The next installment.
168. The parables of the virgins and the talents. This, Jesus represented by the two following parables; that of the ten virgins, and that of the talents. Let it be duly observed, that the parables recorded in the twenty-fifth chapter were all designed to represent the things which are stated in the twenty-fourth. The divisions of chapters very frequently disjoints a well connected discourse in such an abrupt manner as to entirely obscure the sense; unless the reader is careful, by disregarding this arbitrary division, to preserve the connection by reading directly on. When Jesus has stated to his disciples the danger they would expose themselves to, by getting off their guard, as has been noticed, he added, â€œThen shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps and went forth to meet the bridegroom.â€ In order to preserve the connect in this reading, we ask the question when did Jesus mean that the kingdom of heaven should be likened to ten virgins? He says, Then. And this word then begins the chapter. Suppose a person sits down to read a chapter in the New Testament; and without paying any attention to anything that is said in the twenty-fourth chapter, begins the twenty-fifth and reads it through, how could he understand what the three parables, which occupy the whole chapter were designed to represent? He would know nothing about the subjects for the illustration of which the parables were spoken. He would have no idea concerning the time to which the first word in the chapter referred. But by looking back we find the word then refers to the time just mentioned, thus: :â€The Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him,â€ etc. But here we are not told when that day would be. We must then look back still farther. See verse 44. â€œTherefore be ye also ready; for in such an hour as yet think no the Son of man cometh.â€ This does not fix the time.
The fact is, neither that day nor that hour are designated in the whole discourse. See verse 36, etc. â€œBut of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my father only.â€ But of that day and hour. What day and hour? That day must refer to some time of which notice had been taken before. Look back then to the two preceding verses: â€œVerily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass away till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away.â€ By this method, we arrive at the fact, that Jesus spake of no time, of no day nor hour in all that follows these last words quoted, that was not limited to that generation.
By being thus cautious, we find our subject all laid open as the sun shines. The parable of the ten virgins, and also that of the talents were designed to set forth what the divine teacher had just stated respecting how it would fare with those who were his professed disciples, at the time when Jerusalem should be destroyed by the Romans. With this fact in the mind read the last paragraph of the twenty-fourth chapter, and the two first of the twenty-fifth in connection.
The nuptial ceremonies among the Jews were familiar to the disciples of Jesus, and so was the custom of letting money at interest. These two customs he used to impress on their minds the necessity of being on their guard that they might be prepared for the occasion of their Lord's coming; and also duly to improve the gifts which he had bestowed on them, that at his coming they might be able to present him with suitable improvements.
If we duly consider what we have here collected from the directions which Jesus gave to his disciples, and remember that he told them, as has been noticed. Matt. x. 23. â€œBut when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another; for verily I say unto you, ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel till the son of man be come,â€ we must not only feel a full conviction that the common use which has been made of these parables of the virgins and the talents is altogether foreign from the Saviour's meaning, but we must also feel no small surprise at such an egregious error.
169. The parable of the sheep and the goats. I come now to notice the parable of the sheep and the goats. Immediately following the conclusion of the parables of the talents, Jesus says: â€œWhen the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory,â€ etc. The follows an account of the judgment. Here let it be observed, that the Saviour having instructed his disciples respecting what he should require of them, and how the would be rewarded for their faithfulness, or punished for their delinquency, proceeds to represent the great distinction, which would, at the same time, be made between those who should treat them kindly, and those who should neglect to do so.
Let us be duly cautious concerning the time of the coming of the Son of man, in his glory, and with his angels. In this parable he gives not intimation when this coming would take place, or when it ought to be expected. The reason why he did not mention the time is the same for which he did not point out the day nor hour of his coming in the preceding context. The reason, in all these cases, why he did not mention the particular time, was because he had explicitly stated that his coming with his angels would certainly be in that generation; but of the day and the hour none but his Father in heaven knew. The reader is here requested to keep in mind all those passages which have been quoted, which speak of the coming of Jesus with his angels, etc., and to remember that they all expressly state that his coming would be during that generation.