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THE NATURE OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
PREVAILING OPINION ON THE MILLENNIUM.
The God of heaven has made, in the sacred Scriptures, a revelation of the events of futurity. By the mouth of his servant Daniel, he has given to the world a chain of events, commencing with the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, and extending to the establishment of the everlasting kingdom of God over all the earth.
In support of this position the second chapter of Daniel is adduced. God did, in that dream, under the emblem of a great image, the representative of four great monarchies, and a stone cut from the mountain without hands, for the ultimate destruction of those governments, make known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what should be in futurity.
That four such governments as were there represented have existed, and filled up the whole period of time from then to the present, is not a matter of dispute. But that the fifth kingdom is not yet established, is equally evident:-For, 1, The destruction of all the former kingdoms was
to precede its establishment; which has not takep place. 2. That kingdom is to fill the whole earth ; which it now does not. See Daniel ii. 34, 35.
“ Thou sawest until that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet, that were of iron and clay, and brake them in pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like chaff of the summer threshing-floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them : and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.” This representation is interpreted in the 44th and 45th verses of the same chapter. : "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.
"Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter : and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.” .
If such a kingdom is to be established on earth, it is certainly a matter of some importance to us, who live in these last times, to understand the nature of that kingdom, and also the way in which it is to be established.,
The prevailing opinion in the Christian church,
is, that the kingdom predicted in the above pas. sages is no other than the church of Chrisi in her militant state :--that this church is ultimately to triumph over all nations, and be permanently established in all the earth.
And the means by which it is thought by many this is to be effected, is the preaching of the gospel for the evangelizing of the nations. In proof of this, we are cited to Psalm ii. 8: “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.”
The declaration of Christ is also produced as evidence on the same point. “This gospel of the kingdom must be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations'; then shall the end come.” It is also said, “They shall know the Lord, from the least to the greatest," &c. From these, and some other texts of similar import, it is inferred that the kingdom of Christ is to be established by the means now in operation for the evangelizing of the world. Furthermore ; it is believed that when the world is thus evangelized, the state predicted in the 20th chapter of Revelation will be realized. Satan will lose his influence over mankind, and a state of perfect peace and tranquillity will be enjoyed by the world for a thousand years. This is what is termed THE MILLENNIUM.
OBJECTIONS TO THE THEORY OF A TEMPORAL
But against this theory there are many objeca tions; some of which I will here present. .
-- 1. The texts above referred to, do not teach the doctrine of the world's conversion. The text in the second Psalm teaches almost anything, rather than such a doctrine, as the following verse shows: " And thou shalt break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.” Instead of the conversion, the destruction of the heathen is there decreed. And yet this is the strongest text in the Bible by which the event is attempted to be proved. We will turn to the promise of Christ, of the universal publication of the gospel. Matt. xxiv. 14. “This gospel of the kingdom must be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations; then shall the end come.” Not one word is here said of the conversion of the world. But this promise was given in answer to the question, “What shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the world ?” When, therefore, all nations have heard the gospel, before all have embraced it, the end of the world shall come. · 2. The Scriptures do foretell the destruction of the wicked, before, and preparatory to, the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth.
Psalm ii. 9th, as above quoted, is a text in point. So also the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, where the great image is to be broken in pieces and reduced to powder, like the chaff of the summer's threshing-floor, and the wind is to carry it away.
The parable of the wheat and tares is also in point. Matt. xiii. The wheat, or good seed, are there represented to be the children of the kingdom; but the tares, the children of the wicked one. These are both to grow together, until the harvest, or end of the world ; when the angels shall sever the wicked from among the just, and cast them into a furnace of fire. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun, in the kingdom of their Father.
There is nothing in all this of the conversion of all the world, the confinement of Satan, and a thousand years of peace and happiness, before the end of the world. On the contrary, wickedness is to continue on earth, and even afflict the righteous, until the final separation, at the coming of Christ. 2 Thess. ii. Paul has also predicted the same thing. “Then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and destroy by the brightness of his coming."
Will it be said that that prediction only relates to the papal system, and not to the wicked in general ? It is replied, no matter for that : for the strongest advocates of a temporal millennium admit that the papal system must and will be abolished before that happy state begins. But this man of sin, if it means popery, is to be abolished by the brightness of Christ's coming. But when he comes, (see first chapter,) he will not only destroy the papal system, but will take vengeance on all who know not God and obey not the gospel. So there is no room for a thousand years' millennium between the destruction of "that vicked," (popery,) and all the wicked of the zarth; for both are to be destroyed at the appear. ing of the Savior.