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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 last shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
Our LORD having, as we read in the last section, strongly recommended watchfulness, proceeded to enforce the necessity of it, in his usual manner, by fami liar comparisons.
The parable of the ten virgins represents the administration of CHRIST's government towards those who shall be at his second coming in a state of preparation for the. kingdom of heaven, and those who have been careless in respect to qualifying themselves for it.
It was a part of the marriage ceremony amongst the, Jews, for the bridegroom to come in the night, accom panied by his friends, to the house of the bride, where she expected him, attended by her bride-maids; who, upon notice given them of the bridegroom's approach, went out with lamps in their hands to light him into the guest chamber, in order to celebrate the nuptials with rejoicings and festivity.
By the bridegroom in the parable is represented our LORD JESUS CHRIST. The marriage is the day of judg ment, and the virgins are the professors of his religion. From hence we may understand the nature of Christi
anity. As Christians we profess ourselves to be attendants upon our LORD, to do him honour. We are required not only to believe,, but to long for his second coming; and to act, through the whole course of our lives, with
a regard to it. The knowledge of the gospel is the light, our hearts the vessels which we must farnish with it
it, and then endeavour to make it shine forth to the world. The wise virgins represent sincere Christians; the foolish ones, such as think they have righteousness enough if they can pass in the world for just persons; but have not that stock of sound knowledge, good dispositions, and settled resolutions, which are necessary to carry them through the trials of the present state. They have little thought of a future life, and make no provision for it.
While the bridegroom tarried, both the wise and foolish virgins slumbered and slept : this intimates, that Christians in general are apt to remit their watchfulness and zeal, forgetful that the time of their LORD'S coming is uncertain. Yet there is a difference among them those who are sincere professors of Christianity, when they find their death approaching, will seriously review their past lives, and endeavour to make the best preparation in their power to meet our LORD with joy. fulness; whilst those who have contented themselves with empty professions of religion will wish in vain for the comforts of it. If we neglect to furnish our minds with Christian virtues, the prayers of good men will avail us nothing; neither can we (as the Romish church absurdly pretends to allow) purchase a share in the righteousness of others, for the best of men have not enough for their own salvation. Each, therefore, must endeavour to provide for himself, and have recourse to the appointed means of grace, repentance, and the mercy of God through CHRIST. But it is very dangerous to defer this great work till the end of life approaches, as it is a great chance whether time will be allowed to do it in; and those who have trifled away the day of grace will be for ever disowned by their GOD and SAVIOUR.
The parable of the talents bears so exact a resem
blance to that of the pounds, that it is needless to com ment on it.
When our LORD had represented his last coming by the foregoing parables, he proceeded to give a plainer account of it in a manner which conveys a most strik ing and affecting image of it. The representation our LORD made of this awful event affords a subject of delightful contemplation to those who are truly religious, and is calculated to raise terror in the minds of the wicked. It is impossible for any thing to be more interesting than the scene here described; for every individual of the human species who has formerly lived upon earth, who is now alive in the world, or who shall be born into it, is a party concerned. The highest monarch must obey the summons of his heavenly Judge; the meanest slave will be admitted to put in his plea at this equitable tribunal, justice will be administered without error or partiality, for the secrets of alF hearts will be disclosed. The sentence of condemna tion will not fall merely on abandoned and notorious Sinners, but on all who have lived in an habitual neglect of their duty. Neither will those only, who have led lives of eminent piety in high stations on earth, be admitted to the glories of the kingdom of heaven; for the humblest Christian will be acknowledged by his SAVIOUR as one of his brethren, provided he has believed in him, obeyed his laws, and imitated his blessed example, as far as his circumstances in life, and the in firmities of human nature, would admit.
Every one has not the ability to feed the hungry,. clothe the naked, &c.; for many stand in need of these offices being performed for them, but such have duties of a different kind: if they have health and strength, they must labour to procure food and raiment for themselves,
* See Sect. iv.
and should copy the pattern of their Saviour in his con. tentment, and cheerful acquiescence to a state of poverty.
Let us carefully observe the goodness of God in thus stamping a value on our imperfect services. The utmost we can do for each other cannot increase the happiness of the Supreme Being: neither could it entitle us to an eternal reward; for the greatest recompense we could have expected for our most benevolent actions, would have been a return of gratitude and reciprocal kindness from our fellow-creatures, the pleasure which naturally results from doing good, and the applauses of mankind. But by performing acts of charity for the sake of Christ, and his acceptance of them, as done to himself, they become meritorious in the sight of the SuPREME Being; for he who loveth the Son, the FATHER will honour; and he who honoureth the Son, honoureth God, who was manifested in him. i The best way of feeling the force of these injunctions of our blessed Lord is to become an eye-witness of scenes of poverty and wretchedness. Whoever beholds the various distresses of the poor will surely long to relieve them, especially when they consider the poor as brethren, not only to themselves, but to that benevolent SAVIOUR who has done and suffered so much for their sake, and is ready to repay their compassion with everlasting happiness.
SECTION XXI. JUDAS AGREES WITH THE CHIEF PRIESTS TO BETRAY
HIS LORD.THE APOSTLES MAKE PREPARATIONS FUR THE PASSO VER.
From Lake, Chap. xxi.—Matt. xxvi.---Luke, xxii.
Mark, xiv. And in the day-time Jesus was teaching in the tema: jle, and at night he went out, and abode in the mount. that is called the mount of Olives.
And all the people came early in the morning to hin in the temple, for to hear him.
And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples,
Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passe over, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.
Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and consulted that they might take Jesus by subţilty, and kill him. But they said, Not on the feast-day, lest there be an. uproar among the people.
Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.
And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray- him unto them :
And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.
i Now, the first day of the feast of unleavened bread, the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thce to eat the passover ?
And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say. unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand, I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.
And he sendeth forth Peter and John, and saith unto, them, Go' ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitches of water: follow him.
And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the good man of the house, The Master saith, Where is the
guesta chamber, where I shall eat the passover with my dise