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OR, A HISTORY OF THE DOCTRINE OF THE REIGN OF CHRIST ON EARTH.
BY D. T. TAYLOR.
revised and edited, with a preface, by H. L. HASTINGS.
He which testifieth these things, saith, Surely, I come quickly. Amen.
Extracts exhibiting the character of the volume. Antiquity. New Heavens and Earth. Kingdom of God. The Judgment Day. The Age’s Crisis. Present Evil Times. It hasteth greatly. Signs of the times. Author’s Excuse. Loving Christ’s Appearing. Author’s method. Pre-millennialists are missionaries.
SIX THOUSAND YEARS.
In undertaking to present to the public the present volume, apologies might be multiplied. The existing prejudice against the views here presented, the peculiarity of the mode of presentation chosen in the present volume, the magnitude of the plan, and hence the necessary imperfections in its execution, the breadth of the author’s field, and hence the impossibility of collecting but a small portion of the materials which lie scattered all along the waste of ages past, — all these circumstances might be presented as defences against the animadversions of those writers who might see fit to visit the volume with their disapprobation.
The work is not perfect. Chronological order is not always adhered to in the arrangement. There is much that is left out doubtless, and which wider research would disclose; but with my knowledge of the circumstances of the case, I can say the author has done what he could. Had it been the plan to write a mere history, the present volume contains materials which might easily be expanded — but the author has chosen to suppress his own reflections, and to hold in check his graphic pen, so that with twice as much study of the subject as would have assigned him a respectable position as an author, he contents himself with the modest title of compiler.
It has often been stated that the present popular doctrine of the conversion of the world was of recent origin, but here it is proved, and proved beyond the possibility of successful contradiction. This is the Voice of the Church; not the voice of the Author or Editor,, not the voice of a few obscure and despised Millenarians — not the voice of unwise and over-excited fanatics, but “the Voice of the CHURCH,” — the church for many centuries. It is not the voice of an age or a generation only, but it is the voice of those who caught the words of inspiration from apostolic lips and of those who have followed in their footsteps, running with patience the race that was set before them, and saying, one by one, as their course was finished, “I have kept the faith.”
The writer feels that no apology is due to the church at this time for breaking in upon her easy slumbers with this volume. The voice may be strange, but it is the voice of the church. The voice may be stern and rugged, but it is the voice of the church. The voice may seem like the voice of those that mock, but it is the voice of the church. Men may be displeased with this strange voice, men that quote the fathers, and call themselves the followers of Luther or Calvin, may wave the hand and say, “begone,” but still the church claims a hearing. She must be heard, and in this volume the church of martyrs and saints, the light of the world for seventeen hundred years utters its solemn protest against the modern doctrine of the world’s conversion, the modern cry of peace and safety. We need not argue or expatiate upon this fact. The pages of this book contain the voice of the church of the first born, whose names are written in heaven. Were they all mistaken for seventeen hundred years? Was it reserved for Daniel Whitby to correct the faith of these who listened to apostolic teachings, and who followed in their teachers’ footsteps? Has that which was an unknown doctrine or a condemnned heresy in the true church for seventeen hundred years, come at last to be the true faith of the gospel? And shall we, the successors of those who have steeled themselves against earth’s flatteries and earth’s frowns for eighteen hundred years, with the solemn watch-word, “the coming of the Lord draweth nigh,” now fold our arms in lazy lock and say in our hearts or with our lips, the Lord delayeth his coming? How are we certain that the judgment is hundreds of years distant from us, when for ages past the church has considered it near to them? Have we a new revelation? Has God sent forth men to declare that all things do and will “continue as they were” for ages yet to come?
Has he not rather proclaimed that the hour of his judgment is at hand? Has he not said behold I come as a thief, and that too, in connection with events that are now passing before our eyes? And has he not said, blessed is he that watcheth? Shall we then cease to watch? If the early disciples were bidden to watch because they knew neither the day nor the hour of the coming of the Son of man, have we learned that that day and hour are so far distant that we may be excused from the watchers’ anxiety?
And what are the present prospects of a church that has set out in all confidence to convert the world? How may those now putting on the harness boast of greater expected success than is warranted by the experience of those who have put it off after having fought the good fight?
The prophets could not convert the world: are we mightier than they? The Apostles could not convert the world; are we stronger than they? The martyrs could not convert the world, can we do more than they? The Church for eighteen hundred years could not convert the world, can we do it? They have preached the gospel of Christ, so can we. They have gone to earth’s remotest bounds, so can we. They have saved “some,” so can we.
They have wept as so few believed their report, so can we. They have finished their course with joy, and the ministry they have received to testify of the gospel of the grace of God; we can do the same. Can we reasonably hope to do more? “It would take to all eternity to bring the Millennium at the rate that modern revivals progress,” said the venerable Dr. Lyman Beecher, before a ministerial convention, held close by old Plymouth’ rock.
And what hope is there that they will progress more rapidly? Is it in the word of God? Glad would we be to find it there. Sadly we read that “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
Has God a mightier Savior — a more powerful spirit? Has he another Gospel which will save the world? Where is it? Is there any way to the kingdom other than that which leads through much tribulation? Is there another way to the crown besides the way of crosses? Can we reign with him unless we first suffer in his cause?
And so had all who heard received with gladness the word of God, the world might have been converted within twenty years of the day of pentecost. If each Christian had brought one single soul to God with each successive year, the calm splendors of the Millennial era might have shone upon the declining years of the Apostles of Jesus Christ. But instead of this ages of darkness came on. The world did not repent, but the church apostate did. If the gospel were to convert the world, we should have seen tokens of it ere this. But where are such omens to be found? Shall we look at Judson, who labored ten long years before one sinner yielded to the claims of the gospel? Shall we look to the dense darkness of the heathen world? Shall we look at the formalism of the professed church? Shall we look at the wide extension of infidelity? Shall we look at the abounding of iniquity and the waxing cold of love? Shall we look at a world, where eighteen hundred years of toil and tears has not brought one-twentieth part of mankind even to a profession of true Christianity; and where not more than one-fifth claim for themselves the dubious title of Christian nations?
Shall we look over a world in which we can not find one nation of Christians, nor one tribe of Christians, nor one city of Christians, nor one town of Christians, nor one village of Christians, nor one hamlet of Christians, save here and there where a questionable faith has led a few, with hypocrites even then in their midst, to withdraw themselves from the world and cherish the untried virtues of secluded life? Surely, after eighteen hundred years of experiment with that system which was to convert the world, men might point to some country, to some province, to some nation, and say, behold the commencement of a converted world.
But will not the gospel then prove a failure? That depends upon what is to be expected of it. If the gospel was to effect the eternal salvation of all mankind, then failing to accomplish that work is a failure of the gospel. If the gospel was to convert the world, then if it is not done it will prove a failure. But if the gospel was preached “to take OUT OF the Gentiles a people for His name,” then it is not a faihre. If it was given that God might in infinite mercy and love “save SOME,” then it is not a failure. If it was given that every repentant sinner might have eternal life, and that every good soldier might receive a crown of glory, then it is not a failure. If it was given that an innumerable company might be redeemed OUT OF every nation and kindred and tongue under heaven, then it is not a failure. If it was given that the vales and hills of paradise restored, might teem with a holy throng who shall be “equal to the angels, and be the children of God, being the children of the resurrection,” then it is not a failure. If it was given that the elect might be brought into one great family of holy ones, then it is not a failure. And was not this its object, rather than the exaltation of a worldly church to the splendors of earthly prosperity, while beneath the theatre of their easy triumph there slumbers the ashes of prophets and the dust of the apostles? Are they to hold jubilee a thousand years, while the martyrs’ unceasing cry, “how long, oh Lord,” goes up to God? Are they to have their songs of triumph, while the whole creation groaneth for deliverance, and while that longed-for day of the redemption of our body is postponed? Nay, verily, the hope of the one body is one hope. The hope of the church stops not at death, it sweeps beyond earth’s scenes of tempest and of storm, and reposes in the calm beamings of that sun of righteousness which shall glow above the bosom of paradise regained.
There are, I know, with regard to the details, differences of opinion. But this only strengthens the argument. It shows that the church were not led by blind reverence for the traditions of their fathers. But on the leading features they all agree. Wide apart as the poles in their theological opinions, they all agree in one point, that the coming of Jesus and the scenes of judgment must precede the rest of the church of God. They all agree that the church shall never reign till she reign complete in the presence of her Lord. They all agree that earth is not her rest until renewed by the power of God. They agree that the world will not be converted, but that the judge of quick and dead must come upon a race not ready for the harvest of glory, but ripe for the sickle of wrath. And is not this the voice of the prophets and apostles? If we read that God will comfort all that mourn in Zion, is it not at “the day of vengeance of our God?” If Christ is to have the heathen for his inheritance, will he not “break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces as a potter’s vessel?” If the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ, is it not when “nations are angry and God’s wrath is come.” If the new covenant be made with men, is it not beyond preaching and teaching, when they shall not any more teach his neighbor or his brother, know ye the Lord, for all shall know him from the least even unto the greatest? If Jerusalem is to be comforted by the blessing of God, will he not make her an eternal excellency? If God create new heavens and a new earth, shall not God’s saints “be glad and rejoice forever in that which he creates?” If the “righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father,” will not the tares be first gathered in bundles and cast into “the furnace of fire?” So of the whole Scripture. The old earth must be dissolved ere the new one can appear — Satan must be dethroned ere Christ can reign, and death must be swallowed up in victory ere the saints can sing the victors song.
Towards those scenes we hasten. The coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
The rest is before us, and the toil is very brief. But alas for the world. Woe to an earth that will not repent. The Deluge and the Dead Sea tell us what God has done. The Scriptures tell us what he will do. The Sword shall not always sleep in the scabbards even now it is about to be unsheathed.
Watchman, set the trumpet to thy lips! Sound in the ears of the world the dread alarm — “But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come and take away any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood WILL I REQUIRE AT THE WATCHMAN’ S HAND!” H. L. H.
Peace Dale, R. I., April, 1855.
ANTIQUITY OF THE DOCTRINE OF THE PERSONAL ADVENT AND REIGN OF CHRIST ON EARTH.
Says Rev. H. H. Milman, “the future dominion of some great king to descend from the line of David, to triumph over all his enemies, and to establish a universal kingdom of peace and happiness, was probably an authorized opinion long before the advent.” And on the part of the heathen world, Plato exclaims, “It is necessary that a lawgiver be sent from heaven to instruct us. O how greatly do I desire to see that man, and who he is. He must be more than man.” Rev. Edward Bickersteth has well remarked, “There have been from age to age those who have held the personal coming of Christ before the millennium, but where is the voice of the Church as to a spiritual millennium, uncommenced, and to last 1000 years before His real coming?
The idea of a spiritual millennium, which is not yet begun, before our Lord’s return, is sometimes called the old way, the old paths; but is it not an entire novelty of modern times? Has it any plea of general antiquity whatever to urge in its behalf? I believe not. Bishop Hall in his list of varied opinions on this subject gives no intimation of it. I have not been able to trace it higher than Dr. Whitby, who speaks of it as a ‘new hypothesis’ at the beginning of the eighteenth century.” “In later ages,” says Dr. Burnet, “they seemed to have dropped one-half, namely, the renovation of nature, which Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, and the ancients, join inseparably with the millennium: and by this omission, the doctrine hath been made less intelligible, and one part of it inconsistent with another.” “We are well aware,” says Professor Bush, “of the imposing array of venerable names by which it is surrounded, as if it were the bed of Solomon guarded by three score valiant men of Israel, all holding swords, and expert in war.”
In the language of Rev. J. W. Brooks, “It is still further encouraging to find the number daily increasing of able and pious ministers who are becoming sensible of the duty of investigating this important branch of Scripture, and are beginning to be persuaded of the premillennial advent of our Lord.”
The Rev. W. Burgh in one of his sermons relates the following conversation between a Christian minister and a Jew. “Taking a New Testament and opening it at Luke 1:32, the Jew asked, ‘Do you believe that what is here written shall be literally accomplished — the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David; and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever?’ ‘I do not,’ answered the clergyman, ‘but rather take it to be figurative language, descriptive of Christ’s spiritual reign over the church.’ ‘Then,’ replied the Jew, neither do I believe literally the words preceding, which say that this Son of David should be born of a virgin; but take them to be merely a figurative manner of describing the remarkable character for purity of him who is the subject of the prophecy.’ ‘But why,’ continued the Jew, ‘do you refuse to believe literally verses and 33, while you believe implicitly the far more incredible statement of verse 31?’ ‘I believe it,’ replied the clergyman, ‘because it is a fact.’ ‘Ah!’ exclaimed the Jew, with an inexpressible air of scorn and triumph, ‘you believe Scripture because it is fact; I believe it because it is the Word of God.’”
THE NEW HEAVENS AND THE NEW EARTH.
Calvin in his notes on Isaiah 11:6-8, remarks, “He asserts here the change of the nature of wild beasts, and the restitution of the creation as at first.” On Isaiah 24:23, “Christ shall hereafter establish his Church on earth in a most glorious estate. At length God shall enjoy his own right among us, and have his due honor, when all his creatures being gathered into order, he alone is resplendent in our eyes.”
In his Commentary on 2 Peter 3, Dr. A. Clarke writes as follows: “All these things will be dissolved, separated, be decomposed; but none of them will be destroyed. And as they are the original matter out of which God formed the terra queous globe; consequently they may enter again into the composition of a new system; and therefore the apostle says, ‘We look for a new heaven and a new earth;’ the others being decomposed, a new system is to be formed out of their materials.” “I do not believe,” says William Anderson, “that the earth shall be annihilated, but that rectified, and beautified, it shall last forever as the happy abode of the saints.”
THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
Says Dr. J. Pye Smith, “The prophccies respecting the kingdom of Messiah, its extent and duration, and the happiness of his innumerable subjects are in a much greater proportion than those which describe his humiliation to sufferings and his dreadful death.”
In the language of Dr. Stephen Tyng, “The covenant made by God to Abraham remains to this day utterly unfulfilled. The fifth universal monarchy remains to be established upon the earth. The king that is to rule is the Son of Man, who will make a personal manifestation of himself.”
THE JUDGMENT DAY.
Milton’s faith. — “ He believes,” says Dr. Channing, “that Christ is to appear visibly for the judgment of the world, and that he will reign a thousand years on earth, at the end of which period Satan will assail the Church with an innumerable confederacy, and be overwhelmed with everlasting ruin. He speaks of the judgment as ‘beginning with Christ’s second advent, and as comprehending his whole government through the millennium as well as the closing scene, when sentence will be pronounced on evil angels and on the whole human race.” That Christ will come to earth again is certain, and in the language of Charles Beecher , “Earth needs but one such man to dwell therein to produce a day of judgment.”
In view of that solemn day, how appropriate the language of Jerome, “Whether I eat or drink, or in whatever other action or employment I am engaged, that solemn voice always seems to sound in my ears, ‘Arise ye dead and come to judgment!’ As often as I think of the day of judgment, my heart quakes, and my whole frame trembles. If I am to indulge in any of the pleasures of this present life, I am resolved to do it in such a way that the solerata realities of the future judgment may never be banished from my recollection.”
THE AGE’S CRISIS.
Says Dr. Wm. Channing, “History and philosophy plainly show to me in human nature the foundation and promise of a better era, and Christianity concurs with these.” — And as Dr. Tyng remarks, “While all human appearances indicate the approach of changes more important than any man has ever seen before, God’s Word lays before us just what that change is to be.”
PRESENT EVIL TIMES.
Says Dr. Arnold, “My sense of the evils of the times that are coming, and of the prospects to which I am bringing up my poor children is overwhelming; times are coming in which the devil will fight his best and that in good earnest.”
Says the learned Dr. Cotton Mather, “They who expect the rest promised for the Church of God, to be found anywhere but in the new earth, and they who expect any happy times for the church in a world that hath death and sin in it, — these do err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the kingdom Of God.”
Says the gifted Charlotte Elizabeth : — “We shall soon need to exercise judgment in the discerning of spirits. The sixth vial, under which there can be no doubt that we now live, is marked by the going forth of the three unclean devils, of whose miracle-working powers we are forewarned, and He who has deigned to show us things to come, has not set forth cunningly devised fables to amuse our fancy, but revealed solemn truths to guide our steps aright, when our path becomes perplexed beyond all that we have known hitherto, or that the experience of the church has recorded.”
IT HASTETH GREATLY.
Says Dr. Thomas Goodwin : — “It hasteth greatly. And although we may think this dismal and black hour of temptation not likely to come so soon (seeing the clouds rise not fast enough so suddenly to overcast the face of the sky with darkness); yet we are to consider that we live now in the extremity of times, when motions and alterations being so near the center, become quickest and speediest; and we are at the verge, and, as it were, within the whirl of that great mystery of Christ’s kingdom, which will, as a gulf, swallow up all time; and so, the nearer we are unto it, the greater and more sudden changes will Christ make, now hasting to make a full end of all.”
Says “The Edinburg Presbyterian Review :” — “Never was there a time when events developed themselves with such rapidity. As the world moves on, it seems to accelerate its speed, and precipitate itself with headlong haste. Events seem to ripen before their time. The crisis comes ere we were aware of the commencement. Speed, — whirlwind speed — is the order of the day.” “It seems to me,” remarks William Cuninghame, “we have entered into that last period of awful expectation during which the church is likened unto virgins.”
SIGNS OF THE TIMES.
Says Dr. Hales: — “Our blessed Lord graciously proposed these signs, destined to precede his second appearance at the regeneration for the comfort and support of his faithful disciples in these latter times.” How significant the inquiry of Bishop Chase: “Are not these signs of our prognostics of the speedy coining of our Lord to judgment? When the Son of Man cometh shall he find faith upon the earth? He will not find much faith upon the earth. How awful to reflect that this sign seems so exactly the fact.”
Says William Cuninghame : — “If we, who have marked every sign in the spiritual horizon for a long series of years, were now asked, ‘Is there any sign of His coming yet unaccomplished?’ we should be constrained to answer: ‘To our view not one sign remains unaccomplished.’ If we were further asked, ‘Shall He come this year?’ our answer would be, ‘We know not; but this much we know and believe, that Christ is near at hand, even at the door.’ Amidst this commixture of dread and alarm, and these groanings of distressed nations, and fond whisperings of ‘peace, peace,’ suddenly as the blaze of forked lightning, unexpectedly as the fall of the trap upon the ensnared animal, and as the dark and concealed approach of the midnight thief, a voice like that of ten thousand thunders shall burst on the ears of the astonished inhabitants of the earth.
IT IS THE VOICE OF THE ARCHANGEL. IT IS THE TRUMP OF GOD.HE COMETH — HE COMETH TO JUDGE THE EARTH!
THE AUTHOR’S EXCUSE FOR WRITING THIS VOLUME
Is well expressed in the words of the venerated Joshua Spaulding, “I have written these things with great trembling, not so much because I know they must be unpopular, and must be considered by this earthly minded generation, as the height of fanaticism, and the most consummate folly; and that to all careless unbelieving lazy worldlings, I must seem like Lot to his sons-in-law, as one that mocketh; but fearing most of all lest I should add unto, or take from the word of prophecy: yet I dared not be silent, and see the world slumbering until the day of God break. I have also experienced great discouragement in thinking to attempt something of this kind, from the consideration that if I am right I shall not be believed; on the contrary the songs of peace — peace — happy times yet in this world, will still prevail, and prevail until the end; but the farther considerations have engaged me to proceed, that possibly some few may be benefited, and also what I owed myself to some attempts of this kind by others, which were the means of opening my eyes, that had been held in errors, as I now think them, for a number of years of adult age.” “It is right,” says Silvo Pelico, “to profess an important truth at all times; because, if we may not hope that it will be immediately acknowledged, still it may so prepare the minds of others, as one day to produce greater impartiality of judgment, and the consequent triumph of light.”
And the ministry may well give heed to the solemn charge of Dr. Hugh McNeil: “My Reverend Brethren, watch, preach the coming of Jesus — I charge you, in the name of our common Master, preach the Coming of Jesus — solemnly and affectionately in the name of God, I charge you, preach the coming of Jesus, “Watch ye, therefore, (for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even or at midnight, or at cockcrowing, or in the morning,) lest, coming suddenly, he find the porter sleeping.” Take care — “what I say unto you, I say unto you all — watch.”
LOVING CHRIST’S APPEARING.
Says Tertullian, “For since the times of our whole hope are fixed in the sacred writings, and it cannot be placed before the coming of Christ, our desires pant after the end of this age, the passing away of the world at the great day of God.”
How sweet the words of the eloquent Edward Irving, “Blessed consummation of this weary and sorrowful world! I give it welcome, I hail its approach, I wait its coming more than they that watch for the morning.
Over the wrecks of a world I weep; over broken hearts of parents; over suffering infancy, over the unconscious clay of sweet innocents, over the untimely births that have never seen the light, or have just looked upon it and shut their eyes for a season until the glorious light of the resurrection morn. O, my Lord, come away. Hasten with all thy congregated ones. My soul desireth to see the King in his beauty, and the beautiful ones whom He shall bring along with him.”
Says Milton, England’s greatest sacred poet: “Come forth out of thy royal chambers, O Prince of all the kings of the earth. Put on the visible robes of thy imperial majesty. Take up that unlimited sceptre which thy Almighty Father hath bequeathed thee. For now the voice of thy bride calls thee, and all creatures sigh to be renewed.” “Like as the flaming comet — doubles wide Heaven’s mighty cape; and then revisits earth, From the long travel of a thousand years; Thus at the destined period shall return He, once on earth, who bids the comet blaze; And with Him all our triumph o’er the tomb.”
YOUNG’S NIGHT THOUGHTS.
Such are the views in general advanced in the volume now before the reader, and sustained by the concurrent testimony of a literal interpretation of the Holy Scriptures, and by the voice of the Church. In compiling a work of this character, it has been deemed proper to condense as much as possible, avoiding unnecessary repetition, and prolixity, so that if in many testimonies there is an appearane of too much brevity, or more at least than some might wish, the reader will at once perceive the reasonableness of the same on this ground. The method of presentation is somewhat peculiar, and is chosen for the sake of presenting a wider range of mind. The compiler has spoken himself as seldom as practicable, but has chosen rather to make use of the language of others, and instead of permitting one to relate the whole as is usually done, he has preferred that all should testify, and thus each and every mind be mirrored on the page in harmonious support of the same grand truths. He has endeavored in most cases to let the witnesses speak for themselves, and though but briefly in numerous instances, yet enough is given to exhibit the constant hope of the faithful in all ages.
And the names herein presented are no mean and insignificant ones. They are the names of the men who under God have controlled His church on earth, and led her in the hour of conflict and in the fight of faith. They are many of them not only enrolled high on the lists of human fame, but which is far better, are doubtless also “written in the Lamb’s book of Life.” And though but frail and feeble men, they are not to be despised. The doctrine of the personal reign of Christ in the new earth, is of the Bible, and in presenting the combined testimony of a “cloud of witnesses” in its favor, to bear upon the church in this century, it is not with the view of promulgating novelty. We are no innovators. Pre-millennialism has had its advocates among the orthodox in all ages. We seek the old paths, feeling assured they are the safest and most desirable. We have taken our position.
To oppose Post-millennialism and its kindred errors we feel bound, and here we throw down the gauntlet. Being strongly impressed with the nearness of that day when the everlasting kingdom of God shall be established in the renewed earth, and the whole human race broken up and strangely and forever separated; under this solemn conviction, strengthened by every passing event, we send forth the present volume of testimonies, fraught with many a gem of truth, and many a thrilling cry, to awaken, if possible, in all our readers, a deeper interest on the momentous subject of the speedy and visible coming of the Son of Man.
Time is short. The season of toil is well nigh spent. Let us be active. Every Christian in this day should be a missionary in earnest. We are not against missions. Rather do we wish there were an army of five hundred thousand missionaries like Brainard, and Wolffe, and Judson. Let this gospel of the kingdom be “preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations,” and then let the end — the kingdom, come. There are thousands of Premillennialists in the Protestant churches of Great Britain and America, and Mr. Lord affirms that among missionaries of all denominations that go abroad, there is as great a proportion of them Pre-millenialists as among the ministry who stay at home.
And surely the extensive travels and writings of Ben Ezra, in South America; the unremitted toils of Joseph Wolffe and Rev. Dr. Poor in Asia, for a long series of years, who preached the speedy coming of Jesus; the happy results of the labors of James McGregor Bertram, the “man of peace,” on St. Helena, in South Africa, and elsewhere, who not only preached the gospel of faith and repentance, but also urged upon all the consideration of Christ’s soon coming; the preaching of L. D. Mansfield, in the West Indies; of many others in Newfoundland; the extraordinary efforts of Gonsalves, Dr. Kalley, and Hewitson, on the Madeira Islands, resulting in the conversion of hundreds; the Christian labors of H. W. Fox, missionary to the Teloogoo people, with many other instances we could name, now unnoticed and unknown, are sufficient proofs that Premillennialists are not opposed to missionary efforts, and lack none of the missionary spirit. They labor as did the great apostle to “save some” from wrath to come, — yea, almost come. “I have a strong anticipation,” wrote the pious Fox, “that the time is not far distant.” So Pre-millennialists labor.
And their faith and hope is acknowledged to impart to their preaching greater earnestness and power. And why should it not? May God speed every effort to win souls from remediless woe, for oh! how solemn, how terrible to be found among the eternally lost.
Commending our volume, with all its imperfections, to the candid and careful perusal of every Christian, we send it forth with many a prayer and tear that it may be blessed to the everlasting good of all who read its pages.
It is the congregated cry of a great multitude, saying, with a loud voice, The King cometh. The kingdom is at hand! Are we ready? Oh, that reader and writer may so live and act that the stern disclosures of the day of Eternity shall not give the lie to all the fond anticipations of Time. Blessed is he that watcheth! DANIEL T. TAYLOR. ROUSE’ S POINT, N Y., 1855.
CHAPTER - DEFINITION OF TERMS — THE GREAT QUESTION: WHEN IS THE MILLENNIUM TO OCCUR? — PRINCIPLES OF INTERPRETATION.
MILLENNIUM (Latin) Mille, a thousand, and annus, year. A thousand years; a word used to denote the thousand years mentioned in Revelation 20; during which period Satan will be bound, and holiness become triumphant throughout the world. During this period, as some believe, Christ will reign on earth in person with his saints. “MILLENIUM. Thousand years; generally taken for the thousand years in which some Christian sects expected, and some still expect the Messiah to found a kingdom on earth full of splendor and happiness.” “ Millenium ., thousand years: generally employed to denote the thousand years during which, according to an ancient tradition in the church, our blessed Savior will reign upon earth, after the first resurrection, before the final completion of beatitude. The time when the millennium will commence cannot be fully ascertained, but the common idea is that it will be in the seven-thousandth year of the world.” “The seventh chiliad (or 1000 years) from the creation. All sober commentators take this literally.” “ Millenniarians or Chilliasts. A name given to those who believe that the saints will reign on earth with Christ a thousand years.” It is generally conceded by the Christian world at the present time, that the Apocalyptic millennium is yet to occur in the future, and to commence immediately upon the expiration of six thousand years from the creation of the world, it seeming to be more decidedly proper and Scriptural thus to chronologically locate it: but, as there have been and still are some who deny this, and as those who maintain its futurity are divided both in regard to the manner of the events and the events themselves, which are to introduce and occupy the millennial era, manifestly composing at least three classes of millennial believers; to avoid a multiplicity of terms and introduce simplicity, it has been thought proper in the following pages to classify under three heads, all who have at any time written concerning the millennium of the Apocalypse; denominating them severally as follows:
Anti-Miliennarians, or Anti-M., all those who deny that the Apocalsptic millennium is in the future, or those who locate it in the past, though not denying the future personal reign of Christ on earth.
Post-Millennialists, or Post-M., all those who hold that the Apocalyptic millennium is in the future, and who postpone the personal advent of the Redeemer, and literal resurrection of the holy dead till its close, thus denying the personal millennial reign.
Pre-Millenialists, or Pre-M , all those who hold that the Apocalyptic millennium is future, — the seventh thousand years, — and that it is to commence with, and be introduced by, the personal advent of Christ, and literal resurrection of the just: thus affirming the personal reign of Christ on earth.
These terms are frequently varied throughout these pages, and others in common use are substituted, as Temporal Millenialists, Postmillennialists, Whitbyans, etc., to denote the second class; and Literalists, Pre-millennialists, Chiliasts, etc., to signify the third class, whose view or doctrine, of the personal reign of Christ on earth, is advocated in the present volume.
Says Professor Bush: “The etymological import of the word millennium is, as is well known, the space of a thousand years. The term considered by itself does not point to any particular period of that extent, but may be applied indifferently to any one of the five millenniums which have elapsed since the creation, to the sixth, now verging to its close, or to the seventh, which is yet to come. But long established usage has given the word a restricted application, and where it occurs without specification, it is universally understood to refer to the period mentioned by the prophet of Patmos, Revelation 20:1-7”
THE GREAT QUESTION.
Says Bishop Henshaw: “In our day much is said of the millennium. It is a common theme in the pulpit and on the platform. It animates the conceptions of the poet, and the glowing periods of the orator. It is held forth as the great incentive to missionary effort; the glorious reward of selfdenial, liberality and prayer in the good work of propagating the Gospel.” “And here,” remarks Dr. Elliott, “the famous question opens: In what way are we to understand this vision and prophecy of the millennium? What the first resurrection spoken of, literal or figurative? Who the persons who partake of it? What the nature of the devil’s synchronous binding and incarceration? What the state of things on earth corresponding? What the chronological position and duration of the millennium? What the sequel of events on the devil’s being loosed again at its termination? Finally, what the relation of the millennary period and its blessedness to the New Jerusalem afterwards exhibited in the Apocalypse, and what also to the paradisiacal state predicted in the Old Testament prophecies?” Says Dr. Duffield: “Whether that long predicted and expected coming of Jesus Christ and of the kingdom of heaven are matters of literal verity according to the grammatical import of the expressions, or anagogically to be understood, and therefore to be interpreted altogether figuratively or spiritually, is a question of deep and wonderful bearing: nor is it to be slighted and sneered at by any one professing to love and reverence the sacred oracles of God. It is vital to all our hopes, and forms the very warp and woof of all the Scriptural revelations on the subject. It must be met; and will be candidly examined by every man who loves the truth, and is unwilling to be swayed by the dogmas of others. The decision, we contend, must be had from the word of God itself.” Charles Beecher thus earnestly inquires: “Is the second coming of the Son of Man now nigh at hand? Is it in other words the commencement and the cause, or the climax and the product of the millennium? This is the simple question now in the providence of God first claiming the solemn attention of the churches. That he shall return in majesty to judge the earth, we all believe. The simple question where we differ is, WHEN?
PRINCIPLES OF INTERPRETATION.
Says Bishop Jeremy Taylor: “In all the interpretations of Scripture, the literal sense is to be presumed and chosen unless there be evident cause to the contrary.
Says Prof. J. A. Ernesti: “There is in fact but one and the same method of interpretation common to all books whatever be their subject. And the same grammatical principles and precepts, ought to be the common guide in the interpretation of all. * * Theologians are right, therefore, when they aiffirm the literal sense, or that which is derived from the knowledge Of words, to be the only true one; for that mystical sense, which indeed is incorrectly called a sense, belongs altogether to the thing and not to the words.” Says the learned Vitringa: “We must never depart from the literal meaning of the subject mentioned in its own appropriate name, if all or its principal attributes square with the subject of the prophecy — an unerring canon, he adds, and of great use.” Says Martin Luther: “That which I have so often insisted on elsewhere, I here once more repeat, viz.: that the Christian should direct his first efforts toward understanding the literal sense (as it is called) of Scripture, which alone is the substance of faith and of Christian theology. * * The allegorical sense is commonly uncertain and by no means safe to build our faith upon: for it usually depends on human opinion and conjecture only, on which if a man lean, he will find it no better than the Egyptian reed. Therefore Origen, Jerome, and similar of the fathers are to be avoided with the whole of that Alexandrian school which, according to Eusebius and Jerome, formerly abounded in this species of interpretation. For later writers unhappily following their too much praised and prevailing example, it has come to pass that men make just what they please of the Scriptures, until some accommodate the word of God to the most extravagant absurdities; and, as Jerome complains of his own times, they extract a sense from Scripture repugnant to its meaning: of which offence, however, Jerome himself was also guilty.” Says Rosenmuller.’ “All ingenuous and unprejudiced persons will grant me this position, that there is no method of removing difficulties more secure than that of an accurate interpretation derived from the words of the texts themselves, and from their true and legitimate meaning, and depending upon no hypothesis!” Says Hooker: “I hold it for a most infallible rule in expositions of sacred Scripture, that when a literal construction will stand, the farthest from the letter is commonly the worst. There is nothing more dangerous and delusive than that art, which changes the meaning of words, as alchemy doth or would the substance of metals; making of anything what it listeth, and bringing in the end all truth to nothing.” Dr. John Pye Smith defines the literal sense as “The common rule of all rational interpretation, viz.’ the sense afforded by a cautious and critical examination of the terms of the passage, and an impartial construction of the whole sentence, according to the known usage of the language and the writer.” Such is the system adopted in this volume, it being regarded as the only safe principle of interpreting the Bible.
CHAPTER 2. UNIVERSAL TRADITIONARY TESTIMONY.
Hebrew Church On The First Resurrection. “And many from out of the sleepers in the dust of the earth shall awake: these (shall be) to everlasting life, and those (shall be) to everlasting contempt.” Daniel 12:2. Prof. Bush’s Translation. THE Hebrew church and her inspired prophets obviously taught a prior resurrection of the just. The common version of Daniel 12:2, reads, “And many of,” etc. Dr. Hody justly argues that if many, standing alone, could signify all, many of could not, and he adds, “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth cannot be said to be all they that sleep in the dust. Many of does plainly except some.” Prof. Whiting says: “There is an obscurity in this passage, produced by an improper rendering of the Hebrew words, ‘ailleh — weailleh.’ They are translated in this instance, ‘some — and some.’ Now, the phrase, composed of the pronoun ailleh, with the conjunction wa w (and) joined to ailleh, is the proper expression for these and those.” He then translates the verse thus: “And many from the sleepers of the dust of the ground shall awake, these to everlasting life, and those to reproaches and everlasting abhorrence.” Prof. Bush renders it “these and those,” and says: “The awaking is evidently predicted of the many and not of the whole; consequently, the ‘these’ in the one case must be understood of the class that awakes, and the ‘those’ in the other of that which remains asleep.” Rev. Edward Winthrop translates the words: “And many from out of the sleepers in the dust,” etc. And the learned lexicographer, Gesenius, testifies that the Hebrew word thus rendered “designates a part taken out of the whole.” This beautifully harmonizes with the first resurrection of Revelation 20th, and as it gives the true meaning of the original, we need not wonder at the pre-millennial faith of the Hebrew church. Prof. Stuart remarks, “That the great mass of Jewish Rabbins have believed, and taught the doctrine of the resurrection of the just, in the days of the Messiah’s development, there can be no doubt on the part of him who has made any considerable investigation of this matter. The specific limitation of this to the commencement of the millennium, seems to be peculiar to John. No one must understand me, however, as appealing to Rabbinic authority in order to establish the doctrine of a first resurrection.
All that I design to accomplish by such an appeal is, to show that such a doctrine was not a strange one to the Jews.” Says Rev. J. W. Brooks, “The opinions of the orthodox Jewish writers have been cast aside, and confounded with the rubbish of anti-Christian Rabbins; as if, because a man were an Israelite, he could not possibly have been guided into the truth of God. There are various traditions of the early Jewish church which are entitled to attention from the general respect shown to them in all ages, though they cannot be urged in the light of direct testimony.” With Dr. Duffield we would say, “These traditions we do not quote as authority, but as historical evidence of what the views and expectations of the church were during the period that elapsed from the captivity to the coming of Christ.
The millennium John predicts, is exactly coincident in its leading features, with the expectations of the pious Jews before the coming of Christ.” We gather the following Rabbinic testimonies from the Commentaries of Dr. Clarke, Scott, Prof. Stuart, the works of Mede, Bishop Newton, and others, as they were by them extracted from the Jewish Targums and Talmuds, together with the book of Zohar, a production of the early ages of Christianity, Maimonides and other Jewish authors. The Jerusalem Targum, or Paraphrase of the Law, written A.D. 300, on Genesis 49:10, says: “The King Christ shall come whose is the kingdom, and all nations shall be subject to him.” The Babylonian Targum, written A.D. 500, on the same passage reads: “Messiah shall come whose is the kingdom, and him shall the nations serve.” Rabbi Eliezar the Great, applies Hosea 14:8, to the pious Jews who would die without seeing the glory of the Lord, paraphrasing it thus: “As I live, saith Jehovah, I will raise you up in the time to come, in the resurrection of the dead, and I will gather you with all Israel.” Capitula, c. 34. Rabbi Gamaliel, the preceptor of St. Paul, was asked by the Sadducees whence he could prove that God would raise the dead, and he finally silenced them on the authority of Deuteronomy 11:21. “Which land the Lord moreover sware he would give to your fathers.” The Rabbi argued, as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had it not, and God cannot lie, therefore they must be raised from the dead to inherit it. Christ’s argument in Luke 21, is substantially the same. Rabbi Simai of later date argues the resurrection from Exodus 6:4, insisting that the law in asserting, “And I have also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, etc.,” teaches the resurrection from the dead; “for,” he adds, “it is not said to you but to them.”
Jonathan, the Paraphrast, who lived about B. C. 30, on Hosea 14:8, says, “They shall be gathered from their captivity; they shall live under the shadow of Messiah; the dead shall rise and good shall increase in the earth.” Rabbi Kimchi of the thirteenth century on Obadiah, says, “When Rome shall be laid waste, there shall be redemption for Israel.” On Isaiah 26:19, he observes that “The holy blessed God will raise the dead at the time of deliverance.” And on Jeremiah 23:20, he argues, “in that he saith, ye shall consider it, and not they, he intimateth, the resurrection.”
On the second Psalm, Kimchi thus quotes an ancient apothegm. “The benefit of the rain is common to the just and the unjust, but the resurrection from the dead is the peculiar privilege of those who have lived righteously.” Rabbi Chabbo says, “The dead in the land of Israel shall live or be quickened first in the days of the Messiah, and shall enjoy the years of the Messiah.”
In the Jerusalem Talmud on Genesis 13:15-17, Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Chanina both affirm that “these words respect some other text.” Resh Lekish refers them to <19B609>Psalm 116:9, and on the authority of Bar Kaplud, explains it as “the land whose dead shall live or be raised first in the days of the Messiah.” R. Sandias Gaon, of the tenth century, on Daniel 12:2, thus writes: “This is the resurrection of the dead of Israel whose lot is to eternal life; but those who do not awake, they are the destroyed of the Lord, who go down to the habitation beneath; that is, Gehenna, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.” This agrees with Bush’s translation of this text, evincing its prior resurrection sentiment. Rabbi Jochannan agrees with Gaon, and says, “There are some who study in the law as they ought, and those are they who shall rise first to everlasting life, as it is said, “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake some to everlasting life,” etc. Again, we read: “Our Rabbins have taught us that in the times of the Messiah he will restore to life the just,” etc. In another place, commenting on Isaiah 25:8, it says: — “The world cannot be free from its guilt until King Messiah shall come, and the blessed God shall raise up those who sleep in the dust.” Maimonides testifies this is the opinion of many Rabbis.
In Yalcut Rubeni, fol. 182 — 1, we read, “Know that we have a tradition that when the Messiah with the collected captivity, shall come to the land of Israel, in that day the dead in Christ shall rise again; and in that day the fiery walls of the city of Jerusalem shall descend from heaven; and in that day the temple shall be builded of jewels and pearls.” Rabbi Jeremias affirms the same, saying: “The Holy blessed God shall renew the world, and build Jerusalem, and shall cause it to descend from heaven.” Rabbi Eliezer, son of Rabbi Jose, of Gallilee, observes “The days of the Messiah are a thousand years,” and, in Sanhedrin it is written thus: “There is a tradition in the house of Elias, that the righteous whom the holy blessed God shall raise from the dead, shall not return again to the dust, but for the space of a thousand years, in which the holy blessed God shall renew the world, they shall have wings like the wings of eagles, and shall fly above the waters.”
In the Book of Wisdom, the writer of which was a Jew of the highest autiquity, we find the following concerning the holy dead: “In the time of their visitation they shall shine, and run to and fro like sparks among the stubble; they shall judge the nations, and have dominion over the people, and their Lord shall rule forever.” Prof. Stuart declares that “the doctrine of a first resurrection as taught by John was not novel to the men of his time, and in his notes on Romans says it was a common opinion among the ancient commentators that the Jews were cast off until the end of the world, and hence understood the expression in Romans 11:15, ‘life from the dead,’ literally.” Bickersteth says that the Jewish writers generally mention together the coming of the Messiah, and the resurrection of the dead, and frequently consider them as branches of the same proposition; asserting from the first Psalm, verse 4, that the resurrection was peculiar to the just. Mr.
Humphrey of England, also affirms the same. Calmer in his Dictionary, says that “the doctrine of a two-fold resurrection — which he allows that the early fathers taught — is found clear enough in the second book of Esdras, in the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, and in several of the Rabbis.” Joseph Mede on this subject wisely remarks: “I can hardly believe that all this smoke of tradition could arise but from some fire of truth, anciently made known unto them. Besides, why should the Holy Ghost on this point speak so like them unless he would induce us to mean with them? In fine, the second and universal resurrection with the state of the saints after it, seems to have been less known o the ancient church of the Jews, than the first and the rate to accompany it.
THE SIX THOUSAND YEARS.
Bishop Russell, of Scotland, an Anti-Millennarian, says: “With respect to the millennium it must be acknowledged that the doctrine concerning it stretches back into antiquity so remote and obscure, that it is impossible to fix its origin. * * The tradition that the earth, as well as the moral and religious state of its inhabitants, were to undergo a great change at the end of 6,000 years, has been detected in the writings of Pagans, Jews and Christians. It is found in the most ancient of those commentaries of the Old Testament, which we owe to the learning of the Rabbinical school; and although the arguments by which it is recommended to our belief will not make a deep impression upon any intelligent reader, this will nevertheless leave no room for doubt that the notion of the millennium preceded by several centuries the introduction of the Christian faith.” Rabbi Elias, a Jewish Doctor of high antiquity — lived, says Bishop Russell, about two hundred years before Christ. His opinion is called by the Jews “A tradition of the house of Elias.” He taught that the world would be “2000 years void of the law; 2000 years under the law, and 2000 years under the Messiah.” He limited the duration of the world to 6000 years, and held that in the seventh millennary “the earth would be renewed and the righteous dead raised; that these should not again be turned to dust, and that the just then alive should mount up with wings as the eagle: so that in that day they would not fear though the mountains be cast into the midst of the sea. Psalm 46:3” on which Russell observes, “That by this resurrection he meant a resurrection prior to the millennium is manifest from what follows.” David Gregory, a learned mathematician and astronomer of Oxford, Eng., who died in 1710, says: “In the first verse of the first chapter of Genesis, the Hebrew letter Aleph, which in the Jewish arithmetic stands for 1000, is six times found. From hence the ancient Cabalists concluded that the world would last 6000 years. Because also God was six days about the creation, and a thousand years with him are but as one day; Psalm 90:4. Peter 3:8, therefore after six days, that is 6000 years duration of the world, there shall be a seventh day, or millennary sabbath of rest. This early tradition of the Jews was found also in the Sibylline Oracles, and in Hesiod, as we have seen; in the writings of Darius Hystaspes, the old king of the Medes, derived probably from the Magi; and in Hermes Trismegistus, among the Egyptians; and was adopted by the early Christian fathers, Clemens, Timotheus and Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch.” Baal Katturim, a Rabbi, observes” There are six millenniums in the first verse of the first of Genesis, answering to the 6000 years which the world is to continue.” Rabbi Gedaliah says: “At the end of 6000 years the world shall return to its old state, without form and void, and after that it shall wholly become a Sabbath.”
The author of Cespar Mishna, in his notes on Maimonides, writes: “At the end of 6000 years will be the day of judgment, and it will also be the Sabbath, the beginning of the world to come. The Sabbath year, and year of jubilee, intend the same thing.” In the Gemarah, or comment on the Mishna, we read: — “Rabbi Ketina has said in the last of the thousands of years of the world’s continuance, the world shall be destroyed; of which period it is said, ‘the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.’ Isaiah 2. And tradition agrees with Rabbi Ketina; for even as every seventh year is a year of release, so of the seventh thousand years of the world, it shall be the thousand years of release.” Henry D. Ward says: “This view of the course of time in six days of a thousand years, appears not to have been confined to Jews. The Chaldeans, according to Plutarch, believed in a struggle between good and evil for the space of 6000 years; ‘and then Hades is to cease, and men are to be happy, neither wanting food nor making shade.’ Zoroaster taught the same.
Plutarch assigns no reason for these opinions; but Daubuz from whom I extract them, supposes they are of patriarchal origin. He adds: The Tuscans had an opinion which the Persians still hold, that ‘God has appointed twelve thousand years to his works, the first 6,000 were employed in creation, the other six are appointed for the duration of mankind.’ Theopompus, who flourished 340 B.C., relates that the Persian Magi taught the present state of things would continue 6000 years, after which Hades or death, would be destroyed, and men would live happy. Bishop Russell, from whom we extract, adds, that the opinion of the ancient Jews on this point may be gathered from the statement of a Rabbi who said, “The world endures 6000 years, and in the 1000, or millennium that follows, the enemies of God will be destroyed.” Mr. Faber also affirms it to have been the doctrine of the ancient Persians and Etruscans, particularly the latter, who taught that “The world was formed in the course of six periods; each period comprehending a millennary; while 6000 years are allotted for a seventh period, viz., that of its duration.” Zoroaster, an ancient Persian philosopher, and founder of the Megians: whom Dr. Prideaux supposes to have been a student of the Hebrew prophets, taught that in the last times after much evil of every kind had afflicted the earth, two beings of supernatural powers appear and extensively reform mankind. In the end another superior personage, viz., Sosioch — a name resembling in sound the Hebrew Messiah — makes his appearance, under whose reign the dead are raised, the judgment takes place, and the earth is renovated and glorified. And finally, a still superior righteous judge, Ormuzd, from an elevated place commands Sosioch to render to all men their deserts, and takes the pure to his own presence. He also taught the sex-millennial duration of the world. Dr. Hengstenberg thinks he stole and adulterated the truths of revelation. Dr. Gill, commenting on 2 Peter 3:8, observes, “The Jews interpret days, millenniums; the seventh is the Sabbath and the beginning of the world to come.” Joseph Mede remarks, “The divine institution of a sabbatical or seventh years solemnity among the Jews, has a plain typical reference to the seventh chiliad, or millennary of the world, according to the well known tradition among the Jewish Doctors, adopted by many in every age of the Christian Church, that this world will attain to its limit at the end of years. Mede informs us that the whole school of Cabbalists call the seventh millennium ‘the great day of judgment’ because then they think God will judge the souls of all men; and he quotes many of their Rabbis to prove it.” Prof. Bush, though denying the authoritative nature of this ancient tradition says: — “At the same time it is but fair to admit that as there is nothing in the Scriptures which directly contradicts it, the tradition may be well founded. It has perhaps more of an air of internal probability than most of the Rabbinical fancies which have laid a tax upon human credulity.” Dr. Cumming writes: — “I state the very remarkable fact, that dating time from the commencement of the globe, and on the supposition that the Jewish idea is a right one, that as there are six days in the week and the seven this the sabbath, so there will be six millennaries or periods of a thousand years in the lapse of time, and the seventh will be the millennium!
It will follow from that interpretation that we are now at the close of the thousand years that constitutes the world’s Saturday, and on the very dawn of the seventh thousand years that shall constitute the world’s Sabbath.” In “The Investigator and Expositor of Prophecy,” a writer says: — “There is another event apparently at hand, viz., the conclusion of the sixth millennary of the world. The expectation indeed that at the end of the six thousand years the millennium should commence, is not supported by any direct testimony of Scripture with which we are acquainted; but it is so very ancient and general a tradition in the church, having been maintained by the Jews anterior to Christ’s advent, by the Christians of the first centuries, and by the most judicious of our reformers; that we cannot help regarding it ourselves with feelings of great interest. We look at no particular year, but are persuaded that the true position of the Christian church should be that of expecting the coming of the Bridegroom in any and every year, and to stand with the loins girt and the lights burning ready to receive Him.” “Thus,” in the language of Dr. Cumming, “all fingers point to this rapidly approaching crisis. All things indicate that the moment that we occupy is charged with intense and inexhaustible issues. Never was man so responsible! Never, in the prospect of what is coming on the earth, was man’s position so solemn! But evil shall not gain the day. Truth and love will emerge from every conflict, beautiful, and clothed with victory. The days of Infidelity and Popery are numbered. The waters of evil will soon ebb from the earth they have soiled. The approaching genesis will surpass in beauty and in glory the old. The church of Christ will lay aside her soiled garments, her ashen raiments, and put on her bridal dress, her coronation robes; and the nations will look up to her in admiration, earnest as the waves of the ocean rise up-to the bright full moon enthroned above them.
The sunrise of approaching day will soon strike the earth, and awaken its long silent hymns, and clothe creation’s barest branches with amaranthine blossoms. Poor Nature, that has so long moaned like a stricken creature to its God from its solitary lair, shall cease her groans, and travail, and expectancy; for God will wipe away her tears, and on her fair, and beautiful and holy brow, crowned and kingdomed, other orbs in the sky, her handmaidens, will gaze in ecstacy, and thankfulness, and praise. ‘And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying; neither shall there be any more pain. And there shall be no more night, there. For these sayings are faithful and true.’”
THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES.
These are rare and ancient writings, and come to us in the form of Greek verses, comprising fourteen books in all. They seem to be written by various authors, embracing Heathen, Jewish, and Christian, and are of different ages; some being written before Christ and some after. “The Sibyls,” says Dr. Burnet, “were the Prophetesses of the Gentiles, and the Romans thought they had the fates of their empire in their books, which were kept by their magistrates as a sacred treasure.” Some of the early Fathers frequently quoted them. We abridge them on the points in question from Stuart’s Commentary on the Apocalypse.
The First Book commences with a description of the creation of the world by the Supreme Being, mostly modeled after Genesis 1. The Sibyl then describes the fall of man, the antediluvian age, the flood, the building of Babel, etc. She then predicts a future Messiah, his miracles, death, resurrection, and ascension, and finally, the dispersion of the Jews by the Romans.
The Second Book , which appears to be a continuation of the first, commences with fearful woes on the “seven hilled city,” followed by great slaughter and distress. A crown is held out for all who enter the lists against sin, especially will the crown be given to martyrs. The Sibyl then predicts the disastrous times which will precede the final judgment, in which war, famine, pestilence, etc., will rage. Elijah will come from benyen and fiery flames will consume all things. the resurrection of the body will take place and the judgment by the Eternal on his throne, and Christ at his right hand. The Sibyl concludes by a prayer that she may obtain mercy in that tremendous day.
Book Third begins with a description of Belias, (or Belial) who with pretended miracles will deceive many and lead them astray; after which comes the judgment. The Sibyl proceeds with threatenings against all countries — then predicts the Messianic age, which is always preceded by wars, tumults, and distresses. When these end, the “Prince of Peace” shall come and wars shall cease. “He will fill the earth with blessings, and set up a perpetual kingdom among all men. The holy king of all the earth shall come, who shall wield the sceptre during all the ages of swiftly moving time.”
