William Kelly Major Works Commentary
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.Matthew Chapter 25
"Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins." We have here the general aspect of those who bear the name of Christ. The kingdom of heaven here implies a certain economy at a given point of time. "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps and went forth to meet the bridegroom" (ver. 1). "Their lamps" set forth the light of profession. They were witnesses for the Lord, and their calling was to meet the Saviour. That was to be the attitude of the Christian from the first, going forth to meet the Bridegroom. Christianity does not mean that its professors remain where they are, and so look for Christ, but that they leave everything in order to go out and meet the Bridegroom. Some of the early believers were Jews, and some were Gentiles; but they abandoned for Christ their previous connections, their position in the world, and all that they hitherto valued. They had a new object; they knew that the only blessed one in the sight of God was the Saviour; they were waiting for Him, who is in heaven, and they go out to meet Him who has promised to come again. This is the true expectation of the Christian. There ought to be no fixing of dates, but the certain hope that the Lord is coming - we know not when. The stronger such a hope is in our hearts, the more completely separated shall we be from the plans and projects of this world.
"And five of them were wise, and five were foolish." The kingdom of heaven becomes a thing of profession. As in the case of the servants there was an evil as well as a faithful servant, so here we have five wise and five foolish virgins. "They that were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them." They were persons who had the lamp of profession but no oil. Some have thought that they were Christians who failed in looking for the Lord to come. But I believe this to be false, because the foolish proved their folly in this - that they took no oil in their lamps. What does this imply? Oil is the type of the Holy Ghost. We read in 1 John 2 of an "unction from the Holy One." Will anyone maintain that there are real Christians who have not this "unction "? The wise virgins set forth true believers, the foolish ones mere professors; these took the name of Christ, but there was nothing that could fit them for the presence of Christ. Our power of enjoying Christ is entirely by the Holy Ghost. The natural man may admire Christ, but only at a distance, and without an awakened or a purged conscience. There is no living link of relationship between the heart of the natural man and Christ; and therefore man crucified Him. These foolish virgins, having no oil in their lamps, showed that they possessed nothing that could enable them to welcome Christ. The Holy Ghost alone can fit men to stand in the confession of His name to do His work. The oil was that which fed the lamp, and these foolish virgins had none. "But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept" (vers. 4, 5). They all dropped practically the hope of Christ's coming: there was no difference in that. There were true Christians and false, but all were in this respect asleep. Thus, while the original calling of Christians was to wait for Christ's return, being united to Him by the Holy Ghost, yet was there to be a universal slumber as to expecting Christ. But the Lord adds, "At midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him" (ver. 6). Plainly, that cry was the movement of the Holy Ghost Himself. It was the power and grace of God which sent it out by the means that He saw fitting. We are not told how, but it plainly reveals a general movement among Christian professors - a revival of the truth of the coming of the Lord. "Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps" (ver. 7). The cry affected even those who had not the Holy Ghost dwelling in them.
But now comes out the solemn difference. "The foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out," or rather, "are going out." They had lit their wicks, but there was no oil. The light of mere nature burns soon and rapidly, but there is nothing that implies the Spirit of God - they had never had oil. "But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you; but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves." I need not say that the terms on which God sells and man buys the Holy Ghost are, "without money and without price "; but the great point is that every soul must have to do with God. The believer listens, and bows to God in this world; the unbeliever will quail before God in the next world. Grace compels souls to come in and to have to do with Him now, in this world; but if I refuse to face God about my sins here below, I shall find myself lost forever. Now is the day of salvation; and it is only a delusion of the devil to persuade the heart to defer it to a more convenient season. If I go to God about my sins, and because I believe that Jesus is a Saviour, I shall find, not merely Jesus the Son of God but the Holy Ghost given, by whom I shall be able to enjoy the Saviour. The wise had this oil, and they could await the coming of the Lord in peace. But the foolish ones are unacquainted with His grace. And to whom do they go? Not to those who sell without money and without price. "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." Afterward, as we see in the painful picture of the foolish virgins, they come, 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."*
*The words "wherein the Son of Man cometh" have no substantial manuscript authority in this verse. This is no particular view of mine, but it is the judgment of every competent person who has examined the original testimonies.
