the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
Charles Spurgeon's "Morning & Evening"
“Behold, I come quickly.”
The apostles had asked the Lord concerning the day of his coming, “When shall these things be?” He made answer as follows: Matthew 24:36-51.
Let us not therefore be troubled by idle prophecies as to the end of the world, even if they claim to be interpretations of Scripture, for what angels do not know has certainly not been revealed to hair-brained fanatics. “The veil which covers the face of futurity is woven by the hand of mercy;” let us not countenance those who attempt to tear it away. Augustine has well said, “God will not suffer man to have the knowledge of things to come; for if he had foresight of his prosperity he would be careless, and if he foreknew his adversity he would be hopeless.” The day of the Lord will find many unprepared, and will make a final division in our race.
Comrades in labour will not therefore be companions in eternity: the workman who loved the Lord will dwell in glory while his fellow-servant who lived and died an unbeliever will perish for ever.
Servants in the same family must be parted as wide asunder as heaven is from hell, unless their hearts have been renewed by grace.
Mr. Wesley was once asked by a lady, “Suppose that you knew that you were to die at twelve o’clock to-morrow night, how would you spend the intervening time?” “How, madam?” he replied, “why just as I intend to spend it now. I should preach this night at Gloucester, and again at five to-morrow morning. After that I should ride to Tewkesbury, preach in the afternoon, and meet the societies in the evening. I should then repair to friend Martins house, who expects to entertain me, converse and pray with the family as usual, retire to my room at ten o’clock, commend myself to my heavenly Father, lie down to rest, and wake up in glory.” To be prepared for the coming of Jesus we need not leave our daily callings, and stand gazing upward into heaven; but with grace in our hearts we shall do well to continue in the path of service with steadfast souls.
When professors neglect their own work they often pass hard judgments and cruel criticisms upon Christians. They would not do this if they remembered that the Lord is close at hand, and will visit such evils with the severest punishment.
Man may disbelieve the tidings,
Or in anger turn away;
‘Tis foretold there shall be scoffers
Rising in the latter day:
Yet he’ll come, the Lord from heaven,
Not to suffer, or to die;
But to take his waiting people
To their glorious rest on high.
Yet in mercy still he lingers,
Lengthening out the day of grace;
Till he comes, inviting sinners
To his welcome, fond embrace.
“Behold, the bridegroom cometh.”
Our Saviour continued to instruct his disciples as to the solemn judgment of the last great day, and in so doing he delivered the instructive parable which follows: Matthew 25:1-13.
As attendants on the bride they represented her, and went forward to meet the Bridegroom, even as many profess to belong to the church and to be waiting for the coming of the Lord.
“The oil which the wise virgins carried in their vessels, as distinguished from that which burned in their lamps, points to the Holy Spirit, as a spirit of grace and supplication dwelling in a believer’s heart. All the ten virgins experienced convictions, and made profession, as is indicated by the lamps lighted and borne aloft; but some had nothing more than convictions and professions, while others had passed from death unto life, and had received that life which is hid with Christ in God.”
Either having grown weary through the weakness of nature, or else having given way to sloth they fell asleep.
When the Lord is proclaimed as near at hand all classes of professors begin to examine themselves to see if they are really ready for his presence.
As an old writer says, “They turn themselves to the wise, whom, perhaps, they had lately laughed at, with the prayer ‘Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out.’ They betake themselves, if they are Catholics, to the dead saints, if they are Protestants, to the living, whom they have been accustomed to revere as their guides on account of their wisdom and grace, and they plead, Help us, comfort us, pray for us, that we may be brought into a state of grace. In vain. They answer, Not so, lest there be not enough for us and you. What you desire is impossible. None of us has any surplus merit out of which he could give a portion to another.”
Their fate was wretched indeed, they were so near heaven and yet lost, so much associated with saints and yet shut out of their bliss. It is vain to be a hearer of the word, a Bible reader, a church member, or a teacher of others, unless the oil of grace be in our hearts.
“Short is life; fleeting is time; quick is death; sure is judgment; long is eternity. Therefore, what thou desirest to do, do it quickly.”
Ye virgin souls, arise,
With all the dead awake!
Unto salvation wise,
Oil in your vessels take:
Upstarting at the midnight cry,
“Behold your heavenly Bridegroom nigh!”
He comes, he comes, to call
The nations to his bar,
And raise to glory all
Who fit for glory are:
Make ready for your full reward;
Go forth with joy to meet your Lord.