In Book Fourth the Sibyl begins by declaring herself to be the “Prophetess of the great God, the creator of all things.” She then describes his empire, and recommends obedience to him. Wars, pestilences, famines, earthquakes are as usual threatened to many countries. The Romans destroy the Jews. An Antichrist appears, and great persecution arises, then the destruction of the earth, the resurrection and judgment follow. After this comes the millennial stage upon the earth. “Again the friends of piety shall live on the earth, God giving life and breath and support to all the pious — most blessed the man who shall live at such a time.”
Book Fifth represents the Antichrist as “whetting his sharp teeth” and destroying many men, princes, and laying waste all the world. Great horror is excited, and all the elements join in the battle which finally ends for want of victims. Then comes the reign of peace, when the “divine Jewish race inhabit a great city in mid earth.” Jesus, the crucified, shall return and speak words of consolation and peace to its inhabitants. He is “the man from the heavenly heights” who restores all things, subdues all enemies, rebuilds the city beloved of God, and makes it more splendid than stars, or sun, or moon; builds its tower so that it reaches to the clouds; the east and west celebrate the honor of God, and no more evils shall come.
Book Sixth contains but twenty-eight verses, which are in the form of a hymn to the Son of God “to whom the most High has given a throne.” It describes his universal dominion and the peaceful state of the earth under his reign.
He will be King of all and King of peace: all shall be completed by the Davidic house; for God has given him — the Messiah — the throne, and angels sleep at his feet. To a time of general destruction shall succeed the renovation of the earth, which shall then spontaneously produce all that is needed, and God shall dwell with men and teach them.
Rome shall first, fall. The Antichrist — whom she supposes was Nero — comes, and nothing shall stand before him. Then comes the end of all things and the judgment of God. Rome shall be plunged into a lake of fire and brimstone, and her wailings be heard by all; Antichrist loses his sceptre, and goes down to Hades. “Then shall a pure King reign over all the earth forever, raising the dead.” A millennial season, says Stuart, is described as following after the resurrection.
Books IX and X are wanting. They remain as yet undiscovered, or at least unpublished. Books XI, XII, XIII, XIV, resemble the others in tone and manner. The Sibyls all limit the world’s duration to 6,000 years. Such are their predictions with regard to the advent and millennial Kingdom, many of them being in perfect harmony with the Sacred Scriptures.
THE BOOK OF ENOCH.
This work is apocryphal, it was first found in Ethiopia by James Bruce. The author is unknown, but is supposed to have been a Hebrew. It was written previous to the Christian era, and is often alluded to and quoted by the early Fathers. It is supposed to be the work from which Jude quotes, though many doubt it. It is certainly antique. Its dedication is, “the blessing of Enoch upon the elect and the righteous who are to exist in the time of trouble.” Enoch says that what he sees has reference to a distant period — i.e. the days of the Messiah — and that God will hereafter reveal himself on earth: the earth be burned and all things in it perish: but to the righteous peace and mercy will be given; they shall all be blessed and glorified, and the martyrs obtain a rich reward: the time of judgment and separation is coming; that the elect One, clothed with power to subdue the rebellious kings, shall dwell among his people, changing the face of heaven and earth, rejecting the wicked, and a new heaven and earth will appear. Enoch describes a millennial period as coming for the righteous subsequent to the destruction of the wicked.
Jude’s quotation in Enoch, chap. 2d, reads thus: — “Behold, He the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon them and destroy the wicked, and reprove all the carnal for every thing which the sinful and ungodly have done, and committed against Him.” The quotation, if from this work, is doubtless paraphrastic. Enoch ends with a benediction on the good.
THE TESTAMENT OF THE 12 PATRIARCHS.
This, too, is an apocryphal work, and probably written during the first century. Prof. Stuart thinks the author was a Christian Jew. It teaches that a King of the race of Judah is coming who will restore all things and reign forever: that God will appear dwelling among men on earth, and save the race of Israel, and gather the just from all nations. “The Most High will visit the earth, and coming as a man eating and drinking with men in quiet, He shall crush the head of the dragon: the saints shall rise from the dead and each worship on his sceptre the King of the heavens. His kingdom is an eternal Kingdom which shall not pass away.”
THE FOURTH BOOK OF EZRA.
This is an apocryphal work; author and date unknown. It is quoted by Clement and others of the early writers. It teaches the coming of more corrupt times; that man’s evil heart still blinds and perverts him, and will do so till the time of harvest come, i.e. when the number of the wicked is completed; that great changes will take place and strange things happen; that the earth will have its old age, which will bring many evils with it. The consummation will be preceded by great commotions of the natural elements and nations — the end will follow; a new age shall come; the earth shall give up the dead; sinners shall be plunged into the bottomless abyss; and Paradise shall appear in all its glory. In chapter 6, a millennial period of bliss is described, when evils shall cease.
THE ASCENSION OF ISAIAH.
This work is also apocryphal. It was probably written during the first century by a Christian Jew. It was found in London. and brought before the world in 1819, by D. Laurence, Professor of Hebrew at Oxford. In it we are taught that the Messiah will come take the form of a man, suffer, be crucified, rise again, and commission his disciples to preach; and that afterwards some will forsake the doctrine of the apostles respecting the second advent of Christ, and contend much about the proximity of his approach; that there will be great defections in doctrine and practice in the church; but few faithful teachers will be left, and a lying, worldly, ambitious and avaricious spirit will prevail. Then the Berial (Satan) in the form of an impious monarch, will much oppress the saints; claim divine honors; overturn all the usual and established course of things; be worshiped as a God, and erect his image every where — only a few believers will be left waiting for the coming of their Lord. Soon the Lord and his saints will descend from heaven and dwell in this world; Berial and his powers shall be dragged into Gehenna, and the saints enjoy the promised rest on earth in great splendor. The wreck of the material world will ultimately follow, and this will be the forerunner of the general resurrection and judgment, in which the ungodly will be devoured by fire from the Beloved. “The writer,” says Prof. Stuart, “appears to have been a decided millennarian.” We gather these testimonies from Stuart’s Commentary on the Apocalypse.
THE SECOND BOOK OF ESDRAS.
This apocryphal writer says: “How much the world shall be weaker through age, so much the more shall evils increase upon them that dwell therein.” In the thirteenth chapter, through a dream, Esdras teaches that after a time, the days will come when the Most High will begin to deliver them that are upon the earth, he coming to the astonishment of all. The latter time comes, signs shall happen — the Son of God shall be declared, and a great battle will ensue, in which all the wicked will be rebuked and destroyed, and when this is accomplished, He will defend his people that remain who are a peaceable multitude, and will show them great wonders.
THE CONFLAGRATION OF THE EARTH.
“Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and His elements shall melt with fervent heat. Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens, and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” 2 Peter 3:12-13. Josephus gives a singular tradition concerning Seth, who he says having found out the knowledge of the celestial bodies, and having received from Adam a prophecy that the world should have a double destruction, one by fire and the other by water, raised two pillars with inscriptions upon them to survive the fire, and so transmit their astronomical knowledge to posterity — “which,” says Burnet , “seems to imply a foreknowledge of this fiery destruction even from the beginning.” Dr. Burnet, in his Theory of the Earth on the conflagration, says, “We find little in antiquity contrary to this doctrine.” He then quotes Plato as admitting a general conflagration and ultimate succession of worlds. The Stoics also made this doctrine a part of their philosophy. The school of Democritus and Epicurus made all their worlds subject to destruction, and by a new concourse of atoms restored them again; and the Ionic philosophers who had Thales for their master, and were the first naturalists among the Greeks, taught the same doctrine. Origen in his answer to Celsus, tells him that his own (the heathen) authors did believe and teach the renovation of the world after certain ages or periods Among the Greeks not only the Stoics but Heraclitus and Empedocles also, more ancient than Zeno the master of the Stoics, taught the final conflagration.
Among the Romans, Tully, Lucretius, Lucan, and Ovid have spoken openly of the conflagration. Says Ovid : — “A time, decreed by fate at length will come, When heavens, and earth and sea shall have their doom; A fiery doom; and nature’s mighty frame, Shall break, and be dissolved into a flame.” As for Seneca, he being a Stoic, we need not doubt of his opinion on this subject. The eastern nations, the Egyptians, the Persians and Phoenicians all taught the final catastrophe of the world by fire. Fire was the God of the Persians, and they made it at length to consume all things. The eastern fable of a species of bird, the Phoenix, which appeared at the and of a great year making herself a nest, which being set on fire by the sun consumed her in the flames, and then out of her ashes there arose a second Phoenix — Burnet regards as an emblem of the world which after a long age will be consumed in the last fire, and from its ashes will arise another world or a new heavens and earth. The Scythians, the Celts, the Chaldeans, the Indian Philosophers, all say that the world will be renewed after a general conflagration. The Druids as Strabo tells us, gave the world a kind of immortality by repeated renovations, the destroying principle being always fire or water. Hesiod and Orpheus, authors of the highest antiquity, sung of this last fire in their philosophic poetry. The heathen all speak of an Annus Magnus, or great year, at the expiration of which the world would be renovated, particularly after the conflagration, and use the same words in describing it that the Scriptures do. Chryssippus calls this golden age apokatastasiv apokatastasis or “restitution,” as Peter does Acts 3:21. Marcus Antoninus, in his “Meditations,” several times calls it paliggenesipalingenesia or ‘regeneration,” as our Savior does Matthew 19:28. And Numenius has two Scripture words “resurrection” and ‘restitution” to express this renovation of the world. In Adam Clarke in his commentary, testifies that: — “It was an ancient opinion among heathens, that the earth should be burned up with fire; so Ovid, Met. 1. 5, 256. Minucius Felix tells us 34:2, that it was a common opinion of the Stoics, that the moisture of the earth being consumed, the whole world would catch fire. The Epicureans held the same sentiment.
And indeed it appears in various authors, which proves that a tradition of this kind has pretty generally prevailed in the world. But it is remarkable that none have fancied that it will be destroyed by water. The tradition founded on the declaration of God was against it; therefore it was not received.” Gibbon in his “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” testifies as follows: “In the opinion of a general conflagration, the faith of the Christian very happily coincided with the tradition of the East, the philosophy of the Stoics, and the analogy of nature; and even the country, which, from religious motives, had been chosen for the origin and principal scene of the conflagration, was the best adapted for that purpose by natural and physical causes: by its deep caverns, beds of sulphur, and numerous volcanoes, of which those of Etna, of Vesuvius, and of Lipari, exhibit a very imperfect representation. The calmest and most intrepid skeptic could not refuse to acknowledge that the destruction of the present system of the world by fire, was in itself extremely probable. The Christian, who founded his belief much less on the fallacious arguments of reason than on the authority of tradition and the interpretation of Scripture, expected it with terror and confidence as a certain and approaching event.” Dr. Hitchcock, of Amherst College, remarks: “Some author has remarked that, from the earliest times, there has been a loud cry of fire. We have seen that it began with the ancient Egyptians, and was continued by the Greeks.
But in recent times it has waxed louder and far more distinct. The ancient notions about the existence of fire within the earth were almost entirely conjectural, but within the present century the matter has been put to the test of experiment. Wherever, in Europe and America, the temperature of the air, the waters, and the rocks in deep excavations has been ascertained, it has been found higher than the mean temperature of the climate at the surface; and the experiment has been made in hundreds of places. It is found, too, that the heat increases rapidly as we descend below that point in the earth’s crust to which the sun’s heat extends. The mean rate of increase has been stated by the British Association to be one degree of Fahrenheit for every forty-five feet. At this rate, all known rocks would be melted at the depth of about sixty miles. Shall we hence conclude that all the matter of the globe below this thickness (or, rather, for the sake of round numbers, below one hundred miles) is actually in a melted state?
Most geologists have not seen how such a conclusion is to be avoided.
And yet this would leave only about one-eight hundredth part of the earth’s diameter, and about one-fourteenth of its contents, or bulk, in a solid state.
How easy, then, should God give permission, for this vast internal fiery ocean to break through its envelope, and so to bury the solid crust that it should all be burnt up and melted! It is conceivable that such a result might take place even by natural operations. And certainly it would be easy for a special divine agency to accomplish it.” Pliny the Elder, the celebrated Roman Naturalist, born A.D. 23, in contemplating the abundant existence of fire, so devouring an element, in the earth, air, and all the terrestrial universe, both in a latent and active state, made the following startling remark: “It exceeds all miracles, in my opinion that one day should pass without setting the world all on fire!!”
THE ADVENT AND RESTITUTION.
Sibylline verses, deriving their name from a Chaldee word, which signifies ‘to prophecy,’ are traditional predictions, and as we have them presented by Virgil, they point us to an ‘age to come,’ and ‘a new birth of nature,’ and at the same time link the glorious kingdom they depict with an exalted Personage, who would, they say, ‘reduce all mankind into a single empire.’” The Encyclopaedia of Religious Knowledge informs us that the Mohammedans all believe in a general resurrection and future judgment, adding: “The time of the resurrection they allow to be a perfect secret to all but God alone — however, they say the approach of that day may be known from certain signs which are to precede it.” Sir Paul Ricaut, in his work on the “Ottoman Empire,” published in the seventeenth century, says: “There is a sect of Mohammedans called Haictites, who believe that the Messiah took a true natural body; and that being eternal, he became incarnate, as the Christians believe.” “Wherefore,” says Ricaut, “they have inserted this article into their confession of faith, that Christ shall come to judge the world at the last day. For the proof whereof, they cite a text out of the Koran, in these words, ‘O Mahomet! thou shalt see thy Lord, who shall come again in the clouds!’ They affirm that this is foretold of the Messiah, and confess that this Messiah can be no other than Jesus, who is to return into the world with the same flesh which he assumed.” Robert Hort, A. M., in the seventeenth century, in a sermon on the millennium, wrote as follows: “In Plato’s dialogue, the philosopher having spoken of the first happy condition of the world and its fall, adds: ‘But in the end, lost the world should be plunged into an eternal abyss of confusion, God, the author of the primitive order, will appear again, and resume the reins of empire; then he will change, embellish, and restore the whole frame of nature; and put an end to decay of age, sickness and death.” Hort again continues: “Plutarch having related, the doctrine of the ancient Persians concerning the evil introduced into the world by Arimanius, concludes it thus: ‘But there will come a time, appointed by fate, when Arimanius shall be entirely destroyed and extirpated; the earth shall change its form, and become plain and even; and happy men shall have one and the same life, language, and government.’ According to the authority of Strabo, the ancient Gymnosophists had a similar tradition, and believed in a time when ‘the ancient plenty shall be restored.’ All the heathen nations believed that the renovation would be brought about by some divine hero. Virgil in his fourth eclogue describes the renovation both of the physical and moral world, in a manner very little differing from the sacred writings; and the Chinese philosophers entertain the same notions concerning the corruption, and the future renovation of the world.” The Karens . — This nation exists in Tavoy, a province near Siam, in Asia, and number about five thousand. From the “Memoir of Mrs. Mason;” we gather the following beautiful tradition among them concerning a coming deliverer. Fifty years ago one of their number, to whom a white man presented a copy of the Psalms, was thrown into jail on the charge of “praying, and teaching others to pray for the arrival of the white foreigners.” He was a religious teacher and had much influence over the natives of Tavoy and Mergui, and went every where, making his followers assemble for the worship of God, exhorting them to remember their ancient tradition, “that God once dwelt among them, and that he had departed to the west, that they had the promise of his return, and though long delayed, he would assuredly reappear, and would come with the white foreigners, with whom he had departed, and whose ships were from time to time then seen on their coasts.” “When God comes,” said He, “the dead trees will bloom again; the tigers and serpents will become tame; there will be no distinction between rich and poor; and universal peace will bless the world.”
The Aztecs. From the same “Memoirs” we learn that this ancient people of South America maintain a similar view. Among them a tradition existed concerning a demigod or superior intelligence of some kind, who had formerly reigned among them, but at length had departed westward with the promise of a return and a more brilliant reign, to which the natives looked forward as to a certain Millennium, and when the Spanish ships first reached their coast many of them believed it was their returning deity. Dr. Joseph Wolffe. From his travels in the east we gather the following traditions, current among the Asiatic nations.
In Arabia the Jews of Yemen, the Rechabites, and the children of Israel, of the tribe ofDan, expect the speedy arrival of the Messiah in the clouds of heaven. The children of Rechab say: “We shall one day fight the battles of the Messiah and march towards Jerusalem.” Rabbi Alkaree, one of the Jews of Yemen, said: “We do expect the coming of the Messiah. * * There is war in the wilderness unprecedented in our memory.”
In Thibet , one of their chiefs said: “When you shall see corn growing upon my grave, then the day of resurrection is nigh at hand.” The people of Cashmere assured me that corn had begun to grow upon his grave, and therefore they considered my words to be true, that Jesus will come.
The Jews In Persia say the world is to exist six thousand years, and that the Messiah will appear, and the sabbatical: year shall have its commencement. One of their Rabbis read to Mr. Wolffe, from Maimonides, that “The King Messiah shall rise to make the kingdom of David return to its former condition and power,” that “whosoever does not hope in his coming denies the words of the prophets and the law of Moses,” that “in his days the Messiah shall rule alone, and only he,” that “on his arrival the battle of Gog and Magog shall be ‘fought,” that “we must wait for his coming,” and that, “at that time there shall be hunger and war no more, and envy and anger shall cease among us.”
The Geubers of India and Persia who worship fire are acquainted with the history of the fallen angels, and believe in the deluge, and that a time is coming when this world will pass away and another will be created. The Musselmans, the worshippers of All and Mahammedan Jews and Mullahs, many of them believe in the coming of a deliverer called “Mohde,” (translated from Shiloh) who shall restore all things before the day of judgment, and be proclaimed sovereign: a messenger going on before him.
They told Wolffe that they were glad to find he expected the speedy arrival of the Messiah Jesus; for the signs of the times prove that Mohde must soon come, one stating to him that she had discovered by the book called “Khorooj Namah,” that Christ will come again in the year 1861. “They derive,” says Wolffe, “most of this from their Hadees or traditional prophecies.”
The following dialogue occurred between Mr. Wolffe and a Persian Dervish. Wolffe — What will become of this world? Dervish. — The world will become so good that the lamb and the wolf shall feed together, and there shall be general peace and fear of God upon the earth; there shall be no more controversy about religion, all shall know God truly; there shall be no more hatred, etc. Wolffe. — Who then shall govern the earth? Dervish. — JESUS.
Dr. Wolffe says they got this from their Hadees; and he adds, that in his opinion more light is to be found among them than among the most learned neologists and infidels in Europe. In Yemen (Teman of Scripture) a Rabbi told Mr. Wolffe that his tribe did not return to Jerusalem after the Babylonish captivity. When Ezra by letters invited their princes in Tanaan to return, they replied, “Daniel predicts the murder of the Messiah, and another destruction of Jerusalem and the temple; therefore we will not go up until He shall have scattered the power of the holy people — till the 1290 days (meaning years) are over. * * * But we do expect the coming of the Messiah,” etc. Seiler a German spiritualist opposing the faith of the ancient Jews in relation to a personal reign of the expected Messiah, makes the following admission: — “Concerning many things they formed erroneous conceptions, some of the prophets themselves not excepted. * * * They expected it — the kingdom of God — to arrive earlier than it did. They fancied that God would subdue the heathen by miraculous punishments.
They believed that they should continue to live forever on earth in this kingdom. They expected a new state of paradise on earth and an abundance of the pleasures of sense. They had no conception of supersensuous or heavenly happiness, and therefore as being persons whose notions were entirely sensuous, they could not conceive of a kingdom of God otherwise than as possessing a visible king, ruling on earth in splendid majesty.” Nevertheless this kingdom will come. It will be a literal kingdom.
Immanuel will reign on David’s throne “in splendid majesty” forever, He will be a “visible King,” making “all things new.” O those will be happy times! We are confidently expecting them, and they are at hand: “These eyes shall see them fall, Mountains and skies and stars; These eyes shall see them all Out of their ashes rise; These lips his praises shall rehearse Whose nod restores the universe.” So read we the Scriptures. So we believe. So taught the eminent Stephen Charnock, and so the lamented Thomas Chalmers, who writes, “The object of the administration we are under is to extirpate sin, but it is not to sweep away materialism. There will be a firm earth as we have at present, and a heaven stretched out over it as we have at present. It is not by the absence of these, but by the absence of sin that the abodes of immortality will be characterized. It will be a paradise of sense, but not of sensuality. It is then that heaven will be established upon earth, and the petition of our Lord’s prayer be fulfilled,THY KINGDOM COME.” “The world to come, redeemed from all The miseries which attend the fall, New made and glorious shall submit At our exalted Savior’s feet.” — DR. WATTS.
THE EARLY CHURCH, FROM HERMAS TO ORIGEN “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” — Revelation 20:6.
THE early church was eminently pre-millennial in her cherished expectations of the Lord’s advent, His coming and kingdom was her constant hope, and she deemed it, says Massillon, “one step in apostacy not to sigh after his return.” And this faith and hope, with her, was practical: even Gibbon admitting it to be “an opinion which may deserve respect, from its usefulness and antiquity.” With her, too, Millennarianism was connected with all that is orthodox. On this point Mosheim is somewhat unfair. He places Chiliasm among the heresies of Cerinthus, in the first century, and yet affirms it had “met with no opposition till the third.” The infidel saw and rebuked this unfairness. Says Gibbon, this “learned divine is not altogether candid on this occasion.”
We have introduced Hermas into this catalogue, who, while he may be apocryphal, is still antique. Like Paul, he writes of a “world to come.”
Clement, too, advocates a future kingdom at the Redeemer’s advent. Of Barnabas, we observe in the language of Professor Bush: “the genuineness of this epistle is disputed, but as far as the present argument is concerned, it is immaterial who the real author was. There is sufficient testimony that it is the production of a very early period of the Christian church.” Ignatius says nothing of the millennium. His hope lay in the better resurrection. So also Polycarp, who was a strenuous advocate of the personal advent of Christ. Papins’ testimony is both interesting and credible. Of Justin Martyr, the following testimony is borne by Semisch: “Justin dwells with deep emotion on this hope. It was in his esteem a sacred fire, at which he kindled afresh his Christian faith and practice. That this hope in its pure millenniarian character and extent might possibly be vain, never entered his thoughts. He believed that it was supported by scripture. He expressly appealed to the New Testament Apocalypse, and such passages in the Old Testament as Isaiah 65:17, in evidence of the personal reign of Christ in Jerusalem. From the Apocalypse, and Isaiah 65:22, in connection with Genesis 2:17; Genesis 5:5, and Psalm 90:4, he deduced the millennial period. How could he doubt it?”
And Irenaeus — how explicit and weighty his testimony. In the language of Edward Winthrop:, we ask, “Is it credible that that excellent and pious father, with the advantage of being instructed by Polycarp, who was himself instructed by St. John, did not know what the beloved disciple held, as to the fact, whether the second coming of Christ would usher in the millennium, or be delayed to its close. We think not.” Still, it is said by Post-millennialists, that the Hebrew church believed the same, and that the early Christians drew their Chiliasm from this source. “It is, therefore,” writes Bishop Russell, “a Rabbinic fable.” “No mistake,” says David N.
Lord, “could be greater. Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Laetantius, expressly found their doctrines of the millennium on the twentieth chapter of the Apocalypse, and the prophecies of Isaiah 65th, Zecheriah 14th, and other pasages of the Old Testament, that are alleged by millennarians as foreshowing the reign of Christ and the saints on the earth. Not a hint is uttered by them that they were led to their belief in that reign by Jewish interpretations, or traditions; or that they drew their notions of it in any manner from the opinions that were entertained by the Jews of the reign of the Messiah.” Such are the men to whose authority and writings we are about to refer. The opponents of pre-millennialism cannot quote them without being condemned. “Jerome never mentions Justin Martyr,” says Mede, “being afraid of the antiquity and authority of the man.” In the midst of these early Christians we love to linger, while as yet the dark cloud of apostasy had not come over the path of the church.
HERMAS, ABOUT A.D. 100.
Says Dr. A. Clarke: “This writer is generally allowed to be the same that Paul salutes, Romans 16:14.” Dr. Hagenbach remarks that his work, “The Shepherd or Pastor,” “enjoyed a high reputation in the second half of the second century, and was even quoted as a part of Scripture.” According to Eusebius, this book was regarded as a part of the sacred canon by some in the days of Irenaeaus. Dr. Burton and Prof. Stuart date its production about A.D. 150. Dr. Elliott allows the same and pronounces it a spurious publication, but as Irenaeus calls it a useful book, and both Jerome and Eusebius say it was read in the churches, we give a few extracts for what they are worth, remarking, that the real Hermas mentioned by Paul, is supposed to have died about A.D. 81.
Hermas predicts great tribulation for the church, and says: “Happy ye as many as shall endure the great trial that is at hand.” He says: “This world is as the winter to the righteous men, because they are not known but dwell among sinners; but the world to come is as summer to them.”
Again he says: “The Great God will remove the heavens and the mountains, the hills and the seas: and the end will be accomplished that all things may be filled with his elect, who will possess the world to come.” “This age,” he says, “must be destroyed by fire, but in the age to come the elect of God shall dwell.” Hermas no where describes a millennial era or rest for the church till the end of time. CLEMENT, A.D. 96.
The third Bishop of Rome, and “fellow laborer” of Paul, whose name is “in the book of Life.” Philippians 4:3. Says Eusebius, “Of this Clement there is one epistle extant, acknowledged as genuine, of considerable length, and of great merit. This we know to have been read for common benefit, in most of the churches, both in former times, and in our own.” Nor does he deny the genuineness and authenticity of the second Epistle, though he does not speak of it so approvingly. Clement wrote about A.D. 95. In his first Epistle, he says, “Let us be followers of those who went about in goat skins and sheep skins, preaching the coming of Christ. Such were the Prophets.” Again, alluding to some who scoff at the apparent delay of the advent, he says, — “ You see how in a little while the fruit of the trees comes to maturity. Of a truth, yet a little while and His will shall be accomplished suddenly, the Holy Scripture itself bearing witness that He shall quickly come and not tarry; and the Lord shall suddenly come to his temple, even the Holy One whom ye look for.” In his second Epistle he says, “If therefore we shall do what is just in the sight of God, we shall enter into his kingdom, and shall receive the promises, which neither eye hath seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man. Wherefore let us every hour expect the kingdom of God in love and righteousness, because we know not the day of God’s appearing.” He uses the phoenix to demonstrate the possibility of the resurrection. Dr. Duffield, says “there is not in Clement’s writings the most remote hint of a millennium of religious prosperity before the coming of Christ.”
Roman Catholics count him a saint. Clement of Alexandria calls him “an Apostle,” which Jerome qualifies by styling him “an Apostolic man.” If a companion of Paul, how valuable his testimony — he plainly putting the kingdom at the coming of Christ. Clement was martyred A.D. 100, by being drowned in the sea, under the reign of the Emperor Trajan.
BARNABAS, A.D. 71.
He was the companion of St. Paul. He was a Levite, and was born on the Island of Cyprus. He was brought up with Paul at the feet of Gamaliel, and is declared by Clement to have been one of the seventy sent out by the Savior. He first introduced Paul to the other Apostles ( Acts 9:27.) “He was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and faith.” An Epistle is extant bearing his name, in which the writer speaks as though he were Barnabas the Apostle. It was read in the churches at an early period, and was cited by Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and others, the latter styling it,” The Catholic Epistle of Barnabas.” Jerome and Eusebius pronounce it Apocryphal. Vossius, Dapuis, Dr. Mill, Dr. Cave, Dr. Barrier, Dr.
S.Clarke, Archbp. Wake, Bishop Fell, Whiston, and many others esteemed it genuine.
Barnabas recognizes the Abrahamic covenant as surviving and superseding the Mosaic, and as yet to be perfected by Christ, who is the covenant pledge of its fulfillment. He uses the style of Peter in speaking of the Advent, and says, “The day of the Lord is at hand, in which all things shall be destroyed, together with the wicked one. The Lord is near and his reward is with him.” On the creation-week he says, “Consider, my children, what this signifies, he finished them in six days. The meaning of it is this; that in six thousand years the Lord God will bring all things to an end. For with him one day is as a thousand years; as himself testifieth, saying, Behold, this day shall be as a thousand years Therefore, children, in six days (i. e. 6000 years) shall all things be accomplished. And what is that he saith, ‘and he rested the seventh day;’ he meaneth this, that when his Son shall come and abolish the wicked one, and judge the ungodly; and shall change the sun, and moon and stars; then He shall gloriously rest on that seventh day,” i.e. millennium. He taught the “restitution,” or “renewing of all things,” and said that we should “call to our remembrance day and night the future judgment.” Mr. Brooks and Dr. Duffield esteem this extract as of good authority, and the Fathers who call his Epistle apocryphal, do not deny that Barnabas wrote it. If this be so, and if he was the associate of the apostle Paul, was not the latter very likely to have been a pre-millennialist? and is not this testimony overwhelming? Barnabas is supposed to have been martyred about A.D. 75 by being stoned to death by the Jews.
Greek and Syriac writers affirm that he was the little child the Savior took in his arms and sat in the midst of his disciples, as a model of innocency and humiliation. Chrysostom, Mosheim, Chalmers, Fox, and others affirm, that he was the disciple and familiar friend of the apostles, and was educated and nursed up by them. He wrote about A.D. 100. Dr. Elliot highly commends him, and says, his seven Epistles are almost universally acknowledged to be genuine.
To the Ephesians, Ignatius expresses his faith thus: “The last times are come upon us; let us therefore be very reverent and fear the long suffering of God, that it be not to us condemnation.” He also bids them “stop their cars” when one shall speak contrary to the evangelical record of Jesus Christ. To Polycarp he wrote: “Be every day better than another; consider the times, and expect Him who is above all time, eternal, invisible, though for our sakes made visible.” To the Smyrnians he says, that Peter and the other disciples did actually prove by the sense of touch, the real presence and resurrection of Christ, “being convinced both by his flesh and spirit.”
And being thus assured of his personal resurrection, and consequently their own at his coming, for this cause they despised death and were found to be above it.” To the Romans, he expressed his hope that all the churches would “suffer him to be food for wild beasts; to encourage them that they might become his sepulchre and leave nothing of his body; may I enjoy the wild beasts; I wish they may exercise all their fierceness on me; to this end I will encourage them that they may be sure to devour me; I would rather die for Christ’s sake than to rule to the utmost ends of the earth; for I am the wheat of God, and being ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, I shall be found the pure bread of Christ.” His reason for this thirst for martyrdom was this, “If I suffer, I shall then become the free man of Jesus Christ, and shall rise free,” evidently in the first resurrection, He was devoured by lions in the amphitheatre at Rome, courting death, and dying in great triumph, A.D. 107.
Not one word of a temporal millennium or spiritual reign, but instead the advent of the Redeemer and resurrection of the body, appears to have been his blessed hope. And if, as Eusebius says, he succeeded Peter at Antioch, they were doubtless of the same faith.
POLYCARP, A.D. 108.
This eminent man was born, it is supposed, in Smyrna. Spanheim says, he was ordained Bishop over the church in that city by John; and Usher and others affirm that John in the Apocalypse addresses him as the “angel of the church of Smyrna.” He was the disciple and familiar friend of John the revelator, and contemporary with Ignatius, Papias, and Irenaeus. Eusebius bears the highest testimony concerning him, and makes him a pattern of orthodoxy. His epistle is both authentic and genuine.
Polycarp taught in this epistle that God had raised up our Lord Jesus from the dead, and that he will come to judge the world and raise the saints, and that if we walk worthy of him we shall reign together with Him. He alludes to the other life, or world to come, and asks, Who of you are ignorant of the judgment of God? “Every one,” he adds, “that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is Anti-Christ; and he who doth not acknowledge his martyrdom on the cross, is of the devil; and whosoever shall pervert the oracles of the Lord to his own lusts, and shall say that there is neither resurrection nor judgment to come, that man is the first born of Satan.” Polycarp taught no spiritual reign, but otherwise. Dr. Burnet pronounces him a decided millennarian, and Irenaeus hints the same. He must have received the doctrine from St. John. Duffield, Brooks, and Ward, quote him as confirming millennarian views. Who has not read of the sainted Polycarp? He was burned at the stake about A.D. 167. His tormentors urging him to blaspheme Christ, he thus nobly answered, “Four score and six years have I served Him, and he never did me any harm; how then can I blaspheme my King, and my Savior?” When further urged, his answer was, “I am a Christian” Being threatened with wild beasts, he cried, “Bring them forth!” PAPIAS, A.D. 116.
He was Bishop of Hierapolis, where he was probably born. Eusebius and Jerome, both anti-millenarians, pronounce him to have been the disciple and friend of John the Revelator. Irenaeus testifies he was one of John’s auditors, and being a staunch millennarian, he doubtless obtained his views from John. He was also the intimate friend and companion of Polycarp, who was as we have seen, another of John’s disciples. He taught the millennium in all the churches. His writings, consisting of five books, entitled “A narrative of the sayings of our Lord,” are not extant, but they come to us through Eusebius. He seems to have been a personal acquaintance of the apostles. He drew his Chiliasm from the Apocalypse, and Irenaeus intimates that he claimed the sanction of John for it. Eusebius denies him talent for interpreting the prophecies, because he interpreted them literally, but on other points speaks of him as being “eloquent and learned in the Scriptures.”
Papias in his preface, says that “He did not follow various opinions, but had the apostles for his authors; and that he considered what Andrew, what Peter said, what Phillip, what Thomas, and other disciples of the Lord; as also what Aristion, and John the senior, disciples of the Lord, what they spoke; and that he did not profit so much by reading books, as by the living voice of those persons which resounded from them.” Jerome who did not believe in the millennium, gives this account of Papias. Eusebius thus records the words of Papias. “Nor will you be sorry, that, together with our interpretations, I commit to writing those things which I have formerly learned from the elders, and committed to memory. For I never (as many do), have followed those who abound in words, but rather those who taught the truth; not those who taught certain new and unaccustomed precepts, but those who remembered the commands of our Lord, handed down in parables, and proceeding from truth itself, i.e. the Lord. If I met with any one who had been conversant with the elders, from him I diligently enquired what were the sayings of the elders. * * The elders who had seen St. John, the disciple of our Lord, taught concerning those times, (the millennium), and said, ‘The days shall come when the vine shall bring forth abundantly, * * and all other fruits, * * and all animals shall become peaceful and harmonious, one to the other, being perfectly obedient to man. But these things are credible only to those who have faith.’ Then Judas, the betrayer, not believing, and asking how such fertility should be brought about, our Lord said,’They shall see who come to those times.’
And of these very times Isaiah prophesying said, ‘The wolf and the lamb shall dwell together.’ “ This is recorded by Papias as a discourse of our Lord, handed down by John the Evangelist. Eusebius himself thus speaks of Papias: “Other things also, the same writer has set forth, as having come down to him by unwritten tradition, some new parables and discourses of the Savior. Among these, he says, that there will be a certain thousand years after the resurrection of the dead, when the kingdom of Christ,will be established visibly on this earth.” Daniel Whitby admits that Papias taught “It shall be a reign of Christ bodily on earth;” and Eusebius affirms that “most of the ecclesiastical writers” believed with Papias. Such are the admissions made by the opponents of pre-millennialism. Such their testimony concerning the faith of the Apostolic Fathers.
Dr. Elliot says that “Papias’ millennary doctrine was founded in part on the Apocalyptic Book, as well as on the many other Scriptures well agreeing therewith: both in the Old and New Testaments.” Dr. Burton admits that Papias’ “proximity to the apostolical times, if not his personal acquaintance with some of the apostles, would put him in possession of many facts;” and the learned Greswell oberves, that “Papias’ honesty has never been impeached, and his antiquity makes his testimony to the millennium so much the more valuable.”
JUSTIN MARTYR, A D. 150.
He was a learned writer of Greek origin, born at Neapolis or Sichem, in the province of Samaria, in Palestine, A.D. 89; some say later. He was converted to Christianity, A.D. 132-3, and flourished as a writer A.D. 140- 160. He was in part contemporary with Polycarp, Papias and Irenaeas.
Eusebius says his works stood in high credit among the early Christians.
His “Dialogue with Trypho,” the Jew, is considered authentic and genuine.
Justin was a real convert to Chiliasm, of a pure character, and looked for no millennium in this world. He speaks of these as “destitute of just reason who did not understand that which is clear from all the Scriptures, that two comings of Christ are announced.” He argued that the millennium would be beyond the resurrection, and in the restitution of all things, quoting Isaiah 65, and others of the Prophets as proof especially these verses, “Behold I create new heavens and a new earth, etc.” When questioned by Trypho in regard to this faith, he answered, “I am not; such a wretch, Trypho, as to say one thing and mean another. I have before confessed to thee that I, and many others, are of their opinion (the millennial reign) so that we hold it to be thoroughly proved that it will come to pass. But I have also signified unto thee on the other hand that many, even those of that race of Christians who follow not godly and pure doctrine — do not acknowledge it. For I have demonstrated to thee that these are indeed called Christians, but are atheists and impious heretics, because that in all things they teach what is blasphemous, ungodly, and unsound.” Then after saying that he will commit his dialogue to writing that others may know his faith, because it is of God, he continues, “If therefore you fall in with certain who are called Christians, who confess not this truth, but dare to blaspheme the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, in that they say there is no resurrection of the dead, but that immediately when they die, their souls are received up into heaven — avoid them and esteem them not Christians, etc. But I and whatsoever Christians are orthodox in all things, do know that there will be a resurrection of the flesh, and a thousand years in the city of Jerusalem, built, adorned, and enlarged according to the Prophets.” The foregoing is according to the original of Justin’s printed copies. The reader is referred to Brooks and Duffield for the argument in relation to Justin’s writings having been interpolated by Romish writers. Justin thus continues: “For thus hath Isaiah spoken of this thousand years; ‘For there will be a new heaven,’ etc. He then quotes Isaiah 65, making the “tree” of verse 22, the tree of life, and adds: “We believe a thousand years to be figuratively expressed. For as it was said to Adam, ‘In the day that he should eat of the tree he should surely die.’ Genesis 2:17. So we know that he did not live a thousand years. We believe, also, that this expression,’The day of the Lord is a thousand years.’ Psalm 90:4, and 2 Peter 3:8, relates to this. Moreover a certain man among us whose name is John, being one of the twelve Apostles of Christ, in that revelation which was shown to him, prophesied that those who believe in Christ, should live a thousand years in Jerusalem; and after that there would be a general, and in a word, an universal resurrection of every individual person, when all should arise together with an everlasting state and a future judgment.” And in proof that he looked for no carnal millennium, but a pure state, he immediately quotes the Savior’s prediction in Luke 20:35-36. Justin taught that the Abrahamic promise of land would be fulfilled at the resurrection, in the renovated or new earth. He also says: “We may conjecture from many places in Scripture that those are in the right who say six thousand years is the time fixed for the duration of the present frame of the world.” Milner highly lauds the character of Justin, and Semisch, a German writer, remarks, that “Chiliasm constituted in the second century so decidedly an article of faith, that Justin held it up as a criterion of perfect orthodoxy,” and Dr. Burnet calls Justin “a witness beyond all exception.” Dr. Cave, though seemingly opposed to his faith, admits that “Justin expressly asserts, that after the resurrection of the dead is over, our Savior, with all the holy patriarchs and prophets, the saints and martyrs should visibly reign a thousand years,” and also adds, that Justin and Irenaeus held the millennium in “an innocent and harmless sense.” Dr. Elliott calls him a man to whose learning and piety testimony has been borne by nearly all the succeeding Fathers.” Dr. Adam Clark declares that “he abounds in sound, solid sense, the produce of an acute and well cultivated mind.” Let the reader weigh well the testimony of Justin in favor of the pro-millennial advent. Farther comment is unnecessary. He was crowned with martyrdom at Rome, A.D. 163 or 165, by being beheaded. IRENA EUS, A.D. 178.
Irenaeus was Bishop of Lyons. He was born, it is supposed, at Smyrna, not far from the beginning of the second century; and flourished as a writer about A.D. 178. Basil styles him “one near the apostles.” He was pupil to and trained up under the tutorage of Papias and Polycarp, both of whom were disciples of John the Revelator. The words and memory of Polycarp were deeply graven upon his mind, and by him preserved fresh and lively to his dying day. We give his language on this point both for its interest and to confirm his testimony. Writing to Florinus he says: “When I was very young, I saw you in the lower Asia with Polycarp. I can remember circumstances of that time better than those which have happened more recently; for the things which we learn in childhood grow up with the soul and unite themselves to it; insomuch that I can tell the place in which the blessed Polycarp sat and taught, and his going out and coming in, the manner of his life, the form of his person, and the discourses he made to the people; and how he related his conversation with John, and others who had seen the Lord; and how he related their sayings, and the things which he heard of them concerning the Lord, both concerning his miracles and doctrine, as he had received them from the eye witnesses of the Lord of Life; all of which Polycarp related agreeable to the Scriptures.” For learning, steadfastness and zeal, he was among the most renowned of the early Fathers. Milner highly commends him, and calls him a man of exquisite judgment. His works now extant, and which Mosheim calls “a splendid monument of antiquity,” are five books on the Heresies of his times. He says that certain heretical opinions had arisen, proceeding from ignorance of the arrangements of God, and the mystery of the resurrection and kingdom of the just; and it therefore became needful to speak of them.
Then he proceeds: “For it is fitting that the just, rising at the appearing of God, should in the renewed state receive the promise of the inheritance which God covenanted to the fathers, and should reign in it. * * It is but just that in it they should receive the fruits of their suffering, so that where for the love of God they suffered death, there they should be brought to life again, and where they endured bondage, there also they should reign. For God is rich in all things, and all things are of him; and therefore, I say, it is becoming, that the creature being restored to its original beauty, should without any impediment or drawback be subject to the righteous.” Quoting Romans 8:19 and Romans 8:22, in proof, he continues — “The promise likewise of God, which he made to Abraham, decidedly confirms this, for he says, — ‘Lift up now thine eyes.’” Quoting farther, Genesis 13:14-17, he adds, — “For Abraham received no inheritance in it, — not even a foot-breadth, but always was a stranger and a sojourner in it. And when Sarah, his wife, died, and the children of Heth offered to give him a piece of land for a burial place, he would not accept it, but purchased it for four hundred pieces of silver, from Ephron, the son of Zohar, the Hittite; staying himself on the promise of God, and being unwilling to seem to accept from man what God had promised to give him, saying to him, ‘To thy seed will I give this land, etc.’ Thus therefore as God promised to him the inheritance of the earth, and he received it not during the whole time he lived in it, it is necessary that he should receive it, together with his seed, that is, with such of them as fear God, and believe in him, in the resurrection of the just.” He then shows that Christ and the church are the true seed, and partakers of the promises, and concludes the chapter by saying, — “Thus, therefore those who are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham and the same are the children of Abraham. For God repeatedly promised the inheritance of the land to Abraham and his seed; and as neither Abraham nor his seed — that is, not those who are justified — have enjoyed any inheritance in it, they will undoubtedly receive it at the resurrection of the just. For true and unchangeable is God; wherefore also he said, ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.’” He supports his statements by numerous quotations from the old Testament, reference to which we give that the student of prophecy may know what was the method of ap plying and expounding the prophetical Scriptures in times so near to the apostles. We give his texts in his own order. Isaiah 26:19. Ezekiel 37:12-14; Ezekiel 38:25-26; Jeremiah 23:7-8; Isaiah 30:25-26; Isaiah 58:14; Luke 12:37-40; Revelation 20:6; Isaiah 6:11; Daniel 7:27; Jeremiah 31:10-15; Isaiah 31:9; Isaiah 32:1; Isaiah 54:11-14; also Isaiah 65:18-28.
Irenaeus gives a famous hyperbolic tradition concerning the marvellous fertility of the earth in its renewed state, referring it to the kingdom or millennial era, and says it was related by those clergy — Papias and Polycarp — who saw St. John, the disciple of Christ, and heard from him what our Lord had taught concerning those times “which,” observes Burnet , “goes to the fountain head.” He relates it as from John, and John from our Lord. Irenaeus, like Justin, calls those “heretics” who expected the saints glorification to follow immediately after death, and before their resurrection. He also made the Roman kingdom to be the fourth described in Daniel 7th chapter, and on the duration of the world, he says, “In as many days as this world was made, in so many thousand years it is perfected; for if the day of the Lord be as it were a thousand years, and in six days those things that are made were finished, it is manifest that the perfecting of those things in the six thousandth year, when Anti-Christ having reigned 1260 years * * then the Lord shall come from heaven in the clouds, with the glory of his Father, casting him and them that obey him, into a lake of fire; but bringing to the just the times of the kingdom, that is, the rest, or Sabbath, the seventh day sanctified, and fulfilling to Abraham the promise of the inheritance.” He thus identifies the millennium with the Kingdom of God, placing both at the end of the sixth chiliad. Thus have we quoted this great man at length, but we trust not without profit. Chillingworth says that Irenaeus made the doctrine of Chiliasm apostolic tradition. Eusebius and Jerome both affirm that he believed in the thousand years reign of Christ on earth according to the letter of the Revelations of John; and Whitby allows that he taught “Christ will be every where seen,” his proof being Matthew 26:29, and adding, “this cannot be done by him while he remains in the celestial regions.” Irenaeus scaled his testimony with his blood by being beheaded under the reign of Severus, about A.D. 203-5.
THE CHURCHES OF VIENNE AND LYONS, A.D. 177.
Dr. Elliott says it was penned by one of the Lyonese Christians, and Prof.
After describing the tortures and modes of martyrdom of the Christians during their persecution under Marcus Aurelius, the epistle proceeds to narrate the death of Ponticus, a youth of fifteen, and Blandina, a Christian lady, and says: “The bodies of the martyrs having been contumeliously treated and exposed for six days, were burned and reduced to ashes, and scattered by the wicked into the Rhone, that not the least particle of them might appear on the earth any more. And they did these things as if they could prevail against God, and prevent their resurrection, and that they might deter others, as they said, ‘from the hope of a future life, relying on which they introduced a strange and new religion, and despise the most excruciating tortures, and die with joy. Now let us see if they will rise again, and if their God can help them and deliver them out of our hands.’” Here from the lips of their enemies we have evidence of the practical bearing of the doctrine of the resurrection of the body as held by the primitive martyrs. Mr. Faber on this point observes, that “The doctrine of the literal resurrection of the martyrs prior to that epoch certainly prevailed to a considerable extent throughout the early church, and often animated the primitive believers to seal the truth with their blood,” — and on the same subject, the learned Dodwell writes: — “The primitive Christians believed that the first resurrection of their bodies would take place in the kingdom of the millennium; and as they considered that resurrection to be peculiar to the just, so they conceived the martyrs would enjoy the principal share of its glory. Since these opinions were entertained, it is impossible to say how many were inflamed with the desire of martyrdom.” From this it is demonstrably evident that the martyrs’ hope lay in the first resurrection of Revelation 20:6. Ignatius craving death that he might “rise free,” Ponticus and Blandina hoping for “a future life,” Cyprian attesting that those who suffered expected a prior resurrection and “a more prominent place in God’s kingdom,” and to crown all, Tertullian affirming that the martyr’s express prayer was that he “might have a part in the first resurrection.”
Let the honest reader compare this Epistle with the testimony of Ignatius, Cyprian, Tertullian, Gibbon, and Bush, and then decide whether it be not highly probable that the three millions of martyrs put to death by Pagan Rome were mostly pre-millennialists.
HIPPOLYTUS, A.D. 220.
He was Bishop of Porto. He flourished, according to Dr. Cave and Lardner, about A.D. 220. Photius says he was in early life a disciple of Irenaeus, and eulogizes his style as being clear, grave, and concise. Jerome and Andreas say he wrote a treatise on the Revelation, but if so, it has perished. His treatise now extant, on Antichrist, bears every mark of genuineness. So remarks Elliott, from whom we give all abstract.
Hippolytus was evidently a pre-millennialist. He declared, none of the mysteries of the future, foreshown by the prophets, will be concealed from God’s servants. He gives a full exposition of Daniel’s prophecies of the four kingdoms, which, with all the other fathers, he pronounces to be Babylon, Persia, Macedon, and Rome, then existing, “and what then,” he adds, “remains for accomplishment but the division of the iron image into its ten toes — the growing out of the fourth Beast’s head of its ten horns?”
And though Rome should fall, and Antichrist arise out out of the ten horns or kingdoms, he being the two horned lamb-like beast, and “being a man of resource would heal and restore it, so that it shall revive again through the laws established by him,” and would on this account be called “The Latin man,” a name containing the fatal number, 666; Antichrist, he says, would reign his predicted time, greatly persecuting the saints, whose only hope will be in Christ crucified, and that then and thereupon would take place Christ’s coming, personal, in glory, for, as Elliott observes, “no other coming ever entered the minds of the early Christians” — Antichrist be destroyed by its brightness; the first resurrection of the saints follow; the just take the kingdom prepared for them (Matthew 25) and shine forth as the sun; the judgment of the conflagration being meanwhile executed on the wicked. Following the Septuagint, he fixed the termination of the six thousand years and end of the world about A.D. 500. He suffered martyrdom under Alexander Severus. No millennium, until Christ comes, is the voice of Hippolytus.
MELITO, A.D. 177.
He was Bishop of Sardis. He was born in Asia, and was contemporary with Justin Martyn. He was bishop of one of the apocalyptic churches, and was so eloquent and deeply pious, that Tertullian affirms, “he was by most Christians considered a prophet,” and Polycrates says of him, “he was in all things governed by the Holy Ghost.” He made extracts from the scriptures respecting the Messianic prophecies, and wrote a treatise on the Apocalypse, and also made out a complete list of the canonical books of the Old Testament, but his works are not now extant. He was a Chiliast. In regard to his views of that period, he probably followed Papias: Jerome and Gennadius both affirming that he was a declared millennarian. And even Neander admits that Polycarp, Papias, Irenaeus, and Melito, “endeavored to maintain the pure and simple apostolic doctrine, and defend it against corruption.” The time and manner of his death is unknown, but he lies buried at Sardis, waiting with his “name in the book of life,” for the first resurrection, at the coming of our Lord. TERTULLIAN, A.D. 200.
He was born at Carthage, in Africa, about A.D. 150, and flourished as a writer, A.D. 199-220. Jerome reckons him among the first Latin millennarians, and Vincentius as the “Prince of those writers.” Prof. Stuart calls him “a truly eloquent writer of extensive information.” Mosheim says of him, “which were the greater, his excellencies or defects, it were difficult to say.” Neander says of him, “This great Father united great gifts with great faults.” Milner speaks harshly of him, but allows him to have been “an orator and a scholar.” Spanheim calls him “one of the first of the Fathers,” and Cyprian thought much of Tertullian, and never passed a day without reading some portion of his works, thus showing his high estimation of them. Dr Elliott commends him, and on Tertullian’s view of the Apocalypse, says, that with one or two exceptions, “there is but little in it on which we might not join hands in concord with the venerable and sagacious expositor.” He also says that Tertullian’s view of the New Jerusalem was, that it was of heavenly fabric, and would descend from heaven to be the abode of resurrection saints during the millennium, etc., which he said would come from heaven on the destruction of Antichrist.
