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prove all that we inquire after at present. This resurrection, you see, is called the first resurrection, by way of distinction from the second and general resurrection, which is to be placed a thousand years after the first. And both this
rst resurrection and the reign of Christ seem to be appropriated to the martyrs in this place; for the prophet says, The souls of those that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, &c. They lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years, From which words, if you please, we will raise this doctrine: that those that have suffered for the sake of Christ, and a good conscience, shall be raised from the dead a thousand years before the general resurrection, and reign with Christ in a happy state. This proposition seems to be plainly included in the words of St. John, and to be the intended sense of this vision; but you must have patience a little as to your inquiry into particulars, till, in the progress of our discourse, we have brought all the parts of this conclusion into a fuller light.
“In the mean time there is but one way, that I know of, to evade the force of these words, and of the conclusion drawn from them; and that is, by supposing that the first resurrection, here mentioned, is not to be understood in a literal sense, but is allegorical and mystical, signifying only a resurrection from sin to a spiritual life: as we are said to be dead in sin, and to be risen with Christ, by faith and regeneration. This is a manner of speech which St. Paul does sometimes use; as Eph. ii. 6, and v. 14, and Col. iji. 1. But how can this be applied to the present case ? Were the martyrs dead in sin? 'Tis they that
are here raised from the dead. Or, after they were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, naturally dead and laid in their graves, were they then regenerate by faith? There is no congruity in allegories so applied. Besides, why should they be said to be regenerate, or to reign with Christ, after this spiritual resurrection, a thousand years? Why not to eternity ? For, in this allegorical sense of rising and reigning, they will reign .with him for everlasting. Then, after a thousand years, must all the wicked be regenerate and rise into a spiritual life? 'Tis said here, the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished, ver. 5. That implies that at the end of these thousand years the rest of the dead did live again; which, according to the allegory, must be, that, after a thousand years, all the wicked will be regenerate and raised into a spiritual life. These absurdities arise upon an allegorical exposition of this resurrection, if applied to single persons.
“But Dr. Hammond, a learned and worthy divine, (but one that loves to contract and cramp the sense of prophecies,) making this first resurrection allegorical, applies it not to single persons, but to the state of the church in general: the Christian church, he says, shall have a resurrection for a thousand years; that is, shall rise out of persecution, be in a prosperous condi'tion, and an undisturbed profession of the true religion, for so long a time. But this agrees with the prophecy as little as the former.” Dr. Burnet's objections to an allegorical sense of the first resurrection, as applied to the church, are too lengthy to quote; one or two, however, we
will mention, and proceed. “ If it be a state of the church in general, and of the church then in being, why is this resurrection applied to the martyrs? Why are they said to rise, seeing the state they lived in was a troublesome state of the church, and it would be no happiness to have that revived again?” “ Besides, who are the rest of the dead, (ver. 5,) that lived after the expiration of those thousand years ?” The rest, surely, are those who were not of the church, who had not suffered for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God; but who had worshipped the beast or his image, or had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands: must these, with all the wicked and unbelievers of every description, after the thousand years are finished—“must all these, I say, be raised up to a happy condition ?” Ought we not "to be tender of interpreting the first resurrection in an allegorical sense, lest we expose the second resurrection to be made an allegory also ?”
And why is it said, ver. 6, that on such as have part in the first resurrection the second death hath no power ? Why is this applied to the millennial saints as their peculiar privilege ? For, according to these allegorical expositions of the first resurrection, they having not arrived to immortality and glory, it may be said of all true believers now, that on them the second death hath no power, in the same sense that it may
be said of the saints in the millennium. And in the same verse it is said, they shall be priests of God, and of Christ, and shall reign with him : but, if the millennial kingdom be not the kingdom of glory, as, according to these figurative intepreta
tions, it is not, how can such promises as these be there fulfilled ? To be freed from the power of the second death, and to be made priests of God, and of Christ, and to reign with him, are promises of immortality and glory—the peculiar crowning rewards of the faithful and overcomers: see Rev. ii. 11, and v. 10. And these promises being fulfilled to the saints in the millennium, they must then be in possession of immortality and glory. To be made superior to the power of the second death, and to be priests of God, and of Christ, and to reign with him, are some of the most remarkable and sublime ideas of immortality and glory contained in the Scriptures. But if these promises mean no more than what, according to the modern plan, will be enjoyed in the millennium, what foundation have we for a hope of immortality and glory? For a stronger foundation of such a hope than what is contained in these promises, we cannot find in the Bible.
With many such objections against a figurative interpretation of the first resurrection as the foregoing, Dr. Burnet mentioned, as what with him was not the least, the difficulty of fairly adjusting it to the limits of times and the connection of events in prophecy; which difficulty, consistently with our present limits, we cannot bring into view.*
* The expositions of the first resurrection as given above, in our view, do not materially differ from those now commonly given, viz. : “A resurrection of the souls of men, by the renovation of the Holy Ghost.” “A resurrection of the truths and cause of Christ, which had been in a great degree dead and lost." The souls of the
Since Dr. Hammond, many able divines have labored to establish a figurative sense of the first resurrection : and we are often told there is a necessity for our departing from the literal sense, and of our understanding it allegorical; because a literal first resurrection is incredible. But why should a literal first resurrection seem incredible than a literal second resurrection? To many, the doctrine of any literal resurrection seems 'incredible: but, Is anything too hard for the Lord? I presume, had we just conceptions of the future kingdom of Christ, such as are warranted by holy writ, we should easily admit the literal sense of this passage; which, according to the received rule of interpreters, is never to be quitted or forsaken without necessity.
If we make the first resurrection allegorical, and the resurrection of the rest of the dead literal, we may make of the Scriptures just what we please ; for it has never yet been shown from anything in the text, why we may not make the second resurrection allegorical as well as the first: yea, the connection of this passage is such, that if we make the first rising and living of the dead allegorical, we are obliged to make the rising and living of the rest of the dead allegorical also; and then we have made the doctrine of the resurrection a fable.
At least, will it not argue against the faith of the resurrection, if, in that book written expressly
beheaded, &c., "'shall live again in their successors, who shall arise and stand up with the same spirit, and in the same cause, in which they lived and died.” And the same objections lie with equal weight against them all.