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 The Ten Virgins by J.C. Ryle


"My first word of application shall be a QUESTION. I take the parable of the ten virgins in my hands, and I address that question to everybody here present. I ask, "Are you ready?" Remember the words of the Lord Jesus: "those who were ready went in with the bridegroom to the marriage"—those who were ready and none else. Now here, in the sight of God, I ask you everyone, "Is this your case? Are you ready?"

I do not ask whether you are a Churchman and make a profession of religion; I do not ask whether you sit under an evangelical ministry, and like evangelical people, and can talk of evangelical things. All this is the surface of Christianity, and may be easily attained. I want to search your heart more deeply by far. I want to know whether grace is in your heart, and the Holy Spirit. I want to know whether you are ready to meet the Bridegroom, ready for Christ's return. I want to know, if the Lord should come this week, whether you could lift up your head with joy, and say, 'This is our God! We have waited for Him! Let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation!'

Ah! some will be saying, 'This is far too high a standard. This is requiring far too much. This is extravagance. This is a hard saying: who can bear it?' I cannot help it. I believe it is the standard of the Bible; I believe it is the standard Peter sets before us when he tells us to be 'looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God'; I believe it is the mark at which every believer should be continually aiming, to be found ready to meet Christ.

I want no man to become a hermit and cease to do his duty in the world; I call on no one to leave his lawful calling or neglect his earthly affairs. But I do call on everyone to live like one who expects Christ to return, to live like a pilgrim and stranger, to live ever looking unto Jesus and leaning on Jesus, to live like a good servant with his loins girded and his lamp burning, to live like one whose treasure is in heaven and best things yet to come, with his heart packed up and ready to be gone. Now, is this too much to ask? I say decidedly that it is not. Now, are you ready in this way?...

My second word of application shall be an INVITATION. I address it to everyone who feels in his conscience that he has no grace in his heart—to everyone who feels that the character of the foolish virgin is his own. To all such I give an invitation this day: I invite you to "awake."

You know, many of you, that your hearts are not right in the sight of God. In the broadest, fullest sense you are asleep—not merely asleep about the doctrine of Christ's second coming—but asleep about everything that concerns your souls. You are wide-awake perhaps about temporal things; you read the newspapers, it may be, and have your head stored with earthly wisdom and useful knowledge. But you have no heart-felt sense of sin, no peace and friendship with God, no experimental acquaintance with Christ, no delight in the Bible and prayer; and what is all this but being asleep?

How long is this to go on? When do you mean to arise and live as if you had a soul? When will you cease to hear as those who hear not? When will you give up running after shadows and seek something substantial? When will you throw up the mockery of a religion that cannot satisfy, cannot comfort, cannot sanctify, cannot save, and will not bear a calm honest examination? When will you give up having a faith which does not influence your practice—having a book which you say is God's word—but do not use—having the name of Christian—but knowing nothing of Christ? Oh! when shall it once be?

Why not this very year? Why not this very night? Why not awake and call upon your God, and resolve that you will sleep no longer? I set before you an open door. I set before you Jesus the Savior who died for sinners on the cross, Jesus able to save to the uttermost, Jesus willing to receive. Go to Him first and foremost if you would know what step to take. Go to Him in prayer and cry, 'Lord, save me or I perish! I am weary of sleeping—I desire to sleep no longer.' Oh! 'awake you who sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.'"


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