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ON THE ADVENT AND KINGDOM OF CHRIST.
so shall we ever be with the Lord." (1 Thess. iv, 13—18.) Note how exactly this agrees with the former testimony in Corinthians:-the dead in Christ only are raised—those liv
ing in Christ are changed—and at the last trump, announcing the coming of the Lord.* (See 1 Cor. xv, 22.)
3. The next circumstance I shall
* As the learned Dr. Wardlaw, in his recently published volume of sermons, attacks the millenarian view of this text, a few observations on his argument may not be unacceptable. I will first give his exposition verbatim. "The following expression, in 1 Thess. iv, 16, has been sometimes adduced in evidence of the resurrection of the righteous preceding that of the wicked-and by many, indeed, who do not hold the tenets of millenarianism, it is often inconsiderately quoted as if it conveyed this meaning: For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God, and the DEAD IN CHRIST SHALL rise first.'—But it requires only the reading of the entire passage to satisfy any candid mind, that there is in it no reference to the resurrection of the wicked at all. The preceding verse-the 15th, stands thus: For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not pre'vent them which are asleep.'-In this verse, the word 'prevent' means to anticipate, to get the start, or take the precedence, of another. Of the statement thus given, the 16th and 17th verses are an explanatory amplification. We who are alive and re'main,' says the Apostle, shall not PREVENT,' that is, shall not anticipate, or take precedence, or get the start of them that are asleep for the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trump of 'God, and the dead in Christ shall first rise; then'-what? a thousand years after, the wicked shall rise? Not at all:-' then, we who are alive and remain shall be caught up TOGETHER WITH THEM,' (this is the explanation of their not preventing or anticipating them) to meet the Lord in the air :—and so shall we ever be with the Lord.'The living saints, at the Lord's coming, shall await the rising of those that are dead, and all shall then ascend together. Such is the Apostle's own explanation of his own language. " P. 513.
The chief circumstance which I complain of in this exposition is, that Dr. Wardlaw, after stating "that it requires only the reading of the entire passage," &c. limits the entire of the passage to the previous verse instead of beginning at the 13th verse; and thus he wrests the passage from its real context. The Apostle's object is evidently to prevent the Thessalonians from sorrowing for the dead, as though they had no hope of seeing them again: not, as the Doctor would have us infer, to correct erroneous notions of their getting the start or precedency of the dead. (See a further exposition of this text at pages 93 and 94 of my last paper.) Secondly I would ask, how it is consistent with shewing, that there is to be no precedency in the resurrection, expound this passage, as if, after all, the dead are to get the start of those remaining in the flesh. Thirdly, if "the living saints, at the Lord's coming, shall await the rising ' of those that are dead, and all shall then ascend together;" how are we to understand the Apostle, when he says, "them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him?" This is their de-scent, not their as-cent. The same is expressed in Zechariah; "The Lord my God shall come and all the saints with thee:" and also in Jude; "Behold the Lord cometh with myriads of his saints." Fourthly, I have an observation to make upon the words-" to meet the Lord in the air." The word used in the original is aπavinois—not the verb, but a noun; and literally is "caught up into the air to the meeting of the Lord." The word anavτηoic occurs in three other places in the New Testament, and invariably signifies a meeting for the purpose of receiving and welcoming the individual and to escort him back. Thus it is in Matthew xxxv, where the ten virgins are first said to go forth and meet the bridegoom, (v. 1,) and then are surprised in their slumber by the cry, "Go ye out to meet him." (v. 6.) It occurs the third time in Acts xxviii, 15:-" And from thence, when the brethren 'heard of us, they came to meet us (εiç añavτnow ýμiv) as far as Appii Forum and 'the three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God and took courage. And when we came to Rome," &c. It is evident here, that they met Paul, not to stay with him at the three taverns, but to continue with him by going back with him. And the whole context in Thessalonians seems to require, that we explain it of the saints
notice is, that the Scriptures particularize some one resurrection by certain phrases, added for the sake of eminence. For example: 'The resurrection of life;"f" The poor The poor cannot recompense thee, but thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just ;"g-" They accepted not deliverance that they might obtain a better resurrection."h Now what can this better resurrection, this resurrection of life, this resurrection of the just mean, but something eminently distinguished from the resurrection of the wicked? Yea, such an emphasis is generally laid upon this one, that we might with more reason conclude against any resurrection of the wicked at all, than against a resurrection of believers separate and distinct from it. Thus our Lord says of the risen saints, that they are the children of God, being the children of THE resurrection.” i In John's Gospel he three times declares it to be the special privilege of a believer, that he will raise him up at the last him up at the last day: but the single circumstance,
that he should be raised at the last day, would cease to be a distinction, were the wicked to be raised at the
f John v, 40, 44.
