The long-suffering and patient grace of the Lord Jesus shine
very sweetly to faith in the parable of the ten virgins, which
represents the great body of professing Christians, true and
false, wise and foolish. The heart loves to dwell on Him who
lingers in His compassion for those who are still outside; who
have the lamp of profession, but no oil to sustain the light.
He is unwilling to shut the door. Wide open it stands, both
night and day, speaking after the manner of men. Seven times
the blood of the cross is sprinkled on the throne, and seven
times before it. God's claims are fairly and fully met; the
throne and the way up to it are reconciled; and whosoever will
may now enter in through faith in that precious blood. All who
come are pardoned and "accepted in the beloved." . . . "Him
that cometh to me," says the blessed Lord, "I will in nowise
cast out." Thus the way is open to faith, and thus it remains,
during the period of the Lord's long-suffering. "And account,"
says Peter, "that the long-suffering of our Lord is
salvation." He lingers on the throne, He keeps the door open,
for the salvation of souls. Precious thought! He waits for the
salvation of lost sinners. May we share in His sympathies, and
seek to win souls for Him. Ephesians 1: 6; John 6: 37; 2 Peter
But not only is the door open, and the Lord waiting in grace
to receive and pardon all who come to Him, His love is active
and unwearied - it goes out to seek as well as to save the
lost. The midnight cry, so full of solemn warning to the
utterly careless and mere professor, is full of comfort to
those who are looking and longing for His coming. To the
latter it will be a morning of cloudless joy, the dawn of
eternal day: to the former it will be the beginning of endless
sorrow, confusion, and eternal night.
But why not listen to the cry now? It is full of the purest
mercy and affectionate warning, It as good as says, "Why will
ye die?" . . . . . . "Ye will not come to me, that ye might
have life." Once more hear and weigh these words, of priceless
value, because they seek to awaken the careless from their
fatal slumbers, and the wise virgins from their unwatchfulness.
"And at midnight there was a cry made. Behold the
bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him." Who can mistake
the meaning of these words? The midnight, we are assured, is
past, the morning must be near; hope springs up in the heart;
like the chilly night traveller, who hails with transports of
delight the first appearance of the morning star. There,
unbelief would be folly, or worse. Who would think of denying
that the morning must be near when the midnight is past? And
thus it is now to faith and hope, "the coming of the Lord
draweth nigh." Already the church, as awakened by the Spirit,
has heard His voice, and responded to His expecting love. "I
am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and
morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let
him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come.
And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."
Revelation 22: 16, 17.
But we dwell not at present on the beautiful attitude of the
church as here presented; our thoughts turn for a moment to
the foolish virgins and the utterly careless.
The second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven is the
one all-important event placed before both saints and sinners
in the New Testament; not death, as is commonly said, or the
uncertainty of life. Of course, we may die, and life is always
uncertain; but the testimony of scripture is not to these, in
order to arouse the slumbering virgins, but to the coming of
the Lord. When He comes, the real condition of all is
manifested, whether in the vigour of youth, and dreaming of
many years to come, or in the feebleness of age, and feeling
that the end is near; or whether making a profession of
Christianity, or living according to the course of this world.
And as this great and decisive event may take place, for
anything we know, before the dawn of another day - before this
paper is finished - should not the thought of it, the terror
of it, awaken, alarm, arrest the most careless?
All who have heard the gospel of the grace of God - all who
have been invited to come to Jesus - and especially all who
have heard the midnight cry, but have persisted in a course of
unbelief - will then be judged by the Lord as unworthy of that
which they have despised, and the door of mercy will then be
closed against them for ever. The wise virgins, true
Christians, will go in with Christ to the marriage, and the
door will be shut. But, like the door of the ark, it will now
be shut by the hand of the Lord, and none can open it. Against
all who refused to enter in while it stood open, it will be
closed for ever. The awakening will now be terrible, but too
late. "And the door was shut." This will prove an overwhelming
reality to those who can find no admittance, and no oil to
buy. Eternal darkness must now be their doom, and they know
it. The scene is too awful to contemplate, but the Lord has
said enough to convince us of what will then be, and to warn
us while the door still stands wide open.
is perfectly clear, we think, both from this parable and other
scriptures, that great excitement will prevail among the
foolish virgins immediately the church is gone. They are
evidently taken by surprise, and astonished to find that there
is no hope - that the Lord will not open the door to them.
