« PoprzedniaDalej »
upon those saints: just as the Scripture declares him "blessed and holy," who hath part in the first resurrection. But if their blessedness in Paradise was interrupted by this resurrection, instead of an eminent honour, it was an evil. We may just as well argue, that it shall be a misery to be again in the body, (considering that our temptation has been in the flesh,) as to snppose it a woe to be brought again on earth, because it has been the scene of iniquity. And if any should reply, “But our body will be changed;"-I answer, So likewise the earth will be renewed.
Once more, let me ask, are those angels who attend the steps of God's children whilst warring in the flesh;-of whom it is written, that "they are all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation;" are these, I ask, rendered less happy owing to the office assigned them? Alas! they must witness much that is perverse and sinful in their charge; and often, when they go into the presence of our heavenly Father, must have a sad account to render. But though their joy is increased over every sinner that repenteth, I cannot think their happiness is ever interrupted: and for this reason (which equally applies to the resurrection saints,) that they are doing their Lord's will, assured that all will tend ultimately to his glory; and in this conformity to his will, and confidence as to the result, they must be continually blessed. I repeat, therefore, we want a holier mind to enter into these things aright; and then we shall be ready to cry with the Psalmist "Remember ME, O Lord, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people! O, visit ME with thy salvation!that I may see the glory of thy chosen!-that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation!-that I may glory with thine inheritance!" (Ps. cvi. 4, 5.)
The Pre-millennial Advent and New Dispensation.
I have now gone through those subjects* which I consider are capable of demonstration, leaving the obscurer, and consequently more disputable, prophecies of Daniel and St. John; though I consider the expositions supplied by Mr. Cuninghame to be in the main correct. The great point to be now
1 Heb. i. 14.
m Matt. xviii. 10.
* Five of the author's Essays are omitted in this reprint.
ascertained in prophetical inquiry is, whether the second advent or appearing of the Lord Jesus is to take place at the commencement of that period which we call the MILLENNIUM, or after it. For it must not be supposed that the difference between those who are called Millennarians and those opposed to them consists in the manner or details of the kingdom of God. We may be mistaken in some of the subordinate particulars, and there are points on which it would be presumptuous to pronounce with confidence, until events enable us to judge more clearly; but that which forms the great criterion whereby the general truth and accuracy of either system may be tested is the time of the advent. If the appearing of Christ, or even the resurrection of the saints, is previous to the Millennium, then they are wrong who suppose the Millennium to consist only in an improved state of spiritual things, similar to what we now witness when religion prevails in any place. But if there be no resurrection, neither any appearing of Christ at the commencement of it, then the millennarian hope, which I have decidedly embraced, falls to the ground; and the adjustment of historical facts and dates will be the only remaining points of any moment between writers on prophecy.
The discerning reader will have noticed, in the course of these Essays, many arguments which go to prove that the appearing of Christ is pre-millennial; and I will here admonish him of one consideration, which to my own mind is quite conclusive, and which alone renders the notion of Christ's coming after the Millennium irreconcileable with the general tenor of Scripture. I have shown, that the apostles always speak of the coming and kingdom of Christ as an event nigh at hand, and drawing rapidly onward; so that we should ever be on the look out and watchful for it. But those who deny that he comes before the Millennium do deliberately contradict the Scriptures in this respect, and say "You have no need to watch for or expect him; for Christ to a certainty comes not for a thousand years; and it will be time enough, when the Millennium is past and Satan is again let loose, to think of preparing for the day of God." Such is the real tendency of these opinions; and being clearly opposed to the tenor of divine revelation, they must be so far wrong.
I would now, by way of summary, briefly show that whatever event we look forward to, connected with the ushering in of the Millennium, the coming of Christ is connected with it. I will next urge an argument drawn from the consideration of the different character of the millennial dispensation, as compared with that under which we live; and then pass on to a final argument drawn from analogy.
I. If we look to the restoration of the Jews, whatever view we take of that event, we are assured that then shall the Lord appear in his glory. For indeed their house is only left unto them desolate till they shall say-Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. And Daniel xii. 1-3, shows further, that a resurrection from the dead takes place at the time of the deliverance of his (Daniel's) people.
If we look to the destruction of Antichrist, it is to be by the brightness of the Lord's coming; (2 Thess. ii. 8,) in regard to which, be it observed, the expression made use of in the original for brightness (pavu,) always has a reference, when applied to Christ, to his glorious appearing; and the word translated coming (rapova) means always a personal advent. This being the case, either the Lord appears at the beginning of the Millennium, or Antichrist continues to reign throughout the Millennium. The same thing is shown in Daniel vii. 20-22; the Little Horn (which is admitted by all to be Antichrist) prevails against the saints "until the Ancient of days comes and judgment is given to the saints of the Most High, and the time comes that the saints possess the kingdom."
If again we regard the mystical dates of Daniel, which terminate (as all agree, with only one exception that I know of*) at the beginning of the Millennium; it is expressly declared to Daniel "Go thou thy way till the end be, for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of THE DAYS. So that at the end of those days which are to elapse before the Millennium Daniel is to rise from the dead, in order to have his part or lot in the glory then to be revealed. And if a resurrection is to take place, then of course Christ is to appear; for when the saints come, it is in company with Christ their head.
