Twenty seventh Sunday after Trinity.
And there appeared a great wonder in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. And she being with child cried travailing in birth and pained to be delivered. Rev. 12: 1-2.
John saw this woman in Heaven, although he was bodily on the earth, both John and the woman who he saw crying in pains of birth. This woman is not only that first Christian congregation which cried in the pains of rebirth, but also every Christian, who cries in the tribulation of conscience, when the new man must be born. She was clothed with the sun, that is, the light of Christianity encompassed her, and the moon under her feet; is the natural intellect, which one penitent person must tread down, and on her head a crown which had twelve stars, signifies the twelve apostles, who had spread the true Christianity. Here is the picture of one penitent person painted before our eyes. She has become pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit, which has made her sorrowful and heavy-hearted. She cries in tribulation of conscience when the new man must be born. Jesus has opened her understanding to understand the scriptures and this spiritual light is that sun with which she is clothed. But the natural intellect wants to be a great hindrance on the way of life; if a penitent one follows the light of the intellect, then God will be rejected and the world will appear to be beautiful and the Word of God will be understood wrong and the true penitance will become fanaticism and living Christianity will become wildness in the eyes of those who follow the light of the intellect. For that reason a penitent one must tread the intellect under foot. For the way of life is so narrow, that no one can see it by moonlight, but full light is needed, and the sun must shine before a person can see the road which goes to Heaven.
Many have now through unwatchfulness lost this narrow way and many have begun to stagger along the wall and cannot find the door, many have lost that light which shone brightly at first, perhaps quite far away, many have become so blind, that they do not see where the way goes to Heaven any more. Many have in the beginning of the awakening been clothed with the sun and the moon under their feet, and a crown on their head which had twelve stars. Where now is your crown, you bride of the Saviour, who John saw in Heaven crying in pains of birth? Have you so forgotten the former time, that it does not come to mind, how beautiful and attractive you were then, when the crown was on your head and the twelve stars shone in the crown? Although you then cried out in pains of birth, you nevertheless had that hope and firm assurance in God, that the new man which was to be born of you would be like the Father, and that you would be taken into the church as a bride. Remember now the time of your youth, daughter of Zion, and be not shy! Do not sit as the devil´s brides sit with the neck high, head tilted, whose neck the devil of honor flexes, but lift up your head, look up to heaven, from where you await the coming of the King of Kings! Look in that direction where the sun rises and remember, that you were once clothed with the sun, when you cried in pains of birth, then was the Son of God beautiful in crimson garments, carrying a purple robe and a crown of thorns; then you were able to see how beautiful the Son of God was in bloody array! But now you look into the world and begin to love the sons of men. Who knows how long you will love them before you give the devil a kiss, for he laughs and licks his lips when he can kiss the bride of the Son of God, knowing well that he will win the heart and mind when he has enticed him with the world What do the former pains of rebirth avail when you no longer have the crown on your head, which had twelve stars? What does the former joy avail you of this, that a new man was born into the world, if this new man is dead, who was like the Father, beautiful and full grown, which the Lord took up when he lay in his blood and. wept, who had received the spirit of the elect children wherein he cried, "Abba, dear Father"? Up to that time the voice of the new man was always heard when some visitor came into the house. Then there was a holy abiding place in your home, the new man cried so much that the devil could not sleep in peace, not in the temple nor in the livingroom nor in the chamber, but now the devil has taken over in almost every house. Has the new man died? Or has he grown so mature that he cannot cry any more no matter how the son of Hagar would trouble him? His voice is not heard no matter how the parent calls his name. Just so the new man has not run to the house of the enemy where all evil will be taught to him. I hear the heavenly Father calling and lamenting, I have raised children for myself but they have left me and become hard of hearing! I saw the Shepherd of Israel seeking the lost sheep on Mt. Sinai, on the shore of the Red sea and near the river Jordan! He traveled those heavy and troublesome steps and cries so the mountains and hills answer, but he has not received an answer from many in these times. Behold now, daughter of Zion, how the Lord laments over you and the parent seeks with a sorrowful heart, with the love of the bridegroom he knocks on the door of your heart and says, if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him and will sup with him. Prepare now your lamps and take heed if you have oil! Soon the cry will come,"Behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet Him!" And remember how you bowed your knees in Jesus' name when you cried in the pains of rebirth. Bow yet your knees in Jesus' name and pray that He would rekindle in you the first love, that your lamp would begin to burn. Hear heavenly bridegroom the sigh of the poor bride. Our Father who art in heaven, etc.
The gospel Matt. 25:1-13.
