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Open Milner's Church History, and see how he traces the existence of the distinguishing doctrines of the Gospel, still held by various of the Fathers, at a time when they began to be obscured by much rubbish, and were often contradicted by opposite sentiments in the same writer. It would be wrong to say, because of these inconsistencies, that there is no proof of the existence of the doctrine; though it may nevertheless not be explicitly and clearly recognized.
In conclusion I coincide with P. R. "that no important advantage would be gained by either party suc
ceeding in showing, that the Reformers thought with them respecting the second advent and kingdom of Christ:" for after all the Scriptures of God must be our guide, and not the views and statements of fallible men. Therefore the matter of chief importance is, that we form and correct our sentiments by divine Revelation.
If in any thing I have, in my turn, misapprehended P. R, I would here apologize for it: the kind tone of his communication makes me feel quite easy in this resjDect.
ON THE ADVENT AND KINGDOM OF CHRIST,
AND THE EVENTS CONNECTED THEREWITH.
An objection of some weight appears, at first view, to lie against the doctrine of the first resurrection, arising from the numerous Scriptures which set forth Christ, as coming to judge the world at his second advent; which circumstance is thought incompatible with the wicked not being raised and judged at the same time. The difficulty however consists, in the circumstance of our having departed from the scriptural view of judgement; which commentators have been gradually compelled to do, from the necessity of evading the obvious testimony of a host of texts to the personal rei°;n of the Lord on earth: for there is perhaps no doctrine 01 Scripture which more directly supports this view, than the doctrine of
the judgement, if only it be rightly understood. The single idea entertained by most persons on this point, is that of a great assizes, at which the Lord Jesus will preside, and at which all mankind will be put upon their trial. But God has revealed to us far more than this. The characteristics of a Judge, as given to us in Scripture, are as follow: to rale and govern as a king—to deliver and protect his people—and to avenge them on their enemies: whence it follows, that judgement must consist, not only in vengeance or punishment, but also in deliverance and government.
First then I observe, that the Judges who were over Israel before the time of Saul, the first king, a were all of them men raised up as deliverers and avengers; as Gideon, Sampson, Jephtha, and others; in which character they were also types of the Lord Jesus. And when the Israelites demanded a king, it was not so much a change in the nature of the office which they desired, as a more complete and fixed state of it: for they would not be any longer dependent upon the Lord, either to fight their battles, or to raise them up Saviours; but they cried, "We will have a king over us, that 'we also may be like all the na'tions; and that our king may 'judge us, and go out before us, and 'fight our battles/' b Thus the king was still to be the Judge: just as St. Paul, speaking of our all standing before the judgement seat of Christ, says—" that to this end 'Christ both died and rose and re4 vived, that he might be LORD 'both of the dead and living"0— the same thing as "Judge both of quick and d°ad."
The chief prophecies concerning the Christ as Judge will further shew, that princely rule and government are connected with his judgement; and that it will be a continued office among or over the nations. Take the following passages in the Psalms; and let it be observed in them, that the judgement or righteous government spoken of therein is evidently to be upon the earth. "Give the King thy judge'ments, O God, and thy righteous'ness unto the king's son. He shall 'judge thy people with righteous'ness, and thy poor with judgements.
