The Ten Virgins
CRM Editor's Note: The other night in our study, I was reading CH Mackintosh's book titled,
"The Lord's Coming". It is an excellent book and worth your time to read and study. We offer one
chapter here for your edification. It will bless your heart. Although the book was written well over
100 years ago, the message is so current-- for the Bible is always current. We live in a day and age
where, as always, false converts and true Christians co-labor together. All are professing but NOT
all are saved. Many evangelicals today believe that they can reach the whole world for Christ and
predict a "great revival" coming. We, who take the  Bible literally, know that a
great apostasy is
forecast. This chapter addresses many important Biblical truths and
refutes the whole theory of a
world-wide conversion before Jesus returns. .(The bold emphasis is ours.) May God bless you as
you read.

                                                 by C.H. Mackintosh

We now approach that solemn section of our Lord's discourse in which He
presents the kingdom of Heaven under the similitude of "ten virgins." The
instruction contained in this most weighty and interesting parable is of wider
application than that of the servant to which we have already referred,
inasmuch as it takes in the whole range of Christian profession, and is not
confined to ministry either within the house or outside. It bears directly and
pointedly upon Christian profession, whether true or false.

"Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took
their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom."
(Matthew 25:1)

Some have considered that this parable refers to the Jewish remant; but it
does not seem that this idea is borne out, either by the context in which this
parable occurs or by the terms in which it is couched.

As to the entire context, the more closely we examine it the more clearly we
shall see that the Jewish portion of the discourse ends with Matthew 24:44.
This is so distinct as not to admit of a question. Equally distinct is the Christian
portion, extending, as we have seen, from Matthew 24:45-25:30; while from
25:31 to the end, we have the Gentiles. Thus the order and fulness of this
marvelous discourse must strike any thoughtful reader. It presents the Jew,
the Christian, and the Gentile, each on his own distinct ground, and according
to his own distinctive principles. There is no merging of one thing in another,
no confounding of things that differ. In a word, the order, the fulness, and
the comprehensiveness of this profound discourse are divine, and fill the soul
"with wonder, love, and praise." We rise from the study of it, as a whole, with
those words of the apostle upon our lips,
"O, the depth and the riches both
of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His
judgments, and His ways past finding out."

And then, when we examine the precise terms made use of by our Lord in
the parable of the ten virgins we must see that it applies not to Jews but to
Christian professors [those who profess faith in Jesus Christ] -it applies to us--
it utters a voice, and teaches a solemn lesson to the writer and the reader of
these lines. Let us apply our hearts thereto.

"Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took
their lamps
, and went forth to meet the bridegroom." (Matthew 25:1)

Primitive Christianity was especially characterized by the fact here indicated,
a going forth to meet a returning and an expected bridegroom.
The early Christians were led to detach themselves from present things, and
go forth, in the spirit of their minds, and in the affections of their hearts, to
the Saviour whom they loved, and for whom they waited. it was not,
of course, a question of going forth from one place to another; it was not local,
but moral, and spiritual.
It was the outgoing of the heart after a beloved
Saviour whose return was eagerly looked for day by day.

It is impossible to read the Epistles to the various churches and not see that
the hope of the Lord's sure and speedy return governed the hearts of the
Lord's dear people in the early days.
They waited for the Son from heaven.
They knew He was to come and take them away, to be with Himself forever;
and the knowledge and power of this hope had the effect of
detaching their
hearts from present things
. Their bright, heavenly hope caused them to sit
loose to the things of earth. They looked for their Saviour." They believed that
He might come at any moment, and hence the concerns of this life were just to
be taken up and attended to for the moment-properly, thoroughly attended to,
no doubt-but only, as it were, on the very tip-toe of

All this is conveyed to our hearts, briefly but clearly, by the expression,
went forth to meet the bridegroom."
this could not be intelligently applied to the
Jewish remnant, inasmuch as they will not go forth to meet their Messiah, but
on the contrary, they will remain in their position and amid their circumstances
until He comes and plants His foot on the mount of Olives. They will not look
for the Lord to come and take them away from this earth to be with Him in
Heaven, but He will come to bring deliverance to them in their own land, and
make them happy there under His own peaceful and blessed reign during the
Millennial Age.

