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formed Church ? It is done already: He, that descended, is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things : and he gave some to be Apostles, some Prophets, some Evangelists, and some Pastors and Teachers : to what purpose ? For the perfecting of the Saints, &c. for the edifying of the body of Christ; Eph. iv. 10, 11, 12. And how long? Till we all come, in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ ; v. 13. Is it to subdue and destroy his enemies? Hath he not infinite power in his hand, to effect that, without a bodily descent? When he destroyed the first world of wicked men, did he descend from heaven to do it? So then we may, with all Christian assurance, rest upon the word of his holy Apostle Peter, that the heavens inust re. ceive him, until the restitution of all things; Acts iii. 21 : which is, that of the General Resurrection; as we may see by comparing of St. Peter with St. Paul; Rom. viii. 20, 21. termed by our Saviour, the day of our redemption : till when (which cannot be long we have no ground to expect our Saviour's return.
Fourthly, that we DO, NEITHER, OUT OF A CREDU. Fourthly. Not LOUS SECURITY, PUT THE DAY OF THE LAST JUDGMENT to put the Day FAR OFF FROM US ; NOR, OUT OF A MISGROUNDED PRE of the Last SUMPTION, PASS OUR PUNCTUAL PREDETERMINATIONS
from us: nor OF IT.
yet punctually In both which extremes, these last times have been to determine too fault-worthy. The time was, when the Apostle the time of it. was fain to beat off his Thessalonians, from the expectation of the then-instant appearing of Christ to judgment: now, we have more need, after sixteen hundred years' continuance, to persuade our people of the approach of this Great Day. They did then believe, that Christ was at the door : now, we are hardly induced to believe, that he is upon the way to that dreadful judicature. Surely, this operation hath this Millenary Doctrine had upon the hearts of men, that, though they are thereupon apt to expect an appropinquation of their Saviour for their happy advantage; yet they resolutely put off the thought of his coming to the general judgment of the world, for many generations. A man hath a good estate in bis farm, for almost a hundred years : another, that is about to purchase the inheritance in reversion, after so long a term, is told it were better to spare that cost, since in all likelihood the world would ere then be at an end : he answers, “ Tush ! no, the Thousand Years are not yet entered, wherein the Saints shall reign upon earth before that day.” In which yet this opinionist can be no other than grossly over-seen. For, is he a Saint, or is he none? if none, even the next coming of Christ destroys him, and mars his purchase : if a Saint, though he make no purchase now, he shall then (according to their doctrine) live in all fulness of riches and earthly contentment. But, what if that Thousand Years' Reign be to be accomplished in heaven, not in earth, as some construe it? or, if on earth, what if it be already accomplished, as others ? Where is then the confidence of this delay ? Certainly, notwithstanding this unhappily raised suggestion, nothing appears, why we should not make full account that the world is near to its last period; and that our Lord Jesus is at hand for his final judgment. For if, in the time of the blessed Apostles, it was justly computed to be the last hour, needs must it now be drawing towards the last minute : neither have we any reason to say, with the evil servant in the gospel, the Lord defers his coming.
It may be a question, whether it may be more out of boldness to maintain that dilatory assertion of the Last Judgment, which hath passed the pens of Alphonsus, Conradus, Cotterius, and others; or the confident and punctual assignation of the time of those Universal Sessions, determined by Alstedius, Archer, and others of that way. Who can but be startled at those lines of Mr. Archer? “Now,” saith he *, “ having found out when Christ's kingdom, or the Thousand Years, shall begin, it is easy to guess when the time of the Last and General Judgment, and the world's end shall be.” Thus he. Truly, the evidence is much alike of both: for when shall that Thousand Years' Reign begin? “ About the year of our Lord 1700," saith he, following the steps of Alstedius; who, upon the same ground, casts it upon the year 1694 : and both of them ground the epochas of their calculation, upon that fore-mentioned place of Dan. xii. 11, 12: From the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousund two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he, that waiteth, and corneth to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days : where the days, as I formerly intimated, are taken to stand for years; and, withal, it is supposed that the thousand three hundred and thirty-five years are, in order of time, to take their original after the expiration of the thousand two hundred and ninety years; and both of them to take their rise from the termination of the Seventy Weeks, viz. Anno 169. All which put together make up the number of two thousand six hundred and ninety-four, which is the utmost period of the Thousand Years' Reign of the Saints : from which, therefore, if we deduce the said thousand, there must remain one thousand six hundred and ninety-four; the initium regni of the Lord of Glory here upon earth. But, if either the taking away of the daily sacrifice and the desolatory abomination, be not understood in that place of the act and army of the Romans; or the days there mentioned, be not intended to stand for so many years, as being only to signify the short time of Antiochus's cruel persecution ; or, lastly, if those two several numbers were not meant to be successive one to the other, in the whole computation of them (which learned Calvin plainly censures for a vain and groundless conceit) all this aim and labour is lost; and we are yet to seek, where to pitch the account, either for beginning or termination. Shortly, what heed is to be given to this reckoning appears in that first par
* Personal Reign, p. 50.
cel of it, which concerns the total conversion of the Jews; which Mr. Archer, with the like confidence, places upon 1650, now entered upon by our almanacks, or at the furthest 1656: wherein we see his prognostication fails him, and his prediction is sufficiently checked by the event. No otherwise than Mr. Brightman's: by whose account the Turkish tyranny should have lasted but seven years after he wrote his “Revelation ;" whereas now near forty years are since passed, and that empire holds up still in too much vigour, without any appearance of diminution.
What should I need to shew how others, both of our country. men and foreigners, who thought themselves wiser than their fellows, have been shamefully baffled in their fore-determining of the Jast day of the world; which themselves have been suffered to overlive? It will well become modest Christians, to rest in revealed truths; and leave the unlocking of the secret cabinets of the Almighty, to the only key of his Divine Wisdom and Omniscience: as remembering the words of our Saviour; Of that day and hour knoweth no man ; no, not the angels of heaven.
Let it be our care, to be ever in a perpetual posture of readiness for that awful and glorious coming of our Lord and Saviour, whensoever it shall be; and to see that our accounts be set right for that great audit: so shall we meet our returning Master, with a comfortable and happy assurance; and hear from him that blessed Euge, Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into thy Master's joy