We will next consider that glorious and peaceful rest shadowed forth by the Feast of Tabernacles, the antitype of which is to be enjoyed at the final restoration of the Jews, when every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree. Now in Zechariah xiv. is described a great warfare among the nations against Jerusalem; and every one of the nations that continues after that warfare is required to go up from year to year to worship the KING, the LORD OF HOSTS, and to keep the feast of Tabernacles. (v. 16.) This description of their going up, and annually, and to keep this festival, shows that it takes place on earth. There is afterwards described a punishment which shall
*This exception, it is true, is Mr. Faber, who in order to avoid the admission of the pre-millennial advent, (to which his own reasonings would otherwise lead him) makes the 1290 days of Dan. xii. 11, and the 1335 days of verse 12 each separate periods of years, and thus interposes a space of 1335 years yet to elapse before the Advent!
fall upon those nations who neglect to go up,-viz. that they shall have no rain. And because in the land of Egypt there is no rain, a peculiar and distinct plague is threatened if that nation go not up; which again proves it to be a state on earth. (vv. 17-19.) Now previous to this, during that very warfare from the dire effects of which these nations escape, the Lord appears: and "his feet stand upon the Mount of Olives." (v. 14.) And not only is the Lord declared to "come," but "all the saints with Thee." (v. 15.) Mr. Faber himself admits that the description in this passage, taken altogether, is designed by its preciseness to exclude the possibility of a figurative interpretation.
The parable of the Tares, if properly considered, proves that the Harvest, at the end of the world, (or age, av) when all things are gathered out that offend and do iniquity, and the tares are burnt, and the righteous shine forth like the sun in the kingdom of their Father, I say it proves that this takes place previous to the Millennium. For the Lord declares of the tares and wheat-"Let both grow together till the harvest." So that if the harvest, when the earth is reaped and the tares burnt up, is after the Millennium, then tares and wheat are mixed together throughout the Millennium; which is directly contrary to the admitted character of its holiness. And if, on the other hand, the tares are first separated, and all which offends gathered out, then the burning is previous to the Millennium.
Again, the marriage of the Lamb is the time when the Lord is finally united to his glorified Church. The resurrection of the saints must necessarily have taken place at that time, and the glorious appearing of the Lord: for it is the same as the coming of the Bridegroom mentioned in the parable of the virgins. But the marriage of the Lamb's wife is in Rev. xix. intimately connected with the period of the final judgment upon Babylon, or the papacy; (See verses 1-8 and their connection with the previous chapter;) and as it apparently takes place immediately after the judgment on the great whore, so it apparently precedes the judgment on the infidel confederacy which burns the whore (see verses 11-21); and the armies on white horses, and in fine linen white and clean, are probably, if we compare verse 8, these same risen saints, who receive "the two edged sword"-"to execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people, to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute upon them the judgment; [as it is] written-This honour have all his saints. Praise ye the Lord. '*
* Compare Psalm exlix. from which this is quoted, specially the sentences in italics, with verses 5, 15, 18, of Rev. xix.
II. I proceed, secondly, to the argument derived from the character of the millennial dispensation.
Those who oppose the views I have taken object to our considering the period of the Millennium as a New Dispensation. It is not that they call in question the doctrine of a Millennium itself, abstractedly considered; but they conceive that it is to be brought about by the world's becoming generally converted, and the Church therefore progressively gliding into a state of increased spirituality and honour by the instrumentality of those means already in operation. It is supposed therefore, that the millennial state will not differ from the present dispensation in any thing but the universal prevalence of true religion.
But if those who think thus would only candidly weigh the statements made by writers on prophecy, whose expositions in the general they adopt;-and consider to what their own views would necessarily lead them, were they but realized, and carried out to their full extent;-they would perceive, that the millennial state cannot at all comport with various features of the present dispensation, and that it must consequently, in several very important particulars, constitute A NEW DISPEN
Startling as it may appear to some, yet I apprehend it will be found, that the Holy Scriptures would, in part, be rendered inapplicable to the then existing circumstances of men in the flesh: and that there would need some further revelation from God.* And I think it must be allowed, that a state of things which supersedes a portion of divine revelation hitherto enjoyed, and introduces men into a state of things which is the consummation of that revealed, has one grand characteristic of a new dispensation: if not, the introduction of the christian æra was not a new dispensation, but merely a continuation of the Mosaical.
To come however to the point.-It is admitted, that Satan will be bound during the Millennium; which, according to those even who spiritualize it, signifies, that his influence will be so restrained, that he shall not be permitted to deceive nor tempt either nations or individuals. What become then of those numerous passages of Scripture, which inform us of his character and power; which warn us against his subtlety and temptations; and direct us to the armour we must use in order to contend with him?
Moreover, with the binding of Satan there will necessarily
To avoid being misunderstood, I would observe, that when I say the Scriptures would be in part inapplicable, I am aware that there are many glorious declarations concerning the divine attributes and conduct, which could never lose their power and influence on a regenerate soul.