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argue, that the
to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed: not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all.” And again in the ninth chapter he argues, even as respects the seed of Abraham according to the flesh; "that they are not all Israel who are of Israel; neither because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children; but in Isaac shall thy seed be called: that is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.” And afterwards he goes on in the same chapter to
of God was to make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,-even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles.” So also in Galatians: “Know ye therefore, that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.”b And again, “Ye are all the chil. dren of God by faith in Christ Jesus, &c. there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus: and if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise."
When the Church afterwards assumed a still more distinct and separate form in the Israelitish nation, to whom all the promises then appear to be more immediately addressed, I grant that a greater degree of obscurity is thrown over this circumstance. Nor do I mean to deny, (though we are now enabled clearly to infer the facts above stated,) that in the previous periods the mystery of the fulness of the Gentiles was in great measure hidden: for the Apostle plainly tells us, “that in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto the holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit, that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the Gospel.”d And thus St. Peter, alluding to the period when the Jews only were the recognised people of God, says to the strangers” to whom he writes,—“Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, &c. which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God.' And though some have concluded from certain passages, that strangers and foreigners were not to partake of the same promises with Israel; yet I apprehend, as far as the resurrection Church is concerned, that these passages do always apply to aliens from the commonwealth of Israel in their unnaturalized and unproselyted state. This is indeed evident from what is said about the institution of the Passover, one of the most sacred of their ordinances.—"And the Lord said unto
b Gal. iii. .
cGal. iii. 26–29.
d Ephes. iii. 5, 6.
e 1 Peter ii. 9, 10.
Moses and Aaron, this is the ordinance of the Passover: there shall no stranger eat thereof,” &c. Exod. xii. 43. After which, at verses 48, 49, it is written: “And when a stranger shall journ with thee, and will keep the passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one born in the land: but no uncircumcised person shåll eat thereof.”
In due time, however, the Lord sent forth his Apostles to call those other sheep, which were not of the Israelitish fold; but who were to be made one fold under one Shepherd. Then we find it openly declared, “that in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but the new creature, and faith which worketh by love; and that those who thus walk are the Israel of God.”g And the Apostle bids us “Remember, that though we are Gentiles in the flesh, who are called UNCIRCUMCISION by the Jews; being, when without Christ, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenant of promise; we are now by the blood of Christ made nigh, he having broken down the middle wall of partition, and made of twain one new man, thus making us no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God.”h Thus, as Abraham is called “the father of us all,” so "Jerusalem which is above”-that Jerusalem which shall descend from God out of heaven”-is also called the mother of us all."i
The next point for consideration is, whether that generation only, which shall be living at the commencement of the Millennium, shall partake of it; or whether the departed saints will equally share in it. The latter view I shall prove to be the correct one, by an argument which will equally disprove the notion of a Millennium separate from a resurrection. It is by a comparison of two passages (the-one in Hebrews, the other in Thessalonians) which mutually reflect on each other.
Let us suppose (as some do) that the Lord and his saints are now in the enjoyment of the kingdom promised, and that every believer enters into it at death: in this case it is plain, that the saints on earth are for the present excluded from it. But the Apostle, to prevent such an imagination, tells us, “These all,” (including Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, &c. who are instanced,) "having obtained a good report [or, rather, having borne witness* ] through faith, received not the promise; God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us
f John x. 16. & Gal. v. 6; vi. 15, 16. h Ephes. ii. 11–22. i Rom. iv. 16 and Gal. iv. 26.
* usptupn@eytes, agreeing with vemos reseptupwr, the "cloud of witnesses,” in the first verse of the next chapter.
should not be made perfect.” This proves, that, whether the enjoyment of the promise is to be on earth or in heaven, the whole Church will be glorified together; the saints of one generation not receiving the promise without the saints of other generations.
On the other hand, let us suppose that the generations alive at the commencement of the Millennium are to enjoy the promise of the kingdom:--that then only, and to them only, is to be fulfilled what is written, “that the kingdom and dominion and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the saints of the Most High.” It is plain, that the departed saints, though most of them have lived in expectation of the promise, must be shut out from it. But this also the Apostle says to us by the word of the Lord, -that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them which are asleep."m Thus again both are to rejoice together;-and this at the coming of the Lord: for the Lord will descend and bring the Church above with him, whilst the Church below will undergo a change: even as it is written, “When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”n
The opinion which limits the reigning in this kingdom to the martyrs only, is the last which I shall consider, and a brief notice of it will be sufficient. For it entirely rests upon Revelation xx. 4, which is supposed to confine the first resurrection to those "beheaded for the witness of Jesus.” But here are also included, when we come to examine the subject more accurately, those "which had not worshipped the beast, neither received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands."* This may be clearly inferred from chap. xi. 18, which extends the reward then to be given to "all that fear the name of God, both great and small.”
