« PoprzedniaDalej »
time when the archangel Michael is to stand up for the deliverance of the people of Israel-the same archangel, I apprehend, at whose voice the Lord descends: and it is important to observe, that all those commentators who oppose the Millennarian view do nevertheless place the restoration or conversion of the Jews at the beginning of the Millennium. And to Daniel himself was promised, that he should rest and stand in his lot at the end of the days;m viz. at the end of a period of 1335 years, the beginning of which had just been specified to him; and as all confess, that at the end of that time the Millennium begins, therefore again the resurrection must be at the beginning of the Millennium. Ezekiel also assured the pious Jews who were at Babylon in his day, that the Lord would fulfil his promise to them, by opening their graves and bringing them into the land of Israel.* Isaiah seems to refer to this period, and to have had the same personal assurance, when he says of the wicked, "They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise:" and then of the just, "Thy dead men shall live-together with my dead body shall they arise: Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead." For we have seen that the wicked are to rise and live again: when Isaiah therefore says they shall not, it must be understood as signifying, not at the morning of that great and glorious day, which is with the Lord as a thousand years: but at the end of it: even as David says in the xlixth Psalm;— "Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them, and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling. But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, &c. "
It will be perceived, that I haye not in this essay made use of a great testimony to the doctrine in question in Revelation xx. 4-6. My reason for omitting it is, that the opponents of the views which I advocate commonly direct their chief attacks against this text, and indeed sometimes entirely confine themselves to the consideration of this one passage, as if the whole of the controversy hinged upon it; whereas I am per
takes the same view in his commentary, interpreting the passage thus: "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 shall be an abhorrence to all flesh."Investigator, Vol. iii. p. 8.
m Acts xxiv. 13.
n Isa. xxvi. 14.
。 vv. 14, 15.
* Ezek. xxxvii. 12-14. Such is the general interpretation of this passage by the Rabbins.
suaded, that the doctrine of the first resurrection may be decidedly proved, were this text entirely taken from us. At the same time I am sensible, that the Scriptures which I have brought forward derive increased light from this passage in the Revelation; as also that this passage derives a light from them, and is in great measure inexplicable without them: for it is the nature of the Oracles of God mutually to reflect on each other. Much undue advantage has also been yielded to the assailants of this truth, from the circumstance of Millennarians themselves resorting to it, as if it were their principal strong hold: a mode of proceeding, in reference to the doctrine they maintain, which has always to me appeared injudicious. I hope, if spared, to enter at some future opportunity into a full discussion of this passage: at present however I will only touch upon one single point; which is important, as connected with the general structure of the Apocalypse; and which has not received that attention from the generality of expositors which it deserves. "And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit, and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. And I saw thrones, and they that sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the First Resurrection. 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."
Now it is much disputed, whether this description is to be understood figuratively or literally. This however does not appear to me to be the proper question; and I again lament, that some of the advocates of Millennarian doctrine, by thus taking up the subject, have given their opponents another advantage. I am persuaded, that it is a passage which is both figurative and symbolical, and that it cannot be successfully defended on the ground of a strictly literal interpretation. But admitting it to be figurative, the question which then presents itself for discussion is,-What is intended to be signified by this
figure? To which I answer, that the thing signified is, in the plainest and most literal sense,-THE FIRST RESURRECTION. I maintain that the words, "This is the first Resurrection," are expository, and intended to be literally understood; which, I think, may be clearly demonstrated.
In order to prove this I observe, that the Apocalypse is figurative throughout; with the exception, that there are incidental passages of a literal character, such as are necessarily interwoven with all prophecies, and without which they could have no definite meaning or application: and with the further exception also-that there is disposed throughout the Book a complete series of explanatory indices, which, like buoys and lighthouses at sea, are intended to afford us special intimation of our bearings. I will instance some, and terminate with the passage in question, marking what I consider to be literal expository matter in italic letters.
seven stars are the angels of the seven churches.”—Chap.
"There were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God."—iv. 5.
"In the midst of the elders stood a Lamb, as it had been slain, having seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God."-v. 8. See also Zechariah iii. 9, and iv. 16.
