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real. 'Tis not safe to deprive the church of those texts whereon her faith of the Resurrection is builded. For this interpretation (that which would make the First Resurrection metaphorical or spiritual) will necessarily rob us of that of Dan, x11. 2–4."*
Barnabas, Paphias, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Irenæus, and Tertullian, in the second century, not to mention other eminent ecclesiastics, from Origen to Jerome, and the whole Christian world, taught and believed in the Millennial doctrines ; viz., Second Advent, First Resurrection, &c. Tertullian says, it was a custom of his times for Christians to pray that they might have part in the First Resurrection ; nor is there the slightest testimony on reçord that any “orthodox” ministers of Christ in the two first centuries departed from this doctrine. Jerome, though unfavourable to it, as one who held singularly different views from his contemporaries, writes moderately on the subject, because, as he says, it was so generally admitted.
There had been no controversy on this question until that raised by Origen, who opposed it with the greatest ardour, because it was not compatible with his own cherished opinions; and Augustin extravagantly supposed that the Millennium would be fulfilled during the Christian dispensation.t
Jerome and Augustin are the last writers of any eminence who, in taking this novel view of the subject, preceded the authoritative and imposing mandates of the see of Rome. “A very considerable number of Christians, decidedly the majority," (about the middle of the third century,) “ did, nevertheless, continue, sometime after
† See Supplement, No. XVII.
Origen, to maintain the" primitive doctrines. “So difficult is it to depart consistently, and all at once, from a beaten track, that even Origen himself is now and then betrayed into statements which are only reconcileable on the" aforesaid “system of interpretation. Take, for example, the following passage against Celsus, (lib. 111.,) We do not deny the purging fire of the destruction of wickedness, and the renovation of all things. And again, in his 13th homily on Jeremiah, he says: “If any man shall preserve the washing of the Holy Spirit, &c., he shall have his part in the First Resurrection ; but if any man be saved in the Second Resurrection only, it is the sinner that needeth the baptism by fire. Wherefore, seeing these things are sc, let us lay the Scriptures to heart, and make them the rule of our lives; that so, being cleansed from the defilement of sin before we depart, we may be raised up with the saints, and have our lot with Christ Jesus.”
The following are some of those dreadful announcements which exclude the wicked from any participation in the First Resurrection :
Revelation xx. 5. The rest, &c.
PRESERVATION OF THE RIGHTEOUS DURING THE CONFLAGRATION
OF THE EARTH AND DESTRUCTION OF THE WICKED.
We are sometimes ready to wonder that God has permitted so long and so general a resistance to his will, together with so awful a defiance of his power, under the present dispensation. What then will be the astonishment of the children of God towards its close, to behold the great mass of mankind still absorbed in earthly concerns,—still living in iniquity,—still dwelling in the tents of unrighteousness, --still despising and rejecting the light of revelation--unmoved by the evidence of supernatural gifts, and utterly disregarding the prophetic accomplishment of those judgments with which they will have been visited! Such is the potent and unchangeable malignity of sin, which will be aggravated to its utmost extent by the mighty efforts of Satan, whose chief artifices will consist in beguiling mankind through infidelity into a listless contempt of their impending destruction. But the Holy Spirit “will not always strive with man :" “the Lord will come as a thief in the night;” and “when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as upon a woman in travail, and they shall not escape.”
" It has been concluded by judicious divines," says Arch
deacon Woodhouse, “ that these partial prophecies and particular instances of the divine vengeance, whose accomplishment we know to have taken place, are presented to us as types, certain tokens and forerunners, of some greater events which are also disclosed in them. To the dreadful time of universal vengeance, they all appear to look forward, beyond their first and more immediate object. Little, indeed, can we doubt that such is to be considered the use and application of these prophecies, since we see them thus applied by our Lord and his apostles. See Acts 11. 20; Heb. x. 27, 37; Rom. 11. 5; 2 Pet. III. 2–14; where the prophecies of the Old Testament are applied in a more spiritual and extended sense, than in their first and primary designation."
This, then, is the awful crisis which must for ever determine the condition of the ungodly! The Saviour suddenly appears" in power and great glory, and all the holy angels with him,"—the trumpet sounds,-the departed saints are “raised and changed,"--and “those who remain alive, are caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” At this decisive juncture, commences the final extirpation of the ungodly, “who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” Now is the season of discriminating justice; “two shall be in the field ; the one shall be taken, and the other left; two women shall be grinding at the mill, the one shall be taken, and the other left.” In a word, there shall be gathered out of the kingdom of Christ all things that offend. Yet while the wicked and their works shall be consumed, we conceive there will not be a total dissolution of the earth; but that while “ the reapers, or angels, bind the tares," or wicked, “ in bundles
to burn them,” the children of God will be preserved and blessed with his presence. See Isai. Li. 6; Psalm lxxv. 2, 3.
We shall first consider those passages which seem more especially to describe the terrors of the Lord at this fearful period, and then advert to the security and blessedness of the righteous. · The following is an epitome of Divine wrath against sinful, unrelenting rulers and kings, whose souls shall be shut up in hades, "where indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, will be experienced by every soul of man that doeth evil;” and “after” the expiration of “ many days” (we think, the days of Millennial glory) “they shall be visited,” or brought to final judgment.
“From east to west they fly,—from pole to line,
Imploring shelter from the wrath divine ;
Or rocks to yawn, compassionately deep." Isaiah xxiv. 17–22. Fear, and the pit, and the snare, are upon thee, O inhabitant of the earth. And it shall come to pass, that he who fleeth from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit; and he that cometh up out of the midst of the pit shall be taken in the snare : for the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth do shake. The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again, (i. e., as we understand, in its previous state and condition). And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall punish (Heb. visit upon) the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, (or, dungeon,) and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited (or, found wanting.)
See Job. xxi. 30; 2 Peter 11. 9; Jude 13; Psalm xlvi. 6; Nah. 1. 5-6.