Page images
PDF
EPUB

Ancient of Days, and they brought him come with him, and consequently, we can near before, him, and there was given be at no loss to determine, who are they unto him, dominion, and glory, and a that are “to possess the kingdom.”_ kingdom, that all people, and nations, Now, turn with me to Rev. xx. 4, 5, and languages should serve him ;' this “and I saw thrones, and they sat on will freely be allowed to be a kingdom them, and judgment was given unto them, upon earth, for where are the “people, (compare Dan. vii. 22) and I saw the and nations, and languages" to be found? souls of those which were beheaded for surely not in heaven! but, to take occa- the witness of Jesus, and for the word of sion from those that seek occasion, turn God, and which had not worshipped the to the 27th verse, and you will there find beast nor his image, neither had received this kingdom thus described, “the king- bis mark upon their foreheads, or in their dom, and dominion, and the greatness of bands; and they lived and reigned with the kingdom, UNDER THE WHOLE HEA- Christ a thousand years. But the rest of ven;" which surely is enough to settle the dead lived not again until the thouthis point.

sand years were finished, this is the first But we are to shew that the saints are resurrection. Blessed and holy is he to rise to possess this kingdom, and we that hath part in the first resurrection, on learn this from the verse just quoted, such the second death has no power, but where this kingdom is said to be a given they shall be priests of God and of to the people of the saints of the Most Christ, and shall reign with him a thouHigh ;" see also verse 22, “until the sand years.” Here then you perceive, Ancient of Days came, and judgment my brethren, we have the express testiwas given to the saints of the Most High; mony of the Holy Ghost to the great and the time came that the saints posses- truth which we have been maintaining; sed the kingdom”-now, lest it should be that the Millennium is for the saints to here objected that “the saints" are to partake of, and that, in order to this, be understood as those who are so fortu- they must rise again from the dead; from nate as to be alive on earth during the whence the inference is undeniable, that Millennium, i. e, those who shall live to the coming of the Lord takes place before see that day brought about by the the Millennium, which indeed is plainly preached Gospel; and not as those who expressed in this passage, for they who have died before that period,-observe, thus rise from the grave, are said to first, that the saints here spoken of are“ reign with him ;" and besides, the said to possess a kingdom, i.e. to be kings ; whole action in this passage is subsequent and “ judgment is to be given them : to the advent of Christ described in the but, I ask, if these are the Lord's people preceding chapter, (see chap. xix. 11in natural life during the Millennial (21) and, to make the matter still plainer, period, where are these subjects to be the final resurrection “when the dead, found? whom are they to judge? what small and great, stand before God," and is the meaning of a kingdom without when the general judgment is to take subjects ? those who inhabit the earth place, is expressly distinguished, and during that period, will be themselves explicitly said not to take place until the the subjects, and therefore the saints who conclusion of the thousand years reign, are here spoken of as kings, must be (see the rest of this chap.) And here, I some other than they, even those who, entreat you to bear in mind that this is being now in heaven, sing a song before not the only place of Scripture where the the throne, saying, “thou art worthy, for first resurrection, which is confined to the thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to saints of God, is described; it is indeed God by thy blood, out of every kindred, the most explicit passage on the subject, and people, and tongue, and nation ; and and, did it stand alone, ought to be quite made us unto our God kings and priests; sufficient for those who tremble at God's and we shall reign on earth ;"_observe word; but the testimony here given is again, that this is made quite evident by quite irresistible, when compared with the 22nd verse; turn to it again, and you those passages to which I have before will find that this assignment of the king | referred you, as it asserts in express dom to the saints of the Most High syn | terms, what we were led to conclude chronizes with the advent of Christ, | from them ; indeed almost every passage “ until the Ancient of Days came, and, of Scripture which speaks of any resur-' &c.” now, when he comes, his people rection, speaks of the first exclusivalo .

see for instance, I Thes. iv. 13-18, and latter instance, so is it also in the former." 1 Cor. xv. 23, in which passages we in But, to proceed, our next proof is as vain look for any other resurrection, than follows. that of the Lord's people; and naturally | Proof 2.- Is from the object of so, since the Bible was written for them, preaching the Gospel in this dispensaand consequently, that resurrection in tion.- What is this object? We answer, which they are exclusively concerned, is first, negatively, it is not to convert the that on which the Scriptures most fre-world. It will not be expected, that I quently insist. How are we to account should refer you to any text of Scripture, for the fact, that passages like these expressly affirming this negative proshould be found_passages in which the position. The onus rests upon those glorious advent of Christ is mentioned, who hold, that the object of this disand that resurrection which synchronizes pensation is to convert the world, to with it so powerfully described, and yet, bring some testimony of God's word in that “the resurrection of damnation" confirmation of their opinion, but this should not be mentioned in them ? shall cannot be done; and I therefore proceed, we say, that the description given in them secondly, to examine what the Scripture is deficient! God forbid !-the reason is tells us is the object of preaching the plain indeed, when we read a passage Gospel in this dispensation; and this we like the present, and there find that there shall find to be, to test the world by are two resurrections, and that it is only bearing testimony to God's truth, and the saints that rise immediately upon the to gather out of it his chosen people. advent of the Lord.

