Page images

slept in Jesus should have been roused from their slumbers,—but that the resurrection of the dead in Christ having been first accomplished, then both the risen and the changed, were to be instantaneously and simultaneously introduced into the presence and joy of their Lord.

The main bulwark, however, of the theme we oppose,--the citadel into which the millenarian retreats, when driven from every other post, and where he imagines himself to be secure, and from whence he not unfrequently looks out upon us with mingled triumph and contempt, has yet to be assailed. You need scarcely be reminded, that we now refer to the commencement of the twentieth chapter of the book of the Revelation. “ And I saw thrones, and they såt upon them, and judgment was given unto them : and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power : but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” No language, it is maintained, can be more clear and conclusive than this, in favour of the opinion, that Christ's genuine disciples and

followers, are to be raised from the dead a thousand years before his enemies and despisers.

A careful examination of the whole passage must, we presume, convince every unprejudiced mind, that it does not afford the slightest ground for any such opinion.

The subject of the prophecy, is a resurrection, not of bodies or of persons, but of souls. If, therefore, we understand a literal resurrection to have been intended, we must of necessity conclude that souls die, or that the souls in question had submitted to that, of which souls are incapable. But even were it possible for us to admit so glaring a contradiction, we should still have an insurmountable difficulty to encounter; for the souls here mentioned were the very souls which the Apostle had seen alive and clothed in white robes long before, and whom he had heard under the altar, crying “ How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth.”? It is also to be particularly remarked, that the upon all others whether they shall have fallen asleep in Jesus prior to the millennium, or whether they shall have died in the faith during the millennium, the “second death” will have power, and that, when awakened, as they must be eventually, from the slumbers of the tomb, they will arise to inevitable and everlasting perdition,a conclusion opposed to the whole genius of the Christian system, proved to be unscriptural by many of the most explicit declarations of the word of God, and flagrantly at variance with the principles upon which, we are told, the transactions of the last day will be conducted; for at that period, or at what millenarians themselves regard as the final resurrection, persons are to have their everlasting circumstances fixed, not by a reference to any thing connected with the millennial state, but by the fact of their names being found or not found in the book of life, then to be opened.

the Apostle, were the souls of martyrs, or of such as had resisted unto blood the impositions of Antichrist; and that “ upon such,” he assures us, “ the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ.” If, therefore, we understand a literal resurrection to have been intended, it follows that

2 Rev, vi. 9-11.

If, moreover, the first resurrection be allowed to mean a re-animation of the body,—the second death must be allowed to mean a repetition of the act of dying, or a second dissolution of the body. But that the idea which has already been suggested, relative to the nature of the second death, is correct, seems unquestionable from the announcement which occurs in a subsequent part of the chapter, whence we learn that what the Apostle intended by it was, a being “ cast into the lake of fire,” or the destruction of both soul and body in hell.

* Rev, xx, 12–15.

And again, if the first resurrection be understood literally, we must of course make up our minds that there will be a second resurrection, prior to that which shall be final. For we are just as distinctly told, that the rest of the dead lived not till the thousand years were finished, as we are that the martyrs lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. And hence it is a necessary inference, that as soon as the thousand years are finished, the rest of the dead do live again. “But it must be observed,” to adopt the reasoning of Mr. Faber, “ that the end of the thousand years is not the end of the world. On the contrary, the thousand years are followed, in regular succession, first by the liberation of Satan; next by the formation of the confederacy of Gog and Magog ; next by the going up of the confederacy to compass the holy city; next by the miraculous destruction of that confederacy through fire from heaven; and then, at length, after the lapse of some undefined period, subsequent to the destruction of the confederacy, by the ultimate universal judgment of the resuscitated dead, both small and great, at the literal second advent of Christ, and at the final consummation of all things. Therefore, what is called

4 Ver. 14, 15.

the resurrection of the rest of the dead, occurring as it does only at the end of the thousand years, and long before the consummation of all things, cannot be the literal resurrection of the dead both small and great, both from the sea and from hades, which the prophet, as might naturally be expected, determinately fixes to the unknown and undefined epoch of universal judgment. But if it cannot be the literal resurrection at the literal day of universal judgment, it must be a figurative resurrection before the literal day of universal judgment. Otherwise, what is a palpable contradiction, we shall make two general and literal resurrections: the one general resurrection at the end of the thousand years; the other general resurrection at some undefined epoch subsequent to the destruction of Gog and Magog.

The resurrection, then, of the rest of the dead, at the end of the thousand years, has been shown, by the very necessity of its collocation, to be figurative. But homogeneity requires that the two resurrections, the one at the end and the other at the beginning of the thousand years, should be similarly understood and interpreted.

Therefore the resurrection of the martyrs, at the beginning of the thousand years, must be a purely figurative resurrection also.” It must be a resurrection of principle,-a resurrection of

5 Faber's Sacred Calendar, vol. iii. p. 470.

« PreviousContinue »