Both historically and logically the two parables, of the ten virgins and of the talents, are connected and constitute a group: in place they are contiguous, and in nature they are reciprocally complements of each other, making together a complete whole. De Valenti has by a happy generalization placed their relations in an interesting and instructive light. He points out that there are two kinds of almost-Christians, the bustling labourers, and the mystic-dreamers. One class tries to live on works without faith, and the other on faith without works. From opposite causes both efforts fail. The parable of the ten virgins addresses its warning to the Almost-Christianity which is all body with no spirit; and the parable of the talents addresses its warning to the Almost-Christianity which is all spirit with no body.
These constitute a pair; or rather they are the right and left sides of one living lesson. Both represent the character and condition of the Church and its members, while they wait for the coming of the Lord; both apply decisive tests to a seemly profession, and thereby separate between the true and the false: but they differ in that the first searches the heart, and the second examines the life. The first test detects the want of secret faith; the second the want of active obedience. The parable of the ten virgins prepares and throws into the mass of Christian profession a solvent which serves to determine whether and where there is life in the Lord; the parable of the entrusted talents prepares and throws into the mass of Christian profession a solvent which serves to determine whether and where there is life for the Lord.
These two, -- the inward grace of faith and the outward life of obedience, constitute the two sides, -- the right and left of the new man. To that new man as a whole both parables alike refer; but the one touches him for testing on the right side, and the other on the left. The first tests his works by his faith, and the second tests his faith by his works. The first goes directly to the root and inquires whether the tree is good or bad; thus determining what the character of the fruit must be; the second goes first to the fruit, and by its sweetness or bitterness ascertains the character of the tree. The parable of the ten virgins speaketh on this wise, -- If there be true faith in the heart, there will be active obedience in the life: the parable of the talents speaketh on this wise, -- If there be active obedience in the life, there must be a root of faith unseen whereon that good fruit grows.