II. Having shown that the saints in general are to partake of the kingdom, it will greatly confirm the view which I have taken of its being on earth, to glance at some of the promises which are made to the saints; keeping in mind, that they belong to the whole of them.
Isaiah says to the righteous, in one place,-“Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty; they shall behold the land that is very far off:”, and in another, “that God should cause him to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed him with the heritage of Jacob his father.”p David declares, that “the righteous shall be exalted and inherit the earth for ever;" and says of himself, “that he had fainted, unless he had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." The Lord Jesus repeats the assurance under the Gospel, “that the meek shall inherit the earth.” St. Paul, as we have seen, reminds children of the promise annexed to the fifth commandment, (viz. that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee,”') "that it may be well with thee (he adds) and that thou mayest live long on the earth.” This latter testimony is the more satisfactory, if we apply to it a rule of interpretation laid down by St. Paul in Hebrews. He contends, that because it is written in David—“If they shall enter into my rest,” there must remain a rest for the people of God. For he argues, that the Lord could not mean the Sabbath rest at creation, neither the rest in the land given them under Joshua; seeing that after these had taken place he still speaks of a rest to come; saying, “If they shall enter into my rest."u This is the Apostle's principle of interpreting prophecy; and it would violate this principle not to conclude, that as he promises length of days in the land to Gentiles, at the time when the Jews were just about to be cast out of it, there must remain an inheriting of the land to the people of God.
Heb. xi. 39, 44. i Daniel vii. 27. m 1 Thess. iv, 15. Col. iii. 4. o Isa. xxxiii. 17.
* See Whitby in loco; who, though a decided anti-millennarian, makes here two distinct classes;-viz. the souls of those beheaded, and the souls of those who had not worshipped the beast.
Those who presume these promises to be figurative thus explain how the meek shall inherit the earth: viz. that they are contented with their present lot; and that, if they needed more, God would give it to them, even unto the possession of the whole world. But such an interpretation appears objectionable on various grounds. First, it offends against the plain grammatical sense of the promise; which is, that the meek SHALL inherit the earth: whereas, if they now possess it through contentment, it should rather be written, Blessed are the meek for they do inherit the earth." The whole argument indeed of St. Paul, just noticed, loses its cogency, if, when our Saviour, after so long a time, promises that the meek shall inherit the earth, we are to understand it of the past. “For (to paraphrase the reasoning of the Apostle, if they had always thus inherited the earth, then would he not afterwards have spoken of a future inheriting: there remaineth, therefore, an inheritance of the earth to the meek.” Secondly, it contradicts the whole scope of unfulfilled promise; which, as I have demonstrated, regards a future kingdom to be manifested on earth. Thirdly, it lowers and degrades the promises of God; as if we were afraid to trust him, when marvellous power must be exerted to fulfil the word; and therefore placed a meaning upon it which is accomplished in the ordinary course and moral nature of things, without any promise at all.
Ps. xxvii. 13.
p Isa. lviii. 14. 9 Psalm xxxvii. 9, 11, 29, 34.
Ephes. vi. 2, 3. u Heb. chap. iv.
We shall next find the saints included in the promises under every particular, in which we have been led to consider them in regard to Christ.
1. The Father has appointed unto him a kingdom; and he tells his disciples, “I appoint unto you a kingdom, as the Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” He tells them also, that when the Son of Man shall come in his glory, the King shall say to them on his right hand, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."w And then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father."
2. Again, Christ is declared to be a king: so in Psalm xlv. 16, the promise to the Church is, "Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth.” Agreeing with which is that passage in Revelation, (put into the mouths of the departed saints) “Thou hast made us unto our God kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth."y
3. One more, a throne is prepared for the Lord, which I will call a throne of glory; because it is said, that when he shall come with his angels, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory. Now Hannah is made to prophesy, that the Lord “raiseth up the poor out of the dust and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory:"z which agrees with that in Revelation;—“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in
throne; even as I also overcame and am set down with my Father in his throne.” And if any inquire, How so muny can sit on the throne of Jesus, I answer with Jeremiah: “At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord;"b “for there also (saith David) are set thrones of judgment.
Luke xxii. 29, 30. w Matt. xxv. 34. 1 Sam. ii. 8. a Rev. iii. 21. b Jer. iii. 17.
y Rev. v. 10.
» Ib. xiii. 43.
c Ps. cxxii. 5.