Page images

sand years, in that universal appearance before God at that great day *; is an assertion as bold as groundless.

We have heard of a particular doom passing upon every soul, immediately upon the parting from this house of clay; and of a general judicature, in those Common Assizes of the World: but, of a middle sessions, betwixt both these, in which all the ungodly shall be arraigned, and sentenced to a temporal death or perpetual vassalage; was never either spoken of by God, or heard of by men.

That there is a threefold coming of Christ: the first, Fourth Parawhen he came to take our nature; the second, when

re the second when dox. A Three

fold Coming of he comes to receive his kingdom; the third, when he comes to judge all and end the world; may well pass for a paradox, not inferior to the rest.

Besides the metaphorical comings of Christ to any soul or nation, whether in mercy or judgment, we have ever heard of one coming of our Saviour, past, in human weakuess; another, to come, in divine power and glory: but, that there should be a third coming down from heaven to earth, betwixt these, is strange news to Christian ears: which were heretofore wont to be inured to our old Apostolic, Athanasian, and Nicene Creeds; and to hear, “ From thence shall he come to judge the quick and the dead.” No coming, therefore, till he come to Judgment: and, that there may be no thought of an intermediate and partial judgment in the beginning of that thousand years, the Creed, which we were wont to profess in our Baptism, ran thus, “ We believe, that, in the end of the world, he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:” lo, in the end of the world, not a thousand years before it. Let all good Christians stick close to their old Creeds; The Faith, which was once delivered to the Saints; Jude 2: and not suffer themselves to be carried away with every gale of new doctrine. That of Tertullian is a sure rule, Primum verum : “ The first is true.”

Necessarily depending upon this, is that other gross Fifth Paradox. conceit of a double general resurrection: the one, of A Double Re. those Saints, which were dead before this coming of surrection. Christ, which shall be raised up a thousand years before the rest, at his next coming; the other, of all flesh at the end of the world, and the final coming and judgment.

But whether that first resurrection shall be only proper and peculiar to Martyrs that have died for the name of Christ, or common to all the Saints, let our Chiliasts argue amongst themselves. Their opinions do no less disagree from each other, than they all from the truth. Alas, good Martha, thou wert much deceived, when thou saidst concerning thy brother Lazarus, I know he shall rise again in the Resurrection, at the last day; John xi. 24: why, woman, the resurrection of that Saint, thy brother, shall be a thousand years sooner than thou thoughtest of. Neither did St. Paul ever take nos rice of this first resurrection of the Saints, while he adjures his Timotly, before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick

* Pp. 12, 13, 14.

and the dead at his appearing ; 2 Tim. iv. 1: for, surely, the Lord Jesus's judging of the quick and dead, indefinitely spoken, must soppose a resurrection of all the dead whom he judgeth: but here, saith the Chiliast, is only in Christ's next appearing, a resurrection of the dead Saints, and a judging of none but the wicked which are found alive; for their raising out of their graves is reserved for the fast and universal judgment; so as, by that rule, Christ should not at his appearing judge both the quick and the dead. Sixth Paradox. Answerable to this double resurrection is the paraA Threefold dox of Christ's threefold ascension into heaven: for, Ascension of saith the author, when Christ hath thus put his kingChrist inlo Несеп.

dom into form, he will withdraw from earth to heaven

again, and leave the government to the dead Saints raised up: they and all believers shall rule the world.

And if these all shall govern, who are those that shall be governed? There are none left upon earth, but Saints raised to immortaJity; and Saints found alive, who are perfect believers; and some few slaves, spared from death for servitude. See now what an ho. nourable employment, and singular privilege and honour here is, for Saints immortalized, and translated from death to life, to be the governors of some sturdy and rebellious vassals! In the mean time, Christ, the glorious King of his Church, is returned back into heaven, and will govern the earth by his deputies. What a mean con. ceit is this, which these men profess to have of the King of Eternal Glory! That he, who hath said, Behold, I am with you always even until the end of the world, whose majesty fills heaven and earth, should come down to put on his kingdom here below, to be governed by certain delegates, and then withdraw to his heaven; what is this, but poorly to circumscribe the Infinite Majesty of Heaven within the terms of a finite administration? And now, in this second ascension, we hear no news of the attendance of his retinue: he, that brought down the souls of his Saints, to wait upon him in this descent, for the receiving of this inferior kingdom, shall leave them behind him with their old (but new raised) pariners, to spend a thousand years upon earth; at the end whereof, he shall come down again, and fetch them up with him, in his third ascension, to the highest heaven. What a high presumption is this in flesh and blood, to send the Son of God, the Lord Jesus, from heaven to earth, and from earth to heaven, upon an errand of their own make ing! when himself, in his Holy Scriptures, never speaks but of a double ascent of Christ : the one, which is past, from Mount Olivet, where the impressions of his sacred feet are still said to be, forty days after his Resurrection: the other, future, when, after the General Judgment of the World, he shall carry up all the elect with him to his heavenly glory. Seventh Para- A literal interpreter is no other than a slave to his