* —For he shall judge the poor of the 'people, he shall save the children of 'the needy, and shall break in pieces 'the oppressor."& "Arise, O God,
* judge the earth; for thou shalt in
'her it all nations/' e « For He (the 'Lord) cometh, for he cometh to 'judge the earth: he shall judge 'the world with righteousness, and 'the people with his truth."* "For 'the Lord cometh to judge the earth .■ 'with righteousness shall he judge 'the world, and the people with 'equity." g—<< He shall judge the 'world in righteousness, he shall 'minister judgement to the people in 1 uprightness."11 "0 let the nations 'be glad and sing for joy! for thou 'shalt judge the people righteously, 'and govern the nations upon earth."'1 Other prophets afford a similar testimony. Thus Isaiah and Micah declare of him: "He shall judge ( among many people and rebuke * strong nations afar off :" J and Jeremiah says l< Behold—a king 'shall reign and prosper; and shall 'execute judgement and justice in the 'earth." k The same truth may be gathered also from that text in Corinthians, which speaks of the termination of his judgement: for the Apostle says, that he shall then lay down all rule, authority and power;* which shews, that rule, authority and the like are connected with his previous judgement: even as Christ himself says,—that the "Father hath given him authority to execute judgement." m This testimony may be summed up in one passage of Scripture: "The Lord is our Judge—the Lord is our Lawgiver—the Lord is our King—he will save us."n
And as we have seen, that though he declared he was a King, being born to that end ;° yet that he refused to let the people come and make him a king, and would not at that time exercise his royal prerogative : P so also, though he declared that all judgement was committed to the Son,Q yet did he not then assume the character of judge. He tells Nicodemus, that God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world. r He refused to judge in the case of the woman taken in adultery ;s —and he rebuked another, who would have anticipated his rule, with the words—" Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you ?" t It will be further evident, that what is most frequently called in Scripture "the judgement" is no other than the kingdom and rule of Christ, when it is considered, that the saints are to have part in it. For first Enoch prophesied, " Behold 'the Lord cometh with myriads of 'his saints, to execute judgement 'upon all."u David says, "that to 1 execute the judgement written is an 'honor, which all the saints are to 'have."TM Isaiah says, "Behold, a ( king shall reign in righteousness, 'and princes shall rule in judge'7nent."x In the vision which Daniel had, t( Judgement iv as given 'to the saints of the Most High, 'when the ancient of days came/'y And finally St. Paul declares most positively, "that the saints shall judge the world."2 And it should be observed in these passages, that the participation of the saints in the judgement is not confined merely to their receiving "power over the nations" to rule • but that they are apparently to be made instrumental in inflicting the vengeance also. Such is the context of the testimony in the 149th Psalm, which declares that they have " a two-edged sword 'in their hand, to execute vengeance 1 upon the heathen and punishments 'upon the people; to bind their 'kings with chains, and their nobles
'with fetters of iron." Such is implied in Rev. ii, 26, just referred to, wThere in addition to "power over the nations" it is said, "they 'shall rule them with a rod of iron; 'as the vessels of a potter shall they 'be broken to shivers." Again it is written, "Ye shall tread down the 'wicked; for they shall be ashes 'under the soles of your feet;"a and "the righteous shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked :"b all which passages, though studded with metaphor, and in the Revelation veiled in symbols, do signify a coercive power and restraint, which shall be exercised at that time by the righteous.
Those who deny the future kingdom of our Lord and his saints are nevertheless compelled to admit, that the saints will in some way or other be joined with him in the judgement. But howT? If the judgement is only to be a kind of trial, in which rewards and punishments are to be determined by the Lord, the saints will themselves stand before the judgement seat of Christ, and give account of the deeds done in the body; and then the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed, and every one shall be rewarded according to his works.c Besides which, it is evident that there is to be a difference in degree of rank and authority among the saints in this judgement; as when our Lord says of his apostles, that 'they shall sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel;"d —which tribes I apprehend to be the redeemed Israel, and therefore themselves to partake in the judgement.
But if we understand by the judgement rule and authority/ then these things are perfectly reconcileable; and an eminent pattern is afforded us, how one star may differ from another star in glory, in that great monarchy of Darius: wherein, besides ordinary governors and captains and sheriffs and the like, there were appointed over the whole kingdom one hundred and twenty princes, and over these three presidents, and over these the king. I can only reconcile with this view of it the Lord's declaring, that one shall be ruler over Jive cities, and another shall have authority over ten cities, &c. e
Having thus far, as I trust, cleared this matter, I would next notice, that the period of judgement must necessarily include the whole period of the saints' rule on earth; and likewise that tribulation or wrath upon the nations which ushers it in, together with that final visitation which closes it. This, whatever may be the events to be enacted of a judicial character—whether the wrath by plague, pestilence, famine, sworcl, revolution, or fire, upon the wicked; or the authority, power and government given to the saints;—all this, I repeat, is in my apprehension of it intended by The Judgement. Before however I enter more particularly upon the consideration of the events included in the judgement, I will first meet the objections which are made to this extension of its period.
