Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

Paul tells us, all things will be subjected to Jesus Christ. Since, then, He, according to the Gospel by St. John, must reign in the world, and over the Jewish people, he must, according to the same Gospel, come upon earth before the end.

“When God” (saith St. Paul, Heb. i. 6)“ bringeth in his First-begotten into the world, he saith, Let all the angels of God worship him.” This word of the Royal Prophet, then, relates to the second advent of the Son of God. According to St. Paul, God brings him in anew. But David teaches us, from the first verse, that Jesus Christ comes in that advent, not to give up the kingdom to God his Father, as (according to the same Apostle) he will do at his last advent; but to reign, and not only to reign, but to reign over the earth, which the prophet calls upon to leap for joy : “The Lord reigneth ; let the earth rejoice : let the multitude of the isles be glad thereof” (Psa. xcvii. 1).

The Apostle St. John often applies those words of the second Psalm, “He shall govern the nations with a rod of iron,” to Jesus Christ coming to destroy the beast (Apoc. xii. 5; xix. 15). We learn from this application, that the Psalm will have, at the second advent of Christ, a more literal and perfect fulfilment than it has had before; as St. Peter assures us at the time of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He did not then “ break the nations like a potter's vessel, nor rule them with a rod of iron; if, nevertheless, the new state into which he entered by his resurrection, authorized St. Peter to say that it verified those words, “ Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee, how much more might St. John see a new delivery, a new generation of the Son of God, in the new state of glory and power assigned him by God, when He bringeth in again his First-begotten into the world, to govern the nations with a rod of iron ; to break them in pieces like a potter's vessel; to reign on the holy mount of Zion (ver. 6); to receive the nations as his inheritance, the uttermost parts of the earth as his possession? I ask, how any can apply such expressions to an event designed to destroy the earth entirely? *** * * * Numerous passages

Scripture, which we shall simply point out, announce that Jesus Christ will reign with glory over the Jewish people, and in the capital of Judea; but he could not do so, if he were not to return upon earth before the end of the ages and of the universe. All these passages, therefore, are proofs of an intermediate advent. Isa. xii.; Hosea xi. 9, & seq. ; Isa. iv. 2, ad fin.; Zech. ii.; Jer. xxxiii. 14-16; xxx, 7, & seq.; iii. 17; Ezek. xxxvii. 21, & seq. ; xliv. 12; Psalms xx. xlvii. Ixiv. lxxi. lxxv. Ixxxvi. xcv. xcvii. xcviii. cxlix,

To these proofs we might add all the passages which prove that the second advent of Jesus Christ will be simultaneous with the conversion of the Jews. For M. Doguet has shewn that their

» and

conversion cannot be referred to the end of the ages, without robbing the prophecies of half their accomplishment. Consequently we reckon as so many proofs all those passages where the Prophets combine with the conversion of the Jews the reign of the wicked one, the guilty one, the king of pride; for Antichrist, whom these expressions describe, will be destroyed (says St. Paul)" by the breath of the Lord's mouth, and by the brightness of his coming.”

Though it is enough to insist on the proofs which the Scripture affords of this truth; yet we will, notwithstanding, touch a little on tradition.

St. Jerome, who was opposed to the reign of a thousand years, admits that many ecclesiastical writers and martyrs were of this opinion; especially St. Justin, St. Papias, St. Irenæus, St. Victorinus bishop of Petaw, St. Hyppolitus, Lactantius, Tertullian, Nepos bishop of Egypt, St. Martin, and St. Sulpicius-Severus. Even the adversaries allow this. These ecclesiastical writers, in delivering their opinions, speak with confidence, and without hesitation. We see in their discourses that modest yet strong assurance, which denotes that the Fathers propose to believers not their private sentiments, but a Divine tradition. St. Justin, for instance, agrees that in his time there were already many pious persons who slighted the reign of a thousand years : but, adds he, the Christians who think rightly in all things admit it, as well as himself, conformably to the promises of Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the other prophets. ****

St. Irenæus speaks no less confidently, and in a work where he cannot be suspected of venturing his private opinions; it is in his fifth book Against Heresies. He there devotes many chapters, and among them the xxxiiid and xxxiv th, to prove the reign of a thousand years by a crowd of passages from the Old and New Testament. He even employs the xxxv th to shew that those passages cannot be taken in an allegorical sense, and with reference to heavenly goods alone. He also cites, in favour of the reign of a thousand years, the very words of our Lord Jesus Christ. “ The priests or elders,” says he," who saw John the disciple of the Lord, remember having heard from him how our Lord spake of those days, and said, the days will come, &c. [The entire passage is too long for quotation here.]

Some doctors of the church, we have said, are opposed to this reign of a thousand years; viz. St. Jerome, St. Augustin, St. Epiphanius, St. Dionysius of Alexandria, and perhaps the priest Caius. We have already seen that St. Jerome allows that “many ecclesiastical writers and martyrs” differ from him; he, therefore, is “not willing to condemn this opinion, though be does not embrace it." * * * *

St. Augustin but faintly opposes this opinion. The difficulty

with him (he says) is the incredible excess of meat and wine to which it is supposed the saints will yield themselves. It is, therefore, not so much against the basis of the reign of a thousand years that he is set, as against the excesses and abuses joined with it. But none being more opposed to those excesses than St. Justin, St. Irenæus, and many other illustrious champions for the reign of a thousand years, Augustin does not condemn as carnal, either them or their opinion. Nor is his authority to be brought against us; for we are persuaded that even those who shall be found alive, over whom Christ will reign with the saints, will exercise perfect moderation in the use of temporal goods; and that“ all creatures, delivered (as St. Paul says) from the bondage of corruption, to which they have been unwillingly subjected,” will then serve only to exalt the hearts of men, and attach them to the Creator. But St. Augustin says, “ This opinion would be admissible, if it held out spiritual delights to the saints by the presence of Jesus Christ.

