; and when the foolish virgins came and knocked for entrance, saying, Lord, open to us, the answer was, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. He does not say, I never knew you, but they were not known in supping with him, and they with him, in that time of refreshing as coming from his presence, and greatly enjoyed by such as were ready. In Song 5:2, we read that the spouse slept, but her heart waked at the voice of her Beloved. But in her lazy, drowsy condition she said, “I have put off my coat, how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet, how shall I defile them?” [She must have remembered that when she retired the floor was filthy.] Though slow and dull, eventually she opened to her Beloved. But he had withdrawn himself and was gone. She called him, but he gave her no answer; for he knew her not in that visitation. The watchmen [gospel ministers] that went about the city [or gospel church] found her, and smote her, and wounded her, taking away her veil from her. To this day plain gospel preaching finds negligent or disobedient believers, smiting, wounding, and exposing their failures, which they are made to confess with shame. But after all the spouse had passed the watchmen but a little till she found her Beloved. Truly after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. Dear christian reader, have you not too often become conformed to the world, forgetful and neglectful of your religious privileges, until when in company with diligent saints who really enjoyed the visitations of their Lord through the preaching of the gospel or religious conversation, when you could not enjoy yourself by partaking with them in feelings; because your lamp had gone out, and your oil exhausted. Hence you were not known in that pleasant supping of inward spiritual enjoyment. In my humble opinion these parables were both given to teach the saints impressively the great importance of constant watchfulness and diligent obedience to all the commandments of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, always looking for the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior, whether his coming is by his heavenly visitations spiritually to the refreshing of his poor afflicted people, or by his judgments for their chastisement, or by his coming to call them from this earthly house in which they tabernacle here, to that building of God, a house not made with hands eternal in the heavens, or by his coming the second time without sin unto salvation to raise his saints in his glorious likeness in the morning of the resurrection. Therefore let us watch and be sober, never touching, nor tasting the wine of the fornication of the great whore of Babylon with which so many are intoxicated in this day of strong delusion and religious humbuggery.
The foregoing is at your disposal, for correction and publication, or to be laid aside, as you may think best. I must say in conclusion that I have been greatly edified, instructed and comforted by the communications lately appearing in the “Signs,” and fully agree with some of the dear brethren who have tried to encourage brother J.F. Johnson to continue to write for the “Signs.” Will brother Johnson please write his views on the following text? Hebrews 9:14. “Who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God,” &c.
Your unworthy brother in gospel bonds,
Near Lexington Georgia, Dec., 1869.