But the call to Christians was to "go forth." They are supposed to be always
on the move;
not settling down on earth, but going out in earnest and holy
after that heavenly glory to which they are called, and after the
heavenly Bridegroom to whom they are espoused, and for whose speedy
advent they are taught to wait.

Such is the true, the divine, the normal idea of the Christian's attitude and state.
And this lovely idea was marvelously realized and practically carried out by the
primitive Christians. But alas, we are reminded of the fact that we have to do
the spurious as well as the true in christendom. There are "tares" as well
as "wheat" in the kingdom of Heaven; and thuse we read of these ten
virgins, that "five of them were wise, and five were foolish." These are the
true and the false, the genuine and the counterfeit, and the real and the
hollow, in professing Christianity.

Yes, and this is to continue unto the time of the end, until the Bridegroom
The tares are not converted into wheat, nor are the foolish virgins
converted into wise ones. No, never.
The tares will be burnt and the foolish
virgins shut out. So far from a gradual improvement by the means now in
operation-the preaching of the gospel and the various beneficent agencies
which are brought to bear upon the world-we find, from all the parables, and
from the teaching of the entire New Testament, that the kingdom of Heaven
presents a most deplorable admixture of evil; a corrupting process; a grievous
tampering with the work of God, on the part of the enemy; a
progress of evil in principle, in profession, and in practice.

And all this goes on to the end. There are foolish virgins found when the
Bridegroom appears. Whence come they if all are to be converted before the
Lord comes? If all are to be brought to the knowledge of the Lord by the
means now in operation, then how comes it to pass that when the Bridegroom
comes, there are
quite as many foolish as wise?

But it will perhaps be said that this is but a parable, a figure. Granted; but a
figure of what? Not surely, of a whole world converted. To assert this would
be to offer a grievous insult to the holy volume, and to treat our Lord's solemn
teaching in a manner in which we would not dare to treat the teaching of a
fellow mortal.

No, the parable of the ten virgins teaches, beyond all question,
that when the
Bridegroom comes, there will be foolish virgins on the scene, and clearly,
if there are foolish virgins, all cannot have been previously converted.
child can understand this.
We cannot see how it is possible, in the face of even
this one parable, to maintain the theory of a world converted before the coming
of the Bridegroom.

But let us look a little closely at these foolish virgins. Their history is full of
admonition for all Christian professors. It is very brief, but awfully
"They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil
with them."
There is the outward profession, but no inward reality-- no
spiritual life-no unction-no vital link with the source of eternal life-no union
with Christ.
There is nothing but the lamp of profession, and the dry wick
of a nominal notional, head belief.

This is peculiarly solemn. It bears down with tremendous weight upon the vast
mass of baptized profession which surrounds us, at the present moment, in
which there is so much of outward semblance,
but so little of inward reality.
All profess to be Christians.
The lamp of profession may be seen in every
hand; but ah, how few have the oil in their vessels, the spirit of life in
Christ Jesus, who have the Holy Ghost dwelling in their hearts.
this, all is utterly worthless and vain. There may be the very highest profession;
there may be a most orthodox creed; one may be baptized; he may receive the
Lord's supper; be a reguilarly enrolled and duly recognized member of a
Christian community, be a Sunday-school teacher; an ordained minister of
religion; one may be all of this, and not have one spark of divine life,
not one
ray of heavenly light, not one link with the Christ of God.

Now there is something peculiarly awful in the thought of having just enough
religion to deceive the heart
, deaden the conscience and ruin the soul-just
enough religion to give a name to live while dead enough to leave one without
Christ, without God, and without hope in the world-- e
nough to prop the
soul up with a false confidence, and fill it with a false peace, until the
Bridegroom come, and then the eyes are opened when it is too late.

