« EdellinenJatka »
that kingdom, to rise up against the Saints in an open war. Shortly, we know the kingdom of God doth not consist in meats and drinks, in houses and lands, ir mines and metals, in flocks and herds; but in righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost ; Rom. xiv. 17. The enjoyment of good things for a moment, is scarce to be reckoned amongst blessings; since the grief of their cessation doth more than counterpoise the contentment of their fruition. But, here, a long life shall make up the happiness of the rich, honourable, frolic patriots of this new kingdom: for not one of them shall die early. What! not though it be to be translated from mortality to eternal blessedness? Is it an advantage to be held off long from heaven? But who told this man, that no one should die under a hundred years old ? It is true, he finds in the letter of Isaiah, There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days ; for the child shall die a hundred years old ; Is. Ixv. 20: but he might have found also in the next words preceding, In Jerusalem the voice of weeping shall be no more heard, nor the voice of crying; v. 19. Well, then, the husband, or wife, or child must die, at the last: and shall there be no tear shed for them? shall all the subject's be exempted from all afflictions whatsoever; and yet be obnoxious to death, the utmost of all terribles ? And how doth that promise extend to a freedom from all outward violences, and inward sicknesses, grief and tronble, which are the means and harbingers of dissolution; and yet give way to that worst of evils, to which all these are but the gentle preparations? The truth then is, these are high allegorical expressions, whereby it pleaseth the Spirit of God to set forth, under bodily resemblances, whether the prosperous and comfortable condition of the Evangelical Church, or the happy estate of the glorified children of the Resurrection; which, whoso shall construe literally, shall in vain expect to see the wolf and the lamb to feed together, and the lion to eat straw like the bullock ; Is. Ixv. 25. Eleventh Pa- May it not well pass for a further paradox, that, while radox. That there are so many thousand Saints reigning upon earth, so many thout- and endued with so much majesty and power to gosands of glorious and im
vern the world, the slaves and underling-tributaries mortal Saints should be suffered to grow up under them, to such a reigning, the head, as to defy their governors, and to bid battle to Wicked, slaves all those immortal rulers, any one whereof were able and tributa.
to quell a world of weak sinners ? ries, should be able to raise
Who can think, that the malice of these men should war against so far exceed their wit, as that, knowing, by long and them. daily experience, that these raised and glorious Saints, under whose iron sceptre they lived, are immortal, and utterly impassible, they should yet hold it safe or possible to oppose them with any hope of success? And, if, to make the matter more credible, it shall be suggested, as it is by this author, that they are drawn in by some deceitful trick of Satan; they could not bút know the wisdom and knowledge of these glorious Saints to be such, as that they might, much better than the Apostle, say, We are not ignorant of his devices : so as, if Gog and Magog shall hope, either by wiles or violence, to prevail against invulnerable, spiritual, and half glorified powers, they shall approve themselves more mad than malicious. And, to make this paradox perfect, how strange is the intimation, that this shall be taken for the occasion of Christ's coming the third time to his General Judgment; even the ruin of these assailants, whom he will come from heaven to destroy! as if this witless and vain insurrection of Gog and Magog could not be suddenly and powerfully crushed, by so over-puissant opposites : as if the blowing upon all the legions of earth and hell could not scatter them in an instant: as if one of God's mighty angels, who, in one night, destroyed a hundred fourscore and five thousand Assyrians*, could not as easily turn Gog and Magog into heaps or ashes; and yet the Son of God still keep his heaven.
The third time, then, he saith, Christ shall come Twelfth Para. down from heaven to earth, for his final judgment of dox, The Day the world : the day whereof shall dawn immediately Judgment upon the expiration of the Thousand Years' Reign; sand Years. but may, for ought he knows, last another thousand years, as the former. The Scripture indeed, he confesses †, sets not down the time, how long it shall last ; but long, certainly, it must last.
