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Of the Millennium, or Personal Reign of Christ with the Saints on the New Earth a Thousand Years.
I have treated already of the kingly office of Christ, as executed by him in various dispensations, particularly under the gospel dispensation, and have observed, there are two branches of it yet to come; one called the “spiritual,” the other the “personal reign;” the former has been considered, and this is a proper place to treat of the latter; which I shall do by showing,
1. That Christ will have a special, peculiar, glorious, and visible kingdom, in which he will reign personally on earth.
1a. I call it a special, peculiar kingdom, different from other kingdoms of Christ; from the kingdom of nature and providence, which lies in the government of this world; which he, as God, has an equal right to with his Father; but when this kingdom will take place, this present world will be at an end: and from his spiritual kingdom, which belongs to him as Mediator; which rule he has exercised in the hearts of his people from the beginning of the world; and which has been, under the gospel dispensation, more large and manifest; and will be more so in the latter day, when his spiritual reign will take place; but this is different from that.
1b. It will be very glorious and visible; Christ’s kingdom, in the spiritual reign, will be very glorious, when all the glorious things spoken of it, will be fulfilled; and it will be very visible, when exalted above all the mountains and hills, the kingdoms of this world: but this will be more so, since Christ will be in it; not only by his Spirit, and the effusions of his grace, but he will personally appear in all his glory, and reign gloriously before his ancients; hence his “appearing” and “kingdom,” are put together, as contemporary (2 Tim. 4:1), he in person will appear, and his tabernacle be with men on earth.
1c. This kingdom will be after all the enemies of Christ, and of his people, are removed out of the way. In his spiritual reign antichrist will be destroyed, “with the Spirit,” or breath of Christ, his gospel; and with “the brightness of his coming,” that clear light which will attend his coming, by the effusion of his Spirit;515515So the author of Onus Ecclesiae, published A. D. 1524. vid. Heidegger Dissert. 23. de Chiliasmo, s. 8. which will be with such spiritual efficacy, as to dispel all darkness, Pagan, Papal, and Mahometan; and cause an universal reception of the gospel; which will open the way for the Christian princes, to carry their victorious arms every where, and seize upon, and possess all the antichristian states; and in this order things lie in the prophecy of Daniel (Dan. 7:1-28), where, after the vision of the “fourth” beast, of the judgment of it, of the slaying it, and burning its body, the Roman empire, and the remains of it, in antichrist, and the antichristian states; Daniel, had a vision of Christ, the Son of man, coming in the clouds of heaven, and having an universal kingdom given him, which will not be succeeded by any other. And in the same order things lie in the book of the Revelation 19:1-21 where the beast, antichrist, and the kings of the earth, the antichristian princes, are represented as gathering together, to make war with Christ, described as an illustrious Warrior; when the beast and false prophet, antichrist, in both his civil and ecclesiastic characters, are taken and destroyed, and the rest slain, by the sword of Christ’s mouth: all which will be done, with the ruin of the Turk, the Eastern antichrist, at the beginning of the spiritual reign: but still there will remain a most potent enemy, Satan, with his principalities and powers; wherefore, in Revelation 20:1-15 an angel descends from heaven, who is no other than Christ, who will then personally descend from thence; described as having a great chain, and a key in his hand; the one to bind Satan and all his angels; the other to open the bottomless pit, and cast them in it, and lock it up; that they may neither deceive the nations, nor disturb the saints, for the space of a thousand years.516516See p. 744. And all enemies being thus out of the way, follows the account of the Millennium, or personal reign of Christ.
1d. This glorious and visible kingdom of Christ, will not take place till after the resurrection of the just, and the renovation of the world.517517This is the sense of the ancient writers concerning the millennium; as of Papias, a hearer of the apostle John, and a companion of Polycarp, Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 3. c. 39. and of Justin Martyr, and the orthodox Christians in his time, Dialog. cum Trypho, p. 307. and of Irenaeus, adv. Haeres. l. 5. c. 20, 32. and of Apollinarius, Hieron, Catalog. Script. Eccles. c. 28. and of Tertullian. contr. Marcion, l. 3. c. 24. and of Lactantius, Instit. l. 7. c. 14. 24. And of Victorinus Pictaviensis, vid. Hieron. ut supra. and of Sulpicius Severus, Hieron. in Ezek. 36. fol. 235. I. As soon as Christ personally appears, the dead in him will rise first; this is the first resurrection, which they that have a part in, shall reign with Christ a thousand years; as appears from the above place in the Revelation referred unto. These “children of the resurrection,” as Christ calls them (Luke 20:35, 36), and who will be worthy of “that world,” the new world, in which Christ and they will reign, will be like the angels, die no more; nor will they eat and drink, in a corporal sense; nor marry and be given in marriage; carnal appetites will not be indulged; nor carnal pleasures enjoyed: in this state, nothing but pure, refined, spiritual pleasures, will be had, suited to the bodies and souls of men, united in the resurrection state. Our Lord, indeed, speaks of his disciples eating and drinking at his table, in his kingdom; and of his drinking new wine in his Father’s kingdom, which is the same (Luke 22:30; Matthew 26:29), but then all this is to be understood of divine repasts, of spiritual joys and pleasures, they shall then partake of. The Jews, it seems, had very carnal notions of the kingdom of God, of a great affluence of meats and drinks in it, and of rich and delicious living; hence a certain person said, “Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” (Luke 14:15), meaning, that shall live deliciously there. And such gross and carnal conceptions, some that have bore the Christian name, have entertained of the millennium, as well ancient518518Vid. Euseb. Ec. Hist. l. 7. c. 24, 25. Hieron. in Esaiam, c. 66. fol. 120. D. & Dionysium apud ib. proem. in Esaiam, com. 18. fol. 112. L. as modern writers, at least, as represented by their adversaries; and therefore it has been objected to them, as if their notion savored more of a Turkish paradise, than of a kingdom of Christ; and which has brought disgrace upon the doctrine of the kingdom, and given disgust to pious and spiritual minds; as it did to Austin,519519De Civitate Dei, l. 20. c. 7. who had some light into it, and owned, that could it be restrained to spiritual delights and pleasures, it might be allowed: but now the manner in which I conceive it, clears it from such absurdities, and represents it as quite unclogged, and free from such an objection. All the prophesies of temporal blessings in the latter day, as length of life, a numerous offspring of the people of God, plenty of corporal food, an affluence of wealth and riches, will have their accomplishment in the spiritual reign, or latter day glory; when there will be such au effusion of the Spirit of God, as will be a counterbalance to such earthly enjoyments, that they will not do the hurt they would in the present circumstances of things; and even then, when the influences of the Spirit shall go off, and be withdrawn, that state will gradually sink into lukewarmness, pride, self-conceit, and carnality (Rev. 3:15, 16). But nothing of this kind will appear in the millennium.
