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dismayed; and the Lord your God will be with you as he hath been formerly, which shall be the prayer of, Your humble servant in the gospel of Jesus Christ,
“ And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold the Bridegroom cometh.”—Matt, XXV. 6.
In this parable ye hare the state and posture of the church a little before and at the coming of Jesus Christ.
6 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins," verse 1. Sometimes the doctrine and grace of the gospel is called the kingdom of heaven; The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed,” &c. This cannot be meant here: because in the gospel there are not ten virgins. Sometimes the state of glory above is called the kingdom of heaven: that is not meant here, because there are no foolish virgins. Sometimes the church of Christ under the new testament is called the kingdom of heaven, for there God appears, manifests himself, and it is heaven on earth; and this is that which is here called the kingdom of heaven; which kingdom is described by the Governor, King and Head thereof, and by the subjects of that kingdom. The subjects are described by their agreement and disagreement. First, They agree in this, that they are all virgins; though some foolish, yet virgins, not defiled with men or the pollutions of the world: it is possible a foolish and unsound heart may go thus far in religion, to be free from the pollutions of the world, yea, through the knowledge of Christ, says the apostle Peter. Secondly, They agree in this, that they have all their lamps, good and bad, wise and foolish, under ordinances, which are the lamps, whereby the golden oil of the sanctuary is emptied into our hearts. Thirdly, They agree in this, that they are all expectants, wise and foolish wait the Bridegroom's coming; they all think to receive good, and have a good day by the coming of Jesus Christ : this is far, yet thus far may a foolish virgin go. Fourthly, They all agree in this, that they had oil in their lamps; indeed it is said, verse 3, that “ the foolish virgins took no oil with them,” but they say, verse 8, “ Our lamps are gone out;"* so that oil they had once, but they had not enough, and so none; parts and gifts and common graces a man may have, not only his lamp, but some oil in it for a time, yet be a foolish virgin. Fifthly, They agree in this, that they keep company, have communion and fellowship together in the church, yea, so far that the foolish are not known till Christ's coming; so smoothly may a foolish virgin carry it, yet remain foolish. Sixthly, They all agree in this, also, that they hold out their profession with lamps, and waiting until the Bridegroom comes. So that possibly a man may be a professor of the gospel, and bear up his profession among the best, even to the last, yet be unsound at heart, and a foolish virgin. Thus far they agree.
* Ad nihilum valet quod non valet ad finem suum.
But though these virgins agree in many things, yet they disagree in point of wisdom; for the wise got so much oil as did serve till the last, the foolish not so; there was defectus olei, verse 8.
Again, You have here the description of the King, Governor and Head of this kingdom, who is described from and by the manner of his coming. First, He comes as a Bridegroom. Secondly, He comes apparently: not as in the days of his flesh, when he came more hiddenly; “Behold a great cry," &c. Thirdly, He comes suddenly, unexpectedly, in the most dark time, he comes at midnight.
Now Christ's coming is either spiritual and invisible, John xiv. 18, “ I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you;” or visible; and that either at the day of judgment, or else at the calling and conversion of the Jews, when he will appear in the clouds, and come to set up his kingdom in this world in a more glorious manner than ever.
So Rev. xvii., “ Behold he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him (that is the Jews); and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him, even so, Amen;" which relates unto Zech. xii. 10-14, “ I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and supplication ; and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his own son, &c. In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, and the land shall mourn, every family apart: the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart; the family of the
house of Levi apart, and their wives apart,” &c.; which cannot be understood of the day of judgment, because then the families of David, Nathan, Shimei, Levi, shall not mourn apart, and their wives apart. Of this coming of Christ to set
up his kingdom, I rather take this parable to be understood, and not of his coming at the day of judgment; for in Matt. xiv. the disciples did propound three questions to our Saviour Christ : verse 3, • Tell us, when shall these things be ?” that is, the destruction of the temple; “ and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world ?” To the last he doth answer first, as is usual in Scripture, negatively: verse 6, “ Ye shall hear of wars, and rumours of wars, but the end is not yet.” Affirmatively, verse 14, “ And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations, and then shall the end come.” To the first question he doth answer in the second place, verses 15, 16, and to the second he doth answer in the third and last place, because he intended to speak most of that, and $0 proceeds to speak of his coming, and the signs thereof, in the after part of the xxivth chapter, verses 37—50, and so he goes on in this beginning of the xxvth: “ Then shall the kingdom of heaven be like unto ten virgins.” In which parable still he speaks of his coming as before, for, verse 13, he concludes this parable thus,“ Watch ye, therefore, for ye know not the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh.”