First then it is argued, that the whole time of judgement is called 'the day of the Lord," "that great day;" which expressions are considered incompatible with its continuance through upwards of a thousand years. But this objection proceeds from the want of acquaintance with the scriptural import of the word day. Though often, in historical narrative, it includes no more than
a space of four and twenty hours; yet in prophetical language it has a very different meaning, and frequently even in narrative. Any period of time, during which events or actings of a uniform character take place, are called the day thereof. There are innumerable passages which speak of such a duration of time as a day; but as many of them may be said rather to mark the commencement of such a period than its continuation, (which perhaps is not unfrequentlythe case,) I will instance some which are the least ambiguous. First, as to narrative. The work of Creation is divided into periods called days, and said to be finished in si,v of them: but in Genesis ii, 4 the whole period in which the heavens, the earth, the plants and herbs were created is called a day. This augmentation of the term, however inconsiderable it may be, at least proves, that a day is not necessarily to be limited to a period of twenty four hours; but that its duration must be determined by the context. So in Psalm xcv, mention is made of the '' day of temptation (or trial) in the wilderness/' which is stated in the context to have continued/orfy years :f and this period is likened by the Apostle to the whole period of trial to the christian Church,— "while it is said, to day if ye will hear is voice."S This is still clearer in the following chapter of Hebrews; for he there argues, that because David had limited a certain day, (saying inDavid, to day, after so long a time,) there must remain a rest—a SabbaTism—to the people of God.11 I will not dispute, whether this sabbatism refers to rest in the GosjDel promises or ordinances, under the christian dispensation; to the rest of disembodied or of glorified saints in heaven; or to the great septennary of a thousand years; all of which have been variously contended for: but, let a man select which he will, this must be evident, that a period of at least a thousand years must in this instance be intended by the term day. In the latter testimony I have already stepped be)rond the bounds of strict narrative; but I have one or two other instances under the next class which I must still urge. In Ecclesiastes xii, 1, we read, "Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not;" and these evil days are immediately after exj)lained to be "the day when the keepers of the house tremble, &c."—alluding in highly figurative language to the whole period of declining life and its infirmities. Another Scripture saith, "I have * heard thee in a time accepted, and in 'the day of salvation have I succour'ed thee: behold, now is the ac'cepted time; behold, now is the 'day of salvation."1 This is generally interpreted to refer to the whole period of divine forbearance under the Gospel dispensation; which is therefore called—" the day of salvation." In another place the Apostle says, "The night is far spent, the day is at hand ;"k which words night and day have a double meaning: for first they evidently refer to the character of two different dispensations, the one being a time of darkness and trial, the other of light and glory; and they as clearly refer to duration of time, the
night being spent, and the day approaching. This night is the whole period of trial to the Church, and the day is the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour.*
Some further object, (and among them the Rev. Dr. Wardlaw,) that in John v, 28, 29, the resurrection and judgement are limited to an hour; —" the hour is coming in the which 'all that are in the graves shall hear 'his voice, and shall come forth; they 'that have done good unto the re'surrection of life, and they that 'have done evil unto the resurrec'tion of damnation ;"•—and therefore they argue, that the day of judgement must necessarily be limited to a small portion of time. It happens however that the term hour has precisely the same indefinite sense attached to it, in a great variety of instances, as the word day. It is obvious that in the text containing the objection, it is not to be limited to the twenty-fourth part of a day; but corresponds with the day of the resurrection and judgement, whatever period of time that may prove to be. Owing however to the word hora (d>pa) not being always translated hour, but sometimes rendered by the words season and time, the English reader loses sight of those numerous passages, in which it is placed for an independent period. I must therefore instance a few. It is translated season in the following passages; John v, 35; 2 Cor. vii, 8; Philemon xv, 9. In the first in
i 2 Cor. vi, 2. k Rom. xiii, 1].
* It has been pleaded, with some appearance of probability, that the proper limitation of the word day is really 1000 years. This is argued first from that passage which has been so often quoted to this effect by the Jewish Rabbins—" a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday;" (Psalm xc, 4 ;) and secondly from that of 2 Pet. iii, 8, as frequently appealed to by the early Millennarians,—" one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." On the strength of these texts it is argued, that the denunciation against Adam—" in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die"—was literally fulfilled, since he died within a thousand years: which all his posterity have likewise done, excepting Methuselah. This argument however I do not press, because it does not admit of that clear demonstration which I seek after.