« EdellinenJatka »
A knowledge of the opinions the ancient fathers entertained upon the subject of a Millennium, is highly interesting, and are presented here as proof that the subject is by no means the growth of the present times. It is pleasing to find our own deductions from the Sacred Volume agree, in any sense, with the writings of the primitive fathers, and of those who have been distinguished "upon this subject in modern times. As the ancients of the Christian church believed in the final arrival of a thousand yeai^Iillennium, when the religion of the Messiah shall wholly triumph in all the earth, so the humble author of this book most cordially and devoutly espouses the doctrine, because supported by the Scriptures. There has been no age of the Christian church, in which the expectation of the Millennium was not admitted by many divines of the first eminence, though never embraced in any creed as an article of faith essential to salvation. But the captivating hope has ever possessed the bosom of the militant church, before and since the*advent of Christ, that his sceptre, shall, in the seventh Millennary of time, be swayed in its gentle influences over all the earth.
About the middle of the fourth century, says Mr. Buck, the Millennians held the following tenets: 1. That the city of Jerusalem shall be rebuilt; and that the land of Judah shall be the habitation of those, who are to reign on the earth a thousand years. 3. That Christ shall then come down from heaven, and be seen on earth, and reig^ here with his servants. 3. That during that period the saints are to enjoy all the delights of the first terrestial paradise. ,
These opinions were founded upon the 20th chapter of Revelation, from the first to the sixth verse inclusive, and were underStood by the ancient Millennarians in the literal sense, who taught, that during the Millennium, the saints on the earth were to enjoy every bodily delight, consistent with innocence and holiness. This . opinion is undoubtedly correct, but that Christ will personally dwell on the earth with his saints, who are to remain after the first resurrection a thousand years, is not promised; therefore, in that exA*"
pectation they were not correct. Though the promise in the sixth verse of the 20th chapter of Revelation, is, that the saints "shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years," yet I do not understand thereby, that the person of Christ must necessarily become visible on the earth during the thousand years. If Christ is the only wise God, and has all power, consequently he reigns in an omniscient sense, not only here, but in all worlds; therefore, when his gospel in our earth shall have gotten the victory, it will not be required, in order that the' promise in the sixth verse may be fulfilled, that Christ nmst be ^rsonally with his saints on the earth, but in lib spiritual preserve only—the saints being in perfect agreement with his holiness and government, are therefore said, by the spirit of prophecy, to reign with Christ during that peculiar term, a thousand years. The opinion of the fathers, both Jewish and Christian, and others, that Jerusalem is agajn to be rebuilt in the time of the Millennium, for the comfort and glory of the saints, is founded doubtless on the 48th chapter of Ezekiel's prophecy, to which the reader can refer. But this opinion will not bear the test of the most inferior criticism; because the saints, during the Millennium, r ill have corporeal bodies as well as now, and therefore must occupy space. From which it is at once evident, that if the whole land of Palestine shall become one continued city for thb accommodation of the saints, it will be found insufficient to contain them." The whole land of Jnde'a, embracing the ancient grant of that country to Abraham, does not encompass a greater space than two hundred and fifty miles in length by one hundred and fifty in width, which space, if occupied as closely as the city of NewYork, would not be capable of containing a greater population than about five hundred and one millions. Ancient Palestine, if it were one continued city, would be only about three thousand limes as large as New-York, which is but a little short of three miles by six, if it were thrown Into a parallelogram form; consequently would be as incapable of containing all the saints in the Millennium as the city of London would be of accommodating the population of the globe at the present time.
If, then, so great a city will be too small to contain the saintsi how will the ancient city of Jerusalem, even if it should be rebuilt, contain them? Besides, how are they to be supported if alt are assembled at one place? who shall till the earth? But in reference to the meaning of that chapter, to which the reader is referred, as above, it is more rational to suppose, with Dr. Clark, and others of great eminence, who have written upon this sBbject before his time, that the whole description given by Ezekiel should be understood as signifying the most glorious state of the Christian church overthe inferior glory and darker dispensation of the Old Testament times. This sentiment certainly agrees better with the remark of Christ to the Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob, "Woman, believe me, the hour coineth when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Fatffer." St. John. iv. 21. All that was embraced in the Mosaic sacrifices, the temple of Solomon, with its ceremonies, were only descriptive of some good thing to come in the dispensations of the ex pected Messiah. If the Jews are to be bronght in with the fulness of the Gentiles, what, therefore, can a Jew promise himself by reluming to Jerusalem? I confess I cannot see any ostensible reason. If the Mosaic dispensation be again restored, then there would be a reason for their return; but it is a well known fact, that Jesus Christ has made an end of all that first system of worship, which related wholly to the higher revelation of the gospel.