When the Lord is set forth as coming in the way of judgment, He is spoken of as Son of Man. Here He is represented as the Bridegroom; and if the words "Son of Man" were really to be read here, it would be hard indeed to account for them. How plain that you cannot add anything to Scripture without spoiling it! Our Lord here appears in an aspect of grace toward His saints; and this is one reason why you have no description of the judgment about to fall upon the foolish virgins. The displayed execution of divine vengeance would be incongruous with His title of Bridegroom. No doubt even here the door is shut; and our Lord tells the foolish virgins, when they appeal to Him to open, "I know you not"; but He thereon immediately turns the fact to the spiritual profit of His disciples: "Watch therefore; for ye know neither the day nor the hour" (ver. 13).
Then comes another parable. "For the kingdom of heaven is [or, literally, "It is] as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey" (vers. 14, 15). There our Lord is represented as leaving this world and going to a far country. This is a remarkable way in which our Lord is presented here. In Matthew His home is supposed to be on the earth, because He is the Messiah who came to His own, even if His own received Him not. As the rejected Messiah He leaves His home, and goes, the suffering but glorified Son of Man, to the far country, which is clearly heaven. And while He is gone there He has His servants to whom He has committed certain of His goods; and with these they are to labour "Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents" (ver. 16). Here we have another kind of ministry. It is not serving the household, and giving them meat in due season, as in Matthew 24:45. It is trading, or going out to others. This is a characteristic of Christianity. In Judaism there was no such thing as the Lord sending His servants here and there to gain souls; but when the Lord Jesus left this world and went up to heaven, He thus sent them out. He left them means to trade withal. It is the activity of grace that goes out to seek sinners, as well as spread the testimony of the truth of God among saints.
If the Lord calls to service He also gives according to our several ability. The character of the gift put at our disposal is suited, in the Giver's wisdom, both to the object and the vessel. There is sovereignty, and all is wisely ordered. , How could it be otherwise, seeing that it is the Lord who calls? It is here too that Christendom has so largely failed. Were a man now to begin to preach and teach without some human sanction, many would regard it as a piece of assumption, if not presumption; whereas, in truth, if I look for authority from the churches to preach or serve the Lord, I shall be sinning against Christ. Any appointment by men for such a purpose is unauthorized by and opposed to the mind of Christ; and those whom they would consider acting irregularly are in reality in the lowly path of obedience, and will find their vindication in the great day. It is entirely a question between Christ and His own servants. He gives one to be a prophet, another an evangelist, another a pastor and teacher (Eph. 4). But there are two things in the servant - both of them of importance. He gave them gifts, but it was according to their several ability. The Lord does not call any one to special service who has not an ability for the trust committed to him. The servant must have certain natural and acquired qualifications, besides the power of the Spirit of God. He gave them talents - to one five, to another two, and to another one. Here you have the energy of the Holy Ghost - the power that the Lord gives from on high, over and above His choice of each man "according to his several ability."
It is plain from this that there are certain qualities in the servant independent of the gift that the Lord puts into him. His natural powers are the vessel that contains the gift, and wherein the gift is to be exercised. If the Lord calls a man to be a preacher, there is supposed a natural aptitude for it. Again, the gift may be increased. First, there is the ability of the man before and when he is converted; next, the Lord gives him a gift that he never possessed before; thirdly, if. he does not stir up his gift, there may be a weakening, if not loss. He may become unfaithful, and may lose power. But if a man waits upon the Lord, there may, on the contrary, be increased power given to him. Many think that the one qualification of the servant of God is that of the. Spirit. This is, of course, essential, and most blessed; but it is not all. The truth is that Christ gives gifts; but He gives them "according to the ability" of the individual. The union of the two facts, the ability of the servant and the sovereignly-bestowed gift given him to trade with, is of all-importance to keep distinctly in view.
