« AnteriorContinuar »
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 ordiAnd the Lord said unto "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 sojourn 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 shall 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." g Then we find it openly declared, "that in Christ "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." h 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, 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." i 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."j
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 should not be made perfect." k 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 it with
g John x, 16. h Gal. v, 6; vi, 15, 16. i Ephes. ii, 11–22. j Rom. vi, 16; & Gal. V, 26. k Heb. xi, 39, 40.
* μаρTUPNOεVTEC, agreeing with vegos papτupwv, the cloud of witnesses,' in the first verse of the next chapter.
out 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 then shall ye "also appear with him in glory."n
5. 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 wor
shiped 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 shewn that the saints in general are to partake of the kingdom, it will greatly confirm the view which I have taken of the future kingdom 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.
1. 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." David declares, that the righteous shall be exalted and inherit the earth for ever," q 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."r 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." t This 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
1 Daniel vii, 27. m 1 Thess. iv, 15. n Col. iii 9 Psalm xxxvii, 9, 11; xxix, 34. r Ps. xxvii, 13.
o Is. xxiii, 17. p Is. Iviii, 14. s Matt. v, 5. t Ephes. vi, 2, 3.
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.
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 three distinct 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 contentedness, 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 apply the reareasoning 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 the whole scope of unfulfilled promise; which, as I have demonstrated, regards a future kingdom to be manifested here. Thirdly, it lowers and degrades the promises of God; as if we were afraid to trust him, when marvellous power must be exerted
u Heb. chap. iv. v Luke xxii, 29, 30.
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.
2. 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. The Father has appointed unto him a kingdom; and he tells his disciples, I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my 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." v 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." x
3. Again, Christ is declared to be a king: so, in Psalm xlv, the promise to the church is, Instead of
thy fathers shall be thy children, "whom thou mayest make princes " in all the earth;" y 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." z 4. Once 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 mong princes, and to make them inhe
w Matt. xxv, 34. XXV, z Rev. v, 10.
David) are set thrones of judgement." d
A CHAPTER OF DIFFICULTIES. No. I.
You must not suppose by the title which I have given to my communication, that I mean to assail the doctrine advocated in the Investigator: on the contrary, I must confess that the influence of your first Number has been to produce in my opinions a decided preponderance in favour of that view of the Advent which is called Millennarian. My mind however is naturally disposed to dwell much upon difficulties; and though I am sensible, that I can oppose no objection, which ought in reason to stand in the way of a reception of this doctrine; but which ought rather (as in the case of difficulties connected with other important truths) to be left until increased light clears them up; yet I still keep pondering them over, and thus am prevented from decidedly advocating or rejecting the doctrine. I am encouraged therefore by the
a 1 Sam. ii, 1. b Rev. iii, 21.
I shall suspend some further testimony concerning the participation of the saints, until I come to treat of the JUDGEMENT; which I hope to do in my next, when I shall consider the doctrine of the FIRST RESURRECTION. Until a future paper I likewise reserve more Scripture testimony to the practical utility of these truths. ABDIEL.
candid and impartial principle professed by the Investigator, to communicate my difficulties; and for this purpose I trouble you with my first chapter. I have selected only six texts for the present. I hardly know whether to say, that they appear to me to offer greater contradictions than some others: I rather put them in the van, as being those which have first suggested themselves to my own mind. I shall be greatly obliged by any of your Readers who will notice them in the way of solution; and I shall at some future opportunity send you a second chapter.
I. First, the Lord says in Mark's Gospel, ix, 1, VERILY I say unto you, that there be some of them standing here, which shall not “taste of death till they have seen "the kingdom of God come with
power." This coming with power, I take to be as strong an expression for the Millennarian sense as can be used: yet does it not shew, in the c Jer. iii, 17. d Ps. cxxii, 5.
fullest sense, that the kingdom of God must have already come?
II. There is a phrase exactly parallel, following our Lord's prophecy concerning Jerusalem, and what is interpreted to be the end of the world; "VERILY I say unto you, "this generation shall not pass, "till all these things be done.' (Mark xiii, 30.) I must however candidly acknowledge, that if all the events named in that prophecy, were actually accomplished within the period of the generation then existing, I am in a still greater difficulty how to explain them.
III. The first of these difficulties is still more increased by another place in the same context. Elias is indeed come, and they have "done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him. Mark ix, 13. Nothing can apparently be more plain and literal than the prophecy concerning Elijah in Malachi : Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall "turn the heart of the fathers to "the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a CC curse." (Chap. vi, 6.) Yet Jesus here declares, that it was fulfilled in John! Does not this shew, how great a latitude of interpretation ought to be allowed to the spiritual side of the question? And does it not render doubtful, whether any of those passages usually pressed to the Millennary cause ought to be literally taken ?
We received the letter of our Correspondent too late for insertion in our third Number; and yet, as we apprehend, before our second Number
IV. Christ said to Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world:" which is thought by some to declare in plain terms, that it is not to be on earth. Having met with some observations relative to the terms αιων, οικουμενη, and κόσμος, all indifferently translated world; I turned to a Greek Testament, presuming that, if either of the former terms were used, it might be explained by that circumstance; but I find the Greek is in this instance is in this instance Kooμos-which κοσμοςtherefore strengthens my objection. V. Christ said to Caiaphas, “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds "of heaven." (Matt. xxvi, 64.) Now, unless this refer to a providential coming, (as it is called,) which providential coming may also explain those passages that appear more unequivocally millennarian ; how can it be explained consistently with a first resurrection of the righteous only. If our Lord comes in the clouds of heaven at the first resurrection, how is Caiaphas, and those composing the 'ye' to see him? If they are to see him when he comes, it can only be at the final resurrection of the wicked, and that consequently appears from this text to be the period of the Advent in the clouds.
VI. "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation. (Luke xvii, 20.) This seems to limit the phrase kingdom of God," to that spiritual interpretation contended for by antimillennarians.
could have reached him: otherwise we presume some of his Difficulties would not have been stated without a reference to the notice of them by