« PreviousContinue »
HON. AND RIGHT REVEREND FATHER IN GOD,
SHUTE BARRINGTON, LL.D.
LORD BISHOP OF DURHAM.
TO complete the plan of my Dissertation on the 1260 years, there was wanting, a general and connected view of the various prophecies which treat of the wonderful events about to take place at the expiration of that period. Prevalent as the powers of darkness may be during their allotted season, they are destined to be at length destroyed. Their destruction will, synchronize with the restoration of the Jews, and will usher in that glorious state of things so frequently and so. exultingly described by the ancient prophets. The lost ten tribes will be united with the tribe of Judah; and the blessings of pure
Christianity will be very generally diffused throughout the world. Such, we are led from holy Scripture to believe, will be the magnificent close of the great period of 1260 years.
Without presuming to enquire too curiously into the state of the millennian Church and the nature of the Messiah's earthly reign, it is not difficult to conceive, how materially the face of society would be changed, and how wonderfully the general condition of mankind would be meliorated, were the Gospel cordially embraced and faithfully acted upon, if not absolutely by all, yet by an incalculably great majority. At present, to say nothing of the huge multitudes involved in the darkness of Paganism or the mists of Mohammedism, the greatest exertion of Christian charity, the most laborious attempt to hope against hope, will leave no conviction in the minds of the truly serious, that even in countries professing the religion of the Messiah the majority are faithful followers of their Lord. We are compelled to acknowledge, by the melancholy testimony of our very senses, that too many have a name that they live, and are dead; that not merely lukewarmness and indifference and a disregard to the spirit of Christianity are
prevalent, [v] prevalent, but that numbers, in consequence of their actual criminality, can be distinguished from Pagans only by un appellation, in their cases, an empty geographical appellation. Now let us suppose this state of things to be reversed; let us picture to ourselves either the whole, or nearly the whole, of mankind as being Christians not in word only, but in deed: and we may perhaps form some conception of the nature of the Millennium. What the narrow primitive Church was in spirit and in practice, the immense millennian Church would likewise be. Behold how these Christians love cach other, would again become a true remark. Where universal affection prevailed, where selfishness was as much extinguished and evil lasts and passions were as much subdued as among the first believers, wars and dissentions, both public and private, would be no more. Where holiness of conversation, springing from grateful love to God through Christ, was predominant, the various miseries arising from vice and immorality would be unheard of. The world, in a degree, would be brought back to a Paradisaical state; and, when the minds of men ceased to be agitated by bad dispositions, and their bodily strength to be á 3
undermined by intemperance and excess on the one hand and by poverty and wretchedness on the other, it is natural to suppose, that their lives would be extended to a much longer period than they are at present.
But some perhaps may ask, How can these things be? To such a question the believer finds it not very difficult to give an answer. It was by an abundant effusion of the Holy Spirit, not by any natural inherent goodness of their own, that the primitive Christians were made to differ from others. It is by the agency of the same Spirit (I speak throughout of his ordinary operations), that every
believer of the present day thankfully acknowledges, with Scripture and the Church, that a new heart is created within him. And it is by a yet more abundant effusion of the Holy Ghost both on Jews and Gentiles, as we are expressly taught in prophecy, that the great mass of mankind will truly and effectually be gathered into the fold of Christ in the days of the Millennium. There is no difficulty in conceiving, had it been agreeable to the purposes of the Most High so to have ordered matters, that all men in the apostolic age might have been made like-minded with the primitive believers;