But to proceed: "After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained besides them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant" (vers. 19-21). In chapter 24 it was the "faithful and wise" servant, because, where it is a question of the household, wisdom is needed. But here it is "thou good and faithful servant." Both are called "faithful"; but, in the exercise of the gifts which the Lord send,; out to the world with the message of grace, the goodness of God is characteristic. What is the source of all grace in the servant of the Lord? It is the appreciation of God's goodness. This comes out by contrast in the case of the slothful servant. An unconverted man might have a gift from the Lord. The slothful servant was clearly one that never had the knowledge of God: proved in that he did not believe in the goodness of the Lord: he had no confidence in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. In this the evil servant showed what he was. He says, "I knew thee that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strewed. And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strewed" (vers. 24-26). His lord takes him upon his own ground. If the servant judges him to be hard, On your own ground, he says, "Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury." According to his self-defence, he had utterly failed: and so it is always. The man who talks about the justice of God cannot for an instant stand before it; while he who casts himself humbly upon the grace of God will be found to walk soberly, righteously, godly, in this present evil world. The denier of the goodness of God is invariably a bad man himself.
So in the matter of our service: whether we have two talents or five, and use them for Him, the Lord will return it to our souls again, and in the day that is coming give us to hear those blessed words, "Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
We now come to a subject viewed, I apprehend, with much prejudice by many. It has been perverted, I grieve to say, even by those who love the Saviour and own both the general blessedness of those that belong to Him and the sure doom of those that despise Him. But though all Christians must be in the main agreed on these fundamental truths, when we come to inquire what the Lord intended us to gather from His taking His seat upon the throne of His glory; when we would ascertain who the parties are that the Lord has before Him in this scene, and what the special destiny of the blessed is, we meet with the most various opinions. The root of the difficulty may be traced generally to one thought - the anxiety, even of Christians, to find that which bears upon their own lot. Not being thoroughly at rest touching their acceptance with God, there is ordinarily a disposition to warp Scripture, partly to escape what they dread, and partly to gather comfort for their troubled souls. The greater part of God's children are, more or less, in spirit under the law; and wherever such are honest in this condition, they must be miserable. Comparatively few know the fulness of deliverance in Christ; few know what it is to be dead to the law and married to another, even to Him who is risen from the dead. They may hear and repeat the words of Scripture, thinking they mean something good; but the real meaning and blessing of being dead to the law and united to a risen Saviour very few appreciate. This is the reason why so many are not in a state to understand the word of God. Not enjoying in peace their own position in Christ, they seize upon every promise, with small regard to the objects God had in view. Thus seeking assurance for their own souls, when the Lord speaks of certain Gentiles as "sheep," they think it means us, because we are so called elsewhere, as in John 10. They find these are blessed of the Father, and thence conclude that it can be no other than our hope. Again, certain are here spoken of as "brethren" of the King; and they take it for granted it means ourselves - Christians. In this superficial way Scripture is misunderstood, and the very comfort that souls are grasping after as surely eludes them. Wherever we turn aside the edge of the word of God, and appropriate indiscriminately what is said of persons in a wholly different position, there is loss. God has so arranged everything that the best portion for us is what God has given. We cannot mend the counsels of God, nor add to the riches of His grace. If we know the love that God has to us in Christ, we know the best thing that we can find in earth or heaven. The moment we lay hold of this, and see how greatly we are blest, we cease from the anxiety that each good word of God should converge on ourselves; we see His infinitely greater object, even Christ, and we can delight in others being blest even in what we have not. This is most important practically - that we should be so satisfied with God's love to us, and the portion He has given us in Christ as to rejoice in all that He is pleased to give to others. Are we not sure our Father withholds from us nothing but what would interfere with our blessing? So reading this parable, or prophetic description, we are under no constraint. We can examine it with other scriptures, and see whom the. Lord has in view, and inquire what their portion is to be.