Since today's gospel is understood in two different ways, some expounders of the scriptures say the sorrowless are the foolish virgins and some say those who. have fallen from grace are the foolish, so we must at this time consider, 1. Who are the foolish virgins? 2. For what reason do they have no oil? 3. For what reason do the wise have no oil to give to the foolish?
1. Who are the foolish virgins? Are they such sorrowless who have never awakened? Or are they such awakened who have been aborted or such Christians who confess their faith but nevertheless do not fit with the Christians? Or are they those who have fallen from grace, who have begun to oppose and hate the Christians? I think the foolish virgins are such thieves of grace, who have awakened so much, that they began to make an outward repentance, they stopped drinking, swearing, fighting and whoring, but finery is allowable, a small drink is allowable, worldly mindedness is allowable. And when they have in this half-awakened state, owned for themselves the grace of rebirth from God's proceeding grace, they have received the wrong understanding of the order of grace. The devil has transformed himself into an angel of light in their consciences, for that reason they look at the true Christians as false and themselves as true. They say they lie at the foot of Jesus' cross every day although they lie at the foot of the devil's cross. Selfrighteousness is their foundation of salvation, although it is hidden from them. The best sign of these grace thieves is this; that they are envious of the Christians, overlook God's severe righteousness, do not have fellowship with the Christians and argue with the Christians. Certainly those who have truly fallen away can come into the same soul condition, but nevertheless the fallen ones have a bad conscience, which accuses and condemns them although they oppose and blaspheme the Christians contrary to their conscience, but those true grace thieves definitely have a sleeping conscience. They have no more doubt of their salvation, they say as the Jews who believed upon Christ, We have a Father, God, to us the door of grace is open. If God's law is preached to them, they cannot bear to hear it, if the gospel is preached, that does not touch their heart either. It is no wonder that they have no oil when death or the judgement comes. Just then they know that they have no oil in their lamp, they have no faith, which will stand in death. There are many at this time of grace who are in that unfortunate self deceit just as Peter was before his fall. That deceitful enemy had deluded him and perverted his eyes. But how did it go? Dead faith did not stand in the right trial.
2. For what reason did the foolish virgins have no oil in their lamps? For that reason that it had run out if they had any in the beginning. We can sometimes doubt if some have even had oil in their lamps when they begin to prepare themselves to meet the bridegroom. But since the gospel does not say if they had oil or not, we must leave that place without consideration, and only consider further, for what reason the foolish had no oil when the cry came? The reason is this, that the foolish did not take oil along when they went to await the bridegroom. The expounders of the scriptures have also considered that custom of the land which was in Canaan, namely the groom came to get the bride and took her to his own house. The bridesmaids were also with the bride in the bride's house and they had to receive the groom with burning lamps. And so that all the idle fools could not peek in and force themselves to enter into the wedding chamber, the wedding was kept at night when it was dark so that the weddings guests could have their enjoyment in peace. Now it is to be surmised, that these foolish virgins had only so much oil in their lamps which was necessary to receive the groom, if the groom had come then, but when the groom tarried, their oil ran out. From this we now understand how this matter of the lamp is. The foolish virgins are such who had oil in their lamps after the first sign of grace, and if the groom had come then, when they felt the sign of grace they would have been ready to receive him. That is; if judgement or death had come then when they felt grace, then they would have died with joy. But when the groom tarried, when death did not come quit then after the first sign of grace, then the first zeal began to end, carrying the cross became troublesome, that female devil, the world, began to show it's beauty to them, as the world's whores bare their breasts to the whore bucks, so this female devil the world, bares it's breasts of fornication to the Christians and entices them with it's beauty. Say now yourselves, you fallen ones, has it not happened so? Many would have been ready to die after that first sign of grace, if death had come then, but when the groom tarried,— woe woe you unfortunate wretch, when the groom tarried, you became sleepy! You could not watch and pray for one moment says Jesus to the disciples who wrestled with sleep. If the children of Israel had reached the promised land of Canaan then when they crossed the Red sea, surely they would have remained in the covenant of grace, the complaining and impatience would not have come. But that travel through the wilderness of this world — this troublesome journeying — it put an end to their faith, it brought them impatience, it caused them to become angry with Moses, the impatience came from the troublesomeness of the journey and from that impatience came the desire to turn back to the heathen land. Did Moses spoil their faith, who was severe at condemning? Did Joshua and Caleb eat their Christianity, who tried to get the people to settle down and urged them to believe upon God? So the children of Israel thought, that those hard Christians wanted to lead the people to their destruction. But God gave a testimony to these men that they had spoken rightly.
