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ON THE APOCALYPSE, AND THE MILLENNIUM. FROM the beginning God has given
to man revelations sufficient for keeping him
in the right way, for guiding him into all truth; and cautions sufficient for warning him of all danger : but when, in the course of time, difficulties and dangers arise to which man has not been previously exposed, additional revelations and cautions are then given to warn him of, and prepare him for, the coming trial. On the other hand, it has ever been the unremitting endeavour of the grand adversary of mankind, and of all opposers of the truth, to explain away the revelation, that it may no longer guide us; and to take off the force of the warning, that it may no longer deter us. This was exemplified in our first parents : Gen. iii., “And the serpent said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden : but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know, that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened : and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” The word of God being thus misinterpreted by Satan, and its threatenings brought into discredit, Adam fell; and the process of his fall is an epitome of the several stages of declension in all his posterity, whether occurring in individuals, in congregations, or in kingdoms. God does not call man to account for what he has not possessed, but for the use of gifts and talents which he has received : and all the Divine expostulations turn upon our not having diligently employed those means put within our reach, or upon our having regarded the suggestions of deceivers more than the word of God. " Israel doth not know, my people do not consider” (Isa. i. 3): “O my people, they which lead thee, cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths” (Isa. iii. 12). But when a people have incurred the guilt of rejecting
VOL. 1.-NO. III,
this sufficient revelation, and neglecting this timely warning; when they“ choose deceit and make lies their refuge,” God does not give to such a people a fresh revelation, to be
again set at nought. Sluggishness and servility like this would in the same manner paralyse any new revelation : therefore "pearls are not cast before swine,” but they are given up to their own hearts' choice. “And he said, Go and tell this people, Hear ye
indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes : lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and convert, and be healed” (Isa. vi. 9, 10). This most fearful abandonment to delusions of their own choosing, is God's reluctant and marvellous work, the sure and immediate precursor of his heaty judgments. “ The word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, line upon line” (Isa. xxviii. 13). But “ forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their hearts far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men : therefore behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder; for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid” (Isa. xxix. 13, 14). The awful consequences of this are set forth in Isa. lix. 9, 10, 15: “Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us : we wait for light, but behold obscurity ; for brightness, but we walk in darkness. We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes : we stumble at noon-day as in the night: we are in desolate places, as dead men..... Yea, truth faileth ; and he that departeth from evil is accounted mad.” (marg.) In this state of extremity, when flesh and heart are ready to fail, God himself interposes. And the Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment. And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him, and his righteousness it sustained him” (Isa. lix. 15, 16). Wherefore, although the house of Judah and the house of Israel are now lying under this blindness, “the veil is upon their heart," yet they shall be recovered from it by the interposition of Jehovah in his own good time.
Again, when Christ came, the Pharisees had encumbered the revelation of God with many traditions of men; thereby making void the law. In consequence of which the majority of the Jewish people were wholly in error; and even the disciples of our Lord had many false impressions, which were not removed till after his resurrection from the dead. No new revelation was given for correctivg these their impressions : it was done by merely leading them to the simple understanding of those Scriptures which they already possessed, with a reproof to the backwardness of their faith : “ O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the Prophets have spoken! Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses, and all the Prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke xxiv, 25.-27). And when the Holy Spirit was promised, it was not for the purpose of giving any new revelation, but, “He shall teach
you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you” (John xiv. 26).
" He shall testify of me” (John xv. 26). “He will guide you into all truth : for he shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear that shall he speak : and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John xvi. 13, 14).
Thus we see that for the whole Jewish dispensation the Scriptures of the Old Testament were sufficient; and for the establishment of the Christian dispensation, nothing more was necessary than that those same Scriptures should be received as they were expounded by our Lord and his Apostles, under the teaching of the Holy Spirit. But as the Jewish dispensation was designed to expand into the Christian, which the prophecies of the Old Testament announced and prepared for; so shall the Christian dispensation expand into the Millennial, or universal; of which the Apocalypse is more especially the announcement, and for which the whole New Testament is the preparation. But as, when the Jewish dispensation was drawing to its close, the people honoured God with their lips only, while their hearts were far from him, and their fear was taught by the precept of men; so analogy would lead us to expect, that at the close of the Christian dispensation the simple word of God would be less regarded than the traditions and interpretations of men: and the Scriptures clearly declare that such shall be the case; that "
men will not endure sound doctrine ....turn away from the truth, and be turned to fables” (2 Tim. iv. 3,4);“Giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils ” (1 Tim. iv. 1). In those times, which we think close at hand, men will not only be saying scornfully, “Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Pet. iii. 4); but they will even deny the authenticity of the Scriptures : while others will set up some monstrous and distorted semblance of the true doctrine of the coming kingdom of our Lord, like the figments of Cerinthus and the early heretics, to bring the truth into discredit. Nor are these imaginary and groundless apprehensions ; for among the Germans the authority of the Apocalypse has been questioned by many, and among ourselves' symptoms of a doubting spirit have appeared. We therefore deem it good, once for all, to settle the authenticity of this most important portion of Scriptyre : and as many mistakes are abroad respecting the Millennium, we shall shew what were the Apostolic doctrines concerning the reign of Christ; then trace out some of the errors which weak or wicked men invented, by which the true doctrine was brought into disrepute, and, in common with every other Apostolic doctrine, suffered so many centuries of eclipse in the dark ages of the church.
The history of the Apocalypse is no where better given than in Mill's Prolegomena, p. xxvii., which we therefore translate :“ The Apocalypse of John, when it first appeared, was published not only in the Asiatic, but in the other neighbouring churches, and held to be divinely inspired, as I shall shew immediately. In the mean time, it is right to premise that the copies taken of this book were far fewer than those of the Evangelists, or of the Epistles of Paul, because it contained obscure and hidden senses; and perhaps was less frequently read publicly in the churches, if we may form a judgment concerning the first ages of the church from its practice in succeeding times. Nor was the Apocalypse united in the same volume with the Gospels, or with the Epistles, but kept separate, as a prophetical book, differing in argument from the rest : whence that ancient distinction of the books of the New Testament into
the words of the Gospel, of the Apostles, and of the Apocalypse,' according to Origen (Comm. on Matthew, p. 220), Moreover, it is certain that this book of the Apocalypse obtained canonical authority in the Asiatic churches, to which its first chapters are addressed, not only while John lived and presided over them, but also in the ages immediately after his death. Accordingly, Papias, the disciple both of John the Apostle and of the other John, commonly called the Elder, acknowledged it for divine, as Andræas Cæsariensis witnesses (Proem to his Comm. on Apoc.): so also, beyond all doubt, did Polycarp his companion (Irenæus, v. 33), bishop of the church of Smyrna (to which the writer of the Apocalypse addressed the second of the seven epistles), although in his Epistle to the Philippians it be not cited, since no occasion for alleging it occurred in that very short writing. Certainly Irenæus, the disciple of Polycarp, a native of Asia, very often adduces it as of John, the disciple of our Lord, in proof of the doctrines of faith. Melito also, bishop of the church of Sardis (to whom the fifth epistle of the Apocalypse of John is said to have been addressed), illustrated it with an entire commentary (Euseb. Eccl. Hist. iv. 26). So that in the first ages there was not the slightest doubt concerning the authority of this book among