This it is with the foolish virgins. They seem to be very like the wise ones.
An ordinary observer might not be able to see any difference, for the
time being.
They all set out together. All have lamps. And, moreoever, all
turn aside to slumber and sleep, and the wise as well as the foolish. All rouse
up at the midnight cry, and trim their lamps. Thus far there is no apparent
difference. The foolish virgins light their lamps-- the lamp of profession lighted
up with the dry wick of a lifeless, notional, nominal faith; alas! A
worthless-worse than worthless-thing, a fatal soul-destroying

Here is the grand distinction-- the broad line of demarcation-comes out with
awful, yea, with appalling clearness.
"The foolish said unto the wise, Give us
of your oil; for our lamps are going out."
This proves that their lamps had been
lighted, for if they had not been lighted, they could not go out. But it was only
a false, flickering, transient light. It was not fed from a divine source. It was
the light of
mere lip profession, fed by the head of belief, lasting just long
enough to decieve themselves and others
, and going out at the very moment
when they most needed it,
leaving them in the dreadful darkness of eternal

"Our lamps are going out." Terrible discovery! "The Bridegroom is at hand,
and our lamps are going out. Our hollow profession is being made manifest by
the light of His coming. We thought we were all right.
We professed the same
faith, had the same shaped lamp, the same kind of wick, but alas! we now
find to our unspeakable horror, that we have been deceiving ourselves,
that we lack the one thing needful, the spirit of life in Christ, the unction
from the Holy One, the living link with the Bridegroom.
Whatever shall
we do? O ye wise virgins, take pity upon us, and share with us your oil. Do,
do, for mercy's sake, give us a little, even one drop of that all-essential thing,
that we may not perish forever."

It is all utterly vain.
No one can give of his oil to another. Each has just
enough for himself. A man can give light, but he cannot give oil. The latter is
the gift of God alone.
"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. 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."
It is of
no use looking to Christan friends to help us or prop us up. No use in flying
hither and thither for some one to lean upon-- some holy man, or some
eminent teacher-- no use building upon our church, our creed, or our
sacraments. We want oil. We cannot do without it. Where are we to get it?
Not from man, not from the church, not from the saints, not from the fathers.
We must get it from God; and He, blessed be His name, gives freely.
"The Gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord."

But, mark, it is an individual thing. Each much have it for himself. No man
can believe, or get life for another.
Each must have to do with God for
himself. The link which connects the soul with Christ is intensely individual.
There is no such thing as second-hand faith. A man may teach us religion,
or theology, or the letter of Scripture; but he cannot give us oil; he cannot give
us faith; he cannot give us life. "It is the gift of God." Precious little word,
"gift." It is like God. It is free as God's air; free as His sunlight; free as His
refreshing dew-drops. But, we repeat, and with solemn emphasis, each one
must get it for himself.
"None can by any means redeem his brother, nor
give to God a ransom for him, that he should still live forever and not see
corruption. For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth forever"
(Psalm 49:7-9)

What sayest thou to these solmn realities? Art thou a wise or foolish virgin?
Hast thou gotten life in a risen and glorified Saviour? Art thou a mere
professor of religion, content with the mere ordinary dead routine of
church-going, having just sufficient religion to make thee respectable on earth,
but not enough to link thee with Heaven?

We earnestly beseech thee to think seriously of these things.
Think of them
now. Think how unspeakably dreadful it will be to find thy lamp of
profession going out
and leaving thee in obscure darkness-darkness of an
everlasting night. How terrible to find the door shut behind that brilliant train
which shall go in to the marriage; but shut in thy face! How agonizing the cry,
"Lord, Lord, open unto us!" How withering, how crushing the response,
know you not."