1e. This kingdom of Christ will be bounded by two resurrections; by the first resurrection, or the resurrection of the just, at which it will begin; and by the second resurrection, or the resurrection of the wicked, at which it will end, or nearly; for it is expressly said, that “the rest of the dead,” that is, the wicked, “lived not again until the thousand years were finished”: now in the interval between the resurrection of the one, and the resurrection of the other, will be the millennium, or thousand years reign of Christ and his people together.
1f. This kingdom will be before the general judgment, especially of the wicked. There is a particular judgment that passes on every man at death; “After death, judgment!” and there will be a virtual judgment immediately upon the appearance of Christ, who will come to judge both “quick” and “dead.” Dead saints will be raised, and living saints changed, and both be with Christ; which will be virtually pronouncing them righteous; and as for the wicked, their bodies will be burnt in the conflagration of the earth, and their souls will be shut up with Satan and his angels in the bottomless pit; which will be virtually pronouncing them guilty: but the formal judgment will proceed afterwards. Indeed, in the thousand years reign, will be the judgment of the saints, as will be seen hereafter; and some time after the close of the millennium, will come on the general judgment of the wicked; for John, after he had given an account of the former (Rev. 20:1-15), relates a vision of the latter.
1g. This glorious, visible kingdom of Christ, will be on earth, and not in heaven; and so is distinct from the kingdom of heaven, or the ultimate glory: the souls of the martyrs, and others, said to reign with Christ a thousand years, cannot be understood of their reigning with him in heaven; for so they had reigned with him from the time of the death of their bodies; and was their reigning with him in heaven meant, there would have been no need of binding Satan and his angels, and shutting them up in the bottomless pit; as not to deceive the nations, so not to molest them; since being in heaven, they were out of their reach, and could not be disturbed by them: but it is on earth they are to reign with Christ; of which the living creatures, and four and twenty elders, the representatives of gospel churches, and the redeemed of the Lamb, express their strong faith; “And hast made us unto our God kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth;” meaning, no doubt, in the millennium; for they speak of it as future, saying, not “we do,” but “we shall reign on earth;” and that the millennium reign will be there, is clear, since the Gog and Magog army, at the end of the thousand years, are said to go up “on the breadth of the earth,” and “compass the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city;” the same with the saints before described as reigning with Christ, which therefore must be on the earth; and the same with the holy city John saw descending from God out of heaven, that is, on earth, with whom his tabernacle is said to be, and he to dwell with them (Rev. 20:4, 6, 8, 9; 21:2, 3). But then this kingdom will not be upon this present earth, or upon this earth in its present circumstances; the present heavens and earth will be burnt up before this kingdom takes place; this world is not good enough for the second Adam, and his saints, to dwell in; the curse must be removed from it, and it must be refined, and new fitted up, for such inhabitants; and all the wicked of it be no more in it, as unfit to dwell where such persons do. Christ’s kingdom is not of this world, nor never will be. This has been the mistake of many, fancying that the millennium will be in the present earth; which have given the adversaries of this doctrine, an occasion to object unto it; as subversive of civil government, and as encouraging sedition and rebellion in commonwealths, and as giving just umbrage to the kings and princes of the earth, and to all civil magistrates. And, indeed, in the seventeenth century, in this nation, there were a set of men, called “fifth monarchy men,” and who were levelers, and riotous persons, were for pulling down civil magistracy, and all order of civil government, and setting up what they called a kingdom of Christ; which brought the doctrine of the millennium into great contempt, and under which it has much lain ever since. But putting it upon the footing I have, that this kingdom will not be in the present earth, the kings of it have nothing to fear from it; it will not interfere with theirs; civil government will not be hurt by it; for it will not be till that is no more, and the world itself at an end; and so can give no encouragement and countenance to persons of a riotous and seditious disposition. Indeed, in the spiritual reign, the dominion under the whole heaven, will be given to the people of the saints of the most High, which will last to the end of the world: but then there will be no alteration made in the order of civil government, much less will that be destroyed; it will only be translated into other hands; only Christian princes shall possess it; there will be no more pagan princes, nor papal kings, nor Mahometan emperors; only such who are not only nominal but truly Christian princes, according to Psalm 72:10, 11; Isaiah 49:23; 60:3, 10, 16. But as for the personal reign of Christ with his saints, that will be on the new earth, wherein will “dwell righteousness,” and that only; that is, Christ, who is the Lord, the Righteousness of his people; and they who are made righteous by him (2 Pet. 3:13), so the new heavens and new earth John had a vision of, are, according to that vision, the seat of the new “Jerusalem,” or church of God, and of Christ, who will there tabernacle with them (Rev. 21:1-3), and then the Lord will be King over all the earth; there will be no offset; there will be one Lord, and his name one (Zech. 14:9).
Having explained the nature of Christ’s kingdom, I shall proceed to give the proof that there will be such a glorious, visible kingdom of Christ on earth: this proof, as it depends on prophesies of future things, cannot be expected to be so full and clear in all respects, as a proof may be of things past or present; the prophesies respecting the first coming of Christ, doubtless, did not appear so clear and plain before their fulfillment, as since: so the prophesies of the second coming of Christ, and of his kingdom, may not be so evident as they will be, the nearer is the approach of it; or as when it will be. Besides, the prophesies of the Old Testament are delivered in very general, concise, and comprehensive terms; and sometimes include both his first and second coming, and things that intervene between them; and therefore it should be no objection to a proof of Christ’s second coming and kingdom, that there are some things in the context which respect his first coming; and others which respect the spiritual reign; but these are to be separated, and distinctly considered; and what belongs to the one, should be applied to that; and what belongs to another, should be appropriated to that. Now the proof of this point, may be taken from various passages in the Psalms, in the Prophets, and in the books of the New Testament.