"When 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: and before Him shall be gathered all nations" (vers. 31, 32). Here are proofs enough of what the time and circumstances are of which our Lord speaks. He is taking His seat upon His own throne as the Son of Man. He is gathering before Him all the nations. When will this be? Here, at least, it will not be contended that something past is in question. The Lord Jesus is not even yet seated upon His own throne. When on earth He had no throne; when He went to heaven, He sat down on His Father's throne, as says Revelation 3:21: "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne." According to this promise, when it shall be fulfilled, He must have left His Father's throne and sat down on His own throne. It is a future thing. Every scripture that touches on our Lord's actual place shows that He is now seated on the Father's throne. But Scripture also shows that He is to sit on His own throne; and this is what we have here. All things in heaven and in earth shall be put under the government of the Lord Jesus. He will be the head of all glory, heavenly and earthly. Of which does this portion speak? Are there any circumstances with which our Lord surrounds His throne that make the answer plain? "Before Him shall be gathered all nations." Are nations in heaven? Clearly not. Who can imagine so gross a thing? When the boundary is crossed that separates the things seen from the unseen, no such earthly sight lowers or distracts the worship above. When men are risen from the dead, they will no longer be known as English or French: these national distinctions, for them, terminate. Their future lot is decided according to their reception or rejection of Jesus in the present life. This future throne of the Son of Man is accordingly connected with a time-state on the earth. The more every word is weighed, the more this will be evident to the unbiased.
If we compare it, in the next place, with a resurrection scene, their distinctiveness will be apparent. In Revelation 20:11, "I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them." There can be no question about this throne. It can have nothing to do with the earth, because the text itself tells us that the earth and heaven fled away. I learn at once the positive contrast between Matthew and Revelation. In the latter only do we hear a word about heaven and earth fleeing away; in the former only we have very plain indications that the Lord is taking His throne in the government of the earth and of men living on it - not judging the dead when the kingdom is about to be given up. Those gathered before Him here are "all the nations" - a term never used about the dead or the risen, but only applied to men here below, and indeed applied only to the Gentiles as distinct from the Jews. For we have already had the Jews in Matthew 24, and now we see the Gentiles; between these two are the parables applying to the Christian profession.
Thus nothing can be more orderly than the whole connection of this prophecy on the mount. The Jews came first, as indeed the disciples themselves still were such; then the parables of the house servant, the virgins, and the talents, which describe the Christian position, soon to be developed, when the Jews should reject the Holy Ghost's testimony. Lastly, another section closes all: neither Jews nor Christians, but "all the nations," or Gentiles, to whom the testimony of the kingdom is to be sent out,* and among whom the Holy Ghost will work (Satan working too, lest they should be brought out of darkness into God's marvellous light). In Rev. 20 We find a great white throne. "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand. . ." Thus you see the character of this throne at once. Not a living man is there in natural life, but the dead now raised are summoned for judgment before the great white throne. In Matt. 25 not a single dead man is spoken of; in Rev. 20 not a single living man. In Matthew the persons called before the throne are "all the Gentiles," or nations; in Revelation, none but "the dead." "And the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works." When we come to look closely into Matt. 25, the principle of judgment is not according to works generally, but only a particular test is pressed upon them - faithful or unfaithful treatment of the king's brethren. "And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works." There is not a word about this in Matt. 25; and, indeed, the expression of "nations" involves, without a question, the inference that they were not risen from the dead. It is the judgment of those commonly called "the quick" - those living upon the earth at that time - and they are dealt with according to their behaviour to the messengers of the gospel of the kingdom. This will show it is a great error to suppose that all the judgments in the word of God mean one and the same thing. We must leave room for differences here as elsewhere. God indeed is able to meet every difficulty, and to bring out His own perfections in dealing with all that comes before Him.
* This also corresponds with the last three parables of the 13th chapter, as we saw. - [Ed.
Gathering up the contrast of Rev. 20, let us turn to the closing scene in Matt. 25. The title "Son of Man" at once prepares you for a judgment connected with the earth and with persons living there. No doubt the Son of Man comes in the clouds of heaven, but He comes to judge the world and the people on it. It may be even said of churches or assemblies, as in Rev. 1; but whatever the object of the judgment, it is the Lord judging persons still alive upon the earth, and not the dead.