The to- syllables; binding himself up to a mere sound of tal reduction of the Ten lost words, with neglect of the true sense intended : which Tribes of is is too well seen in this present subject. The Subjects rael.

of this kingdom, if any may be such where all are ei. ther princes or slaves, are to be the Twelve Tribes of the Jews, and the Nations of the Gentiles. What if Ten of those Twelve Tribes be lost ? they shall be found again; and be made Saints, that they may become Subjects : for, else, they should but be found out for a worse confusion. So, then, the cities of the Tribes shall be built again, and inhabited by natural Israelites *; especially Jerusalem, which shall be the most eminent city in the world, or that ever was in the world; and, at Jerusalem, will Christ begin to shew himself: and, then, by and froin the Israelites, shall glory descend to the Gentiles. Thus runs the letter.

But, the best interpreter, St. Paul, tells us of a Jew outwardly, and a Jew within ; of circumcision in the flesh, and circumcision of the heart; of circumcision in the spirit, and in the letter t; of children of the flesh, and children of the promise I. Which distinction whosoever shall have duly digested, will easily find how wild a parados it is, to tie those frequent and large promises of the Prophets made to Judah and Israel, Zion and Jerusalem, to a carnal literality of sense; and to make account of their accomplishment accord. ingly, which were never otherwise than spiritually meant: and, thereupon, to affirm, as this author doth, that even those Ten Tribes of Israel, which were, two thousand three hundred and forty years ago, so dispersed, as the dust with the wind, that no man could since their dissipation say of any one of them, “This was an Israelite," neither have they now any kpown being in the world ; that they should be suddenly fetched up again, out of the forlorn rubbish of Paganisin and Mahometism, wherein they are in many hundred generations irrecoverably long since lost, and made the founders and citizens of a new and more glorious Jerusalem, credat Judeus Apelła. It is true, that nothing is impossible to an omnipotent power: had the Almighty said the words to their sense, no difficulty could hinder our assent: he can as easily raise Israelites out of Turks, Tartars, Indians, as out of their graves : but we know the sense of these prophetical promises and predictions, to be, as that Father said, in medullá not in superficie. In this just construction, there is no Jew but a Christian; and Jerusalem is built up, not in the soil of old Jebus, but in the hearts of believers. Shortly, that we may clearly evince the moral impossibility at least of this mis-conceit of the reduction and flourishing estate of all the Twelve Tribes wholly converted to Christ their King, and the magnificent re-edifying of Jerusalem, the event is instead of a thousand arguments. It is but the next year, one thousand six hundred and fifty, or at furthest fifty-six, which this author, comparing Daniel with John according to his own calculation, hath pitched for the performance of these great matters concerning the Jewish people: In which, saith he, the Israelites are to be delivered, by being called to Christianity: both the Jews which are Two Tribes, and the Israelites which are Ten Tribes, &c. And pow, where is the man, that can tell us tidings but of a thrave of Jews newly converted, or of one stone laid in the new foundation of the New Jerusalem ? so as the issue plainly tells our

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

immortal con

Millenarian Brethren they have mistaken their aim, and sends theni to seek for a truer and more verifiable sense. Eighth Para Well may it pass for a further paradox, that the dox. The dead Saints now raised to an immortal life, shall, in Saints, in their those their spiritual bodies, so the Apostle calls glorious and them, meddle with the outward administration of the

. affairs of the Church, and have continual conversa. dition, med dling with tion with mortal men; controlling their actions, their earthly and ordering their processes according to their secular affairs. occasions.

