The Parable of the Ten Virgins
by John N. Loughborough

Last Day Tokens, Chapter Eight

The Parable of the Ten Virgins
Tarrying Time
Slumbering of the Virgins
Midnight Cry
The Tarrying Night
Termination of the 2,300 Days
Go You Out to Meet Him
Power of the Midnight Cry
Buy for Yourselves
Coming of the Bridegroom
High Priest in the Sanctuary
Measure of the Temple


TRACING still further the prophecies concerning the advent movement, the parable of the ten virgins of Matthew 25 will next be considered. The previous chapter closed with the record of the smiting of fellow servants and the beginning of church feasting and amusements. The twenty-fifth chapter, which is but a continuation of the same discourse, says: “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.”[1]

The question arises, When is this comparison to be made? The text says, “Then;” and this is when the “smiting” of fellow servants and the “eating” begin. What is said of these virgins? - “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.”[2]

After the close of the Jewish natural year 1843 (April, 1844), Adventists compared their situation with that described in the above texts. The prophecy said then the situation would be thus likened, and thus it was, as may be seen by their writings of that date.


In confirmation of the above statement, please read the following quotation from the Midnight Cry of May 9, 1844: “We believe that we are occupying that period spoken of by the Savior, when the bridegroom tarries (Matthew 25:5), to which the kingdom of heaven should be likened, when ‘that evil servant [there having been an apparent failure in the time] shall say in his heart, My lord delays his coming, and shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken,’ and the lord should come in a day they look not for him.

“We shall continue, God willing, to proclaim, ‘Behold, the Bridegroom comes! go you out to meet Him;’ and, ‘The hour of His judgment is come!’ and we trust we shall not fail to continue to cry aloud to the world and church to arouse themselves from their songs of ‘peace,’ and to listen to God’s overtures of mercy. We intend to continue waiting and watching for the coming of the Lord, believing that it is just upon us.”

In the Advent Herald, of Boston, Mass., we have the following quotation in an article called “Vindication,” by Brethren Himes, Bliss, and Hale. In speaking of the passing of the time in April, 1844, they say: “But the time - the year 1843, the Jewish year - passed, and we were disappointed in not beholding the King in His beauty; and all who opposed us, honestly supposed that every distinctive characteristic of our belief had been demonstrated to be false, and that we should, as honest men, abandon our whole position. And therefore it was with surprise that they saw us still clinging to our hope, and still expecting our King.

We, however, in our disappointment, saw no reason for discouragement. We saw that the Scriptures indicated that there must be a tarrying time, and that while the vision tarried, we must wait for it. . . . We frankly and freely admitted to the world that we were mistaken in the definite point to which we had looked with so much confidence; but while we were thus mistaken, we can see the hand of the Lord in that matter. We can see that He has made use of that proclamation as an alarm to the world, and a test to the church. It placed His people in an attitude of expectation. It called out those who were willing to suffer for His name’s sake. It demonstrated to whom the cry of the Lord’s coming was tidings of great joy, and to whom it was an unwelcome sound in their ears. It was shown to the universe who would welcome the Lord’s return, and who would reject Him at His second coming, as the Jews did at His first advent; and we regard it as a step in the accomplishment of God’s purpose, in this ‘day of His preparation,’ that He might lead forth a people who should only seek the will of the Lord, that they might be prepared for His coming.”


In this parable of the virgins, we read further: “While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you 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.”[3]


Not only is a tarrying time represented in the comparison, but another event is introduced, - a midnight cry. This, like the other features of prophecy, had just as accurate a fulfillment in the advent message of 1844. A day, in prophecy, as a symbol of a year, is now so well understood that further discussion is unnecessary. That point, therefore, being established, a night would surely be half a year; midnight half a night, or three months. Now, it is an undisputed fact that just three months from the passing of the time in April, 1844, the Adventists did give such a message as here indicated, and called direct attention to the above scripture as setting forth the fact that such a MIDNIGHT CRY would be given.

