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SECT. 4. But, when I saw so many well-minded Christians, by'a The History of credalous trust of some modern authority strongly car- the Ancient ried back into the opinion of the ancient Chiliasts, Chiliasts which was so many
ported. the Christian Church; and so passionately affected therewith, as that they run themselves into wild consequents, both of paradoxes in opinion, and resolutions in practice : I might not but break silence; and, if no more, yet charitably to advise them to a safe suspension of judgment; in a matter so abstruse and altogether indeterminable.
It is true, that it is not a matter of faith; neither imports salvation, either way: so as here can be no warrant for the violation of cha. rity, in over bitter censures, of either the defenders or oppugners of it: yet, withal, it must be granted to be such as, in that form wherein it is maintained by some abettors, may draw in some dangerous consectaries, both of act and opinion.
It would be bootless for me to look back at the ancient heresy of the Milliaries, as Austin calls them; to shew how that gross error, which was first broached by the Epicurean, and, as Lindanus justly calls him, Judaizing Cerinthus, was, in a more tolerable sense, taken up, not long after, by Papias
Bishop of Hierapolis, reported by Irenæus to be an auditor of St. John and companion of Polycarpus, a well-meaning man, but opuíneo Tò võ." of a mean judgment,” as he is styled; mente non acri, as Nicephorus: which yet relished so ill with the Christians of those times, as that this very passage of the Revelation was deemed by them a probable ground to call the divine authority of this whole book into question, as savouring too much of Cerinthus; but the majesty, which shined in that holy prophecy, soon dispelled that cloud, and induced the Church to find a better sense of so obscure a clause than the merely literal.
Wherein, yet, some eminent authors thought fit still to rest; as Irenæus, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Lactantius : yea, we are told by that worthy and orthodox Dionysius Alexandrinus, that Nepos, an Egyptian Bishop, wrote a book in those early times * to this pure pose, which he called Elenchum Allegistorum t; wherein he too grossly maintained that Thousand Years' Reign, in all earthly pleasure and delicacy : seconded also by one Coracion, the then famous ringleader of that sect : against whom that reverend and holy Dionysius bent his style, in two Books of the Promises of God-f: confuting that Judaical and literal construction of the large predica tions of the outward happiness of the Church, now by some revived: who, not without a preface of the high respects which he gives to the author for his excellent parts and merits, effectually oppugns his mis-raised opinion; and spends three days' conference with Coracion, to so good a purpose, as that he brought him, by strength of argumentation, to cast away and recant his former error: all which is fully laid forth by Eusebius *.
* About the year of Christ 270. - Περί επαγγελίας,
+ Ελεγχος Αλληγοριών.
Yet, after this, about the year 370, Apollinaris, that exploded heretic, revives this sect; and adds this error to the company of many, much worse, defended by him: which, say Baronius and Binius, was so condemned in him by a Council held at Rome about the year 373, ut posthac omnino conticuerit; “ that it never so much as whispered since:" but, as it is better observed by Aretius, it held out to the times of Jerome and Augustin; who, upon all occasions, refel it, and cry it down for a Jewish fable.
Ever since which time, till now of late, there hath been no noise at all of it in the world : so as it hath lain dead for this twelve hundred and forty years; and now is raised up out of the grave of oblivion, by some, that think themselves wiser than their predecessors.
The Summary · But, forasmuch as it doth not so greatly concern us Relation of to know, what in this case hath been held by former
of the late Mil- opinionists, as what is now insisted upon for the pre. lenarians.
sent, let us both carefully ENQUIRE INTO THE SUBSTANCE
of this uncouth doctrine lately taken up by some of our brethren, and unpartially EXAMINE THE GROUNDS whereupon it is maintained.
And, for that I find none hath laid forth this opinion so fully and confidently, as a late London Divine, Mr. John Archer t; one esteemed of so great sanctity and worth, as that no mean person doubted not to file him amongst men as precious as any the earth bore in his time; I shall fearlessly take his word for the point in hand: and shall, first, SUM UP HIS DOCTRINE concerning this subject; and, then, shew the improbabilities and incongruities of it: the rather, for that I perceive his conceptions pass generally for the current tenet of the fautors of this plausible opinion.