Some writers have asserted, without proof, that the reign of a thousand years, as taught by Irenæus, was condemned by the Council ať Rome in 382 against Apollinarius, and even by the first General Council of Constantinople, the year before. But M. de Tillemont, who is above suspicion, inasmuch as he declares against this reign, shall annul for us such a supposition. “ Baronius pretends," says M. de Tillemont, “ that in condemning Apollinarius, the council (at Rome, in 382, the year after that at Constantinople) had also condemned all the errors which he held; whence he infers that it condemned the opinion of the Millennarians. But we may affirm that this conclusion has no countenance from history or reason. St. Jerome, who speaks so often about the Millennarians, even in the affair of Apollinarius, never says (nor does Augustin) that their opinions were condemned by any ecclesiastical judgment. St. SulpiciusSeverus, and a multitude of others, have held them since the Council of Rome (consequently since that of Constantinople), and have never been treated as heretics on that account.” (Mem. pr. l'Hist. Eccl. ii. vii. 264.)

It is time to finish these remarks-already, perhaps, too longin which we have been led on by the manifold proofs of this truth which crowded upon us. They who read the Scriptures attentively with that design, will readily perceive that we have yet omitted a great number. What, then, remains for us to do, but to wean ourselves from the present world, which will probably soon be renewed by fire; to implore our Lord Jesus Christ to render us worthy of that future age, and that blessed resurrection ; to pray that He will come quickly to the aid of his church, by the conversion of the Jews, which will be to it as “ life from the dead."

THE BOOK OF THE CHURCH.

The beginning

81 THEOLOGICAL DEPARTMENT. The book of Revelations is, in an especial sense, the Book of the Christian Church. The other books of Scripture are important alike to all mankind, because they teach all men what is their duty to God as men, and for what they must give an account to Him at the judgment day; and the other books of Scripture can be understood by all : but the book of Revelations is especially for the instruction of the church, containing its entire history during the time of the absence of Jesus Christ, while he is gone to prepare mansions for his people in his Father's house, to which he will introduce them when he shall come again.

The books of Moses, and of Kings, and Chronicles, which belong in the first place to the Jewish people, do not so especially belong to them, as the book of Revelations does to the Christian church. For the Jews were examples to the world, and types of the Christian church, and God shewed in his dealings with the people of Israel what his dealings would be with all mankind--a history so obvious, and so plainly written, that believers of all ages have regulated their conduct thereby. But the book of Revelations is only the history of the Christian church; can only be understood by Christians of spiritual discernment; and is no warning or example to the rest of mankind : for it cannot be comprehended by unchristian persons, and all sinners will certainly be destroyed during the progress of the events of which the book of Revelations treats; and, moreover, it is expressly declared, in the book itself, that the greater part of them will not repent at all, but perish in their sins; and that the few who are terrified by the judgments, when they come, will find it then too late to escape the wrath of Him that sitteth on the throne, and the wrath of the Lamb. are marked by the first and second coming of Jesus Christ, who is the foundation-stone of the church, and who 'at his second coming shall be the chief corner-stone of the finished building, which shall be brought forth with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it. The day of grace will be over then, and the day of vengeance will begin: the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of his glory, and shall separate the sheep from the goats : the Lord shall make up his jewels in that day, and spare them that fear his name, as a man spareth his own son that

VOL. VI.-NO, I.

M

serveth him; but all that do wickedly shall be as stubble, and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.

The whole time of the Lord's absence is the day of grace, during which the Gospel is preached, and the church gathered ; and to those who receive the Gospel, and become members of the church, the book of Revelations is offered, to teach them what dangers they shall be exposed to from without, and what temptations from within the church; how they shall overcome the dangers and resist the temptations ; and what shall be the doom of the enemies of God, and what the reward of his servants, and them that fear his name, both small and great. The preaching of the Gospel is the way appointed

by God to convert mankind. In preaching the Gospel all the Old Testament must be used, and all the Epistles must be used to build up and to strengthen the converts. But those who are converted need to be guarded against the dangers to which they are peculiarly liable after they become Christians, and this instruction is given in the book of Revelations ; to understand which, however, requires full spiritual discernment.

To understand the book of Revelations we must discern the meaning of all the rest of the Bible ; for this last book of Scripture is one continued series of references to all the other books of Scripture, and unless we know perfectly their contents we shall not understand to what it refers. The Revelations also contains continual instruction and warning to spiritual persons, and unless a person has spiritual discernment he cannot understand the instruction or receive the warning. And all the symbols of the book of Revelations are founded on types and symbols and prophecies of the Old Testament, enlarged and modified to agree

with the Christian warfare ; all of which we must have spiritual discernment to know and experience, before we can derive all the instruction it was meant to convey from the book of Revelations.

The first three chapters of Revelations are for the instruction of the church during the whole time of Christ's absence; and they apply alike to the whole church, though given in the form of epistles to the seven churches of Asia. For Christ is shewn in those characters by which every Christian should be bound to his Lord at all times ; and the churches are shewn in those characters which all Christians must experience to be true states of the heart, either in themselves or in those with whom they are joined in Christian communion. And the rewards promised to such of the seven churches as overcome, and keep the works of Christ unto the end, are the same rewards which he brings with him at the end of the book, after the close of the Christian dispensation and the destruction of his enemies. They are

« EdellinenJatka »