He was a rough writer, but was a Christian, and his testimony in regard to the faith of the church in his day is plain and interesting. He says, “We confess that a kingdom is promised us on earth, before that in heaven, but in another state — namely — after the resurrection; for it will be one thousand years in a city of divine workmanship, viz., Jerusalem brought down from heaven; and this city Ezekiel knew, and the Apostle John saw, etc. This is the city provided of God to receive the saints in the resurrection, wherein to refresh them with an abundance of all spiritual good things, in recompense for those which in the world we have either despised on lost. For it is both just and worthy of God, that his servants should there triumph and rejoice, where they have been afflicted for His name’s sake. This is the manner of the heavenly kingdom.” He was a decided pre-millennialist, and affirms it was customary for Christians in his times, “to pray that they might have part in the first resurrection.” In regard to the triumph of truth in this world, he refers to their persecutions, and thus eloquently writes: “Truth wonders not at her own condition. She knows that she is a sojourner upon earth; that she must find enemies among strangers: that her origin, her home, her hopes, her dignities, are placed in heaven.” Tertullian died about A.D. 245, where or how it is not known.
MONTANISTS, A.D. These were the followers ofMONTANUS: a sect which flourished in the second century. As we have said, Tertullian leaned towards the faith of this sect. They are reputed by some to have been “heretics,” and by others as “real Scriptural Christians.” Being all of them decided millennarians and somewhat rigorous and ultra in other views cherished by them, they have doubtless been misrepresented by their opponents, through whose hands most of their writings have reached us. Says Mr. Brooks, “What is Montanism? According to some, it is an error comprehending every species of indefinable theological evil that the imagination of man can apprehend; but according to others it was more immediately the heresy of “commanding to abstain from meats,” as being unlawful to be eaten.”
Bishop Jeremy Taylor says, that “Epiphanious put Montanus and his followers into the catalogue of heretics for commanding abstinence from meats, as if they were unclean and of themselves unlawful. Now the truth was, Montanus said no such thing; but commanded frequent abstinence, enjoined dry diet, and an ascetic table, not for conscience sake, but for discipline; and thus Epiphaneous affixes that to Montanus which Epiphaneous believed a heresy, and yet which Montanus did not teach.’” Tertullian affirms that it was because Moutanus urged such abstinence by the way of discipline, and no more, that the primitive church disliked him, thinking his views came too near Judaism. Mr. Brooks farther remarks, that “the apologies of the Montanists (excepting what is contained favorable to them in Tertullian,) have not been permitted to come down to us; and we may well pause before we brand them with the name of heretics.” The eminent John Wesley observes, “by reflecting on an old book which I have read in this journey, (The general delusion of Christians, etc.,) I was fully convinced of what I had long suspected, that the Montanists in the second and third centuries were real Scriptural Christians.” In regard to other errors imputed to Montanus, Mr. Lee, in his History of Montanism, shows that he was grossly aspersed and misrepresented. Munscher, a German neologian, and no friend to the Millennarians, makes the following statement: “How widely the doctrine of millennarianism prevailed in the first centuries of Christianity, appears from this, that it was universally received by almost all teachers; and even some heretics agreed with them referring we presume to the Montanists. This is partly true, but we deny that, in general, Chiliasm has been the associate of heresy. Prof. Stuart says of the Montanists, they were all Chiliasts, and, at the same time, justly admits that Chiliasm existed apart from Montanism.
It is yet to be proved by unprejudiced witnesses, that the Montanists were real heretics. And if they were Montanism but hung itself upon Chiliasm, as more subsequently Munzerism hung itself upon Protestantism. Antimillennarianism, on the other hand, has been all along the associate and ally of heresy. The heretics were the opponents of Millennarianism. The Gnostics could not tolerate it. The unsound and mystical Origenists opposed it. The whole Alexandrian School with the Arian Dionysius took weapons against it. The Alogi hated it. Platonism and heathen philosophy set itself with zeal to overthrow it. Socineus, of later date, attacked it, and Rome has ever been its enemy. “The Millennarian Fathers,” says the London Journal of Prophecy, “were the great upholders of orthodoxy.
They fought the battle with the Gnostics, and most vigorously condemned and confuted Corinthianism; that very Corinthianism which they have been not seldom identified with, but which they ably opposed. Millennarianism and orthodoxy went hand in hand; Millennarianism and heresy were resolute and irreconcilable foes.”
But we must leave the Montanists. We admit in doing so, it is possible they had errors which connected with the Millennial truth, tended at last to bring it into disrepute.
THE ALOGIANS. CAIUS, A.D. 212.
The name or word Alogi signifies without Logos, or Word. This sect, with Caius, flourished about the end of the second century. Both opposed the Montanists and the Millennium. Dr. Lardner says the Alogi are not mentioned by contemporary writers, and intimates that they were not numerous. They complained that the Apocalyse was dark, enigmatical, unintelligible, and unreasonable, and rejected it together with John’s gospel. “These,” says Prof. Stuart, “are subjective reasons, and belong to their understanding and judgment, rather than to the book itself.” Lucke also affirms that “The Alogi rejected the Apocalyse not on historical ground, etc., but only and simply because of their exegetical ignorance of it.” They evidently denied the canonical authority of John’s gospel, because it taught that Christ was the Logos, or Word, and did the same with the Revelations because of its Chiliasm. Mede says that Caius “did his best to undermine the authority of the Apocalyse.” “Nor,” he adds, “did any one know of such Caius, but from his relation; and if there were any such, he should seem to be one of the heretics called Alogi.” Mosheim admits that “the first open opposer of Chiliasm that he met with was Caius, a teacher of Rome, toward the end of the second century. On this ground he denied that the Apocalypse was written by John, and ascribed it rather to Corinthus. But he effected very little.” Dr. Burnet says that Caius called the visions of John, “monstrous stories.” He ascribed a gross sensualism to the Millennium of the Revelations, which John never taught. Prof. Stuart says “the ground of his opposition is merely, and only his antipathy to Chiliasm,” and also remarks that “his judgment has very little claim to our respect or consideration. The fact that he palmed a carnal Millennium upon the Apocalyse is enough to show how little he understood the book, and indeed how little he had studied it.”
Here we have the character of that opposition which, still in embryo, began to develop itself against the Millennium. What was its character? Readers, “Judge ye!”
CLEMENT, A.D. 192.
Clement, Bishop of Alexandria, was born at Athens, and flourished, A.D. 192, and he himself affirms that he had heard those preach whose doctrines had been immediately received from the Apostles. Eusebius calls him an “incomparable master of the Christian philosophy.” Clement was contemporary with Tertullian. Neander attributes to him ‘great knowledge about divine matters;” but Dr. Murdoch, while allowing the same, declares that “he construed the Bible allegorically, and fancifully.” H. D. Ward affirms that Clement “takes no notice of the Millennium:” he does not directly, but still he hints at it. Dr. Burnet says, “He has not said any thing that I know of, either for or against the Millennium’ but he takes notice ‘that the seventh day has been accounted sacred both by the Hebrews and Greeks, because of the revolution of the world, and the renovation of all things.’” Giving this as a reason for keeping that day, Burnet remarks, that “it can be in no other sense than that the seventh day represents the seventh Millennium, in which the kingdom and renovation are to be.” G.H. Wood, of England, seems to put Clement among the Millennarians, but it may be for the same reason that Jeremy Taylor reckons Origen as one, because he believed in the consummation at the end of six chiliads. Clement addresses the heathen thus: “Therefore Jesus cries aloud, personally urging us, because the kingdom of heaven is at hand: he converts men by fear,” etc. “This,” says Dr. Duffield, “is Peter’s argument, ( 1 Peter 4:7) and it proves that he regarded the kingdom of heaven, as the prophets testify, to be introduced by judgment; his ideas of that kingdom must have been radically different from those of the spiritualists.” The place, time, and manner of Clement’s death is unknown.
CYPRIAN, A.D. 220.
He was Bishop of Carthage, which was his birth-place. In early life he was a heathen teacher of rhetoric, but afterward became a zealous Christian, and flourished as a writer, A.D. 220-250. Laetantius says of him, “Cyprian alone was the chief and famous writer;” and Erasmus declares that he spoke the purest Latin of any of the Latin Fathers. Mosheim calls him “a prelate of eminent merit;” and both Milner and Neander highly laud his character. He was a sincere admirer of Tertullian and professed to be his disciple, calling him “master.” Mede regarded him as a decided believer in the Millennium. Cyprian said to his Christian brethren, “Christ is coming to avenge our sufferings;” and Mr. Ward remarks of him that “He appeared to have been waiting for the coming of the Lord to overthrow Antichrist and to give his saints the kingdom.”
Cyprian writes as follows: “It were a self-contradictory and incompatible thing for us, who pray that the kingdom of God may quickly come, to be looking for long life here below. * * Let us ever in anxiety and cautiousness be awaiting the sudden advent of the Lord, for as those things which were foretold are come to pass, so those things will follow which are yet promised; the Lord himself giving assurance and saying, ‘When you see all these things come to pass, know that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.’
Dearest brethren, the kingdom of God has begun to be nigh at hand; reward of life, joy, eternal salvation, perpetual happiness, and possession of Paradise, lately lost, are already coming nigh while the world passes away.” He certainly looked for no Millennial kingdom prior to the advent of Christ. Dr. Burnet says that with the other Fathers he fixed the period of 6000 years, and made the seventh Millennium “the consummation of all,” and Dr. Elliott confirms the same. Cyprian informs us that the thirst for martyrdom which existed among Christians, arose from their supposing that those who suffered for Christ would obtain a more distinguished lot in his kingdom, and which expectation is ia perfect keeping with Hebrews 11:35-40. He coveted martyrdom, and when his sentence of death was read to him, he said, “I heartily thank Almighty God.” He was led to the block, A.D. 258, amid the weeping and lamentations of the people who loved him, and who cried, “Let us also be beheaded with him.” Reader, are you with the pious Cyprian, awaiting “the sudden advent of the Lord?”
METHODIUS, A.D. 260.
He was first Bishop of Olympus, and afterwards of Tyre. This Christian writer flourished about A.D. 260-290, and is allowed by Neander to have been a Chiliast. He was the firm opponent of Origen, and charged that fanciful interpreter with heresy. His work is not known to be extant, but the following passage from it is quoted by Proclus in Epiphanius. He says: “It is to be expected that, at the conflagration, the creation shall suffer a vehement commotion, as if it were about to die: whereby it shall be renovated, and not perish: to the end that we, then also renovated, may dwell in the renewed world free from sorrow. Thus it is said in Psalm 104: ‘Thou wilt send forth thy Spirit, and they shall be created, and thou wilt renew the face of the earth.’ For seeing that after this world there shall be an earth, of necessity there must be inhabitants; and these shall die no more, but be as angels, irreversibly in an incorruptible state, doing all most excellent things.” He was evidently a Pre-millennialist, and Whitby at antipodes with his sentiments, allows that “Methodius held to a pure Millennium — free from every thing sensual.” He was crowned with martyrdom under the reign of Decius, A.D. 312.
NEPOS AND CORACION, A.D. 250.
These both flourished about A.D. 250, the former being a learned Egyptian Bishop, We have none of their writings. Prof. Stuart says that Nepos was a strong Millennarian, and Coracion joined him. Nepos wrote a book against the Allegorists, and in defence of his Millennarian views; in which he everywhere appeals to the Apocalypse in support of them.” Says Mr.
Brooks,”he wrote a book entitled ‘The Reprehensions of Allegorizers,’ which was specially directed against who now began to explain the Millennium figuratively.” Moshiem says, “Nepos attempted to revive its (the Millennium’s) authority in a work written against the Allegorists, as he contemptuously styled the opposers of the Millennium.” Dr. Cave says “he was a man skilled in the Holy Scriptures, and also a poet, and that he had fallen into the error of the Millennarians, and had published books to show that the promises made in the Scriptures to good men were according to the sense and opinions of the Jews to be literally understood.” Nepos’s views have been denominated sensual, but like many others of the Millennary Fathers, he has probably been misrepresented and misunderstood. That he was a Pre-millennialist is most certain, even Whitby allowing that Nepos taught “after this (first) resurrection the Kingdom of Christ was to be upon earth a thousand years, and the saints were to reign with him.”
Such was the Scriptural faith of Nepos; but the reader can perceive by this testimony the sad departure from the faith of the earlier Christians, and the exhibition of that blighting spiritualism which had begun imperceptibly to creep into the church of God through the influence of OriGen CHAPTER 4.
FROM ORIGEN TO AUGUSTINE.
UP to this period, we meet with no writer of reputed soundness in the faith, or of distinction in the church, who opposed the doctrine of Christ’s millennial reign. The most that can be said of some of them, is, that they do not mention the doctrine in their writings, but at the same time, all that do refer to it adopt the Pre-millennial view, and do not even appear to dream of any other. We have traced the doctrine back through the Hebrew church for many centuries prior to the Lord’s first advent. We have traced it through the early Church back to the inspired apostles, and forward to times of apostacy. And for the first time in the whole history of Chiliasm, it now began to be strenuously opposed. Would that ,we could speak well of the soundless of its opposers. But we cannot. Truth forbids it. We are obliged in some instances at least, to rank them among the most unreliable and spiritualizing interpreters of God’s sacred Word. And we begin with ORIGEN, A.D. 250.
Origen had his birth at Alexandria, A.D. 185. He was unquestionably a man of great talents, an indefatigable student, and the well known champion of Anti-millennarianism. But what shall we say of him? He was certainly a strange professor of Christianity. He circulated two books on magic attributed to Jannes and Jambres, representing those two prime magicians of the court of Pharaoh as inspired prophets. He taught that magic was a true and lawfulscience. From his master Ammonius, he learned the art of communicating with the demons. “He went so far,” says Hagenbach, “that contrary to general opinion, he did not even take from Satan all hope of future pardon.” Dr. Clarke says, that according to his plan of interpretation, “The sacred writings may be obliged to say anything, everything, or nothing, according to the fancy, peculiar creed, or caprice of the interpreter.” Glassius says that “it was from the allegorical system of Origen that Porphyry, his pupil, drew the strength of his arguments, as well as the point of his ridicule against Christianity.” Origen taught that “the Scriptures were of little use, if we understand them as they are written;” that “words in many parts of the Bible convey no meaning at all;” that “the Scriptures are full of mysteries, and have a three-fold sense, viz., a literal, a moral, and a mystical, and that the literal sense was worthless.” He also taught the preexistence of human souls previous to the creation, and perhaps from eternity; their condemnation to animate mortal bodies in order to expiate faults committed in their pre-existent state; a spiritual or ethereal resurrection of the body; the universal restoration of the damned, after a limited punishment, to a state of probation, etc., etc. The Universalists have usually claimed Origen as one of their faith. He brought in a torrent of allegory on the church which, according to Mosheim, Dufield, and other good authority evidently laid the foundation for the rise of the Papal hierarchy; the monks being his enthusiastic admirers. Church historians speak of Origen as follows: Spanheim says, “The genius of Origen was too luxuriant, and inclined to allegory; and he fell into several doctrinal errors, which afterward supplied fuel for the flames of discord, and produced deplorable effects in the church.” Mosheim observes: “After all the encomiums we have given to Origen, * * it is not without deep concern, we are obliged to add that he also, by an unhappy method of interpretation, opened a secure retreat for all sorts of errors, which a wild and irregular imagination could bring forth.” He then alludes to Origen’s system of interpretation, and calls it “wild, fanciful, chimerical, mystical, licentious.”
He says again on the doctrine of the Millennium: “Now its credit began to decline, principally through the influence and authority of Origen, who opposed it with the greatest warmth, because it was incompatible with some of his favorite sentiments.” Milner declares that, “No man, not altogether unsound and hypocritical, ever injured the church of Christ more than Origen did. From the fanciful mode of allegory introduced by him, uncontrolled by Scriptural rule and order, arose a vitiated method of commenting on the Scriptures, which has been succeeded by a contempt of types and figures altogether, just as his fanciful ideas of letter and spirit tended to remove from men’s minds all right conception of genuine Christianity. A thick mist for ages pervaded the Christian world, supported by his absurd allegorical mode. The learned alone were looked at as guides implicitly to be followed, and the vulgar, when the literal sense was hissed off the stage, had nothing to do but to follow the authority of the learned.
It was not till the days of Luther and Melancthon that this evil was fairly and successfully opposed.” “He was famous,” says Saurin, “for the extent of his genius, and at the same time for the extravagance of it; admired on the one hand for attacking and refuting the errors of the enemies of religion, and blamed on the other for injuring the very religion that he defended, by mixing with it errors monstrous in their kind, and almost infinite in their number.”... “In spite of all his Greek and Hebrew, he was a sorry philosopher, and a very bad divine. The Church has condemned his doctrine in the gross. All his philosophy was taken from the ideas of Plato.” Dr. A. Clarke justly observes, that “every friend of rational piety and genuine Christianity, must lament that a man of so much learning and unaffected godliness, should have been led to countenance, much less to recommend a plan of interpreting the Divine Oracles, in many respects the most fittile, absurd, and dangerous that can possibly be conceived.” No orthodox Bible student will for a moment admire the soundness of his system of Biblical interpretation. The great Martin Luther wrote, “Origen is to be avoided.”
But, the Emperor patronized him, and finally Origen and his fellows prepared the way of Mystery, Babylon. Well may the London Quarterly Journal of Prophecy, ask, “Are we to call Origen a Christian?” At least his opposition to Chiliasm should by the church be accounted as nothing, and those who mention his name in such connection, get to themselves no honor.
We are aware that Origen died a martyr, but his principles of Scripture interpretation we deplore and condemn. “Origen, Augustine, and Jerome,” observes the critical author of the Theological and Literary Journal, “do not deny that the prediction of the restoration of the Israelites, the rebuilding of Jerusalem, the first resurrection, and the reign of the Messiah, teach, if taken in their literal sense, what the Chiliasts ascribe to them. They admit it; but they maintain that that is not their true sense.” How could they do otherwise, we ask, when Origen had “laid down the broad principle,” writes President Porter, “that the scriptures are of little use to those who understand them as they are written!”
Still the Anti-millennarian Fathers held to the earth’s renovation. “God will make new heavens and a new earth,” wrote Jerome, “not other heavens and another earth, but the former ones changed into better;” and even as late as Gregory the Great, we find him saying, “others are not to be created, but these same renewed.” Again, on Ecclesiastes 3:14, he thus comments — “They will pass as to their present figure or appearance, but as to their substance, they will remain for ever.” This doctrine, like that of the world’s sex-millennial duration, seems never to have been utterly abandoned, even during the middle ages, when the millennial reign was laid aside or deemed in the past.
Origen was an Anti-millennarian, but still we do not give him to the modern Post-millennialists. He allows a first and second resurrection, and we have yet to learn that he postpones the advent of Christ till the end of the seventh thousand years; “on the contrary,” says Mr. Brooks, “he states his expectation of the renovation of all things in the seventh millennary of the world,” and for this declaration of faith, Bishop Jeremy Taylor ranks Origen among the decided Millennarians, as also some others have done.
Origen himself says in the thirteenth book of his work, against Celsus, “We do not deny the purging fire of the destruction of wickedness, and the renovation of all things,” and the “Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge’ states that he taught “that the earth, after its conflagration, shall become habitable again, and be the mansion of men,” and as this “renovation by fire” was to take place in the seventh millennium, he gives no support to the modern Whitbian system, but was virtually a Pre-millennialist. In his thirteenth Homily on Jeremiah, he says: “If any man shall preserve the washing of the Holy Spirit, he shall have his part in the first resurrection; but if any man be saved in the second resurrection only, it is the sinner that needeth the baptism of fire. Let us lay the Scriptures to heart, that we may be raised up with the saints, and have our lot with Jesus Christ.” To admit two resurrections, is to admit a cardinal point in Millennarian doctrine. It is but just to say of Origen, that unlike Caius, he received the Apocalypse as genuine and canonical. In being an Anti-millennarian, he seems simply to have laid aside the Millennium as being the seventh thousand Years, and expected an eternal age to commence at the coming of the Lord. Had he been a literalist he would not have done so, for he admits that “they who deny the millennium, are they who interpret the sayings of the prophets by a trope; but they who assert it are styled disciples of the letter of scripture only.”
VICTORINUS, A.D. 280-290.
He was the Bishop of Pettaw and the author of an Apocalyptic Commentary, which is mentioned by Jerome, who speaks of it as one of Millennarian views. From Dr. Elliott, who has published an abstract of the same, we give the following items on the points under consideration.
Victorinus made the twenty-four elders mean the twelve patriarchs and twelve apostles seated on thrones of judgment; the voices and thunderings from the throne he made notices of Christ’s threats and of his coming to judgment. He speaks of the last times, and mingled with the continuous persecution of the saints, alludes to wars, pestilences, and famines which would precede Christ’s coming. The earthquake of the sixth seal meant the last one, and the silence of the seventh seal he made to be the eternal rest.
He contended that chronological order was not followed in the Apoctalypse, but the Holy Spirit when He came to the end, returns, often, and repeats. He, with all the Fathers, who had not as yet adopted the yearday theory, made Antichrist’s time three years and a half; and taught that he was at hand. The first beast meant Rome; the ten horns ten kings that would rise, three of whom would be plucked up by Antichrist; the woman was the city of Rome. The rider on the white horse was Christ, who will come and take the kingdom, a kingdom extending from the river to the world’s end — the greater part of the earth being cleansed introductorily to it; and, finally, the last judgment and the eternity of the kingdom; the millennium itself not ending it.” Mede asserts that the writings of Vietorinus and Sulpicious, who maintained Millennarian opinions, were authoritatively suppressed by Pope Damasus. Victorians was martyred during the persecution by Dioclesian, being faithful unto death, and evidently expecting a part in the first resurrection.
LACTANTIUS, A.D. 300.
Lactantius was born about A.D. 250, and flourished as a writer A.D. 310.
He was tutor to Constantine’s heir, and the purity of his Latinity gained for him the title of “the Christian Cicero.” Mosheim styles him “the most eloquent of the Latin Fathers.” He often quotes the Sibylline verses and probably for the same reason that Paul quotes the Pagan poets. ( Acts 17:28.) Says Stuart, “that he makes such appeals for the sake of the heathen seems very evident.” Stuart allows hhn to have been “a zealous Chiliast.” Jerome, the Anti-millennarian, charges him with the error of the Manichees, but Dr. Lardner, in his “Credibility of the gospel history,” has satisfactorily vindicated him from this charge. Says Dr. Lardnet: “It is well known that Lactantius expected a terrestrial reign of Christ for a thousand years before the general judgment. Jerome has ridiculed his millennary notions, and took the same freedom with Irenaeus, Tertullian, and other Christians who held the same sentiment.” Lactantius taught a mixed Millennium, as do many now, but Dr. Duffield and Mr. Brooks have vindicated him from the charge of sensualism preferred against him by Jerome. He asserted two resurrections according to the Revelation, and speaks at large upon the Millennial period, which he denominates “the thousand years of the heavenly empire, when righteousness shall reign on earth.” In his Book of Divine Institutions, he says: “Let philosophers know, who number thousands of years since the beginning of the world, that the six thousandth year is not yet concluded or ended. But that number being fulfilled, of necessity there must be an end, and the state of human things be transformed into that which is better. Because all the works of God were finished in six days, it is necessary that the world should remain in this state six ages; that is, six thousand years. Because having finished the works he rested on the seventh day and blessed it, it is necessary that at the end of the six thousandth year all wickedness should be abolished out of the earth, and justice should reign for a thousand years. When the Son of God shall have destroyed injustice, and shall have restored the just to life, he shall be conversant among men a thousand years, and shall rule with a most righteous government. At the same time the Prince of Devils shall be bound with chains, and shall be in custody for a thousand years of the heavenly kingdom, lest he should attempt anything evil against the people of God. When the thousand years of the kingdom, that is, seven thousand years, shall draw toward a conclusion, Satan shall be loosed again; and then shall be that second and public resurrection of us all, wherein the unjust shall be raised.” Having enlarged on this topic, he thus concludes: “This is the doctrine of the holy prophets which we Christians follow, this is our wisdom.” Whitby allows that Lactantius taught “this Millennium belongs to all the just which ever were from the beginning of the world.” Following the erroneous chronology of the Septuagint, as did other of the carly Christians, Lactantius supposed the Millennium or consummation would commence about 200 years from his time. Dr. Elliott gives an abstract of the Apocalyptic scheme of Lactantius. It is interesting, and we refer the reader to it for a better understanding of the views of this eloquent Chiliast, who, in his time, nobly endeavored to sustain the Millennial truth. Lactantius died at Treves about A.D. 325.
DIONYSIUS, A.D. 250.
Dionysius was Bishop of Alexandria. He was a disciple of Origen, and of course an Anti-millennarian. He opposed Nepos, his contemporary, and won over Coracion to his faith, but iu his opposition questioned the cannonical authority of the Apocalyse, and denied it was written by John the apostle: “From which,” says Brooks, “a fair inference may be drawn that he found himself hard pressed by passages in that book,” and Dr.
Duffield has shown that he only received the book at all from mere motives of policy. Prof. Stuart intimates that his object in denying that John wrote it was to take away from the Montanists their apostolic authority for the Millennial doctrine; and says, “It may well be doubted, I think, whether he would have thought of assailing the Apocalypse if he had never heard of Nepos’ book,” and Dr. Elliott declares that “It was in the act of writing against Millennarians that he pronounced judgment against it.” Here again we have the character of the opposition, and it amounts to this: that if the Revelation is to be received as canonical, the primitive doctrine of the Millennium is of God. The Chiliastic party were still strong after this; and therefore as Burnet remarks, “We do not find that Dionysius’ opposition had any great effect,” though doubtless the doctrine had begun to be corrupted by its advocates. Dionysius charged his opponents with persuading men “to hope for only small and mortal things in the kingdom of God (i.e. the Millennium), even such as are visible now,” on which Henry D. Ward justly remarks: “From this it appears how little he regarded the Millennium of time.” As yet we observe the Augustinian Millennial theory had not been broached, and both Origen and Dionysius, instead of locating the Millennium in the past, simply laid it aside, commencing an eternal unbroken age at Christ’s coming.
THE RELATIVES OF OUR LORD. A.D.
Hegesippus, a converted Jew, who flourished A.D. 150, relates that in the fifteenth year of Domitian, while he was engaged in persecuting the church of God, there were yet living the grandchildren of Judas, called the brother of our Lord according to the flesh. Upon the Emperor’s issuing an edict that all the descendants of David should be slain, on account of his fear that Christ would appear, these persons were brought before Domitian. In his presence they witnessed the following “good confession.” “He put the question whether they were of David’s race, and they confessed that they were. He then asked them what property they had, or how much money they owned. And both of them answered that they had between them only nine thousand denarii, and this they had not in silver, but in the value of a piece of land, containing only thirty-nine acres; from which they raised their taxes and supported themselves by their own labor. Then they also began to show their hands, exhibiting the hardness of their bodies, and the callousity formed by incessant labor on their hands, as evidence of their own labor. When asked also, respecting Christ and his kingdom, what was its nature, and when and where it was to appear; they replied that it was not a temporal nor an earthly kingdom, but celestial and angelic: that it would appear at the end of the world, when, coming in glory, he would judge the quick and the dead, and give to every one according to his works. Upon which Domitian, despising them, made no reply, but treating them with contempt, as simpletons, commanded them to be dismissed, and by a decree ordered the persecution to cease. Thus delivered, they ruled the churches both as witnesses and relatives of the Lord. When peace was established, they continued living even to the times of Trajan.” MANY NAMES, A.D. 125-430.
Proceeding, we notice Commodian, a Latin author, who flourished A.D. 270, of whom Dr. Lardner writes: “He heartily embraced the doctrine of the expected Millennium;” Gregory, of Nyssa, who died A.D. 389; Sulpicius, of the 4th century; Paulinus, Bishop of Antioch, who died 431; and also Apollinaris had not entirely renounced Chiliasm; Quadrayus, Bishop of Athens, A.D. 125, also, Aristides, his contemporary; Pantaenus, who flourished A.D. 150; Theophilus, who died 182; Hermias and Athenagoras, of the 2d century; also, the names of’ Seraphion, Agrippa Castor Claudius Apollinarius, Philip, of Gortyra, Miltiades Modestus, and Apollonius, the most of whose writings are lost; others of whom do not mention the subject, but when they do revert to it, says Brooks, they support Chiliastic views.
COUNCIL OF NICE. A.D.
This first general Church Council was called by Constantine the Great, (who was present,) and was, according to Eusebius, composed of Bishops; Socrates says 318. Mosheim affirms we know very little about their acts and doings. It assumed authority over the conscience, expelled Arius, and framed what is called the Nicene Creed, which Gelasius Cyzicenus has given in his history of this Council. “We quote from these acts,” says Dr. Duffield, “because it furnishes incidentally, some valuable testimony as to what continued to be at that period the method of interpretation most prevalent.” On the resurrection state, the Council says: “We expect new heavens and a new earth, according to the Holy Scriptures, at the appearing of the great God, and our Savior, Jesus Christ.
And then, as Daniel says, ‘the saints of the Most tIigh shall take the kingdom,’ and there shall be a pure earth, holy, a ‘land of the living and not of the dead,’ which David foreseeing by the eye of faith, ‘I believe to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living’ — the land of the meek and humble. Christ says, ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth,’ and the prophet says, ‘the feet of the meek and humble shall tread upon it.” Says Mr. Brooks: “The majority of the churches must, at the period of this Council, have still held to the primitive method of interpretation.” Mede remarks: “Judge by this (notwithstanding fifty years’ opposition,) how powerful the Chiliastic party yet was at the time of this Council. By some of whom, if this formula were not framed and composed, yet was it thus moderated as you see, that both parties might accept it as being delivered in the terms and language of Scripture.” The London Quarterly Journal of Prophecy says: “It is obvious that nearly a century after the days of Origen and Dionysius, Chiliastic doctrine was still truly the creed of the church, or at least of the greater part of it. In this Council it stands before us, not only dissociated from heresy, but opposed to it; nay, not only opposed to heresy, but united to what was sound and. holy.”
And Dr. Burnet writes as follows: “the Millennial kingdom of Christ was the general doctrine of the primitive church from the times of the Apostles to the Council of Nice, inclusively. According to the opinion of these Fathers, there will be a kingdom of Christ upon earth, and moreover in the new heavens and new earth.” Such is the testimony of the Nicene Fathers. Still the Millennial truth which received their sanction was crushed to death at last under the iron heel of Antichrist. But it died hard!
EUSEBIUS, BISHOP OF CAESAREA. A. D. 325.
He was born A.D. 267, and died A.D. 340. He was the first writer of ecclesiastical history, and we are indebted to him for many things concerning the early church, but as Burnet observes, “he was a back friend to the Millennary doctrine, and represented every thing to its disadvantage;” and Brooks affirms that “his statements on this head are contradictory and absurd.” He represents Irenaeus as having obtained his Millennary views from Papias, whereas we know from the writings of Irenaeus that his faith in this doctrine was founded on the Scriptures. He also sets forth Papius as having received the doctrine solely by the way of “oral tradition,” as though Papius knew nothing of the Apocalypse, nor received his Millennial views from it, which, says Elliott, is not true, farther remarking, that “his un-trustworthiness and tendencies to inaccuracies on any Millennary subject, are sutficiently apparent.” Jerome pronounces him a learned man, but not a catholic, (i.e. as then understood, not orthodox,) and also calls him the “Prince of the Arians.” Dr. Elliott, (who gives his language,) Mr. Brooks, and Prof. Stuart, affirm that he disparaged the authority of the Apocalypse, and insinuated that perhaps it was the work of Cerinthus. Jeremy Taylor suspects him of having endeavored to corrupt and falsify the Nicene creed, and Dr. Duffield accuses him of time serving, having boasted of his conversations with the Emperor Constantine.
Eusebius was moreover a miserable expounder of the Bible, for he quotes Psalm 46:9-10, Isaiah 35, also Revelation 21, and other Millennial prophecies as being fulfilled in the Constantinian glory of the church, which he affirmed at that time “looked like the very image of the kingdom of Christ.” The city built by the Emperor, at Jerusalem, with the church of the Holy Sepulchre, he suggested, was the New Jerusalem of Revelation; which was indeed, as Burnet exclaims, “A wonderful invention!” And to sum up all, at the very time when, as Elliott declares, intimations were every where given, that the great apostacy had begun, the splendor-blinded Eusebius, in the language of Dr. Cumming, “dreamed the Apocalyptic Millennium had commenced!”
CYRIL, A.D. 350.
Cyril was Bishop of Jerusalem. He was born A.D. 315. Though an Antimillennarian, as Mosheim observes, he “is justly celebrated for his Catechetical Discourses,” in which he is often truly eloquent. Cyril was of the age of Julian, the apostate, who reviled the Christians of his day for expecting the kingdom of God. This kingdom Cyril looked for, insisting much upon its eternity, and teaching no temporal Millennium. He, says Elliott, like the Fathers before him, explained the four wild beasts of Daniel 7th to be the Babylonian, Persian, Macedonian, and Roman empires, and thought that whcn Rome fell it would be dissolved into ten contemporaneous kingdoms, and then Antichrist, — whom he called “some great man raised up by the Devil “ — at first mild, etc., — would come and eradicate three of the ten kings, and subjugate the other seven, and reign three years and a half, persecuting the church; then Christ would destroy him. Dropping the Millennium or seventh chiliad, he looked for Christ to come, and renovating the earth, introduce an eternal state. Cyril says, “Do thou look for the true Christ, the Son of God, the only Begotten, who is henceforth to come not from the earth, but from heaven, appearing to all more bright than any lightning, or other brilliance, with angels for his guards, that he may judge quick and dead, and reign with a kingdom heavenly, eternal, and without end. Be sure to settle your belief in this point also, since there are many who say that Christ’s kingdom has an end.” Again he says, “Adam received the doom, ‘cursed be the ground — thorns and thistles, etc.’ For this cause Jesus wears the thorns that he might cancel the doom; for this cause also was he buried in the earth, that the cursed earth might receive, instead of the curse, the blessing. Our Lord Jesus Christ then comes from heaven with glory at the end of this world, in the last day. For this world shall have an end, and this created world shall be made anew; for since corruption and theft and adultery, and every sort of sins have been poured forth over the earth, and blood has been mingled with blood in the world, therefore that this wondrous dwelling place may not remain filled with iniquity, this world shall pass away that that fairer world may be made manifest.” He then quotes Isaiah 34:4, also Matthew 24:29, and adds that the Lord will roll up the heavens, not that he may destroy them, but that he may raise them up again more beautiful. He also bids us “venture not to declare when these things shall be, nor on the other hand abandon thyself to slumber, for he saith, ‘Watch, etc.’ But it behoveth us to know the signs of the end, and we are looking for Christ.” He says nothing about a spiritual reign, but as Mr. Ward observes, reproves those sentiments advocated by Post-millennialists. He died A.D. 386.
EPIPHANIUS, A. D. 375.
Epiphanius was Bishop of Salamasis. He was born A.D. 322, and died in 403. Epiphanius was a Millennarian, and testifies that the doctrine was held by many of his time. Quoting the words of Paulinus, Bishop of Antioch, concerning one Vitalius, whom he highly commends for his piety, orthodoxy, and learning, he says: “Moreover, others have affirmed that the venerable man would say, that in the first resurrection we shall accomplish a certain Millennary of years:” on which Epiphanius observes: “And that indeed this Millennary term is written of in the Apocalypse of John, and is received of very many of them that are godly is manifest.” Here are one or two more voices on the Millennium in the fourth century, but it had evidently become corrupted and unpopular, and was dying away.
Still the Fathcrs of this century, though Anti-millennarian, looked for no blissful era for the church this side the resurrection of the just. And they believed a pure and unmixed age would then commence. So we believe. AMBROSE, A.D. 400.
Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, was born in A.D. 333, and died 420. We do not know as this Father says any thing about the Millennium. Dr. Elliott says that “he explained the apostacy of St. Paul, to mean an apostacy from true religion, and that Antichrist would come and seize on the kingdom, claiming for himself divine authority, and that he referred to the strife between the Goths and Romans, as well as other rumors of war, pestilence, etc., as evidences that the world was near its end.” He looked for no restoration of the Jews prior to the resurrection of the dead, and with Cyril made the Sabbath a type of an endless age. He cannot be regarded as at all favoring the Whitbian system of postponing the advent till the end of the seventh chiliad, and the completion of the world’s conversion, for he says, “The gospel is preachcd that the world may be destroyed; for the preaching of the gospel has gone out into the whole world, and therefore we see the end of the world approaching, etc.” Thus his voice is virtually Premillennial.
CHRYSOSTOM, A.D. 400.
Chrysostom was Bishop of Constantinople. He was born A.D. 354. He was learned and eloquent, and is styled the Homer of orators; and though an ecclesiastical writer, as Dr. Duffield observes, he is silent with regard to the Millennium. Elliott says that he explains the four kingdoms of Daniel as did Cyril, and made the fourth, or Roman empire, to be the let or hindrance to Antichrist’s manifestation alluded to by St. Paul. He also regards the “mystery of iniquity” as being the persecuting spirit working in Nero, in Paul’s time, and the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel, he made the Roman armies under Titus. With his cotemporaries, he looked for no glad era for the church before the advent, but concerning the approaching future, out of which loomed up the dark form of Antichrist, he says: “We are now at the twelfth hour: the purity of justice is leaving the world; the sun is gathering in his rays, and darkness is covering the whole earth;” and again he truly sketches the dispensation, when he observes that, “As Rome succeeded Greece, so Antichrist is to succeed Rome, and Christ our Savior Antichrist.” Though he was a monk, and, perhaps, an Antimillennarian, still this testimony affords no support to the spiritual view.
And he confirms it still more by quoting Matthew 24:14; making its fulfillment a sign of the “last day,” saying, “Attend with care to what is said. He said not when it hath been believed by all men, but when it hath been preached to all. For this cause, he also said for a witness to the nations to show that he doth not wait for all men to believe, and then for him to come: since the phrase, ‘for a witncss,’ hath this meaning, — for accusation, for reproof, for condemnation of them that have not believed.” So speaks Chrysostom, who died A.D. 404.
HILARY, A.D. 350.
Hilary, Bishop of Poictiers, flourished in the 4th century, and wrote on the Apocalypse. He understood the reign of Christ, and the final judgment to be introduced at his second coming, when, as he thought, the 6th and 7th seals were to be broken. He also attached a Christian sense to the Jewish symbols of the Old Testament, such as Zion, Jerusalem, Israel, the Temple, etc., and looked for the Antichrist to be developed within the professing Christian church. While commenting on the transfiguration, (“after six days, etc.,”) Hilary refers to the old idea of a seventh sabbatical Millennary; saying that as Christ was transfigured in glory after the six days, so after the world’s 6000 years there would be manifested the glory of Christ’s eternal kingdom. He constantly insisted that the day and hour of the consummation was a secret with God, but knowing the doubtfulness of our world’s chronology, he still maintained the idea of the world’s sexmillennial duration. He died A.D. 367.
JEROME, A.D. 380.
Jerome was born in Dalmatia, A.D. 330. Died A.D. 420. He was a learned and voluminous writer, but was a bitter Anti-millennarian, and decidedly a monk and a Roman Catholic. The Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge informs us that he founded a convent at Bethlehem, and through his exhortations many fashionable ladies there and at Rome became nuns.
Mosheim affirms that he with many other Fathers of the fourth century were tinctured with the corrupt principle of the two monstrous errors of the age, namely, “It is an act of virtue to deceive and lie, when by that means the interests of the church may be promoted; second, Errors in religion when maintained and adhered to after proper admonition are punishable with civil penalties and corporeal torture,” and in everything, while he applauds his labor and genius, he gives Jerome a miserable character. The London Quarterly Journal of Prophecy, says of this century: “Jerome, in whose works the seeds of most every Popish error may be found, led the opposition against the Millennium.” And the learned Elliott has shown that Jerome virtually advocated saint and martyr worship, veneration of relics, the well nigh infallibility of the Bishop of Rome, practiced penance, etc., etc. Such were the principles of Jerome, and with regard to the form of his opposition, as Dr. Duffield justly observes, “He teems with abuse and ridicule in relation to the Millennium, and by his general character for fierceness, acrimony, and ribaldry, toward all who differ from him, has forfeited all claims upon our respect.” All Millennial historians represent him as harsh and unfair. Brooks calls him “a vehement adversary of the doctrine.” H. D. Ward, “an unmerciful scoffer, not always regarding fairness.” Mede, “a most unequal relator of the opinions of his adversaries,” and the Journal of Prophecy calls him one of the most resolute enemies of the doctrine that ever wrote.” Dr. Burnet styles him, “a rough and rugged saint, and an unfair adversary, that usually ran down with heat and violence what stood in his way,” and that “he always represents the Millennary doctrine after a Judaical rather than a Christian manner.” He held the Origenistic system, and says Elliott, he taught that “the Apocalypse was all to be spiritually understood, because otherwise Judaic fables would have to be acquiesced in; such as the rebuilding of Jerusalem, and the renewal in its temple of carnal ceremonies;” a false conclusion obvious to every Bible student. But perhaps the Millennium was made carnal by its advocates, thus giving some occasion for Jerome’s laughter, and the more we presume did he wish to oppose it, it being now unpopular, and he being secretary to Pope Damasus, (who used every means to suppress it,) and desiring like many now to keep in with public opinion. Said Luther, “Jerome is to be avoided!”
But Jerome made some capital admissions, and held much truth, and we cannot give him to Post-millennialists. He taught the doctrine of the redemption of the earth and its renovation by fire, with which he believed its interior filled and held, says Elliott, to only the conversion, not the national restoration of the Jews. On the prayer “Thy kingdom come,” he says: “They ask for the kingdom of the whole world, that Satan may cease to reign in the world.” His views of the metalic image; the four wild beasts; the man of sin, his origin, etc., were similar to those of Cyril, Hippolytus and other Fathers, and he makes a twofold destruction of the Roman Empire: the one its desolation and dissolution by a breaking up into ten kingdoms, introductory to Antichrist’s manifestation; the other its total and final destruction, to take place on account of Antichrist’s blasphemies at “the triumphant advent of the Great God,” and “we are perfectly sure,” he says, “that after the second advent of our Lord nothing will be base, nothing terrestrial; but then will be the celestial kingdom whichwas first promised in the gospel,” which, observes Henry Ward, is “sound doctrine.”
He also taught that the world would endure but 6,000 years, and at their termination (which he placed A.D. 500,) the consummation would occur:, and Christ come: thus giving no support to Post-millennialism, but was virtually a Pre-millennialist, while like many others an Anti-millennarian.
Jerome used to say, that it seemed to him as if the trumpet of the last day was always sounding in his ear, saying, “Arise, ye dead, and come to judglnent!” And now we call the reader’s attention to Jerome’s admission, where he is constrained to allow the truth, and by which we may learn that if the Chiliasts of A.D. 400 were really in the minority, they were still a great multitude in spite of opposition. On Jeremiah 19:10, he says, that “he durst not condemn the (Millennial) doctrine, because many ecclesiastical persons and martyrs affirm the same.” And again, speaking of the Millennarian Apollinarius, he remarks: “An author whom not only the men of his own sect, but most of our people likewise, follow on this point (Chiliasm) so that it is not difficult to prove what a multitude of persons will be offended with me.” So much for Jerome. We have been particular that the reader may know through whose opposition the Millennium fell.
Rev. Henry Morris, a Post-millennialist, in his work entitled “Modern Chiliasm Refuted,” truly says, “Jerome and other writers of this period were great scoffers at the doctrine, and the consequence was, that it fell into disrepute, and entirely dwindled away, so that we hear scarcely no more of it, until the tenth and a portion of the eleventh century, the Reformation and the present time.” But this admission of Mr. Morris every close thinker will at once see is prejudicial, nay, even fatal to Post-millennialism! It allows that Rome banished the true Millennium, and more even than this!
AUGUSTINE. A.D. 390.
Augustine was Bishop of Hippo. Born A.D. 358, and died in 434. He was contemporary with Jerome, and is acknowledged to have been a great and justly celebrated divine. Though not thoroughly free from the superstitious of his times, yet with regard to the doctrines of free grace in Christ, as Dr.
Cureming says, “Augustine was a brilliant exception, and continued evangelical,” and Milner also states that “the light from his writings glimmered through many ages, down even to the Reformation,” Gibbon hinting that Rome had a secret repugnance to them on this account, He was once a Chiliast, but abandoned that view through the influence and misrepresentations of his enemies, particularly Eusebius, as Mr. Brooks argues. He then developed what is usually called the Augustinian view of the Millennium, which afterwards became very prevalent, and which constitutes a new era in its history. On the first view he expresses himself: “Those who have supposed from these words, Revelation 20:6, that there shall be a first corporeal resurrection, have been moved among other things chiefly by the number of the thousand years; as if there ought to be among the saints a sabbatism, as it were in a holy vacation after their six thousand years of trouble; which opinion would indeed be tolerable if it should be believed that spiritual delights should redound to the saints in that Sabbath, by the presence of the Lord, for we also were ourselves formerly of that opinion.” Augustine’s objection does not militate against us, for we hold to a pure Millennium of spiritual delights by the personal presence of the Lord, and his admission is that such an one can be tolerated. The abuse of Millenial truth evidently caused him to reject it as of carnal tendency; so Elliott supposes.
On the four kingdoms of Daniel’s prophecy, Augustine made the first three to be Babylon, Chaldea, and Macedon, and the fourth to be Rome, as did, according to Jerome, all the previous Fathers. He identifies the little horn of the fourth beast with St. Paul’s man of sin, and St. John’s Antichrist; the Roman empire he thought hindering the revelation of the latter, who would bring in a great religious apostacy, pretended miracles, etc. On the question of the Jews, “Augustine,” says Elliott, “only speaks of their conversion, never, I believe, of their national restoration in Palestine.” In this he agreed with Jerome, who held that the local Jerusalem would never be rebuilt, but remain in ruins to the end of the world. He thus describes the character of the virgins of Matthew 25th: “But men continually say to themselves, ‘Lo the day of judgment is coming now, so many evils are happening; so many tribulations thicken; behold all things which the prophets have spoken have well nigh fulfilled, the day of judgment is already at hand.’ They who speak thus and speak in faith, go out as it were, with such thoughts, to meet the bridegroom.” He represcented the world as “old and full of troubles; distressed by the heavy breathing of old age,” and taught the earth’s renovation at Christ’s coming, saying on the Lord’s prayer, Matthew 6:10, “His kingdom will come when the resurrection of the dead shall have taken place; for then He will come himself. And when the dead are raised, he will divide them, as he himself says, and he shall set some on the right hand and some on the left. To those who shall be on the right hand he will say, ‘Come ye blessed.’ This is what we wish and pray for when we say, ‘Thy kingdom come,’ that it may come to us. For if we shall be reprobate, that kingdom will come to others but not to us. But if we shall be of that number who belong to the members of his only begotten Son, his kingdom will come to us and will not tarry. For are there as many ages yet remaining as have already passcd away? The apostle John hath said, ‘My little children, it is the last time.’ Let us watch now, etc.” On the earth’s renovation, he writes: “By the change of things the world will not entirely perish or be annihilated. Its form, or external appearance, will be changed, but not its substance. The figure of’ this world will pass away by the general conflagration. The qualities of the corruptible elements of which our world is composed, which were proportioned to our corruptible bodies,will be entirely destroyed by the fire; and the substance of those elements will acquire ncw qualitics which will be suitable to our immortal bodies, and thus the world by becoming more perfect, will be proportioned to the then improved state of the human body.” So taught Augustine. The world’s duration he made sex-millennial, and says:Dr. Elliott, “with the other Anti-millennarian Fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries, explained the Sabbatical seventh day, not of a seventh Sabbatical Millennium of rest, but an eternal Sabbath — a view generally adopted afterwards.” In viewing the advent and end of the world, as occurring on the termination of 6000 years, Augustine negatives a Post-millennial advent.
CONFIRMATORY TESTIMONY TO THE PRE-MILLENNIAL FAITH OF THE EARLY CHURCH.
Nathaniel Lardner, d. d. Born in Kent, England, 1684. Died 1768. An erudite, voluminous author, and a name — says Dr. Clarke — never to be mentioned but with respect. An Anti-m. he is, but of the early church, and Chiliasm he thus testifies: “The Millennium has been a favorite doctrine of some ages, and has had the patronage of the learned as well as the vulgar among Christians.” “It must be owned that the orthodox Millennarians do speak of one thousand years reign of Christ before the general resurrection; which good then, having been raised front the dead should spend on this earth, when there shall be extraordinary plenty of the fruits of the earth.” “They certainly grounded their sentiments upon the Revelation and upon other books of the Old and New Testament universally received.” Such is the testimony of one who, like Bishop Russell, denies the theory we advocate.
William Chillingworth. Born at Oxford, England, 1602. Died a captive, 1644. He was Chancellor of Salisbury, and a powerful theologian. On the early catholicity of Chillssin, he writes as follows, while controverting Romanism: “That this doctrine is by the present Romish Church held false and heretical, I think no man will deny. That the same doctrine was by the church of the next age after the Apostles (mark this!) held true and catholic, I prove by these two reasons: First, whatever doctrine is believed and taught by the most eminent Fathers of any age of the church, and by none of their contemporaries opposed or condemned, that is to be esteemed the catholic doctrine of the church of those times; but the doctrine of the Millennaries was believed and taught by the most eminent Fathers of the age next after the Apostles, and by none of that age opposed or condemned; therefore, it was the catholic doctrine of those times.”
Quoting the Fathers in proof, He continues: “And Second, whatever doctrine is taught by the Fathers of any age, not as doctors, but as witnesses of the tradition of the church, that is, not as their own opinion, but as the doctrine of the church of their time, neither did any contradict them in it: ergo , it is undoubtedly to be so esteemed.” Again, he says: “It appears manifest out of this book of Irenaeus, that the doctrine of the Chiliasts was in his judgment Apostolic tradition, as also it was esteemed (for aught appears to the contrary) by all the doctors, and saints, and martyrs of, or about his time, for all that speak of it, or whose judgments in the point are any way recorded, are for it; and Justin Martyr professeth that all good and orthodox Christians of his time believed it, and those that did not, he reckons among heretics.” John Laurence Mosheim, D. D. Born 1695. Died 1755. He was a celebrated German Protestant theologian, and writer of a well known and valuable Ecclesiastical History. He was a Post m. Under the “Third Century,” he says: “Long before this period, an opinion had prevailed that Christ was to come and reign a thousand years among men, before the entire and final dissolution of this world. This opinion, which had hitherto met with no opposition, was variously interpreted by different persons, etc.
But in this century its credit began to decline, principally through the influence and authority of Origen, who opposed it with the greatest warmth, because it was incompatible with some of his favorite sentiments.” Bishop Russell, Professor of Eccl. History of the Scottish Episcopal Church, writing on the Millennium, says: — “The Jews and their followers in primitive times, understood the Millennium literally: the word had no double sense in their creed; it was not in their estimation the emblem or shadow of better things to come; on the contrary, it denoted the actual visible appearance of the Messiah, and the establishment of his kingdom upon earth as the Sovereign of the elect people of God.” * * “The hope of such a consumation was not superseded by his (Christ’s) residence on earth. The first Christians, on the contrary, looked with a more earnest desire for the new heavens and new earth promised to their fathers, and connected their expectations, too, with the ancient opinion that this globe was to undergo a material change at the end of 6000 years, throwing off all the imperfections which had arisen front the guilt of its inhabitants, and being fitted for the habitation of justice, benevolence, and purity, during a blessed Millennium — the Sabbath of this terrestrial globe. * * So far as we view the question in reference to the sure and certain hope entertained by the Christian world, that the Redeemer would appear on earth, and exercise authority during a thousand years, there is good ground for the assertion of Mede, Dodwell, Burnet and other writers on the same side, that down to the beginning of the fourth century, the belief was universal and undisputed.” Such is the testimony of an extreme Anti-millennarian, and one who styles the doctrine a “Rabbinacal fable which had no connection with the Gospel.”