First, then, he lays for his foundation, that there is a threefold kingdom of Christ: one, Providential; which is that universal sovereignty, by which Jesus Christ manageth the affairs of all the world, both in heaven and earth : another, Spiritual; which is that sovereignty, which he exercises over the consciences of some people, and in special the elect; subduing them, by his Word and Spirit, to an universal obedience of him: a third, Monarchical; wherein Christ, when he enters upon it, will govern as earthly monarchs do; that is, universally over the world, and in a worldly,
Eccles, Histor. I. vii. c. 22, 23. + In his Book of “The Personal Reign of Christ on Earth; laying forth ara proving, that Jesus Christ, together with the Saints, shall visibly possess a Monarchical State and Kingdom in this World." Printed and sold by B. Allen, Aurid 1643. Mr. Archer abridged, concerning Christ's Kingdom and Coming.
visible, and earthly glory; not by tyranny and oppression, and sensually, but with honour, peace, riches, and whatsoever in and of the world is not sinful: so as Christ shall administer this sovereignty over all the earth, in a visible and worldly manner, for splendor, riches, peace, &c. though not in a fleshly or sinful manner.
He thence descends to the consideration of the manner of this tingdom of Christ, both in the extent and qualities of it.
The Extent of it he makes to be unto all reasonable creatures ; angels, devils, and men: shewing that the high ones of the earth, kings and their monarchies, shall fall before the Lord. Both sun and moon, i. e. majesty of a higher and lower rank, shall vanish before him. He shall change all worldly custom; and so all kingly glory; and set up a new, even his own glory.
Secondly, for the opening of the Quality of it, he makes a double day of judgment: one, strictly taken, for a partial judgment of some, not all; wherein many, both saints and sinners, shall be judged, and that with great terror and solemnity: the other, general; wherein all men and devils shall be judged; bringing a world of saints and sinners first to the bar of that more partial and strictly-taken judyment, long before the last and general day. But even that former shall be, he saith, a general judging (though not to the second death) of all the ungodly in the world, at least of all that will not stoop to Christ's sceptre : and, secondly, a judging to the saints alive, who shall be blamed for their former failings.
Now these two times and degress of judgment begin and end Christ's kingdom or monarchies : so as all the time of his reign may fitly be called a Day of Judgment; wherein there is an evening and morning, answerable to the natural day.
In the Evening, or first part of Christ's kingdom, there is first an end, or withdrawing and ceasing of the light and glory of the foregoing day : so Christ's kingdom shall begin with the withdrawing of peace and comfort, and in following darkness; in that great trouble shall begin to arise upon those, who shall be the subjects of Christ's monarchy, both believing Gentiles and Jews, with Israelites or the Ten 'Tribes, who shall be all converted, and greatly troubled. But, when that trouble is at the height, then comes the beginning of Christ's kingdom.
At the first setting up then of this kingdom, Christ shall come from heaven visibly, even as he went thither : which yet is not his last coming to the Last Judgment, but a middle coining betwixt the two other.
For Christ, he saith, hath three comings :. the first, when he came to take our nature; the second, when he comes to receive bis kingdom, for the receiving of which he went to heaven; the third, when he comes to judge all and end the world.
This second coming of Christ shall be long before his coming to the Last Judgment.
In which second coming, Christ will do these three things :
First, he will raise up the Saints, which are dead before this his coming: not only such as have been martyred, as some think; but all saints, who have died in the faith: for which cause he is said to come with all his Saints; Zech. xiv. 5. But all the deadt, which are not Saints, shall lie still in the dust, till the Last and General Judgment, for the Second Death. The Saints, which thus are raised in the First Resurrection, shall not return to a mortal state of body again, nor yet be so perfectly glorified as they shall be afterwards”; for then the people on earth could not bear their presence, for they shall shine as the sun : but they shall be in a middle state, betwixt glory and mortality; as Christ was after his Resurrection, before his Ascension.
Secondly, he will destroy the wicked people on earth : for they, about the time of his coming, shall combine against the Saints; and then will Christ suddenly surprise them to their ruin. Now this ruin of the wicked shall not be as yet universal to every one ; only now he will ruin the armies of them : and so he will break the 1 head and the arm of them, as it was with the Egyptians at the Red Sea; and the rest he will make slaves to the Churches. And, it seems that some wicked shall be left for a seed to these nations ; because, by the end of Christ's kingdom, Gog and Magog shali rise against the Saints : which cannot arise out of such as prove hypocrites or excommunicated; for there shall be none such there: but these wicked ones left, shall be the nations ruled with iron; Rev. ji. 26, 27.