same time. A similar argument may be raised on a passage in St. Paul's Epistle to the Philippians, k where he says, that he sought to know the fellowship of Christ's sufferings, &c., if by any means he might attain unto THE resurrection of the dead:"* for St. Paul knew well, and had declared, that there should be a resurrection both of the just and unjust ; it could not therefore be merely a resurrection that he was so earnest about; but THE resurrection-the resurrection of the
The Old Testament also affords us evidence of this doctrine. The angel Gabriel informs Daniel, “ MaNY of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake."m This is to be at that time when the archangel Michael is to stand up for the deliverance of the people of Israel—the same archangel, I apprehend, at whose voice the Lord descends: and it is important to observe, that all
going out to welcome the Lord in the air--not to continue in the air with him; but to accompany him on his visit here, and therefore to return with him: for unless the saints return with Christ, the wicked must also be caught up, for that judgement, which the antimillennarians always make synchronal with this event. I may add here in defence of this view of aπavтηoiç, that, on referring to Schleusner, I find he interprets it—“ cum quis alteri obviam procedit (vel rapitur) ad eum excipiendum.”
* Phil. iii, 11. It is not unimportant to notice, that the Greek word used in this instance by Paul, for the resurrection unto which he was so desirous to attain, is not ανασασις, the usual phrase employed ; but εξαναςασις-την εξαναςασιν των νεκρων -implying, as some argue, the resurrection of a part out of many dead ones. So far as emphasis is laid upon the peculiar use of the word in this one place, I must confess I attach no particular importance to it; not seeing why the preposition εK should imply a perfect resurrection, when attached to avasaoic, more than when used separately. We meet with it in connexion with the resurrection in every possible position, that is consistent with grammar: in composition, εavasaoic, as in the text;-detached from avasaois yet before and governing it, as in Acts xxvi, 23, where it is spoken of Christ, who was πρоTоs ε avazaσews vεROOV ;-and in Luke xx, 25, and in other places, ή ανασασις ή εκ νεκρων. In all which places there does appear to me a special signification intended; viz. that in them mention is made, not of the abstract doctrine of a resurrection of dead ones, (avasaσis vɛкpwv ;) nor merely of a resurrection from death; but EK Vεкpwv, from or out of dead ones, leaving therefore dead ones behind.
προτος εξ ανατασεως νεκρων
29. g Luke xiv, 14. h Heb. xi, 35. i Luke xx, 36. j John vi, 39, k Phil. iii, 11. 1 Acts xxiv, 15. m Dan. xii, 2.
those commentators who oppose the millennarian view, do nevertheless place the restoration or conversion of the Jews at the beginning of the millennium. And to Daniel himself was promised, that he should rest and stand in his lot at the end of the days; n viz. at the end of a period of 1335 years, the beginning of which had just been specified to him; and as all confess, that at the end of that time the millennium begins, therefore again the resurrection must be at the beginning of the millennium. Ezekiel also assured the pious Jews who were at Babylon in his day, that the Lord would fulfil his promise to them, by opening their graves and bringing them into the land of Israel.o Isaiah seems to refer to this period, and to have had the same personal assurance, when he says of the wicked, They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise:" and then of the just, "Thy ' dead men shall live—together with MY dead body shall they arise: Awake and sing ye that dwell in the dust; for thy dew is as the ' dew of herbs and the earth shall 'cast out the dead." p For we have seen that the wicked are to rise and live again: when Isaiah therefore says they shall not, it must be understood as signifying not at the morning of that great and glorious day, which is with the Lord as a thousand years; but at the end of it but at the end of it: even as David says in the xlixth Psalm ;—“ Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them, and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morn'ing; and their beauty shall con
sume in the grave from their dwelling. But God will redeem 'my soul from the power of the "grave;" &c. q
n v. 13. o Ezek. xxxvii, 12-14.