Professor George Bush, of New York city, the justly celebrated Hebrew scholar. An Anti-m. He admits that “There is ample evidence that the doctrine of the Chiliasts was actually the catholic faith of more than one century,” that even “during the first three centuries it was very extensively embraced. Again, “During the first ages of the church, when the style of Christianity was ‘to believe, to love, and to suffer,’ this sentiment seems to have obtained a prevalence so general, as to be properly entitled to all but absolute catholic,” and that “the belief of it was calculated to produce, and did produce results of a most auspicious character, which, under the circumstances, a difficult and even a more correct construction of the Sacred Oracles would have failed to effect.” Such is the language of one who commences the Apocalyptic Millennium with the Constantinian epoch.
Though a decided Post-m., he says: “Papias, who heard the apostle John, and was a companion of Polycarp, held that there would be a period of a thousand years after the resurrection of the dead, when the kingdom of Christ would be established on the earth.” Again, “It cannot be denied that Papias, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, and all the other ecclesiastical writers, believed, literally, that the saints would rise in the first resurrection, and reign with Christ upon earth previous to the general resurrection,” but he observes, “Upon the whole, we may safely conclude that after the middle of the third century, the doctrine was not received as that of the catholic church, though it continued to be held by a few who were called Milliarri, Millenarri, Chiliastae,” etc. John Wm. Augustus Neander, D.D. born 1789. A late distinguished German Protestant Theologian, of Jewish origin, Professor of the University at Berlin, a member of the Lutheran church, and author of an Ecclesiastical History. He is doubtless of the school of Post-m’s. Though he affirms that “the minds of some took a fanciful turn, and they propagated a gross and sensual Chiliasm,” yet he bears the following noble testimony to the Premillennial faith of the early church: “They were accustomed to consider the church only in its opposition to the heathen state, and it was far from entering their thoughts, that by the natural development of circumstances, under the guidance of Providence, this opposition should hereafter cease. They believed that the struggle of the Christian church with the heathen state would continue on, until the victory should be conceded to it, through the immediate interposition of God, and through the return of Christ. It was natural enough that the Christians should willingly employ their thoughts in the prospect of this victory, during the seasons of persecution. It was thus that many formed a picture to themselves which had come to them from the Jews, and which suited with their condition. This was the idea of a Millennial reign, which the Messiah should establish on earth at the close of the whole career of the world, during which all the saints of all ages, were to live together in holy communion with each other. As the World was created in six days, and according to Psalm 90:4, a thousand years in the sight of God is but as one day, so the world was supposed to endure six thousand years in its present condition; and as the Sabbath day was the day of rest, so this Millennial reign was to form the seventh thousand year period of the world’s existence, at the close of the whole temporal dispensation connected with the world. In the midst of persecution it was an attractive thought for the Christians to look to a period when their church, purified and perfected, should be triumphant even on earth, the theatre of their present sufferings. In the manner in which this notion was conceived by many, there was nothing unchristian in it. They imagined the happiness of this period, in a spiritual manner, and one that corresponded well with the real nature of Christianity; for they conceived under that notion only the general dominion of God’s will, the undisturbed and blessed union and intercourse of the whole communion of saints, and the restoration of harmony between man as sanctified, and all nature as refined and ennobled.” Edward Gibbon. — Born at Putney, England, 1737. Died 1794. He was very learned, and is accounted as one of the greatest of the English historians. Was at first a Papist, but afterwards settled into a confirmed Infidel. He sneers at the doctrine of the Millennium, and also misrepresents it, as he does the entire Christian system, but contributes his testimony relating to the Pre-millennialism of the early church in the following language: “the ancient and popular doctrine of the Millennium was intimatcly connected with thc second coming of Christ.” Then stating the early views with his own gloss, etc., he continues: “the assurance of such a Millennium was carefully inculcated by a succession of Fathers from Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, who conversed with the immediate disciples of the apostles down to Lactantius, who was preceptor to the son of Constantine.
Though it might not be universally received, it appears to have been the reigning sentiment of the orthodox believers; and it seemed so well adapted to the desires and apprehensions of mankind, that it must have contributed in a very considerable degrce to the progress of the Christian faith. But when the edifice of the church was almost completed, the temporary support was laid aside. The doctrine of Christ’s reign on the earth was first treated as a profound allegory, was considered by degrees as a doubtful and useless opinion, and was at length rejected as the absurd invention of heresy and fanaticism. A mysterious prophet, which still forms a part of the sacred canon, but which was thought to favor the exploded sentiment, has very narrowly escaped the proscription of the church.” We suppose He means the Apocalypse.
From THE AMERCAN ENCYCLOPEDIA We give the following extracts. “Chiliasm, or the expectation of a blessed Millennium, became a universal belief among the Christians of the first centuries, which was strengthened by the prophecies contained in Revelations of the times which were to precede and indicate the happy times of the Millenuium.” “Before it began, human misery, according to their opinion, was to rise to the highest degree; then the overthrow of the Roman empire would follow, and from its ruins would proceed a new state of things, in which the faithful who had risen from the dead, with those still living would enjoy ineffable happiness * * * and the blessed reside in the heavenly Jerusalem, which would descend from heaven in extraordinary splendor and grandeur to receive them in its magnificent habitations.” “This faith the Christian teachers of the first centuries were unanimous in adopting and promulgating. * * * When Christianity became the predominant religion of the Roman Empire, it lost its interest for the multitude; victory, liberty, and security, which the Millennium was expected to bring, being now actually enjoyed,” The Encyclopaedist is careful to notice the fact, as do the others, that they regarded the Apocalyptic Millennium as being the seventh Chiliad of the world’s existence. Quotations to any amount like the foregoing, might be made. We will abridge a few others thus: — Giesseler says of the first centuries, “Millcnnarianism became the general belief of the time.” Dr. Kitto remarks that “the Millennial doctrine may be regarded as generally provident in the second century.” Bp. Newton says, “Thc doctrine of the Millennium was generally believed in the three first and purest ages.” Mede, “This was the opinion of the whole orthodox Christian church in the age immediately following St. John.” Maitland, of the first two centures, says: — “As far as I know no one, except such as were notoriously out of the pale of the church, had impugned the doctrine of the Millennium, as hehd by Justin, or taught any doctrine contrary to it.” Bishop Russell admits that” The Apostles clung to the expectation of the Millennium during their whole lives.” of the days of Nepos, a German historian of Chiliasm, says: “At that time the number and respectability of its supporters was not small.”
Whitby, on the Pre-millennial views of the early church, says: “They held that this (first) resurrection was not confined to the martyrs only, but that all the just were then to rise and reign with Christ.” Jeremy Taylor admits that “The doctrine of the Millennium was in the best ages esteemed no heresy, but true Catholic doctrine.” Stuart affirms that Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, etc., regarded the descriptions of the thousand years reign on earth, of the first resurrection of the dead, and of the New Jerusalem, as designed to be literally interpreted in order to elicit the true meaning of the Apocalypse.” Milner on the Pre-millennarian faith of the early church, says: “This fact is not disputed,” and we would add in conclusion that he who doubts it after perusing these pages thus far, would not believe though one rose from the dead. Says the London Quarterly Journal of Prophecy: “Thus, by the testimonies of men, many of whom are wholly unfriendly to our doctrine, we have established this point, that, during the first two centuries and a half, Pre-millennialism, or Chiliasm, as it was then called, was the faith of the church. We can distinctly trace it back to the days of the Apostles, nay, to the very lips of the Apostles.”
THE SEPTUAGINT CHRONOLOGY.
The chronological calculus of the early church, leading them to expect the termination of the 6000 years in their day or later, the reader will perceive is incorrect. Says Gibbon, “The primitive church of Antioch, computed almost 6000 years from the creation of the world to the birth of Christ.”
Their calculations were founded on the Septuagint, i.e., the ancient Greek version of the Old Testament, which was universally received during the first six centuries, on which Dr. Burnet says: “The reason why so many of the Fathers were mistaken in supposing the end at hand was because they rcckoned the 6000 years according to the chronology of the Septuagint; which, setting back the beginuing of the world many ages beyond the Hebrew, the six thousand years were nearly expired in the times of those Fathers; and this made them conclude the world was very near an end.” Prof. George Bush thus observes of the primitive Christians: — “Owing to a radical error in their chronological calculus, they conceived themselves as actually having arrived at the eve of the world’s seventh Millennary, or in other words, as having their lot cast on the Saturday of the great anti-typical week of the creation.” Dr. Elliott also affirms the same, and exhibiting a vast discrepancy of hundreds of years between the chronology of the Hebrew and Septuagint text, there being then extant different copies of the latter, he instances, Clement of Alexandria, as terminating from then the 6000 years about A.D. 374; (others earlier), Eustathius, Lactantius, Hillarion, Jerome, and perhaps Hippolytus, in A.D. 500; Sulpitius Severus, in A.D. 581; Augustine, in A.D. 650; and Cyprian, about A.D. 243; this being, he says, the earliest application of the world’s supposed nearness to its seventh Millennary in proof of the nearness of the consummation, save the Sibylline Oracles, Book seventh which fix on A.D. 196. As proof of the incorrectness of the chronology of the Septuagint, he observes that it makes Methuselah to have lived till fourteen years after the flood! And now taking our leave of the early church, after noticing more at length the decline of the primitive doctrine of the Millennium, and the introduction of anew Millennial theory, we plunge into the ages of darkness.
CHAPTER 5. FROM AUGUSTINE TO LUTHER.
PRE-MILLENNIALISM, we hold, is Apostolic; but in reviewing the testimony of the early church on the question of Chiliasm, it is of course admitted that they mixed errors with the doctrine. We remember that “the mystery of iniquity” worked in Paul’s day, and we have read his solemn prediction in his farewell charge given to the church at Ephesus. An English writer has well observed, “I do not appeal to the writings of the early Christians as authority; so far from it, I regard their writings as the history of truth perverted; so that while on the one hand I should be surprised to find any truth taught by the apostles, unnoticed in the Fathers, I should be almost equally surprised to find it taught Scripturally and unincumbered by human additions, so early did the apostacy begin to work.” Above antiquity, tradition or human opinion, in the words of Burnet, “we should always require a higher witness, viz: the Bible.” This is the first. But we highly esteem the faith of that church whose characteristics, says Milner, were “to believe, to love, and to suffer.” “Whatever is first,” says Tertullian, “is true, whatever is later is adulterate,” and Mr. Faber has truly said: “If a doctrine totally unknown to the primitive church, which reccived her ideology immediately from the hands of the apostles, and which continued long to receive it from the hands of the disciples of tho apostles, springs up in a subsequent age, let that age be the fifth century, or let it be the tenth century, or let it be the sixteenth century, such doctrine stands on its very front, impressed with the brand of mere human invention.” Such, we argue, is Post-millennialism, and such also Anti-millennialism, of which we are now to speak, after first giving the character of the times.
Having now arrived in our history of Millennarianism at the commencement of the fifth century, when the great apostacy had begun, and this Apocalyptic truth was deemed a heresy and accounted unpopular, we here purpose giving, through the combined testimony of many voices, a brief but fuller account of its decline. Paganism was fallen, but the Papacy was hastening to its birth, and even in its embryo was hung all over with idolatry. From Gibbon, Neander and Mosheim, we learn that in the fourth century monks, monasteries, convents, penance, church councils, with church control of conscience, excommunication, the perfume of flowers, the smoke of incense, wax tapers in the churches at noon day, prostrate crowds at the altar drunk with fanaticism or wine, imprinting devout kisses on the walls and supplicating the concealed blood, bones, or ashes of the saints, idolatrous frequenting martyrs’ tombs, pictures and images of tutelar saints, veneration of bones and relics, gorgeous robes, tiaras, croises, pomp, splendor and mysticism, were seen everywhere, and were the order of the day; and says Mosheim: “The new species of philosophy imprudently adopted by Origen and many other Christians. was extremely prejudicial to the cause of the gospel, and to the beautiful simplicity of its celestial doctrines,” and Gibbon writes that “if in the beginning of the fifth century Tertullian or Lactautius had been suddenly raised from the dead to assist at the festival of some popular saint or martyr, they would have gazed with astonishment and indignation at the profane spectacle which had succeeded to the pure and spiritual worship of a Christian congregation.” Martyr worship was very common, and Eunapius the Pagan, A.D. 396, exclaimed, “These are the gods that the earth now-a-days brings forth, these the intercessors with the gods — men called martyrs: before whose bones and skulls, pickled and salted, the monks kneel and lay prostrate, covered with filth and dust.” The mystery of iniquity worked like leaven, and to use the words of Coleridge, “the Pastors of the Church had gradually changed the life and light of the gospel into the very superstitions they were commissioncd to disperse; and thus paganized Christianity in order to christen Paganism.” Dr. Cumming remarks that “the great multitude consisted of embryo papists, and what we call Pusyism in the nineteenth century, was the predominating religion of the fourth.” Milner says that “while there was much outward religion the true doctrines of justification were scarcely seen.” All of this Dr. Duffield does not hesitate to affirm was the genuine offspring of the allegorical system and Platonic philosophy of Origen, who made the church on earth the mystic kingdom of heaven. “Vigilantius,” says Elliott, “remained true, and was the Protestant of his times,” but Jerome, remarks Dr. Cumming, “became utterly corrupted,” and Augustine, as Elliott has shown, scarcely escaped the universal contagion. Eusebius said “the church of the fourth century looked like the very image of the kingdom of Christ,” but it was not the Millennium, as he dreamed, says Cumming, but the mystery of iniquity, ripening and maturing. It rapidly approached its predicted maturity, and Antichrist loomed into view. Such was the character of the times, and need we wonder that the true Millennium was laid aside, and with it the Apocalypse that taught it? “Rome,” says Burnet, “always had an evil eye on the Millennium!” Truly spoken! Says Newman, the Roman Catholic writer: “Whereas at first certain texts were inconsistently confined to the letter, and a Millennium was in consequence expectcd; the very course of events, as time went on, interpreted the prophecies about the church more truly,” etc., i.e. in a mystical or anagogical manner.
Continuing our quotations on this point, we give the testimony of Bishop Russell, of Scotland, a strong Anti-millennian, who writes as follows: “It is worthy of remark, that so long as the prophecies regarding the Millennium were interpreted literally, the Apocalypse was received as an inspired production, and as the work of the apostle John; but no sooner did theologians find themselves compelled to view its annunciations through the medium of allegory and metaphorical description, than they ventured to call in question its heavenly origin, its genuineness, and its authority.
Dionysius, the great supporter of the allegorical school, gives a decided opinion against the authenticity of thc Revelation.” Joseph Mede truly says of the Anti-millennarians of the fourth century, “They denied the Apocalypse to be Scripture, nor was it readmitted till they thought they had found some commodious interpretation of the thousand years.” Dr.
Cureming observes, “Some divines of the fourth century rejected the Apocalypse, on the ground that it contained, as they alleged, prophecies of what they erroneously believed to be a carnal Millennium; just in the same way as some persons still argue that the Bible cannot be God’s word, because it contains truths that cross their prejudices.” Dr. Elliott testifies, that from the Constantinian revolution in the eastern empire, with but few exceptions, we find the Apocalypse “passed over in silence by the great Greek Fathers of the remainder of the fourth century;” and he also shows that nearly all who rejected it, were evidently under prejudices against, and misconceptions of the Apocalyptic doctrine of a Millennium. The pointed testimony of Prof. Stuart is as follows: “In the end of the fourth century to guard against Chiliasm, quite a number doubted the genuineness of the Apocalypsc, — did not rcccivc it as canonical, and carefully abstained front appealing to it, but after this period we find only here and there a solitary voice raised against it, until at length the reception became all but universal. When the question of Chiliasm had ceased to excite any special interest in the churchcs * * * all opposition to the Apocalypse either ceased or became quite inactive and indifferent.” Gibbon, too, adds his testimony to this remarkable fact, and says: “In the Council of Laodicea; A.D. 360, the Apocalypse was tacitly excluded from the sacred canon, by the same churches of Asia to which it was addressed; and we may learn from the comlaint of Sulpicius Severus, that their sentence had been ratified by the greater number of Christians of his time.” And to sum up this array of evidence with regard to the Millennimn, as held by the church up to this period, together with its rejection, as also that of the Apocalypse, we give the following striking and truthful language of Horatius Bonar. On Revelation 20th chapter, he writes: — “In the first centuries great stress was laid upon this passage. It was considered the stronghold of Chiliasm — so strong and decided was its testimony deemed, that the Anti-chiliasts deemed their only escape from it, was the total denial of the Apocalypse. Chiliasm, and the Apocalypse, were deemed inseparable. They could only get rid of the former, by rejecting the latter. They never thought it possible to deny that the Apocalypse taught Chiliasm. This was not disputed; and hence those who disliked Chiliasm could not tolerate the Apocalypse. It was not till the church had learned to Platonize, or had taken lessons in the school of Origen, that they could condemn Chiliasm without disputing the inspiration of the Revelation.”
Such is the voice of History, with regard to the doctrine of the millenium, and its subsequent depression. We have been sufficiently copius, so that the intelligent and candid reader might know both the character of its advocates and opponents — its final adherents, and its ultimate destroyers.
Orthodoxy had sided with it, but heterodoxy waged war against it. The true church believed in it, but the apostate church crushed it. If this be true, ought not the church of Christ in the nineteenth century to unanimously maintain Chiliasm? We think so. Rome, with those in her employ, rose up against it. Brooks affirms that the works of Papias and Nepos, and Mede adds those of Victorinus and Sulpicius, containing Millennarian views, were authoritatively suppressed by Pope Damasus, The extraordinary admission of Gibbon is that, “as long as for wise purposes this error was permitted to subsist in the church, it was productive of the most salutary effects on the faith and practice of Christians, who lived in the awful expectation of that moment when the globe itself, and all the various races of mankind, should tremble at the appearance of their divine Judge,” but now the great Antichrist was at hand, and the way must be prepared for him to reign, and be worshipped. That which Chillingworth, Lardner, Taylor, Russell and others affirm to have been orthodox in the first centuries, began to be deemed heretical. The Council of Rome under Pope Damasus, in A.D. 373, formally denounced Chiliasm, and so cruciual was the condemnation that Baronius, a Roman Catholic historian of the sixteenth century observes that, “the heresy, however loquacious before, was silenced then, and since that time has hardly been heard of. And of the fifth century he writes, “Moreover the figments of the Millennaries being now rejected everywhere, and derided by the learned with hisses and laughter, and being also put under the ban, were entirely extirpated !”
Thus have we seen that through the rejection of the Apocalypse by Caius, Dionysius, and finally the church in general; through the Platonism and allegorizing of Origen and his numerous followers; through the misrepresentations of Eusebius; through the scoffing of the monk Jerome; through the hatred and opposition of a great church of embryotic Papists; through the denunciations of church councils; through the comminations and bitterness of Popes; through the laughter and hisses of Popish doctors; through the influence of an onward creeping and awful apostacy; through perhaps, the abuse of Millennarian truths by their advocates; and, finally, through the presentation and final reception of a new and erroneous Millenial theory more suited to the times, the true Apocalyptic doctrine of the Millennium, as held by the primitive church, wasted away, and ultimately well, nigh died — died, not at the hands of orthodox Christians, but at the hand of men noted for their unsoundness in the faith — died at the hands of the infant harlot, Rome! And, alas! how much truth died with if — how much error lived when it died! But it did not die utterly, for “Truth crushed to earth shall rise again, The eternal years of God are hers!” Resuming our history of the doctrine under consideration, we now give from Elliott’s Horae Apocalypticae, the Augustinian view of the Millennium, a belief which, when the primitive views were silenced, generally prevailed for nearly a thousand years afterwards. That Millennial scheme was: — That the Millennium of Satan’s binding, and the saints’ reigning, dated from Christ’s ministry, when he beheld Satan fall like lightning from heaven; it being meant to signify the triumph over Satan in the hearts of true believers; and that the subsequent figuration of Gog and Magog indicated the coming of Antichrist at the end of the world — the 1000 years being a figurative numeral, expressive of the whole period intervening. It supposed the resurrection taught, to be that of dead souls from the death of sin to the life of righteousness; the beast conquered by the saints, meant the wicked world; its image, a hypocritical profession; the resurrection being continuous, till the end of time, when the universal resurrection and final judgment would take place. This view, says Dr.
Elliott, prevailed froin Augustine’s time, among certain writers throughout the middle ages, down to the Reformation. He then instances Primasius, Andreas, Bede, Ambrose, Ansbert, and other Catholic divines as holding it, and even after the Reformation, with some modifications, various Protestant doctors, Luther, Bullinger, Bale, Pareus. etc., it being held by them more ecclesiastical than by Augustine and the Constantinian era being made a commencing epoch; and, finally, in the language of Professor Stuart, — and as Elliott also affirms — (Stuart erroneously attributing its origin to Andreas) — This view ultimately originated the crusades, and the monstrous deception and consternation, into which the whole Roman world was betrayed in regard to the conting of Christ in the year 1000. Comment or refutation is unneccessary.
For the purpose of exhibiting to the minds of our readers in a fuller and clearer manner, the character of the tide of Millennial views now setting in upon the Romish church, in the advancing establishment of the Papacy, to be received by her, never to be abandoned, we give one more testimony, that of her own expounder, ANDREAS, A.D. 550 OR 600, Andreas was Bishop of Cesarea. Drs. Cave and Lardner say he flourished about A.D. 550. Dr. Elliott argues for A.D. 550 or 612-615. “In his Apocalyptic Commentary,’ says Stuart, “he took a mystical view, and commenced the 1000 years from the first institution of the Christian church.” Dr. Clarke speaks of Andreas’ Commentary, as one of “mystical interpretations.” Elliott says, “The Millennium he explains anagogically, as Augustine.” But we will let Andreas speak for himself. On Revelation — “Some confine this thousand years to the short period of our Lord’s ministry, from his baptism to his ascension to heaven, being no more than three years or three years and a half. Others think that after the completion of six thousand years shall be the first resurrection from the dead, which is to be peculiar to the saints alone; who are to be raised up that they may dwell again on this earth, where they had given proofs of patience and fortitude; and that they may live here a thousand years in honor and plenty, after which will be the general resurrection of good and bad. But the\parCHURCH receives neither of these interpretations. * * By the thousand years we understand the time of the preaching of the gospel, or the time of the gospel dispensation.” Antichrist, says Stuart, was to appear, and the end of the world immediately follow their termination. This was the Millennial scheme now adopted by the church, though it is manifestly evident from the words of Andreas, that some, even as late as his day, held to the primitive view. Albert Bengal writes: “When Christianity, in the age of Constantine, was made the religion of the empire, a notion began to be entertained that the Millennium must have already commenced; men dated its commencement from Christ’s nativity or crucifixion; and dismissing the opinion that Antichrist had come, they regarded this event as still future, and expected the appearance of Antichrist to take place at the termination of their own imaginary Millennium.” “Mistaking,” says Dr. Cumming, “the spiritual character of the church of Christ, and identifying its earthly grandeur with its real success, they believed that the Millennium had at last dawned upon the world — and even in more modern times, such writers as Grotius and Hammond, and the venerable martyrologist, Fox, have expressed their conviction that the reign of Constantine was the realization of the Millennium of the Apocalypse!” Dr. Burnet , who possessed a thorough knowledge of the Millennial history, says — “I never yet met with a Popish doctor that held the Millennium; Baronius would have it pass for an heresy, with Papius for its author; whereas, if Irenaeus may be credited, it was received from St. John, and by him from the mouth of our Savior. It never pleased, but always gave offence to the church of Rome; because it did not suit that scheme of Christianity which they have drawn. The Apocalypse of John supposed the true church under hardships and persecutions, but the church of Rome supposing Christ reigns already, by his vicar, the Pope, hath been in prosperity and greatness, and the commanding church in Christendom for a long time. And the Millennium being properly a reward and a triumph for those that come out of persecution, (i.e. the martyrs,) such as have lived always in pomp and prosperity, can pretend to no share in it, or be benefitted by it. This has made the church of Rome always have an ill eye upon this doctrine, because it seemed to have an ill eye upon her; and as she grew in splendor and greatness, she eclipsed and obscured it more and more; so that it would have been lost out of the world, as an obsolete error, if it had not been revived by some at the Reformation.” Bishop Newton thus wisely and truely speaks: “In short, the doctrine of the Millennium was generally believed in the three first and purest ages; and this belief, as the learned Dodwell has justly observed, was one principal cause of the fortitude of the primitive Christians; they even coveted martyrdom, in hopes of being partakers of the privileges and glories of the martyrs in the first resurrection. Afterwards this doctrine grew into disrepute for various reasons. Some, both Jewish and Christian writers, have debased it with a mixture of fables; they have described the kingdom more like a sensual than a spiritual kingdom, and thereby they have not only exposed themselves; but what is infinitely worse, the doctrine itself to contempt and ridicule. It hath suffered by the misrepresentations of its enemies, as well as by the indiscretions of its friends; many, like Jerome, have charged the Millennarians with absurd and impious opinions, which they never held; and rather than they would admit the truth of the doctrine, they have not scrupled to call in question the genuineness of the book of the Revelation. It hath been abused even to worse purposes; it hath been made an engine of faction, and turbulent fanatics, under the pretext of saints, have aspired to dominion, and disturbed the peace of civil society.
Besides, wherever the influence and authority of the church of Rome have extended, she hath endeavored by all means to discredit this doctrine, and indeed, not without sufficient reason, this kingdom of Christ, being founded on the ruins of the kingdom of Antichrist. No wonder, therefore, that this doctrine lay depressed for many ages; but it sprang up again at the Reformation, and will flourish together with the study of the Revelation.
All the danger is on one side, of pruning and lopping it too short; and on the other, of suffering it to grow too wild and luxuriant. Great caution, soberness, and judgment are required to keep the middle course. We should neither with some, interpret it into an allegory, nor depart from the literal sense of Scripture without absolute necessity for so doing. Neither should we with others indulge an extravagant fancy, nor explain too curiously the manner and circumstances of this future state. It is safest and best faithfully to adhere to the words of Scripture, or to fair deductions from Scripture; and to rest content with the general account till time shall accomplish and eclaircise all the particulars.’” With all of these facts before us, how true and impressive is the language of Mr. Cox, of England, when he observes that, — “The great chasm in the history of Chiliasm, seems to be those awful centuries of Rome’s supremacy when almost every truth was hidden.” ANTI-MILLENNARIANISM.
It is obviously seen that the singular theory of the Apocalyptic Millennium, being in the past, is Romish in its origin and nature. With regard to this view, we present but one argument, and that from Dr. Gill. He says: “The continuance and duration of the reign of Christ and the saints together, will be a thousand years. It is expressly said, “The rest of the dead lived not again till the thousand years were finishcd.” Revelation 20:5. It may be inquired, “Whether these thousand years are past or to come? To the solution of which, this observation is necessary, that the binding of Satan, and the reign of Christ, are contemporary. These thousand years have been dated from the birth of Christ, who came to destroy the works of the devil, and before whom Satan fell as lightning from heaven; yet this falls short of the binding and casting him into the bottomless pit. Others date these thousand years of Satan’s binding from the resurrection of Christ; but Satan was not then bound. Others begin these thousand years of Satan’s binding at the destruction of Jerusalem; but in these times, the devil could never be said to be bound, when he had a synagogue of corrupt men. — Revelation 2:9. “Others begin the date of Satan’s binding, and Christ’s reigning, from the times of Constantine; and reckoning the thousand years from hence, they will reach to the beginning of the fourteenth century. But that the devil was not then bound, appears by the flood he cast out of his mouth to destroy the woman, the Church, who was obliged to disappear and flee into the wilderness, the remnant of whose seed he pcrsecuted. — Revelation 12:13-17. Some begin the thousand years reign, and the binding of Satan, at the reformation from Popery; but whether the date is from Wickliff, John Huss, and Jerome of Prague, or of Luther, they all of them either suffered death or met with great inhumanity and ill treatment, from the instruments of Satan, and therefore he could not be bound. Satan will not be bound till Christ, the mighty Angel, descends from heaven to earth, which will not be till the end of the world.” We pass over this period almost in silence. The Man of Sin had come, and stretching his magic wand over the whole church, the “heresy of the Chiliasts” was silenced, and Popish error and Millennial darkness reigned supreme. The Romish Church silenced it; but when in the burning light of history we consider her character, we regard Post and Anti-millennarians as getting to themselves no honor by referring to the fact. Will our Protestant brethren of the other view look at this? Tichonius, of the 4th century; Primasius, of the 6th; Andreas, of the 6th or 7th; Ambrose, Ansbert and probably Bede, of the 8th; and Berengaud in the 9th century; all either Romish or Greek Apocalyptic writers, expound the Millennium on the Augustinian system, but in doing so they predict trouble for the church till the end of the world; frequently limiting its duration to 6,000 years. Andreas, one of the most distinguishcd of these, makes six ages or Millenniums for the world’s duration, and argues that at their conclusion, and in the days of the Seventh trumpet, all would end, and the saints’ rest begin; Indeed this idea seems never to have been abandoned even during the dark ages. Then, as before and since the world’s duration, has generally been made to be sex-millennial.
JOACHIM ABBAS, A.D. 1190.
Joachim Abbas. He was born at Calabria, and was an Apocalyptic writer of much celebrity, Dr. Elliott affirming that, as a prophetic expounder, he had “a greater influence than any other man in the middle ages.” Joachim lived in the times of Richard Coeur d’Lion, before whom he lectured on the Apocalypse at Messina, while the latter was on his way in a crusade to the Holy Land. His prophetic scheme in regard to the Millennium, etc., Elliott calls bold, original and new for his times, and regards it as an innovation of the Augustine and Romish view. We condense from Elliott his thoughts on the subject in question.
Great troubles were to come on Rome — “the proud city” — he thought, on the pouring out of the sixth vial, his own church (the Romish) would be scourged for its sins. Much tribulation would occur under the reign of the Antichrist, but at the end of his rule, and the treading down of the witnesses, Christ would appear and take to himself the earth’s dominion, as in Psalm 2nd. The angel’s oath, Revelation 10, he supposed indicated “a proclamation of the last time, and day of judgment as near at hand;” which warning cry however, the wicked world would not hear: the cessation of time predicted meaning the final Sabbath. The seventh trumpet he makes to correspond with the “sabbath state” of Revelation 20: the voices in heaven meaning preachers on earth announcing that coming good; and the judgments of that trump as accomplishing the extermination of the Beast, the false Prophet, and Antichrist. The blessing of Revelation 14:13, meant, he thought, the glorious Sabbath awaiting the church at last. The song of exultation on the fall of Babylon given in Revelation 19, Joachim expounds as the rejoicing of the Church on her liberation and triumph; and so, he says, “will begin that kingdom for which we continually pray ‘Thy Kingdom come.’ — O, how good will it be for us to be there! Christ being our shepherd, king, meat, drink, light, life!” On the advent of Revelation 19:11, etc., remarking that it was a point in dispute among doctors, as to whether it would be personal or providential, he decided on the former, and gives his own opinion that it would be personal: the sword from the rider’s mouth, he says, corresponding with St. Paul’s prediction in 2 Thessalonians 2:8. He made six periods, or ages, for the duration of the world, and regarded Revelation 20, as treating of that great Sabbath which is to be at the end of time: i.e. the Millennium, (which he says would be longer or shorter, as God pleased.) He commences this Millennium with the personal advent of the Redeemer. The binding of Satan, he says, which began incipiently to have its fulfillment at Christ’s resurrection, would now have its perfect fulfillment in this Sabbath time, after the Beast’s destruction. The first resurrection, which He makes identical with Daniel’s prophecy of the saints possessing the kingdom, Daniel 7, — and also Ezekiel’s, of the resuscitation of Israel — Ezekiel 37 — Joachim intimates may be literal — “Perhaps,” he says, “the saints are then to rise and enter at once on life eternal.” The battle of Gog, or Antichrist, would follow the Millennium. The new heavens and earth is “the final blissful state when the tares shall have been gathered from the wheat, and the just shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. The voice of Joachim is decidedly Pre-millennial; harmonizing measurably in its sentiments with that of the Church in earlier and purer times.
Anselm , Bishop of Havilburg, A. D. 1145, in a Treatise on Revelation, advocated a similar view, making six ages for the world, and these followed by a seventh, which would be the “Saint’s Rest.” Almeric , Professor of Logic and Theology at Paris, and Jean Pierre D’olive , a leader in the church, were disciples, and followed in the footsteps of Joachim, whose views — says Elliott — exercised an influence on subsequent interpreters.
Saadias Gaon. A Jewish Rabbi, who died in A. D. 943. He was eminent as an expositor, and wrote a book on the Belief of the Jews. On Daniel 7:18, he thus comments: “Because Israel have rebelled against the Lord, their kingdom shall be taken from them, and shall be given to these four monarchies, which shall possess the kingdom in this age, and shall lead captive, and subdue Israel to themselves, in this age, until the age to come, until Messiah shall reign.” The celebrated Spanish Rabbi, Abraham Aben Ezra , who died in 1174, and whose commentaries are so highly valued as to win for him the title of “wise, great, and admirable,” is said to have looked for the end, resurrection, and restitution, at the expiration of the 6000 years. Ben- Israel Menasse , a Portuguese Rabbi of the sect of the Pharisees, who died in 1660, thus expresses his own faith, and also speaks of Aben Ezra . He says: “As for my opinion, I think that after six thousand years the world shall be destroyed, upon one certain day, or in an hour; that the arches of heaven shall make a stand, as immovable; that there will be no more generation or corruption; and all things by the resurrection shall be renovated, and return to a better condition.” He then adds that “this, out of doubt, is the opinion of the most learned Aben Ezra ,” who looked for it in the new earth of Isaiah 65:17. And Moses Maimonides , a Spanish Rabbi, called “The eagle of the Doctors,” held and taught similar views. He died about A. D. 1201. Cunninghame says that Isaac Abarbanel, Saadias Gaon, Solomon Jarchi, Hannaneel, Bechay, Laban, Ben Nachman, Rashi , and Ben Abraham , all Jewish Rabbis, adopt the year-day theory thus according with the majority of Protestant expositors.
THE PAULIKIANS, A. D. 600, AND LATER.
These were an ancient sect of Christians declaring themselves to be followers of the doctrines of Paul, and suffering with the Waldenses persecution by the church of Rome. They were quite numerous in the middle ages, and though charged with heresy and Manicheism by their persecutors, Dr. Elliott vindicates them entirely from every charge, and styles them “A line of true witnesses for the Lord Jesus.” Among other things, for which they were anathematized, was the charge of holding that “God has no authority in this world, but in that which is to come; and that the Maker of this world is another, and has authority over this present,” or as their Abjuration reads, “God, the Heavenly Father, has merely authority over the world to come; inasmuch as that the present state (aiwn i.e. age) and the world were not made by Him but by his adversary, the Evil One, the ruler of the world.” Dr. Elliott says that their peculiar doctrine, on this head, appears to have related not to the original creation, but to the present constitution and the present ruling authority in the world: the wording of the charge, especially in the Formula of Anathema in Photius and in Cedrenus, the use of the word age, and the contrast of this age, or world, not with another cotemporaneous, but with that of the “age to come.”
With Elliott, we accord the Scripturalness of this view, it agreeing well with Romans 8:20-23; John 14:30; 2 Corinthians 4:4; John 5:19; Job 9:24, and Luke 4:6. The Paulikians called themselves Christians and their enemies Romans, and there was in this view of the present subordinate rule of the Evil One, so plainly taught in the above Scriptures, something so decidedly alien from the then — and alas! too much now — prevalent belief of an ecclesiastical reign and Millennial era — a faith so antagonistical to Rome as to be apparent to all, and call down the maledictions of the great Antichrist. We would that all Christians would draw a lesson from these humble, yet faithful witnessing Protestants of the middle ages, as also from the folly of the Corinthian church, so ironically rebuked by Paul, in 1 Corinthians 4:7,8, etc. The Paulikians spoke of Christ, says our informant, as Him whose footsteps they wished to follow in this world, Him who was their forerunner to the heavenly Jerusalem, and as their king, marked them from his meditorial throne in heaven. And as the great object of their hopes, they looked, as we have before seen, to His introduction of the age to come; in which age the usurper should have no more authority, but all the power and all the authority be with the Lord Christ. They saluted each other when they met us “fellow-pilgrims, or fellow-exiles,” and their home was in “THE WORLD TO COME.” We would here observe, that the evidence in confirmation of Premillennialism, derived from the voice of the church during the dark ages, and even at the opening of the Reformation, as seen in the testimonies of the Paulikians, the Waldenses, Wickliff, etc., is of a negative character, and comes to us in the form of a constant expectation of the end of the world and the coming of Christ; precluding the faith of an intervening Millennium of blessedness, a doctrine totally unknown to the martyrs and reformers.
Thus, while there be nothing in their testimonies clearly affirming Millenarianism, the grand fact therein presented, of the true church waiting for the Lord, and him only, and even of fixing dates making his advent proximate, is, we affirm, decidedly at variance with the faith of every Postmillennialist of the modern school of Whitby.
THOMAS AQUINAS, A. D. 1250.
Thomas Aquinas was born A. D. 1224. Died A. D. 1274. He was a learned doctor of the Romish Church, and was canonized A. D. 1323. Expounding the Millennium, Elliott says of him: “Of the Millennial binding of Satan he in one place gives the old Augustinian explanation, as having reference to time past, and commencing from Christ’s ministry; yet seems elsewhere to apply it to a judgment on the Devil after Antichrist’s destruction. It was another step in the track of Joachim Abbas to the abandonment of the so long received Millennial theory of Augustine.” Almeric, before mentioned, declared that Rome was Babylon, and the Roman Pope Antichrist, for which he was pronounced a heretic, and his bones dug up and publicly burnt, in the year 1209. Both Almeric and his disciples proclaimed the approach of an era of light and reformation, or as Joachim had called it, “a third Age, the Age of the Holy Spirit.” The passing away of the Millennial year 1000 without the expected awful mundane catastrophe, tended to make men earnestly reason and question, both on the long received Millennial theory, and also on that of the prophetic Antichrist, Tissington, a writer of the 14th century, calling the developed Augustinian scheme, as cherished by Berenger, a “day dream!” Dr. Elliott says, even of the 11th century, that as it wore away everything prepared for, and symptoms very significantly betokened that a new era of prophetic interpretation was approaching. Thank God, the morning of this long night dawned at last! The Reformation came and light came with it. “After ages of superstition, and the reign of ignorance,” says Milner, the historian, “we see the Sun of Righteousness rising over Europe, with healing under his wings.”
THE WALDENSES, A. D. 314, TILL NOW THE WALDENSES,VALDENSES,VAUDOIS or “People of the Valleys.” “Who has not heard,” says Elliott, “of the Waldenses?” “this most ancient stock of religion,” to use the words of the great Milton. In the language of Dr.
Cheever, “They are an unconquered community of Protestant Christians, who have always existed directly at the doors of the Romish court, and beneath the reverberating thunders of the Vatican.” Romish and Protestant writers of the best authority have demonstrated their existence since the time of Pope Sylvester, and perhaps even from the days of the Apostles, and it is well known that they acknowledge no founder. But we need not stop to eulogize them, for their praise is in every mouth. We come to notice their faith, and on this we remark that, “They have always regarded the Papal Church as the Antichrist: the Babylon of the Apocalypse.” ‘They condemned fine mystical or allegorical interpretations of Scripture.” If the latter be true, could they have been anything else than Literalists?
Their “Treatise on Antichrist,” and “Noble Lesson,” written in the 12th century, are both pronounced by the best judges to be genuine and authentic. The latter (translated by Faber and quoted by Brooks, Elliott, etc.) is originally in the form of a Poem. Elliott pronounces it to have been written among the Cottian Alps, about A. D. 1150 or 1160, and thinks Peter Waldo was its author. The Poem is very beautiful, and in its style and sentiment resembles the Epistles of the early Chiliastic Fathers. We give extracts.
THE NOBLE LESSON.
“O Brethren, hear a Noble Lesson. “We ought always to watch and pray; for we see that the world is near to its end. We ought to strive to do good works; since we see that the world approaches to its termination. “Well have a thousand and a hundred years been entirely completed, since it was written that we are in the last times. “We ought to covet little; for we are at what remains. Daily, we see the signs coming to their accomplishment, in the increase of evil, and in the decrease of good. These are the perils which the Scripture speaks of; which the gospels have recounted, and which St. Paul mentions; that no man who lives can know the end.
Therefore ought we the more to fear; since we are not certain whether death will overtake us today or tomorrow. But when the day of Judgment shall come, everyone shall receive his entire payment; both those who have done ill and those who have done well. For the Scripture saith, and we ought to believe it, that all men shall pass two ways; the good to glory, the wicked to torment.
But if anyone shall not believe this dipartition, let him attend to Scripture from the commencement. Since Adam was formed, down even to the present time, there may he find, if he will give his attention to it, that few are the saved in comparison with those that remain. “We ought to love our neighbor, for God hath commanded it: not only those who do good to us, but likewise those who do evil. We ought, moreover, to have a firm hope in the Celestial King, that at the end he will lodge us in his glorious hostelry.”
Referring at length to their persecutions, the writer says “But he who is thus persecuted strengthens himself greatly through the fear of the Lord; for the kingdom of heaven shall be given to him at the end of the world.”
After writing about many things and repeating sound doctrine and good instruction, the lesson ends thus: — “Many signs and great wonders shall be from this time forward to the day of judgment. The heaven and the earth shall burn; and all the living shall die. Then all shall rise again to life everlasting. Every building shall be laid prostrate; and then shall be the last judgment; when God shall separate his people according as it is written. Then shall he say to the wicked, depart from me ye accursed, into the infernal fire, which shall have no end. There shall they be straightened by three grievous conditions; namely, by multitude of pains, and by sharp torment, and by an irreversible damnation.” “From this may God deliver us, if it be his pleasure, and may he give us to hear that which He will say to his people without delay: when He shall say, come unto me ye blessed of my Father, and possess the kingdom which is prepared for you from the beginning of the world. In that place you shall have delight, and riches, and honor.” “May it please the Lord who formed the world, that we may be of the number of his elect to stand in his courts! Thanks unto God!
Amen!” Such is the tone of “the noble lesson,” emphatically a Protestant voice from the ages of darkness, coming from the cherished and martyred Waldenses, of whom the Congregational Journal says “they preserved alive the teachings of the primitive church,” and in which, in the language of Elliott, is simply and beautifully drawn out, “the world’s near ending and the hope of coming glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” We pronounce it as decidedly favoring Pre-millennialism, and giving no sanction to an opposite theory. The shortness of time, the advent of the “Celestial King,” the signs of the times, perils and wonders till the judgment, the fires of the last day, a heavenly kingdom when the world ends, and not before, are the themes of the Noble Lesson. There is not one hint even of a temporal Millennium, such as many have looked for, since the time of Whitby, but instead, it harmonizes beautifully in its Pre-millennial tone with the faith of the Fathers and Reformers. Even Rome admits the Waldenses’ warm attachment to the Scriptures, and if in interpreting them they condemn the mystical and anagogical system, they strike a blow and lift a voice against the wide spread Origenistic, and more modern Whitbian method of Biblical interpretation that should be felt and heard, throughout Christendom.
Rev.Mr. Morris, in his work against Pre-millenarianism, says, that “The seed of Chiliasm has always remained in the church.” We believe it. We have found it among the Paulikians, the Waldenses and others of the dark ages, and are happy to trace our credo genealogy back through this “noble army of martyrs” to the church of the purest age — nay, to the Seer of Patmos himself, and we are neither ashamed of the antiquity and apostolicity of our doctrine, or of our theological lineage, or of our company.
WICKLIFF, A. D. 1350.
John Wickliff, D. D., was born in Yorkshire, England, in 1324. He was the zealous antagonist of Rome, the “Morning star of the Reformation,” and, says Mosheim, “a man of an enterprising genius and extraordinary learning.” In 1856 he put forth to the world a small tract, entitled “The Last Age of the Church.” The occasion of its production was the frequent occurrence of terrible earthquakes and the ravages of a fearful pestilence, which is supposed to have swept away full one-third of the population of Europe. Did Wickliff hail this fearful sign as a harbinger of an approaching temporal Millennium? Nay, the idea seemed farthest from his mind.
Adopting the sentiments afterward echoed by Wesley, “Whatever ills the world befall, A pledge of endless good we call — A sign of Jesus near;” he thought that the plagues with which the nations had recently been scourged, were indications that the great designs of God were hastening to a close; and that with the fourteenth century, the world would come to an end. He supposed, on the authority of Bede and St. Bernard, that four periods of heavy tribulation were to intervene between the first and second advent of Christ, and that two of these visitations were being passed, and that the last two would take place during that century, which was accordingly styled by him as “The Last Age of the World.”
The above tract has never been printed, but exists only in MS. in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin. Albert Bengel in his writings, intimates that Wickliff put the thousand years in the past. From the foregoing we gather the following conclusions: That this celebrated Reformer, whose intimate acquaintance with the Holy Scriptures gained for him the title of the “Gospel Doctor,” looked for no intervening period of Millennial blessedness to occur prior to the second advent of Christ, but instead regarded the Redeemer’s appearing as the object of the hope and constant expectation of the church of God. So shone this “Morning Star,” who faded from time’s sky in 1384. The Waldenses, the Lollards, Walter Brute, the martyrs, Huss and Jerome of Prague, and the lamented Lord Cobham, were all either followers of, or intimately associated with, Wickliff.
Here, for the present, we pass from the ages of darkness. When the great Reformation came, and the Man of Sin was discovered, with it came the solemn impression on the mind of the true church, that she was nearing the end of the world. “The first Christians,” says President Lord, “expected the return of Christ, and the setting up of his kingdom almost in their own time. Paul corrected them. He testified prophetically to the longer probation of the Gentile church; to its falling away, and the revelation of the Man of Sin. That prophetic apostasy is now a matter of history, or of present observation. . . . Rome attained its climacteric, and God sent Luther to announce that the day of redemption would not be long delayed.
Another testimony, another shorter experiment, said the confessors of Germany, the Calvinists and the Puritans generally of Europe, and the last revolution cometh!” And Luther thus speaks, “The great day is drawing near, in which the kingdom of abominations shall be overthrown.” “This aged world is not far from its end,” said Milancthon, as he counted the numbers in the great creation-week of time. If the elder Reformers said the day was near in their time, what should we say who have entered the stream three centuries after them? And if the only Apostolic argument against the proximity of the last advent, be now obsolete and invalid, what look we for? If “that prophetic apostasy be now history,” where are we? A master spirit anticipates the coming crisis. Surveying the Reformation he says: “The first day was the battle of God, the second the battle of the priest, the third the battle of reason. What will be the fourth? In our opinion, the confused, the deadly contest of all these powers together, to end in the victory of Him to whom triumph belongs.” We are past the ages of darkness. A mighty voice began three centuries ago to “proclaim the hour of God’s judgment at hand.” It waxeth louder and louder. The Lord cometh!
CHAPTER 6. THE ERA AND CENTURY OF THE REFORMATION.
“I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High: and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” DANIEL 7:21, 22.
Rev. Henry Morris admits that the doctrine of Millenarianism, as held by the early church, though it fell into disrepute, and was lost during the dark ages, was revived again “at the Reformation.” “At the Reformation,” observes Spaulding, “this doctrine was revived, and we may judge from the unreserved manner in which the Millenarian sentiments are expressed by many Protestant writers, that they were not thought new or doubtful.” The London Quarterly Journal of Prophecy testifies that, “Millennarianism during the first century after the Reformation rose again into notice, and was held by several learned and godly men, and in the second it rose into still greater eminence, being taught by great numbers among all denominations who had no participation in the fanaticism of the ‘Fifth Monarchy Men.’ “ “Whilst,” says Mr. Brooks, “the single tenet of the thousand years was by the generality of the early reformers avoided; still they often avow what in the present day would generally be considered decided Millenarian doctrine. They came back decidedly to that important point, the looking for the speedy revelation in glory, of the Lord Jesus Christ, — a point of doctrine which we constantly find pressed upon the church in the writings of the Apostles.” A writer in the Protestant Churchman has shown that the great Reformers, unlike modern spiritualists, did not expect the Golden Age to be brought about by human agency, or that it would occur in this world. Dr. Duffield writes, that the faith of the Reformers as set forth in the Augsburg Confession, “strikes directly against the modern notions of the Millennium, one essential item of which is, that the governments of the earth will be administered by pious rulers in the flesh.” Modern Protestantism, we affirm, is at variance with the Protestantism of the early Reformers. The former holds to the world’s entire conversion, whereas the Reformation under Luther was commenced with no such view, and while the latter has accomplished its work, the former is daily proving to be a fallacy — Macaulay, a prince among Protestants, affirming that “during the past two hundred and fifty years, Protestantism has made no conquests worth speaking of. Nay, we believe that as far as there has been a change, that change has been in favor of the Church of Rome.” The great Luther, the gentle Melancthon, as also Calvin and Knox, also the Augsburg Confession, all deny the modern doctrine of the world’s entire evangelization before the Lord’s advent. And when it was proposed to Zuingle to found a church in which there should be no sin, he replied, “We cannot make a heaven upon earth, — and Christ has taught us that we must let the tares grow up along with the wheat.” “The wise and extraordinary men,” says Mr. Ward, “whom the Lord raised up for the great work of the Reformation, saw and rebuked the carnal doctrine of a kingdom of the church in the flesh and blood, and explicitly condemned the doctrine of a Millennium in this world, a faith that was never received into the church in any of its acknowledged branches until the eighteenth century.” Dr. Elliott justly writes, “Our Anglican reformers, and those too of the continental churches, had no notion of any such spiritual Millennium intervening before Christ’s coming, as Whitby afterwards advocated and which has since his time been so much received.” Dr. Watkins, of England, on the general opinion of the world’s duration for six thousand years only, says, “At the time of the Reformation this notion was very prevalent.” Junckner informs us that in 1546 a medal was in use, representing Christ as come down to judgment, and the dead rising, with the legend, ‘Watch, for ye know not at what hour the Lord cometh.’
It was struck just after Luther’s death, and shows, says Junckner, the then general apprehension among Protestants of the judgment day being at hand.” But let us remember the words of Bickersteth, “because men hundreds of years back said the coming of Christ was near to them, let us not say it cannot be near to us.”
THE TESTIFYING ANGEL. — THE REFORMERS.
