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"tachment to it as the only rule of faith and practice, "and who had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads or in their hands," who boldly opposed all antichristian sentiments, and exhibited the purity of the gospel." And these souls "lived and reigned with Christ one thousand years." All who had been martyred seemed again to be alive, and were advanced to high honour and felicity in the kingdom of Christ. This is termed " the first resurrection,” both previous to and emblematical of the second resurrection. The great question connected with this passage of scripture is this: Does the apostle here speak literally or figuratively? Will those individuals who were martyred actually rise from the dead, and remain upon earth during the millennium? I have been surprised that many wise as well as good men have maintained this sentiment. The nature of the prophetical language concurs with the whole current of scripture in leading to an opposite conclusion. The language of prophesy is highly figurative even in this very passage, there is no one who supposes that the Saviour will literally bring a key and a chain to confine Satan. His unlimited power and authority are thus strongly expressed; and we should naturally expect that figures would be introduced in another part of the same scene. Besides, there is no instance in the scriptures where a proper resurrection is represented as the reviving of the souls, but always of the bodies, of the departed. There are many doctrines of the Bible, as well as the general representation of the happiness of the glorified, which oppose the sentiment of those who have maintained that the martyrs in their bodies will
come to dwell upon earth. And finally, for it is unnecessary long to reason on this subject, the strong figure here used by St. John is one that is most frequently found in the holy volume. Thus Elias was said to revive in John the Baptist; thus papal Rome is called Babylon; thus there is said to be a resurrection of the witnesses, not when the same individuals rose from the dead, but when others appeared of the same zeal and faith; thus, in the Old Testament, the restoration of Israel is represented as a resurrection, both by Isaiah (xxvi. 19.) and by Ezekiel (xxxvii.); and thus Paul speaks of the conversion of the Jews to the faith of the gospel, as "life from the dead." (Rom. xi. 15.) There is then nothing forced nor unusual in the figure, and nothing difficult in the meaning of the apostle. The same spirit which the martyrs manifested, will be revived, spread through the world, and appear in all the subjects of the Redeemer; and they shall enjoy the highest degree of glory, victory, and dominion over their enemies; shall wear a wreath as desirable as the crown of the martyr.
"The rest of the dead," continues the apostle, "lived not again until the thousand years were fulfilled:" that is, the enemies of the Redeemer did not revive; there was not, during this period, a succession of persons of their spirit, as there was of those who had the temper of the martyrs. The note of Lowman, that excellent commentator of the Revelation, is perfectly correct: "There is mention in this book of two sorts of dead persons; those who were "slain for the witness of Jesus, and those who were slain by Him that sat on the white horse :" that is, those foes of the gospel that were destroyed by the Redeemer. The persecutors of the church are
called in the last verse of the preceding chapter, the remnant, or the rest, (for it is the same original word,, that is used there and here.) The meaning then is evident: during the millennium, there shall be no revival of the malicious, persecuting, and active spirit of those enemies of God and holiness who had before oppressed the followers of the Redeemer.
Well does St. John subjoin that those are blessed who have a part in this first resurrection; who live in this period of happiness and purity, and in as complete conformity to the image of Christ as can be enjoyed upon earth. They are holy, not only from their internal purity, but from their consecration to God and to Christ as priests, and from the spiritual sacrifices which they continually offer: and they "shall reign with Christ;" shall be advanced to a degree of religious dignity and authority with him, that will at once display his grace and their felicity; and this felicity shall be perpetual, for though they, like the generations that are past, shall experience temporal death, yet this last enemy shall be without a sting, and the "second death," the state of misery in the future world, has no power over them.
After this explanation of these verses, I ought now, according to my plan, to enter upon the examination of the great subject here presented to us. But 1 perceive that I shall not have time for this investigation, and shall therefore reserve it for the next Lord's day. Let us not, however, pause without some inferences from a subject so fruitful in religious instruction.
1. Let the prospect of these happy days that are so rapidly approaching, fill us with a holy joy. Un
der the cruel bondage of the Egyptians, the Israelites were cheered by their firm belief in the promise that God would deliver them. When they afterwards were seated by the rivers of Babylon, weeping as they remembered Zion, how often were their sighs suppressed, and their tears changed into tears of joy, when they looked forward to the period of deliverance. Like them, amidst the afflictions of the church, and the prevalence of its enemies, we may console ourselves with the assurance of its future victories; with the anticipation of the day when the God whom we love shall no longer be outraged by the works of his hands; when the Saviour shall no longer be neglected by those for whom he bled; when thoughtless mortals will not be perishing, notwithstanding all that infinite love has done for them: of that day when ecstatic gratitude shall swell every heart, and songs of salvation be chanted by every tongue; when the earth shall display the purity and happiness of a renovated Eden, and man again hold high, and holy, and delightful intercourse with God and with his angels. Oh! how cheering to the heart, pained by the follies, the errors, and the crimes that surround us, to rest on this delightful prospect! We who are on the very verge of it, surely should be animated, when even the Old Testament prophets, as they foretold it, appeared to burn with warmer fire, and pour forth more rapturous strains. Who can without emotion observe them introducing the most affecting images, and exhausting the force of language, to describe the magnitude of this event, and its blessed consequences to a world that has so long groaned under crimes and miseries? Let our emotions be the same with theirs; and let us joy
fully look forward to the time when all adore "one Lord, one Father." Error has no place
The breath of heav'n has chas'd it; in the heart
One song employs all nations, and all cry,
2. And while anticipating this happy period, inquire whose cause you espouse; whose victories you love; with whose triumphs your happiness is inseparably linked? The cause of Jesus shall assuredly flourish; the gates of hell have not prevailed, can not prevail against it. Strong as Omnipotence, it holds on its steady course, and bears down all opposition. Are your best sympathies and feelings associated with the victories of Immanuel? If so, you shall rejoice in the millennial splendours of his church, whether you still remain on earth, or have entered upon the world of glory. But wo to him, who is merely the pretended friend, or the open enemy, or the careless neglecter of Jesus! From the depths of despair, he shall behold the triumphs of that grace which he once despised, and shall be for ever crushed by that sceptre to which he refused to bend. Oh! let us be careful that all our destinies be united with the kingdom of Christ.
3. Christian, who art lamenting that this day has not arrived, remember that much of its happiness may be experienced by thee, if thou art faithful to thy Redeemer. Cultivate greater holiness; live