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Ź, We must go to the Bride's Lodging, to the Church, that must prepare us for Christ, whcii ever he comes.
3. Our great end in all is to meet the Bridegroom, to wait constantly for his appearance, that we may be ready to enter with him to the Marriage Feast : Alas, who doth this?
Marr. XXV. 2, 3, 4:
And five of them were Wise, and five weré Foclisli;
they that were Foolish took their Lamps, and tock no Oil with them; but the wife took Oil ini theit Vessels, with their Lamps.
TXT Hen Christ comes to Judgment, or when
V V he calleih any one of us out of the World by Death ; it will then be found true, that it will fare with all the Professors of Christianity, as here it is said to have done with the tent Virgins, who in this Parable represent to l's all Chrittians in Profession, who have taken chci. Lamps, į. é. have entered on the Profilion of Christiari Religion, and are gone forth ; i. e. by Vow
have engaged themielves to Runourice hie Dee · vil, the World, and the Floh, and prerend to meet the Bridegroom, to wait Cill Christ come, hoping to be entertained in Feaven by him.
Now observe, our Blessed Savicur here shows us, v. 2. of what sorts of people, the Visible Church, or Society of Christian Professors confits. In the two next Verses he ditinguisheth chemi one from another, and lets us see how they dif• fer.
1. He shews of what sorts of people the Vi. fible Church confifts, Good and Bad. All in DO
Profession Profession good, all Virgins,as they pretend, and would be accounced Pure and Holy; but all are not so in truth and sincerity, who make some Thew of being so. Some are sincerely, what they seem; and some are Hypocrites, and seem what they are not. Some are wise, and some are foolish.
This teacheh us, that we are not to expect a vi. fible Church so pure on Earis, as to have no bad People in it. Nor must we suparate from every Church which hath any corrups Memb=rs in it, for then ( as the Apostle faith m ) we must go out of the World, at least we must forsake all Church Communion, and go alone by our felves. The wise Virgins were not mut out, tho' they had all the while till the Bridegroom's coming, been of the fame Company with the Foolish. Let every one therefore! bour to keep himself wise and good, and do as much as in him lieth to make others so too. And when Christ cometh he will not reject him, because he had been among those whom he would have had as good as himself, but could not make them Co.
Now, whereas our Saviour herc faith of the Ten, that five were wise, and five were foolish; we are not so to understand it, as if the number of the good Christi .os were equal to that of the bad. For Christ hath toid us himself, that his Flock is a little Flock, and that they are but few that find the strait Gate, and go in thereat, whilft many enter in through the wide one that leadeth to Destruction. Mar.9. 13. But as he mention'd ten Virgins, because that was the most usual number of such Virgins; not straitning the number of Professors thereby to any certain number, so he also takes the number five as most obvious, to Gig
nifie fome, or a part of ihem that profess Chrifti. anity, not meaning to divide them into two equal halves: but 'tis all one as if he had said, fome of them were wife, and some were foolish. And if we should understand it otherwise than thus indefinitely, then must we be tied to believe contrary things, for in the next Parable of the Talents, and improve their Talents, and enter into Joy, and one only is said to hide his Talent, and to be condemned for it. And Mati 13. in the Parable of the Sower, one fort of good Hearers we find, buc three of unprofitable ones. But our Saviour seems to speak carelesly in this Marter on purpose, to reach us not to be curious about it, as a thing that little concerns us to know. And therefore when one, Luk. 13. 23. ask'd him, if few should be saved ? He gives no Answer at all to his Question, but bids him strive to enter in at the strait Gate; mind his own Salvation. So let us be of the number of the wise Virgins, be they more or fewer. So much for the distinction of Professors in v. 2. : 2. He shews us how thefe two forts do differ the one from the ocher. The one are called wife, the other foolish.
V. 3. He tells us what was the Folly of the Foolish, that is, that taking their Lamps, they took no Oil with them. He means, that tho' they had Oil in their Lamps, yet they took with them no more than just what was at present in them: So they say v. 8. Our Lamps are gone our, that is, their Oil was spent, and they could nor keep them without more.
10.4. He tells us what was the Wisdom of the Wise, that is, they took not only Oil in their Lamps, but they took Oil in their Vessels with
their Lamps, so that they provided fufficiently to supply their Lamps with fresh Oil as fast as ic spent.
By both these forts of Virgins 'cis our blessed Saviour's design to teach us, what it is to be a Christian to any purpose, for be sure, we had as good be no Christians so much as in Profeflion, if we be nor Christians to some good purpose, that we may get some good by being fo. And our Saviour calls such an one a Fool; and it must needs be granted he is so. If tbou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thy self. Prov.9. 12. Thou fhale reap Profit by thy Wisdom. But how wise soever any one thinks himself, 'iis certain he's a Fool, if he do himfelf no good by his Wisdom.
Now he that takes his Lamp lighted at present only, and cakes not care enough to keep it burnjpg to the end, that is, he that undertakes the Profession of Christianity, but continues not really fo'to his Dying Day, is the foolish one that is a Christian to no purpose; and he only thall gain by his Religion, who takes care to perfe, vere, and hold out to the end of his Life. We learn therefore hence how to judge of our felves, whether we be wise or Fools, Chriftians to any good purpose, or to none. For 'tis evident hence, that three things are necessary to make one a Christian to purpose.'
1. That he go forth with his Lamp in his Hand. That he constantly, notwithstanding aDy danger he may incur by it, profess his Religion openly in the Face of the World, not like then. Mat 13. 21. who made a Flourish for a Whis, but in Tribulation, and Temptation fall awey
2. That 2. That he have Oilin his Lanıp, and that his Lamp burn and give light; that Men by his shining Light may see his good Works, Matt. 5. 16. That he bring forth the Fruit of the Spirit, in Love, Joy, Peace, Long-Suffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Meckness, Temperance, Gal, 5. 22, 23.
3. That he have Oil in his Velsel enough to supply his Lamp to the end, that he hold out or persevere as long as he Livech, Dining as a light in the World, holding forth the word of Life, not fuffering the Devil by his Temptations to blow our, nor the World with its allurements to stifle, nor the Flesh with his Lulls to extinguish his Light. He alone that is faithful unto Death, shall have a Crown of Life. Rev. 2.10. If the Righteous fall from his Righteousness, in vain was he Righteous at all. Ezek. 18.
It is for want of serious consideration of this, that cho'we have among us many Christian Profeffors, we have few wise Men or good Christians. Tho' we have been baptized, and keep Company with Christians, doing as we fee others do; yet we, it may be, never once thought in Soberness what it is to be a Christian, and therefore we continue most of us Fools, making a vain Thew of what we are not, and hoping for that shew to be happy in the end, and this is our great folly; for what pains we cake to be thought Christians, or to be saved by Christ, is all loft; and we have been labouring only to deceive, and undo our felves. And is not this the part of a Fool? It will appear fo when the end comes,
How comes this? 'Tis too easy to fee.
1. The greatest part of Christians do na more, and therefore are ift. alhamed to do more; and
DO 4 . 2d!y,