It will be perceived, that I have not in this essay made use of a great testimony to the doctrine in question in Revelations xx, 4-6. My reason for omitting it is, that the opponents of the views which I advocate often press this text forward, as if the whole of the controversy hinged upon this passage; whereas I am persuaded, that the doctrine of the first resurrection may be decidedly proved, were this text entirely taken from us. I am fully sensible, that the Scriptures which I have urged derive increased light from this passage in the Revelation; as also that it derives a light from them; for it is the nature of the Oracles of God mutually to reflect on each other: but much undue advantage has nevertheless been yielded to the assailants of this truth, from the circumstance of millennarians themselves resorting to it, as if it were their principal strong hold.
I hope, if spared, to enter at some future opportunity into a full discussion of the whole twentieth chapter of Revelation, with a particular reference to this passage: at present therefore I will only touch upon one single point relating to it, which is important, as connected with the general structure of the Apocalypse; and which has not received that attention from the generality of expositors which it deserves. "And 'I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit, and a great chain in
his hand. And he laid hold on
that he must be loosed a little
which are the seven Spirits of God.” v, 8. See Zechariah iii, 9 ; & iv, 16. Golden vials full of odors, which
Now it is much disputed, whether this description is to be understood figuratively or literally. This however is not the proper question; and I lament, that some advocates of millennarian doctrine, by thus taking up the subject, have given their opponents another advantage. I am convinced in my own mind, that it is a passage which is both figurative and symbolical, and that it cannot be successfully defended on the ground of a literal interpretation. But admitting it to be figurative, the question which then presents itself for discussion is,-What is intended to be signified by this figure? To which I answer, that the thing signified is, in the plainest and most literal sense, THE FIRST RESURRECTION. That the words, "This is the first Resurrec'tion" are expository, and intended to be literally understood, may, I think, be clearly demonstrated.
In order to prove this I observe, that the Apocalypse is figurative throughout; with the exception, that there are incidental passages of a literal character, such as are neces
sarily interwoven with all prophe-
a Lamb, as it had been slain, hav
the two olive trees and the two candlesticks, standing before the God of the earth." xi, 3, 4. See Zechariah iv, 2, 3 ; & 11—14.
"The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches.” i, 20.
There were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God." iv, 5. In the midst of the elders stood
"Their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt," &c. xi, 8.
I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the dragon,
beast, and false prophet."
they are the spirits of devils, work-
The ten horns-are ten kings." xvii, 12.
The waters which thou sawest,
ples, multitudes, and nations, and
The veneration in which Mr. Scott's opinions and character are justly held creates a difficulty in many minds as to adopting, from Rev. xx, 4, the notion of a literal resurrection of the saints. One of the strongest, or at least the most plausible, objections raised in his commentary to that doctrine is expressed in these words. It is unaccountable that the SOULS of the persons raised should be exclusively mentioned, if the literal resurrection of their bodies was meant," &c. In one of his latest letters, addressed to Mr. Mayor, and published in his life, he repeats the same argument, observing, that he is “ decidedly of opinion, that the resurrection of 'souls does not mean the resurrection of bodies."
ON THE FIRST RESURRECTION.
REVELATION XX, 4.
Your English Readers will perhaps be surprised to learn, that the Greek word psyche (4vxn) which is used in Rev. xx, 4, and translated by the English word "soul" is, in numerous places, of the Septuagint
mer: and the expository clauses must necessarily have a reference to something plain and obvious to all, or to subjects which were, or ought to have been, familiar to believers; or they would not serve the purpose of explanatory marks. I conclude therefore by asking, what could the index This is the first Resurrection' point to? What notion could they have had upon the subject, with which they could have been tolerably acquainted, but those very texts of Scripture to which I have appealed in defence of the doctrine of THE FIRST RESURRECTION?
or Greek version of the Old Testament employed where DEAD BODIES must of necessity be understood. I will refer them to the following passages; in which I have put the words represented in the Greek by vxn in italics.
Lev. xvi, 11.
Neither shall he go in to any dead body, nor defile himself, &c.
Lev. xxii, 4. And whosoever toucheth any thing that is unclean by the dead, &c.
Numbers v, 2. And whosoever is defiled by the dead.
Numbers vi, 6. All the day, that he separateth himself unto the Lord he shall come at no dead body.
Numbers xix, 11 & 13. He that toucheth the dead body of any man shall be unclean seven days.
Whosoever toucheth the dead body of any man that is dead.
Haggai ii, 13. Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, &c.