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that just half of professing christians would be hypocrites. 'Oil in their vessels. The five foolish virgins probably expected that the bridegroom would come immediately. They therefore provided for no delay, and no uncertainty. The wise virgins knew that the time of his coming was uncertain, and they therefore furnished themselves with oil. This was carried in vessels; so that it could be poured on the torch or flambeaux when it was necessary. 'Vessels.' Cups, cans, or any thing to hold oil.
5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
'The bridegroom tarried.' He delayed longer than they expected. All slumbered and slept.' Waiting till near midnight, they fell into repose. This circumstance is not to be pressed to prove that all christians will be asleep, or cold and careless, when the Lord Jesus will come. Many may be so; but many also will be looking for his coming. It is designed simply to show more clearly the duty of being ready, ver. 13.
6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh: go ye out to meet him.
'At midnight.' Later than was the usual custom, and hence they had fallen asleep. 'A cry made.' Of those who were coming with the bridegroom.
7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
'Trimmed their lamps.' Burning till midnight, the oil was exhausted. They gave a dim and obscure light. This strikingly represents the conduct of most men at the approach of death. They then begin to make ready. They are alarmed, anxious, trembling, and asking the aid of others; and often when it is for ever too late.
8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 9 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. 10 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.
'Went in with him to the marriage.' The marriage feast. The marriage ceremony took place before the bride left her father's house, but a feast was given at the house of her husband, and which was also called the marriage, or a part of the marriage solemnities. This part of the parable doubtless represents the
entrance of those who are ready, or prepared, into the kingdom of God, when the Son of man shall come. They will be ready who repent of their sins; who believe on the Lord Jesus; who live a holy life; and who wait for his coming. See Mark xvi. 16. John v. 24. Acts iii. 19. 2 Peter ii. 11, 12. 1 Tim. vi. 17--19. 2 Tim. iv. 6-8. "The door was shut.' No more could be admitted to the marriage feast. So when the truly righteous shall all be received into heaven, it will be closed against all others. There will be no opportunity for preparation afterwards. Eccl. xi. 3; ix. 10. Matt. xxv. 46.
11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
'Open to us." This is not to be understood as implying that any will come after the righteous shall be admitted into the kingdom, and claim admission then. It is a part of the parable to illustrate the general truth inculcated, or to prepare the way for what is afterwards said, and keep up the narrative and make it consistent.
12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not,
'I know you not.' Applied to professing christians, having only a profession, but no real piety, it means, I know, or acknowledge you not as christians. I do not approve of you, or delight in you, or admit you as my friends. The word "know' is often used in the sense of approving, loving, acknowledging as real friends and followers. See Matt. vii. 23. Psa. i. 6. 2 Tim. ii, 19. 1 Thess. v. 12.
13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
'Watch, therefore,' &c. This is the scope or design of the whole parable. Like the virgins, many are professedly going to meet the bridegroom-the Lord Jesus Christ. Like the coming of the bridegroom, his coming will be sudden. Many, even professing christians, will be engaged in the business of the world; thoughtless about eternity; not expecting his approach, and not prepared. They will only profess to know him, but in works they will deny him. Many, when they shall see him coming, at death or the judgment, will begin, like the foolish virgins, to be active, and to prepare to die. But it will be too late. They that are ready will enter in, and heaven will be closed for ever against all others. The coming of the Saviour is certain. The precise time when he will come is not certain. They who are christians should be ever watchful; and they who are not should lose no time to be ready; for in such an hour as they think not the Son of man shall come.
14 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.
'For the kingdom of heaven,' &c. The design of this parable is to teach that those who improve their talents or faculties in the cause of religion, who improve them to their own salvation, and in doing good to others, shall be proportionally rewarded. But those who neglect their talents, and neither secure their own salvation nor do good to others, will be punished. The kingdom of heaven is like such a man; that is, God deals with men in his government as such a man did. His own servants.' That is, such of them as he judged worthy such a trust. The going into a far country may represent the Lord Jesus going into heaven. He has given to all talents to improve, Eph. iv. 8-12. 'His goods. His property, representing the offices, abilities, and opportunities for doing good, which he has given to his professed followers.
