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ultimate disclosures of his will. It ought never to be forgotten that nearly four thousand years elapsed from the first announcement of a Messiah till the auspicious period arrived when “ the Word was made flesh.”
It should be borne in mind also, that in a single age, often, the Most High accumulates agencies by which the mightiest and most unexpected impulse is given to the cause of truth. In the history both of the Ancient and Christian Church, such agencies have, at different times, been accumulated. I might instance the single fact of the Reformation, by which the slumbering energies of the civilized world were aroused, as by the crash of thunder, and by which a train was laid which, sooner or later, will explode the entire system of papal idolatry, both in Catholic and Protestant states. Nor can any one contemplate the direct and collateral bearings of that stupendous event without venturing to anticipate revolutions in the moral state of society, compared with which the Reformation from Popery itself will dwindle into insignificance, and be regarded only as the forerunner of a series of transformations which shall usher in the jubilee of the earth. Heartene uily augmented ? By what species of cildlicuie shall any man attempt to calculate the 'Nilers, or to determine the force of that mighty wilgine which is now bearing on the kingdom of Kai kuess? Where is the mind of sufficient vigour ublic comprehension to determine the results of Chat problem which, in the face of Europe and the world, is now in a process of solution? Can any reflective or intelligent Christian contemplate the existing resources of the visible Church without connecting them with some transcendent reservation of mercy to the human family? Was there ever a period in the history of our world in which so many vistas of glorious hope opened to mankind as at the present moment? Let the siege that has been so auspiciously commenced upon the forces of the enemy be kept up with ever-growing skill and determination; let existing advantages be seized upon with a resolution worthy of the cause ; let the petty contentions of those who fight under Christ's banner be for ever abandoned; let “ the armies of the living God” muster their whole strength, and go “ forth to the help of the Lord,—to the help of the Lord against the mighty," and ere long the camp of the enemy shall be seized with sudden-overwhelming dread, the legions of darkness shall flee apace, and the conquest of a world shall be given to “ the saints of the Most High."
In modern times, extraordinary and rapid strides have been made in almost every branch of secular knowledge; some of the arts and sciences have been cultivated to an extent hitherto unknown; a mighty movement of mind has taken place which defies the competition of any former age. But is this all, my brethren ? Have not the moral energies of the present generation been
The difficulties involved in this great struggle are provided against in the very rudimental principles of the Christian faith. Without a distinct and heartfelt recognition of the accompanying
energy of Omnipotence it is as vain to talk of the conversion of an individual as of a world; but when once it is cordially admitted that the Lord is on our side; that his grace and faithfulness are alike pledged for our triumph; that nothing is too hard for the Almighty; that he can multiply indefinitely the instruments of success; that heaven, earth, and hell are under his control, when once we can bring ourselves thus far, we may then dilate our minds to the glorious conception of a world shining forth in the beauty of holiness, and may say to all the mountains of difficulty, “ be ye removed, and be ye cast into the midst of the sea.”
I must confess, my brethren, that whether I contemplate the character of God, or reflect on the condition of man, or survey the spirit, history, and matchless resources of the Christian faith, I feel myself compelled to entertain the expectation of an era when the reign of iniquity shall be subverted; when “ the people shall be all righteous ; when the Spirit of darkness shall be confined to his wretched abode; and when heaven and earth shall unite in the victorious anthem, • Hallelujah! hallelujah! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth !!”
Let me now proceed, II. To examine the principal theories which have been entertained on the subject of a Millennium.
When we reflect on the hypothetical probabilities of an approaching Millennium, and connect
with these the express intiinations of revealed truth, we cannot feel surprised that the expectation of a happier age should have become the general belief of the Church. That such has been the case, is an inference which may be drawn from the very controversies to which the doctrine of a Millennium has given birth; for, while differences of opinion the most vital have been entertained among disputants as to the actual character of the Millennium, the great mass of Christian divines have agreed to anticipate a glorious day when all things shall be renewed.
It would, indeed, be vain, within the limits of a short discourse, to attempt a bare recital even of the numerous and contradictory opinions which have been entertained as to the real nature of Christ's millennial reign; all I can hope to accomplish is, simply to sketch the outlines of a controversy which it would require volumes to exhaust.
I may observe, then, without further introduction, that, since the days of the Apostles, two general theories of a Millennium have obtained ; and that either to the one theory or the other may be referred the great mass of opinions which have arisen upon a subject which has been the occasion of calling forth, to an unwonted extent, the speculative tendencies of the human mind.
1. The first theory of a Millennium, which I would mention, is that which is founded upon a system of LITERAL INTERPRETATION of those parts
of prophetic Scripture which unfold the future dlestinies of the Church.
According to this system, at least as held by some ancients and moderns, the Son of God is to usher in the glory of the latter day by a personal descent in the full majesty of celestial splendour. At this solemn crisis the dead in Christ will rise to meet the Lord in the air, while living saints will be changed, “ in a moment, and in the twinkling of an eye." Then will awful judgments consume those nations of the Gentiles, with their several adherents, which have given their power to the beast. The posterity of Abraham will, in the meantime, return to their native land, will build again their ancient city, and will rank under the immediate government of Messiah, who will literally sit upon the throne of David. Thus auspiciously commenced, the term of millennial glory will extend through the lengthened period of a thousand years ; but will at last be interrupted by a great general defection of religion, by the resurrection and judgment of the wicked, and by the full disclosure of a scene in which “ God shall be all in all.”
While I venture to assert that this is a general outline of the system advocated by those who adhere to the method of literal interpretation, I by no means take upon me to say that it exhibits all its peculiarities, much less that it includes the endless modifications and eccentricities of many who have adopted it. There is such a diversity of opinion among this class of interpreters referred to, that it would be difficult to find any