Turn to Matthew the 24th, we find in This passage is indeed so plain and verse 3, the disciples asking Jesus, unanswerable, when taken in its unso- “ what shall be the sign of thy coming, phisticated meaning, that it cannot be and of the end of the world, or age, got over; and consequently, an iuter- | i. e. this dispensation (roŨ aiwvos) pretation, miscalled spiritual, has been put from that to the 12th verse is taken up upon it—“the first resurrection” is not a with the various signs which are to preliteral, but a spiritual one, it is said ; but cede this event, and then (ver. 13 & 14) let us look at the passage, and I venture we read, “but be that endureth to the to say that there is not a single text in end of this dispensation, see verse 3), Scripture which speaks so plainly of a the same shall be saved ;-and this Gosliteral resurrection as does this, for you pel of the kingdom (observe the word perceive, the persons here spoken of are is this,” it shews us the meaning of the not only said to have been dead, but the Gospel of the kingdom_namely, that it very mode of their death is actually told is the good news of his coming and kingus, they were beheaded," —now, how-dom ; this Gospel which I am now ever, we may spiritualize the word preaching to you) shall be preached in “dead,”—I confess I do not see by what all the world (what for?-is it to convert ingenuity we can affix a figurative inter- the world? No such thing, but) for a pretation to the word " beheaded.”- witness unto all nations, and then shall But again, what will you make of “the the end (i. e. of this dispensation) come,” rest of the dead” (verse 5) ? who are compare Mark xiii. 9, 10.) Now, turn these ? surely they are not figuratively to Acts xv. 14, “ Simeon has declared dead, or else their resurrection must be how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, figurative also; but this you will not to take out of them a people to his name.” allow, for then what becomes of the final Observe the occasion on which these resurrection ? you shudder at the idea of wcrds were spoken, the first opening of spiritualizing this away; then shudder the door of faith to the Gentiles; and also at acting the same part with “ the | what was the object with which the apostles first resurrection,” for if one is spiritual, engaged in this arduous undertaking ? so must the other be, whatever it is which Was it to convert the world ? Not so, takes place upon some of the dead, before says the Holy Ghost, in this place, but the Millennium, the same it is which takes place upon “the rest of the dead,” after the Millennium; if it is a spiritual * The anxious inquirer will find this arguresurrection in one instance, so must it ment most powerfully pressed by Bishop

Newton, in the Dissertation above referred to. also be in the other-if it is literal in the

“ to take out of them a people to his posed, that I mean to oppose experience, name ;” and accordingly, we have pre- to the testimony of Scripture-God sented to us in Revelations v, ver. 9, 10, forbid !_bring but one single text, which the glorious result of the work which | would lead us to expect universal conwas then commenced, in “a multitude version to God by the preached Gospel, inwhich no man could number, out of every this dispensation, and (however discouragkindred, and people, and tongue, and ing appearances may be) we bow at once nation.” It is interesting to the believer to the testimony of God's word. But there to see how Scriptural our Church Li. is no opposition between Scripture and turgy is on this subject : turn to the experience on this point ; God's people first prayer in our burial service, and you are there described as “a little flock," will find our church “beseeching God” until it is their father's good pleasure “to (not to convert the world) but, “shortly to give them the kingdom," (see for this accomplish the number of his elect, and fact Luke xviii. 8);-and, on the other hasten his kingdom.”