1g1. First, from some passages in the Psalms; and to begin with the Psalm 45:1-17, which was made “concerning the King,” the King Messiah, who is called “the King,” by way of eminence, the famous King; and who is described as a divine Person, as God, whose throne is for ever and ever; and as graceful, and full of grace, as Man and Mediator; and as a most potent Prince, riding in great majesty, and as a triumphant conqueror. And though some things said of him may agree with the conquests of his grace, in the first and after ages of Christianity; yet they will have their full accomplishment at his second coming, when all his enemies shall be subdued by him. His court is represented in the Psalm as a very brilliant one; some in it have the name of queen, others are called honorable women, or maids of honour; and among those, kings daughters, and others the rich among the people; which may respect the different degrees of honour among the saints, in the resurrection and kingdom state, which will only obtain then; not in the ultimate glory. The glory and purity of the church are strongly expressed; the “queen” is said to be at the King’s right hand, “in gold of Ophir,” her clothing of pure gold; which agrees with the new Jerusalem, on the new earth, a city of pure gold. The King’s daughter, the same, is said to be “all glorious within,” being perfectly pure and holy; such as the new Jerusalem will be, into which nothing sinful, defiling, and abominable, shall enter. The church is also, in the Psalm, represented as introduced into the King’s presence, in a magnificent manner, “in raiment of needlework,” as well as in “clothing of wrought gold;” which fitly agrees with the kingdom state, in which Christ will present his church to himself a glorious church, being as a bride adorned for her husband; not only having on the robe of his righteousness, but the shining garments of immortality and bliss. Moreover, at this time he will make his people “princes in all the earth;” which shows that this his kingdom will be on earth, and agrees with the faith and expectation of his saints, that as they are made by him “kings and priests unto God,” they shall “reign on earth.”
I take no notice of Psalm 72:1-20 for though it relates to Christ and his kingdom, yet to that branch of it, his spiritual reign, and expresses the prosperity, peace, glory, extensiveness, and duration of it. But Ps. 96:1-13 must not be overlooked; which begins, “The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice!” which shows that the psalm respects the kingdom of Christ on earth; and which will take place at his coming to judge the world, as appears by its connection with the last verse of the preceding psalm; and which coming of his, as hereafter described, will be in the clouds of heaven, and with flames of fire, as has been observed in a preceding chapter. The Psalm 145:1-21 treats of the kingdom of Christ, and the glory of it, and represents the saints as speaking to one another of it; of its glory, majesty, and duration (Ps. 145:11-13), which can suit no state so well as this; in which the saints will be employed in converse with each other, about the glory of their King, the glory of his coming to his kingdom, of his glorious acts done by him in it, and of the glorious things they enjoy therein.
1g2. Secondly, from various passages in the prophets: and,
1g2a. From Isaiah 24:23. “Then the moon shall be confounded,” &c. this glorious reign will take place after the punishment of the “kings of the earth upon the earth” (Isa. 24:21), by whom may be meant the beast and the false prophet, with the kings of the earth, the antichristian kings; who will make war with the Lamb, and be overcome and slain by him (Rev. 17:14; 19:20, 21), and whose army may be called “the host of the high ones that are on high;” being in high places, and in great power and dignity; and may be also very well applied to Satan, and his principalities and powers, those “spiritual wickednesses in high places;” and what is said in Isaiah 24:22 of the shutting of them up and confining them as in a prison, and then after many days visiting them, very aptly agrees with the binding of Satan and his angels, and the shutting of them up in the bottomless pit; and then after a thousand years letting them loose for a short time, which will issue in their everlasting punishment; see Revelation 20:2, 3. Moreover this reign will not take place until the utter dissolution of the earth, when it shall fall and not rise again in the form it now is (Isa. 24:19, 20), the person reigning is the Lord of hosts, the Lord of the armies of the heavens, the angels, and of the inhabitants of the earth, the greatest among them; who is King of kings and Lord of lords; all which is true of Christ, who reigns now in the kingdom of providence as God, and the Creator of all things; and in the kingdom of grace, as Mediator in the hearts of his people; and in his churches, where he will reign more illustriously in the latter day; but this is still a more glorious reign that is here spoken of: the place where he will reign is in Zion and Jerusalem, which may be literally understood of that spot of ground where these cities were, which may be the chief residence of Christ in this his kingdom; or mystically of that Zion where he and the one hundred and forty four thousand, having his Father’s name on their foreheads, stood; and the new Jerusalem, that will come down from heaven, among whom his tabernacle will be (Rev. 14:1; 21:2, 3). The persons “before” whom, and in whose sight he will reign, for this kingdom will be visible, are his ancients; not his ancient people the Jews only, but all his elect that have been from the beginning of the world; Adam, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the prophets of the Old Testament, and the apostles of the New; and the four and twenty elders, the representatives of gospel churches; and even all those ancient ones whom God has loved with an everlasting love, chose in Christ before the foundation of the world, called the “ancient people” (Isa. 44:7), with these Christ will reign “gloriously,” or “in glory;” he will appear in glory, in the glory of his deity, and in the glory of his human nature, and in the glory of his kingly office; and such will be his lustre and splendour, that the “sun” and “moon” will be “ashamed” and “confounded;” they will blush and withdraw their light, as it were, or that will not be comparable to his; and that city, the new Jerusalem, where he will reign, will stand in no need of their light, for the Lamb will be the light of it (Rev. 21:23).
1g2b. With this agrees another prophecy in Isaiah 30:26. “Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun,” &c. this prophecy will not be fulfilled until “the day of the great slaughter is over,” the great slaughter of the antichristian kings, captains, and mighty men; which carnage of them is called the supper of the great God, to which the fowls of the air are invited to prey upon (Rev. 19:17, 18), “when the towers fall,” when the city of Babylon or Rome, with its towers, and the cities of the nations, of the antichristian nations, with their towers, will fall (Rev. 16:19), nor will it be fully accomplished until “the name of the Lord,” or the Lord himself, comes “with the flame of a devouring fire,” to burn up the world, and all things in it (Isa. 30:27, 30), and so much respect the second coming of Christ, which will be from heaven with flames of fire: and another criterion of the fulfillment of this prophecy is, that it will be when the Lord will “bind” up and “heal” the “wounds” of “his people;” that is, forgive their iniquities, which in the kingdom state will be publicly and completely done; the sins of God’s people will be so fully blotted out, that they shall not be seen by themselves, nor by others, any more; see Acts 3:19-21, and though great will be the light and knowledge of men in the spiritual reign, the first branch of Christ’s kingdom; yet this sevenfold light, which is expressive of a perfection of it, best agrees with that state, the light whereof exceeds that of the sun and moon; and when the Lord shall be the everlasting light of his people, and their God their glory (Isa. 60:19, 20), a prophecy which respects the same thing.