Like many in the present day, they intended to be saved, but
not until it suited themselves. They never dreamed of being
shut out, but of surely being saved at a more convenient
season. Nearly all their relatives, friends, and
acquaintances, were Christians; they are now inside; the
eternal song begins; the sight of Jesus fills the enraptured
throng with joy unutterable; their hallelujahs wax louder and
louder; all catch the flying joy, and rolling round the
rapturous hosanna, fill the vast regions of glory with their
new, eternal song of loftiest praise. "Worthy is the Lamb that
was slain," with a loud voice they cry, "to receive power, and
riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, glory, and
blessing." Revelation 5: 12.
But, once more, what of those outside? They cry too, but with
a loud and bitter wail: "Lord, Lord, open to us. But he
answered and said, Verily, I say unto you, I know you not."
This is decisive; there is no appeal from His tribunal. The
heart sinks in despair, to be lifted up no more for ever. Oh!
that careless souls would think of such things now; it is
lacerating to our every feeling to write them, what must it be
to endure them in hopeless despair! In Luke 13 they are
represented as knocking at the door, and saying, Lord, Lord,
open unto us; we have eaten and drunk in Thy presence, and
Thou hast taught in our streets. This clearly shows that they
had not only been professors, but that they had enjoyed great
privileges. Of course, there is no door to knock at but the
language conveys the most distressing thought of their
disappointment and agony of mind; and this may continue until
they fall into the hands of Satan, and believe his lie. (2
Thess. 2: 10-12.) But how could it be otherwise? From some
families all will be gone save two or three; from others, only
two or three will be gone; and some houses will be left
without an inhabitant. Chiefest friends, too, and nearest
relations, will be parted, to meet no more for ever. Then the
awful thought will burst upon their bewildered minds with
undisguised reality: What we refused to believe has taken
place - the Lord has come, the church is gone, the door is
closed, and over it is written, "There is no hope." But those
who have been caught up will neither hear their cries, nor
witness their agonies. In their bodies of glory, they are far
and for ever removed from all scenes of suffering. The lower
things will be forgotten in our occupation with the higher.
How merciful and gracious, then, my dear reader, is the
warning voice of our parable! "Behold, the bridegroom cometh."
Time enough is given thee between the midnight cry and the
Bridegroom's arrival to prove thy state, and find oil to buy.
Thou knowest the easy terms on which the oil is sold -
"without money and without price!" The door is open, the oil
is free, free to the poorest, free to the vilest, free to
thee. Come to Jesus just as thou art, but see that thou come
now. There is not a moment to lose. Haste thee; flee to Jesus.
Canst thou afford to lose Him, and all the friends thou
holdest dear? What would be the value of all thy property and
thy pleasures, if the door of heaven were shut against thee?
Rich thou mayest be now, but then thou wouldst be poor indeed
- Christless, friendless, homeless, godless, heavenless,
hopeless. Come, then, oh come! Come as thou art! But, oh, come
now! Thou wilt find all in Jesus - blessed Jesus! There is no
oil, no saving grace, no Holy Spirit, no eternal life, save in
Jesus; but all are thine; thine now, thine for ever, through
faith in His blessed name. Oh, trust in Him alone!
When the sight of Jesus bursts upon the gaze of the wise but
once slumbering virgins, what thinkest thou will be the shout
of their praise? Better come and join the joyful chorus, than
swell with thine own agonies the bitter wail of the lost in
hell. I will now leave thee, but I hope not for ever, with the
encouraging, assuring, word of Jesus: "I counsel thee to buy
of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and
white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame
of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with
eye-salve that thou mayest see." Revelation 3: 18.
The Grace and Glory of God, by Andrew Miller.