| hand, the last days of this dispensation Proof 3.- Which is intimately con- | are therein described, as characterised nected with the preceding, is taken by a reckless disregard to God, and confrom the termination of this dispensation, tempt of his truth (2 Tim. iii. 1-4; as described in Scripture. What are to be 2 Pet. iii. 1-4); and more than this, the characteristics of the latter days of we are told to expect a systematic, and this dispensation ? According to the organized opposition to the Lord, and popular view which we have been com- persecution of his people ; turn to bating, there is to be a gradual diffusion Dan. vii. 21, 22, “I beheld, and the of Gospel light, by means of which the same horn made war with the saints, and world is to gradually improve, until at prevailed against them, until the ancient length the glorious period arrives “when of days came, &c.” Here, you perceive, the earth shall be full of the knowledge we have a persecuting power (for whose of the glory of the Lord, as the waters characier, see further in verse 25), who cover the sea.” Now, in the absence of is to prevail against the saints, until the any express testimony of Scripture to coming of Christ. But you will say, is this effect, we may appeal to experience not this “little horn” popery? Well, of the past, and ask, what has the preach- for the present let it be so (though I do ing of the Gospel hitherto effected, not think it is), but, the point to be which warrants us in ascribing this glo- here attended to is, that whatever, or rious consummation to its effects? Look whoever it may be, it is to be an open at the heathen world, with its hundreds blasphemer of God, and persecutor of of millions still unconverted-look again his people to the end of this dispensation ; at the state of that small portion which or else, what means the word “ until ?vaunts itself in the name of Christendom, Again, I say, look at the passage, and and what proportion of it do we find see that it is “ until the ancient of days to have even the Gospel in its purity come,” which coming is to be his despreached to them ?-Look at Great truction (read ver. 22–27.) Indeed, Britain herself, that highly favored nation, you, who apply this prophecy to popery, and say, is the present age characterised and, at the same time, deny the preby an increase of reverence to God, and milennial advent of Christ, are in a love to Jesus Christ; or whether, on the peculiar difficulty here ; for, as you cancontrary, the words of a distinguished not deny that this little horn continues prelate in our upper house, are not most until the second advent, you must contrue. that it is “ an age distinguished sequently look for the continuance of above all that has preceded it, for trouble, popery, and that in its very worst features and rebuke, and blasphemy?" But to of blasphemy and persecution during the come nearer home, I ask, what has the milennial period, when “ the fruit of Gospel done here? How many are righteousness shall be peace, and the there, do you think, (and Kere consult effect of righteousness, quietness and assuyour consciences, for it concerns you rance for ever.” Oh! what a milennium deeply) who have received the word of this; while the corrupt Church of Rome God “ in power, and in the Holy Ghost, rules with despotic sway over the conand in much assurance ?” But, let me sciences of her deluded votaries, and not be misunderstood let it not be sup- substitutes her mummeries and obsceni

ties, for the simplicity and purity of the lypsed, and brought into open manifestaGospel of Christ. Let us now turn to tion in the man of sin," upon whom the another passage, where the same power Lord himself shall descend in terrific is spoken of (2 Thes ii. 3_12), here judgment; and after the overthrow of you perceive is a similar prophecy to the his deluded followers, all“ who have last we have been considering, or rather not received the love of the truth that a description of the same character, he is they might be saved (2 Thes ii. 10)—all here called “the man of sin," and is at “ that know not God, and obey not the once proved to be identical with “the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ," little horn" of Daniel, by his character of (2 Thes, i. 8)-among whom shall be blasphemous assumption as described in found “kings, and captains, and mighty verse 4, and more particularly by the men-and all men both bond and freesimilarity of his end, which is described both small and great,” (Rev. xix. 18)— in verse 8, “whom the Lord shall con- men of all ranks and conditions, assume by the spirit of his mouth, and sembled in the blasphemous coalitionshall destroy with the brightness of his for (in the words of Bishop Horsley) coming.” Indeed, the identity of these after much suffering of the faithful, two characters is so evident, that I need and bloody struggles of the contending not detain you longer with the proof parties, our Lord himself will come from suffice it say, that it is admitted by all heaven, visibly, and in person, to effect expositors, ancient and modern, and the deliverance of his servants, and, with hence, the observations we have made on his own arm, cut off the Anti-christian “ the little horn” apply with equal force armies with tremendous slaughter”-See to “ the man of sin;" and we have here Horsley's Sermons on the 45th Psalm, another decided proof, that the coming the third of the series, where he truly of the Lord, must take place previous to observes, that “the terrible things to be the millennium ; for (i repeat) under- achieved by Messiah's own right-hand, stand, one or both of these characters, and the slaughter of his armies in the of whom you will, it is evident that they | latter ages, is the subject of many proare to be in existence at the end of this phecies.” Time would fail us, were we dispensation, and that no room is left to attempt to quote one-half of the pasfor the milennium, until their destruction sages which refer to this period, and I by the second advent of Christ; for, in ad-conceive that those already referred to dition to what has already been said on the aré sufficient to prove the fact (to which prophecy of Daniel, we are here told, that I wish, at present, to confine your atten“the mystery of iniquity," of which the ap- tion) that the second advent of our pearing of the man of sin is to be the deve- Saviour must be expected to take place lopment, or “revelation” (see verse 8), before the milennial period. Our fourth begun to work even in the Apostle's proof is as follows:days, and consequently there is no room Proof 4.-The church is always for the millennium, until the appearing described in the New Testament as in of the Son of Man. There can be no expectation—anxious-continual expecuniversal diffusion of Gospel truth, until tation of the coming of the Lord, but if this “ mystery of iniquity”-this hidden this coming were described as not to working of Satan—"the spirit who now take place until after the millennium, it worketh in the children of disobedience,” | would fasten a palpable inconsistency