Dr. Elliott, the learned commentator, translates Revelation 10:5,6, as follows, “And the angel * * * sware * * * that the time should not yet be; but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, (whensoever he may be about to sound,) then the mystery of God shall be finished; according to the glad tidings that He hath declared to his servants, the prophets,” and regarding this Apocalyptic chronological notice, as “the prefiguration of some proportionably strong and definite expectation of the consummation impressed in its due order of time on the minds of the Reforming Fathers, impressed too, not as an evanescent, though momentarily strong idea, but abidingly,” he commenting, thus exclaims, “It declared the end to be approaching, and comparatively nigh at hand. It would not indeed, the angel swore, be just as yet. But He swore also that there should intervene but one more trumpet-sounding before it. “How joyous,” he exclaims, “this striking as it were, of the hour on the chronometer of heaven; to tell that the mystery was indeed near its ending, the grand, the long-desired consummation at length drawing nigh!” On the general expectation of the great Reformers, Elliott states that “Commencing immediately from the time of Luther and Zuingle’s first heaven-made discovery of the Antichrist, of prophecy being none other than the Roman Popes, there was also impressed on them with all the force and vividness of a heavenly communication, the conviction of the fated time being near at hand, though not indeed yet come, of Antichrist’s final fore-doomed destruction, and therewith also of Christ’s kingdom coming, and God’s great prophetic mystery ending, that the Reformers considered the Papal Antichrist’s time of empire as being then not at its commencement, nor at its middle epoch, but already far advanced toward its ending,” and that “this idea fixed itself upon the whole reforming body, alike in Germany, Switzerland, and in England,” the Reformers in Germany grounding their strong and hopeful impressions chiefly, (though not wholly,) on the prophecies of Daniel and John, while those in Switzerland and England, seized on, and applied “the angel’s oath and prophecy,” and regarded their chronological place, “as being under the sixth trumpet in the evolution of the Apocalyptic drama, and the seventh only having to blow in order to the consummation,” the whole of them regarded the brilliant unfoldings of Scripture light then evolving as a “sign of the promised brighter day soon coming.” Elliott also notices the striking fact “that the view thus communicated (save partially in the case of the church under Pagan Rome’s persecution) considered as a prophetic chronological discovery, was all but unprecedented, it being then, for the first time, distinctly revealed to Christians whereabouts they were in God’s grand prophetic calendar of the world’s history, and that the impression and discovery was no barren piece of prophetic chronological information, but one most influential and practical, in fact, precisely that which was best suited to animate them for the great work before them.”
He then instances Foxe, Bale, Bullinger, Osiander, Leo Juda, Latimer, Ridley, Ecolampadius, Melancthon, and Luther, as regarding the great day of judgment “not very far distant:” Melancthon as “strongly insisting on the predicted fact of there rising up no fifth earthly universal empire, after the Roman in its last form under the Little Horn, but only the kingdom of Christ and his saints,” and Luther as “at one time fancying it might be less than twenty years; at another deprecating the extension of the interval to fifty years, and at another mentioning 300 as the very furthest limit that entered his imagination,” to the consummation, — the judgment, — the end of time!! TYNDALE, A. D. William Tyndale, the celebrated English reformer, was born in the fifteenth century, educated at Oxford and Cambridge, and is claimed as a Baptist in sentiment. He was connected with the Wickliffites, and imbibed the doctrines of Luther, and in 1532, translated into English, and printed the first English edition of the Bible. The following is his principle of interpreting the sacred Scriptures: “No man dare abide by the literal sense of the text, but under a protestation, if it shall please the Pope. Thou shalt understand, therefore, that the Scripture hath but one sense, and that is the literal sense; and that literal sense is the root and ground of all, and the anchor that never faileth, whereunto if thou cleave, thou canst never err nor go out of the way. * * * The greatest cause of which captivity and decay of faith and this blindness wherein we are now, sprang first from allegories; for Origen, and the doctors of his time, drew all the Scripture into allegory, insomuch as that twenty doctors expounded one text twenty different ways, as children make descant upon plain song. Yea, they are come into such blindness that they not only say the literal sense profiteth not, but also that it is hurtful and killeth the soul.” Carrying out these principles, Tyndale could, we are of opinion, arrive at no other conclusion respecting the “first resurrection,” than that it would be literal. That he postponed the rewarding and glorification of the church until the advent, is obvious from his language to the Papists, arguing with whom he says: “If the souls be in heaven, tell me why they be not in as good a case as the angels be? and then what cause is there of the resurrection?” Again he says: “Christ and his apostles taught no other, but warned to look for Christ’s coming again every hour; which coming again, because ye believe it will never be, therefore have ye reigned that other merchandize?” On Matthew 6:10, he says: “‘Thy kingdom come’ — that is, the time when thy Son shall surrender his kingdom unto thee, as it is in 1 Corinthians 15:24. This kingdom is also mentioned, Romans 8:21-22, where it is declared that all creatures descry that day as the time of their rest and perpetual Sabbath.” Tyndale was burnt at the stake at Flanders, 1536, praying, “Lord, open the eyes of the king of England.” He evidently, like Joseph of Arimathea, “waited for the kingdom of God.”
BRADFORD A.D. 1550.
John Bradford, A.M., was prebendary pf St. Paul’s in London. The following extracts from his writings beautifully illustrate his faith.
On Romans 8, he thus comments: “This renovation of all things, the prophets do seem to promise, when they promise new heavens and a new earth For a new earth seemeth to require no less renovation of earthly things, than new heavens do of heavenly things. But these things the apostle doth plainly affirm, that Christ will restore, even whatsoever be in heaven and earth. Therefore, methinks, it is the duty of a godly mind simply to acknowledge, and thereof to boast in the Lord, that in out resurrection all things shall be repaired to eternity, as for our sin they were made subject to corruption. The ancient writers out of 2 Peter 3, have as it were agreed to this sentence, that the shape of this world shall pass away, through the burning of earthly fire, as it was drowned with the flowing of earthly waters.” He then quotes St. Augustine as saying, that “the world changing into the better, may openly be made fit for man when returned in the flesh to the better state.” “But this my Savior and my Head, Jesus Christ, died for my sins, and therewith, as he took away death, so hath he taken away all the corruption and labor of all things, and will restore them in his time.
Now every creature travaileth and groaned with us; but we being restored, they also shall be restored: there shall be new heavens, new earth, and all things new.” “Covet not the things that are in this world, but long for the coming of the Lord Jesus. God will one day restore our bodies to us, like to the body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, whose coming is now at hand. Let us look for it, and lift up our heads for our redemption draweth nigh….He — our Lord — now is not seen elsewhere than is heaven, or so otherwise than by faith; until he shall be seen as he is, to the salvation of those that look for his coming, which I trust is not far off; for if the day of the Lord drew near in the Apostle’s time, which is now above 1500 years past, it cannot be, I trust, long hence now. I trust our Redeemer’s coming is at hand.” How sweet indeed, is this voice from the prisons of earth; the yearnings of the bride for his coming and the day of redemption! In company with John Leafe, this pious reformer was burnt at the stake in 1555, exclaiming, “O England. England, repent of thy sins! Beware of Antichrist! Beware of idolatry; take heed they do not deceive you!” and may England in her present peril heed the warning voice of the martyr Bradford.
PISCATOR, A.D. 1530.
John Piscator, Professor of Theology at Strasburgh, who died 1546, seems to have had his hopes fixed on the Redeemer’s advent. In his valuable Commentary, he says, “The advent of the Lord to judgment is to be looked for with perpetual vigilance; especially by the ministers of the word.” Com.
Hugh Latimer was born in Leicestershire, Eng., 1470. In early life he was a Papist, but embracing Protestanism at the age of fifty-three, he became a zealous champion of the Reformation. In 1535, Henry 8 made him Bishop of Worcester, but his office he soon after resigned, refusing the mitre. He had the courage to write a letter to King Henry against a proclamation just published, forbidding the use of the Bible in English, in which he told that monarch, “the day is at hand when you shall give account of your office, and the blood which hath been shed by your sword.” Having spoken in his third Sermon on the Lord’s Prayer, of a future Parliament, different from the parliaments of this world: “A parliament in which Christ shall bear the rule and not men; and which the righteous pray for when they say, ‘Thy kingdom come,’ because they know that therein reformation of all things shall be had:” he says: “Let us therefore have a desire that this day may come quickly; let us hasten God forward; let us cry unto him day and night, ‘Most merciful Father, thy kingdom come.’ St.
Paul saith, ‘The Lord will not come till the swerving from faith cometh,’ 2 Thessalonians 2:3, which thing is already done and past: Antichrist is already known throughout all the world. Wherefore the day is not far off.
Let us beware, for it will one day fall on our heads. St. Peter, ‘The end of all things draweth very near.’ St. Peter said so at his time; how much more shall we say so? for it is a long time since St. Peter spake these words. The world was ordained to endure, (as all learned men affirm, and prove it with Scripture,) six thousand years. Now, of that number there be past years; so there is no more left but 448 years. And furthermore, those days shall be shortened: it shall not be full six thousand years; the days shall be shortened for the elects’ sake. Therefore all those excellent and learned men, which, without doubt, God hath sent into the world in these latter days to give the world warning, all those men do gather out of the Scriptures that the last day cannot be far off. Peradventure, it may come in my days, old as I am, or in our children’s days. * * * There will be great alterations in that day; there will be hurly burly, like as you see when a man dieth, etc. There will be such alterations of the earth and elements, they will loose their former nature, and be endued with another nature. And then shall they see the Son of Man come in a cloud, with power and great glory.
Certain it is that he shall come to judge; but we cannot tell the time when he shall come.”
After saying that the saints in that day “shall be taken up to meet Christ in the air, and so shall come down with him again,” he adds, “That man or that woman that saith these words, ‘Thy kingdom come,’ with a faithful heart, no doubt desireth in very deed, that God will come to judgment, and amend all things in this world, and put down Satan, that old Serpent, under our feet.” Bishop Latimer became a victim of Queen Mary’s persecution, and in company with Ridley, was burned at an advanced age, 1555; and this is his eulogy; no other is wanting, and the first resurrection awaiteth him.
RIDLEY, A. D. 1530.
Nicholas Ridley, D. D., and Bishop of London. He was erudite and deeply pious, and the result of his zeal in the great work of reformation is well known to all readers of martyrology. In 1554 he wrote as follows: “The world, without doubt — this I do believe and therefore I say it — draws towards an end. Let us, with John, the servant of God, cry in our hearts unto our Savior Christ, Come, Lord Jesus, come.” He was burned with Latimer, suffering death with great fortitude, and evidently expecting no Millennial glory for the church of God in time.
SANDYS, A. D. 1550.
Edmund Sandys, D. D., and Archbishop of York, was born in England, 1519, and educated at Cambridge. He was a man of learning and influence, Middleton affirming that “he was consulted on every occasion.” He was one of nine Protestant divines who were appointed by Elizabeth to hold a disputation with an equal number of Romanists, in the presence of both houses of Parliament. He looked for the end — his language being thus: “As his (Christ’s) coming is most certain, so the hour, day, month, and year is most uncertain. Now, as we know not the day and the time, so let us be assured this coming of the Lord is near. * * That it is at hand, may be probably gathered out of the Scriptures. The signs mentioned by Christ in the gospel, which should be the foreshadows of this terrible day, are almost already all fulfilled.” His view of the nearness of that “terrible day,” excludes the faith of an intervening Millennium. Sandys died 1588.
CHYTRAEUS, A. D. 1590.
David Chytraeus, D. D., born at Bostock, 1571. He was the author of an Apocalyptic Commentary. He interpreted the sixth trumpet as having reference to the Turks; the angel-vision of Revelation 10, as prefiguring the light of the reformation; and the seventh trumpet as bringing “the end of the world.” He expounded the 1260 prophetic days as meaning so many years, and thus writes: “If they are numbered from the time of Phocas, A.
D. 606, when the Pope’s supremacy began, then the end may be expected A. D. 1866.” He began the 1000 years with the first advent, and consequently looked for no future Millennium in time. This author died 1600.
THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION, A. D. 1530.
Charles V., in 1530, convened a Diet at Augsburg, for the purpose of composing the then existing religious troubles, at which there were present the Emperor himself, the princes of the empire, the Pope’s legates, and the nobles and prelates of the Latin kingdom. On this occasion the great Melancthon drew up this famous confession of faith, “which,” says Newton Brown, “may be considered as the creed of the German Reformers.” It consists of twenty-one articles, and among the rest who signed it was the Elector of Saxony, and three or four other German princes.
We give translations from both the German and the Latin translation of Article 17th. Ger. — “In like manner they (our churches) condemn those who circulate the Judaizing notion, that prior to the resurrection of the dead, the pious will establish a separate temporal government, and all the wicked be exterminated.” Lat. — “In like manner they (our churches) condemn those who circulate the Judaizing notion that prior to the resurrection of the dead, the pious will engross the government of the world, and the wicked be every where oppressed.” In the language of H. D. Ward: ‘This is a miniature portrait of the doctrine now current in the church, worthy of the master-hand of Melancthon; and if it should make some ears tingle, to hear their loved doctrine of the Millennium, ‘prior to the resurrection of the dead,’ publicly stigmatized as ‘a Judaizing notion,’ they may know with whom, in this world, they must reckon for it, and count the cost before they begin the war with the bold Martin Luther, the gentle Melancthon, and their brave coadjutors; who not only brand this child of modern adoption ‘a Judaizing notion,’ but they solemnly ‘condemn all those who circulate’ the carnal doctrine.” Says Dr. Duffield: “The Augsburg Confession disowns altogether a spiritual Millennium before the coming of Christ;” and the Protestant Churchman remarks that “Rome and Augsburg agree to condemn the doctrine of a Golden Age in this world.”
There are in the various Lutheran churches scattered throughout the world, a population of nearly thirty millions of members, and “The Encyclopaedia of Religious Knowledge” informs us, that “The Augsburg Confession is the acknowledged standard of faith for the Lutherans wherever they are found!” Do they hold to the doctrine of their fathers on this great and important question?
CATECHISM OF EDWARD VI., A. D. 1550.
This monarch ruled on the English throne from 1547 until 1553, in which year he died. The Catechism was authorized by him. Bishop Burner declares that Cranmer owned himself to be its author. If so, we have presented in it the views of this celebrated and martyred arch-bishop, on the doctrines in question. “Q. How is that petition, Thy kingdom come, to be understood? “ANS. We ask that his kingdom may come, because that as yet we see not all things subject to Christ: we see not yet how the stone is cut out of the mountain without human help, which breaks into pieces and reduces to nothing the image described by Daniel: or how the only rock, which is Christ, doth possess and obtain the empire of the whole world, given him of the Father. As yet Antichrist is not slain; whence it is that we desire and pray that at length it may come to pass and be fulfilled; and that Christ alone may reign with his saints, according to the divine promises; and that he may live and have dominion in the world, according to the decrees of the holy Gospel, and not according to the tradition and laws of men, and the wills of the tyrants of this world.” “Q. The sacred Scriptures call the end of the world the consummation and perfection of the mystery of Christ, and the renovation of all things, for thus the Apostle (Peter) speaks in his second epistle, chapter 3, ‘We expect,’ etc. Now, by what means or circumstances those things shall be brought to pass, I desire to know of thee? “ANS. I will declare, as well as I can, the same Apostle attesting. The heavens, in the manner of a stormy tempest, shall pass away, and the elements estuating, shall be dissolved, and the earth, and the works therein shall be burnt. As if the Apostle should say, the world, like as we see in the refining of gold, shall be wholly purged with fire, and shall be brought to its utmost perfection; man, imitating, shall likewise be freed from corruption and change. And so for man’s sake for whose use the great world was created, being at length renovated, it shall put on a face that shall be far more pleasant and beautiful.” Brooks affirms that this Catechism “was sanctioned by certain chief ecclesiastics of that day;” and Dr. Duffield remarks that “this was the faith of the Episcopal Church of England in the days of Edward VI.”
BECON, A. D. 1567.
LEO JUDA, A. D. 1500.
Leo Juda was born in Alsace, Germany, 1482. Encyclopedias refer to him as “a great and good divine, and one of the burning lights of the reformation.’ He was skilled in the Oriental languages, and had studied the writings of the Fathers. He was pastor at Zurich, and is numbered among the Swiss reformers. On the angel’s oath of Revelation 10 he thus writes, applying the prophecy to the Reformation: “Christ takes an oath, and swears by God, his heavenly Father, even with great fervency and holiness, that the time of his glorious last coming to judge all the world, both quick and dead, is now already nigh and at hand; and that when the victory that was prophesied to be fulfilled of Antichrist, which victory the seventh angel must blow forth according to his office, were once past, then should altogether be fulfilled what all prophets did ever prophecy of the kingdom of Messiah the Savior; which is the highest mystery.” The reader will not fail to observe that he puts the kingdom and judgment at the seventh trumpet. He applied Revelation 9:20-21 to Rome, and the tenth chapter to the Reformation. He died 1542.
BULLINGER, A. D. 1530.
Henry Bullinger was born in Zurich, 1504. He succeeded Zuingle as pastor at Zurich, and was one of the authors of the Helvetic Confession. He was the author of a Commentary on the Revelation, in which, according to Dr.
Elliott, he explained the sixth trumpet (nearly as Luther’s comment does) of the desolation of the Mahommedan Saracens and Turks, and on the seventh trumpet says, “It must come soon, therefore our redemption draweth nigh.” He, like Leo Juda, applies the angel’s descent and oath of Revelation 10 to the work of the Reformation, and on the passage says: “Christ swears that there is but one trumpet remaining: therefore let us lift up our heads because our redemption draweth nigh.” The bridal in Apocalypse, 19th Bullinger makes to coincide with the saint’s resurrection: the vision of Christ and his army on white horses, to symbolize the last judgment. The Millennium he commences nearly with the ascension of Christ, or as he says, he “objects not if any prefer to follow the Chiliasm of Papias,” and finally in the new heavens and new earth he recognizes the renovation of this, our world. Here again, as in the writings of all the other reformers, we can discern gleams of Pre-millennialism. He died in 1575.
KNOX, A. D. 1550.
John Knox, the great champion of the Scottish Reformation and founder of the Presbyterian Church, was born at East Lothian, 1505. He was eloquent, influential and intrepid, and so mighty with God that Queen Mary said she feared his prayers more than an army of twenty thousand men. On the doctrine of the earth’s renovation Knox writes, “to reform the face of the whole earth, which never was, nor yet shall be till that righteous King and Judge appear for the restoration of all things.” Acts 3. In his letter to the faithful in London, dated 1554, he, on the Redeemer’s advent, asks, “Has not the Lord Jesus, in despite of Satan’s malice, carried up our flesh into heaven? And shall he not return? We know that He shall return, and that with expedition.” He died 1572, evidently looking for the Lord, and when laid in the grave the Regent of Scotland said, “There lies he who never feared the face of clay!” What do Presbyterians think of John Knox?
WILLIAM PERKINS, A. D. 1580.
William Perkins. Born at Maton Eng., 1538. He was educated at Cambridge, and became rector of St. Andrews parish. He was of a philosophic mind, and was a powerful preacher. He wrote many valuable works, and on the signs of Christ’s coming, says, “The first is, this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached, etc., Matthew 24:14, which must be understood, not that the gospel must be preached to the whole world at any one time, for that I take it, was never yet seen, neither shall be, but it shall be published distinctly and successively at several times.” The other signs are the revealing of Antichrist, 2 Thessalonians 2:3, a general departing from the faith, 2 Thessalonians 2: a universal corruption of manners, 2 Timothy 2:3; terrible and grievous calamities, Matthew 24:6,16; exceeding deadness of heart, Luke 17:26. “These, he says, are the signs that go before the coming of Christ; all of which are almost past, and therefore the end cannot be far off. The second coming of Christ is sudden as the coming of a thief in the night. He will come when the world thinketh not of him, as a snare doth on the bird.’ This eminent divine who died in 1602, in much triumph, could not have believed in the world’s entire evangelization as do Post-millennialists.
CALVIN, A. D. 1535.
John Calvin, the justly renowned French Reformer, was born at Noyon, in France, A. D. 1509. Scaliger pronounced him at the age of 22, “the most learned man in Europe;” but we pause, not for commendations, for the world knows him. Calvin quotes Daniel 7:10, as referring to “the last day.” Daniel 12:3, he argues, proves a literal resurrection of the body, and on Joel, says that Peter’s quotation, Acts 2:17-20, extends to “the last resurrection.” He also in his Com. on Acts maintains the “refreshing” of Acts 3:19, is at the day of judgment. He repudiates the Millennium, rebuking those who would limit the kingdom to a thousand years, but with Luther looked for a renewed earth, saying, “I expect with Paul a reparation of all the evils caused by sin, for which he represents the creatures as groaning and travailing;” and also allows that “the Scriptures more commonly exhibit the resurrection to the children of God alone, in connection with the glory of heaven, because, strictly speaking, Christ will come, not for the destruction of the world, but for purposes of salvation.” He places the kingdom at the advent, contending that “Christ is our Head whose kingdom and glory have not yet appeared. If the members were to go before their Head, the order of things would be inverted and preposterous: but we shall follow our Prince then, when he shall come in the glory of his Father, and sit upon the throne of his majesty.” And on the time of full reward, he remarks, that “The Scripture uniformly commands us to look forward with eager expectation to the coming of Christ, and defers the crown of glory that awaits till that period.” Commenting on Matthew 24:30, he rejects the world’s conversion, as taught by Post-millennialists, pointedly saying, “There is no reason why any person should expect the conversion of the world: for at length (when it will be too late, and will yield them no advantage), they shall look on him whom they have pierced.” By his comments on Matthew 24, Corinthians 15:51; 1 Thessalonians 4:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:2, etc., he evidently understood the Bible as teaching that the day of the Lord’s advent is to be expected at all times, precluding the faith of an intervening Millennium. He bids them “not to hesitate, ardently desiring the day of Christ’s coming as of all events most auspicious;” and maintained that “the whole family of the faithful will keep in view that day.” And finally, “We must hunger after Christ, we must seek, contemplate, etc., till the dawning of that great day when our Lord will fully manifest the glory of his kingdom.” Such are the words of this eminent divine on the second advent and its kindred doctrines. Are Calvinists in the succession here as in other tenets of their great leader? Calvin died in 1564.
OSIANDER, A. D. 1530.
Andrew Osiander was a German Reformer, born in Bavaria, and one of Luther’s first disciples. He was celebrated as a divine, and was a voluminous writer. This Reformer — says Elliott — measurably endorses the year-day system of interpreting the prophetic days, and like Luther, somewhat curiously notes Phocas’ decree, A. D. 606, as constituting a notable Papal commencing epoch. He also argues like Melancthon, from the tradition of Elias; observing that as not all the sixth day was employed in creation, but its evening partly taken into the Sabbath, so it might be expected that all the sixth Millennium would not pass before the sabbatism; but the sabbath begin ere it had all run out. He seems, unlike those of the school of Whitby, to have looked for the end at, or near, the expiration of the sixth chiliad. Osiander died 1552.
FLACIUS, A. D. 1560.
Matthias Flacius, a Professor of Greek and Latin languages at Wittemburg, in the sixteenth century, in his “Catalogue of Witnesses,” represented the twelve hundred and sixty days of the wild Beast, as having commenced in A. D. 600, with the decree of Phocas, and consequently referred its destruction, and the advent of Christ to the year 1850. Flacius was a Protestant divine, and a pupil of Luther and Melancthon. He died in 1575. LUTHER, A. D. 1520.
Martin Luther, the master-spirit of the reformation, was born at Saxony, in Germany, 1483. ‘Luther! a name that shines in greater lustre than Milton or Shakspeare; a name ploughed into the hearts of millions; and on the brightest place in the roll of the illustrious dead.” Such is the beautiful eulogium of the eloquent Cumming, and to all who would learn the worth and greatness of this extraordinary man, we recommend a perusal of D’Aubigne’s History of the Reformation. We give extracts from his writings on various subjects, showing his views on the doctrines we advocate. “About the time of Easter, Pharaoh was destroyed in the Red sea, and Israel led out of Egypt; about the same time the world was created; Christ rose again; and the world is renewed. Even so, I am of opinion, the last day shall come about Easter, when the year is at its finest and fairest.” “How does Satan rage everywhere against the Word! This I reckon by no means the slightest mark of the approaching end, viz., that Satan perceives that the day is at hand, and pours forth his final fury.” “It is now time to watch; for we are the mark they shoot at. Our adversaries intend to make a confederacy with the Turk; for Antichrist will war and get victory against the saints of God, as Daniel says.” “I am not so much afraid of the Pope and tyrants, as of our own unthankfulness and contemning of God’s word: — the same, I fear, will help the Pope again into the saddle. When that comes to pass I hope the day of judgment will soon follow.” “The world has grown very stubborn and headstrong since the revelation of the word of the gospel. It begins to crack sorely; and I hope will soon break and fall on a heap through the coming of the day of judgment, for which we wait with yearning and sighs of heart.” In 1545, he said of the passing events: “I do most earnestly hope that these are the blessed signs of the immediate end of all things.” Again, “I ardently hope that amidst these internal dissensions on the earth, Jesus Christ will hasten the day of his coming, and that he will crumble the whole universe into dust.” Maitre Phillipe having said that the Emperor Charles would live to be eighty-four, Luther replied, “the world itself will not live so long. Ezekiel tells us to the contrary. And again, if we drive forth the Turks, the prophecy of Daniel will be accomplished, and then, you may rely upon it, the day of judgment is at hand.” Of printing, Luther said: “Printing is the latest and greatest gift, by which God enables us to advance the things of the Gospel. It is the last bright flame, manifesting itself just previous to the extinction of the world.
Thanks be to God, it came before the last day came.” Writing to Melancthon, 1541, he said, “I have no time to write to thee at any length, for though I am overwhelmed with age and weariness; old, cold, and half blind as the saying is, yet I am not permitted as yet to take my repose, besieged as I am by circumstances which compel me to write on, on, on. I know more than thou dost about the destiny of our world; that destiny is destruction; it is inevitably so — seeing how triumphantly the devil walks about, and how mankind grow daily worse and worse.
The Word of God has become a wearisome thing to man, a thing viewed with disgust.... Nothing remains but to pray: ‘thy will be done. ’ All around me I observe an unconquerable cupidity prevalent; this is another of the signs which convince me that the last day is at hand; it seems as though the world in its old age, its last paroxysm, was growing delirious, as sometimes happens to dying people.” “I pray the Lord to come forthwith and carry me hence. Let him come above all with his last judgment: I will stretch out my neck, the thunder will burst forth, and I shall be at rest.” One of his guests observing that if the world were to subsist another fifty years, a great many things would happen which they could not then foresee, Luther said: “Pray God it may not exist so long; matters would be even worse than they have been. There would rise up infinite sects and schisms, which are at present hidden within men’s hearts, not yet mature.
No; may the Lord come at once! Let Him cut the whole matter short with the day of judgment, for there is no amendment to be expected.” “The judgment must needs be at hand, for what help is there for the world? The Papal church will not reform itself; that is out of the question; and the Turks and the Jews are as little inclined to amendment. Our empire makes no progress towards improvement: here have we been for the last thirty years assembling diets from time to time, yet nothing is done. When I am meditating, I often ask myself, what prayer I ought to offer up for the diet. I see no other prayer that is fitting but only this, Thy kingdom come! ” Again, Luther said: “You will see that before long such wickedness will prevail, life will become so terrible to bear, that in every quarter the cry will be raised, God, come with thy last judgment.” And having a necklace of white agates in his hand at the time, he added, “O God, grant that it may come without delay. I would readily eat up this necklace to-day for the judgment to come to-morrow.” The computation of those who confidently fixed the year and the day of the final judgment being once referred to, he said: “No, verily, the text is too plain in Matthew 24th, concerning the day and the hour, knoweth no man; no, not the angels in heaven, but alone my Father; therefore, neither I, nor any man, nor angel, can fix the day or the hour.” Again, “The world is, as it ever has been — the world — and desires to know nothing of Christ.
Let it go its own way. They continue to rage and grow worse from day to day, which indeed is a solace to the weary soul, as it shows that the glorious day of the Lord is at hand. The world is given up to its own ways, that the day of its destruction and of our salvation should be hastened.
Amen. So be it!” Near the time of his death, he said, “I persuade myself verily, that the day of judgment will not be absent full 300 years more. God will not, cannot suffer this wicked world much longer.” “And the prevalent idea,” says Elliott, “of its being near at hand, remained with him even to his dying hour, and was a perpetual topic of consolation, encouragement, and hope; nor did the circumstance of the fanatics of his day — Munzer and others — adopting, and making unsound and unscriptural use of this expectation of the near advent of Christ, affect his belief in, or declaration of it; for it seemed but Satan’s well known artifice, by abuse or by a counterfeit to bring contempt on what was important and true.” Commenting on the passage, “Other sheep I have,” etc., he says: “Some in explaining this passage say, that before the latter days, the whole world shall become Christians. This is a falsehood, forged by Satan, that he might darken sound doctrine, that we might not rightly understand it. Beware, therefore, of this delusion.” (Com. on John 10:11-16.) Luther’s views of the Apocalypse were somewhat meager and obscure. On the Millennium, Dr. Elliott says, he endorsed the Augustinian system, somewhat modified, and made it the “1000 years between St. John and the issuing forth of the Turks,” and in the language of Bengal: “He believed also with many others, that the duration of the world, from its commencement, would be only 6000 years; and hence considered its end so near, that he could see no space for any future Millennium.” Luther puts the saints rewarding and the establishment of the kingdom of Christ, at the period of the second advent. We recommend to the reader a perusal of his “Sermon of consolation on the coming of Christ, and the signs that shall precede the last day.” Luther died 1546.
We might multiply extracts, but have already given sufficient to show that the great Luther had no faith in the modern notion of a spiritual Millennium, but on the contrary, was a firm believer in the speedy coming of Christ and the renovation of all things. Has the voice of Luther no weight with the church of God in the nineteenth century?
MELANCTHON, A. D. 1530.
Philip Melancthon was born 1497, at Bretten, in Germany. He was one of the greatest men of his age. He was Luther’s fellow-laborer in the Reformation, and is distinguished for his intellectual endowments, piety, and extraordinary erudition. Regarding his views on the prophecies and Pre-millennial advent, Elliott says that “he expounds ‘the abomination of desolation’ of Daniel 11, primarily of Antiochus Epiphanes, but secondarily and chiefly of Antichrist;” that “he conceived Daniel’s numbers 1260 and 1335 days might be understood on the year-day system; that he regarded the reformation as the consumption of the Antichrist predicted to occur just before his final destruction at Christ’s coming;” that he made but five universal kingdoms for the earth, the fourth being Rome, and the fifth the “kingdom of Christ and his saints,” and these to come in numerical order; that like Luther he intently fixed his mind on Daniel and St. Paul’s prophecies of Antichrist, and like Luther, conceived the “fated end to be near and iminent.”
In the British Museum is a copy of the first edition of Luther’s German Bible, in two volumes. Upon the third page of the fly leaf of the second volume, are the following words, in the writing of Melancthon: “THE WORDS OF THE PROPHET ELIAS. ‘Six thousand years this world shall stand, and after that be burned. ‘Two thousand years void (or without the law). ‘Two thousand years, the law of Moses. ‘Two thousand years, the day of the Messiah, but on account of our sins, which are many and great, these years which are not fulfilled shall be shortened.’ “Written in the year 1557, after the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ of the Virgin Mary. Year from the creation of the world, 5519.
Again, he says “It is known that Christ was born about the end of the fourth Millennary, and one thousand five hundred and forty-two years have since revolved. We are not, therefore, far from the end. Daniel asked in respect to the time of the end, and the number was given, which, although it seems to respect the time of the Macabees, yet undoubtedly has a reference to the end of the world, and the application is easy, if days be taken for years. They will be two thousand six hundred and twenty-five.
We do not endeavor to ascertain the moment when the last day is to dawn.
That is not to be sought. But inasmuch as this number happily agrees with the words of Elias, I regard it as denoting the years through which the world was to subsist from the time of Daniel. There were six hundred, or near that, from Daniel to the birth of Christ. There remained, therefore, two thousand years as the last age of the world. “God showed to Daniel a series of monarchies and kingdoms, which it is certain has already run to the end. Four monarchies have passed away. The cruel kingdom of the Turks, which arose out of the fourth, still remains, and as it is not to equal the Roman in power, and has certainly, therefore, already nearly reached its height, must soon decline, and then will dawn the day in which the dead shall be recalled to life.” Melancthon regarded the term Antichrist as denoting both the Mohammedan empire and the Papacy, and held that they were not to be overthrown till the time of the resurrection of the dead, and personal advent of the Messiah, who would then destroy Antichrist, and set up his kingdom. He opposed the Annabaptists, and said they “were infatuated by the devil,” “hypocritical,” etc. The standing up of Michael, Daniel 12:1, Melancthon expounded as meaning Christ coming to judgment; and on the prospect of his coming — says Elliott — it became Christians, he thought, much and earnestly to dwell. Such is the testimony of this celebrated man, to whom the great Erasmus gave the praise of “uncommon research, correct knowledge of classical antiquity and eloquence of style;” and on whose character all biographical writers pronounce splendid eulogiums. His words beautifully harmonize with the concurrent testimony of the primitive church. Melancthon died in 1560.
BALE, A. D. 1530.
John Bale, Bishop of Ossory, was born in England 1496, and was educated at Cambridge. He was a converted Romanist, and became a zealous reformer and author while called to the see of Ossory in Ireland. He published an Apocalyptic Commentary, in which he identifies the seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven vials, and made them to prefigure seven different stages of Christ’s church; the angel of Revelation 10, the same as Bullinger; and the seventh trumpet sounding as at hand. On the world’s six ages he follows Joachim Abbas. On the Lamb’s bridal, Revelation 19, he says: “Since the beginning of the world, the faithful have been preparing for this heavenly marriage, and in the resurrection of the righteous it shall be perfectly solemnized; such time as they appear in full glory with Christ.” And again elsewhere, he says: “This (the Beast’s) will be the rule of this present age. No doubt of it. Unto kings has not God given to subdue these beasts. This is reserved to the victory of his living Word. Only shall the breath of His mouth destroy them. Let the faithful believer, considering the mischief of this time, appoint himself to persecution, loss of goods, exile, prison, sorrow, and death for the truth’s sake; thinking that his portion is in the land of the living. For now are the perilous days under the voice of the sixth trump; whereas, under the seventh the carnal church shall be rejected, Antichrist overthrown, and the right Israel, tokened with faith, peaceably restored into the possession of God.” Further, respecting this oath that all shall be finished in the seventh age of the church, he adds: “Necessary it is that both good and bad know it: the faithful to be ascertened that their final redemption is at hand, to their consolation; the unfaithful to have knowledge that their judgment is not far off, that they may repent and be saved.” Bale understood the Millennium on the Augustinian system, and on the new heavens and new earth — says Elliott — looked for an earth purified and renovated by the fires of the judgment. He died 1563.
John Foxe, the celebrated author of “The Book of Martyrs,” was born at Boston, England, 1517; was educated at Oxford, and became a zealous reformer. Foxe, as his biographers have shown, was no ordinary man. He was the author of a comment on the Revelations, which appeared after his death. Says Dr. Elliott: “He explains the woe of the sixth trumpet to be that of the Turks; adding that, after the Protestant restoration of Gospelpreaching, figured in Revelation 10, the seventh trumpet’s sounding could not be far off, (Christ’s coming and the resurrection occurring under it).
Then he dwells on this passage — Revelation 10:5-7 — thus: ‘Oh, what an adjuration! Of the truth and certainty of which we can no more doubt, than we can of the existence of God himself.’ And, after arguing against the skepticism of ungodly men on the subject of the world’s ending, he urges from the angel’s oath the certainty of that end coming, and certainty, too, as appears from the angel’s prophetic caution, (though the exact time was not to be known,) that it could not be very far off from the time then present.” “Which being so,” says Foxe, “let both all pious Christians, and all the multitude of the ungodly, diligently listen to, and observe what the angel says and swears. For in the whole of Scripture, I think there is no passage more clear, none more suited to our times, none more calculated to strengthen the faith and minister consolation to the pious; and, on the other hand, to alarm the minds and break off the attacks of the ungodly.” He regarded the judgment as certainly occurring ‘under, or at the seventh trumpet. The Millennium, or 1000 years of Satan’s binding, Foxe very singularly made to commence at the Constantinian era, and was, says Elliott, “I believe, the first so to compute it.” Post- millenarians affirm that the world will be converted at the seventh trumpet, but not so the venerable Foxe. He died 1587.
BRIGHTMAN, A. D. Thomas Brightman was Rector of Hawnes, England. His Apocalyptic Commentary was first published in 1600. Dr. Elliott says it is one of great vigor both in thought and language, and was popular with the Protestant Churches of the times. Brightman interpreted the prophetic periods of the Apocalypse on the year-day theory; the 9th chapter as referring to the ravages of the Saracenic and Turkish armies; the five months of the locusts meant 150 years; the “hour, day, month and year,” he regarded as a period of 396 years, and measuring the duration of the Turkish power. The two witnesses he makes to be the Scriptures and the assemblies of the faithful.
The Beast, the dragon’s accomplice, meant the Pope of Rome; and finally, the 1000 years began with Constantine. Under the seventh vial we add, the enemies of the church are destroyed, and her period of rest and triumph appears. Brightman died 1607.
PAREUS, A. D. 1590.
David Pareus, D. D., was born 1548, in Silesia. He was celebrated as a divine and reformer, and his fame as a professor of Theology was quite extensive. He was a Calvinist. In his Apocalyptic Commentary, Pareus seems to regard the six seals as covering the duration of the gospel dispensation; the white horse under the first seal as symbolizing the primitive purity of the church during the first three centuries; the sixth seal as denoting the Lamb’s wrath and judgment against the world; then the vision returns and a new series commence. The trumpets he makes to correspond with the seals: the fifth and sixth referring to the conquest of Mahomedanism; the seventh “the consummation.” The 1260 days are so many years, commencing A. D. 605, and ending he says, 1866. The first Beast out of the sea is the Papal Antichrist, whom he says, the ten kings will not destroy, “he being destined to survive Rome’s destruction, and to be destroyed only by the brightness of Christ’s coming.” Pareus explains the Apocalyptic Millennium nearly on the Augustinian principle, controverting Chiliasm, and yet the reader will not fail to perceive his antagonism with the modern spiritual view. The following is his comment on Matthew 24:14. “Now, this universal preaching is not to be understood strictly — in which sense it never will happen that the gospel shall be preached absolutely to all nations at once; (for there will be a perpetual separation of the church and the world,) but by synecdoche or distribution; it shall be preached, not to the Jews alone, but to other nations also, without distinction of people. * * * However it may be with the new world or other regions still hidden from us, it is a false interpretation of our Lord’s words, as if there were not to be a spot on the earth’s surface where the gospel shall not be preached. For it is a thing never to be looked for, that the whole world shall become Christian; since the enemies of the church, together with Antichrist, shall not cease but at the last coming of Christ.” He died 1622.
CHAPTER 7. THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.
PRE-MILLENNIALISM rose to much eminence in this century, First and highest on the list stands the illustrious Mede, whom Rev. David Brown, of Scotland, styles “The Prince of Millennarians.” Twiss and Usher sit as pupils at his feet, and Baxter modestly says, “I cannot confute him.”
Bunyan, “the Prince of dreamers,” also sides with him in the personal reign, and Taylor makes good concessions. Henry’s golden thoughts sustain Premillennialism, and Burnet is eloquent upon the theme. Burroughs testifies to the general faith in the year-day theory, which Stuart calls “a general and almost universal custom, so understood by the great mass of interpreters in the English and American world for many years.” Some in this century had set times for the advent, but says John Cox, of England, “because some have made mistakes in fixing dates, let us beware of saying ‘my Lord delayeth his coming.’ Very solemn are the words of God by Ezekiel 12:22-28.” The “current axiom” of literal interpretation is set forth by Maton, the approaching end by Goodwin, and Alleine and Durant teach us to love our Lord’s appearing. Bunyan, in the words of Pilgrim to Apollyon, expressed the hope of the saints: “For present deliverance they do not much expect it, for they stay for their glory; and then shall they have it, when their Prince comes in His and the glory of the angels.” But we pass on. May the mantle of our fathers fall upon us as we go.
MEDE, A. D. 1720.
Joseph Mede, B. D., styled “the illustrious Mede,” was born in Essex, England, 1586. His “Clavis Apocalypticae” is well known to prophetic students, and all his biographers concur in pronouncing him “a pious and profoundly learned man,” and add that “in every part of his works the talents of a sound and learned divine are eminently conspicuous.”
Dr. Elliott gives his Apocalyptic scheme, and says that “his works have generally been thought to constitute an era in the solution of the Apocalyptic mysteries, for which work was looked on and written of, as a man almost inspired.” We extract copiously from his writings. Like the Reformers he interpreted the fifth trumpet of the Saracens; the sixth of the Turks explaining the prophetic periods of both on the year-day theory, referring the smoke and brimstone of verse 17, to the Turkish cannon.
Rendering Revelation 11:7, “when they shall be about finishing their testimony,” he makes the two witnesses to be trodden down 1250 years; the drying up of the Euphratean flood, Revelation 16th, meant the exhaustion of the Turkish empire; the seventh trumpet covers the Millennium. 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18. Paraphrasing verse 17th thus, “After this, our gathering together unto Christ at his coming, we shall from henceforth never lose his presence, but always enjoy it,” etc. He argues that the redeemed will reign neither in heaven, nor in the air, but “on the earth,” — Revelation 5:10, he then gives the cause of this “rapture of the saints on high.” “The saints being translated into the air, is to do honor to their Lord and King at his return, and * * * that they may be preserved during the conflagration of the earth, and the works thereof; that as Noah and his family were preserved from the deluge by being lifted up above the waters in the ark, so should the saints at the conflagration be lifted up in the clouds, unto their ark, Christ, to be preserved there from the deluge of fire, wherein the wicked shall be consumed.” 2 Peter 3:8, he paraphrases thus, — “But whereas, I mentioned the day of judgment, lest ye might mistake it for a short day, or a day of few hours, I would not, beloved, have you ignorant that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day;” then remarking that the style and sentiment is that of the Jewish doctors, he adds: — “The words are commonly taken as an argument why God should not be thought slack in his promise, (which follows in the next verse,) but the first Fathers took it otherwise, and besides it proves it not. For the question is not whether the time be long or short in respect of God, but whether it be long or short in respect of us, otherwise not only a thousand years, but an hundred thousand years, are in the eyes of God no more than one day is to us, and so it would not seem long to God if the day of judgment should be deferred till then.” On the Millennium of Revelation 20, he in his letter to Wm. Twiss, thus argues: — “The rising of the martyrs is that which is called ‘the first resurrection,’ being as it seems a prerogative to their sufferings above the rest of the dead, who as they suffered with Christ in the time of his patience, so should they be glorified with Him in the reign of his victory before the universal resurrection of all. ‘Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection, for on such the second death hath no power;’ namely, because they are not in via but in patria , being a prerogative, as I understand it, of the first sort of reigners only, and not of the second. Thus I yet admit the first resurrection to be corporeal, as well as the second, though I confess, I have much striven against it, and if the next would admit another sense less free of paradox, I had yet rather listen unto it, but I find it not. However, to grant a particular resurrection before the general is against no article of faith, for the gospel tells us, Matthew 27:52-53, that at our Savior’s resurrection, ‘The graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints which slept, arose and came out of their graves, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.’ Neither was the number of them a small number, if we may credit the Fathers, or the most ancient records of Christian tradition. For of this was that famous saying, ‘That Christ descended alone, but ascended with a multitude,’ which is found in the heads of the sermons of Thaddeus, as they are reported by Eusebius, out of the Syriac records of the city of Edessa, in Ignatius’ Epistle to the Trallians, and in the disputation of Macarius, Bishop of Jerusalem, in the first general Council of Nice, also in Cyril’s Catechism. Nay, this Cyril of Jerusalem, Chrysostom, and others, suppose this resurrection to have been common to all the saints that died before our Savior. However it may be, it holds no unfit-proportion with this supposed of the martyrs. And how it doth more impeach any article of our faith to think that may be of the martyrs, which we believe of the patriarchs, I yet see not.” He says again, “When at first I perceived that Millennium to be a state of the church consequent to the times of the beast, I was averse from the proper acceptation of that resurrection, taking it for a rising of the church from a dead estate; yet afterward, more seriously considering and weighing all things, I found no ground or footing for any sense but the literal (His biographer says: ‘He tried all ways imaginable to place the Millennium elsewhere than after the literal first resurrection, and, if it were possible, to begin it at the reign of Constantine. But after all his striving, he was forced to yield,’ etc.)
For first, I cannot be persuaded to forsake the proper and usual importment of Scripture language, where neither the insinuation of the text itself, nor manifest tokens of allegory, nor the necessity and nature of the things spoken of (which will bear no other sense) do warrant it. For to do so, were to lose all footing of divine testimony, and instead of Scripture, to believe mine own imagination. Now the 20th of the Apocalypse, of all the narrations of that book, seems to be the most plain and simple, most free from allegory and the involution of prophetic figures; only here and there sprinkled with such metaphors as the use of speech makes equivalent to vulgar expressions, or the former narrations in that book had made to be as words personal or proper names are in the plainest histories; as old serpent, beast, etc. How can a man, then, in so plain and simple a narration, take a passage of so plain and ordinarily expressed words (as those about the first resurrection are) in any other sense than the usual and literal? “Secondly . — Howsoever the word resurrection by itself might seem ambiguous, yet in a sentence composed in this manner, — viz., ‘of the dead, those which were beheaded for the witness of Jesus,’ etc., ‘lived again when the thousand years began; but the rest of the dead lived not again till the thousand years were ended,’ — it would be a most harsh and violent interpretation to say that dead, and consequently living again from the dead, should not in both cases be taken in the same meaning. For such a speech, in ordinary construction, implies, that some of the dead lived again in the beginning of the thousand years, in that sense the rest should live again at the end of the thousand years; and e contra , in what manner the rest of the dead should live again at the end of the thousand years, in that manner those who were beheaded for Jesus lived again in the beginning of the thousand years; which living again of those some, is called the first resurrection.” Then after referring to the fact that the ancient Jews and the early church believed, and taught a prior resurrection of the righteous, he continues: “Thus I have discovered my opinion of the thing which I suppose the Scripture hath revealed shall be; but de modo how it shall be, I would willingly abstain from determining. We must be content to be ignorant of the manner of things, which for the matter we are bound to believe. Too much adventuring here, without a sure guide, may be dangerous, and breed intolerable fancies, as it did among some in those ancient times, which occasioned as may seem, the death and burial of the main opinion itself so generally at first believed. “Yet thus much I conceive the text seems to imply, that these saints of the first resurrection should reign here on earth in the new Jerusalem in a state of beatitude and glory, partaking of divine presence and vision of Christ their king; as it were in an heaven upon earth, or new paradise immutable, unchangeable, etc.” (Mr.
Mede would often say that to make Jerusalem descending out of heaven to signify ascending up thither, was more absurd than that of the Canonist, who expounded constuimus we constitute by abrogamus we abrogate.) Secondly. That, for the better understanding of this mystery we must distinguish between the state of the New Jerusalem and state of the nations which shall walk in the light thereof; they shall not both be one, but much differing. Therefore what is spoken particularly of the New Jerusalem, must not be applied to the whole church which then shall be; New Jerusalem is not the whole church, but the metropolis thereof, and of the new world. * * I make this state of the church to belong to the second advent of Christ, or day of the great judgment, when Christ shall appear in the clouds of heaven to destroy all the professed enemies of his church and kingdom, and deliver the creature from that bondage of corruption brought upon it for the sin of man. * * But the truth is, this state is neither before nor after [the day of judgment], but the day of judgment itself, the time itself of the second appearing of Christ.
And it is to be remembered here, that the Jews, who gave this time the name of the day of judgment, and from whom our Savior and his apostles took it, never understood thereby [anything] but a time of many years continuance, yea some (mirabile dictu ) of a thousand years.” Mede taught the sex-millennial duration of the world, the renovation of the earth, and looked for the kingdom not far in the future.
Such is the voice of Joseph Mede, whom Prof. Bush styles, “One of the profoundest Biblical scholars of the English Church, of whom it was said that in the explication of the mysterious passages of Scripture, ‘he discerned the day before others had opened their eyes,” and whose works, to use the language of Dr. Duffield, have done more to revive the study of the prophecies, and to promote Millennarian doctrine than those perhaps of any other man. May we, like him, not only be Christians, but also Bible students! Mede died in 1638.
TWISS, A. D. 1625.
William Twiss was a pupil of Mede’s, and in all his Letters to him — numbering fifteen, and preserved in Mede’s Works — expressed the highest admiration for his views, saying at one time, “O, Mr. Mede, I would willingly spend my days in hanging upon your lips,” etc., “to hear you discourse upon the glorious kingdom of Christ here on earth, to begin with the ruin of Antichrist.” Again he says: “I heartily thank you for all, and particularly for that speculation of the untimely advancing of the martyrs;” referring, we suppose, to their prior resurrection, as taught in Revelation, 20th chapter. So, too, writes Usher, who observed of Mede’s Comment on the Apocalypse, “I cannot sufficiently commend it.’ These two great men seemed to sit at Mede’s feet and learn prophetic truth.
Twiss was President of the Westminster Assembly.
James Usher, D. D., Archbishop of Armagh, Ireland, was born 1581, at Dublin. He was distinguished for his native talent and great learning, and is well known to have been the author of the common chronology of the Bible. Instead of looking for a joyous time in the future, this celebrated prelate anticipated severe tribulation to come on the church, observing, “The greatest stroke upon the Reformed Church is yet to come; and the time of the utter ruin of the see of Rome shall be when she thinks herself most secure.” “Again he says, “A very great persecution will fall upon all the Protestant Churches of Europe. I tell you, all you have yet seen hath been but the beginning of sorrows to what is yet to come upon the Protestant Churches of Christ, which will, ere long, fall under sharper persecution than ever. Therefore look ye, be not found in the outer court, but a worshipper in the temple, before the altar. * * And this shall be one great difference between the last and all other preceding persecutions. For in the former the most eminent and spiritual ministers and Christians did generally suffer most. But in this last persecution these shall be preserved by God as a seed to partake of that glory which shall immediately follow and come upon the church, as soon as this storm shall be over. For as it shall be the sharpest so shall it be the shortest persecution of them all,” etc. Brooks says that he uttered these sentiments in the immediate prospect of death, and also refers them to expected Pre-millennial judgments; Usher saying they would take away “only the gross hypocrites and formal professors.” On the Millennium, Usher followed the Augustinian theory, but Mr. Brook affirms that “From the manner, however, in which he afterwards concurred in much which was submitted to him by Mede and others (as may be seen from his communications published in Mede’s Works,) we must conclude that he latterly renounced this opinion and became a Millennarian.” Mede, writing to Twiss of Usher, says: “He did not discover any aversion or opposition to the notion I represented thereabout. The like, Mr. Wood told me of him after he read his papers; nay, that he uses this compliment to him at their parting: ‘I hope we shall meet together in resurrection prima. ’ “ Then remarking that Usher was shy of committing himself on the question, he adds: “Yet the speeches I observed to fall from him were no wise discouraging. He told me once he had a brother who would say, he could never believe but the 1000 years were still to come.” MATON, A. D. 1642.
