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25. More Parables

1Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2And five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3For the foolish, when they took their lamps, took no oil with them: 4but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5Now while the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6But at midnight there is a cry, Behold, the bridegroom! Come ye forth to meet him. 7Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 8And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are going out. 9But the wise answered, saying, Peradventure there will not be enough for us and you: go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 10And while they went away to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage feast: and the door was shut. 11Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 12But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. 13Watch therefore, for ye know not the day nor the hour.

14For it is as when a man, going into another country, called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 15And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one; to each according to his several ability; and he went on his journey. 16Straightway he that received the five talents went and traded with them, and made other five talents. 17In like manner he also that received the two gained other two. 18But he that received the one went away and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. 19Now after a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and maketh a reckoning with them. 20And he that received the five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: lo, I have gained other five talents. 21His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 22And he also that received the two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: lo, I have gained other two talents. 23His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 24And he also that had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou didst not sow, and gathering where thou didst not scatter; 25and I was afraid, and went away and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, thou hast thine own. 26But 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 did not scatter; 27thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the bankers, and at my coming I should have received back mine own with interest. 28Take ye away therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him that hath the ten talents. 29For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away. 30And cast ye out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.

31But when the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory: 32and before him shall be gathered all the nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats; 33and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35for I was hungry, and ye gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; 36naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, and fed thee? or athirst, and gave thee drink? 38And when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39And when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, even these least, ye did it unto me. 41Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels: 42for I was hungry, and ye did not give me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; 43I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44Then shall they also answer, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of these least, ye did it not unto me. 46And these shall go away into eternal punishment: but the righteous into eternal life.

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41. Depart from me, you cursed. He now comes to the reprobate, who are so intoxicated by their fading prosperity, that they imagine they will always be happy. He threatens, therefore, that he will come as their Judge, and that he will make them forget those luxurious enjoyments to which they are now so entirely devoted; not that the coming of Christ will strike them with terror—for they think that they

have made a covenant with death, (Isaiah 28:15,)

and harden themselves in wicked indifference—but that believers, warned of their dreadful ruin, may not envy their present lot. For as promises are necessary for us, to excite and encourage us to holiness of life, so threatenings are likewise necessary to restrain us by anxiety and fear. We are therefore taught how desirable it is to be united to the Son of God; because everlasting destruction and the torment of the flesh await all those whom he will drive from his presence at the last day. He will then order the wicked to depart from him, because many hypocrites are now mixed with the righteous, as if they were closely allied to Christ.

Into everlasting fire. We have stated formerly, that the term fire represents metaphorically that dreadful punishment which our senses are unable to comprehend. It is therefore unnecessary to enter into subtle inquiries, as the sophists do, into the materials or form of this fire; for there would be equally good reason to inquire about the worm, which Isaiah connects with the

fire for their worm shall not die,
either shall their fire be quenched, (Isaiah 66:24.)

Besides, the same prophet shows plainly enough in another passage that the expression is metaphorical; for he compares the Spirit of God to a blast by which the fire is kindled, and adds a mixture of brimstone, (Isaiah 30:33.) Under these words, therefore, we ought to represent to our minds the future vengeance of God against the wicked, which, being more grievous than all earthly torments, ought rather to excite horror than a desire to know it. But we must observe the eternity of this fire, as well as of the glory which, a little before, was promised to believers.

Which is prepared for the devil. Christ contrasts with himself the devil, as the head of all the reprobate. For though all the devils are apostate angels, yet many passages of Scripture assign thee highest authority to one who assembles under him, as in one body, all the wicked to perdition; in the same manner as believers assemble to life under Christ, and grow under him, till, having reached perfection, they are entirely united by him to God, (Ephesians 4:13; Colossians 2:19.) But now Christ says, that hell is prepared for the devil, that wicked men may not entertain the belief that they will be able to escape it, when they hear that they are involved in the same punishment with the devil, who, it is certain, was long ago sentenced and condemned to hell, without any hope of deliverance.

And his angels. By the devil's angels some understand wicked men, but it is more probable that Christ speaks only of devils. And so these words convey an indirect reproach, that men, who had been called to the hope of salvation through the Gospel, chose to perish with Satan, and, rejecting the Author of salvation, voluntarily threw themselves into this wretched condition; not that they were not appointed to destruction as well as the devil, but because in their crime is plainly seen the cause of their destruction, when they reject the grace of their calling. And thus, though the reprobate were devoted to death, by a secret judgment of God, before they were born, yet, so long as life is offered to them, they are not reckoned heirs of death or companions of Satan, but their perdition, which had been formerly concealed, is discovered and made evident by their unbelief.