Thirdly, he shall examine, blame, and shame the Saints, who are alive at his coming, if they be found to have walked loosely. He will not kill them, nor change them in a moment; but shame them: therefore, Peter exhorts to be holy, that we be not blamed at his coning; 2 Pet. ii. 11–14.
Now when Christ hath thus done, and put his kingdom into form, he will withdraw to heaven again, and leave the government to the dead Saints raised up; among whom, the Apostles shall be chief: and they shall have the govermment of those Saints, which are found alive: that is, they and all believers shall rule the world, in which the Twelve Tribes shall be chief: and they shall not only rule as kings, but as priests ; that is, discipline their souls, as well as their bodies.
Now, for that it might seem to be no small damage for the souls of Saints dead to be fetched from heaven to live again upon earth, with men, in their bodies; he tells us, that it is likely the souls of the departed Saints are not in the highest heaven, but in a middle place better than this world, but inferior to the highest heaven ; which place is meant by Paradise in the New Testament: which Paradise, he conceives, to be below the third heaven; and therefore, surely, to be in the region or element of fire, where the sun and stars are; or in the highest region of air, which is called hearen in Scripture.
These Saints' souls, fetched from this paradise, and joined with their bodies raised from the dead (which is the First Resurrection) they rule Christ's kingdom, even all of them; though some of them in more eminent place than others.
The Persons that shall be governed, or the Subjects of this kingdoin, shall be all that live upon earth; and the place they shall govern shall be the whole world. The Saints shall be ruled like the Israelites under Solomon; the wicked, as slaves. Those Ten of the Twelve Tribes, that are lost, shall be found out and made subjects of this kingdom. The cities of the Tribes shall be built again, especially Jerusalem ; which shall be the most eminent city then in the world. The Israelites shall be first raised to this glory; and, at Jerusalem, will Christ begin to shew himself: and, from the Israelites, shall glory descend to the Gentiles.
The Privileges of this kingdom shall be wonderful. First, all the subjects of it, that are freemen, shall be holy; and not seemingly Saints, but true Saints: not any sinners. Nothing, that defileth, shall be there; no hypocrite; no person excommunicated, as proving bad; nor any of the children of these Saints shall prove naught, but all shall be elect, and prove Saints, and the seed of the blessed: for if any of their issue should prove hypocrites or wicked persons, it would so affect them, that they should not have everlasting joy ; neither could sorrow nor sighing fly away. Now, in these times, there shall be no sorrow nor weeping. They shall be edi.. fied immediately from God in Christ. The Sacrament is but to last till the next coming of Christ, to set up his kingdom. Christ will hold them up in fullness of grace; though not in full perfection of grace, till the last General Judgment, or their translation to heaven. There shall be a full and present answer to all their prayers; there being no sin, to keep good things from them. There shall be a fulness of all temporal blessings; as peace, safety, riches, health, long life, or whatsoever can be had in this world. They shall have exemption from all bodily troubles. Every one shall live a hundred years: no infant, nor any other shall die sooner. There shall be no sickness or grief, to consume the strength. Although a natural death shall be, yet there shall be no violent or untimely death, by any grief, sickness, or trouble. Satan shall be wholly restrained from tempting them to sin, or others to trouble them. Original corruption shall be kept in, not to break forth into any gross way. To which he adds, they shall not be infected with Popery.
This for the Evening or first part of Christ's kingdom.
Now when this kingdom of Christ hath lasted to many generations, the slaves and tributaries will be grown to multitudes. These, under the name of Gog and Magog, upon whom the Devil shall be let loose, shall be drawn by Satan to assault the Saints: which trouble shall not be long : it shall be sudden and violent, but short. For Christ shall suddenly come from heaven; and, with fire, kill all the wicked ones, not leaving one of them alive upon earth.
This assault of the wicked will Christ take for the occasion of his coming to the Last and General Judgment: before which he shall, in a moment, change the bodies of all his Saints that are not dead, but alive at his coming; and raise up the dead bodies of the Saints, who lived and died during this kingdom of Christ; and they,