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“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto 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 touk no oil with them : But the wise took oil in their vessels with thcir 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 yo ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 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. Afterwards came also other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily, I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” Matt. xxv. 1-13.
This parable refers to the same time and events which occupy the preceding chapter. The remark of Kenrick is very just : * The word then with which this parable begins, shows that our Lord is still speaking upon the same subject about which he had been discoursing in the last chapter, viz. the periud of the destruction of Jerusalem." To the same purport is the comment of Bishop Pearce. “Then shall the kingdoin of heaven,'i. e. at that time, and under those circumstances. This shews,
1 Exposition, on Matt. xxv. 1.
that Jesus, in this chapter, is speaking on the same subject as in the foregoing one, viz. what was to happen at the destruction of the Jewish state.” And again, on ver. 13, the Bishop says, “this plainly shews, that what was said before in this chapter, relates to the destruction of the Jewish state, expressed by the Son of man's coming, as in chap. xvi. 27, 28."1 'On the connexion of the twenty-fifth with the twenty-fourth chapter we remark no further here, as it must be brought up again in the Notes on the parable of the Sheep and Guats.
The parable before us, is evidently drawn from the nuptial ceremonies of the eastern nations. It was a custom with thein, for the bridegroom to repair, on the night of the marriage, with great pomp, to the house of the bride, accompanied by his attendants, for the purpose of receiving the nuptial benediction, and conducting the bride to his own mansion. "Four persons walked before him, carrying a canopy, supported by four poles, that if the bride intended to walk home to the bridegroom's house after the ceremony, she might walk under it in company with her husband.”2 On arriving at the residence of the bride, it was usual for her neighbors and friends, particularly young women, to welcome his approach, by going out to meet him with torches, or lamps in their hands. Lightfoot remarks that they carried before them ten wooden staves, having each of them at top a vessel like a dish, in which was a piece of cloth or wick, dicped in oil, to give light to the company. “For this act of civility they were rewarded, if they caine in tine, with the honor of being admit1 Commentary on Matt. xxv. 1 and 13.
Brown's Antiq. of Jews, Part xi. sec. 2
ted to the marriage feast, which was always held at night.” It will appear perfectly evident from this relation, that the parable is founded altogether on the events of an eastern marriage. There were ten virgins who took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. Five are represented as having been wise, because they were prepared for the coming of the bridegroon ; the other five were foolish, because they were not prepared. The cry was made at midnight, go ont to meet the bride. grooin.” The wise went out to receive him, and went in with him to the marriage; the foolish were excluded, because, not having watched for his approach, nor made ready for it, they did not arrive in season.2
i Kenrick's Expos. Matt. xxv. 1.
2 The following accounts of eastern weddings will be interesting to the reader, and serve to illustrate the parable before us. The first (see A. Clarke's Commentary on Matt. xxv. 6,) is taken from the Zend Avester, vol. ii. p. 558.
“On the day appointed for the marriage, about 5 'o'clock in the evening, the bridegrooin comes to the house of the bride, where the mobed, or priest, pronounces for the first time the nuptial benediction. He then brings her to his own house, gives her some refreshmerit, and afterwards the assembly of her relatives and friends, reconduct her to her father's house. When she arrives, 'tle mobed repeats the nuptial benediction, which is generally done about midnight; immediately after, the bride, accompanied with a part of her attending troop (the rest having returned to their own homes) is reconducted to the house of her husband, where she generally arrives about three o'clock in the morning. Nothing can be more brilliant than these nuptial solemnities in India. Sometimes the assembly consists of not less than 2000 persons, all richly dressed in gold and silver tissue ; the friends and relatives of the bride, encompassed with their dornestics, are all mounted on horses richly harnessed. The goods, wardrobe, and even the bed of the bride are carried in triumph. The husband, richly mounted and magnificently dressed, is accompanied by his friends and relatives, the friends of the bride following him in covered carriages. At intervals during the procession guns and rockets are fired, and the spectacle is rendered grand
It will be hardly possible for the careful reader to mistake the true application of this parable. By consulting verse 13 he will perceive that Jesus himself made the application of it. In deducing the lesson he meant to enforce, he said, “WATCH, therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” Compare this with verse 42 of chap. xxiv. It is evident, that the design of the Saviour was to teach his followers watchfulness, in view of his coming to destroy the Jewish state.
The phrase kingdom of heaven,' should here be understood somewhat as the word church' is now generally used, viz. to signify the professed followers of Christ. They were represented by the virgins,—those who watched for their master's com
beyond description, by a prodigious number of sighted torches, and by the sound of a multitude of musical instruments."
Mr. Ward has giver the following description of a Hindoo wedding, which forms a striking parallel to the parable before us.
" At a marriage, the procession of which I saw some years ago, the bridegroom came from a distance, and the bride lived at Serampore, to which place the bridegroom was to come by water. After waiting two or three hours, at length, near midnight, it was announced, as if in the very words of scripture, behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him. All the persons employed now lighted their lamps, and ran with them in their hands to fill up their stations in the procession ; some of them had lost their lights, and were unprepared, but it was then too late to seek them, and the cavalcade moved forward to the house of the bride, at which place the company entered a large and splendidly illuminated area, before the house, covered with an awning, where a great multitude of friends, dressed in their best apparel, were seated upon mats. The bridegroom was carried in the arms of a friend, and placed on a superb seat in the midst of the company, where he sat a short time, and then went into the house, the door of which was immediately shit, and guarded by sepoys. I and others expostulated with the door keepers, but in vain. Never was. I so struck with our Lord's beantiful parable, as at this moment and the door was shut.'” Ward's view of the History, &c. of the Hindoos, vol. iii. pp. 171, 172.
ing by the wise virgins, and those who were regardless of that event by the foolish. Christians were too prone, like these virgins, to slumber.
Paul, in writing to the Romans, endeavored to i awake them. " It is high time to awake out of i sleep.” Rom. xiii. 11. Addressing the Thessaloncians, the same apostle said, “For yourselves know
perfectly, that the day of the Lord so cometh as a w – thief in the night. ****** Therefore, let us
not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be sober.” 1 Thess. v. 2, 6. By the coming of the bridegroom in splendor, with his attendants, Jesus represented his own coming, in his glory, with his angels, or messengers, at the destruction of the Jews. As the wise virginis entered, with the bridegroom to the marriage, so the watchful Christians entered into the enjoyment of all the blessings which accrued to the church from that signal destruction of its enemies which took place at the coming of Christ; and as the foolish virgins were excluded from the marriage, so the heedless, sleeping professors, who did not watch for their Lord, were excluded from the blessings which the watchful enjoyed, and were sh t out in darkness and misery with the hypocritical Jews, the avowed enemies of Jesus Christ. Kenricki will be found to confirm the views here advanced. Remarking on verse 13, he
says, “ These last words, as well as what the parai ble begins with, shew that it refers to the coming
of Christ, for the destruction of Jerusalem, and not to his coming at the general judgment; for he concludes with the same exhortation wbich he had subjoined to the account which he gave, in the
, 'This author believed in a 'general judgment,' so called, in the future state, and applied the parable of the sheep and goats, Matt. xxv. 31-46 to that event.