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How did they manifest this ?

They each carried a lighted torch ; but the foolish, unlike the wise virgins, did not provide themselves with a sufficiency of oil, to feed their lamps.

Did the bridegroom arrive as soon as they had expected ?

No. It is said while he tarried (or delayed), they slumbered and slept.

Did he then disappoint them, by not coming at all ?

No. At midnight a cry was made that he drew near, and they must go to meet him.

Were they all ready to obey the summons ?

No. When they arose to trim their lamps, five of the virgins found their lamps were gone out for want of oil, and they then saw their folly, in not following the example of their companions.

In their distress, to whom had they recourse ?

To the prudent virgins, from whom they begged a little oil.

Was this request complied with ?

No. The wise virgins were obliged to refuse. They dare not give, lest they should not have enough for themselves : but they directed the applicants to those who sold.

Whilst the latter were going to procure some, what happened ?

The bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage, and the doors were shut.

What became of the others ?
They came knocking at the door, and crying

“Lord, lord, open to us,” but to no purpose, for the bridegroom's voice from within was heard saying, “ I know you not.”

Did you not say all were friends or relations of the bridegroom?

Yes. But he meant by not knowing them, that he did not approve of their conduct, and would not acknowledge them for friends now, since they had shewn him such disrespect, by neglecting to prepare for his arrival.

Seeing that these virgins were rejected, on account of their foolish conduct, what lesson does our Saviour draw from the parable for our behaviour?

“ Watch, therefore, for ye know not the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh.”

Who is the Son of Man ?

The Lord Jesus Christ, the son of the Virgin Mary, who was made man for us men, and for our salvation.--Nicene Creed. Why was this

necessary

? Because man had sinned, and received the just condemnation of God, who declared, “ Thou shalt surely die.”—Gen. ii. 17. But “mercy rejoiced over judgment,” and the man Christ gave himself as a victim to suffer in our place.

This answer of yours will explain the meaning of a word you may frequently hear in sermons, a vicarious sacrifice, or a substitute for us.

Where is Christ called a bridegroom ?

66 Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them ?”—Matt. ix. 15. “ He that hath the bride is the bridegroom."-John iii. 29.

Why is He described as a bridegroom?

To show his love to, and union with, his bride, the Church.

Where is this expressed ?

“ Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him : for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready." —Rev. xix. 7. “ Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for it.”Ephes. v. 25.

Are not the virgins represented as expectants and companions ?

Yes. In like manner the Church is expecting the second Advent of Christ as the consummation of her happiness. “She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework : the virgins, her companions, that follow her, shall be brought unto thee.”—Ps. xlv. 14.

How is the great difference shown in the conduct of Christians ?

They all bear the lamp of profession ; but sincere believers alone carry, in their vessels (hearts), the oil of love to God, who communicates the grace of His Holy Spirit, to keep alive their spiritual flame.

That answer reminds me of Pilgrim's Progress, where Bunyan, in his dream, "saw the Interpreter take Christian by the hand, and lead him into a place where was a fire burning against a wall, and one standing by it, always casting much water upon it, to quench it; yet did the fire burn higher and hotter.

Then said Christian, What means this?
The Interpreter answered, This fire is the

work of grace that is wrought in the heart : he that casts water upon it, to extinguish and put it out, is the devil; but, in that thou seest the fire notwithstanding burn higher and hotter, thou shalt also see the reason of that. So he had him about to the other side of the wall, where he saw a man with a vessel of oil in his hand, of the which he did also continually cast (but secretly) into the fire.

Then said Christian, What means this?

The interpreter answered, This is Christ, who continually, with the oil of his grace, maintains the work already begun in the heart; by the means of which, notwithstanding what the devil can do, the souls of his people prove gracious still.2 Cor. xii. 9. And in that thou sawest, that the man stood behind the wall to maintain the fire ; this is to teach thee, that it is hard for the tempted to see how this work of

grace

is maintained in the soul.”

Though Christ seems to delay, does not Scripture assure us of His certain arrival ?

Yes. “ For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it shall speak, and not lie ; though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come; it will not tarry.”—Hab. ii. 3. also patient; stablish your hearts; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.-James v. 8.

After speaking of the scoffers who ask “Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation,” St. Peter tells believers, “ That one day is with the

66 Be ye

Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”—2 Peter. iii. 8.

In what manner should we prepare for that event?

By repenting of sin ; believing and trusting in Christ, and living a holy life.

Repeat for me a few texts.

“Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”—Acts iii. 19. “Seeing, then, that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness ?”—2 Peter iii. 11. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation ; but is passed from death unto life.”—John v. 24.

You have, in other parables, told me, that death terminates the time for preparation, and that the door of mercy is then for ever closed against those who are unprepared. May we not then consider the coming of Christ near to each of us; for is not death ever near ?

Yes. “ In the midst of life we are in death."

Burial Service. “ There is but a step between me and death.”—1 Sam. xx. 3. - For what is our life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”—James iv.

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