"And before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats." It is a careful and divine discrimination - not a mere act of vengeance which deals with masses, in which all might be overwhelmed in common ruin. He separates them one from another. At the great white throne, where the dead stand to be judged, there is no need of separating them there. But here there is a mingled company. Such a mixture is never found in heaven or hell, but only on the earth. Thus every clause gives proof that our Lord speaks of a judgment of the living on the earth. He separates them "as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats." It follows that the persons meant by "the sheep" and "the goats" are respectively the righteous and the ungodly among the nations then living on the earth, when our Lord comes to judge in His quality of Son of Man. It is not now what we have seen in Matthew 24, where He shines suddenly like lightning. Here it is the calm, but most solemn judgment, with everlasting results, according to the discrimination which the Lord makes between individuals. When the judgment of the dead takes place before the great white throne, the heavens and earth are fled away; so that the Lord must have come before then, or there would be no earth as it is now to come to, as we all confess He shall come.
Our Lord, then, is here separating the godly from among the ungodly in those living nations. He disposes of them thus: "Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (ver. 34). However blessed they are, He does not describe them as children of their Father. I do not deny that they are children of God; but He says, "children of My Father." No doubt the words said to them are very precious; but do they reach up to the height of the blessing the grace of God has given us in Christ now? There is nothing here about "blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." They are called to inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world. When God laid the foundations of the earth, He was looking onward to this blessed time. Satan's getting power over man was only a fearful interruption, but not one whose consequences the Lord could not overmaster and purge out: He means to do it; and to have this world the scene of incomparably greater blessedness than its present misery is through Satan's work. God means to give the kingdom of this world to His Son - yea, He will have the whole universe put under Christ. Our Lord had a right in His own glory to everything; but He humbled Himself, and laid down His life to deliver us and creation out of Satan's hand, and establish a new and righteous title over all, and bring it back to God.
Again, let it be noted that there is not a word about His bride here. He speaks as "the King," and He is never spoken of as such in His relation to the Church. In Revelation 15 the expression "King of saints" should be "King of nations," quoted from the words of Jeremiah. It is a title we can rejoice in, but it is not His relationship to us. We are called by grace to be members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. Here, in His capacity of King, the Lord severs the righteous Gentiles from their unrighteous fellows - "Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Ephesians 1 speaks of our being "chosen in Him before the foundation of the world;" it is a choice independent of the scene of creation, in connection with which these blessed Gentiles have their portion. Our place may be rather said to be with Him who created all. The world may disappear; but our blessing is identified with Himself. The thief on the cross asked, "Lord, remember me when Thou comest in Thy kingdom." But our Lord says, "Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise." To be with Christ is better than the kingdom - which we also shall inherit. Christ Himself is far beyond all the glory displayed in and to the world. His love ever goes beyond our faith, giving more than we ask of Him.
The blessing given to these godly ones from among the Gentiles, is the inheritance of the kingdom prepared for them by the Father from the foundation of the world. It showed they were possessors of eternal life: "I was a hungered, and ye gave Me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took Me in: naked, and ye clothed Me: I was sick, and ye visited Me: I was in prison, and ye came unto Me" (vers. 35, 36). Observe what they answer: "Then shall the righteous answer Him, saying, Lord. when saw we Thee a hungered, and fed Thee? or thirsty, and gave Thee drink?" Could a Christian say such a thing in heaven, where we shall know even as we are known? But these godly Gentiles are evidently in their natural bodies still. And the Lord is instructing them even after He appears in glory. However blessed this scene may be, still it is the Lord as Son of Man judging all nations and blessing the righteous from among them, who, up to that moment, were ignorant that in showing acts of love and kindness towards Christ's messengers, it was so much done towards Christ Himself. Their last lesson was the first that Paul learned on the road to Damascus - the truth that startled his soul: "I am Jesus whom thou persecutest." Paul was taught of the Lord that to persecute the saints living on the earth was to persecute Christ in heaven: they and Christ are one. It is evident that these Gentile sheep set forth men still in the condition that requires and receives instruction from Christ.