15 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.
'Five talents.' See Matt. xviii. 24. It here denotes the highest abilities given to men; perhaps the highest offices in the church, and the greatest opportunity of doing good. According to his several ability. According to the ability of each one. According as he saw each one was adapted to improve it. God gives men stations which ne judges them adapted to fill. So he makes distinctions among men in regard to abilities, and in the powers and opportunities of usefulness; requiring them only to occupy those stations, and discharge their duties in them, 1 Čor. iv. 7.
16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
The two who had received most employed their money in trade, and by honest industry doubled it before their master returned, representing the conduct of those who make a good improvement of their abilities, and employ them in doing good.
18 But he that had received one, went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.
'Digged in the earth,' &c. This represents the conduct of those who neglect the abilities that God has given, and fail to do what he has required. Their excuses are without foundation : for, God does not require us to do as much as those who have
greater abilities; but this is not a reason why we should do no thing, 2 Cor. viii. 12. That situation is honourable, and may be useful, where God has placed us; and though humble, yet in that we may do much good, 1 Cor. xii. 11-31. Men of slender abilities often do more good in the world than men of much greater talents. It is rather a warm heart than a strong head which is required to do good.
19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
'After a long time,' &c. By this is denoted the return of Christ to call men to an account for the manner in which they have improved their talents. See Rom. xiv. 12. 2 Cor. v. 10. 1 Thess. iv. 16. Acts i. 11; xvii. 31. 'Reckon with them.' To inquire into their faithfulness, and to reward or punish them accordingly. 20 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. 21 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. 22 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. 23 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.
'I have gained.' Gained by trading, ver. 16. By honest industry. Ruler over many things.' I will promote thee to greater honours and more important trusts. Joy of thy Lord." The joy of his lord may mean either the festivals and rejoicing at his return, or the rewards which his lord had prepared for his faithful servants. Those who rightly improve their talents shall, at the return of Christ, be promoted to great honours in heaven, and be partakers of the joys of their Lord in the world of glory. See ver. 34; also 1 John ii. 28.
24 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 gather ing where thou hast not strawed:
The design of this part of the parable is to show that no one is
excused in indolence because he has few talents. God will require of him only according to his ability, 1 Cor. iv. 2. Luke xii. 48. 2 Cor. viii. 12. A hard man.' Of a sordid, griping disposition; taking advantage of the poor and oppressing them. Reaping,' &c. This is indicative of an avaricious and overbearing disposition. Compelling the poor to sow for him, and reaping all the benefit himself. Hast not strawed.' The word
'straw' means to scatter, as men scatter seed in sowing it.
25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth lo, there thou hast that is thine.
'I was afraid. I feared lest, by some accident, thy talent would be lost if I put it out to trade, and that I should be severely punished by a hard master. That is thine. There is what properly belongs to thee. There is the original talent that thou gavest me, and that is all which can be reasonably required. This expresses exactly the feelings of all sinners. God, in their view, is hard, cruel, unjust. All the excuses of sinners are excuses for indolence and sin, and to cheat themselves out of heaven. Sinners grudge every thing that God requires. And if they give, they do it with hard feelings, and deem it all that he can claim.
26 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⚫
Slothful.' Indolent, lazy; who had done nothing. God will judge men, not merely for doing wrong, but for not doing right. See ver. 45. That servant was wicked, because he had such an opinion of his master; he had shown that he was slothful, by not making a good use of the talent, ver. 27. 'Thou knewest,' &c. If you knew he was such a man, you ought to have acted accordingly, so as to have escaped punishment. This is not intended to admit that he was such a man, but to convict the slothful servant of guilt and folly in not having been prepared to give a good account to him.
27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
The exchangers were persons who were in the habit of borrowing money, or receiving it on deposit at a low rate of interest, to be lent to others at higher interest. They commonly sat by tables in the temple, with money ready to exchange or lend. See Matt. xxii. 12. This money was left with the servant, not to exchange, nor to increase it by any such idle means, but by honest industry and merchandise; but since he was too indolent for that, he ought at least to have lent it to the exchangers, that