1g2c. There is another prophecy which seems to belong to this glorious kingdom of Christ on earth in Jeremiah 23:5, 6. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous branch,” &c.; there can be no doubt but Christ is here meant, who is the Lord our righteousness, the author of righteousness to his people; he is the man whose name is the Branch, and is raised up to David as such, and a righteous one he is; a King that shall reign in righteousness, and so prosper as to be king over all the earth; and on the earth this his reign will be, since it is “in the earth” he will execute judgment and justice: and though his saints, who are meant by Judah and Israel, are always safe under his protection, being in his hands, and kept by his power; yet what state or period can be named wherein they will dwell in more safety, and in such freedom from the oppression and molestation of their enemies, as in the millennium? when all their enemies will be no more, and even Satan and his angels will be bound and shut up in the bottomless pit for a thousand years, and so during that time can give them no disturbance.
1g2d. There are some passages in Ezekiel which seem to have respect to this kingdom state; as in Ezekiel 21:27. “I will overturn, overturn, overturn it, and it shall be no more until he come, whose right it is, and I will give it him;” which may be understood not only of the overturnings in the Jewish state before the first coming of Christ, but also of the overturnings of empires before his second coming; and being expressed three times, may denote the overturning of the Pagan, Papal, and Mahometan empires, which when overturned will be no more; and after Christ will come, who is heir of all things, and by the designation of his Father, will be king over all the earth. In Ezekiel 48:1-35 there is a prophecy of a city, the dimensions of which are such as cannot agree with any city on earth literally taken; but must be understood either of the gospel church state; or it may be rather of the city of the new Jerusalem, described in Revelation 21:1-27 in which Christ will reign, and his saints with him, in a most glorious manner; and the rather this may be meant, since the name of the city is “Jehovah shammah,” the Lord is there (Ezek. 48:35), and in the new Jerusalem will be the tabernacle of Christ with men on earth, where he is said to be with his saints, and dwell with them (Rev. 21:3).
1g2e. There are some prophecies in Daniel which respect the kingdom of Christ, as in Daniel 2:1-49 the image Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream is explained by Daniel as an emblem of the four monarchies, Babylonian, Persian, Grecian, and Roman; and in Daniel 2:44 it is said, “In the days of these kings, shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom,” &c. that is, after these kings have reigned, and their kingdoms are ended, as Junius520520So the Hebrew particle ב sometimes signifies; see Noldius. interprets it; for this kingdom could not be set up in the days of them all, since their kingdoms were successive. Nebuchadnezzar also saw in his dream, “a stone cut out without hands, which smote the image, and became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth;” which must be understood of Christ, both in his human nature, which is a tabernacle not made with hands; and which God pitched, and not man; and in his kingdom, which was very small in its first beginning, but by degrees increased, and will still more increase, and become a great mountain, a mighty kingdom, and fill the whole earth, and so jostle out all other kingdoms: this will be, in part, fulfilled in the spiritual reign of Christ, when the kingdoms of this world shall become his; but most completely in the millennium, when he shall be King over all the earth. There is a prophecy of the same kind in Daniel 7:1-28 where Daniel had a vision of four beasts coming up out of the sea; which design the same four monarchies rising up successively in the world: and after this, he had a vision of a judicial process, issuing in the slaying of the fourth beast, the destruction of the Roman monarchy; and the burning of the body of the beast, the remains of that monarchy, antichrist, and the antichristian states: after which he has a vision of Christ, the Son of man, coming in the clouds of heaven; and so it must respect the second coming of Christ, and of his then having a dominion, and glorious kingdom given him, which is an everlasting one, that is, which shall not be left to another people, as in Daniel 2:1-49 nor be succeeded by another kingdom; but shall continue until the kingdom of heaven, or the ultimate glory, takes place; and this kingdom will not be in heaven, but “under the whole heaven;” as in Daniel 2:27.
1g2f. There is a passage which has been frequently referred to, and belongs to this kingdom state, in Zechariah 14:9. “And the Lord shall be king over all the earth; in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one.” This kingdom will be on earth; and will be when there is no other; and when the homage and worship paid to Christ, this King, will be universally the same. And though there may be some passages in this chapter which belong to the spiritual reign, the first branch of Christ’s kingdom; yet there are others, as well as this, which can only agree with his personal reign, upon his second coming; for it is expressly said, “The Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee;” which will be fulfilled, and not before, when Christ shall descend from heaven, and bring all his saints with him (1 Thess. 3:13; 4:14, 16). And this reign of Christ over all the earth, will be when the saints are in a perfect state; and so not before his second coming, and the resurrection of the just. Holiness will now be so universal, that, proverbially speaking, it will be written on “the bells of the horses;” and every member in the new Jerusalem church state, into which nothing defiling shall enter, meant by “every pot in Jerusalem and Judah, shall be holiness to the Lord,” or be completely holy; and there shall be “no Canaanite,” neither a profane sinner, nor a carnal professor, in the house and church of God; nor any sinful lust in any of its inhabitants.
1g3. Thirdly, The proof of this glorious kingdom of Christ, may be given from various passages in the New Testament; and,
1g3a. From Matthew 6:10. “Thy kingdom come; thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” To this, as a proof, it may be objected, at first sight, that this is the kingdom of the Father; since it is “Our Father which art in heaven,” the petitions arc directed to. To which it may be replied, that the same kingdom may he called, the kingdom of the Father, and the kingdom of Christ, as it is certain this kingdom we arc treating of is so called; as appears by comparing Matthew 26:29 with Luke 22:30 and there is a good reason to be given for it; because this kingdom is a kingdom which the Father had appointed to Christ, and which will be given him by him (Luke 22:29; Dan. 7:14), and for the same reason the Father calls him his King, because appointed and set by him as king over his holy hill of Zion (Ps 2:6), this kingdom may be called his. Now this is a kingdom yet to come, and is prayed for as being future; and so cannot design neither the kingdom of providence, nor the kingdom of grace, nor the gospel dispensation; and though it may include the spiritual reign, the first branch of Christ’s kingdom, yet will not be fulfilled in that; since it respects a perfect state, when the will of God will be done on earth by men, as it is in heaven by the angels; the saints, in the kingdom state, will serve Christ their king constantly and incessantly, and so perfectly; and this will be a kingdom on earth, where the will of God will be perfectly done, as it is in heaven, and so is a distinct state from that. To all which may be added, that the coming of this kingdom is to be prayed for;521521It is a rule with the Jews, that every blessing or prayer, in which there is no mention of God and his kingdom, is no blessing or prayer. Maimon. Hilchot, Beracot, c. 1. s. 5. not only the first branch of it, in the spiritual reign, as in Isaiah 62:6, 7 but the second coming of Christ, to take possession of his kingdom personally, saving, “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!” and this may, and should be a prayer of faith; for since he has directed his people to pray daily for the coming of this kingdom, it may be assured that it certainly will come; for Christ would not direct his saints to pray for that which never will be.