"The four and twenly elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints.”. -v. 8.
"What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?"-"These are they which came out of THE great tribulation, &c."-vii. 13-16.
"And I will give power unto my two witnesses, &c." "These are the two olive trees and the two candlesticks, standing before the God of the earth."—xi. 3, 4. See also Zechariah iv. 2, 3, & 11-14.
"Their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, &c."-xi. 8.
"I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the dragon, beast, and false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, &c."-xvii. 13, 14.
"The ten horns which thou sawest-are ten kings.”—xvii.
"The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, multitudes, and nations, and tongues."-xvii. 15.
The article exists in the original, and is important to be noticed, seeing that some refer it to the great tribulation spoken of by Daniel and the other prophets.
"The woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth."-xvii. 18.
"The fine linen is the righteousness of saints."—xix. 8. "The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."-xix. 10. "The dragon, that old serpent, which is the devil and Satan."
"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, &c.—This is the first resurrection.”—xx. 4, 5.
Now, without going further, it is clear to me, that this last example is of the same nature with the former; and the expository clauses must necessarily have a reference to something plain and obvious to all, or to subjects which were, or ought to have been, familiar to believers, or they would not serve the purpose of explanatory marks. I conclude therefore by asking, what could the index "This is the first Resurrection" point to? What notion could those to whom these things were revealed have had upon the subject, unless it was derived from those very texts of Scripture, to which I have appealed in defence of the doctrine of THE FIRST RESURRECTION?
AN objection of some weight appears, at first view, to lie against the doctrine of the first resurrection, arising from the numerous Scriptures which set forth Christ, as coming to judge the world at his second advent; which circumstance is thought to be incompatible with the wicked not being raised and judged at the same time. The difficulty however consists in the circumstance of our having departed from the scriptural view of Judgment; which commentators have been gradually compelled to do, from the necessity of evading the obvious testimony of a host of texts to the personal reign of the Lord on earth: for there is perhaps no doctrine of Scripture which more directly supports this view, than the doctrine of the Judgment, if only it be rightly understood.
I. The single idea entertained by most persons on this point, is that of a great assizes, at which the Lord Jesus will preside, and at which all mankind will be put upon their trial. But God has revealed to us far more than this. The characteristics of a JUDGE, as given to us in Scripture, are as follow: to rule and govern as a king-to deliver and protect his people-and to avenge them on their enemies: whence it follows, that judgment
must consist, not only in vengeance or punishment, but also in deliverance and government.
In proof of this I observe, that the Judges who were over Israel before the time of Saul, the first king, were all of them men raised up as deliverers and avengers; as Gideon, Sampson, Jephtha, and others; in which character they were also types of the Lord Jesus. And when the Israelites demanded a king, it was not so much a change in the nature of the office which they desired, as a more complete and fixed state of it: for they would not be any longer dependent upon the Lord, either to fight their battles, or to raise them up Saviours; but they cried, "We will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles." Thus the king was still to be the judge: just as St. Paul, speaking of our all standing before the judgment seat of Christ, says "that to this end Christ both died and rose and revived, that he might be LORD both of the dead and living"-the same thing as "Judge both of quick and dead."
The chief prophecies concerning Christ as Judge will further shew, that princely rule and government are connected with his judgment; and that it will be a continued office among or over the nations. Take the following passages in the Psalms; and let it be observed in them, that the judgment or righteous government spoken of therein is evidently to be upon the earth. "Give the King thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the King's son. He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgments. For he shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor." "Arise, O God, judge the earth; for thou shalt inherit all nations." "For He (the Lord) cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth."f "For the Lord cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity."—"He shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness." "O let the nations be glad and sing for joy! for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth." Other prophets afford a similar testimony. Thus Isaiah and Micah declare of him: "He shall judge among many people and rebuke strong nations afar off:" and Jeremiah says, "Behold-a king shall reign and prosper; and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth."
Judges ii. 16-18.
1 and 4. e lxxxii. 8. Mic. iv. 3; Isa. ii. 4.
b 1 Sam. viii. 19,
20. c Rom. xiv. 9.
d Ps. lxxii. i lxvii. 4.