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away from life, is as good as the day when he is called to his account. The interval between death and the resurrection, may be longer or shorter in itself; but it is of no moment, as a period of suspense between death and judgment, whether it be long or short; it weighs as nothing in the scale of moral responsibility, and neither adds to, nor diminishes from, the things done in the body. As the tree falls so it lies (Ecclesiastes, xi. 3.); and as life will leave us, so the judgment will find us. No increase, that we know of, can be made after death to the amount of personal good desert, nor any thing detracted from the amount of personal ill desert, contracted in life; or none that will be taken into account at the day of doom. The everlasting destination of every moral agent, is as irrevocably fixed at the hour of his departure from the world, by the tenor of his past existence; as if his final audit were forth with to be transacted, and his final sentence to be pronounced and executed upon him. Whatever be the nature of that intermediate state of being, in which departed souls continue to exist, before their reunion with the body; whatever difference the justice of God may even now make, in the disposal and treatment of the good and the bad respectively; whatever may be the separate occupations, enjoyments, or sufferings, of each in their proper place and sphere; we may be certain of thus much, that
this interval is devoted to no purpose, nor transacted in any manner, which will be taken into consideration at the last day, or possess the least weight in deciding the everlasting fortunes of either the good or the bad, according to the judgment of that day.
THE SERVANT LEFT INSTEAD OF HIS LORD.
MATTHEW, XXIV. 45–51. HARMONY, IV. 79.
MATTHEW, xxiv. 45–51. 45 “ Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his “ lord hath appointed over his servants, to give them their “maintenance in due season ? 46 Blessed shall be that servant, “ whom his lord, being come, shall find so doing. 47 Verily I “ say unto you, He will appoint him over all his possessions. “ 48 But if that evil servant should say in his heart, My lord is " long in coming ; 49 and should begin to beat his fellow“ servants, and to eat and to drink together with those that are “ drunken ; 50 the lord of that servant shall come in a day “ which he expecteth not, and in an hour which he knoweth “ not; 51 and shall cut him off, and set his portion together “ with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and the gnashing “ of the teeth.
The parabolic part of this remaining division of the discourse commences with the 45th verse of the xxivth of St. Matthew. Of the component parts of this division, the substance of all, from verse 45 to
the end of the chapter, consisting of the parable of the servant left instead of his lord, has been anticipated, in the explanation given of it, where it first occurred, Luke xii. 42—46, to which I refer the reader k. The second portion of it is the parable of the ten virgins; upon the consideration of which I propose to enter next.
THE TEN VIRGINS.
MATTHEW, XXV. 1–13. HARMONY, IV. 79.
Matthew, xxv. 1-13. 1 « Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten “virgins, who, having taken their lamps, went forth for the "purpose of meeting the bridegroom. 2 Now five there were “ of them wise, and the other five foolish ; 3 which foolish ones, “having taken their own lamps, did not take with themselves “ oil ; 4 but the wise ones took oil in their vessels together with “their lamps. 5 And the bridegroom being long in coming, " they all became drowsy, and began to sleep. 6 And at mid“night a cry took place, Behold, the bridegroom is coming: “come ye forth for the purpose of meeting him. 7 Then did “ all those virgins awake, and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the “ foolish ones said to the wise ones, Give to us from your oil ; “because our lamps are beginning to go out. 9 And the wise "ones answered, saying, Peradventure there may not suffice for “us and for you ; but go ye rather to those that sell it, and buy “ for yourselves. 10 And as they were going away to buy, the “ bridegroom came, and the virgins that were ready went in to“gether with him, unto the wedding-feast; and the door was “closed. 11 And afterwards the remaining virgins also come, “ saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us. 12 And he answered and “said, Verily, I say unto you, I know you not. 13 Watch ye, “therefore; because ye know not the day, nor the hour, wherein “the Son of man is coming.”
HE groundwork of the parabolic representation in the present instance, being the celebration of a marriage solemnity; the circumstances of the narrative are necessarily such as must be supposed to make part of the celebration of these solemnities, according to the usages of the nations of the East in general, or to those of the Jews in particular.
The history of a marriage solemnity, if dated from the earliest possible period, must go as far back as the time of the formation of the marriage contract; which is properly the ceremony of the espousals. The spousal ceremony among the Jews, was not less solemn, nor less important, in its order of time, than that of the marriage; and the interval between the two was of determinate length. A
a Philo, De Specialibus Legibus, Operr. ii. 311. 42, observes, with reference to espousals ; ai yàp óuologíaı yápois looduvauoitu, αις ανδρός όνομα και γυναικός, και τάλλα τα επί συνόδοις εγγράφεται. Marriage, in fact, among the Jews was necessarily preceded by espousals ; and with respect to a variety of legal forms, requisite to be observed to enter into the spousal contract, and to give it due effect, there was almost as much solemnity about the ceremony of espousals, as about the marriage itself. The interval between the espousals and the marriage could not be less than a month, (see Joseph. Ant. Jud. xvi. vii. 3. Cf. Deuteron. xxi. 13.) and might be any greater length of time. Many instances may be produced of females affianced in marriage, at two, five, or seven years old, as well as at the proper age for marriage.
Espousals partook of an equal degree of formality among the Romans also ; and an action would lie for the violation of the spousal contract : see Aulus Gellius, iv. 4: Servius ad Æneid. x. 79: while, according to the Jewish law, as it is well known, the breach of the contract of marriage by the crime of unfaith