1g3b. From Matthew 20:21-23. “Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children, desiring that her two sons may sit the one on Christ’s right hand, and the other on the left, in his kingdom.” The same request is made by the two sons themselves (Mark 10:35-40). Now though these petitioners were tinctured with the national notion of the Messiah setting up a temporal kingdom on earth, at the time of his first coming; and with which all the apostles seem, more or less, tinctured, until the Spirit was poured down upon them on the day of Pentecost; yet our Lord does not deny, but rather owns, there would be a kingdom of his, in which distinctions of honour would be made, and peculiar privileges, and marks of respect, bestowed on some; but that these would only be given to such for whom they were prepared by his Father: he blames them for their pride and ambition, in affecting to have preeminence above their brethren; and suggests, that their petition was an unseasonable one; it was not a time to think of, and expect honours and preferments, they being now in a suffering state, and must expect sufferings for his sake; yea, that he himself must drink of a bitter cup, and be baptized with a bloody baptism, before he entered into his kingdom and glory; and this would also be their case: this glorious kingdom of Christ, and honours in it, are not to be expected in a militant suffering state; the saints must suffer with Christ first, before they reign and are glorified together with him; the crown of righteousness will not be given, till the good fight of faith is fought; and not before the glorious appearing of Christ, and only to them that love that: this cannot be understood of the kingdom of heaven, or a kingdom there, because there is no sitting at Christ’s right hand there; he is set down indeed in his Father’s throne, and sits at his right hand, where no creatures, angels nor men, are admitted: but in the kingdom state, he will have a throne distinct from his Father, in which his saints will sit with him (Rev. 3:21), on his right and left; and in which state will be thrones, whereon some will sit, being distinguished from others, with some matins of honour and esteem; for such there will be in this kingdom of Christ, though what they will be is not easy to say; they are signified by one being a ruler over ten cities, and another a ruler over live cities; which is not to be understood literally, but of some posts of honour, and distinctive marks of respect some will have; for as one star differs from another star in glory, so will be the resurrection of the dead; or such a distinction be in the resurrection state—in this glorious kingdom of Christ. In Mark 10:37 instead of, “In thy kingdom,” it is, “In thy glory.”
1g3c. From Luke 1:32, 33. “The Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David; and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end!” These words were spoken by the angel to the virgin, concerning her son, who should be great, and be called, “the Son of the Highest;” and which respects him, not in his incarnate state on earth, for then he appeared; not great, but mean; and his kingdom was not with observation: but hereafter, in the latter day, when his name should be great among the Gentiles, from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same (Mal. 1:11), and especially at his second coming, which will be with power and great glory; and he will appear, as the Son of the Highest, as the great God, and our Saviour; and whereas he was the Son of David, according to the flesh, it is foretold, that he should have the throne of his father David, not literally, but mystically; which will have its accomplishment, in part, at the conversion of the Jews in the last day, when they shall seek the Lord their God, and David their king, the true Messiah, and yield subjection to him; but more fully when all the elect of God are gathered in, both Jews and Gentiles, over whom be will reign, even over the house of Jacob, that Jacob, the Lord has chosen for himself; and this his kingdom will be for ever; it will not give way to, nor be succeeded by another; in the same sense as in the prophecy of Daniel, it is said to be an everlasting kingdom; there will be no end of it; for when Christ has reigned with his people on earth a thousand years, he will reign with them, and they with him, in heaven, to all eternity; see Micah 4:7.
1g3d. From Luke 22:29, 30. “As my Father hath appointed unto me a kingdom,” &c. Here is a special and peculiar kingdom of Christ, which he calls, “my kingdom;” and which he has by the designation and appointment of his Father; and which was yet to come, as well as that he appointed to his followers; in which kingdom there will be a table, at which all Christ’s people will sit, and eat and drink; not temporally, but spiritually, and shall feed upon a divine repast, suited to their resurrection state; for at this table shall sit Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and multitudes from divers parts, and who have lived in the several periods of time; and here will be thrones placed, on which the saints shall sit; for they will now be “kings and priests unto God,” and shall reign as such, and have judgment given them, and on some distinct honours will be conferred.
1g3e. From Luke 23:42, 43. “And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom!” The light and faith the penitent thief had in the kingdom of Christ, and in his future coming to it, were very great; for though Christ appeared now very mean and despicable, suffering a shameful death, and lying under the greatest reproach and ignominy; yet he believed that he would come again, and take possession of a kingdom that belonged to him; and desires that he might be remembered by him at his appearing and kingdom: to which an answer is returned; “And Jesus said unto him, verily I say unto thee, today shall thou be with me in paradise”: signifying, that he should not stay so long without partaking of his favors; for that day he should be with him in the third heaven, and continue with him till his second coming; and then he, with all his saints, should come with him, and share in the glories of his kingdom.
1g3f. From Acts 1:6. “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom unto Israel?” The sceptre, according to ancient prophecy, was now departed from Judah, and Judea was become a province to the Roman empire; now the Jews had a notion, that when the Messiah came, he would restore the kingdom, and redeem them from the Roman yoke, and make them a happy people, as to temporal things; and with this notion, the disciples themselves were tinctured; and as they believed that Jesus was the Messiah, they had raised expectations of this matter; but when he was dead, their hopes seem to be almost quite gone (Luke 24:21), but Christ being raised from the dead, their hopes revived: and it was a notion that prevailed with the Jews, and does to this day, that the coming of the king Messiah, to deliver them, and the resurrection of the dead, will be at the same time: and, indeed, Christ’s personal reign will take place after the resurrection of the just. And now there having been a resurrection of many of the saints (Matthew 27:52, 53), and especially Christ himself being risen, and also had spoken to his disciples of things pertaining to the kingdom of God (Matthew 27:3), they might hope that this was the time the kingdom would be restored. Now though they had very obscure and carnal notions of the kingdom; yet Christ does not deny that there would be a kingdom hereafter he should enjoy, and which should be restored to Israel; only blames them for their curiosity in inquiring into the time of it (Matthew 27:7), and which shows that this kingdom will not be till Christ comes to judge the quick and dead, which time none knows but the Father only (Matthew 24:36), and exactly agrees with this passage.