See now, foolish virgins, what the right reason is that your lamps go out. You have slept and that while the oil has run out of your lamps. You have through sleepiness lost your faith. You had faith at one time and then you could have died with joy. But when the groom tarried, and did not then come to get his bride, then the sleep of sin became sweet, the conscience began to sleep, the world became dear and beautiful Some began to love the sons of men and to them finery became allowable. Some because of the sorrow of the world became unbelieving. Some because of impatience last their faith. Some through unwatchfulness and some through carelessness and laziness lost their faith. But when the cry comes, then there is haste, then comes fear of death, then comes a new awakening. But then these foolish virgins realize that their lamps are gone out. When death comes upon the unprepared, then there is not power of prayer or boldness of faith; there is not strength to knock on the door of grace. Then they say to the wise," give us of your oil for our lamps are gone out." They call Christians to come to them. They demand that the Christians speak to them, they watch if the Christians can give them faith. But neither do those wretches have any too much faith since they have lain together with the foolish.
3. Thirdly, let us now take notice, for what reason do the wise virgins not give the foolish of their oil? Some expounders of the scriptures think, that the wise are not obliged to give oil and say that each one must have faith of his own. If this word is understood rightly, it is true, that each one must have faith of his own. But the sorrowless add one more word here, that that faith, which comes thru' some Christian's speaking and encouraging, is not acceptable before God. But this word the sorrowless have received from the devil to shelter and defend the old adam so that the Christians would give them peace of conscience. For if we look in the Bible in what way the true and saving faith has first come into the world, we will find, that just through man even the first Christian has received faith, just through man, that is through the apostles, and when the apostles died, faith was then spread again just through men. But it is not man-given faith; but the spirit of God which has spoken through the mouth of the Christian, He is the giver of faith. So it is not spoken rightly to say that the wise virgins were not obligated to give oil to the others; but it is said to them for shame, that they had nothing to give, when they lay together with the foolish. They themselves did not have too much faith. Is this not now apparent among all Christians, that the Christians cannot anymore pour the oil of faith into the unbelieving hearts, it is very rare that one has such a gift of the Holy Spirit, that his speech effects power of faith in some others. It seems as though the Holy Spirit has become tired in the Christians hearts. Although it was in the first Christianity or the apostolic time the same kind of happening, that Peter's first first sermon on Pentecost effected more than his last sermons. But this is not for a Christian's honor, but said for shame and reproach, that the wise had nothing to give to the foolish. Because why did they lie together with the foolish? If the wise had been watching, they would not have allowed the foolish to have peaceful sleep. It is namely impossible to think that one watchful Christian will allow a sleeping person to have peaceful sleep. But they were lying down. There, no doubt, is now the right reason why they had nothing to give the others. The Holy Spirit had become tired of rebuking as it is written in the book of Moses. My spirit shall not always strive with man, for he is flesh. But if the Holy spirit ceases to rebuke through the mouth of a Christian, then all the foolish virgins can sleep in peace. But the reason is there that the wise lie together with the foolish, therefore they have no oil to give to the foolish. When such a Christian, who himself is sleeping must encourage another to believe, then he gets doubts of himself that his speech no longer effects. And therefore the wise said, not so lest there be not enough for us and you. The wise knew that they themselves would lack faith when their speech no longer effected. And truly there is fault in their faith when their speech no longer
Now all virgins, both wise and foolish should begin to prepare their lamps for soon the cry will come,"Behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet Him." When namely the bridegroom has tarried a little, the wise and the foolish lie together in the lower corner of the world and they lie there until the cry comes. Who knows how much oil will be found in the lamps then? who knows? The wise will not have anything to share with the foolish when they lie together — But you few souls, who the Lord finds watching when He comes — you bridesmaids! Do you have oil in your lamps? Do you have so much oil that you can with joy receive the Bridegroom when He comes? Certainly I know that you have nothing to give others, but do you; have that much oil that your lamp will begin to burn when the bridegroom comes? Try and look at your lamps, if there is so much oil that you can with joy and rejoicing receive the bridegroom, for soon the cry will come, Behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet Him! Soon the heavenly bridegroom will come to get his poor bride! Soon the visitors from heaven will cornel soon the bridesmaids will get to leap and dance on the clean floor of heaven! Those who have clean feet, those who have white raiment, those who have rings and forehead ornaments, those who have a gold crown on their head, those who have a cross on the breast, she is a bride, she is that chosen one who sits near the bridegroom now and forever. Amen.