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and permanent interest. It has a direct and momentous bearing upon some of the prominent points of revelation. It is calculated to affect in one way or other the benevolent operations of all Christendom, and to modify our views of the religious prospects of the Jewish, Pagan, and Mohammedan portions of the globe. For the destinies of these people are closely interwoven with the tissues of predictions which form the basis of the millennarian scheme. But especially it is a subject involving the question of the true principles of scriptural interpretation. On this ground, therefore, it might properly claim the notice of any work which has the name or character of biblical associated with its pages. With the fate of a particular hypothesis we are less concerned; in the settlement of the genuine canons of sacred exegesis we are deeply interested. Of the two several schemes of prophetic interpretation adopted by the respective parties to this controversy, we propose to lay before our readers a general outline. In doing this we shall aim rather to report the debate than to take a part in it; for if we mistake not, the plausibility of the pleadings on both sides will exempt any one from the charge of indecision who should decline the place of umpire, or, holding it, should give in his verdict in a wavering non liquet. That our display of the respective positions and reasonings employed shall betray no degree of bias or favouritism for one side more than the other, is what we hardly dare promise, but our purpose is nevertheless to present the two theories candidly, side by side, solely to the end that further inquiry may be elicited, and the truth finally established.
As the appellation of "modern millennarians" has become current in reference to the school of Mede, the reader will deem it an acceptable service to be presented with a brief sketch of that system, as held by its ancient abetters. This cannot be done better than by extracting from "Newton on the Prophecies" a specimen of the copious array of testimonies which he has collected relative to the faith of both Jewish and Christian fathers on this point. In commenting on the words of John, (Rev. xx. 4.) "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, nor in their hands; and they lived and reigned
with Christ a thousand years," this eminent expositor remarks:
"In the general that there shall be such a happy period as the millennium, that the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters fill the sea,' 'that the fulness of the Gentiles shall come in, and all Israel shall be saved,' in a word, that the kingdom of heaven shall be established on earth, is the plain and express doctrine of David and all the prophets, as well as of John. But of all the prophets, John is the only one who hath declared particularly, and in express terms, that the martyrs shall rise to partake of the felicities of this kingdom, and that it shall continue upon earth a thousand years: and the Jewish church before him, and the christian church after him, have farther believed and taught, that these thousand years will be the seventh millennary of the world. Of the Jewish writers, Rabbi Ketina, as cited in the Gemara, said, 'that the world endures six thousand years, and one thousand it shall be laid waste (that is, the enemies of God shall be destroyed), whereof it is said, (Is. ii. 11.) The Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. Tradition assents to Rabbi Ketina: as out of seven years every seventh is the year of remission, so out of the seven thousand years of the world, the seventh millennary shall be the millennary of remission, that God alone may be exalted in that day. It was the tradition of the house of Elias, who lived two hundred years or thereabouts before Christ, and the tradition might perhaps be derived from Elias (Elijah), the Tishbite, that the world endures six thousand years, two thousand before the law, two thousand under the law, and two thousand under the Messiah.' Of the christian writers, St Barnabas in the first century thus comments upon the words of Moses: 'consider, children, what that signifies, he finished them in six days. This it signifies, that the Lord God will finish all things in six thousand years; for a day with him is as a thousand years. Therefore, children, in six days, that is, in six thousand years, shall all things be consummated. Justin Martyr, in the second century, declares the millennium to be the catholic doctrine of his times. 'I, and as many as are orthodox christians in all respects, do acknowledge that there shall be a resurrection of the flesh (meaning the first resurrection), and a thousand years in Jerusalem rebuilt, and adorned, and enlarged (that is, in the New Jerusalem) as the prophets Ezekiel, and
Isaiah, and others do unanimously attest.' Afterwards he subjoins a certain man among us, whose name was John, one of the apostles of Christ, in a revelation made to him, did prophesy that the faithful believers in Christ should live a thousand years in the New Jerusalem, and after these should be the general resurrection and judgment!'
"In short, the doctrine of the millennium was generally believed in the three first and purest ages: and this belief, as the learned Dodwell hath justly observed, was one principal cause of the fortitude of the primitive christians. They even coveted martyrdom in hopes of being partakers of the privileges and glories of the martyrs in the first resurrection."
We cannot forbear to add the same writer's judicious remarks on the right mode of interpreting this part of the revelation. "All the danger is, on the one side, of pruning and lopping it too short, and on the other, of suffering it to grow too wild and luxuriant. Great caution, soberness and judgment are required to keep the middle course. We should neither, with some, interpret it into allegory, nor depart from the literal sense of scripture without an absolute necessity for so doing. Neither should we, with others, indulge an extravagant fancy, nor explain too curiously the manner and circumstances of this future state. It is safest and best faithfully to adhere to the words of scripture, or to fair deductions from scripture, and to rest contented with a general account, till time shall accomplish and eclaircise all the particulars."