1g3g. From 2 Timothy 4:1. “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and dead at his appearing, and his kingdom.” This appearing of Christ cannot be meant of his first appearing in human nature, that was past, this future; that was not to judge the world, this will be: nor did his kingdom then appear, now it will: but of his appearing a second time to those that look for him (Heb.. 9:28), and then his personal reign, and glorious kingdom will take place, he now personally appearing in his glory; and when he will judge both quick and dead, will virtually judge, as has been before observed, the dead and living saints, by raising the one and changing the other, when he shall descend from heaven, and thus appear; and the wicked also, by burning their bodies in the general conflagration which now will be, and by shutting up their souls with Satan, in the bottomless pit. And moreover, the actual judgment, both of the righteous and the wicked, will follow on this appearing of his kingdom; the judgment of the saints will be at the beginning of it, and in it, and the judgment of the wicked at the end of it.
1g3h. From Hebrews 2:5. “For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak;” though the “world to come,” may be understood of the gospel dispensation the apostle had been speaking of in the preceding verses, in distinction from the legal, or Jewish dispensation, angels had a concern in; whereas they have none in the ministry of the gospel. And the Jewish dispensation is sometimes called “the world,” the end of which fell upon the times of Christ and his apostles (Heb. 9:26; 1 Cor. 10:11), and with respect to which, the gospel dispensation may be called “the world to come,” it being usual with the Jews, to call the days of the Messiah by this name; which may take in the whole time between the first and second coming of Christ. But though the apostle may have respect to what he was speaking of in the preceding verses, yet so as to include what he was going on to speak of in the following verses, concerning the second Adam’s world; for the proof of which he refers to the eighth Psalm; which is spoken, not of the first Adam, not even in his state of innocence; the name of the Lord was not then so excellent in all the earth as it has been since, and especially will be; nor were there then babes and sucklings, out of whose mouth strength, or praise, could be ordained; nor was Satan, the enemy and avenger, stilled, he soon got the advantage over Adam; nor could Adam be called then Enosh, a frail mortal man, as that word is thought to signify; nor was he a son of man; nor were the works of God’s hands so universally put under him as is said, not the angels: but Christ, the second Adam, is meant, with whom everything agrees; though, as yet, all things, in the fullest sense, are not in subjection to him, nor will be, till his second coming, till after the binding of Satan, and the resurrection of the dead; and then the last enemy, death, will be destroyed, and his glorious kingdom take place, which angels will have no concern in; they will be employed at the beginning of it, in gathering together the risen saints; and at the end of it, in casting the wicked into hell; but not in the kingdom itself; nor will they be needed. Moreover, this world to come, seems to include the new world, the new heavens and the new earth, the apostle Peter speaks of; for his beloved brother Paul, he says, had wrote and spoke of those to the same persons the apostle Peter wrote unto; now he wrote to the converted Jews, scattered abroad in various places, and therefore must refer to the epistle to the Hebrews, written by the apostle Paul; and where, in that epistle, can he be thought to speak of this new world, the heavens and the earth, but in this passage under consideration? and which may be very well rendered, as it is by Dr. Burnets,522522Theory of the Earth, vol. 2. b. 4. ch. 2. p. 198. “the habitable earth to come;” which will be the seat of Christ’s personal reign.
I take no notice now of the proof from the passages Revelation 5:10, 20:4-6 which are very plain, because I have already made mention of them, and shall have occasion to make more use of them; though Socinus523523Opera, tom. 2. contra Chiliastas, p. 458, 460. thinks this kingdom cannot be proved from Revelation 20:1-15 since the whole place, he says, must be taken and explained in an allegorical way; but he owns, that should he be asked, what is the allegorical interpretation of it, he is not ashamed to confess his ignorance of it. But that it is to be taken in a literal sense, will appear hereafter.
I go on,
2. To show, that in this glorious, visible, and personal reign of Christ, all the saints will have a share; they will “reign with him” (Rev. 20:4, 6). I shall not dwell long on the proof of this; because those scriptures which speak of Christ’s kingdom, give plain and clear hints of the reign of his saints in it.
2a. First, there are various passages of scripture, which give plain intimations of the reign of the saints with Christ in his kingdom; these are they which he will then “make princes in all the earth” (Ps 45:16), these, however mean in their original, are, through his grace, set among princes, and shall inherit the throne of glory; and these princes are altogether kings; and being such, shall reign with Christ on earth; for when he, the King, shall “reign in righteousness,” these are the “princes” that shall “rule in judgment” (Isa. 32:1). In the same prophecy of Daniel, which speaks of the kingdom that shall be given to Christ, upon his coming in the clouds of heaven (Dan. 7:14), it is also said (Dan. 7:27). “And the kingdom, and the dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom;” all which is expressive of a glorious kingdom under the whole heaven; and so not a kingdom in heaven, but under it, on earth, and which will extend to all the earth. Such a kingdom “shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High;” to the people and saints of Christ, who is Jehovah, the most High in all the earth; such a kingdom they never had yet, nor never will have, till the Son of man comes in the clouds of heaven; “Whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominion shall serve and obey him”: which shows, that this kingdom is of the same nature, extent, and duration, with Christ’s (Dan. 7:14), and in which the saints will share with him. Brenius524524Not. in Dan. vii. 13. et de regno Eccl. glorioso, c. 2. fol. 11. thinks, that by one “like the Son of man” (Dan. 7:13), is not meant Christ personally, but his glorious kingdom in the latter day; that as the four preceding monarchies are represented by beasts, for their fierceness, cruelty, and tyranny; his by a man, for the mildness, gentleness, lenity, and humanity of it: and that coming in the clouds of heaven, denotes the divine and heavenly original of it not rising out of the sea, or earth, as the other kingdoms: and he supposes the Son of man, and the people of the saints of the most High (Dan. 7:27), to be the same to whom the dominion will be given. There is a passage in Micah 4:7, 8 which plainly intimates, that when Christ reigns, his church and people shall reign also; “The Lord shall reign over them in mount Zion, from henceforth even for ever;” to which reference seems to be had by the angel, in Luke 1:32 and then it follows; “And thou, O tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion;” which may be understood of Christ, the tower and strong hold of his people: “Unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion;” he shall have the first, the chief, the principal share in this reign; yet also, “the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem,” the church of God, the new Jerusalem, the holy city of the saints. Our Lord tells his disciples, “That ye which have followed me,” who had embraced him as the Messiah, and received his doctrines, and submitted to his ordinances: here should be a stop, and then another clause begin: “in the regeneration;” meaning, not the grace of regeneration, or the new birth; but a new state of things, the resurrection state:525525Austin says, without doubt the resurrection of the dead is meant, De Civ. Dei, l. 20. c. 5. the word παλιγγενεσια, is used by Greek writers, both philosophers and the Christian fathers,526526Antoninus de Seipso, l. 11. f. 1. Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 15. c. 19. Basil. de Creat. Orat. 1. Epiphan. contr. Haeres. l. 1. tom. 3. haer. 37. for the renovation of the world; and the Syriac version of it here, is, “in the new world,” that is, the new heavens and the new earth, the apostle Peter speaks of; in which new state, the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, reign in it before his ancients gloriously; and then “also,” adds he, “ye shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel;” should have posts and places of honour in the church of God (Matthew 19:28), similar to this, is what Christ says to them in Luke 22:29, 30 that as his Father had appointed him a kingdom, so he appointed one to them, in which they should “eat and drink at his table, and sit on thrones,” &c. which is expressive of great nearness to him, communion with him in his kingdom, and of great honour conferred upon them. The saying of Christ, in Luke 20:35 refers to this state; where he speaks of some that “shall be counted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead;” by which is meant the world to come, in distinction from this present world (Luke 22:34), even the new world, the apostle Peter’s new heavens and new earth, which will take place upon the resurrection of the dead; and they that are worthy of the first resurrection, through the grace of Christ, those shall obtain, possess, inherit, and dwell in the new world, and reign with Christ in it. The kingdom to be restored to Israel (Acts 1:6), which Christ seems to allow will be, is what will be restored and given to the mystical Israel, even the whole Israel of God, all his elect, consisting of Jews and Gentiles. When the apostle Paul speaks of saints that suffer with Christ, being “glorified together” (Rom. 8:17), he elsewhere expresses, by their “reigning with him” (2 Tim. 2:12), and to this reigning together with Christ, he may well be thought to have respect in 1 Corinthians 4:8. “Ye have reigned as kings without us;” treating him, and his fellow ministers, with some degree of contempt, as if they were below them, and they stood in no need of them: and adds, “I would to God that you did reign,” in the best sense, and in the highest degree, even with Christ, in his personal reign; “that we also might reign with you;” in which state the saints will all reign together. Once more, Christ promises (Rev. 3:21). “To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me on my throne; even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne”: this promise will be made good to every overcomer; to everyone that is made more than a conqueror through Christ; and will be fulfilled in the kingdom state, when he will have a throne of his own; now he sits on his Father’s throne with him; then he will sit on his own throne, and this will be large enough for all his saints to sit upon with him; which is as strongly expressive of reigning with him, as words can possibly be. To all which may be added, the relations and characters the saints bear in scripture, which will strengthen the proof of their sharing with Christ in the glories of his kingdom. “They are,” and will then appear to be, “the children of God, being the children of the resurrection” (Luke 20:36), as Christ was declared to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead; so they will be declared also to be the sons of God, by their resurrection from the dead; “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17). Christ is heir of all things, and they are joint heirs with him; he is heir of the world, and the world is theirs, Christ being theirs; not the present world, in which they have but a small share; but the world to come, the new world, the world that Abraham was heir of, through the righteousness of faith; as are also all his spiritual seed, even they that are Christ’s; and these are heirs according to the promise, and shall inherit the new earth, and reign with Christ in it. The church and people of God, stand in the relation of a bride to Christ, being espoused to him; hence as he is king, the church is queen; and not only stands at his right hand in gold of Ophir, but sits on the same throne with him; and as she bears the same name with him (Jer. 23:5, 6; 33:16), she shares in his honour, dignity, and glory. The saints have the character of kings, being made so by Christ to God; and they have the regalia of kings, have thrones to sit on, crowns on their heads, and shall not want a kingdom; being kings, they shall reign on earth, and reign with Christ there (Rev. 1:6; 3:21; 4:4; 5:10; 20:4).
2b. Secondly, all the saints will share in the glories of Christ’s kingdom; though some will have distinguished honours, yet all will reign with Christ. Some think only the martyrs will rise first, and reign; and, according to the opinion of some, not on earth neither; but shall ascend to heaven, and reign there, while the other saints, during the millennium, are on earth; and which is grounded on a passage in Revelation 20:4. “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them,” those next described; “and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God — and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” That these were martyrs, no doubt is to be made; they suffered death for the testimony they bore to Jesus and his gospel; and by the manner of their death, beheading, it appears that such are designed who suffered under the persecutions of the Roman pagan emperors, this being a Roman punishment; hence the axe used to be carried before the Roman magistrates; and this one sort of death is put for all others that Christians, in those times, were put to: and these souls seem to be the same with those in Revelation 6:9, 10 such, indeed, who have been slain in the cause of Christ, shall “live,” that is, live again; their bodies shall be raised and united to their souls, and “reign with Christ” in their whole person, body, and soul: but not a word is here said, or elsewhere, of their ascension to heaven, and reigning there; but, on the contrary, those who are said to dwell with Christ, and he with them, are said to come down from God out of heaven (Rev. 21:2, 3), and that there should be two sorts of persons in the millennium, one in heaven and the other on earth; or, as others imagine, that there shall be on earth some in an immortal, perfect state, and others in a mortal and imperfect one; some having the word and ordinances among them, and others not, are mere chimeras, for which there is no foundation: and what communion can saints have with each other, who are either at such a distance from one another, or in such different circumstances? and as to the martyrs, it is certain, there are others besides them who shall live and reign with Christ a thousand years: and who are mentioned in the same text; for it follows, “And which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image; neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they,” as well as the martyrs before described, “lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years;” these are not represented as sufferers for Christ, only as confessors and professors of his name; who bore their testimony against the papacy, in every shape of it, and did not yield unto it, neither by word nor deed; and may include all such persons, who, in every age and period of time, abstain from all corrupt worship, false doctrines, and ordinances of men. The reason why such who suffered under Rome pagan, and those who submitted not to Rome papal, are particularly pointed at and described, is, because the book of the Revelation is chiefly concerned with the state of the church, from the resurrection of Christ to his second coming. Otherwise, all the Old Testament saints, as well as new, will have a part in the first resurrection, and share in the millennium reign; even all the saints that have been from the beginning of the world, now are, or shall be, to the end of it; for,
2b2. All that are Christ’s shall rise from the dead at his coming (1 Cor. 15:23), and, in consequence of their resurrection, shall reign with him. Now all the people of God, from the beginning of the world to the end of it, all true believers in Christ, are his, belong to him; he has an interest in them, and they in him; and when he comes a second time, they will rise first; and having a part in the first resurrection, shall reign with Christ a thousand years (Rev. 20:4, 6).