(Eph. ii. 2)—“the God of this world, upon the sacred Scriptures; for how, I who blindeth the minds of them which ask, could the people of God be described believe not, lest the light of the glorious as in a position of continual expectation Gospel of Christ, who is the image of of an event, for the fulfilment of which God, should shine unto them"_until they must not only wait until the world this, his hidden and mysterious influence is evangelised, but, moreover, for a over the mind of men is removed; and, thousand years, after the looked for conin order to this, it must first be apoca- | summation! This has been felt-and,

| in order to evade the natural inference * For a satisfactory proof of the identity of

from it, another hope, that of death, has “the man of sin” with “ the little horn,” and been substituted for the Lord's coming. also “ the wilful king” of Daniel, see Bishop « Is not death." some persons say, " the Newton's 22nd Dissertation, in the work be. fore referred to.

| same to me as the coming of the Lord, and therefore may I not understand this himself shall descend from heaven, with to be the meaning of expressions which a shout_with the voice of the archangel at first sight would seem to point to the and the trump of God, and the dead in second advent ?” Now, in answer to Christ shall rise first; then we which are such, I observe, that even supposing that alive and remain unto the coming of the death, and the coming of Christ, were | Lord, shall be caught up together with one and the same thing to the believer, them to meet the Lord in the air ?” Are and that his position was the same, while these two things the same? Is it the expecting the one as the other, that same to leave our bodies mouldering in still this is no answer to the argument the dust, as to receive them glorious like it does not solve the difficulty ; the our Lord's own body? Blessed release question is not at present concerning the it is indeed to the believer to get rid of practical bearing of the subject, but “ the body of this death” and with it concerning an inconsistency which the of that “ sin which doth so easily beset supposition that the Lord is not to come him ;"_but, surely, this is not the same until after the milennium, fastens on as to have another body-another, and God's word; and nothing can remove yet the same, emancipated from the that inconsistency, until it is proved that bondage of corruption into “the glothe New Testament does not describe rious liberty of the children of God,'' the church as in continual expectation of (compare Rom. viii. 19, 21, 23, with the Lord's coming ; now, this can never Luke xx. 36).-Blessed truly, and gratebe done, unless we blot out from the ful to the weary soldier is an interval of Bible such passages as the following: - rest, succeeding to a long campaign, but “ So that ye come behind in no gift, it is not this which the faithful soldier waiting for the coming (marg.--"reve pants for; it is not the anticipation of lation," which shews that it cannot mean his winter quarters, that supports him death,) of our Lord Jesus Christ, who under all his toil, oh, no! it is the shall also confirm you unto the end, that prospect of victory-of glory, that cheers ye may be blameless in the day of our | his panting bosom ; even so it is with Lord Jesus Christ,” (1 Cor. i. 7, 8); and the faithful soldiers of Christ, they do again, “ How ye turned to God from not spurn the blessed rest with Jesus, idols, to serve the living and true God, which awaits them should they die before and to wait for his Son from heaven,” the advent of the Lord, but this is not (can this mean death?), even Jesus, which the prospect which supports them in delivered us from the wrath to come,” | their conflict here—they long for nothing (1 Thess. i. 10.) Numerous other pas- short of “victory.” And this is what sages might be quoted to the same effect, the Captain of our salvation presents which, by no ingenuity of interpretation, unto our minds; he does not tell us to can be distorted into signifying death; expect “ to die,” but “to be changed” and therefore, even granting that there he does not encourage us to the conflict, is no difference between the practical by telling us that our winter quarters are bearings of the two different objects of at hand, but he stimulates us with the expectation, the difficulty still presses hope-thrice blessed—joy-inspiring hope, upon you who hold the post-millenial of “ victory !" There is nothing in the advent of Messiah: you cannot escape it, New Testament to lead you and me, my and retain your present views ; renounce dear brethren and sisters in Christ, to them then, I beseech you, as you value expect to die before the glorious advent the consistency of Scripture truths of the Son of Man. Again, I refer you away with a doctrine, which is not only to the inspired promise “the dead in inconsistent with Scripture, but which Christ shall rise first, then we which are makes the Bible inconsistent with itself. alive and remain shall be caught up But how can you think that death is the together with them, to meet the Lord same thing to the believer as the coming (when he comes) in the air, and so shall of his Lord ? Death is the temporary we ever be with the Lord.” So then, triumph of Satan—the execution of that I say, death is not the same as the sentence, “dust thou art, and unto dust coming of the Lord-neither can it be thou must return." And will you sub- substituted for it, without violating the stitute this for the glorious hope of the language of Scripture, and materially resurrection morning, “when the Lord 'altering the bearing of God's truth. But

« PreviousContinue »