From the tenor of the above citations it is evident, that the belief anciently prevailed in the christian church, of a literal resurrection at the commencement of the millennium; that at this period the martyrs at least, or the most eminent witnesses and confessors of Christ, should be raised to share with him in the glory of that reigning state or kingdom so clearly predicted in Daniel and John. The following, therefore, may be considered as a more detailed account of the creed of the modern school, who tread in the steps of the ancient believers. The present advocates of this system are, as a class, denominated by their opponents literalists, from their giving a literal sense to those passages touching the second advent, the reign of Christ on earth, the resurrection of the martyrs, &c. which those of the other side understand spiritually, and are therefore called spiritu
alists. The literalists, then, beginning with the ancient tenet, that the seventh millennary is to be the sabbatism of the world, and that very sabbatism too which Paul assures us remains for the people of God, affirm, that somewhere about the commencement of this period, the Lord Jesus Christ shall be visibly revealed in the clouds of heaven, attended by a countless multitude of his saints, who have been previously raised from the dead;-that the righteous, who are found alive on earth at his coming, shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and translated to the same condition with the raised holy dead, and caught up to meet the Lord in the air;-that simultaneously with this event a most terrible destruction shall be visited upon the antichristian powers gathered together at the great battle of Armageddon;
that the material heavens and earth shall by means of fire undergo such a physical change and renovation as shall render them fit to be denominated the "new heavens and new earth," and to constitute them the residence of the risen saints; that this change, however, in the visible creation is not to be universal, but partial, extending more especially to the territorial platform of the beast and the false prophet;that Christ with his risen and glorified people, the sheep being now separated from the goats, shall personally descend to the earth, and enter upon the millennial kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world;-that the "rest of the dead," or the wicked dead, shall not "live again," or be raised, till the thousand years are finished, at which time, or thereabouts, the final or general judgment shall take place, when all the remaining dead shall be awakened, the universe of men be summoned before "the great white throne," and judged and sentenced according to their works.
Such, in the main, is the view of the millennium and its kindred doctrines, adopted by the followers of Mede. Not that all agree in all the items, as now stated, for there is considerable difference of opinion on several particulars of the scheme; some, for instance, holding that all the righteous dead, and not merely the martyrs, will rise at this time, yet in the leading features of the millennarian hypothesis there is a pretty general consent.
On the other hand, the principles of interpretation adopted by the spiritualists, and by the great mass of the christian world in modern times, result in the following theory as to the millennium and the consummation of all things. They
believe that the millennium is nothing more than a pre-eminently prosperous state of the church, which shall be gradually introduced; that the progressive diffusion of light and knowledge in consequence of the efforts of the present day, are in all probability preparatory to that illustrious period; that during this golden age of Zion and the world, Satan shall be powerfully restrained from his accustomed work of deceit and destruction, and his influence almost, if not entirely, suppressed; that during the lapse of this happy chiliad all the heathen nations shall be converted, and the church be enriched with an amazing plenitude of spiritual blessings, realizing the brightest anticipations of the Old Testament prophets; that, however, in order to afford to the universe the last grand display of human depravity and its punishment, a reverse to this halcyon age shall ensue; that towards the close of the thousand years, the imprisoned adversary shall, by some means, once more regain his liberty, and go forth to deceive the nations; that he shall accordingly be permitted to instigate a general defection from the millennial purity and truth; that the apostate nations, under the denomination of Gog and Magog, shall unite and come up from the four corners of the earth, and besiege "the camp of the saints and the beloved city;" that at the very crisis of the hostile onset, "in the straitness and in the siege," the Lord shall suddenly rain down fire from heaven and destroy them all; that immediately consequent upon this overthrow of the enemy, the second glorious advent of the Saviour, the resurrection of the dead, the translation of the living saints, the final judgment, and the universal mundane conflagration shall ensue; that then, and not before, shall commence the new heavens and new earth, and that glorious heavenly kingdom which is to be the eternal inheritance of the saints; and that consequently it is only at the end of the millennium that those sublime predictions are fulfilled, the completion of which the literalists place at its
The scheme of the literalists is certainly foreign from the popular belief of the christian world. But as this school of interpreters profess to build their system on a fair construction of the scriptures, as they deny in fact that they are capable, without positive perversion, of any other interpretation, and as they declare their only motive in the adoption of these views to be a simple deference to truth, pow