And why so very long? and what do we talk of years, when the angel before this, swore that time should be no more? What a bold weakness is this, to measure the Infinite God by ourselves! The necessity of the length of that time of judgment is evinced, he saith, by the great work to be accomplished in it: for therein God's mercy, justice, truth, power, &c. is to be gloriously revealed before all mankind and devils; and the truth of every Scripture cleared; and sinners silenced or convinced. And, secondly, this is the time in which Christ Jesus is to triumph and lord it over all reasonable creatures, and wherein every knee shall bow to him: as if the Almighty should be limited to do his acts by leisure: as if he, that made the world in six days, and could have made it in an instant, cannot as well in that space of time judge it. Alas! what is time, but a poor circumstance of finite mortality ; not reaching up to the acts of the Eter. nal? That Ancient of Days may not have his workings confined to hours, days, months, years: and, justly do we say, that be, who is of himself one most pure and simple act, works in an instant: he can therefore gloriously reveal his justice, truth, power, to men and devils, without any such leisurely respirations; and if in an instant he can raise all flesh from their graves, why should we question whether he cannot as soon judge them? As for the triumph of the Lord Jesus over all his enemies, as it is partly accomplished already; when he ascended up on high, and led captivity captire: so shall it be fully perfected in the act of his Last Judgment; when his foes shall be made his footstool, without any such lingering forms of a protracted solemnity, For the performance whereof, it is supposed by this au
thor, and his contests in opinion, that, whereas the Lord Jesus, it his first coming down from heaven, stayed not full thirty-four years upon earth; and, in his second coming down, continued his visible presence amongst men, but till he had settled his government here in the world, and then returned to bis heaven; now, upon his third descent to judgment, shall, for some thousand years, remain visibly upon earth, out of the local heaven from whence he descended : a conceit, that would have sounded very strangely in the ears of our unenlightened forefathers: who were ever wont to conceive, that this great business of the Last Judgment, being managed by the Infinite Wisdom and Power of the Son of God, should be of a speedy dispatch; and that their returning Saviour should come to feich up the bodies and souls of his elect to the instant fruition of their glory in heaven, not to call them to a thousand years' attendance on his visible presence here on earth ; and, if they found the thrones set, and the books opened, and all the process out of records, they were wont to construe these expressions as such, wherein the Spirit of God meant to condescend to our weakness, setting forth his own incomprehensible aets, by the forms of our human judicatures, which must necessarily both take up time and require open evidences and convictions, whereof there is no more use when we speak of an Infinite God, than of parchments, scribes, registers. Thirteenth Pa.
Well, then, towards the end of the second thousand radox. A new years, the Judgment is ended, the final sentence passdetermination ed both of life and death, the elect are carried up to of a Double
their bliss, the wicked sent to their place; both settled Hell, and the
in their eternity. place therenf.
But here, I confess, I stand amazed at the confident and peremptory assertion of this author, and other favourers of his opinion, concerning the place of the present and future hell. Doubtless, the departed souls of wicked and unrepentant sinners are not in custody only, but in torture; as being both separated eternally from the face of that God in whose presence is the fulness of joy, and seized upon immediately by the dreadful executioners of divine vengeance : although not in that full exquisiteness of torment, which awaits for them in that great day, when their bodies, which were partners with them in their crimes, must also partake of their everlasting punishments. Tophet, we know, is prepared of old;'and there is a peculiar place of unconceivable horror for the Devil, and his angels, and vassals : but where this place is, I have not so much warrant as to enquire; much less to determine. I must, therefore, wonder whence these men receive their light: certainly, (that which was denied to the damned glutton in the gospel,) no man hath been sent thence to them, to inform them of these infernal regions of darkness; and, I am sure, God hath no where revealed this to them in his Holy Scripture. As not daring, therefore, so much as to scan this point, much less to unlock so deep a secret, I lay my hand upon my mouth, in silence and dread: referring it to the glorious angel, that hath the keys of the bottomless pit, and leaving these, bold and curious dogmatists to their own conceits.
BUT, though I may well fear I have over-wearied my Strange and reader with the enumeration of those ill-sounding På improbable radoxes, which have not incidently fallen from the
that follow pens, but have been studiously maintained by the hands
upon this opic and tongues, of the abettors of this Millenary Reign; nion and disyet I must crave leave to put his patience to a further course. task, in viewing some of those incommodious, mis-becoming, and improbable CONSEQUENTS, which will necessarily follow upon that opinion.
I find, in a published Letter from Dr. Twisse of Oxford to Mr. Mede of Cambridge, that this subject was privately much agitated betwixt those two learned Divines: and that the Doctor had furnished twelve complete arguments against this tenet; which, if they could have come to my hands, might both have given me light, and perhaps have saved me labour. In the want of them, I shall insist upon some of those harsh inferences, which offer themselves to my thoughts.