This the Jews will understand—why, then, return to Jerusalem? They will at once percieve, that to be a true Jew, or Israelite, is . to possess faith in Christ, and not because they are of a lineage of Abraham. If, then, they become Christian before they go, and acquiesce in the doctrine that Jesus of Nazareth was the true Messiah foretold by the prophets, what value, therefore, can they set upon the land of Canaan above any other country? At once they will percieve, that in this faith they have found Him of whom Moses and the prophets did write, which will answer every purpose far better than to go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. It is, indeed true, that the Jews shall be brought in with the fulness of the Gentiles; but where, or into what, shall they be brought? Why into the faith of the gospel, and nothing else?
Again—if there is a time coming when Christ, the true David, ,of whom David, the father of Solomon, was a type, shall reign Tang of nations in that peculiar sense that he does king of saints; then all the earth may be reckoned as the land of Israel, and the inhabitants, the true Israelites (for then there will be none other) H
shall in spirit and in truth worship the Father in every place—so shall his will be done on earth as it is done in heaven. If any can prove that there is a necessity that the Mosaic economy must be reviwd, that the Messiah's kingdom may be facilitated on the earth, then we might, yea, ought to 'believe, that the Jews shall again rebuild their ancient cities, and dwell in the mountains of Israel. But as we know that system, once glorious in its place, shall never be revived, so neither is there any reason why the Jews must again be restored to their country rather than to any other on the globe. There is, however, a degree of probability, that i f the Ottoman power shall be broken, and such government as may stand in their place should not oppose them, the Jews who dwell in the Turkish countries, may go to Jerusalem, because it is the land of their fathers. But if such shall be their disposition, and it is even accomplished, how is this to further their conversion to Christianity? It would, in my opinion, rather retard than hasten it; because a revival of the Mosaic laws, with all its ceremonies, is the highest aim of the Jews in all the world. But if they recieve the gospel, and accept of the Messiah of Nazareth in those countries where they now are dwelling, their restoration will in this way be accomplished, and the prophecies fulfilleo, which respect their return in a spiritual sense, when both Jew and Gentile shall by the gospel be changed to what the Saviour and St. Paul designated as the constituent qualifications of a real Israelite, or Jew.
4th. Some Millennarians have supposed, because Christ said on a certain occasion to his twelve disciples, that they should sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel, that the Apostles shall thus sit judging the twelve tribes of Israel during the Millennium. See Matth. 19, 28. "And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me in the regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
Their arguments are, that the Apostles never on the earth enjoyed that promise, and must, therefore, sit on those thrones in the Millennium. I?ut this surely is easily otherwise interpreted; for observe, this was to take place when the Son of Man should sk in the throne of his glory. When, therefore, did he comoienccthis sitting in] the throne'of bis glory? I answer, itnme* diately after his ascension from earth to heaven. A few days oiv* ly, therefore, had elapsed, when, after that event, the twelve Apostles ascended their promised thrones. But how ? I answer, in the following manner: After the resurrection of our Lord, (see I^ike 24,49) he said to the twelve, "But tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high." This very power with which they were to be endowed, was accomplished on them, when, on the day of Pentecost, after his ascension, the Holy Ghost descended and sat on them in the form of cloven tongues of fire. This was their exaltation to the promised thrones, when they recieved power to preach the gospel understanding^, which, till then, they had not fully comprehended This was their exaltation to the thrones of the Apostolic power, to preach the gospel to every creature, to heal the sick, to raise the dead, in confirmation of it, and to establish a new system instead of the old. This was their exaltation to the twelve promised thrones, to have power to pull down the old system of Mosaic sacrifices, and now useless observances; to confound the Jews it> argument, as did St. Stephen, and to denounce judgment against' them—thus judging the twelve tribes of Israel, because they rejected the true Messiah.
5th. Some have thought that the judgment day is to take place at the end of the next century, or when the earth shall be 6000 years old from the creation, and that afterwards the Millennium is to succeed. But certainly neither of these positions can be true; because we have no warrant, either in reason or from the Scriptures, to believe, that Satan is to be loosed from his prison, and to trouble the saints after the judgment day. But that the Millennium shall transpire before the general judgment, there is abundant proof. See Rev. 20.
6th. Others have supposed that all the righteous Jews, patriarchs and prophets, are to possess the land of Canaan after their resurrection from the dead. They alledge, as a T-eason, that the extent of the promised land was never possessed by them, and, therefore, must yet be literally fulfilled in the Millennium. But i it appears to me, that land is of little worth to such as have tasted of the higher bliss of a heavenly state; and further, the sentiment would seem to compel the spirits of just men made perfect