In confirmation of this, a few extracts from the writings of Adventists of that time are given. The first are words of George Storrs:-

“‘Behold, the Bridegroom comes’ this year; ‘go you out to meet Him.’ We have done with the nominal churches and the world, except so far as this cry may affect them. Our work is now to wake up the ‘virgins who took their lamps and went forth to meet the Bridegroom.’

Where are we now? ‘If the vision tarry, wait for it.’ Is not that our answer since last March or April? - Yes. What happened while the bridegroom tarried? - The virgins all slumbered and slept, did they not? Christ’s words have not failed; and ‘the Scriptures can not be broken,’ and it is of no use for us to pretend that we have been awake; we have been slumbering, not on the fact of Christ’s coming, but on the time. We came into the tarrying time; we did not know ‘how long’ it would tarry, and on that point we have slumbered. Some of us have said in our sleep, ‘Don’t fix another time;’ so we slept. Now the trouble is to wake us up. Lord, help, for vain is the help of man. Speak Thyself, Lord. O that the ‘Father’ may now ‘make known’ the time!

“How long is the tarrying time? - Half a year. How do you know? - Because our Lord says, ‘At midnight,’ while the bridegroom tarried. The vision was for ‘twenty-three hundred evening-mornings,’ or days. An ‘evening,’ or night, is half of one of those prophetic days, and is therefore six months. That is the whole length of the tarrying time. The present strong cry of time commenced about the middle of July, and has spread with great rapidity and power.”[4]


In the same article in the Midnight Cry, we read: “But how came we into this tarrying night? - Because we commenced the vision [vision of the 2,300 days] in the spring, instead of the fall, 457 B. C., we fell short of reaching the destined port six months and a few days over. It threw us into the tarrying night six months.”

Another writer, in the Midnight Cry of August 22, 1844, said of the twenty-three hundred days: “They began at the going forth of the decree to restore and build Jerusalem. The decree was made at the first by Cyrus, renewed by Darius, and completed by Artaxerxes Longimanus in the seventh year of his reign. It was fully promulgated, and went into effect in the autumn of the year B. C. 457, when Ezra, having arrived at Jerusalem by the good hand of the Lord, restored the Jewish commonwealth, appointed magistrates and judges, and commenced the building of the wall.”[5]


Again, in the Midnight Cry of Oct. 31, 1844, about ten days after the close of the twenty-three hundred days, we read: “In view of all the circumstances attending this movement, the blessed effects it has produced on the minds of God’s children, and the hatred and malice His enemies have displayed, we must regard it as the true ‘midnight cry.’ And if we have a few days in which to try our faith, it is still in accordance with the parable of the ten virgins; for when they had all arisen and trimmed their lamps, there was still to be a time when the lamps of the foolish virgins would be going out. This could not be till after the passing of the tenth day [the close of the 2,300 days]; for till that time their lamps would burn. There must, therefore, be a passing by of that day, for the foolish to give up their faith, as there must have been of 1843, for the tarrying time.”

In the Advent Herald of Nov. 13, 1844, we read still further: “It has tested the hearts of all who heard it, and awakened a love for the Lord’s appearing; or it has called forth a hatred, more or less perceivable, but known to God, of His coming. It has drawn a line, and awakened sensibilities, so that those who will examine their own hearts may know on which side of it they would have been found had the Lord then come - whether they would have exclaimed, ‘Lo, this is our God, we have waited for Him, and He will save us,’ or whether they would have called for rocks and mountains to fall on them and hide them from the face of Him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.”


In the Voice of Truth, published in Rochester, N. Y., in the issue of Nov. 7, 1844, the following words are found: “We think the parable of the ten virgins tells us where we are. The proclamation of the tenth day of the seventh month we believe was the ‘midnight cry,’ when all, not a part, of the virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. This work continued until the tenth day passed. Since then, the lamps of the foolish have been ‘going out,’ - their faith is dying; the wise have no oil to spare.”