Robert Maton, A. M., Minister and Commoner at Oxford in 1642, was a Pre-millennialist. After remarking that “We may justly doubt whether our Savior hath as yet executed the office of king,” he refers to Colossians 2:15; Ephesians 4:8; Colossians 2:10; Hebrews 1:3, etc., allowing their fulfillment, and then proceeds to argue as follows: “Yet that he doth not now reign in that kingdom which he shall govern as man, and consequently in that of which the prophets spake, his own words in Revelation 3:21, do clearly prove, ‘To him that overcometh I will grant to set with me in my throne,’ etc., from whence it follows that the throne which here he calls his own, and which he hath not yet received, Hebrews 2:8 and Hebrews 10:12,13, must needs belong unto him as a man: because the place where now he sits is the Father’s throne, a throne in which he hath no proper interest but as God. Again, it follows, that seeing he is now in his Father’s throne, therefore neither is this the time nor the place in which his own throne is to be erected; not the place, for in one kingdom there can be but one throne, and not the time, for then he should sit in his own throne, which now he doth not do, and the reason of it (as it is intimated in the first words) is because the time in which all that shall ever come are to be called, is not yet at an end. And this also the answer to the souls under the altar doth fully confirm.”
Quoting Revelation 6:11, also Revelation 2:26, in connection with Luke 22:28, Maton further adds: “I know these words are taken by interpreters for a metaphorical expression of those joys which we shall receive in heaven, but it is a current axiom in our schools that we must not forsake the literal and proper sense of the Scriptures, unless an evident necessity doth require it, or the truth thereof would be endangered by it.
And I am sure here is no cause for which we should leave the natural interpretation of the place,” etc. He then urges from these passages the certainty of the personal reign. On Revelation 20th, he says: “When our Savior comes to reign over all the earth he comes not alone, but brings all the saints with him: which words establish the literal sense of the first resurrection in Revelation, 20th chapter.” Maton’s whole argument is clear, Scriptural and convincing.
ADAMS, A. D. 1650.
Thomas Adams, a learned tutor of Cromwell’s time, at London, in his exposition of 2nd Peter, chapter 3rd, though he controverts the sexmillennial duration of the world, admits that it was taught by the Jewish Rabbins and Talmuds, also in the early church and later by others, and on verse second says: “The end in the Apostle’s times was not far off; now it must be very near. If that were the last day, this must be the last hour; or if that were the last hour, this is the last minute. From all this we may gather, that so deep are we fallen into the latter end of these last times, that for aught we know, before we depart from this place, we may look for the last fire to flash in our faces.” This is the right method of preaching.
GOODWIN, A. D. 1650.
Thomas Goodwin, D. D., was born in Norfolk, Eng., in 1600. He was celebrated as a dissenter: Anthony Wood calling him and Dr. Owen “the two atlasses and patriarchs of independency.” He advocated the year-day theory of the prophetic numbers, and of the 1335 days of Daniel, says, it would reach to the time “of the full and final end which shall be the great resurrection and thousand years reign of Christ.” He observes, “There is a special world, called the world to come, appointed for Jesus Christ eminently to reign in; and therefore, though all the other senses to which I have referred, are true and good, yet let me add this to it, that God did not content himself to bestow this world upon Christ, for him to rule and reign in, and to order and dispose the affairs of it as he doth, and, after the day of judgment to reign in that sense you heard spoken of afore forever, more gloriously than he did before; but he hath appointed a special world on purpose for him, between this world and the end of the day of judgment (and the day of judgment itself is part of it, if not the whole of it,) wherein our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ shall reign; which world the Scriptures eminently calleth “the world to come,” Christ’s world as I may call it, that as this present world was ordained for the first Adam, and God hath given it unto the sons of men; so there is a world to come appointed for the second Adam, as the time after the day of judgment is God the Father’s in a more eminent manner, who then shall be “all in all.” Quoting Hebrews 2:5, also 2nd Peter 3rd chapter as proof, he afterwards continues, “Yea, my brethren, let me add this to it also that God doth take the same world that was Adam’s, and make it new and glorious. The same creation groaneth for this new world, this new clothing — as we groan to be clothed upon so doth this whole creation. And as God takes the same substance of man’s nature and engrafteth the new creature upon it, the same man still; so he takes the same world that was Adam’s, and makes it new and glorious, a new world for the second Adam. For the substance of the same world shall be restored to a glory which Adam could never have raised it unto — the same world that was lost in Adam. And this God will do before he hath done with it, and this restitution is ‘the world to come.’ Read the prophets and you shall find promises of strange and wonderful things, of glorious times, and that here upon earth.” “Now it is said that the first resurrection is a spiritual resurrection of men’s souls from the death of sin. But consider with yourselves a little: first, it is the souls of men dead; that is plain, for he saith they were slain with the sword, they were beheaded for the witness of Jesus; and as their death is, so must their resurrection be; their death was certainly a bodily death, for they were beheaded, therefore their resurrection must be answerable to it. And, to mention no other arguments, ‘they reigned with Christ a thousand years.’ This is not the glory of heaven, for that is for ever; and so they had reigned from the first time they were slain, if that glory were meant; but they reign upon their rising, for he says, ‘the rest of the dead lived not again till the thousand years are expired.’
Therefore the opposition implies, that it is a living again, and a proper resurrection. Now where do these reign? It should seem on earth by this argument; because why else is the devil bound up? He need not be bound up for their reigning in heaven.”
Dr. Goodwin, on his chronological position, says, in 1676, “Let an indefinite warning that these things are approaching, and we within the reach of them, suffice, for to move us to prepare for them; which is the only use of knowing them. It may be said of the time of these things, as it is said of the day of death, Latet hic dies, ut observetur omnis dies ; the day and year of the accomplishment of these great matters are hid from us, that so each day and year we may be found ready, whenever they shall come upon us (as in this age wherein we live they are likely to do.) Such is the voice of the pious Goodwin, who was a member of the Westminster Assembly, and who died in 1679.
MILTON, A. D. 1660.
John Milton, “The Christian Homer,” the renowned author of Paradise Lost, was born in London, 1608. His genius, creative imagination, mental sublimity, and power exhibited in the production of this great work is the admiration of all. An Arian Baptist in sentiment, he entered fully into the doctrine of the second advent; taught the final recreation of the earth and the near coming and personal reign of the Lord Jesus. In a prayer for England, he thus addresses the Deity: “When thou, the eternal, and shortly expected King, shall open the clouds, to judge the several kingdoms of the world, and shalt put an end to all earthly tyrannies, proclaiming thy universal and mild monarchy through heaven and earth, etc.” On the personal reign, he justly remarks — “That this reign will be on earth is evident from many passages.” Quoting Psalm 2:8,9; Revelation 2:25-27; <19B005>Psalm 110:5,6; Isaiah 9:6,7; Daniel 7:22-27; Luke 1:32,33; Matthew 19:28, and Luke 22:29,30, in order, as proof-texts, on the last one he adds, that, “The judgment here spoken of will not be continued to a single day, but will extend through a great space of time; the word being used to denote not so much a judicial inquiry, properly so called, as an exercise of dominion; in which sense Gideon, Jepthah and others judged Israel,” referring the reader then to Revelation 5:10,11,15, and 20:1-7. He also teaches that — “The world shall burn and from her ashes spring New heaven and earth wherein the just shall dwell; And after all their tribulations long See golden days.” — Par. Lost, 3:3:334. “For the earth Shall all be Paradise, far happier place Than this of Eden, and far happier days.” — Ibid. 12:461.
And on the world’s course and destiny, again he says — “Truth shall retire Bestuck with slanderous darts, and works of faith Rarely be found; so shall the world go on, To good malignant, to bad men benign, Under her own weight groaning till the day Appear, of reparation to the just, And vengeance to the wicked at return Of Him — thy Savior and thy Lord; Last in the clouds from heaven to be revealed, In glory of the Father, to dissolve Satan, with his perverted world; then raise From the conflagrant mass, purged and refined, New heavens, new earth, ages of endless date, Founded in righteousness and peace and love, To bring forth fruits, joy and eternal bliss.” Par. Lost, 12:535.
Such is the clear and “precious” Pro-millennial “faith” of Milton — whose doctrines in the seventeenth century made Europe tremble, and who quoted the Scriptures as though he believed they literally meant as they spoke. What do his million of admirers, of the spiritual and Post-millennial school, think of him? He died 1674.
JANEWAY, A. D. 1660.
James Janeway, a pious dissenting divine, at Oxford, and who also died in 1674, thus sweetly writes: “Of this I am confident, through infinite mercy, that the very meditation of that day (of judgment) hath ever ravished my soul; and the thought of the certainty and nearness of it is more refreshing to me than the comforts of the whole world.” Blessed Janeway! may thy spirit be mine. He loved the “appearing” of Jesus, 2 Timothy 4:8.
JEREMY TAYLOR, A. D. 1665.
Jeremy Taylor, D. D., Bishop of Down and Connor, was born 1613, at Cambridge, England. He was a pious and eloquent writer, and his works stand high among those of British theologians. While he condemns the early Chiliastic belief, he at the same time admits the primitive catholicity of the doctrine, and evidently argues a prior resurrection for the just, saying: “The resurrection shall be universal; good and bad shall rise; yet not all together; but first Christ — then we that are Christ’s — and then there is another resurrection, though it is not spoken of here. My text speaks only of the resurrection of the just — of them that belong to Christ. * * * But there is one thing more in it yet: every man in his own order. First, Christ, and then they that are Christ’s; but what shall become of them that are not Christ’s? Why, there is an order for them too; first, they that are Christ’s, and then they that are not his: ‘Blessed and holy is he that hath his part in the first resurrection.’ There is a first and a second resurrection even after this life; ‘the dead in Christ will rise first;’ now blessed are they that have their portion here; for upon these the second death shall have no power. * * * Paul implies the more universal resurrection unto judgment, wherein the wicked also shall rise to condemnation.” The reader will not fail to see that he makes the first resurrection of Revelation 20, a literal one: the admission of a cardinal point in Pre-millennialism. So the English prophetical writers regard it. Showing how doctrines of antiquity were contradicted by modern ecclesiastics and councils, he gives the views of primitive Christians on the delay of rewards and glorification until the Advent, as follows: “That is a plain recession from antiquity, which was determined by the council of Florence, ‘that the souls of the pious, being purified, are immediately at death received into heaven, and behold clearly the triune God just as he is:’ for those who please to try, may see it dogmatically resolved to the contrary, by Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Origen, Chrysostom, Theodoret, Arethus, Caeariensis, Euthymius, who may answer for the Greek Church. And it is plain that it was the opinion of the Greek Church, by that great difficulty the Romans had of bringing the Greeks to subscribe to the Florentine Council, where the Latins acted their master-piece of wit and stratagem, — the greatest that hath been till the famous and superpolitic Council of Trent. And for the Latin Church, Tertullian, Ambrose, Austin, Hilary, Prudentius, Lactantius, Victorinus, and Bernard, are known to be of opinion, that the souls of the saints are in ‘abditis receptaculis et exterioribus atriis ,’ where they expect the resurrection of their bodies and the glorification of their souls; and though they all believe them to be happy, yet that they enjoy not the beatific vision before the resurrection.” Mr. Brooks remarks on this that “the testimony of the church is uniform on this point down to Popish times: the early Reformers maintaining the same primitive faith.” Jeremy Taylor maintained the literal system of Biblical interpretation, and as exhibited in his writings, evidently cherished an ardent love for the appearing of the blessed Savior. He was chaplain to king Charles the First, and died in 1677.
WATSON, A. D. 1670.
Thomas Watson, a pious divine, who died in 1673, thus writes: “For the time of the general judgment is a secret kept from the angels, but this is sure, it cannot be far off. When the elect are all converted, then Christ will come to judgment.” BAXTER, A. D. 1670.
His works are universally admired, and no eulogy upon him is here required. Expecting the personal return of Jesus, he thus sweetly and calmly writes: “Would it not rejoice your hearts if you were sure to live to see the coming of the Lord, and to see his glorious appearing, and retinue?
If you were not to die, but to be caught up thus to meet the Lord, would you be averse to this? Would it not be the greatest joy that you could desire? For my own part, I must confess to you, that death as death, appeareth to me as an enemy, and my nature doth abhor and fear it. But the thoughts of the coming of the Lord are most sweet and joyful to me, so that if I were but sure that I should live to see it, and that the trumpet should sound, and the dead should rise, and the Lord appear before the period of my age, it would be the joyfullest tidings to me in the world. Oh, that I might see his kingdom come!” “Whether He will come before the general resurrection and reign on earth a thousand years, I shall not presume to pass my determination; but sure I am, it is the work of faith and character of his saints to love his appearing and to look for that blessed hope; ‘The Spirit and the Bride say come; even so come, Lord Jesus, come quickly,’ is the voice of faith, and hope, and love. But I find not that his servants are thus characterized by their desire to die. It is the presence of their Lord that they desire, but it is death that they abhor, and therefore, though they cannot submit to death, it is the coming of Christ that they love and long for. If death be the last enemy to be destroyed at the resurrection, we may learn how earnestly believers should long and pray for the second coming of Christ, when this full and final conquest shall be made. There is something in death that is penal even to believers: but in the coming of Christ and their resurrection there is nothing but glorifying grace.” “Though I have not skill enough in the exposition of hard prophecies, to make a particular determination about the thousand years reign of Christ on earth before the final judgment, yet, I may say, that I cannot confute what such learned men as Mr. Mede, Dr.
Twiss, and others (after the old Fathers) have hereof asserted. * * * But I believe there be a new heaven and earth on which will dwell righteousness.” “This is the day that all believers should long, and hope, and wait for, as being the accomplishment of all the work of their redemption, and all the desires and endeavors of their souls. * * * Hasten, O Lord, this blessed day! Stay not till faith have left the earth; and infidelity, and impiety, and tyranny have conquered the rest of thine inheritance! Stay not till selfish, uncharitable pride hath vanquished love and self-denial, and planted its colonies of heresy, cruelty, and confusion in thy dominions; and earth and hell be turned into one! Stay not till the eyes of thy servants fail, and their hearts and hopes do faint and languish with looking and waiting for their salvation! But if the day be not at hand, O keep up faith, and hope, and love till the sun perfect love arise, and time hath prepared us for eternity and grace for glory.” On Christ’s most glorious coming and appearance, he says: “We daily behold the forerunners of his coming foretold by himself. We see the fig tree putteth forth leaves, and therefore know that summer is nigh. Though the riotous would say my Lord delayeth his coming, yet the saints lift up their heads, for their redemption draweth nigh. Alas! fellow Christians, what should we do if our Lord should not return?” In his “Farewell Sermon” he obviously negatives the doctrine of the world’s conversion, as taught by many divines. So speaks the “Sainted Baxter.” He was a dissenter, and died 1691.
AMBROSE, .A. D. 1650.
Isaac Ambrose, a divine of England, of some celebrity, and who during the civil wars became a Presbyterian. In his sermon on Doomsday, he connected the second advent with the seventh trumpet, and also looked for the restoring of all things at the expiration of the 6000 years, exclaiming, “This time is at hand, and is it not time to petition to the judge of heaven?
What a dangerous course it is never to call to mind that time of times until we see the earth flaming, the heavens melting, the judgment hastening, the Judge with all his angels coming in the clouds, etc. See you now not many sing, as the heralds and forerunners of his glorious coming?” His hope was evidently in the coming of the Lord, and no false view of intermediate Millennial blessedness dimmed its glories. We know not the dates of his birth or death.
DURANT, A. D. 1653.
John Durant, a pious Pre-millennialist of the Commonwealth time. “Sweet old Durant,” as Rev. D. Brown calls him, advocated the personal reign, and in his work, “Christ’s appearance the second time for the salvation of believers,” published in 1653, thus enrapturingly writes. “O how glorious will that salvation be, when all the heirs of salvation shall meet together!
Now, all are not saved; the whole body now is in trouble for a part. Then all the children of the Father shall meet together in their Father’s presence; shall come from the east and west, from north and south, and sit down in that kingdom; yea, and then all saints shall be sweetly conjoined. Jewels scattered are not so resplendent; but joined in some rich pendant, O how glorious are they! In that day Christ will gather up all his jewels — he will bring in every saint into one — gather them into one great jewel, one precious pendant, which shall jointly lie in his bosom. Now a saved soul sighs and cries, Where is Israel? where is Judah? When will the Lord save them? Why, poor hearts, you shall all meet at that day — be saved with an universal salvation. All, always, altogether in the presence of your Savior! — surely, then, you will say, that salvation is very sweet. Not one saint shall be missing in that day; but all shall altogether meet and enjoy the salvation of Christ. * * I have heard of a poor man, who it seems loved and longed for Christ’s appearance, that when there was a great earthquake, and when many cried out, the day of judgment was come, and one cried, Alas! alas! what shall I do? and a third, How shall I hide myself? That poor man only said, ‘Ah! is it so? Is the day come? Where shall I go? Upon what mountain shall I stand to see my Savior?’ “ How does this love for ‘His appearing’ rebuke the cold and unloving spirit of very many modern Christians!
ALLEINE, A. D. 1660.
Joseph Alleine, A. B. Born in Wiltshire, Eng., 1623, was educated at Oxford, and became a classic scholar and, eminent preacher, and lived and died universally beloved. Brooks calls him a Millenarian. In a letter written to his flock while in Ilchester goal for preaching the gospel, he says: — “But now, my brethren, I shall not so much call upon you to remember the resurrection of Christ as the return of Christ. Behold he cometh in the clouds, and every eye shall see him — your eyes and mine eyes — and all the tribes of the earth shall mourn because of him. But we shall lift up our heads because the day of our redemption draweth nigh. This is the day I look for and wait for, and have laid up all my hopes in. If the Lord return not, I profess myself undone — my preaching is vain, and my suffering is vain, and the bottom in which I have entrusted all my hopes is forever miscarried. But I know whom I have trusted; we are built upon the foundation of his sure word, and how fully doth that word assure us that this same Jesus who is gone up into heaven, shall so return.
O, how sure is the thing! How near is the time! How glorious will his appearing be! What generous cordials hath he left us in his parting sermons and his last prayer; and yet of all the rest, these words are the sweetest; I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am there ye may be also. And will He come?
Tremble then, ye sinners; but triumph, ye saints! Clap your hands all ye that look for the consolation of Israel. O children of the Most High, how will you forget your travail and be melted into joy! This is he in whom you have believed; whom not having seen ye have loved. O my soul, look out and long! O my brethren, be you as the mother of Sisera looking out at the windows, and watching at the lattice, saying, Why are his chariot wheels so long in coming?
Though the time till ye shall see him be very short, yet love and longing make it seem tedious. My beloved, comfort your hearts with these words: look upon these things as the greatest realities, and let your affections be answerable to your expectations. I would not have told you these things unless I had believed them; it is for this hope that I am bound with this chain. Mr. Brooks justly observes that “these passages “afford an evidence of the practical tendency of the Savior’s advent, and of the proper mode of handling the subject.” Alleine was a non-conformist, was the author of the “Alarm,” and died 1668.
WESTMINSTER ASSEMBLY, A. D. 1643.
The Westminster Assembly was convened by Parliament the reign of Charles I., 1643, and composed of 10 Lords, 20 Commoners, and Divines, Episcopalians, Dissenters, Independents, etc. Buck says: “They were called for the purpose of settling the government, liturgy, and doctrines of the Church of England, and the divines were men of eminent learning and godliness.” They framed “The Directory for Public Worship,” “The Confession of Faith,” “The Larger and Shorter Catechisms,” and signed the “Solemn League and Covenant,” and several of them published the “Assemblie’s Annotations,” “sentences in which,” says Mr. Brooks, “it cannot be reasonably questioned, were intended to be understood in a Millennarian sense.” Dr. Duffield also affirms that “they express Millennarian doctrines.” Robert Bailee, Principal of the University of Glasgow, died 1662, one of the members of this Assembly, and a strong Anti-millenarian, thus records the Pre-millennial faith of this august body.
Writing to Wm. Spang at the time, he says, “Revelation and dear Bro. * * *, Send me the rest of Forbes: I like the book very well, and the man much better for the book’s sake. I marvel I can find nothing in it against the Millenarians. I cannot think the author a Millennary. I cannot dream why he should have omitted an error so famous in antiquity; and so troublesome among us; for the most of the chief divines here, not only Independents, but others, such as Twiss, Marshall, Palmer, and many more are express Chiliasts.” The celebrated John Selden, the erudite Henry Ainsworth, D. D., the learned Thomas Gataker, the admired Daniel Featly, D. D., together with Wm. Twiss, who was Moderator of this body, Thomas Goodwin, D. D., Stephen Marshall, Jeremiah Burroughs, Herbert Palmer, Joseph Caryll, Simeon Ash, Win. Bridge, A. M., Wm. Gouge, D. D., J.
Langley, and Peter Sterry, of London, some of whose writings are lost, but most of whom speak for themselves, were among the “chief divines” of the Westminster Assembly, the majority of whose members, as Duffield, Brooks, Anderson and others argue, were evidently Pre-millennialists.
Samuel Rutherford was Professor of Divinity at St. Andrews, in.Scotland, 1643, and he and Bailee were styled “the greatest lights of their day.” In his “Letters” he constantly refers to the nearness of Christ’s day in language like the following: “Indeed our fair morning is at hand, the day-star is near the riseing, and we are not many miles from home.” “That fallen Star, the Prince of the bottomless pit, knoweth it is near the time when he shall be tormented.” “This day is fast coming; yet a little while and the vision will speak, it will not tarry.” “The day is near the dawning, the sky is riving, our Beloved will be on us ere ever we be aware.” “It is time enough for us to laugh when our Lord Christ laugheth, and that will be shortly. For when we hear of wars and rumors of wars, the Judge’s feet are then before the door, and he must be in heaven, giving order to the angels to make themselves ready, and prepare their sickles for that great harvest. Christ will be on us in haste. Watch but a little, and, ere long, the skies shall rend, and that fair, lovely person, Jesus, will come in the clouds, fraught and loaded with glory.” “We are in the last days.” “The day of the Lord is now near at hand.” “The blast of the last trumpet is now hard at hand. This world’s span-length of time, is drawn now to less than half an inch, and to the point of the evening of the day of this old gray-haired world.” That Rutherford did not hold to the conversion of the whole world before the Lord’s advent, seems evident from his saying that “The Lord’s Bride will be up and down, above the water swimming, and under the water sinking, until her lovely and mighty Redeemer and Husband set his head through these skies, and come with his fair court to settle all their disputes and give them the hoped for inheritance.” Again he says, on the doctrine of Christ’s personal reign, that the church ought to “Avouch the royal crown and absolute supremacy of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of the kings of the earth, as becometh, for certain it is that Christ will reign the Father’s king in Mount Zion; and his sworn covenant will not be buried.” Again, “Put on thy glittering crown, O thou Maker of kings, and make but one stride, or one step of the whole earth, anal travel in the greatness of thy strength; Isaiah 63:1, and let thy apparel be red, and all dyed with the blood of thy enemies: thou art fallen righteous heir by line to the kingdoms of the world.” And on the bringing in of Israel he says, “O for a sight in this flesh of mine of the prophesied marriage between Christ and them. The kings of Tarshish, and of the isles, must bring presents to our Lord Jesus. Psalm 72:10. And Britain is one of the chiefest isles; why then but we may believe, that our kings of this island shall come in, and bring their glory to the New Jerusalem, wherein Christ shall dwell in the latter days? It is our part to pray, ‘that the kingdoms of the earth may become Christ’s.” Whether “the seraphic Rutherford,” as D. Brown, of Scotland, calls him, was Pre-millennial, or Post-millennial in his views of Christ’s advent, we know not certainly, but we judge from his letters that the latter was the case; this we do know, that he loved his Lord’s appearing, and seemed to be like one of whom Wesley sings, that “waited in an agony” for his advent. He. says: “The Lord hath told you what ye should be doing till He come; wait and hasten, saith Peter, for the coming of your Lord. All is night that is here, in respect of ignorance and daily ensuing troubles, one always making way to another as the ninth wave of the sea to the tenth; therefore, sigh and long for the dawning of that morning, and the breaking of that day of the coming of the Son of Man, when the shadows shall flee away. Persuade yourself that the King is coming.
Read his letter sent before Him, Revelation 22:20, Behold I come quickly. Wait with the wearied night-watch, for the breaking of the eastern sky, and think that ye have not a morrow; as the wise father said, who, being invited against tomorrow to dine with his friends, answered, ‘These many days I have had no morrow at all.’” I half call his absence cruel; and the mask and vail on Christ’s face, a cruel covering that hideth such a fair face from a sin sick soul. I dare not challenge himself, but his absence is a mountain of iron upon my heavy heart. O, when shall we meet? Oh, how long is it to the dawning of the marriage day! O, sweet Lord Jesus, take wide steps! O, my Lord, come over mountains at one stride! O, my beloved, flee like a roe, or a young hart, on the mountains of separation. Oh, that He would fold the heavens together like an old cloak, and shovel time and days out of the way, and make ready in haste the Lamb’s wife for her husband. Since He looked upon me my heart is not mine own, he hath run away to heaven with it.” “O day, dawn! O time, run fast! O bridegroom, post, post fast, that we may meet! O, Heavens, cleave in two, that that bright face and head may set itself through the clouds! Oh, that the corn were ripe, and this world prepared for his sickle.” “The wife of youth, that wants her husband some years, and expects he shall return to her from over sea lands, is often on the shore; every ship coming near shore is her new joy; her heart loves the wind that shall bring him home. She asks at every passenger news, O, saw ye my husband? What is he doing? When shall he come? Is he shipped for a return? Every ship that carrieth not her husband is the breaking of her heart.” “The bush hath been burning above five thousand years, and we never yet saw the ashes of this fire. He cannot fail to bring judgment to victory. O, that we could wait for our hidden life! O, that Christ would remove the covering, draw aside the curtain of time, and rend the heavens, and come down! O, that be who feedeth among the lilies would cry to his heavenly trumpeters, ‘make ready, let us go down and fold together the four corners of the world, and marry the bride!’” Rutherford was born about 1600, and died in 1661 a saint of blessed memories.
FARMER, A. D. 1660.
Joseph Farmer, of England, in 1660, wrote and published a little volume, bearing the title of “A sober Enquiry, or Christ’s reign with his saints, modestly asserted from the Scriptures.” This work was republished in 1843, by Rev. J. Lillie, of New York, who endorses its sentiments. The Edinburgh Presbyterian Review says, “The spirit of this little piece of antiquity, is admirable calm, candid and christian.” Farmer says, “I argue as followeth: — The kingdom of the Son of Man, and of the saints of the most high in Daniel, begins when the great judgment sits. The kingdom in Revelation 20:4; wherein the saints reign with Christ a thousand years, is the same with the kingdom of the Son of Man, and the saints of the Most High in the prophet Daniel; therefore it also begins at the great judgment. The one thousand years begin with the day of judgment, which is not consummated till Gog and Magog’s destruction at their end; therefore the whole thousand years is included in that great day of judgment. The resurrection of the just will take place in the morning of the day of judgment, or beginning of the thousand years, and is called ‘the first resurrection,’ literally in the Greek, ‘this resurrection that first,’ a singular emphasis to denote some first resurrection known and spoken of in the writings of the prophets and apostles.” “Yea, Paul himself declares this first resurrection in Thessalonians 4:16, ‘The dead in Christ shall rise first.’ The Vulgate hath the word primi, but the Greek is the adverb; still it comes to all one. And hence Chrysostom upon the place saith, ‘The just shall rise before the wicked, that they may be first in the resurrection, not only in dignity, but in time.’ Now if the dead in Christ shall rise first, when shall the wicked arise but in a second resurrection? And if the resurrection St. Paul speaks of be the resurrection of the body, why is not the resurrection of St. John, Revelation 20: the resurrection of the body too?” Again he says, “It will be a Millennium aureum or aureum siculum. It will be a golden day and age indeed, for the holy city, the New Jerusalem, that city of gold and pearl doth contemporate and synchronize with the thousand years, as might be abundantly proved, if Mede had not done it to my hand.” Farmer regarded that day as near, and writes: “Pray we therefore for the ruin of Antichrist. Arise, O Lord, and hasten thy coining!”
STERRY, A. D. 1653.
In his recommendation of Dr. Holmes, “Resurrection Revealed,” he writes in the following beautiful strain: — “The subject, (which is the reign of our Savior, with his saints an the earth) is of a transcendent glory in itself, of universal consequence to all persons and states, and of very great reasonableness for present times. Like a piece of rich coin, it hath long been buried in the earth; but of late days digged up again, it begins to grow bright with handling; and to pass current with great numbers of saints, and learned men of great authority. As the same star at several seasons is the evening star, setting immediately after the sun, and the morning star shining immediately before it; so was this truth the evening star to the first coming of Christ, and giving of the Spirit, setting together with the glory of that day in a night of Antichristianism: now it appears again in our times as a morning star to that blessed day of the second effusion of the Spirit, and the second appearance of our Savior in the glory of the Father.” Sterry was a member of the Westminster Assembly. His illustration is a good one, and we would add that the “Morning Star” is shining yet and will until its light is lost in the Rising Sun.
BURROUGHS, A. D. 1643.
Jeremiah Burroughs, was a preacher at Stepney and Cripplegate, England, and a member of the Westminster Assembly. Dr. Wilkins reckons him among the most eminent of the English divines, for practical divinity. He looked for the advent, and says’ “But now if you ask me when shall these things be; when shall Jerusalem be made the praise of the whole earth? It is very hard to determine the particular time, but surely at the end of Antichrist’s reign it must be. And how long Antichrist shall reign, that we know certainly; the only difficulty is to reckon the very time of the beginning of his reign. He shall reign for 1260 years, and we have such parallel Scriptures for this, that there is nothing more evident, and generally divines agree upon it.” Citing several texts in proof, he adds: “Now all the difficulty is about the beginning of the 1260 years;” then saying some expected them to terminate in his day, he continues: “But there is another computation of those who think the reign of Antichrist did not begin so soon, and they conceive it will be a matter of some 200 years or more, before the beginning of these times. But I think God hath not left it very clear to determine about the time. Only this: God by his strange kind of work among us doth seem as if he were hastening the time, as if it were near at hand; * * * there will be troubles and wars continually till this time. There will be no certainty nor settledness of things till Jerusalem come to be made as the praise of the earth. There will attend affliction to the people of God, yea, and to others too; yea, and there is a curse upon men’s spirits which will not be taken off till this time come.” Mr. Brooks pronounces him Millenarian in his sentiments. He died in 1646.
VINCENT, A. D. 1656.
Thomas Vincent, a Dissenting minister at London, who died in 1761, and of whose Millennial views we know nothing, in a sermon on “Christ’s sudden appearance to judgment,” preached on the occasion of the great plague, 1666, says: “Citizens of London! Give me leave to sound another trumpet in your ears, and to forewarn you of a ten thousand times more dreadful judgment; I mean the last and general judgment of the whole world, at the second appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will most certainly and very quickly be revealed from heaven in flaming fire.” Such preaching is in the style of the angel of Revelation 14:6. This he says in his Preface, and quoting still further, Vincent says in his work: — “‘Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so come, Lord Jesus.’ — Revelation 23:20. The last words of a dear friend are usually most remarked and best remembered, especially when they speak great affection. These are the last words of Jesus Christ, the best friend that the children of man ever had, which he sends his angels from heaven, after he had been some years in glory with the Father, to speak in his name unto his churches upon the earth, ver. 16, ‘I, Jesus, have sent mine angel to testify these things in the churches;’ and of all the things which he testifieth by his angel, this is the last and the sweetest in the text, ‘Surely I come quickly.’ Which words of promise coming down from heaven, and expressing so much love to the church, are followed with an echo, and resound of the church’s earnest desire, ‘Amen. Even so come, Lord Jesus,’ etc.
Oh, that this were true of the church generally in these days! After speaking at length of the manner and object of Christ’s coming, and the attending resurrection and judgment, applying the subject, with great power, to the hearts of all, he proceeds: “The third thing promised, is to show that the Lord Jesus will quickly appear; that is, he will come within a short time. “‘He that shall come, will come,’ there is the certainty of his coming, and ‘yet a little while, he will come, and will not tarry,’ there is the speediness of his coming. ‘The Lord is at hand,’ Philippians 4:5. ‘The coming of the Lord draweth nigh,’ James 5:8. ‘The Judge standeth at the door,’ ver. 9. ‘The end of all things is at hand,’ 1 Peter 4:7. Therefore our days are called the ‘last days,’ 2 Timothy 3:1. ‘And upon us the ends of the world are come,’ 1 Corinthians 10:11. We live in the end of the world, in the last days, in the old age thereof. The world hath as it were three ages: the youth, the middle age, and the old age; the youth of the world was from the creation to the flood; the middle age from the flood to the first coming of Christ; the old age from the first coming of Christ to the second coming. The old age and last days of the world began in the apostles’ time; now many of them are spent, and we are come not only to the declining years, but also to the decrepit age of the world. And if the Lord Jesus Christ were to come shortly in the days of the apostles, much more shortly will he come now, when so many years are past since the Scriptures were writ, and these things foretold.” HALL. A. D. 1657.
Thomas Hall, B. D., pastor of Kingsnorton, England, was the author of a work against Pre-millennialism, published in London, 1657. We extract from it to exhibit the faith of our elder divines, while as yet the Whitbyan theory of the Millennium was unknown. Writing in opposition to Dr.
Homes, after saying “that ever the church should come to that height of happiness on earth, as to be free from troubles, internal and external, and to reign with Christ here for a thousand years in a sinless, sorrowless, temptationless condition, is a mere dream, and hath no ground in Scripture,” — in a final summary of his arguments he thus writes — “Against the Doctor’s thesis I shall set down this antithesis: “That Christ shall not reign personally with the saints or martyrs here on earth for a thousand years, neither before the day of Judgment, in the day of judgment, nor after it. If ever there be such a reign it must be in one of those times. But it is in neither. “1. It cannot be before the day of judgment for these reasons. 1.
Because the last days will be perilous, not pleasant days, 2 Timothy 3:1,2,3. They will be full of security, sensuality and iniquity, insomuch that when Christ comes he shall scarce find any faith on earth, Luke 18:8, Matthew 24:37, 38, WICKEDNESS WILL MOST ABOUND TOWARDS THE END OF THE WORLD. “2. If the church of Christ on earth be a mixt society, consisting of good and bad to the end of the world, then it cannot subsist for a thousand years only of good men. But the church of Christ on earth to the end of the world, is a mixt society, consisting of tares and wheat, good and bad, a Gog and Magog to molest the saints to the end of the world. Matthew 13:40; Revelation 20:7,8. “3. If Christ remain in heaven till the day of judgment, then he cannot reign corporally a thousand years on earth before that day. But the antecedent is true, and therefore the consequent. Acts 3:21; John 14:3. Whom the heaven must contain till the time that all things be restored, i.e., until the time of his coming to judgment, when he shall appear again for the full consummation of the glory of his elect, and perfect accomplishment of his kingdom; then all shall be repaired which sin hath disordered, and the creature be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the sons of God, Romans 8:21; it is from heaven, and not from earth, (saith our creed,) that Christ shall come to judge the quick and the dead. “4. If God’s church (whilst in this world) must look for afflictions, temptations, persecutions; then this imaginary reign without sin or sorrow cannot be expected here. But God’s church (whilst on earth) must look for afflictions, temptations, and persecutions here. Timothy 3:12. All Christ’s disciples must take up their cross daily, though they be righteous, yet must they look for many troubles, Psalm 34:19; Acts 14:22. “5. Christ’s kingdom is not of this world, John 18:36. And therefore, when the Jews would have made him a king, he conveyed himself from amongst them, John 6:15. His kingdom in this world is spiritual, not carnal; it is not without any worldly pomp, neither doth it consist in meat, drink, or marriage, Matthew 22:30. Corinthians 6:13. Romans 14:27. A woe is denounced against those that have their carnal delights, and their portion of pleasures here. Luke 6:25. James 5:5. “6. That tenet which is contrary to the judgment of all the church of Christ, ought to be suspected by us. “9. It makes the ruin of Antichrist to be a thousand years or more before the day of judgment,WHEN THE SCRIPTURE JOINS THEM TOGETHER, 2 Thessalonians 2:8. “10. It makes the church triumphant when Christ comes, contrary to the tenor of the Scripture, Matthew 37:38. 2 Timothy 3:1. “11. It is a means to breed security in men when they shall hear that it is yet above a thousand years to the day of judgment; whereas the learned conceive the end of the world to be much nearer. And the apostles thought it was not far off in their time.”
John Bunyan was born 1628, in Bedfordshire, England. He is the widely known and ingenious author of “Pilgrim’s Progress,” “The Holy War,” and other noted works, and is universally acknowledged to have been one of the most original and interesting writers of the seventeenth century. He was a Baptist in faith and practice. Though his name was not attached to the Baptist Confession of Faith, presented to King Charles, in 1660, yet he doubtless approved of it, and evidently believed, with the Baptists of his day, in the personal reign of Christ on the Throne of David, forever.
On Zechariah 14:4, “His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives,” arguing against the spiritualizers of God’s Word, he says, “This is the day of His second coming,” and then asks, “Where is the Mount of Olives? Not within thee! But that which is without Jerusalem, before it, on the east side.” A pointed and summary argument truly.
On the Millennium, Bunyan writes as follows: “God’s blessing the Sabbath day, and resting on it from all his works, was a type of that glorious rest that saints shall have when the six days of this world are fully ended. This the Apostle asserts in the fourth chapter to the Hebrews, ‘there remaineth a rest (or the keeping of a Sabbath) to the people of God,’ which Sabbath, as I conceive, will be the seventh thousand of years which are to follow immediately after the earth has stood six thousand years first. For as God was six days in the works of creation, and rested on the seventh, so in six thousand years he will perfect his works and providences that concern this world. As also he will finish the travail and toil of his saints, with the burden of the beasts, and the curse of the ground, and bring all into rest for a thousand years. A day with the Lord is a thousand years; wherefore this blessed and desirable time is also called a day, a great day, that great and notable day of the Lord, Isaiah 2; Joel 2:31; Revelation 16:14, which shall end in the eternal judgment of the world. God hath held this forth by several other shadows, such as the Sabbath of weeks, the Sabbath of years, and the great Jubilee.” “None ever saw this world as it was in its first creation but Adam and his wife, neither will any see it until the manifestation of the children of God; that is, until the redemption or resurrection of the saints. But then it shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Adam, as a type of Christ, reigned in the church almost a thousand years. The world, therefore, beginning thus, doth show us how it will end, — viz., by the reign of the second Adam, as it began with the reign of the first. * * * In the seventh thousand years of the world will be that Sabbath when Christ shall set up his Kingdom on earth: according to that which is written, ‘They lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.’ “ Of the New Jerusalem, Bunyan thus beautifully writes: “Now I saw in my dream, that the two pilgrims went in at the gate: and lo! as they entered they were transfigured; and they had raiment put on that shone like gold.
Just as the gate was opened to let in the men, I looked in after them, and behold! the city shone like the sun! The streets also were paved with gold, and in them walked many men with crowns on their heads, and golden harps to sing praises withal. “There were also of them that had wings, and they answered one another without intermission, saying, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord! ’ And after that, they shut up the gates; which, when I had seen, I wished myself among them.”
The “Prince of Dreamers” speaks the language of the early Church, and with every Baptist of the time of King Charles II., lifts his voice against the great error of the day — Post-millennialism. Bunyan died 1688.
BAPTIST CHURCHES, A. D. 1660.
Baptist Confession of Faith, 1660. This confession was presented to Charles II. in the above year, in the city of London, and was signed by forty-one elders, deacons, and brethren, and approved by more than 20,000 others; “for which,” say they, “we are not only resolved to suffer persecution to the loss of our goods, but also life itself, rather than decline from the same.”
We give one or two extracts exhibiting its decided Millenarian character: 1. “WE believe, and are very confident, That, etc. * * * * 20. “THAT there shall be (through Christ, who was dead, but is alive again from the dead) a resurrection of all men from the graves of the earth, Isaiah 26:19, both the just and the unjust, Acts 24:15, that is, the fleshly bodies of men, sown into the graves of the earth; corruptible, dishonorable, weak, natural, (which, so considered, cannot inherit the kingdom of God) shall be raised again, incorruptible, in glory, in power, spiritual; and so considered, the bodies of the saints (united again to their spirits) which here suffer for Christ, shall inherit the kingdom, reigning together with Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:21,22,42,43,44,49. 21. “THAT there shall be, after the resurrection from the graves of the earth, an eternal judgment , at the appearing of Christ and his kingdom, <550401> 2 Timothy 4:1; Hebrews 9:27, at which time of judgment, which is unalterable, and irrevocable, every man shall receive according to the things done in his body. 2 Corinthians 5:10. 22. “THAT the same Lord Jesus who showed himself alive after his Passion, by many infallible proofs, Acts 1:3, which was taken up from the disciples, and carried up into heaven, Luke 24:51, shall so come in like manner as He was seen to go into heaven , Acts 1:9,10,11. And when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, we shall also appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:4. For then shall He be King of kings, and Lord of lords. Revelation 19:16. For the kingdom is His, and He is the Governor among the nations, Psalm 22:28, and king over all the earth, Zechariah 14:9, and we shall reign with Him on the earth, Revelation 5:10. The kingdoms of this world (which men so mightily strive after here, to enjoy) shall become the kingdoms of our Lord, and his Christ. Revelation 11:15. For all is yours (O, ye that overcome this world) for ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. 1 Corinthians 3:22,23. For unto the saints shall be given the kingdom, and the greatness of the kingdom under (mark that) the whole heaven. Daniel 7:27. Though (alas!) now many men be scarce content that the saints should have so much as a being among them; but when Christ shall appear, then shall be their day; then shall be given unto them power over the nations, to rule them with a rod of iron. Revelation 2:26, 27. Then shall they receive a crown of life, which no man shall take from them, nor they by any means [be?] turned, or overturned from it; for the oppressor shall be broken in pieces, .Psalm 72:4, and their now vain rejoicings turned into mourning and bitter lamentations; as it is written. Job 20:5, 6, 7. The triumphing of the wicked is short and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment: though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds, yet shall he perish forever, like his own dung; they which have seen him, shall say, Where is he? ” 24. on liberty of conscience, closes thus: “And that the tares and the wheat should grow together in the field (which is the world) until the harvest (which is the end of the world).” Matthew 13:29, 30, 38, 39.
BOUGHTON AND OTHERS A. D. 1600.
THOMAS BEVERLY, in 1687, maintained the doctrine of a literal first resurrection, and expected the Millennium.
MATTHEW MEAD, a Dissenter, who died in 1699, wrote these words: “Christ will visibly appear at the beginning of the seventh trumpet.”\parTILLINGHAST, in 1665, taught that the second coming of Christ was “but a little way from the door, and finallyDR.PRIDEAUX, a very learned Episcopalian of England, born in 1648, admits that the Dissenters of his day, took the word “souls,” Revelation 20, as meaning “souls and bodies united,” interpreting them synechdochically, thus allowing their Premillennialism.
JURIEU, A. D. 1700.
Peter Jurieu, a French Protestant Calvinist minister, was born 1637. He was a preacher at Rotterdam, and in England, and an Apocalyptic writer, in which he avowedly takes Mede as his master, except in those portions of prophecy of later application. He advocates the year-day theory, makes the tenth part of the city in Revelation 11:13, also the city in which the witnesses were slain, to be France; explains the beast as Mede, making its seventh head to be the Papal Antichrist, whose ruin he expected in 1710- 15, saying, “Many things, without reckoning the modern prophecies, made me hope that we were near the end of that period, of 1260 years, at the close whereof Babylon must fall. It is much nearer than is commonly thought. In a few years you will see the light of that fire which is shut up, without being extinguished. We are now in those last days when Christ should come and not find true piety, or true faith upon earth.” And once more: “That which is to follow his (Antichrist’s) fall is the famous reign of Christ upon earth.’” The foregoing detached extracts. We now give an argument from him on the Pre-millennial advent. On Daniel 12:3, he writes: — “What, I pray, should the resurrection do here in the middle of the chapter, in which the adventures only of Antiochus Epiphanes are spoken of? ‘Tis plain that this is perfectly the same prophecy as that of St.
John in the 20th chap. of the Revelation, where the apostle predicts the deliverance of the church, and the coming of the kingdom of Christ by a resurrection. They that were beheaded for the name of Jesus must be raised up, and reign with him a thousand years. This is what Daniel saith here, that they that have turned many to righteousness, by their doctrine, and by their martyrdom, shall be as shining and ruling stars in the kingdom of Jesus Christ. It is not the last resurrection nor the last coming of Christ that St. John speaks of, no more than Daniel. ‘Tis of that coming that St. Paul speaks of when he saith that Jesus Christ shall destroy Antichrist by the brightness of his coming; when he shall come to establish his kingdom of a 1000 years on the earth. ‘Tis that resurrection which the Revelation calls ‘the first resurrection.’ And therefore Daniel doth not say, and all those that sleep in the dust shall awake, but he only saith many of those that sleep in the dust; even as St. John saith expressly that then all the dead shall not arise. ‘Tis true, that Daniel also joins the resurrection of the wicked; but we must not conclude that this resurrection of the wicked must be at the same time; one prophecy must be explained by the other. The resurrection of the wicked, which Daniel joins here with the first resurrection, is distant from it at least a 1000 years. But he speaks of it as of two things joined together, because who speaks of it is God, before whom a thousand years are but as one day.” Jurieu used language that Pre-millennialists are obliged to make use of now, for Dr. Whitby now lived, and so unpopular had this truth become, that though a firm believer in the personal reign, he says “many divines in this country (England) have greatly murmured at it, even so far as to threaten to complain of me. I am sorry it is so, for I should be glad not to displease my brethren.” We must hold fast to the truth, cost what it will.
Jurieu, “the Goliah of Protestantism,” as he was styled, died in 1713.
CHARNOCK, A.D. 1660.
Stephen Charnock, D.D., was born at London in 1628. He was eminent as a dissenter, and was a powerful theologian. His views of the Millennium we know not, but on the doctrine of the world’s restitution he says: “How could ‘the creature’ — the world, or any part of it — be said to be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the sons of God, if the whole frame of heaven and earth were to be annihilated ( Romans 8:21)? The apostle saith also, that the creature ‘waits, with earnest expectation, for this manifestation of the sons of God,’ (verse 19,) which would have no foundation if the whole frame should be reduced to nothing. What joyful expectation can there be in any, of a total ruin? How should the creature be capable of partaking in this glorious liberty of the sons of God? As the world, for the sin of man, lost its first dignity, and was cursed after the fall, and the beauty bestowed on it by creation defaced, so shall it recover that ancient glory, when he shall be fully restored, by the resurrection, to that dignity he lost by his first sin. As man shall be freed .from his corruptibility, to receive that glory which is prepared for him, so shall the creatures be freed from that imperfection or corruptibility, those stains and spots upon the face of them, to receive a new glory to their nature, and answerable to the design of God, the ‘glorious liberty’ of the saints shall be accomplished. As when (see Mestrazat on Hebrews 1,) a prince’s nuptials solemnized, the whole country echoes with joy, so the inanimate creatures, when the time of the marriage of the Lamb is come, shall have a delight and pleasure from that renovation. The apostle sets forth the whole world as a person groaning, and the Scriptures are frequent in such metaphors, as when the creatures are said to ‘wait upon God and to be troubled;’ the hills are said to ‘leap, and the mountains rejoice.’ (Psalm 104, 27:29.) The creature is said to ‘groan,’ as the heavens are said ‘to declare the glory of God,’ passively, naturally, not rationally. . . . If the creatures be subject to vanity by the sin of man, they shall also partake of a happiness by the restoration of man. The earth hath borne thorns and thistles, and venomous beasts; the air hath had its tempest and infectious qualities; the water hath caused its floods and deluges; the creature hath been abased to luxury and intemperance, and been tyrannized over in man, contrary to the end of its creation. ‘Tis convenient that some time should be allotted for the creature’s attaining its true end, and that it may partake of the peace of man as it hath done of the fruits of his sin which prevailed more than grace, and would have had more power to deface, than grace to restore things into their due order. Again, upon that account should the Psalmist exhort the heavens to rejoice, and earth to be glad, when God comes to judge the world with righteousness, if they should be annihilated, and sink forever into nothing? It would seem, saith Daille — (on Psalm 96:12,13) — to be an impertinent figure, if the Judge of the world brought them to a total destruction. An entire ruin could not be matter of triumph to creatures who naturally have that instinct or inclination put into them by their Creator, to preserve themselves, and to effect their own preservation. . . . Again, ‘The Lord is to rejoice in his works,’ (Psalm 104,31.) Since God can rejoice only in goodness, the creatures must have that goodness restored to them which God pronounced them to have at their first creation, and which he ordained them for, before he can again rejoice in his works.” This divine died in 1680, much beloved.
HENRY, A. D. 1700.
Matthew Henry, born in Flintshire, England, 1663. He was a pious Dissenter, and deservedly eminent as a commentator of the Scriptures, Wm. Romaine declaring, “There is no comment upon the Bible, either ancient or modern, in all respects equal to Mr. Henry’s.” We give copious extracts. On the Millennium he is somewhat vague, affirming of the “angel” of Revelation 20:1, “It is very probable that this angel is no other than the Lord Jesus Christ; the description of him will hardly agree with any other,” yet on the resurrection of verse 4, he says: “This may be taken either literally or figuratively.” Still, throughout his Commentary he advances sentiments utterly at war with modern Post-millennialism.
On watching: “To watch implies not only to believe that our Lord will come, but to desire that he would come, to be often thinking of his coming, and always looking for it as sure and near, and the time of it uncertain. To watch for Christ’s coming is to maintain that gracious temper and disposition of mind which we would be willing that our Lord, when he comes, should find us in. To watch is to be aware of the first notices of his approach, that we may immediately attend his motions and address ourselves to the duty of meeting him. On 2d Peter 3d chap., of the final fire he says: “It is yet to come, and will surely come, though we know not when nor upon what particular age or generation of men; and therefore we are not, we cannot be sure that it may not happen in our own times.” “On John 18:19: “It is meet that disciples should be warned of the haste and end of time, and apprised as much as may be of the prophetic periods of time.” On Romans 8 ch., Henry makes “the creature” to mean “the whole frame of nature, especially that of this lower world, the whole creation, the compages of inanimate and sensible creatures;” the vanity and bondage and corruption is the curse to which the whole creation is subject, now “hastening to a total dissolution by fire.”
He says, “the creature, that is now thus burdened, shall, at the time of the restitution of all things, be delivered from this bondage into the glorious liberty of the children of God. They shall no more be subject to vanity and corruption, and the other fruits of the curse; but, on the contrary, this lower world shall be renewed, when there will be new heavens and a new earth, 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1; and there shall be a glory conferred upon all the creatures which shall be (in the proportion of their natures,) as suitable and as great an advancement as the glory of the children of God shall be to them. The fire at the last day shall be a refining, not a destroying, annihilating fire. Compare with this Psalm 96:10 - 13; Psalm 98:7 - 9, “Let the heavens rejoice, etc.”
On verse 19, “At the second coming of Christ there will be a manifestation of the children of God. Now, the saints are God’s hidden ones, the wheat seems lost in a heap of chaff; but then they shall be manifested * * And this redemption of the creature is reserved till then; for as it was with man and for man that they fell under the curse, so with man and for man shall they be delivered. All the curse and filth that now adheres to the creature shall be done away then, when those that have suffered with Christ upon earth shall reign with him upon earth. This the whole creation looks and longs for.” “Verse 23. We groan within or among ourselves. It is the unanimous vote, the joint desire of the whole church; all agree in this. Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly. The groaning notes a very earnest and importunate desire, the soul pained with the delay, * * groans not as the pangs of our dying, but as the throes of a woman in travail, groans that are symptoms of life, not of death.” 2 Peter 3. “That time which men think to be the most improper and unlikely, and therefore are most secure, will be the time of the Lord’s coming. Let us then beware how we in our thoughts and imaginings put that day far away from us; let us rather suppose it to be so much nearer in reality, by how much further off it is in the opinion of the ungodly world.” “The first coming of our Lord Jesus Christ was what the people of God earnestly waited and looked for; that coming was for the consolation of Israel. How much more should they wait with expectation and earnestness for his second coming, which will be the day of their complete redemption, and of his most glorious manifestation?” “They (the wicked,) will still attack us till the end of time; till our Lord is come, they will not themselves believe that he will come; nay, they will laugh at the very mention of his second coming, and do what in them lies to put all out of countenance who seriously believe and wait for it.”