We find, that, in the attendance of Christ's Resurrection, many of the dead Saints rose out of their graves, and went into the Holy City, and appeared to many *: but, that they ever offered to touch with any either secular or sacred business, we never find. These Ecclesiastical Services, how holy soever, are too mean for so glorious agents. And, if they shall manage them, how and in what fashion shall they govern shall they abate any thing of the privileges of their glory and immortality ? shall they be always visible ? shall they be clothed, or naked ? since clothes are only to hide shame, and to defend from the injuries of the air; and there can be no place for shame in an immortalized body, and amongst Saints, where there shall be no sin ; and since their raised bodies are now impassible, and apt to the quick motions of spiritual substance, shall they confine themselves to these low places upon earth, and not. lodge when they please in their former paradise ? Ninth Para. As for those living Saints, who, if any at all, must dox. The Liv- be their subjects, in what an impossible condition doth ing Saints, he make them! They must be mortal, and yet sinless. mortal, and What man or angel can reconcile these two? They

mess. must still have original corruption in them; that can. not be denięd: but it shall be so yoked and restrained, that it shall get little or no ground of them.

What a paradox is this! If little, if any at all, surely they are sin. ners: and sin, wherever, whatever it be, defileth! now nothing that defileth, or worketh abomination shall be there; Rev. xxi. 27. None shall be in this kingdom, but such as shall be saved, such as are elected: but is it the privilege of election, to exempt from sin? I had thought the fruit of God's gracious election had been the remission, not the freedom from the commission of sin. All here shall be Saints: no one, he saith, shall be a hypocrite +: O happy kingdom, where there is no taint of hypocrisy! But shall men have hearts then ? and are not the hearts of men deceitful above all things ? Though Satan be never so close chained up, yet the innate corruption of that deceitful heart, is able enough to breed store of hypocrisy. But what news is it, that no person excommunicate shall be there? what place can there be possibly imagined for an excom. munication in a kingdom, after a sort heavenly, wherein there shall be no use of Sacraments? no use of any other ordinances? wherein

* Matt. xxvii. 52, 53. f Page 27.


all shall immediately feed from God in Christ? wherein Christ will hold them all up in fulness of grace *? Yea, when there shall therefore be no use of pastors, doctors, elders, deacons, preaching, censures in this holy and glorious estate, what spiritual government is that, which the raised Saints shall exercise in the New Jerusalem ? Neither shall the persons only of the then-living Saints be freed from depravation by sin, but all their children, in all the succeeding generations : none of them shall prove bad; none reprobate: all shall be called the seed of the blessed. What! though they be begotten and conceived in sin? what! though they propagate sin to the fruit of their loins ? yet their issue shall not prove sinners. As much as to say, there shall be fire, but neither heat nor „moke :' there shall be a poisonous fountain, but it shall yield no unwholesome water. Neither can there be any danger of their languishing in grace, though they have neither Word nor Sacraments. Neither shall they have use of any improvement by the heavenly counsel or examples of those glorious and immortal Saints which they shall converse with, which one would think should avail much to the continuation and increase of their holiness; but they shall have an immediate fellowship witb God, and shall be edified immediately from God in Christ t. But what! shall there be any use of their prayers are not those a part of God's Ordinances ? and the fellowship, he saith I, which they shall have with God is not by Ordinances, but by God and the Lamb: and what need they pray for that, which they do indefeasibly enjoy? However, let it be scored up for none of the least paradoxes, that God's Ordinances should be useless unto God's people any where out of heaven.

That, under this monarchy of Christ, there shall be Tenth Parato the Saints for a thousand years all fulness of all tem- dox. The Ful.. poral blessings; as peace, safety, riches, health, long ness of all life, and whatsoever else was enjoyed under any mo- Temporal

Blessings of narchy, or can be had in the world, or may make their ,

their riches, honour, lives comfortable, savoureth too strong of a Jewish or long life, une Mahometan Paradise; as being extended, in a fairer der this Mo. and more modest expression, to those carnal pleasures, narchy of both of the bed and the board, which have been dream- Christ. ed of by those sensual Turks and Talmudiges.

It is true, that God hath been as exceeding rich in mercies, as no less large in promises, of all blessings to the children of the king. dom : but those riches and delights are of another nature; purely spiritual; such as may be proper for the fruition of Saints. As for those outward favours, they are such, as the worst may have, and the best may want : such, as that a man may be happy without them; and he, that enjoys them, most miserable: such, as wise So. lomon tells us, bewray neither the love nor hatred of the Almighty $. And, surely, if Gog and Magog did not find themselves enabled with strength and health of body, with vigour of spirits, with outward wealth and power, they would never offer, during the time of

* Pp. 17, 29. + Pp. 28, 29. Page 29. Eccl. ix. 1.

« PreviousContinue »