To show the effect of the “tenth-day” proclamation upon the people, we quote from George Storrs’s letter in the Midnight Cry of Oct. 3, 1844, nineteen days before the close of the period. He says: “It is attended with a demonstration of the Spirit, such as I never witnessed when the cry was ‘1843.’ It is now literally, ‘Go you out to meet Him.’ There is a leaving of all that I never dreamed could be seen. When this cry gets hold of the heart, farmers leave their farms, with their crops. There is a strong crying with tears, and a consecration of all to God, such as I never witnessed. There is a confidence in this truth, such as was never felt in the previous cry, in the same degree, and a weeping or melting glory in it that passes all understanding, except to those who have felt it.”

In the same paper, in the issue of Oct. 31, 1844, is further testimony respecting the movement: “It seemed to us to have been so independent of human agency, that we could not but regard it as a fulfillment of the ‘midnight cry,’ after the tarrying of the bridegroom, and the slumbering and sleeping of the virgins, when they were all to arise and trim their lamps. And this last work seems to have been done; for there has never been a time before when the respective Advent bands were in so good a state of preparation for the Lord’s coming.”


In the article from which the above extract is made, is the following description of the power which accompanied this “midnight cry:” “There seemed to be an irresistible power attending the proclamation, which prostrated all before it. It swept over the land with the velocity of a tornado, and it reached hearts in different and distant places almost simultaneously, and in a manner which can be accounted for only on the supposition that God was in it. It produced everywhere the most deep searching of heart and humiliation of soul before high Heaven. It caused a weaning of affections from the things of this world, a healing of controversies and animosities, a confessing of wrongs, a breaking down before God, and penitent, broken-hearted supplications to Him for pardon and acceptance. It caused selfabasement and prostration of soul, such as we never before witnessed.”


In the Midnight Cry for Oct. 10, 1844, we learn how the “virgins” were admonished to “buy” for themselves - to gain an individual experience that would prepare them to meet the Lord. “It requires,” says the writer, “the same faith that led Abraham to offer up Isaac, or Noah to build the ark, or Lot to leave Sodom, or the children of Israel to stand all night waiting for their departure out of Egypt, or for Daniel to go into the lions’ den, or the three Hebrews into the fiery furnace. We have fancied that we were going into the kingdom without such a test of faith, but I am satisfied we are not. This last truth brings such a test, and none will venture upon it but such as dare to be accounted fools, madmen, or anything else that antediluvians, Sodomites, a lukewarm church, or sleeping virgins are disposed to heap upon them. Once more would I cry, ‘Escape for thy life;’ ‘look not behind you;’ ‘remember Lot’s wife.’

“How shall we be ready for that day? - Believe God’s truth, and venture out upon it, by strong faith that gives glory to God. We must have the same state of mind that we would have if we knew we were to die upon that day, the same entire consecration to God and deadness to the world.”


In examining more closely the parable of the ten virgins, we notice that “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.” [6]

While this work of arousing and exhorting all to be ready was in progress, the twenty-three hundred days ended. Those who were fully consecrated to God very soon received light as to the nature of the event that was to take place at the close of this period. Said they, “Christ has gone in to the marriage.” By faith they “went in with Him.” That is, their faith followed Him in the work upon which He had now entered. In confirmation of this, we find in the Voice of Truth of Nov. 7, 1844, this statement: “We cheerfully admit that we have been mistaken in the nature of the event we expected would occur on the tenth day of the seventh month; but we can not yet admit that our great High Priest did not do, on that very day, all that the type would justify us in expecting. We now believe He did.”


In the Advent Herald of Nov. 13, 1844, we read the following: “On that day the high priest, under the Jewish economy, made an atonement in the holy of holies for the sins of all Israel. As the law was a ‘shadow of good things to come;’ as the crucifixion of Christ, the paschal Lamb, ‘our Passover,’ was on that day, though not the hour, as some have believed, of the Jewish Passover; as He rose the first-fruits of those that slept, on the day the priest waved before the Lord the first-fruits of the earth for a wave-offering; and as the Holy Spirit descended on the day of Pentecost, - the feast of weeks; so we believe that our great High Priest, having entered into the holy of holies and sprinkled it with His blood, might come out of the same to bless His people on the day that this great antitype was shadowed forth by the observance of this Jewish law.”

