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about the 2000th year of the Christian dispensation, and will beautifully harmonize with the views of those Jewish and other writers who have supposed that the seventh millenary of this world's existence will be the great sabbatic day of the Church.
3. We may farther mark the principal events which will usher in the millennial reign of Christ.
I cannot here venture upon tedious discussion; but I would just briefly observe, that the fall of the Papacy, by the combined influence of divine truth and divine judgments;—that the entire subversion of the Mohammedan imposture;*—that the gathering in of the fulness of the Gentiles ; and that the entire conversion of the nation of Israel, seem to be the great precursors of that age when all things shall be renewed.
The last of these events, namely, the conversion of the Jews, seems to occupy a most prominent place in the prophetic records. Nor can we wonder at this, when we contemplate the distinguished station which this extraordinary people occupied in the initiatory dispensations of heaven. It was only when they “ counted themselves unworthy of eternal life” that the messengers of peace were commanded “ to turn
* It is the opinion of many learned writers upon prophecy, that the number of the beast runs parallel with the epoch of the Hegira, in 622, the point of time at which the false prophet dated his triumphant career, and from which all Mohammedan nations regulate their chronology to this day. It is certainly true that the Impostor of Mecca rose to distinction about the very time when Popery became insolent and daring in its pretensions : that both systems shall sink into utter ruin about the same time appears to be highly probable.
to the Gentiles;" and when “ the fulness of the Gentiles shall come in;"*—that is, when the great mass of the Gentile nations, including those which are now sunk beneath the sway of Popish, Mohammedan, and Pagan superstitions, shall be savingly converted to the faith of Christ, then shall the seed of Abraham “ look on him whom they had pierced, and mourn." That the first-fruits of the Jews may in the mean time be gathered unto Shiloh, is a fact over which the language of prophecy has cast no darkening shade; and that believing Gentiles are called upon to remember and to commiserate a people through whom all their spiritual privileges have been conveyed to them, is a doctrine which gratitude, conscience, and the word of God must alike enforce.
Whether this extraordinary people shall or shall not return to their native land I will not take upon me to determine;—that they shall “ all be saved” in the day of Christ's millennial supremacy is a truth which admits of no reasonable doubt or contradiction. It is a very remarkable fact, if they are to return as a nation to Palestine, that the Apostolic writings should be entirely silent upon a topic of so much importance. Singular it surely is that Paul, in discussing the whole question of their conversion, does not drop one hint about a return to their ancient land. Was the Apostle ignorant of the destiny of his nation? If he was, who shall claim an
* Rom. xi. 25, 26.
acquaintance with it? If he was not ignorant of it, then ought we not to suppose that he taught his countrymen all he knew? But if in what he taught, in a most elaborate argument, there is nothing resembling the doctrine of a return to Palestine, should not this circumstance induce caution, lest in holding out the prospects of national distinction to a people ever prone to dream of secular honour, we should be, unwittingly, multiplying those agencies which perpetuate their unbelief, and keep them from receiving the kingdom of God? Against this general caution, it is no sufficient argument to tell us that the Jews were prone, in the days of the Apostles, to dwell too much on mere national preeminence, and that therefore Paul did not say any thing in reference to a subject which they were so apt to abuse. If this was right in Paul, it must be right still; for who can say that one feature of the carnality of the Jews, as a nation, has passed away? Or who can affirm that if the doctrine of a literal restoration was liable to abuse in the Apostolic age, it is not equally so now? Nor will it, by any means, settle the question to say, that the ancient prophets spake so fully on a literal restoration to Palestine, that the Apostle did not deem it incumbent to press the subject on the attention of his countrymen. In the first place, this is begging the question; for the very silence of the Apostle is a presumption against that understanding of the prophets which induces the belief of a literal restoration of the Jews to
Palestine ; and, in the second place, if the prophets did indeed teach this doctrine, so in like manner did they teach the doctrine of the true conversion of the Jews to the faith of Christ. But if the instructions of the prophets, on the subject of a literal return to the Holy Land, were sufficient reason for the Apostle's silence on this topic; why might not the Apostle have observed the same silence on the subject of Israel's future conversion to the faith of Abraham ? *
I only throw out these remarks by way of caution; not for the purpose of forcing a decision upon a question in the examination of which an extraordinary degree of rashness and presumption has obtained.
4. We may just glance at the duration of the period of millennial glory.
When we contemplate that entire subjugation of papal powers which will attend Christ's millennial triumph, and view it in connexion with the downfall of Mohammedan imposture, pagan idolatry, and Jewish impenitence, we cannot but wish that an era so preeminently joyous may be extended through a very lengthened period of this world's history. In this particular, our wishes are happily met. A thousand years are allotted for the glorious reign of Messiah : in which blissful era, Satan shall be bound; the spirit of the ancient martyrs shall be universally revived ; and “the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.” Whether the thousand years, spoken of in our text, are to be regarded as ordinary or as prophetic years, it is not very easy to determine. If they are ordinary years, the Millennium may be contemplated as the great sabbatic age ;* if they are prophetic years, then the millennial reign of Christ will extend through the almost overwhelming period of three hundred and sixty thousand years, by which the recollection of six thousand years of misery and crime will be completely obliterated. For my own part, though there is no similar instance of the word here employedt being used to denote the period included in a prophetic year, I would fain cling to the pleasing hope, that it is so used here, that by this immense extension of the Church's prosperity, the victory on the side of truth and righteousness may appear infinitely to preponderate at last, and that the number of the saved may far surpass that of the lost. On such points, however, we dare not contend with dogmatical zeal.
* The Author begs to recommend to the attention of the public, a very interesting and candid work on this subject, recently published, under the title of “ Objections to the Doctrine of Israel's Future Restoration to Palestine, National Preeminence," &c. 12mo.
* Through the whole of the Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testament, there appears to be a system to typical representation of some great septenary of the world which has not yet arrived. See Gen. ii. 3. Exod. xx. 8–11. Levit. xxv. 1-7. xxv. 8, 9. Heb. iv. 9. 2 Pet. iii. 8.
+ It is the word érn that is here employed, and which does not appear to be used as a symbol in any of the prophets. When they speak of a period equal in duration to a year, they always have recourse to other methods of expressing themselves. Dan. vii. 25. Rev. xii. 14.