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by the light of lamps, which were carried by the bride's-maids, who afterwards partook of the marriage supper.

On this occasion, the bride's-maids were ten in number, and the bridegroom desired them to prepare their lamps, and to be in readiness to receive him when he should meet them at the appointed place.

They began, therefore, to prepare themselves, but not all with equal zeal and alacrity.

Five of these virgins were wise and careful, and anxious to obey the wishes of the bridegroom, and five were idle and foolish, who, though they did not dare to offend the bridegroom so much as actually to refuse his invitation, yet gave themselves very little trouble in preparation, and did not much care whether he was pleased or not with the


appearance they should make at the wedding

They therefore would not encumber themselves with carrying the vessels of oil, which was necessary to keep the lamps trimmed, but contented themselves with merely lighting them, and trusting to chance that they would not

go out.

But the wise virgins knowing that the principal thing they had to attend to, was to keep their lamps bright and clear, prudently filled their vessels full of oil, and when their preparation was complete, they all set off together, towards the appointed place of meeting.

Here, however, they were kept longer waiting than they had expected, and while the bridegroom delayed his coming, all the ten virgins fell asleep.

They continued sleeping for some time, but about midnight they were

suddenly roused by a cry in the streets, “ Behold, the bridegroom cometh ; go

ye out to meet him.”

Confused and startled with the suddenness of the cry, all the virgins arose in haste, and immediately began to examine their lamps. The wise found that the oil in their lamps had been diminishing during their slumber, and they were now burning dimly, but fortunately the vessels of oil were at hand, and they lost no time in replenishing their lamps, which now again blazed with renewed brightness.

But when the foolish virgins turned in bewilderment to the place where they had left their lamps, all was dark

the lamps had gone out, not even a spark was alive, and they had no oil to revive them.

Now it was that, notwithstanding


their former indifference, they bitterly repented having neglected to bring any oil, and they applied to the wise virgins, and entreated them to give them some of theirs; but the wise told them that they had none to spare, as they had only got what was necessary for themselves, and advised them to go to buy some as quickly as they could.

So the foolish virgins hastened away to procure the oil, but while they were gone, the bridegroom came, and finding the five wise virgins quite ready, with their lamps in their hands, he bid them follow him, and they went in to the marriage feast.

In the mean time the foolish virgins returned, and found that the bridegroom had come, and had called all who were ready to accompany him ; yet still hoping to be in time, they

hurried on;

but when they arrived at the door, they found it shut, and themselves excluded from the pleasure and the honour of the entertainment.

They knocked at the door, exclaiming with earnestness, “ Lord, Lord, “ open unto us," - but it was too late :

- they heard the bridegroom's voice from within answering them, “Verily «I

say unto you, I know you not.” “ Watch ye, therefore,” said our Lord, in applying the story to the use of His followers, — “ Watch ye,


ye “ know neither the day nor the hour " wherein the Son of Man cometh."

Now, this parable represents our Saviour as the bridegroom, who pressingly invites His friends to a heavenly feast.

We are the guests who are hidden to prepare our lamps, that is, our hearts

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