MY DEAR BROTHER BEEBE: – According to my promise to ______ I take up my pen to communicate through the Signs’ my views on the parable of the ‘Ten Virgins.’
And while I would not insist that such of your readers as see no beauty in them, should embrace them as theirs, I wish to enjoy and express them as my own, until further light shall shine upon me.
Knowing that some, whom I esteem better than myself, entertain different views from mine on the subject; it is not my wish to corrode their feelings, but, simply to express such ideas as I have on the subject, in answer to the request of Brother ______, holding myself open to conviction if any should think me, or my performance worth their notice.
When the Redeemer of his people, was performing the work the Father had given him to do, He taught the people much in parables; the reason of which is given in Matt. xiii. 11, &c. And to the person to whom it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, I think it is perfectly plain, that the figures used are varied according to the circumstances of divine government intended to be communicated. See the parable recorded in Matt. xxi. 33, &c. where it is plain that the conduct of the chief priests, pharisees, and rulers of Israel, in their departure from the worship of God, and their rejection of Christ are reproved. See also, the parable of the tares among the wheat; recorded in Matt. xiii. 25 to 30, which according to the explanation given verse 38. &c. includes the world as the field, the good seed as the children of the kingdom, the tares, the children of the wicked one; the harvest, the end of the world &c. Which doubtless relates to or embraces the general system of divine government in the administration of the grace of God in bringing forth, and separating his people from others; and gathering both Jews and Gentiles in one body in Christ Jesus.
See also the parable of the leaven hid in the meal. Matt. xiii. 33. By which I understand is represented the work of the Holy Spirit communicating the principles of divine life to the soul &c.
Thus we find different parables communicate instructions in different forms relating to different portions of divine administration.
After so long a preamble, I come to the parable of the ‘Ten Virgins.’ Which reads thus, “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened to Ten Virgins, which took their lamps and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them. But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 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. And the foolish said unto the wise, give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you; but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom come; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward come also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, verily I say unto you, I know you not.”
As was, and is, the oriental practice; the parents made the contracts of marriage for the children. So God the Father chose a bride for His Son. And according to that I suppose was an ancient custom of choosing, and notifying maidens, to wait upon the bridegroom, (whenever he was ready to go into the company of his bride;) so God organized, and notified the nation of the Hebrews; of the coming of the Messias, as the Bridegroom of his people. And that they were the nation that He had chosen as a peculiar people to himself, furnishing them with lamps; the ceremonial law, the peculiar light of which was the signs of the divine presence that appeared between the cherubims. By which the y all whether wise or foolish, on enquiry, were directed as to their duty, in such cases as they felt themselves at a loss. The five wise, and the five foolish, represented the two characters the righteous, and the wicked of that nation. The foolish took no oil; had not the grace of God in their hearts.
The wise enjoyed the love of God, saw Christ by faith as the substance of the things shadowed in the sacrifices which the law directed to offered.
“While the bridegroom tarried they all slumbered and slept.” Until Christ came they generally dwelt together as a nation and enjoyed certain privileges in common with each other, and were in expectation of being notified of the time of his coming, by the coming of Elias before him. “At midnight there was a cry made, Behold the Bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him.” The circumstances of that nation at the coming of John the Baptist, was well represented by the figure of midnight. John was the crier sent to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. The substance of John’s preaching, was a proclamation of the coming and work of Christ; and he answered to the prophetic declaration of the coming of Elias. “Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.” There was evidently a great stir among the Jews attendant on the preaching of John. “And the foolish said unto the wise, give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.”
For the holy Shekinah was seen no more between the cherubims; the Urims and the Thumins afforded no more instruction, as before it had done. They were enquiring concerning the great work performing by John; but were not satisfied; they being in the dark, wanted light from men, which none but God could give. And like idolaters of all ages, trusting in their idols, or in their own works, or the exertions of others on their behalf, looked not to Christ the true light, that then was rising in the horizon. The wise then, as their brethren of the same school now, being sensible that they were incapacitated to perform a work so great as to afford them the aid they needed to prepare them for the enjoyment of the privilege of feasting in the bride-chamber with the bridegroom, said, Not so, we have nought to spare; “But go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.”
They went doubtless in expectation of being able to obtain a full supply, with their money, or on some conditional plan of their own suggesting. But, they returned as much in the dark as they went. For, “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.” They that were prepared by the operation of the Spirit of God in their hearts; and gathered by the preaching of John, and being baptized by him; went in with Christ; into the gospel marriage, and were acknowledged by him as his bride, or the children of the bride-chamber. “And the door was shut.” This is evident, not only by the woes denounced by Christ against certain characters; but from the circumstances recorded, Matt. iii. 7,8 &c.
When he, (John) saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, “O generation of vipers! who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance &c.
In this, their (the Pharisees and Sadducees) coming to John for baptism in an unprepared state; clearly proves that they came in the dark, they had obtained no oil, notwithstanding they went to buy. They had not the love of God in their hearts; notwithstanding they had been so very religious. And the door was shut. They were not – they could not be admitted into the gospel feast, in the bride-chamber. They were not known as walking in the light of truth – as the worshippers of God, but as walking in the darkness of error, in idolatry, as the children of the devil.
I am, dear Brother yours,
In a precious hope of eternal life in Jesus Christ Our Lord.
Signs of the Times
Volume 6, No. 13.
June 29, 1838