« AnteriorContinuar »
tants of earth to aim at universal dominion, by endeavouring to obtain the same authority over their fellow creatures as the saints enjoy, and thus to dispossess the latter of their regal power and influence.
This extensive revolt appears clearly to intimate the necessity of a final probation, so as to separate the servants of God who remain unalterable in their fidelity from those who cannot withstand temptation. It is true, as we have proved in preceding pages, that the Millennial dispensation will have been one of undiminished blessedness; and it may appear wonderful that so large a portion of the world should be led to rebel at the instant temptations of Satan. But we know not the length of time which this may occupy. However, it fully proves, that without a Millennial dispensation, man could never have attained such universal perfection as will be necessary to complete the number of the human race destined for eternal glory in the heaven of heavens. What an awful proof of his frailty and instability, even subsequent to the Millennial period! At length the god of this world is disenchained, and once more permitted to exercise his malignant powers.
Satan speedily avails himself of the advantages derived from the length of time elapsed since his former reign. Mankind will have almost forgotten, and will neglect the precautions necessary to resist temptation, so long inknown. And his agents will be every where disseminated to exercise their powers over those who will yield to it, and so become his easy prey. They will forego their happy repose and confidence in the Redeemer from an expectation of enjoying universal dominion,
- We think it probable, that at this time the righteous who shall have remained faithful, will be changed in like manner as the saints at the first resurrection, who have reigned over them; and that they shall enter into the felicity and glories of heaven, where, together with the latter, " they shall reign for ever and ever,” in various capacities, over portions of the universal family of God, who may be less advanced in knowledge and perfection.
It has been imagined that there is scriptural ground for believing that the inhabitants of the renovated earth will remain eternally upon it. This we do not perceive. Besides all the previous events connected with the condition of man seems adverse to such a belief. · It is peculiarly adverse to the belief of a continued advancement in knowledge and happiness,—or, “from glory to glory,"—which God has so manifestly destined for his ransomed people, and probably for the rest of his rational creation. This, a perpetuity of Millennial glory on earth could never effect. It is urged, also, that God will not destroy the renewed creation, there being no assignable cause for the destruction of the material world more than for that of the immaterial or spiritual, and we are referred to such passages as the following:—Psalm xxiv. 2; LXXVIII. 69, and civ. 5. While we concede that this may not be improbable, we infer no necessity for the eternal continuance of man upon it, neither in his earthly nor glorified capacity." God may convert the earth to whatever purpose he pleases, or render it the abode of a new creation of happy beings, destined one day for the endless glories of heaven, as his people now are.
We have perceived how irrational it would be to imagine that the conflagration of the world can extend to, or disturb the repose of other heavenly orbs. As no reason can be assigned why the latter may not be constituted for an
eternal duration, though susceptible of change, there is no necessity to suppose that it is otherwise with respect to our own planet, when converted into, or continued as an abode adapted to the happiness of those who may possess it. Thence no cause can be assigned for rejecting the notion of its becoming adapted to a successive order of happy beings. As to the present creation, both animate and inanimate, we perceive the Divine wisdom and goodness to be such, that no object remains in its primary condition, a perpetual succession of changes or revolutions being constantly produced; and to this the intellectual creation seems to be strictly analogous. On this subject, however, it is unnecessary to expatiate, joyfully believing, as we do, in a period of Millennial glory, between the present and eternal state ; during which it is reasonable to think that the final purposes of God with respect to this world will be more fully developed.
It is observable that the armies of the Gog of Ezekiel which we find will be raised antecedent to the Millennium, will come chiefly from “ the north parts;" though the bands that unite with him are not restricted to the north, mention being made of the various countries from whence they will proceed. In the present prophecy we find that they come from “ the four quarters of the earth."
They are probably descendants of the inhabitants of those countries called Magog by Ezekiel, and may preserve certain peculiarities which may identify their origin, but there is nothing to furnish us with any positive conclusion on the subject.
The relative number of the faithful will, therefore, be greatly diminished by this extensive defection. Palestine is the country from whence man received the glad tidings of salvation,—and the theatre of many supernatural interventions,—wherein God has frequently manifested his glory, and will farther manifest it. Accordingly, their forces are directed against “the camp of the saints,--the beloved city,-mount Zion, the joy of the whole earth.”— They will probably imagine that by subjugating this, they establish a universal government founded on such laws as the enemy of mankind shall have suggested. But their entire destruction for ever terminates on earth the dreadful consequences of the fall. Satan has completed his final efforts; and is cast “into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet,-his fit associates, already are;”—and who, at his instigation, so unremittingly destroyed the fair face of the earth, and so unreluctantly persecuted the people of God.
SECOND RESURRECTION, FINAL JUDGMENT, AND FUTURE
CONDITION OF MANKIND.
John v. 28, 29. The hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth ; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life ; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
Acts xxiv. 15. There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. See also x. 42.
Romans xiv. 10, and 2 Corinthians v. 10. We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
Revelation xx. 11-15. I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened : and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
From the above passages we may discover a strong reason why both periods of the resurrection should be represented at one view; for as we find that there will be births and deaths among those who dwell in the flesh during the