The question implies a strong negative; no, he shall not, he himself foresees it. * * In general he will find but few good people, few that are really and truly good; many that have the form and fashion of godliness, but few that have faith. Even to the end of time there will be occasion for the same complaint; the world will grow no better, no, not when it is drawing towards it period. Bad it is, and bad it will be, and worst of all just before Christ’s coming; the last times will be the most perilous. In particular he will find few that have faith concerning his craning. It intimates that He will delay his coming so long that wicked people will begin to defy it, and to say, “Where is the promise of his coming?’ They will challenge him to come. — Isaiah 5:18,19, and Amos 5:18,19, and his delay will harden them in their wickedness. Even his own people will begin to despair of it, and to conclude he will never come, because he has passed their reckoning.
On Matthew 25, “As Christians, we profess not only to believe and look for, but love and long for, the appearing of Christ, and to act in our whole conversation with regard to it. The second coming of Christ is the center in which all the lines of our religion meet, and to which the whole of the divine life hath a constant reference and tendency.” “The Bridegroom tarried, that is, he did not come as soon as they expected. But though Christ tarry past our time, he will not tarry past the due time.”
On Daniel 12:10, Henry, though looking for an extensive proclamation of the gospel, looked not for its universal reception, but says: “As long as the world stands there will still be in it such a mixture as now we see there is of good and bad. We long to see all wheat and no tares in God’s field; all corn and no chaff in God’s floor; but it will not be till the time of ingathering, till the winnowing-day comes; both must grow together until the harvest. There is no remedy but that wicked people will do wickedly; and such people there are and will be in the world till the end of time.”
On Revelation 22:20, “This is Christ’s farewell to his church, and the church’s hearty echo to Christ’s promise. Come, Lord Jesus! thus beats the pulse of the church, thus breathes that gracious spirit which actuates and informs the mystical body of Christ, and we should never be satisfied till we find such a spirit breathing in us, and causing us to look for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Savior Jesus Christ. What comes from heaven in a promise should be sent back to heaven in a prayer. Come, Lord Jesus, put an end to this state of sin, and sorrow, and temptation, and gather thy people out of this present evil world!” So writes the pious Henry in a commentary, the superior excellencies of which, says Dr. A. Alexander, are admitted by “thousands of judicious theologians,” and of which Dr. Adam Clarke affirms, “It is always orthodox!” Henry died in 1714.
Thomas Burnet, D. D., was born in Yorkshire, Eng., 1635, and being educated at Cambridge, became Chaplain to King William, and master of the Charter House. Burnet was eloquent and of unquestioned ability and learning. He is very copious, and we glean and extract as follows: He says that “the sex-millennial duration of the world is much insisted upon by the christian fathers, not so much on the bare authority of tradition, as because they thought it was founded in the six days creation and the Sabbath succeeding.” He then instances Barnabas, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Cyprian, Lactantius, Jerome, Augustine, John Damascenus, Justin Martyr, Hilary, Anastasius, Sinaita, Sanctus Gaudentius, Julius Hillarion, Isidorus Hispalensis, Cassidorus, Gregory the Great, and others who all taught it, adding, “we may be bold to say that nothing yet appears, either in nature or Scripture, or human affairs, repugnant to this belief of the 6000 years.” On the conflagration and renovation of the earth, its restoration to Edenic beauty, as the eternal residence of Christ and the redeemed, Burnet is voluminous and clear. He thus writes: “When we speak of the end or destruction of the world, whether by fire or otherwise, it is not to be imagined that we understand this of the great universe : sun, moon and stars, and the highest heavens; as if these were to perish or be destroyed some few years hence, whether by fire or any other way. This question is only to be understood of the sublunary world , of this earth and its furniture; which had its original about six thousand years ago, according to the history of Moses; and hath once already been destroyed, when the exterior region of it broke, and the abyss, issuing forth, as out of a womb, overflowed all the habitable earth. — Genesis 7:17; Job 38:8. The next deluge is that of fire, which will have the same bounds, and overflow the surface of the earth, much-what in the same manner. But the celestial regions, where the stars and angels inhabit, are not concerned in this fate; those are not made of combustible matter; nor, if they were, could our flames reach them. Possibly those bodies may have changes and revolutions peculiar to themselves, but in ways unknown to us, and after long and unknown periods of time. Therefore when we speak of the conflagration of the world, these have no concern in the question; nor any other part of the universe, than the earth and its dependences. As will evidently appear when we come to explain the manner and causes of the conflagration.
And as this conflagration can extend no farther than to the earth and its elements, so neither can it destroy the matter of the earth, but only the form and fashion of it, as it is an habitable world. Neither fire, nor any other natural agent, can destroy matter, that is, reduce it to nothing: it may alter the modes and qualities of it, but the substance will always remain.
And accordingly the apostle, when he speaks of the mutability of this world, says only, The figure or fashion of this world passes away . — Corinthians 7:31. This structure of the earth and disposition of the elements, and all the works of the earth, as St. Peter says, 2 Epist. 3, all its natural productions, and all the works of art or human industry, these will perish, be melted or torn in pieces by the fire, but without an annihilation of the matter, any more than in the former deluge.”
Of the Millennium, Burnet writes that “it doth begin and end the Apocalypse, as the soul of that body of prophecies,” and that we can “as well open a lock without a key as interpret the Apocalypse without the Millennium;” that, “after the conflagration this earth will be renewed,” that “in this new heavens and earth the Millennium will be enjoyed;” that “this was the doctrine of all the ancient Millennaries,” “and we ought to be careful and locate it thus:” that “the new Jerusalem state is the same as the Millennial state,” which he contends is ushered in by the seventh trumpet, and the judgment; in the Millennium, there being a lustral appearance of Christ and the Shechinah. He also affirms that placing the Millennium in this earth before the renovation, was what brought the doctrine anciently into discredit and decay, the earlier Millenarians identifying the Millennial era with the kingdom and renovation or restitution of all things; those are “happy days! when the temple of Janus shall be shut up for a thousand years.” We here give an argument from him on Revelation 20:6th, etc. “This resurrection, you see, is called the first resurrection, by way of distinction from the second and general resurrection; which is to be placed a thousand years after the first. And both this first resurrection, and the reign of Christ, seem to be appropriated to the martyrs in this place: for the prophet says, ‘the souls of those that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus,’ etc., ‘they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.’ From which words, if you please, we will raise this doctrine: that those who have suffered for the sake of Christ, and a good conscience, shall be raised from the dead a thousand years before the general resurrection, and reign with Christ in an happy state. This proposition seems to be plainly included in the words of St. John, and to be the intended sense of this vision; but you must have patience a little, as to your inquiry into particulars, till in the progress of our discourse we have brought all the parts of this conclusion into fuller light. “In the meantime, there is but one way, that I know of, to evade the force of these words, and of the conclusion drawn from them; and that is, by supposing that the first resurrection, here mentioned, is not to be understood in a literal sense, but is allegorical and mystical, signifying only a resurrection from sin to a spiritual life; as we are said to be dead in sin and to be risen with Christ , by faith and regeneration. This is a manner of speech which St. Paul does sometimes use, as Ephesians 2:6,14, and Colossians 3:1.
But how can this be applied to the present case? were the martyrs dead in sin? it is they that are here raised from the dead; or, after they were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, naturally dead and laid in their graves, were they then regenerate by faith? There is no congruity in allegories so applied. Beside, why should they be said to be regenerate a thousand years before the day of judgment? or to reign with Christ after this spiritual resurrection, such a limited time, a thousand years? why not to eternity? for in this allegorical sense of rising and reigning , they will reign with him for everlasting. Then, after a thousand years, must all the wicked be regenerate, and rise into a spiritual life? It is said here, ‘the rest of the dead lived not again, until the thousand years were finished.’ — v. 5. That implies, that at the end of these thousand years, the rest of the dead did live again; which, according to the allegory, must be, that, after a thousand years, all the wicked will be regenerate, and raised into a spiritual life. These absurdities arise upon an allegorical exposition of this resurrection, if applied to single persons: “The Scripture speaks only of the resurrection of the martyrs, ( Revelation 20:4, 5,) but not a word concerning their ascension into heaven: will that be visible? We read of our Savior’s resurrection and ascension, and therefore we have reason to affirm them both. We read also of the resurrection and ascension of the witnesses, (Revelation 11) in a figurative sense; and in that sense we may assert them upon good grounds. But as to the martyrs, we read of their resurrection only, without anything expressed or implied about their ascension. By what authority then shall we add this new notion to the history or scheme of the Millennium? The Scripture, on the contrary, makes mention of the descent of the new Jerusalem, ( Revelation 21:2,) making the earth the theater of all that affair: and the camp of the saints is upon the earth (v. 9,) and these saints are the same persons, so far as can be collected from the text, that rose from the dead, and reigned with Christ, and were priests to God. — vs. 4-6. Neither is there any distinction made, that I find, by St. John, of two sorts of saints in the Millennium, the one in heaven, and the other upon earth.” Dr. Burnet on the celestial signs of the advent, thus remarks: “We may conclude that when the last great storm is coming, and all the volcanoes of the earth ready to burst, and the frame of the world to be dissolved, there will be previous signs in the heavens and on the earth, to introduce this tragical fate; nature cannot come to that extremity without some symptoms of her illness, nor die silently without pangs or complaint. The Scripture plainly tells us of signs that will precede the coming of our Savior, and the end of the world. The sun, moon, and stars will be disturbed in their motions or aspect; earth and the sea will roar and tremble, and the mountains fall at his presence. In determining these signs let us take the known and approved rule for interpreting Scripture, not to recede from the literal sense without necessity, or when the nature of the subject will admit of a literal interpretation.” “As to earthquakes, these will necessarily be multiplied toward the end of the world, when by an excess of drought and heat, exhalations will more abound within the earth. Inflammations will be more frequent. They will reach to a vast compass of ground, and whole islands or continents be shaken at once. These concussions will not only affect mankind, but all the elements.” “The sun and the moon will be darkened, or of a bloody or pale countenance. This will be produced by an infectious and corrupted air, filled with thick vapors and fumes or turbid exhalations: atmospheric obscurities, to a great extent, intercepting the sun’s rays, causing it thus to appear and proportionably diminishing the light of the moon. Before this mighty storm the disposition of the air will be quite altered, or, the sun may contract at that time some spots greater than usual, thus making it dark.” “Of the falling stars, we are sure from the nature of the thing, that this cannot be understood either of fixed stars or planets; for if either of these should tumble from the skies, and reach the earth, they would break it all in pieces, or swallow it up as the sea does a sinking ship; and at the same time would put all the inferior universe in confusion. It is necessary, therefore, by these stars, to understand either fiery meteors falling from the middle region of the air, or comets and blazing stars. No doubt there will be all sorts of fiery meteors at that time, and among others those called falling stars, which, though they are not considerable singly, yet if they were multiplied in great numbers, falling, as the prophet says, as leaves from the vine, or figs from the fig tree, they would make an astonishing sight. The last sign before the coming of Christ is the falling stars, and all these things will literally come to pass as they are predicted.”
Burnet makes the quaking and reeling to and fro of the earth, and its being thrown out of posture, fulfill the appearance of “the shaking of the powers of heaven” — “like as in a ship at sea by night, in a tempest, tossed with uncertain motions, giving the heavens a fluctuating, tremulous action, and making the stars to dance; so the motions of the atmosphere, and also the earth will make all the starry canopy shake and tremble.”
Dr. Burnet regarded the time as being short, and says “He that does not err above a century, in calculating the last period of time, from what evidence we have at present, (1697), hath in my opinion, cast up his accounts very well. But the scenes will fast change toward the evening of this long day, and when the sun is near setting they will more readily compute how far he hath to run.” So much for Burnet, who has written much truth, and who being dead, yet speaketh. We invite our readers to a perusal of his work, “The Theory of the Earth.”
He fell asleep 1715.
CRESSENER, A. D. 1690.
Dr. Cressener was a learned divine, and prophetical writer of the seventeenth century. His work on the “Protestant applications of the Apocalypse,” dedicated to Queen Mary, and written in 1690, advocates Pre-millennialism. He writes: “The kingdom of the Son of Man in the 7th of Daniel, is the second coming of Christ in glory. “One would easily be persuaded of this, at the first sight of the glorious properties of it, and especially upon the account of its universal command, and the eternal duration of it. For what else is his coming in glory for, but to take possession of the whole world, and to reign with the Father and his saints to all eternity, and though he delivers up his kingdom to his Father at the last end, yet he has so much share in it as to have it here called his ‘everlasting kingdom.’ But it may be said this was verified of Christ at his first coming, for at his ascension into heaven, he is said to have all power given unto him, both in heaven and in earth. It must, therefore, be shown that, by the characters of the kingdom of the Son of man in this place, it cannot be that universal power which was given to Christ at his ascension into heaven, and his sitting at the right hand of power.” “For this purpose, it is to be considered that the kingdom of the Son of man, and that of the saints in the 7th chapter of Daniel, is the same kingdom, for they both are described as beginning at the same time, at the destruction of the ‘little horn,’ and have the same characters of an universal and eternal dominion, which it is impossible for two different kingdoms to have at the same time.
And the kingdom of the saints hath these properties in it: 1st . To begin at the destruction of a kingdom that did devour the whole earth, and of a great tyrannizing power in it, that did wear out the saints of the Most High. 2ndly . To be in the actual possession of the obedience of all people, nations, and languages, and all dominions under heaven 3dly . To be eternal from that first beginning of such an universal dominion. And this can be nothing but Christ’s second coming in glory; for though all power, both in heaven and earth, was given to him at his ascension into heaven, yet St. Paul tells us that all things were not yet put under him. Hebrews 2:8.” Dr. Cressener, unlike some more modern writers, also shows that the coming of the Son of man in Matthew 24:30, is his coming in glory, to judge the world. Giving his argument — which is too lengthy to be quoted here — he finally adds, “we do find an almost unanimous consent among all sorts of interpreters that this coming of the Son of man in Matthew 24:30, must be his second coming in glory. Grotius himself in this is forced to be of the same mind as the rest.” In this view Cressener is sustained by Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Chrysostom, Cyril, and nearly, if not quite all of the early Fathers, to whom, in the language of Cunninghame, “the modern fancy of a figurative coming of the Son of man in the clouds of heaven was altogether unknown.”
AMES, A. D. 1640.
William Ames, D. D., of Norfolk, England, 1641, in his Exposition of the Epistles of Peter, says, that “The reason why iniquity doth now abound in the last days is, 1st , because knowledge doth more abound, which being held in unrighteousness, makes it the more sinful; and 2nd , the last days, by reason of that depravedness and corruption which hath ever prevailed among men, are as it were the sink of all ages that went before to receive the dregs!” Such testimony certainly accords with the inspired Apostles in 2nd Timothy and 3d chapter.
HOWE, A. D. 1660.
John Howe, an eminent and pious English Dissenter, born in 1630, wrote as follows: “Nor will the time of expectation be long when I shall awake — when He shall appear; put it to the longest term. It was said sixteen hundred years ago, to be but a little while; three times over in the shutting up of the Bible, He tells us, I come quickly.” MENNO, A. D. 1550.
Simon Menno, the founder of a sect called Mennonites, taught at the Reformation, the true principles of primitive Millenarianism. Menno’s followers are said by Mosheim to have maintained “the ancient hypothesis of a visible and glorious church of Christ upon earth.” COCCEIUS, A. D. 1650.
John Cocceius, who died in 1669, and who was Professor of Theology at Bremen, and who became the founder of a sect bearing his name, strenuously maintained the principles of a literal interpretation of the prophecies, and taught Millenarianism to his followers, maintaining, says the English Encyclopedia, “among other singular opinions, that of a visible reign of Christ in this world.” The same opinion prevailed generally among the Pietists in Germany, and the Mystics of England and the Continent. Vitringa, Grotius, Horne, and others, highly commend the piety and learning of Cocceius.
DAVENANT, A. D. 1630.
John Davenant, Bishop of Salisbury, England, who died in 1641, writes, that “the glory of Christians is to be expected at the second coming of Christ, whose day will arrive both quickly and suddenly.” Very many works on Millenarianism were written and published in this century. In 1641 a tract of thirty-nine pages was circulated through Europe, advocating the doctrine, observing, “Let every saint search into this doctrine; it is our harvest of joy and gladness, and may Christ pardon our hitherto so much neglect of it.” ALSTEAD, A. D. 1627.
John H. Alstead, a divine of great erudition and a Professor of divinity and philosophy, at Nassau, and afterward at Julia Alba, in Transylvania. His “Prophetical Work,” published 1640, affirmed that a majority of the divines of his day held that “the last judgment was even at the doors,” such being the general belief. “In defending the doctrine of the Millennium, he fixed the beginning of Christ’s reign on earth in 1694. He died in 1638.” NAPIER, A. D. 1600.
John Napier, Lord Baron of Marchestoun, a Scottish nobleman, born 1550, and celebrated as the inventor of logarithms, was, in the opening of this century, the author of a work on the Revelations of St. John, in which he made the seven trumpets and seven vials synchronal in their fulfillment and symbolical of so many equal ages, supposing the last age would end in 1786, adding, in explanation, “Not that I mean that that age or yet the world shall continue so long, because it is said that for the elect’s sake the time shall be shortened;” and the result of his calculations was, that he confidently expected, from the fulfillment of the numbers and woe trumpets, that the awful day of judgment would take place at some time between 1688 and 1700. Dr. Adam Clarke commends his piety and erudition, and says, “So very plausible were the reasonings and calculations of Lord Napier, that there was scarcely a Protestant in Europe who read his works who was not of the same opinion.” We, of course admit, with Dr. Clarke, the error of these calculations concerning the time of the Lord’s advent, but on the strength of these statements would candidly ask, Where, in all the seventeenth century, among the entire Christian church, was cherished the faith of an intervening temporal Millennium, such as many Protestants at the present time vainly expect? Assuredly the thought is worthy of our solemn and candid consideration, that from the days of the apostles up to this period, Postmillennialism had nowhere an existence! And can it then be the truth? Is it possible that that is the doctrine of Christ and his apostles, which was never heard of in the church till sixteen hundred years from the time of their preaching? Can it be that that which was condemned and accounted as a heresy for the first sixteen centuries of the Christian era, is really the truth? Can it be that that of which the immediate successors of the apostles were ignorant, and upon which they were silent, has now come to be the doctrine of the prophets and apostles?
Watchman on Zion’s walls, ponder these questions! and take heed lest while dreaming of a golden age of mercy, you see the gleaming of the sword of justice. Watch! lest in the midst of Peace and Safety sudden destruction overtake a sinful world, and their blood be required at the hand of the slumbering watchman.
CHAPTER 8. THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY.
THIS century is distinguished for the rise of a new Millennial theory — viz., the Whitbyan; a theory that we are of opinion, were there no other argument, finds its own successful refutation in the admitted fact that Premillennialism, its opposite, was believed and taught by the early Church and all “the best of Christians for 250 years as a tradition apostolical.” The admission is Whitby’s, and is fatal to his scheme. By the rule of Faber, given in another place, Post-millennialism is a “mere human invention,” and, to use the language of this venerable divine, “with whatever plausibility it may be fetched out of a particular interpretation of Scripture, and with whatever practical piety on the part of its advocates, it may be attended, we cannot evidentially admit it to be part and parcel of the divine revelation of Christianity.” But the doctrine of a personal reign still had its advocates, and the great names of the age were on its side. We invite special attention to the evidence given in this, as also in preceding centuries, that the early founders and creed-makers of the present existing evangelical denominations were mostly Pre-millennialists. Such were the Baptists of King Charles’ time — the noble assembly of Westminster divines, and later among the Methodists, Toplady, Fletcher, Charles Wesley, etc.; and the concessions of John Wesley, Dr. A. Clarke, and also Whitefield, are not a few; Dr. Clarke affirming that “probably no such time shall ever appear in which evil shall be wholly banished from the earth, till after the day of judgment, when the earth having been burned up, a new heavens and a new earth shall be produced out of the ruins of the old by the mighty power of God” — Whitefield declaring that the Church will suffer persecution — in Henry’s language — “till the end of time,” and the others admitting a cardinal doctrine of our faith — namely, the earth’s renovation, and eternal possession by the meek.
Not only did Pre-millennialism find advocates among “the great lights of the Church,” but it also enlisted astronomers, philosophers, nobles, and poets in its defense. The names of Sir Isaac Newton, Tycho Brahe, Lord Napier, Cowper, Heber, and Watts, as well as those of Bishops Horsely, Newton, Clayton, Newcome, etc., are not to be despised by the divines of the nineteenth century. “But time would fail to speak” of all — even Rome contributing her single testimony to the truth.
And who can resist the arguments of a Fletcher, a Gill, and a Spaulding, or the pious longings of a Doddridge, a Mather, or the holy impatience of the “seraphic Rutherford,” who would fain “shovel time and days out of the way,” and bring “that day, for which all other days were made?” O Christian! love your Lord’s appearing! With Gill, we urge you to “be hastening in your warm affections and earnest desires after those glorious times, and in the darkest season look for the morning,” and harmonious with the prayer, “Thy kingdom come,” let your cry be with Milton, “Come forth out of thy royal chambers, O Prince of all the Kings of the earth!”
FLEMING, A. D. 1700.
Robert Fleming, Jr., was born in Scotland, in the seventeenth century. He was minister at Leyden and Rotterdam, and afterwards of the Presbyterian Church at Lothbury, Scotland; was distinguished for his piety and learning, and as the author of a work on the rise and fall of the Papacy, in which, among other things, he calculated the humiliation of the French monarchy in the close of the eighteenth century, about 1794, remarking that “we may justly suppose that that monarchy, after it has scorched others, will itself consume, by doing so, wasting insensibly till it be exhausted as one of the chief supporters of Antichrist” — a prediction which, when Louis XVI. was about to perish on the scaffold, was remembered, and produced a thrilling sensation in Great Britain. He looked also for the commencement of the downfall of the Papal power in 1848, the judgment of the fifth vial which was to be poured upon the seat of the Beast, or the dominions that belong to it, and depend on the Roman See, beginning in the year of Franco’s humiliation, and expiring at this time. “But yet,” he says, “we are not to imagine that this vial will totally destroy the Papacy, (though it will exceedingly weaken it, for we find this still in being and alive when the next vial is poured out.” From 1848 to 2000 he looked for the decay of the Papacy, and finally for its entire destruction at the date last mentioned, when he says the 6000 years will end, and the Millennium commence. He dates the rise of Antichrist at the decree of Phocas, A. D. 606, and says,” If we may suppose that Antichrist began his reign in the year 606, the additional 1260 years of his duration, were they Julian or ordinary years, would lead us down to the year 1866, as the last period of the sevenheaded monster; but seeing they are prophetical years only, we must cast away eighteen years in order to bring them to the exact measure of time that the Spirit of God designs in this book; and thus the final period of Papal usurpations (supposing that he did indeed rise in 606,) must conclude with the year 1848.” We give these calculations of Fleming as being of some interest and for what they are worth. After stating that the “militant state of the Christian church will run out in the year 2000, and the glorious sabbatical Millennary then begin,” he says, “Christ himself will appear in his glory and destroy his enemies with fire from heaven, which denotes the great conflagration in 2 Peter 3:10, etc., which is followed with the resurrection and Christ’s calling men before him into judgment. And perhaps the time of this judgment will take up the greatest part of the whole of another Millennary of years; that as there were four thousand years from the creation to his first coming, there may be four from thence to his triumphal entry into heaven with all his saints; for though the Scriptures call this time a day, yet we know what Peter says — that a thousand years and a day are the same thing in a divine reckoning. That all men that ever lived should be publicly judged in a day, or year, or century, so as to have all their life and actions tried and searched into, is to me, I confess, inconceivable; not indeed in relation to God, but in relation to men and angels, who must be convinced of the equity of the procedure and sentence of the Judge.” On Revelation 20th, he hints that “the first resurrection” might be a revival of the Jewish Church, but in his Christology he corrects himself, and maintains that this is “a real and corporeal resurrection of the apostles and other most eminent saints of the New Testament, who died before the Millennium began,” thus interpreting it, as he also does Daniel 12:2, in a literal sense. Fleming departed this life at London in 1716.
WHITBY, D. D. 1680.
Dariel Whitby, D. D., was born in Northamptonshire England, 1638. His ability and erudition is unquestioned, yet we are at antipodes with the Millennial scheme of which he is the acknowledged originator. But he bears a noble testimony for Pre-millennialism. Hear him: “The doctrine of the Millennium, or the reign of saints on earth a thousand years, is now rejected by all Roman Catholics, and by the greatest part of Protestants, and yet it passed among the best of Christians for two hundred and fifty years for a tradition apostolical; and as such is delivered by many Fathers of the second and third century, who spake of it as the tradition of our Lord and his apostles, and of all the ancients that lived before them; who tell us the very words in which it was delivered, the Scriptures, which were then so interpreted, and say that it was held by all Christians who were exactly orthodox.” Then quoting the Fathers in proof, he sums up with the following statements: “It was received not only in the eastern parts of the church by Papius (in Phrygia,) Justin (in Palestine,) Irenaeus (in Gaul,) Nepos (in Egypt,) Apollinarius, Methodius, but also in the west and south, by Tertullian (in Africa,) Cyprian, Victorinus (in Germany,) Lactantius (in Italy,) and Severus, and by the first Nicene Council. These men taught this doctrine, not as doctors only, but as witnesses of the tradition which they had received from Christ and his apostles, and which was taught them by the elders, the disciples of Christ. * * * They pretend to ground it upon numerous and manifest testimonies, both of the Old and New Testaments, and speak of them as texts which would admit no other meaning.” “The above,” says the London Quarterly Journal of Prophecy, “comes to us with the weight of an irresistible testimony.” “The fact is,” says the late pious Bishop Henshaw, “that the commonly received opinion of a spiritual Millennium, consisting in a universal triumph of the gospel and conversion of all nations for a thousand years before the coming of Christ, is a novel doctrine, unknown to the church for the space of sixteen hundred years. So far as we have been able to investigate its history, it was first advanced by the Rev. Dr. Whitby, the commentator, and afterwards advocated by Hammond, Hopkins, Scott, Dwight, Bougue, and others, and has been received without careful examination by the majority of evangelical divines in the present day. But we may safely challenge its advocates to produce one distinguished writer in its favor, who lived before the commencement of the eighteenth century. If antiquity is to be considered as any test of truth, the advocates of the Pre-millennial advent and personal reign of Christ with his saints upon earth, need have no fears of the result of a comparison of authorities with the supporters of the opposite theory.” The foregoing argument in favor of Premillennialism our opponents never have seen proper to answer. The statement of Bishop Henshaw in relation to Dr. Whitby, being the first open propounder of Post-millennialism and its kindred doctrines, is affirmed by all Millennial historians, and no person will risk their reputation for learning by denying it.
Archdeacon Woodhouse, a decided Post-millennialist, justly observes: “It is remarkable that Dr. Whitby, who had declined to comment on the Apocalypse, assigning as his motive, that he felt himself unqualified for such a work, has ventured to explain this particular prediction of the Millennium; which, being, as all agree, a prophecy yet unfulfilled, is, of all others, the most difficult.” The following is the opinion of one unbiased by any Millennial theory, yet a thorough student of its history: “Modern Divines have concurred in the use of certain professional terms, which undoubtedly owe their reception to a feeling of convenience rather than to the authority of sound criticism. For example, the phrase ‘coming of Christ,’ which in former times conveyed the most exalted ideas in regard to the destiny of the world, is conventionally employed in our days to mean the hour of every individuals death. The first resurrection, again, according to Whitby and his followers, implies nothing more solemn than the conversion of the Jews; the reign of the saints with the Redeemer, a thousand years on earth, denotes simply the revival of evangelical doctrine; and by the rest of the dead we are to understand a generation of bad men, who are to be born about the end of the Millennium, and to annoy the congregations of the faithful. Those very persons who were not to have fathers or mothers for years afterwards, are, agreeable to this hypothesis, described as the rest of the dead, at the moment the martyrs were raised to live and reign with Christ. * * * In short, the main object of the allegorical school is to explain away the proper Millennium by endeavoring to prove that the language of the New Testament has no reference to any personal advent prior to the general judgment, nor to any kingdom except that which is in heaven. That their aim is good and justifiable, I should be very slow to call in question, inasmuch as it is high time to relinquish the hopes of such a Millennium, as was expected by the Jews and early Christians; but that the means which they have adopted to accomplish their end will prove effectual, is a position which no one will maintain who compares the language of primitive times with the glosses which they have been pleased to put upon it. Every person who reads the book of Revelation without any bias on his mind, and then turns to the far-fetched commentaries of Dr. Whitby and his pupils, will perceive either that undue liberties have been used by them in expounding the original, or that John the Divine did not know the meaning of his own words. “Such,” says Bonar, “are the sentiments of one who had brought himself to deny any Millennium, either spiritual or literal.” Whitby’s Millennial theory, now so prevalent, is confessed to be, and is called by him “ANEW HYPOTHESIS.” His treatise was written to support it, or as he says, “framed according to it.” Now a thesis is defined to be a proposition, a position, a statement: while a hypothesis means a supposition, a conjecture, an opinion, or a system formed upon some principle not proved. Says Duffield: “His arguments and explanations of Scripture in favor of his hypothesis, are based on assumptions which have not been proved; and his attempts to show the falsity of Millenarian expositions are founded on the assumption of his own hypothesis.” It is an occurrence without a parallel in the history of theology, that a theory without antiquity, without support from the plain literal sense of Scripture, a theory named by its originator at its birth ‘new,’ and hypothetical, and which impugns the faith of the Church for more than sixteen centuries, has come to be at this time almost universally received and taught among all classes of men as a part of the Christian faith. Reader, is it not passing strange Did you ever soberly think of this?
INCREASE MATHER, A. D. 1700.
Increase Mather, D. D., was born at Dorchester, Mass., in 1639. He was minister at the North Church, in Boston, for sixty-two years, and was also for fifteen years President of Harvard College. The learning and piety of this good man is well known. From a biographer, we learn that he became a student of prophecy, and when made aware that the early church, till the fourth century, taught the Pre-millennial advent and kingdom of Christ on earth, “he found himself under the necessity of becoming a sober Chiliast.”
The following is his lucid scriptural argument: “When he considered that immediately after the long tribulation under which the Jewish nation is now languishing, then the Son of man comes in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, and that the arrival of the kingdom under the whole heaven, given to the people of the saints of the Most High, at the expiration of the fourth monarchy, then the thrones are pitched, and the Appointer of Times appears on his throne, and a fiery stream issues from it, and the judgment is set, and the body of the Romish Beast is given to the burning flame, and that our Savior is to destroy. Antichrist with the brightness of his coming, and that there will be a resurrection of the dead when the time and the times and the half time allowed for the reign of Antichrist is expired, or at the end of the four monarchies; and that when the seventh trumpet sounds, which next follows on the ceasing of the Turkish hostilities upon Europe, then comes the time of the dead, when they shall be judged, and a reward shall be given to them; and this is the time when the kingdoms of this world shall be the Lord’s; and that the first resurrection foretold in the Holy Oracles can be no other than (what everyone owns the second is) a literal and a corporeal resurrection; he saw himself shut up to the faith of it, and compelled unto the persuasion that the second coming of our Savior will be at the beginning of the happy state which is to be expected for the church upon the earth in the latter days.” Dr. Mather’s work, called “Mystery of Israel’s Salvation,” which J. Caryl of England so much admired, was circulated and read extensively in Europe. In it he repudiates the renewing of Jewish sacrifices in the Millennium, and vindicates the early Church from the charge, sharply remarking, “A most loathsome work do they perform, both to God and man, that dig up the ceremonies out of that grave where Jesus Christ buried them above sixteen hundred years ago.” In a sermon on Titus 2:13, he writes, — “If believers should enjoy their hoped for blessedness at the day of Christ’s appearing, then they have great reason to long for the day of judgment: to long for that day of the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ, as the saints of old did long for the first coming of Christ. Abraham, by faith, saw that day, and was glad; and many prophets and righteous men desired to see it, so believers should long for the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ — 2 Peter 3:12. Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God: you must not only look for, not only believe that such a day will come, but you must hasten to it — that is, by earnest desires, by longing wishes. We should pray for the coming of that day. Thus Christ has taught us to pray, Thy kingdom come. We must therefore pray for the day of judgment; for the kingdom of Christ will not come in all the glory of it before that blessed day. And when we pray, Thy will be done on earth as in heaven, we pray for the day of judgment; for then, and not till then, will the will of God be done on earth as it is in heaven. Then will the saints that shall come down from heaven in the New Jerusalem, do the will of God with as much perfection on earth as now it is done in heaven: so, then, we are to pray for this coming of the Lord; and great reason believers have to do so, because of their perfect salvation, which they shall then be made partakers of. By hope we are saved. We hope for a perfect salvation in that day; therefore should we long for that day. When He shall be revealed from heaven, we shall be immortal then. Suppose we die and go to the grave before this glorious appearing of the Lord, yet he will raise us up in that day to a blessed immortality. Or suppose Christ shall come quickly, as he will — but suppose so quickly as to be here while we are yet alive — we shall in one moment be made immortal. All believers shall not die that shall be found alive at the appearing of Christ, but all shall be changed; therefore they have cause to long for that blessed day.” It is said of Mather, that “he mightily looked up to heaven for direction and assistance in all his inquiries into the character and approaches of the holy kingdom,” and that, “by studying the prophecies, and meditating upon the paradisiacal state which then will be at the restitution of all things, he sailed so near to the land of promise, that he felt the balsamic breezes of the heavenly country upon his mind.” Let us go and do likewise.
ISAAC NEWTON, A. D. 1700.
Sir Isaac Newton, “the greatest of philosophers,” was born 1642, in Lincolnshire, Eng. He was the first discoverer of the laws of gravitation, and his name, connected with all sciences, is renowned throughout the world. “He gave,” says Dr. Duffield, “his powerful mind two whole years to the study of the prophecies, and has avowed his belief in the Premillennial coming of Christ.” On the seals and trumpets, also in explaining Revelations, 12th and 13th chapters, Sir Isaac Newton generally agrees with Mede. The hour, day, month and year of Revelation 9th, he calculates as 391 years; not 396, as Mede. The vials he makes synchronal with the trumpets; the little book of Revelation 10, he explains as a new prophecy, and he adopts the year-day theory. He alludes to Peter, in his third chapter of Epistle second, as predicting the destruction of all false systems, and then the “future kingdom,” he says, is described. On Hebrews 12, he speaks of “the shaking of the heavens and earth, and removing of them, that the new heavens and earth, and kingdom, may remain.” On the design of prophecy, Sir Isaac observes: “For as the few and obscure prophecies, concerning Christ’s first coming, were for setting up the Christian religion, which all nations have since corrupted, so the many and clear prophecies concerning the things to be done at his second coming, are not only for predicting, but also for effecting a recovery and establishment of the long lost truth, and setting up a kingdom wherein dwelleth righteousness.” On Daniel 12:4,10, he writes: “It is a part of this prophecy that it should not be understood before the last age of the world; and therefore it makes for the credit of the prophecy, that it is not yet understood, but if the last age, the age of opening these things, be now approaching, (as by the great success of late interpreters it seems to be,) we have more encouragement than ever to look into these things. If the general preaching of the gospel be approaching, it is to us and our posterity that these words mainly belong.
But in the very end the prophecy shall be so far interpreted as to convince many, for then, says Daniel, “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” “The time is not yet come for the understanding the old prophets, (which he that would understand must begin with the Apocalypse,) because the main revolution predicted in them is not yet come to pass. In the days of the voice of the seventh angel the mystery of God shall be finished. * * Among the interpreters of the last age, there is scarce one of note who hath not made some discovery worth knowing; whence I seem to gather that God is about opening these mysteries.” Sir Isaac used to say that “about the time of the end, in all probability, a body of men will be raised up, who will turn their attention to the prophecies, and insist upon their literal interpretation in the midst of much clamor and opposition.” “How exactly,” says Wm. Thorp, “has this observation of that sagacious man been verified.”
Of the Beast whose number was 666, Sir Isaac agrees with Irenaeus in his application, saying, “His mark is cxv and his name Lateinos , and the number of his name 666.” In this he is not alone, as Foxe, the martyrologist, Dr.
Henry More, Lord Napier, Mede, Bishop Newton, and more recently, Faber, Elliott, and a host of others adopt Irenaeus’ solution, referring the prophecy to the Latin or Roman kingdom. Sir Isaac died in 1727.
WELLS, A. D. 1720.
Edmund Wells, D. D., who was Professor of Greek at Oxford, and died in 1730, thus paraphrases Revelation 20:4, “The martyrs and other righteous persons, being every one in his proper order arisen from the dead, lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. Now this resurrection of the righteous is therefore fitly styled ‘the first resurrection.’ “ DAUBUZ, A. D. 1720.
Charles Daubuz, born in France in the seventeenth century. He was a scholar of the first rank, and published an Apocalyptic Commentary in 1720. Prof. Bush calls him “the ablest of all commentators on the visions of John” Daubuz explained the trumpets, mainly, as did Mede and Jurieu, the first four of the desolations and fall of the Roman Empire, the fifth and sixth of the Saracenic and Turkish Mahomedans, and the seventh evidently of the Millennium. The angel of Revelation 10, as did the Reformers, of the great Lutheran Reformation; advocated strongly the year-day theory, and also the literality of the first resurrection and Millennial reign, and synchronizing it with the New Jerusalem state, teaching that the church being in the saints’ mortal state betrothed to Christ, but after the resurrection his wife. We give from him two extracts, the first on the reasonableness of the yearday theory. He says: “It would be monstrous and indecorous to describe a beast raging during the space of 1260 years; or a witness which is a man, prophesying so long; or a woman dwelling in the wilderness so many years.
Therefore, that the duration of the events may be represented in terms suitable to the symbols of the visions, it is reasonable to expect that the symbols of duration be also drawn in miniature, or in a proportionable arithmetic to the symbols of the events, which are also drawn in miniature.
So that as a lion, a leopard, a bear, may represent vast empires, and a woman the whole church, and the like, it is more proportionable to the nature of those things that are thus used for symbols to express their acts by such short measures of time, as bear the same proportion to the duration of that great event which is represented by such small matters. * * If, therefore, it is proper in the symbolic language to represent the extent of things in miniature, why shall we think it improper to represent their duration in a proportionable manner, by revolutions of time shorter in proportion than the event represented?” He then makes the five months of Revelation 9:5,10, to mean 150 days, i.e. 150 years. On the Millennium he writes: “It may be observed that as the Jewish Church had no absolute rest or sabbatism, as the Millennium is, so the Holy Ghost could not derive the symbol from that ceremony, but was, as it were, obliged to draw it from an higher fountain or original of ideal types and events. But, however, even this original idea was known to the Jews. They had a tradition of it, and the notion was current even before St. John wrote. He has not then treated of the Millennium as a new thing, but has described it in some measure by the old notions, with improvements: and beside that, showed us how it is accomplished by Christ, by giving us a full account of the antecedents and consequents. Now that tradition was grounded upon the allegorical exposition of the creation of the world in six days, and the rest of God in the seventh, and that a thousand years are with God as one day. Whence it is argued that as God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, so he will redeem mankind and work out their redemption in six thousand years, and procure his and their sabbatism in the seventh thousand: this rest to be proportionable to the duration of the work. By consequence, that term of one thousand years is to be taken in a literal sense, and must consist of a thousand years in the common acceptation of the word, and needs no farther evolution, as some of late have pretended, because it is fixed by that traditional allegory. Now, that the Jews had it, must be plain from this, that we find it in St.
Barnabas, who wrote before St. John, many years. And indeed we give very good reasons in our Commentary, to think that the notion is as old as the deluge, because we find it pretty plainly to be also the tradition of the Chaldean Magi, and perhaps, too, of the Egyptians.” On Revelation 19:11, he says: “This is Christ himself, who rides upon his white horse; as appears by what is said hereafter. He is to act therein himself visibly, without deputies, at least such as he has already employed. * * * Christ comes now to settle himself in his kingdom, with his saints, who are now to be gathered to him.”
On Revelation 20:4, giving his reasons why the dead bodies of the martyrs are denominated souls: “The first is, that Yuch< is said of a dead man, upon the account of the shedding of his blood, which is as his soul; the second is that yuch< signifies a dead body. Numbers 5:2; Leviticus 19:28; Leviticus 22:4; Leviticus 21:11; Numbers 6:6; Haggai 2:13; and in this sense one may also understand that place of Revelation 6:9. Now these souls thus shed or dead are to live and reign. It being therefore certain that these very souls are they which must be understood thus dead and living, and that it is not possible to understand it of any other sort of men, but of the primitive martyrs, it is now as certain that in this Millennial state they revive and reign with Christ.” GILL, A. D. 1750.
Dr. John Gill was born in England, 1697. He was eminent as a divine, theologian, and orientalist, and as all are aware who are conversant with his Prophetical Sermons, Body of Divinity and Commentary, was a thorough Pre-Millennialist. He argues thus: “THE MILLENNIUM, OR PERSONAL REIGN OF CHRIST. “I observe, I. That Christ will have a special, peculiar, glorious, and visible kingdom, in which he will reign personally on earth. 1. I call it a special, peculiar kingdom, different from the kingdom of nature, and from his spiritual kingdom. 2. It will be very glorious and visible; hence his appearing and kingdom are put together. — 2 Timothy 4:1. 3. This kingdom will be, after all the enemies of Christ and of his people are removed out of the way. 4. Antichrist will be destroyed; an angel, who is no other than Christ, will then personally descend to bind Satan and all his angels. 5. This kingdom of Christ will be bounded by two resurrections; by the first resurrection, or the resurrection of the just, at which it will begin; and by the second resurrection, or the resurrection of the wicked, at which it will end, or nearly. 6. This kingdom will be before the general judgment, especially of the wicked. John, after he had given an account of the former, (Revelation 20,) relates a vision of the latter. 7. This glorious, visible kingdom of Christ will be on earth, and not in heaven; and so is distinct from the kingdom of heaven, or ultimate glory. “II. Having explained the nature of Christ’s kingdom, I shall proceed to give the proof that there will be such a glorious, visible kingdom of Christ on earth. Now the proof of this point may be taken,” etc.
He then quotes Psalm 45, 96; Isaiah 24:23; Revelation 21:23; Isaiah 30:26,27,30; Jeremiah 23:5,6; Ezekiel 21:27; Daniel 2:44; Zechariah 14:9; Matthew 6:10; also 20:21-23; Luke 1:32-33; also 23:42, 43; Acts 1:7; 2 Timothy 4:1, in proof.
Then proceeding to show, Third , that all the saints will have a share in this reign. Fourth , it will be those who rise in the first resurrection. Fifth , the 1000 years are literal and future. He concludes thus: “VI. I close all with an answer to a few of the principal objections. 1. It may be objected, to what purpose will Satan be bound a thousand years to prevent his deception of the nations, when there will be no nations to be deceived by him during that time, since the wicked will be all destroyed in the general conflagration, and the saints will be with Christ, out of the reach of temptation and seduction. I answer, this will not be the case at the binding of Satan; the same nations (Satan by being bound, is prevented from deceiving,) are those that will be deceived by him after his being loosed, as appears by comparing Revelation 20:3, with verse 8. 2. That though the saints are said to reign with Christ a thousand years, ( Revelation 20:4-6,) yet they are not there said to reign on earth.
But it is elsewhere said, the meek shall inherit the earth. They are manifestly the camp of the saints, who will be upon the breadth of the earth, and therefore must be on the earth. 3. It is objected to the personal reign of Christ with the saints on earth, that they, by reason of the frailty of nature, will be unfit to converse with Christ. This objection proceeds upon a supposition, that the saints will then be in a sinful, mortal state; which will not be the case. 4. It is suggested, that for the saints to come down from heaven, and leave their happy state there, and dwell on earth, must be a diminishing of their happiness, and greatly detract from it. No such thing; for Christ will come with them. 5. The bodies of the wicked lying in the earth till the thousand years are ended, may be objected to the purity of the new earth, and to the glory of the state of the saints upon it. The purification of it by fire will, indeed, only affect the surrounding air, and the surface of the earth, or little more.
As for the bodies of the wicked, that will have been interred in it from the beginning of the world to the end of it, those will be long reduced to their original earth, and will be neither morally impure, nor naturally offensive; and if anything of the latter could be conceived of, the purifying fire may reach so far as entirely to remove that; and as for the bodies of the wicked, which will be burnt to ashes at the conflagration, how those ashes, and the ruins of the old world, after the burning, will be disposed of, by the Almighty power, and all wise providence of God, it is not easy to say; it is very probable they will be disposed of under ground: all the wicked that ever were in the world, will be under the feet of the saints in the most literal sense; they will tread upon the very ashes of the wicked. — Malachi 4:3.
II. As to the questions. — 1. What will become of the new earth, after the thousand years of the reign of Christ and his saints on it are ended? whether it will be annihilated or not? My mind has been at an uncertainty about this matter; sometimes inclined one way, and sometimes another; because of the seeming different accounts of it in Isaiah 66:22, where it is said to remain before the Lord, and in Revelation 20:11, where it is said to flee away from the face of the Judge. My last and present thoughts are, that it will continue forever. — Revelation 20:11. 2. Who the Gog and Magog army are, that shall encompass the camp of the saints when the thousand years are ended? They are the rest of the dead, the wicked, who live not till the thousand years are ended. 3. What the fire will be, which shall come down from heaven, and destroy the Gog and Magog army? The wrath and indignation of God.
He thus writes on Revelation 3:20: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock,” etc. The phrase “standing at the door” may be expressive of the near approach of Christ to judgment; and his knocking may signify the notice that will be given of it by some of the immediate forerunners and signs of his coming; which yet will be observed by a few, such a general sleepiness will have seized all professors of religion; and particularly may intend the midnight cry; which will, in its issue, rouse [awaken the attention] of them all. ‘If any man hear my voice,’ in the appearances of things, and providences in the world, ‘and open the door,’ or show a readiness for the coming of Christ, look and wait for it and be like such that will receive him with a welcome, ‘I will come in and sup with him, and he with me.’ To and among these will Christ appear when he comes in person, and these being likewise virgins, ready, having his grace in their hearts, and his righteousness upon them, he will take them at once into the marriage chamber, and shut the door upon the rest, when they shall enjoy a thousand years’ communion with him in person here on earth, when the Lamb on the throne shall feed them with the fruit of the tree of life, and lead them to fountains of living waters, and his tabernacle shall be among them.” Dr. Gill died in 1771.
BENGEL, A. D. 1720.
John Albert Bengel, was born in Wurtemberg, Germany, in 1687. He is celebrated as a prophetical writer, Dr. Clarke affirming that “in him were united two rare qualification — the deepest piety and the most extensive learning.” His Millennial views were singular, he arguing from Revelation 20th a double Millennimn, viz., a thousand years reign on earth, followed by a thousand years reign in heaven; the first the seventh, the second the eighth thousand years from the creation. The first thousand years beginning, as he thought, in 1836, would be preceded by rapid changes and great judgments. Wesley took Bengel for his master in interpreting the Apocalypse. We extract but briefly. “Apart from all the details of chronological computation, we cannot but think ourselves approaching very near to the termination of a great period; neither can we get rid of the idea, that troublous times will soon supersede the repose we have so long enjoyed. At the approaching termination of any great and remarkable period, many striking events have been found to take place simultaneously, and many others in quick succession; and this after a course of intermediate ages in which nothing unusual has occurred.” “As long as nothing extraordinary befalls Rome or Jerusalem, things in general will proceed pretty smoothly; but while they continue much as they are, the news in the journals will be alternating and fluctuating every quarter of a year. One novel scene of things and then another, will be perpetually engaging public notice, till the children of men become ripe at length for a visitation from Him who is higher than the high ones. When events have arrived just at the finishing of the mystery of God, we shall hear the striking of that clock which has so long been silent. I mean that partly before, and partly at this period, many events of a terrible, yes, also of a joyful kind will rapidly succeed one another. * * The aspect of the present season in the church indicates the approach of winter; for ours is a poor, frigid, slumbering age, which needs an Awakener; and surely an Awakener is coming.” “Men are now but novices to those who will appear in the last age of general profligacy, when fleshly security and scoffing at religion shall have gained completely the upper hand; when it will not be so much as dreamed that the end is so near, when the dream will be that all things shall continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. But even that season will have a few who shall continue in the faith, and in patient waiting for Christ; though their numbers will be small indeed, compared with the multitudes then wholly given to infidelity.” “Surely we cannot feel at home in such a world as we now find it; at best it is but an inn upon the road; and the summons ‘Arise, and depart, for this is not your rest, because it is polluted,’ surely cannot be unwelcomed when it comes. For folly is practiced exceedingly in our own days, because it is taken for granted that we can know nothing about futurity.” “A period is coming when the pure Millennial doctrine will be duly regarded as an article of the true faith, and then teachers will be so well acquainted with the whole detail of the Apocalypse, as to make it the subject of common juvenile instruction.” DODDRIDGE, A. D. 1740.
Philip Doddridge, D. D. He had his birth at London, in 1702, and became pastor at Northampton, and director of an academy. He was the author of valuable writings. In his “Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul,” we see exhibited an abiding love for the Lord’s advent, worthy of emulation.
He says: — “Nor is it long before the Judge who standeth at the door, will appear also for universal judgment; and though, perhaps, not only scores but hundreds of years will lie between that period and the present moment, yet it is but a very small point of time to Him who views at once all the immeasurable ages of a past and future eternity. A thousand years are with him but as one day, and one day as a·thousand years. He comes quickly; and I trust you can answer with a glad Amen that the warning is not troublesome or unpleasant to your ears, but rather that his coming, his certain, his speedy coming, is the object of your delightful hope, and of your longing expectation.
For with regard to his final appearance to judgment, our Lord says — ‘Surely I come quickly:’ and will you not here also sing your part in the joyful anthem — Amen, even so come, Lord Jesus? “Let this illustrious day come, even with all its horrors. We shall go from the ruins of a dissolving world, to the new heavens and new earth, wherein righteousness forever dwells.” Doddridge was a dissenter, and died 1751.
JOHN WESLEY, A. D. 1750.
John Wesley, A. M., was born at Epworth, England, in 1703. He was the distinguished founder of Methodism, and our readers are doubtless familiar with his name and superior excellencies. In 1754 he published his “Notes on the New Testament,” from which we make extracts bearing on the advent and kingdom. On Matthew 24:36, he says: “But of that day — the day of judgment — knoweth no man; not while our Lord was on earth.