Oh do give these weighty matters a place in thy heart now, while yet the door
is open, and while yet the day of grace is lengthened out in God's marvelous
long suffering. The moment is rapidly approaching in which the door of mercy
shall be closed against thee forever, when all hope shall be gone, and thy
precious soul be plunged into black and eternal despair. May God's spirit rouse
thee from thy fatal slumber, a
nd give thee no rest until thou findest it in
the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and at His blessed feet in
adoration and worship.

We shall just for a moment glance at the wise virgins. The great distinguishing
feature which, according to the teaching of this parable, marks them off from
the foolish virgins is that when starting at the first they
"took oil in their vessels
with their lamps."
In other words, what distinguishes true believers from
mere professors is that the former have in their hearts the grace of God's
Holy Spirit' they have gotten the spirit of life in Christ Jesus; and the
Holy Ghost dwelling in them as the seal, the earnest, the unction, and the
The grand and glorious fact characterizes now all true believers in the
Lord Jesus Christ-- a stupendous, wondrous fact, most surely-- an immense
and ineffable privilege,
which should ever bow our souls in holy adoration
before our God and our Lord Jesus Christ, whose accomplished
redemption has procured for us this great blessing.

How sad to think that, notwithstanding this high and holy privilege, we should
have to read, as in the words of our parable,
"They all slumbered and slept!"
All alike, wise as well as foolish, fell asleep. The Bridegroom tarried, and
all, without exception, lost the freshness, fervor, and power of the hope
of His coming, and fell fast asleep.

Such is the statement of our parable, and such is the solemn fact of the history.
The whole professing body fell asleep. "That blessed hope" which shone so
brightly on the horizon of the early Christians, very speedily waned and faced
away; and as we scan the page of church history for eighteen centuries, from
the Apostolic Fathers to the opening of the current century [18th Century],
we look in vain for any intelligent reference to the Church's specific hope-the
personal return of the blessed Bridegroom. In fact, that hope was virtually lost
to the Church; nay, more, it became almost heresy to teach it. And even now,
in these last days, there are hundreds of thousands of professed ministers of
Christ who dare not preach or teach the coming of the Lord
as it is taught in

True it is, blessed be God, we notice a mighty change within the last half
century. There has been a great awakening. God is, by His Holy Spirit,
recalling His people to long-forgotten truths, and amongst the rest, to the
glorious truth of the coming of the Bridegroom. Many are now seeing that
the reason why the Bridegroom tarried was simply
because God was
long-suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all
should come to repentance. Precious reason!

But they are also seeing that, in spite of this long-suffering, our Lord is at hand.
Christ is coming. The midnight cry has gone forth, "Behold, the Bridegroom
cometh; go ye out to meet Him." May millions of voices re-echo the
soul-stirring cry until it passes in its mighty moral power, from pole to pole, and
from river to the ends of the earth, rousing the whole Church to wait, as one
man, for the glorious appearing of the blessed Bridegroom of our hearts.

Brethren beloved in the Lord, awake! Let every soul be roused. Let us
shake off the sloth and the slumber of worldly ease and self-
indulgence-let us rise above the withering influence of religious formality
and dull routine-let us fling aside the dogmas of false theology, and go
forth, in the spirit of our minds and in the affections of our heart, to meet
our returning Bridegroom. May His solemn words come with fresh power
to our souls, "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the
hour." May the language of our hearts and our lives be, "Even so, come,
Lord Jesus."

The dark stream of evil is flowing apace:
Awake, and be doing, ye children of grace,
Let's seek with compassion the souls that are lost,
Well knowing the price their redemption has cost.
While singing with rapture the Saviour's great love,
And waiting for Him to translate us above-
"It may be tomorrow, or even tonight"-
Let our loins be well girded, and lamps burning bright.

By CH Mackintosh


Related Articles:
Are You Rapture Ready?
The Antichrist and The DaVinci Code
Till He Come by AC Gaebelein

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