Besides, Christ comes not as a Bridegroom but as a Judge at the day of judgment. And if ye look into Rev. xix., xxi., and xxii., where mention is made of the glory of Christ's kingdom in the latter times, ye find that the converting Jew, who there sings the Hebrew song, Hallelujah! is called the bride, the Lamb's wife, saying, “Come, Lord Jesus.” And at chapter xix. 18, 19, mention is made of a great battle: but there is no fighting or battling at the day of judgment. That is no time for feasting, nor suppers neither ; but at weddings and marriages there were and are great suppers, which we read shall be at this time, verse 17. And as the wise enter, so the foolish, and those that tell and make lies, are shut out. Finding therefore all these things at that coming of Christ, thus to suit with this parable, I rather incline to think, that it cannot be understood of the day of judgment, but of that time when Christ will appear at the Jews' conversion, to set
up his kingdom on earth, in that glorious and blessed manner which all the prophets bear witness unto.
And because all the victories and deliverances that Christ worketh for the churches in the meantime, are so many steps unto this kingdom and coming of his : therefore, in scripture phrase, sometimes they are called his coming. Matt. xvii. His transfiguration was called his coming in his kingdom, for chap. xvi. 28, Christ saith, “ There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” And then, chap. xvii. 1, it is said, “ And after six days, Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them.” In three gospels the history of the transfiguration is linked unto that speech: “ There are some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom," with those words, “And after six days Jesus took Peter," &c. Our Lord and Saviour Christ was then come when he spake those words, but he was to come in a more glorious way and manner to set up his kingdom; and his transfiguration being a taste of that glory and coming, it is here called his coming in his kingdom. So all these great deliverances and victories which Christ worketh for his church, being so many tastes and forerunners of his coming in his kingdom, they may be called his coming too : surely they are as so many steps that he takes in the way of his coming to his kingdom.
But, says the text, he comes at midnight; that is, in a time when he is least expected, suddenly, and when we are most in the dark. And so the observation is this:
Christ comes at midnight : though his coming be most expected, yet he will come in a time when he is least expected: when he comes as a Bridegroom, he comes at midnight, in a time when he is least expected, in the darkest time; Christ comes at midnight.
“Behold (says Christ) I come as a thief :" thieves come in the darkest time, a time when they are least expected; so will Christ's coming be.
For the opening and clearing of which truth, I shall labour to shew,
First, That our Lord and Saviour Christ will come again. Secondly, That he will come at midnight.
Thirdly, Give you some account why he chooses rather thus to come at midnight, than otherwise.
And then draw down this by way of application to our present occasion.
First, Our Lord and Saviour Christ will come again.
Take his coming for his spiritual coming, and though now absent from your souls, yet he will come again. “ If any man love me, my Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with him," John xiv. 25.
Take his coming, for his personal, visible coming at the day of judgment, so he will come again, 2 Thess. i. 7-10.
Take his coming for his appearing in the clouds, when he will come to set up his kingdom, so he will come again before that great day: for if ye look into the Scripture, ye shall find that his coming and his kingdom are knit together, do synchronnize. Dan. vii. 13, 14.
So in many scriptures ye shall find that his coming and his kingdom do go together. Now if ye look into Rev. xi., we shall find it spoken of times yet to come : “ The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever," ver. 15. “ And we give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned,” ver. 17: which cannot be understood of the day of judgment, for then the nations are not angry, then the temple door is not opened, as is here said, ver. 18, 19.
I would not be mistaken here; for I do not think that Christ shall come and reign, continue reigning upon earth a thousand
I do not see how the saints can spare him out of heaven so long. Neither do I think that this his coming is only to be understood of a spiritual coming into the souls of his, so filling their souls with his Spirit, that they shall have need of ordinances no more ; for in those glorious times, though there shall be no temple, that is, a Jewish temple, yet the temple door, that is, the gospel temple, shall be opened. And in Zech. xiv. which is plainly spoken of the glory of the latter times yet to come, it is said expressly three times in that chapter, that men shall go up to keep the feasts of tabernacles, an allusion to the Jewish ordinance. But why not the feast of pasaover and pentecost, only the feasts of tabernacles? Many reasons may be given, but I