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cruelly persecuted. The prophets were persecuted. The people of God were also sometimes greatly molested by heathen nations, who united to crush Israel, and destroy the church. Even when the Prince of Peace came into the world, he did not find it a place of peace for him. The enemies of the church did not cease, until they with wicked hands had slain the Lord of glory. The sword of persecution has been bathed in the blood of martyrs for a considerable part of the time, ever since there were Christians in the world to be persecuted. But blessed be the Father of mercies, these days of blood and horror must have an end; and if not already finishing, will soon be terminated. God declares to Zion, In righteousness shalt thou be established, and thou shalt be far from oppression, for thou shalt not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near thee. Thus Christians shall be at peace, and dwell safely. Their grand adversary, that has taken the lead in every persecution since the foundation of the world, shall be cast out; he shall be confined during the whole Millennial period. This will appear with additional evidence under the next head.
5. During the Millennium, war will be unknown. The cessation of war will greatly distinguish the Millennial period from all others. A great part of the history of the world is a history of wars and fightings. Even before the flood, there were on the earth mighty men, men of renown, giants in wickedness, and giants in war. Nay, the earth was filled with violence. By war, the earth has been transformed into an Aceldama, a field of blood; into an amazing and horrid Golgotha, a place of sculls. Like Ezekiel's valley of vision, it has been full of dead men's bones. The Christian, with melting heart, lifts a supplicating voice to Heaven: How long, O'thou God of peace, how long shall the sword devour? How long shall man be suffered to discharge his wrath and vengeance against his brother man? against his brother, who is of one flesh and blood with himself ? O thou God of peace, scatter thou the people that delight in war. Such cries have been long ascending, like fragrant incense, before the mercy-seat, and have entered the ears of Him, that heareth prayer. An answer of peace is granted.
Lord will give strength to his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.
He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth, he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder.
And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.' The ultimate reference of this passage was doubtless to the Millennial day, when the meek shall inherit the earth, and delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
6. During the Millennium, the saints will rule the earth. This has never been the case, since men began to multiply upon the earth. It is doubtful, whether one twentieth part of the kings and rulers, mentioned in the Bible, were truly virtuous. The rest were evil, enemies to God, and enemies to mankind; men, adorned with the ensigns of royalty, but some of the greatest pests, and most dreadful plagues, that ever the wrath of God commissioned to scourge a wicked world. Even if we look at the kings of God's ancient people, favoured and distinguished as they were by various privileges; and pressed as they were by obligations the most weighty, solemn, and affecting ; were they all good men, haters of covetousness, ruling their people in the fear of God? No, my brethren, they were not all good men. Most of them were far, very far indeed, from righteousness. There is no reason to think, that a quarter of them were righteous. Of the twenty kings that ruled over Judah, not more than four or five were good men. Of the nineteen kings of the Ten Tribes, not one of them has left the least evidence of having been a good man. And now, I would ask the impartial historian, what nation, that has been ruled by as many as forty-two kings, or half that number, has ever been favoured by so large a proportion of those that were pious ? What a dark, and gloomy, and horrible picture does this present of the royal families of the earth. Surely none of their descendants can have much cause to boast his royal blood. But if through the telescope of prophecy, we take a view of future ages, the prospect brightens; and a picture of royalty is presented, as lovely as it is splendid. Here it may be remarked, that although we use the word royalty in accommodation to the language of Scripture, yet it is very conceivable, that the
word kings, as used in prophecy, may mean no more than presidents, governors, and other officers, exalted from time to time among the people. But though we do not know what will be the form of human government during the Millennium; yet we do know, that there will be human governments, and we know what will be the character of the rulers. They will all be good men; all the rulers will be saints. The Revelator observes, And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