Let the first be, that, in the Lord's Prayer, we are First Consetaught to pray, Thy Kingdom coine *: therefore, we quent. That do therein pray for the accomplishing of this monarchi- in the Lord's cal and personal reign of Christ with his Saints on pray for this earth; when as, both such a kingdom was never ac- Monarchy. knowledged nor believed, by the Universal Church of Christ from that day till this hour: and it is clear, that it was Christ himself, who taught the Disciples herein to pray to his father for the accomplishing of his Father's kingdom, which is merely spiritual; not for his own personal and visible, as Mediator.
Secondly, how strangely doth it bang together, that Second Consethe Son of God, in his second coming with much ter- quent. That ror for a generał judging of all the ungodly in the Christ, in his world, shall yet leave many wicked men alive to breed to judge the enemies to his Saints; to be slaves and tributaries to earth, should them in their new kingdom ! For, as for those Saints, leave many
wicked men that are raised
alive. they can have no use of such drudges. And, for the Saints living, either they shall know the wicked courses of those surviving vassals, or they shall not know them : if they know them pot, they shall be defective in their care and oversigbt: if they do know them, they shall be afflicted with the sight of their wicked. ness; according to the profession of the Psalmist, Mine out rivers of waters, because men keep not thy Law; and, if so, they are not in that happy estate freed from sorrow, which is strongly pretended, for in these times, there shall be no sorrow or weeping: Rev. xxi. 4.
* Aroher. p. 10.
eyes gush Third Conse Thirdly, there had need to be a firm ground, where: quent. That on to build a belief of so unlikely a truth, that the Son Christ, who
of God, who, a little before his Ascension, could say, hath all power; All power is given unto me, both in heaven and in earth; from heaven and who, ever since, rules the Church by a Vicariate
to depute new of bis Spirit, as Tertullian expresses it, according to governors, &c. that order of government which he hath appointed;
should now, the second time, come personally down from heaven to depute new governors in this his monarchy, and having settled the administration in their hands should again take his leave of the earth. Further, if those of the ungodly which will not stoop to the sceptre of Christ shall be the subjects of his destruction *, who can imagine, that, when he shall come in such heavenly glory and majesty, and in such astonishing terror, there can be any person upon earth that will not readily crouch unto him, and offer to lick the dust under his feet? Moreover, if Christ shall come down and after deputation of governors ascend again into heaven, how can it be stood upon, that this reign of his is personal for a thousand years upon earth ? since personal presence and deputation cannot stand together : there may be a virtual presence of the prince, in delegation of power to others; but a personal, there cannot be. Fourth Conse.
Fourthly, if this new kingdom must consist of raised quent. The
Saints and men living, what a strange composition strange Com: shall here be of a government! what an unimaginable Imagined Go- commixture of subjects! what a contemperature of verilment. beaven and earth! The bodies raised are spiritual; the
living bodies, fleshly: the raised Saints, immortal; the Saints living, mortal, and at a hundred years dying. What kind of commerce shall here be ? how unequal! how unsuitable! How can it be other than a disparagement, to creatures immortal and glorious, to be matched with flesh and blood ? How can it be but too much honour for mortal and earthly creatures, ordinarily to consort with the blessed denizens of paradise ? Fifth Conse- Fifthly, if all Saints that ever were before Christ's sequent. All
cond coming shall be raised, and the wicked destroyed, Saints: yet and the Saints then found living continued in the world, faith hardly how shall that be verified, which was spoken by him to be found on earth.
who is the Truth: When the Son of Man cometh, shall
he find faith upon the earth? Sixth Conse- Sixthly, if all Saints from the first man Adam to the quent, if the last that expired before Christ's coming, and all the sway this Mo- believers then living, shall be rulers and princes t, who narchy, how shall obey? And if, amongst the raised Saints, the doth it agree Apostles shall, in their sense, sit upon Twelve Thrones, to our Saviour's and as a monarchical state on earth judge the Twelve words, It shall Tribes of Israel, bow is that verified, which our Sanot be so with your
viour said to them, It shall not be so with you ?
* Page 13. + Page 8.