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his angels, with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth, to the uttermost part of heaven, from one end of heaven to the other. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. And he spake to them a parable; Now learn a parable of the fig-tree: Behold the figtree, and all the trees; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, when they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass away, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
* The word generation means, in its primary signification, a stock or race of people, and in this sense it appears to be used here. It seems as if our Lord meant to intimate that notwithstanding the fearful impending havoc of the Jews, which he had just been predicting, though Jerusalem should be trodden down of the gentiles, and its surviving inhabitants be scattered abroad into all lands, yet still the Jewish people should not pass away, as a distinct race, till the times of the gentiles shall be fulfilled. It is not, however, intended to propose this as the undoubted meaning of the passage. Saving faith and Christian practice are plainly set forth in Holy Writ, so that he who runs may read; but, when leaving the principles (that is, the elements) of the doctrine of Christ, we seek, according to the Apostolic precept, to go on unto perfection, we meet sometimes with difficulties of which even diligence and acuteness can afford only a conjectural solution. It is so in the natural world also; and, for aught we know, this may be providentially ordained for the very purpose of challenging the earnest attention of men's understanding in investigating divine truth, as well as for exercising the three great Christian graces, Faith, Diligence, Humility.
HE WARNS TO WATCH AND PRAY.
But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Take ye heed, watch and pray; for ye know not when the time is. Watch, therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his houshold, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to smite his fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his
house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning: lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch. And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.
Watch ye, therefore, and pray always,
that ye may be accounted worthy
to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 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. 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. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord,
WARNING TO WATCH.
Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh.*
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. 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. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. 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 beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant:
The hour of death and the day of judgment are manifestly the unknown day and hour of the coming of the Son of Man. All men, even those who care not at all to live the life, yet would desire to die the death, of the righteous. But the time for beginning the preparation has ceased when the cry is made, Behold the bridegroom cometh; that is, as soon as any one knows or believes that his death is certainly close at hand. For even the foolish virgins were very ready and earnest to trim their lamps as soon as they had warning of the bridegroom's actual approach; but yet the door was shut upon them, and the Lord refused to open it; because the time appointed them, and us, to prepare for the Lord's coming, is not after but before we know that He is knocking at the gate. Unless we live a Christian life during the time of our health and security, we have no Scriptural ground for trusting to any thing that we begin to think or do after we believe the stroke of death to be upon us. This awfully important parable is a solemn warning of directly the reverse.
thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 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. His lord said unto him,
Well done, good and faithful servant;
thou hast been faithful over a few things,
Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. 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: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right