7. During the Millennium, the righteous will possess the earth. Hitherto the righteous have possessed but a very small proportion of the earth, or of earthly goods. They have indeed been but a small part of mankind; so that, if they had been as wealthy as the wicked, they would have possessed but a small part of the earth. But it does not appear, that the righteous have generally been as wealthy as the wicked. There appears to be something in the possession of great worldly wealth, peculiarly unfavourable to embracing the religion of Jesus. It is natural for the poor to look up to the rich; it is no less natural perhaps for the rich to look down upon the poor. Now it is very hard for those who receive such homage and adulation, and thus look down upon others, to bow the knee, to bow the soul, to the meek and lowly Jesus, the humble and despised Galilean. But bow they must, or they cannot be Christians. If they will not ask, they cannot receive. Christ was poor; he had not where to lay his head. The apostles were poor; they knew what it was to suffer need. But I would by no means imply, that a rich man cannot be a good man. He is certainly under very peculiar obligations to be good. And notwithstanding all the temptations, with which they have been called to struggle, some rich men have been good
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, those distinguished patriarchs and saints, they were rich; Joseph also, and Job, and Daniel, and Zaccheus, and Joseph of Arithmathea, and others, were rich. But notwithstanding these noble examples, and others in later ages, there is reason to believe, that a vast proportion of the opulent have been
led to choose their portion in this world. But it will not be thus in the Millennium. The earth will then belong to the righteous. Thus if, according to the preceding proposition, the rulers are to be pious men, we may conclude, that a great proportion of the wealthy and honourable of the earth will also be pious. That the righteous shall possess the earth in the Millennium, is most clearly shown in many passages throughout the Bible. One must suffice. Thy people also shall be all righteous; they shall inherit the land forever.
8. During the Millennium, the wicked will cease from the earth. Hitherto the world has been exceedingly infested with evil-doers. Before the flood, almost all mankind were wicked. And since the flood, they have been very
little better. In some respects, we fear they have become more wise to do evil, than their Antediluvian progenitors. But the earth
But the earth will not be thus infested and polluted forever. Very many passages clearly prove that the earth shall be purged from the wicked. I have seen the wicked in great power, spreading himself like a green bay tree ; yet he passed away, and lo, he was not; yea, I sought him, but he could not be found. Here the passing away of the mighty wicked, an event that was future, and then about three thousand years distant, is represented as past. And he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. This is manifestly introductory to the Millennium; for the prophet immediately proceeds to describe the peaceful and blessed state of that period. We are not to suppose, however, that all are to be thus cut off, who may be found opposed to Christ and his kingdom. We cannot but indulge the hope, that the Millennium will not be introduced principally by the destruction of the wicked; but that the greater part of the wicked will be converted, to usher in that glorious day. It is probable, from a wonderful prediction in Isaiah, that vast myriads of the Gentiles will be converted nearly at the same time. Thus the wicked will cease from the earth.
9. In the Millennium, all shall know and serve the Lord. To those who are sighing and crying for the
abominations of the world, this proposition may be more interesting than the other. Though the perfections of God are inscribed upon all things as with a sunbeam, and engraven as with the point of a diamond; yet how small a part of our race have known the Lord. But in the Millennium, men will not only believe, but know there is a God; and not only believe and know that God exists, but delight to serve and adore him. In time past, but a small proportion of those, who have known God speculatively, have sincerely obeyed and worshipped him. It is said of ancient heathen philosophers, When they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful. This has doubtless been the case with myriads of mankind. But in the blessed period that is approaching, neither the theory nor the practice of atheism will have place on earth. Knowing the Lord, as the phrase is generally used in Scripture, implies knowing him with the understanding, with the heart, and in the life. That all shall know the Lord in these senses, is manifest from the propositions that have been already considered. If religion is to prevail much more than it ever has prevailed; if idolatry is to cease ; if the Jews are all to become Christians;
if Zion is to be delivered from her external enemies; if war is to cease; if the saints are to rule and inherit the earth; and especially if the wicked are all to cease from the earth; then surely all that remain upon the earth must be righteous; must know and serve the Lord, from the least unto the greatest. Of the numerous texts in proof of this proposition, we shall adduce but two Isaiah prophesies, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the seas.' And the Saviour declares, And I, if I be lifted from the earth, will draw all men unto me.' But there is a passage in Revelation which appears decisive. < But the rest of the dead lived not again, until the thousand years were finished.' The apostle is here speaking of the wicked dead, who should not live, or rise, till the end of the Millennium. This resurrection is doubtless a spiritual resurrection; wherein the wicked will live in their successors, in the same sense as Elijah lived in John the