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Of the Millennium.
HE united influence of these feveral events produces a great revolution, a univerfal change in the religion and morals of mankind. Any revolution is in prophetic phrase an earthquake; for as an earthquake alters the appearance of the natural world, a revolution changes the face of the political or moral world. But this is called "a great earthquake, fuch as was not fince men were upon the earth, fo mighty an earthquake, " and fo great," Rev. xvi. 18. The strongest bulwarks of the kingdom of Satan are overturned by it. "Every island fled away, and the "mountains were not found," ver. 20. The renovation of mankind is fo great and extenfive that it is called "new heavens and a new earth," Ifa. lxv. 17.; chap. lxvi. 22.; 2 Peter iii. 13. ; Rev. xxi. I.
This revolution, on account of its continuing a thousand years, is commonly termed by the writers on the Apocalypse, The Millennium.
The Confinement of Satan.
An uncontroverted character of this period is, the confinement of Satan. "And I faw an "angel come down from heaven, having the "key of the bottomlefs pit, and a great chain
in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, "that old ferpent, which is the Devil and Sa"tan, and bound him a thousand years; and "caft him into the bottomlefs pit, and hut him up, and set a feal upon him, that he should "deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years fhould be fulfilled; and after that he "must be loofed a little feafon;" Rev. xx. I, 2, 3.
It is customary among men to confine great offenders, particularly fuch as contrive plots against the state, to the strongest prisons, to load them with irons, and, among the ancients, the door, when locked, was fealed for further fecurity. So, when Daniel was put into the lions den, the stone that covered it was fealed "with "the king's fignet, and thofe of his lords ;" Dan. vi. 17. In allufion to these customs, Satan is reprefented as feized, bound and imprisoned,
the door as locked and fealed, to intimate, that an effectual reftraint shall be laid on him during this period. Perhaps this reftraint may be an actual confinement in the abyss which the Devil and his angels dread, as appears from their befeeching our Lord that he would not command them to go to the deep, Luke viii. 31. But whatever restraint is laid on in the invisible world, it can only appear to the eye of fenfe in the effects refulting from it.
The great advantage arifing from the restraint laid on Satan is, that he cannot deceive the nations during the Millennium. This implies the removal of thofe obftacles which lie in the way of propagating the gospel. At present, the dif ficulties are infurmountable. In Popish countries, the Scriptures are carefully taken out of the hands of the people, left they fhould judge for themselves; and others are prevented from giving them inftruction, by the terrors of fire and faggot. In moft Mahometan, and in fome Pagan nations, an attempt to convert the fubjects to the Christian faith, is punishable with death. Now, fo much violence, in oppofition to a religion which breathes nothing but peace and love, can only proceed from the delufions of Satan. When he is restrained, these are removed, and the gofpel fhall have free courfe and be glorified.
Again, this confinement implies the removal of the numberless fecret objections that arife in the human heart against the truth. If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are loft; "in whom the god of this world hath blinded "the minds of them who believe not, left the light of the glorious gospel of Chrift, who is "the image of God, fhould shine unto them." Farther, this restraint implies, that the church fhall be free from thofe perfecutions fhe experienced more or lefs in every former period. The Devil" was a murderer from the beginning," and in all the perfecutions of the church, had the chief, though invifible hand; his confinement therefore fecures her peace.
The Refurrection and Reign of the Martyrs.
ANOTHER character of the Millennium is, the refurrection and reign of the Martyrs. "And "I faw thrones, and they fat on them, and judg"ment was given unto them; and I faw the "fouls of them that were beheaded for the "witnefs of Jefus, and for the word of God, "and which had not worshipped the beaft, nei“ther his image, neither had received his mark " upon
6c upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and "they lived and reigned with Christ a thou"fand years. But the reft of the dead lived "not again, until the thousand years were fi"nished. This is the firft refurrection. Blef"fed and holy is he that hath part in the first "refurrection; on fuch the second death hath "no power, but they fhall be priests of God "and of Chrift, and fhall reign with him a "thousand years;" Rev. xx. 4, 5, 6.
Few paffages of facred writ have occasioned fuch various opinions and warm contefts as this. However, the controverfy may be reduced to this question, Is the firft refurrection to be taken in a literal or figurative fense?
Among those who contend for a literal refurrection, different opinions have obtained refpecting the manner of it. It were uncandid to confound them in the mafs together, and charge some with the abfurdities maintained by others. Cerinthus, who was contemporary with the Apoftle John, maintained that the Millennium would be employed in nuptial entertainments and carnal delights.
His opinions were revived in the beginning of the third century, and propagated at Rome by one Poculus, a Montanift. The fame fentiments were propagated, about the middle of the third century, by Nepos, an Egyptian Bi