Yet it might afterwards be revealed to St. John, consistently with this.” On 2 Peter 3:12, he thus comments: “Hastening on, as it were, by your earnest desires and fervent prayers, the coming of the day of God.” In interpreting Revelation, his views nearly coincide with those of Bengel. “Yet,” he observes, “I by no means pretend to understand or explain all that is contained in this mysterious book. I only offer what help I can to the serious inquirer, and shall rejoice if any be moved thereby more carefully to read, and more deeply to consider the words of this prophecy. Blessed is he that does this with a single eye: his labor shall not be in vain.” He remarks that this revelation “reaches from the old Jerusalem to the New,” and also that the seven trumpets extend “nearly from the time of St. John to the end of the world.” Applying as others the sixth trumpet to Mohammedanism, he observes that the dominion of Christ “appears in an entirely new manner, as soon as the seventh angel sounds,” and that “this trumpet contains the most important and joyful events, and perhaps shall once be heard on earth” — Christ now having “actually come.” On the importance of the study of the Apocalypse, he says: “Some have miserably handled this book: hence, others are afraid to touch it; and while they desire to know all things else, reject only the knowledge of those which God hath shown. They inquire after anything rather than this, as if it were written, Happy is he who doth not read this prophecy. Nay, but happy is he that readeth, and they that hear and keep the words thereof, especially at this time when so considerable a part of them is on the point of being fulfilled. * * * It behoves every Christian at all opportunities to read what is written in the oracles of God, and to read this precious book in particular, frequently, reverently and attentively; for the time of its beginning to be accomplished is near — even when St. John wrote. How much nearer to us is even the full accomplishment of this weighty prophecy!” On John 5:4, he comments: “And I wept much: the Revelation was not written without tears, neither without tears will it be understood. How far are they from the temper of St. John, who inquire after anything rather than the contents of this book; yea, who applaud their own clemency if they excuse those that do inquire into them!” The message of the first angel of chap. 14, he says, is not the gospel proper, but a specific joyful message to all, that the hour of God’s judgment is come. He says: “We are very shortly to expect, one after another, the calamities occasioned by the second beast, the harvest and the vintage; the pouring out of the vials, the judgment of Babylon, the last raging of the beast and his destruction, the imprisonment of Satan. How great things these! And how short the time!” Like Bengel; he singularly gathers two Millenniums from Revelation 20th — the one ending when the other begins: the first “a flourishing state of the Church on earth,” the second “a reign of the saints with Christ in heaven,” allowing verse 6th to teach a literal resurrection of the martyrs and saints. Wesley looked for the Millennium in 1836, remarking that, “In a short time those who assert that they (the thousand years) are now at hand, will appear to have spoken the truth.” Of Satan’s binding, he says: “This fulfillment approaches nearer and nearer, and contains things of the utmost importance, the knowledge of which becomes every day more distinct and easy.” On Revelation 22:17, — “The Spirit of adoption in the Bride, in the heart of every true believer says with earnest desire and expectation, Come and accomplish all the words of this prophecy, etc. He that adds (to this book) all the plagues shall be added to him; he that takes from it, all the blessings shall be taken from him. And doubtless this guilt is incurred by all those who lay hindrances in the way of the faithful, which prevent them from hearing their Lord’s I come! and answering, Come, Lord Jesus!” John Wesley taught the doctrine of Hades being the receptacle of the soul during the intermediate state, observing of the idea entertained by many, that soul at death departed immediately to glory and the presence of Christ, that “This opinion has no foundation in the Scriptures.” He evidently follows the early Fathers and reformers, postponing the full reward until Christ’s appearing.
We invite attention to his excellent “Sermon on the New Earth,” and warmly commend the spirit of his hymns, beginning, — “Away with our sorrow and fear,” “How happy are the little flock,” “The church in her militant state,” etc.
NEWCOME, A. D. 1780.
William Newcome, the learned Archbishop of Armagh, who died in 1799, on Revelation 20:4, thus speaks: “I understand this not figuratively of a peaceable and flourishing state of the church on earth, but literally of a real resurrection, and of a real reign with Christ, who will display his royal glory in the New Jerusalem. This is the great Sabbatism or rest of the Church.”
THOMAS NEWTON, A. D. 1775.
Thomas Newton, D. D., Bishop of Bristol, England, was born in 1703, and is distinguished for his piety, and extensive research, as exhibited in his valuable writings on the prophecies. On the Millennium he speaks as follows: “Nothing is more evident than that this prophecy of the Millennium, and of the first resurrection hath not been yet fulfilled, even though the resurrection be taken in a figurative sense. For reckon the thousand years with Usher, from the time of Christ, or reckon them with Grotius from the time of Constantine, yet neither of these periods, nor indeed any other, will answer the description and character of the Millennium, the purity and peace, the holiness and happiness of that blessed state.” Then referring to the persecutions of Christians by the church of Rome, he asks, “If Satan was then bound , when can he be said to be loosed? Or could the saints and the Beast , Christ and Antichrist reign at the same period? This prophecy therefore remains yet to be fulfilled, even though the resurrection be taken for an allegory, which yet the text cannot admit, without the greatest torture and violence. For with what propriety can it be said that some of the dead who were beheaded, lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years, but the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years are finished, unless the dying and living again be the same in both places, a proper death and resurrection? Indeed the death and resurrection of the ‘witnesses,’ before mentioned, chapter 11, appears from the concurrent circumstances of the vision, to be figurative; but the death and resurrection here mentioned must for the very same reasons, be concluded to be real. If the martyrs rise only in a spiritual sense, then the rest of the dead rise only in a spiritual sense, but if the rest of the dead really rise, the martyrs rise in the same manner. There is no difference between them, and we should be cautious and tender of making the first resurrection an allegory, lest others should reduce the second into an allegory too, like Hymeneus and Philetus. In the general, that there shall be such a happy period as the Millenium; that the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, Daniel 7:27; that Christ shall have the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession, Psalm 2:8; that the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea, Isaiah 11:9; that the fullness of the Gentiles shall come in, and all Israel be saved, Romans 11:25; — in a word, that the kingdom of heaven shall be established upon earth, — is the plain and express doctrine of Daniel, and all the prophets, as well as of John; and we daily pray for the accomplishment of it in praying, ‘Thy kingdom come.’ But of all the prophets, John is the only one who hath declared particularly, and in express terms, that the martyrs shall rise to partake of the felicities of this kingdom, and that it shall continue upon earth a thousand years; and the Jewish Church before him, and the Christian church after him have farther believed and taught that these thousand years will be the seventh Millennary of the world.” Bishop Newton referred the prophetic periods of Daniel 12th, to the downfall of Antichrist, and the ushering in of the Millennial period, and also the trumpet of Revelation 11:15. This excellent man died in 1784.
PETER LANCASTER, A. M., in 1730 translated and published Daubuz’s Commentary, fully endorsing the millenarian views. On Revelation 20th ch., he says, “This resurrection of the martyrs is called the first resurrection, as being the first in the order of time, and the most excellent.”
ISAAC WATTS, A. D. 1720.
Isaac Watts, a dissenter, born at Southampton, Eng., 1674. His mental gifts and poetic genius are too well known to require comment or farther praise, he being esteemed as one of the standard British poets. His prose writings we have not at hand, nor do we know his views in regard to the Millennium, but in his hymns the doctrines of the personal advent, the literal resurrection of the saints, the terrestrial reign, and the recreation of the earth, and descent of the New Jerusalem stand forth conspicuous. We transpose and quote a few of them.
On Isaiah 9:6, styling it “The kingdom of Christ,” he sings that the government of the earth and seas shall be laid upon the shoulders of “The Wonderful, the Counsellor,” who shall have honor and wide dominion. The holy child Jesus shall sit high on the throne of his father David, and crushing all his foes beneath his feet, he shall reign to unknown ages. On Revelation 11:15, “The kingdoms of the world become the kingdoms of the Lord, or, as he calls it, “The day of judgment; ” he prays, “Let the seventh angel sound on high” when the kings of the earth shall give up their kingdoms to God, who assumes his power, and Jesus the Lamb once slain shall live and reign forever. The angry nations fret and roar, God flies on wings of vengeance to pay the long arrears of blood, the rising dead appear and hear the decisive sentence, and the martyrs receive an infinite reward. Of Song of Solomon 3:11, “The coronation of Christ,” he sings “O, that the months would roll away, And bring the coronation day.” In Hymns 102 and 110, Book 2d, he sings of the literal resurrection of the body, “at the revival of the just;” chides the Redeemer’s long delay, and prays that he would let the sacred morning break through the sky and cut short the hours by appearing again. In Hymn 13, B. 2, on “The creation, preservation, desolation and restoration of the world,” he sings of the creation era, the hasty years, the passage of time; this orb rolls on till the saints are all gathered in, and the trumpet’s dreadful blast shakes all nature to dust again: “Yet, when the sounds shall tear the skies; And lightnings burn the globe below, Saints, you may lift your joyful eyes, There’s a new heaven and earth for you.” Psalm 50, he treats of “the last judgment,” when “God comes amid clouds, bright flames, thunder, darkness, fire and storm.” Psalm 110, concerning “The kingdom and Priesthood of Christ.” He teaches that Christ’s reign shall spread through the whole earth, the rebelling powers will be crushed, the rising dead judged, and the guilty world sent to hell. Watts’ beautiful “Lyric Poem,” entitled, “Come, Lord Jesus,” and commencing with “When shall thy lovely face be seen,” together with another, beginning, “How long shall death the tyrant reign, etc,” express an intensity of love for Christ’s appearing, only equaled by Wesley’s hymn, beginning, “The church in her militant state,” or by the closing words of John, in the Apocalypse. Will the reader carefully peruse the following hymn, composed by our sacred poet, and sung in all the churches? We refer to Hymn 21, Book 3d, entitled, “A vision of the kingdom of Christ among men.” “Lo, what a glorious sight appears To our believing eyes, etc.” It contains pure advent sentiment, and all will be ready to admit with Dr.
PIRIE, A. D. 1700.
Alexander Pirie, of Newburg, Scotland, in the eighteenth century, was a staunch Millenarian. He wrote on the subject, and we give the following argument from him. He says: — “It has been argued by Dr. Whitby and his numerous followers, that a proper and literal resurrection is never in the whole New Testament expressed or represented by the living of the soul, but by the living, raising, and resuscitation of the dead — the raising of the bodies of the saints — of them that slept in the dust or in their graves. A very confident assertion this! Let us see whether it be just or not. In Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost — Acts 2:27-31 — we find the resurrection of Christ expressed in the very words employed by David for that purpose: ‘Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.’ This, says Peter, David as a prophet ‘spake of the resurrection of Christ that his soul was not left in hell, neither did his flesh see corruption.’ Now it will be allowed that the clauses of this verse, or distich of David, are parallel and synonymous, expressing the same thing in different words. Consequently the hell in the first line is the same as the place of corruption in the second, and the soul in the one corresponds with the flesh in the other. Here then it is evident that the soul of our Lord is said to live again, or to be raised from the dead, and also that the resurrection of the soul includes the resurrection of the body; so that it is a matter of indifference whether you say the soul or the body rose, since the one can neither die nor rise again without the other — only to die and to live again are more immediately and properly applied to the soul or life, than to the body, for reasons formerly given. “Two consequences necessarily follow: — 1st . The above remark of Dr. Whitby is unfounded in truth. Here is a proper and literal resurrection expressed in the N. T., by the living again of the soul, and as the resurrection of the first-born from the dead is so expressed, was it not proper to express the resurrection of his younger brethren in the same terms? Yea, might we not have expected that John as a prophet would use the language common to all the ancient prophets? 2d . When we hear John saying, ‘I saw the souls of them that were beheaded, etc., and they lived and reigned with Christ,’ we must necessarily understand this as spoken of their reanimated and risen bodies, because Peter has taught us so to explain the resurrection of the soul of Christ, the Lord and Head of the resurrection. Beside this, how could John see a soul separated from the body?” HORT, A. D. 1747.
Robert Hort, A. M., Chaplain to his Grace Josiah, Lord Archbishop of Tuam, in a sermon preached at Dublin, in 1747, says: “The opinion of those who are called Millennaries, is far from being new, since it is confirmed in substance by the united testimony of the ancient Heathen nations, of the Jews, and of the whole Christian Church, in its earliest and purest ages. And if we consider the great probability there is that the heathen nations derived it from some revelation earlier than the dispersion of mankind; that the Jews were a people governed and instructed by prophets divinely inspired; that our Lord himself allows their expectations in this matter to be just; that the primitive Christians, unexceptionable witnesses in this case, declare that they receive this doctrine from the immediate disciples of St. John; that it is itself reasonable, and even necessary, in order to render the redemption from the curse complete; that it is taught by many plain and express texts of Scripture, which cannot, without violence and constraint, such as no man would be allowed to use in the explanation of any human writings, be interpreted to any other purpose; if these things are duly considered, it will appear, I think, that the truth as well as the antiquity of this opinion is sufficiently established, nor can I see how it possibly could have been established with more certainty.
For if a multitude of Scripture texts, understood in their plain and natural sense, according also to the general tenor of the Scriptures, and supported by so great an authority, be not a sufficient proof I am utterly at a loss to know what is.” C. MATHER, A. D. 1700.
Cotton Mather, D. D., was born 1663. He was the most distinguished and learned clergyman of his day in New England. He was minister at the North Church, Boston, and his writings are numerous, the most celebrated of which is his “Magnalia.” A son of Increase Mather, he was eminent as a Chiliast. We extract from his work entitled “Student and Preacher; or directions for a candidate of the Ministry,” addressed to all such in great Britain and New England: “The Ruler of the world, returning, to us, will send forerunners, who shall show his approach and the speediness of his coming. And before the very great and very greatly to be dreaded day of the Lord come, he will send Elias, or men endued with his spirit and power, who with a loud voice shall show themselves sons of thunder concerning the Lord hastening to us. “It behoveth any servant of God, who would be named a vigilant, and not a drowsy servant, to perform this office of Elias. And were the power granted to any Elias, of uttering, through a mighty trumpet, a voice that might be heard throughout the regions of the whole globe, he would surely with this alarm summon us from our lethargy. “For when our Lord shall come, he will find the world almost void of true and lively faith, (especially of faith in his coming;) and when he shall descend with his heavenly banners and angels, what else will he find, almost, but the whole church, as it were, a dead carcass, miserably putrified with the spirit and manners and endearments of this world? “Speedily, with flaming fire; but who knows how soon? The Son of God, about to descend, will inflict vengeance on them who know not God, and obey not his gospel; but he will manifest his kingdom of the saints in the earth, which is to be possessed by our second and heavenly Adam; and this, we confess, is ascertained to us by promise, but in another state, as being after the resurrection. “They indulge themselves in a vain dream, not to say insane, who think, pray, and hope, contrary to the whole sacred Scripture and sound reason, that the promised happiness of the church on earth will be before the Lord Jesus shall appear in his kingdom. “Without doubt the kingdoms of this world will not become the kingdoms of God and his Christ, before the preordained time of the dead, in which the reward shall be given to the servants of God, and to those that fear his name. “The rest of the saints, and the promised sabbath, and the kingdom of God, in which his will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven, and those great things of which God hath spoken by the mouths of his prophets, all prophesying as with one voice; all shall be confirmed by their fulfillment in the new earth, not in our defiled and accursed earth. “There are very many good men, to be numbered, not indeed with scoffers, but yet with sleepers, and such as lull others to sleep, who, by improper and excessive allegorizing, darken and injure the truth.
And I could wish most humbly to advise, or request, and solicit these dear beloved brethren in Christ, that, being taught by second thoughts, they would persist no further in bringing with their charms the spirit of slumber on those sitting weary on the grass.
Would that some Nepos indeed might arise, to confute these allegorists, before the event does it for them! “When I should wish to stir up my brethren, who are in a deep sleep, with these messages and admonitions, to shake off this soft and indeed lethargic and deadly slumber, I know that I shall appear to my friends a vain dreamer, a sort of Lot, and that they will treat me as one in jest or sport, and as a man in the falling sickness, seized with I know not what enthusiasm; and that sleep may hold them in still more pleasing fetters, they will make use of, as it were, sleepy medicines , a diversity of commentaries on certain prophecies as not yet fulfilled. “But this word of God is in my mind like burning fire shut up in my bones: nor can I any longer forbear, but must again and again denounce this doom to the earth, sufficiently prepared for the fire, and a sorceress condemned to the flames. “Yea, though some Nero should command me to be burned in the flames, I will not cease to preach and foretell, with an carnest voice, the dissolution, renewal, and purification of the world by fire. “Yes, O beloved! prepare; and in the exercise of hope, haste unto the coming of the Lord: and, seeing that ye look for such things, study that ye may be found of him without spot and blameless. “The church is shortly to be gathered.”
Of the new earth, he says: “The conflagration described by the oracles of God in strong terms, and which we are warned of by the mouth of all the prophets; this conflagration will be at the second coming of the Lord. To make the Petrine conflagration signify no more than the laying of Jerusalem and her daughter in ashes, and to make the new heavens and the new earth signify no more than the church state of the gospel; these are shameful hallucinations. And as for the new earth, before the arrival of which no man can reasonably expect happy times for the church of God upon earth, it is the greatest absurdity to say that it will take place before the Petrine conflagration, and there is no prospect of arguing to any purpose, with such as can talk so very ridiculously.” “The new heavens, in conjunction with the new earth, is that heavenly country which the patriarchs looked for. When the great God promised them that he would be their God and bless them, they understood it of his bringing them into this deathless and sinless world.” Of the Jews, Mather believed as follows: “Such a conversion of the Israelitish nation, with a return to their ancient seats in Palestine, as many. excellent persons in latter years, (and among the rest himself,) have been persuaded of; he now thought inconsistent with the coming of the Lord and the burning of the world at the fall of Antichrist, before which fall nobody imagines that conversion. And indeed, how is it consistent with the deep sleep in which the diluvium ignis (fiery deluge) must, as that of water did, surprise the world? The holy people of the prophecies are found among the Gentiles, the surrogate Israel. The New Testament seems to have done with a carnal Israel; the eleventh chapter to the Romans is greatly misunderstood, where we find all Israel saved by a filling up of the Gentiles, which we mistranslate “the fullness of the Gentiles.” The prophecies of the Old Testament, that seem to have an aspect on such a nation, are either already accomplished unto that nation in the return from the Chaldean captivity; or, they belong to that holy people whom a succession to the piety of the patriarchs will render what our Bible has taught us to call them, the Israel of God, Galatians 6:16. Of what advantage to the kingdom of God can the conversion of the Jewish nation be, any more than the conversion of any other nation, except, we should suppose, to remain upon the Jewish nation after their conversion, something to distinguish them from the rest of the Christian believers?
Now to suppose this, would it not be to rebuild a partition wall that our Savior has demolished and abolished, which a Christian, one would think, would no sooner go to do, than to rebuild the fallen walls of Jericho.” Mather thought the end near, and used to say, that, “for aught any man alive can say, the midnight cry may be heard before tomorrow morning.”
WHITEFIELD, A. D. 1760.
George Whitefield was born at Gloucester, 1714. He was educated at Oxford, and was associated with Wesley; from his youth exhibiting extraordinary talents. His system was Calvinistic Methodist. What his views were in regard to the personal Millennial reign, we know not, but if we are left to judge by the tenor of his published sermons, we should regard him as not at all favoring Post-millennialism, or the doctrine of the complete evangelizing of the world. He makes constant and pointed references to the “coming of Christ and the judgment day,” alluding mournfully to the face, that by some “Our Lord’s coming in the flesh at the day of judgment is denied,” affirming that “Christ ascended to heaven with the body which he had here on earth,” and though we have him in spirit “in our hearts,” yet will he “come hereafter the second time, and summon every seal of every nation and language to appear before his dread tribunal,” when “earth, air, fire, and water, shall give up the scattered atoms,” and the saints be literally resurrected; in several places alluding to that day as the accomplishment of the Lord’s prayer, saying earnestly: “Hasten, O, Lord, that blessed time! O, let thy kingdom come!” On the parable of the Virgins, Matthew 25:1, he makes the “Bridegroom, Jesus Christ;” his tarrying, all “the space of time which passeth between our Lord’s ascension, and his coming again to judgment;” the slumbering and sleeping, means “the wise as well as the foolish died, for dust we are and unto dust we must return;” the cry, Behold he cometh, is “the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God; the solemnizing of the sacred nuptials being reserved till the day of judgment.” He says, “Because he tarried for awhile to exercise the faith of saints, and give sinners space to repent, scoffers were apt to cry out, ‘Where is the promise of his coming?’ but perhaps today, perhaps this midnight, the cry may be made. * * Let that cry, Behold, the bridegroom cometh! be continually sounding in your ears, and begin now to live as though you were assured this night you were to go forth to meet him.” He often used the expressions, “in these last times,” “in these last days,” “scoffers of these last days,” and, like Usher, anticipated “persecution, for the church,” justly remarking that “without a spirit of prophecy, we may easily discern the signs of the times,” and warning his hearers that “in a little while,” or “ere long,” and perhaps “very shortly,” Christ would come. In his sermon on Mark 16:15,19, where he would naturally have spoken on the triumphs of the Gospel, he does not even intimate that every person will receive it, or be saved by it, but otherwise. The following are extracts from his discourse on “The Burning Bush,” and “Persecution every Christian’s lot.” “The bush burned — what is that for? It shows that Christ’s church, while in this world, will be a bush burning with fiery trials and afflictions of various kinds.” “This bush is typical of the church of God in all ages. Pray, is not that the case of the church in all ages? Yes, it has been; read your Bibles, and you may instantly see that it is little else than an historical account of a burning bush; and though there might be some periods wherein the church had rest, yet these periods have been of a short date; and if God’s people have walked in the comforts of the Holy Ghost, it is only like a calm that precedes an earthquake.” On texts of a character with this, he says that they are “Passages which, though confined by false prophets to the first, I am persuaded will be verified by the experience of all true Christians in this and every age of the church.” * * “Hence it is that as it was formerly, so it is now, and so will it be to the end of time; he that is born after the flesh, the natural man, does and will persecute him that is born after the Spirit, the regenerate man. Notwithstanding some may live in more peaceful times of the church than others, yet all Christians in all ages will suffer persecution.” “The enmity of the serpent * * * will continue to rage and show itself in a greater or less degree to the end of time.” Such was the faith and teaching of the eloquent Whitefield; a faith we regard as differing from that of Dr. Hopkins, the Post-m., who taught that in the Millennium “every individual person who shall then live will be a real Christian;” and one that gives no countenance to the views of modern spiritualists. This “Apostle of the British empire, and Prince of preachers,” as he is styled by Toplady, died at Newburyport, Mass., in 1770, where his body, committed to the tomb, lies buried “in sure and certain hope of a resurrection.”
BENSON, A. D. 1750.
Dr. George Benson, a very distinguished Dissenter, born in England, in 1699, seems to advocate the personal reign in the following notes on Psalms 96:10-13, and 98:4-9. He says, “Here we have the subjects of the general joy — the coming of the Messiah to reform the world, to execute judgment upon the wicked, and to establish a kingdom of righteousness upon the earth. We expect his second advent to restore all things, to judge the world, to condemn his enemies, and to begin his glorious reign. Then shall heaven and earth rejoice, and the joy of the redeemed shall be full.” He died in 1763.
CHARLES WESLEY, A. D. 1770.
Charles Wesley, A. M., was born at Epworth, 1708, and was educated at Westminster and Christ Church, England. One of the early Methodists, he was decidedly talented and pious, and is the author of hymns, poems, and sermons. His prose writings we have not; but concerning his hymns, whatever our readers may judge, we argue there is taught in them pure Pre-millennialism. As with Watts, we give them, transposing some for the sake of brevity. On Job 19:25, he says that — “Jesus shall reappear below, Stand in that dreadful day unknown, And fix on earth his dreadful throne.” On Isaiah 2:17, he sings of Jesus coming, and of his being seated in full glorious power on his Millennial throne. On Isaiah 49:23, he represents Christ as saying that his people are expecting him to come and reign on the earth. On Isaiah 59:19, he sings of the time when Christ shall be the universal King on his Millennial throne. Isaiah 60:13. Christ will descend to his footstool, and fill the world with peace unknown, and with endless joy. The new earth of Isaiah 65, like his brother John, he seems to interpret literally, and joyfully exclaims: “We long to see thy throne appear: bid the new creation rise: bring us back our Paradise, and create the universe fair beyond its first estate.” On Ezekiel 37:24, he prays that “God would place Christ our heavenly David on his (Christ’s) terrestrial throne;” and on verse 25, sings — “Trusting in the literal Word, We look for Christ on earth again; Come, our everlasting Lord, With all thy saints to reign.” On Daniel, 2 chapter — “Lord, as taught by thee, we pray That sin and death may end; In the great Millennial day With all thy saints descend.” On Daniel, 12 chapter, he sings of “the Redeemer’s descending from the skies, and beginning on earth his glorious reign with his ancients.” On Zechariah 14, he prays that Christ “would hasten to erect his throne below, in that last great divine monarchy.” On Malachi 4, he sings of Elijah’s coming first to prepare the way of the Lord, and then, to Christ — “When the seventh trumpet’s sound Proclaims the grand Sabbatic year, Come thyself with glory crown’d, And reign triumphant here.” On Matthew 24 chapter, he represents “Christ as coming to reign before the general doom;” and on Revelation 1:5, he prays that “Christ’s kingdom may come, and he reign previous to the everlasting day.” On Hebrews 9:28, and Revelation 1:5, he petitions that Christ would appear a second time, and ascend his bright Millennial throne, and give pure Millennial joy to his people, he reigning the King of glory here; and finally — though much more of the same kind might be added — on Revelation 5:10. “We shall reign on the earth,” our sweet Millennial poet thus sings — “Mightier joys ordained to know When thou comest to reign below; We shall at thy side sit down, Partners of thy great white throne; Kings a thousand years with thee — Kings to all eternity!” HALL, A. D. 1800.
Robert Hall was born 1766. He was a Baptist preacher and author of great talent, and one of the most eloquent and extraordinary men of his time. In his “Sermon on the Advance of Knowledge,” he said: “Everything in the condition of mankind announces the approach of some great crisis.” Like Lowth and Faber, Mr. Hall looked for a supernatural interposition of the Messiah at the commencement of the Millennium. Mr. Thorp, of England, says that Millenarianism “formed part of the subject of the last evening’s conversation enjoyed by him with that extraordinary man, only a few days before his decease, and upon each point the most perfect unanimity of opinion prevailed,” — Mr. Hall to use the language of Dr. Duffield, “regretting on his dying bed he had not preached the Millennarian views he entertained.” FLETCHER, A. D. 1775.
Revelation John Fletcher was born in Switzerland, 1729; became vicar at Madely, and was associated with Wesley; was not only one of the most pious men that ever lived, but also was a close student of prophecy, and, like Toplady, was Premillennialist. In his “Letter on the Prophecies,” dated 1775, he refers to a certain “great and learned divine,” who, with Sir Isaac Newton, held that “we are come to the last times,” and that Christ was coming to destroy the wicked, and raise the righteous dead a thousand years before the final judgment, whose opinions he endorses, quoting him as saying, on Daniel 8th, that “the end,” in verse 19, was the “end of God’s universal scheme” at the “revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,” and that though “Chronologists may mistake in a few years, but cannot err upon the whole; and as God is true and faithful, so it is manifest that the prophecy of 2300 years must be fully accomplished in our days, or those of the next generation.” Having fully stated his friend’s views, Fletcher adopts him as his master, and says: “Give me leave to conclude with some reflections, that naturally flow from what has been said on that system. ‘1. Many people, I know, look on meditations on the prophecies, so expressly enjoined by St. Peter, as one of the greatest instances of presumption and enthusiasm; because they believe there is no sure ground to build upon, and that it is a land of darkness, in which the most enlightened Christians will never fail to stumble and fall shamefully.
But is it probable that God, who foretold to a year, and very clearly, the deliverance of the Jews from their captivity in Babylon, and the building of the second temple, and the birth and death of the Messiah; — is it probable, I say, that He should have been silent, or not have spoken as clearly concerning his coming to destroy the destroyers, and to set up that kingdom which we pray for, when we daily say, according to our Lord’s appointment, Thy kingdom come? If God has exactly foretold, for the comfort of believers, the various revolutions that have happened to his Church in past ages, is it possible that he should have left himself without a witness concerning the most important of all — I mean the last? If he showed the prophets the first acts of his drama, is it not highly probable he has not forgot the last, without which his wisdom, justice, and mercy would always remain hid under a thick cloud?”
Discarding all knowledge of the hour, day, or even the year of the second advent, yet he says, “the day is fixed, it is foretold; and though the vision was to be after many days, as an angel said to Daniel, yet it may be fulfilled in a few days for us, who live in the last times.” He then adds, that, “it is lawful to meditate on the prophecies,” observing, “let but those objectors ponder the word Apocalypse , and they will be ashamed to say that we must not look into those things, because they were never revealed to us,” and that “if Jesus told his disciples that it was not theirs to know the times when those things shall be accomplished, it does not follow that it must be hid from us who are far nearer concerned in them than they were;” presenting as authority that Daniel’s vision was to be closed up and sealed, till the time of the end, and consequently could not be perfectly known till near its fulfillment. “It is remarkable,” he continues “that more books have been written upon the prophecies these last hundred years, than were ever known before, and all — those, at least, which I have read — agree that these things will, in all probability, soon come upon the earth. I know many have been grossly mistaken as to the years; because they were rash, shall we be stupid? Because they said ‘to-day ,’ shall we say ‘never?’ and cry ‘peace, peace,’ when we should look about us with eyes full of expectation? Let us not judge rashly, nor utter vain predictions in the name of the Lord; but yet let us look about us with watchful eyes, lest the enemy take advantage of us, and we lose the opportunity of rousing people out of their sleep, of confirming the weak, and building up in our most holy faith, those who know him in whom they have believed. If we are mistaken in forming conjectures, if the phenomena we hear of everywhere are but common providences, if these things happen not to us, but to our children, (as they most certainly will, before the third generation is swept away,) is it not our business to prepare ourselves for them, to meditate on them, and to warn as many people as we can prudently, lest their blood should be required at our hands, were they to fall, because of a surprise? Let us pray to God more frequently, that for the elect’s sake he would still more shorten the days of the tribulation, and add daily to the true church such as will be saved. But let us not forget to rejoice with Abraham, in seeing by faith the glorious day of our Lord; and to hasten by our fervent prayers that glorious kingdom, those happy days, when narrow shall be the way to destruction, when saints raised from the dead, shall converse with living saints, and the world of spirits be manifested in a great measure to the material world, — in a word, when Jesus shall be all in all. What a glorious prospect is this! Let us then often think of these words of our Lord, ‘Behold, I come quickly.’ ‘Blessed is he that mindeth the sayings of this prophecy.’ Let us join ‘the Spirit and the bride’ who say, ‘come.’ O, ‘let him that heareth, say, come; and let him that is athirst, come; for he that testifieth these things saith, surely I come quickly. Amen: even so, come, Lord Jesus!” This pious man departed this life in 1785.
PERRY, A. D. 1721.
Joseph Perry, of Northampton, England, was a Pre-millennialist, and like Dr. Burnet, before him, held to a pure and unmixed Millennial age. In a work called “The Glory of Christ’s Visible Kingdom in this World,” published in 1721, he says: “The last restitution, or the restitution of all things, will not be, as I conceive, until Christ’s personal coming. As the heaven received him, so it will retain him until this time, in which all things shall be restored... What though this restitution of all things takes in the restitution of the creation unto its paradisiacal state; yet it is certain that the bringing in of the elect by regenerating grace, and completing the whole mystical body of Christ, is the principal part of that restitution, they being principally concerned in it, and for whose sake all other creatures are to be restored; all which shows that there will be no more conversion when Christ is come.” TOPLADY, A. D. 1770.
He says: “I am one of those old fashioned people who believe the doctrine of the Millennium, and that there will be two distinct resurrections of the dead: 1st, of the just, and second of the unjust; which last resurrection of the reprobate will not commence till a thousand years after the resurrection of the elect. In this glorious interval of a thousand years, Christ I apprehend, will reign in person over the kingdom of the just; and that during this dispensation, different degrees of glory will obtain, and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor, Corinthians 3:8.” “In the course of the present argument, I have been forced to take the doctrine of the Millennium for granted; time not allowing me to even intimate an hundredth part of the proof by which it is supported. I would only observe to those who have not considered that subject that it would be prudent in them to suspend their judgment about it, and not be too quick in determining against it, merely because it seems to lie out of the common road. As doctrines of this kind should not be admitted hastily, so they should not be rejected prematurely. “It is enough for us to know that a day will dawn when a period shall be put to every disorder under which nature at present labors, and the earth will become just what it was, perhaps considerably better than it was, ere sin destroyed the harmony and broke the balance of the well-according system. The stupendous accomplishment of this predestined restoration is largely and explicitly foretold, Revelation 20, where we read that the apostate angels shall be restrained by the coercive power of God, etc. The next chapter opens with acquainting us, that prior to the commencement of the Millennium, a new heaven, that is, a new body of surrounding air, and a new earth shall be prepared for the residence of Christ and his elect: ‘I saw new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away;’ intimating that this terraqueous globe and its circumambient atmosphere will be so purified by the preceding general conflagration, as to be totally changed in their qualities, and divested of everything noxious or that can cause disgust and pain.”
Oh, pray to Him for faith, and he who prepares your heart to call upon him will hearken to your cry. Throw yourself for eternal life on the merits of Jesus; and then, whether you believe the doctrine of the Millennium or not, you will certainly have a part in the blessedness of the state itself, and the second death shall have no power over you.” In his sermon on “Jesus Seen of Angels,” he says: “They perhaps will, when Christ gives the signal, set fire to the world, and regulate that conflagration which shall issue in the new heavens, i.e., new body of air, and new earth.” He died in much peace, 1778.
ROMAINE, A. D. 1790.
William Romaine, an eminent and learned theologian and divine, who was born in 1714 and died 1795, thus writes: “The marks and signs of Christ’s second advent are fulfilling daily. His coming cannot be far off. If you compare the uncommon events which the Lord said were to be the forerunners of his coming to judgment, with what hath lately happened in the world, you must conclude that the time is at hand.” He could not have embraced the Whitbyan theory.
COWPER, A. D. 1789.
William Cowper, England’s “Christian Poet,” of imperishable fame, was born in 1731. He was obviously a Pre-millennialist, and in his “Task,” has sung in glorious numbers of the signs of the times, the world’s age, the advent, the restitution, the New Jerusalem, and of all those “scenes surpassing fable,” but just before us. He says: “The world appears To toll the death-bell of its own decease.
When did the waves so haughtily o’erleap Their ancient barrier, deluging the dry?
Fires from beneath, and meteors from above, Portentous, unexampled, unexplained, Have kindled beacons in the skies. The old And crazy earth has had her shaking fits More frequent, and foregone her usual rest; And nature seems with dim and sickly eye To wait the close of all. * * The groans of nature in this nether world, Which heaven has heard for ages, have an end, Foretold by prophets, and by poets sung, Whose fire was kindled at the prophet’s lamp, The time of rest, the promised Sabbath comes.
Six thousand years of sorrow have well nigh Fulfilled their tardy and disastrous course Over a sinful world; and what remains Of this tempestuous state of human things, Is merely as the working of a sea Before a calm that rocks itself to rest; For He whose car the winds are; and the clouds The dust that waits upon his sultry march, When sin hath moved him and his wrath is hot, Shall visit earth in mercy; shall descend, Propitious, in his chariot paved with love; And what his storms have blasted and defaced For man’s revolt, shall with a smile repair. Behold the measure of the promise filled; See, Salem built, the labor of a God!
Bright as a sun the sacred city shines; All kingdoms and all princes of the earth Flock to that light; the glory of all lands Flows into her; unbounded is her joy, And endless her increase. * * * * * * From every clime they come To see thy beauty and to share thy joy, O Sion! an assembly, such as earth Saw never, such as heaven stoops down to see.
Come, then, and added to thy many crowns, Receive yet one, the crown of all the earth, Thou who alone art worthy! It was thine By ancient covenant ‘ere nature’s birth; Thy saints proclaim thee King; and thy delay Gives courage to their foes, who, could they see The dawn of thy last advent, long desired, Would flee for safety to the falling rocks.” The reader is referred to the whole extract, found in Book sixth. Cowper, after a life of suffering, died in 1800.
COKE, A. D, 1800.
Thomas Coke, LL. D., was born in South Wales, in 1747, and educated at Oxford, England. Coke was associated with Wesley, and was very active, accomplishing nine missionary voyages to America. In his Commentary, like all other modern writers, he locates the four predicted earthly monarchies, and also Antichrist’s principal time, in the past. He regards the third woe-trumpet as ushering in the Millennium — the end of the world, which will begin with great judgments on all nations. On 2 Peter 3d ch., he writes: “Peter told them that in the last days scoffers would arise, avowed infidels, who, because Christ’s coming was so long delayed, would ridicule the promise of it as a mere fable, and from the permanency of the mundane system, without any alteration since the beginning, would argue that there is no probability of its ever being destroyed.” On the Millennium of Revelation 20th, he is not original, but follows and quotes Daubuz, Mede, Newton and Faber, as indeed he does on all Revelation, advocating firmly Pre-millennialism. Satan being bound, he says: “Wickedness being restrained, the reign of righteousness succeeds; and the martyrs and confessors of Jesus, not only those who were beheaded or suffered any kind of death under the Roman emperors, but also those who refused to comply with the idolatrous worship of he beast and his image, are raised from the dead and have the principal share in Christ’s kingdom upon earth. ‘But the rest of the dead,’ etc., so that this was a peculiar prerogative of the martyrs and confessors above the rest of mankind. This is the first resurrection, a particular resurrection preceding the general one at least a thousand years. * * The sons of the resurrection, therefore, shall not die again, but shall live in eternal bliss, as well as enjoy all the glories of the Millennium.” By the following sentences, gleaned from his Commentary, the reader will not fail to see Dr. Coke’s cherished expectation of the approach of the last day: “Near, even at the door, is the great day of judgment. The period of time which yet remains we know is short; how short, who can tell? We ought to be in constant and hourly expectation of it. At the coming of Christ to avenge and deliver his faithful people, the faith of his coming will in a great measure be lost.
Chronological calculation, and the general appearance of the world, all conspire to tell us that the events of the latter days are even come upon us, and that the time of God’s controversy with the earth is near at hand. It is already on the wing. If these things are insufficient to alarm the guilty, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.” SCOTT, A. D. 1800.
Thomas Scott, DD., the noted commentator, was born in 1747, in Lincolnshire, Eng. and became rector of Aston Sanford. Dr. Scott, as all are aware, was a determined Post-millennialist, showing the opposite view bit little favor, and too often lamentably spiritualizing the Sacred Word, as do many others; still we make a few extracts from him, exhibiting his admissions.
On Acts 3:19, etc.,” Diverse opinions still prevail in respect of the reign of Christ during the Millennium, whether it be personal or spiritual; and his coming to set up his kingdom all over the earth has been very generally, even by diligent expositors and other learned writers, confounded with his coming to judge the world,” etc. “ Luke 18:8. Some think that a great prevalence of infidelity will take place just before Christ shall come to judge the world, as it is probable there will be immediately before the introduction of the Millennium.”
Revelation 1. He remarks at some length on the blessing pronounced upon those who read and understand the Apocalypse, exhorts to its study, and says: “An acquaintance with this revelation concerning the purposes of God with respect to his church to the end of time, when connected with humility, sobriety, and the obedience of faith, must greatly conduce to the Christian stability, constancy, hope, peace and patience.” “God’s vast design (in the creation) is already in a considerable measure accomplished, and is evidently hastening to an entire completion,” etc. Revelation 11:15,18. “Thus we arrive at the consummation of all things through a series of prophecies, extending from the Apostle’s days to the end of the world.”
Revelation 20th ch. Of the Millennium, he says: “We have as just grounds to expect such a happy event as the Jews had to look for a Messiah; but those who suppose it will be a carnal Millennium are as much mistaken as the Jews were in waiting for a temporal Deliverer. It is our duty to pray for the promised glorious days. * * * Whether the general opinion that this thousand years will be the seventh thousand from the creation — or the Sabbatical Millennary — the event must determine; it is evident, however, that the dawn of this glorious day cannot be very distant, etc. Nor can I doubt that in proportion as the Scriptures are diligently and impartially searched and understood, the more generally and unreservedly will the persuasion prevail that there shall be a Millennium; that it is at hand, even at the door; and that we ought to advert to it, and to those things which may prepare the way for it, in all our studies and writings.” Dr. Scott, like all other modern writers, locates the four universal kingdoms of Daniel’s prophecy, together with the persecuting reign of Antichrist, in the past. On Daniel 8:13,14, he speaks approvingly of the views of Newton and Lowth, adding, that “No doubt the end of the two thousand three hundred days or years is not very distant.” He fully sustains the year-day theory, and terminates the 1260 years of Papal tyranny in 1866. Scott died in 1821.
GLAS, A. D. 1761.
John Glas, of Scotland, in this century was a Millenarian. From his works in four volumes published at Edinburgh, in 1761, we extract the following argument. “By the seventh vial comes all the wrath of God, and the destruction of them that destroyed the earth, when God comes to set up that kingdom which was foretold by Daniel. The beast is destroyed, and given to the burning flame, or cast into the lake of fire, at the coming of Christ; and this is the time of the resurrection of all the saints to reign over the world a thousand years, while Satan is restrained from tempting and deceiving the nations. Then it is that the stone cut out of the mountain fills the whole earth, having become a great mountain; and then dominion and glory is given to the Son of man, that all peoples, nations, and languages, should serve him, Daniel 7:13,14,26,27. And this is the time when the kingdoms of this world become our Lord’s and his Christ’s. Revelation 11:15. “Further we may observe, that as this kingdom will come with the utter destruction of the enemies of Christ and his saints, so it will be the reward of all the saints, even that same recompense of which our Lord speaks, Luke 14:13,14, — ‘thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.’ This is that resurrection which is described, Revelation 20, and called the first resurrection, at the beginning of the saints’ reign; for by it we cannot understand, as some do, the resurrection from trespasses and sins, which is spoken of Ephesians 2, because it is expressly declared to be the resurrection of them who had been slain for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and who had not worshipped the beast, nor his image, nor received his mark. These are their characters before they arise and live to reign; but before men rise from trespasses and sins, they are dead in trespasses and sins, wherein in time past they walked after the course of this world, and the prince of the power of the air. “Neither can this resurrection be understood, as others incline to understand it, to be a remarkable revival of the testimony and cause of the martyrs of Christ — for this would turn only to the temporal advantage of some saints living this mortal sinful life on the earth, while the departed sufferers in former ages, are crying ‘How long, O Lord.’ Neither is this opinion consistent with the answer given to that cry of the souls of the slain, wherein their hope is deferred only till the sufferings of their brethren should be fulfilled; for they must all in some shape or other suffer with Christ, who are to be glorified together with him at his appearing. “Further, this reign with Christ, unto which they rise, is the same which is set forth as the hope of the whole redeemed body, when the Lamb takes the book to open it. Compare Revelation 5:9,10, with Revelation 20:6. It is the reward of God’s servants, the prophets, and them that fear his name small and great, Revelation 11:18, and Revelation 20:4.
John saw thrones and them who sat on them — compare Matthew 19:28, and the souls of them who were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God (which is the designation the Apocalypse gives to them who suffered from the Jews, and from Rome heathen, before Antichrist was revealed, Revelation 6:9, and Revelation 12:11,) and which had not worshipped the beast nor his image, (which comprehends all the saints that live under Antichrist, to the time of his final destruction;) he saw that all these lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years before the resurrection of the rest of the dead. Now, these descriptions comprehend all the saints in all ages, and cannot be confined to them who live in any one period only. And for this reason, this first resurrection and reign of the saints cannot be understood to be a resurrection only of some eminent sufferers unto death, while the rest of the elect remain in their graves, and those who are living in this mortal life, are enjoying a prosperous outward state. As this opinion cannot be reconciled with the aforesaid texts; so it is not agreeable to the faith of the primitive Christians on this head, from which there was a remarkable departure when Antichrist’s kingdom came; for they believed that at the destruction of the empire, there would be a resurrection of all the just, and that all the elect should reign with Christ a thousand years before the judgment of the rest of the dead.” “Thus the saints will have the dominion over the whole world, and ‘the kingdom shall not be left to another people but it shall stand forever.’” Joshua Spalding was minister of the gospel at the Tabernacle at Salem, Mass., 1796. The Pre-Millennialism of this pious divine is well known. We make the following extracts: “The expectation of a Millennium arises from the prophecies concerning the future kingdom of Christ — the kingdoms of this world becoming the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ — his taking to himself his great power, and reigning before all his ancients gloriously. We are plainly told, this glorious event shall take place under the sounding of the seventh trumpet. This none disputes. All agree that the expected reign of Christ upon earth will be in the days of the voice of the seventh trumpet. The question disputed, and which we would examine is, whether probationary time will end, and the great day of God’s wrath will come at the beginning or at the ending of the seventh trumpet. It was the expectation of believers anciently, that probationary time would end, and the great day of God’s wrath would come before the Millennial kingdom under the seventh trumpet: but in the last century an opinion gained currency that the Millennium would be probationary time; and therefore the coming of Christ, and overthrow of this world, of the ungodly, would not take place till some time after the Millennium. This opinion has constantly prevailed; all hands, learned and unlearned, have been employed to propogate it, and very little has been done or said to oppose it; and for about half a century it has been the most common belief, consequently people have laid aside all expectation that the day of the Lord is nigh, and old and young, ministers and people, have agreed to say, The Lord delayeth his coming. But so agrees not the voice of Revelation. The angel said at the beginning , not at the close; when the seventh angel shall begin to sound — then there should be time no longer — then the mystery of God should be finished — then the elders said, ‘Thy wrath is come.’ “And if our thoughts concerning the coming and kingdom of Christ be just, it is now time to watch for the midnight cry — ‘Behold, the Bridegroom cometh.’ The sixth trumpet and also the sixth vial are now passing over us, as the events of Providence do plainly show, and are drawing towards the close; and the seventh trumpet may daily be expected to begin to sound. Who knows how soon the seventh angel, with the voice of the last trump, shall proclaim — There shall be time no longer — the mystery of God is finished? O solemn sound!” “That such vast multitudes are yet to be converted to Christ, as some have calculated and numbered, is what I have not been able to discover in the Scriptures. For aught I know (though to me it appears very improbable,) these calculations may be accurate, and the uncalled elect may be so many millions; still, we do not see that this proves their (the Post-millennial) scheme, for we know not why God may not call in all his elect, be they more or less, whilst the world continues in its present state, without introducing for them a state so indulgent and improper for a life of faith — a, state so unlike the glorious warfare in which the worthies, through grace, have won their immortal honors and unfading crowns. Affliction worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; this weight of glory they must lose without our affliction, and with it their Millennium is imaginary. Tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience. But what experience can these Millennial converts attain without tribulation? Can they know Christ in the fellowship of his sufferings? Can they be made conformable unto his death? Can they glory in his cross? Can they rejoice that they are counted worthy to suffer shame for his name? Or, wherein can their lives be brought into a conformity with the lives of his people that have followed him in his temptations, which conformity will open in their hearts such sources of sweet fellowship to all eternity?
The seed of Jacob in all ages of the world have been wrestlers while these Millennial converts, at best, can be but fondlings. They are represented as a sort of Christians that I never admired; they are born without travail; their baptism is not the baptism of Christ, for it is without fire; they have not the refinement of the furnace nor the purification of the fuller’s soap; they have not the spots of God’s Israel — the scars of the fight of faith; and should it be asked, ‘Whence came they?’ it could not be answered, ‘These are they which came out of great tribulation;’ therefore, they must stand without a palm or a wreath, for, no fight, no victory, no cross, no crown.” Spalding’s entire work is interesting and valuable. He notes in one place that we read of the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven, but no where do we read of its return again to heaven. We recommend his Lectures to our readers.
LOWTH, A.D. 1730.
William Lowth was born in London in 1661. He was distinguished as a theologian and commentator, and writes as follows: “The glory of the Lord, that is, the Shekinah symbol of God’s presence, when it departed from the city temple, settled itself upon the Mount of Olives. Ezekiel 11:23. So when God shall return to Jerusalem and make it the seat of his presence again, it shall return by the same way it departed. Ezekiel 43:2. We may add, that when the Lord ascended from the Mount of Olives, the angels told his disciples he should come again in like manner, that is, in a visible and glorious appearance at the same place.” Commenting on Daniel 7:9, he says: “The fourth monarchy being to continue till the consummation of all things, the general judgment is described in this and the following verses, wherein sentence was to pass upon the Fourth Beast, and an end be put to his dominion.” Again, on verse 26, he says: “This being the last of the four earthly kingdoms or monarchies, when that is destroyed, there will be an end to the present state of things, when all human rule, and authority shall cease, and the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.” And on verse 27th he writes: “This denotes the reign of Christ on earth, where his saints are described reigning with him.” He evidently held the personal reign. Died 1732.
RUDD, A.D. 1730.
He takes ground on the Pre-millennial advent, reasoning admirably and powerfully. After confuting, in a masterly manner, the theory of Whitby, in answer to the question, “Where Christ and the raised saints are to reside during the 1000 years,” he says: “My opinion on this head can be no secret to those who are the least read in this argument. Every one who hath heard of the Millennary doctrine, and has taken a cursory view of this treatise, must know that I agree both with the ancient Chiliasts (Papias said the reign of Christ shall be upon the new earth, after the bodily resurrection of the dead,) and the most considerable of the moderns on this point; and that I suppose Christ will live and reign with his saints a thousand years on the earth, that is, in this world, not in the form or condition in which it now is, but as renewed and refined after the general conflagration. For this is at present to be allowed me, and I imagine it will be readily done, that though the present world is to be burned up, yet that it is not to be annihilated; that the fire of the last day will only alter the figure of the matter composing this ball, and not entirely consume or reduce it to nothing; and that after this deluge of fire a new earth, attended with a new heaven, will arise out of the ashes of this present world. Now, this new earth, together with the new heaven attending, I suppose, will be the seat of Christ’s personal kingdom; that he will here transact the great matters of judgment, both with respect to the saints and the wicked, the former during the years, and the latter at the end of them.” He then, quoting the usual Scriptures, gives ten reasons for thus believing.
HUSSEY, A.D. 1730.
Hussey writes: “The glory of this text, viz., Revelation 22:16-17, is a thing evidently to be fulfilled in the glorious kingdom of Christ on earth, immediately after the first resurrection of the Lamb’s wife, at her making ready in her glorified body, even as the 21st and 22nd chapters of Revelation speak.” On Acts 3:19, he says, “This doctrine of Christ’s reign on earth, stands with the witness of all the Holy prophets, and it is lodged upon record that the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” Hussey taught that this reign would precede the time of eternity, and called it “the reign of Christ through the happy Millennium,” “the rest, or Sabbatism, or keeping of the glory-sabbath which remaineth for the people of God, of which the first day of the week now under the gospel is the earnest penny.” POPE, A D. 1740.
He was, we believe, a Roman Catholic, and is the author of the “Essay on Man,” also, “The Messiah.” In the latter, after describing the wonderful birth of Jesus, he speaks of his being “the promised Father of the age,” describing his reign as follows: “No more shall nation against nation rise, Nor ardent warriors meet with hateful eyes, Nor fields with gleaming steel be cover’d o’er, The brazen trumpets kindle rage no more; But useless lances into scythes shall bend, And the broad falchion in a plowshare end.
To leafless shrubs the flowery palms succeed, And odorous myrtle to the noisome weed.
See barbarous nations<