"And the king shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me" (ver. 40). Who are "these my brethren?" We have had the sheep and goats - the righteous and the unrighteous Gentiles; but who are the King's brethren? Those whom the Lord will send out before He comes in the glory of the kingdom; men sent to announce that He is coming in His kingdom. The sheep showed them love - care - sympathy in their sorrows. So that these brethren of the King must have been exposed to tribulation before the King appears. The conclusion is obvious that, in that day, the ground on which He will deal with the nations will be this, -"How did you behave to My messengers?" The King's messengers, immediately before He appears in glory, will go forth preaching the gospel of the kingdom everywhere; and when the King takes His throne, those that received the gospel of the kingdom among the nations are recognized as "sheep," and the despisers perish as "goats." Those that honour the message treat the messengers well - caring for them, and identifying themselves with them - "companions of them that were so used." The Lord remembers this, and counts what was done to His messengers as done to Himself. It will be as truly the work of the Holy Spirit as our entrance into the far fuller testimony of His love now. Their astonishment before His throne at having done anything to Him in the person of His brethren, proves that they were not in the Christian position, though truly believers.
But who were these "brethren?" From general principles of Scripture and the special teaching of this prophetical discourse, there call be little doubt that the King's brethren will be godly Israelites, employed by the Lord, after the Church has been caught up to heaven, to be the heralds of the coming King and kingdom. We know that the Church is to be taken away before the time of the last great tribulation. "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world to try them that dwell upon the earth." But here there are saints found on the earth - not kept from the hour of temptation, but living on the earth during it, and preaching this gospel of the kingdom. And according to the way in which they are received, the nations will be cursed or blessed. There was no gospel of the kingdom preached before or after the flood, and it is the gospel of the grace of God that is being preached now. The gospel of the kingdom is often confounded with this. I have no doubt, therefore, that the King's brethren are a class, godly Israelites, whom Christ will own as His brethren. There are some blessings the Jewish saints will have that neither you nor I will possess; there are others we shall have that they will not enjoy.
But there is a very solemn back-ground to the blessed entrance into the kingdom: "Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels" (ver. 41). Observe, He does not say, Cursed of My Father, answering to "Blessed of My Father." God hates putting away. So when the awful moment comes for the curse to be pronounced on these wicked Gentiles, it is "Depart from Me, ye cursed." I believe it is the deepest sorrow to God, and throws all the onus of destruction on those whose own sin it was, who rejected His love and holiness and glory in rejecting His Son. "Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." In the other case the kingdom was said to be "prepared for you:" not so when speaking about the curse. Hell was not prepared for poor guilty man. He deserves it; but it was prepared for the devil and his angels. Where the souls rejected the testimony, he does pronounce them cursed. He is the King, the judge. But whether it be the great white throne, or this earthly throne, it is "everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." There was no hope of deliverance for these fallen angels - no redemption for them. They wilfully and without a tempter departed from God. Man was tempted by an enemy; and God feels for guilty man, drawn away by a mightier, if not more guilty, rebel than himself. How solemn to think that it was prepared for others, and that men share it with these rebellious spirits? It was not in the heart of God to make a hell for miserable man: it was prepared for the devil and his angels. But there were those who preferred the devil to God; and to such He says, "Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." The same test is applied to them as to the godly before - the treatment of the King and of His messengers, or rather of Him in them.
To us, although the same principle is involved, yet, in one way, what is yet deeper comes in. All turns upon - What think ye of Christ? Do you believe on the Son of God? "He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life" (1 John 5). The sinner is obliged to face the person of the Son of God, and it becomes an urgent, all-absorbing, eternal question that must be decided by the soul - Do I prefer Christ to the world? Do I prefer Christ or self? The Lord grant that we may be wise, and know how to find in Christ both the salvation and the power of God. For the same blessed One who gave us life gives us power for every practical difficulty. "This the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."
And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
But the wise took oil in their vessels with their 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 go 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.
Afterward came also the 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.
For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.
After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
When 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:
And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.