In the above extracts, we see how the Lord was leading the minds of His people to the subject of a sanctuary in heaven, and to the nature of the work that Christ, our High Priest, was there entering upon. In the type, the work of entering and coming out of the most holy place was accomplished in one literal day.

In the antitype it was to cover years. As announced by the time message of Revelation 10, it is “in the days [years] of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as He hath declared to His servants the prophets.”[7] He declared to Daniel that at the end of the twenty-three hundred days, “then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.”[8]

By referring again to the time proclamation in Revelation 10, we see that when the message is given, the people engaged in it will suppose their work for the world is then done. But they are told: “Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.”[9]


In the first verse of the eleventh chapter of Revelation we learn something of the nature of the work in which the Lord’s people are to engage after the close of the twenty-three hundred days: “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.”[10]

The measurement of those who worship in the temple is not a literal measurement of stature, for “God is no respecter of persons.”[11] While men look on the outward appearance, “the Lord looks on the heart.”[12]

The measurement of the worshipers in the temple must be for the purpose of discovering to them their true standing before the Lord, - of discovering to them their defects in character, that these may be put away, - canceled by the blood of Christ our Savior. This “rod” by which the people of God are measured must be none other than the moral law of God; for, as stated by the apostle Paul, “by the law is the knowledge of sin.”[13] Again, “I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shall not covet.”[14]

This people came to the time of the sounding of the seventh trumpet, when “the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament.”[15] The ark in the typical sanctuary was called the ark of the testament, because it contained the Ten Commandments, the testimony which the Lord spoke with a “loud voice,” on Mount Sinai, in the audience of all Israel. “And He gave unto Moses, when He had made an end of communing with him upon Mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.”[16] “And He [the Lord] wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the Ten Commandments, which the Lord spoke unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly: and the Lord gave them unto me. And I turned myself and came down from the mount, and put the tables in the ark which I had made; and there they be, as the Lord commanded me.”[17]

This sanctuary, with its furniture, is said by the apostle Paul to be a “pattern,” “shadow,” and “figure” of the sanctuary in heaven, where Christ, our High Priest, “ministers for us.”[18] So when the twenty-three hundred days ended, and the seventh trumpet began to sound, the time had come for the opening of that apartment of the heavenly sanctuary which contained the ark, as the time had arrived for the cleansing of the sanctuary. The believers then began to see, by faith, the ark of the testament. They saw in that ark the original of the law, of which only a duplicate was placed in the ark constructed by Moses. Here, then, they obtained the “reed like unto a rod” - the rule of life by which men’s hearts or motives were to be measured. Here, also, they began to receive the light on the third angel’s message, which says, “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”[19]

As before stated, the measurement of the temple is not a literal measurement in cubits, for there is no report made of the dimensions. It is unlike the measurement of the New Jerusalem, mentioned in Revelation 21: for in that measurement, there is a definite report of the size of the city in furlongs, and the height of the wall in cubits. That, then, is a literal measurement of a literal city. But the measurement of the worshipers of Revelation 11 is figurative, meaning character; so also is the measurement of the temple (sanctuary), and the cleansing to be made at the end of the twenty-three hundred days. Just this light made the past all plain, and demonstrated to the Advent believers the accuracy of the proclamation, “The hour of God’s judgment is come,” and, “Then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Christ had entered upon the work of cleansing the sanctuary, and the judgment of the righteous dead had begun.

1. Matthew 25:1
2. Matthew 25:2-5
3. Matthew 25:5-8
4. Midnight Cry, October 3, 1844
5. See Daniel 9:25; Ezra 7:21-26; 9:9; Nehemiah 1:3; 2:12-17
6. Matthew 25:10
7. Revelation 10:7
8. Daniel 8:14
9. Revelation 10:11
10. Revelation 11:1
11. Acts 10:34
12. 1 Samuel 16:7
13. Romans 3:20
14. Romans 7:7
15. Revelation 11:19
16. Exodus 31:18
17. Deuteronomy 10:4,5
18. Hebrews 8:5; 9:8,9,23,24
19. Revelation 14:9-12

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