2b3. All the elect of God, and the redeemed of the Lamb, are kings and priests; and being such, shall reign on earth; those that are a “chosen generation,” or who are “elect according to the foreknowledge of God,” are a “royal priesthood,” or are kings and priests (1 Pet. 1:2 2:9), and all that are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, “out of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation, are made unto God kings and priests,” and “shall reign on earth,” on the new earth, with Christ, a thousand years; even all of them, all that are chosen, all that are redeemed (Rev. 5:9, 10; 20:6).
2b4. The whole church of God, and the members of it, in every dispensation, shall have a share in the kingdom of Christ. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, will have a seat in it, and multitudes from all parts of the world, and who have lived in different ages, shall come and sit down with them (Matthew 8:11; Luke 11:28, 29. The four and twenty elders, the representatives of the gospel church, under the New Testament dispensation, being redeemed out of every nation, and being kings and priests, declare their strong faith that they shall reign on earth; and accordingly, are sometimes represented as having on their heads crowns of gold, as well as clothed in white, the raiment of priests arid princes (Rev. 4:4; 5:9, 10). In a word, the whole body of the elect, and redeemed of the Lamb, the church universal, consisting of all its members, not one wanting; and so a bride, completely prepared and adorned for her husband; even the holy city and new Jerusalem, will descend from God, out of heaven, on earth; arid the tabernacle of God, of Immanuel, will be with them; and he will dwell and reign with them, and they with him (Rev. 21:2, 3), compared with Revelation 20:9.
2c. Thirdly, in what sense the saints, even all the saints, will reign with Christ, may be next considered. This will not be after the manner of his spiritual reign among his saints; that is a reign in them, this is a reigning “with” them, and of them with him. His reign of grace takes place at the conversion of men, when, as King, he sets up his throne in their hearts, and reigns there; and such a reign has been from the beginning of the world, as soon as the first man was called by grace; and has continued ever since, more or less, in every dispensation, and will continue until the last man is converted. Nor does this reign we are treating of, take place in the separate state of the soul in heaven, before the resurrection: that state is expressed, by a “being with Christ” (Luke 23:42; 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23), but never, as I remember, by “reigning with him.” This reign will not be until the resurrection, till soul and body are reunited; for there can be no proper reigning while the body is under the power of death and the grave, at least not fully and completely: the saints will first “live,” that is, live again in their bodies, have a part in the first resurrection, and then reign with Christ, soul and body, a thousand years (Rev. 20:4, 6). And so,
2c1. This will be a reign “with Christ” personally and visibly; he will appear in person, and be visible by them; and they shall appear with him, in a most glorious manner, in soul and body; and will be “like him,” being glorified, and reigning together with him; and shall see him as he is, personally and visibly, in the glory of his person, as God man, reigning before his ancients gloriously; see Colossians 3:4 and 1 John 3:2.
2c2. This reigning with Christ, implies some kind of share with him in the glories of his kingdom; hence “thrones” are said to be set for them to sit upon; and “judgment given them,” which denotes regal power to be exercised by them; yea, they are said to sit on the same throne with Christ, on “his throne,” and to “eat and drink at his table, in his kingdom”: all which expresses a great share of honour and dignity, and of large enjoyments; see Revelation 20:4; 3:21; Luke 22:30.
2c3. This supposes dominion over all their enemies; as Christ will now have all enemies put under his feet, being subdued by him; so all enemies will be put under the feet of the saints, and they will have dominion over them. “Sin” will now be no more troublesome to them. Their power over sin, in the present state, is expressed rather negatively, by sin “not having dominion over them;” than affirmatively, by their having dominion over sin; nay, they are sometimes so far from it, that they are brought “into captivity by it”: but now the straggle for dominion will be over, the warfare will be accomplished, and an entire victory obtained over sin, which will be no more. Satan, and his principalities and powers, though spoiled and bruised by Christ, and triumphed over by him, yet there is a wrestling and combat between the saints and them in the present life; and though the devil cannot devour and destroy them, yet he greatly disturbs and distresses them; but now he will be bruised under their feet also; when he, and his angels, shall be shut up in the bottomless pit, where they will remain during the thousand years Christ and his saints shall reign together in the world, in which the saints have now so much tribulation; and the “wicked” men of it, from whom they meet with so much persecution, in one shape or another, shall be trodden down by them, and be ashes under the soles of their feet, their bodies being burnt up in the general conflagration; and their souls in no capacity to hurt or molest them, being shut up with Satan in the bottomless pit. The last enemy, “death,” will now be destroyed, being “swallowed up in victory,” by the resurrection of the dead; so that the risen saints, reigning with Christ say, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” and, indeed of this, and every other enemy, they may say, “Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ!” 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54, 55, 57.
3. The description of the persons that shall thus reign with Christ, as given Revelation 20:6.
3a. First, they are such who have “part in the first resurrection;” which, what that is, must be inquired into.
3a1. First, this cannot be understood of a spiritual resurrection, or of a resurrection from the death of sin to a life of grace, which men are made partakers of at regeneration; such a resurrection cannot be intended here; for,
3a1a. As this was a vision of something future, that John saw, be it afterwards when it may, it could never be the first resurrection of this sort; since there had been thousands of instances of this, from the beginning of the world to the times of John; and therefore could be nothing uncommon, rare, and wonderful, to be shown him, if this was the case.
3a1b. This can never be the first resurrection, with respect to the persons themselves raised; for they are such who had been raised in this sense before; since they are the souls of such who had suffered for Christ and his gospel, and had bore a testimony against antichrist in every shape; and had refused obedience to him by word or deed: and can it be thought that such persons had not been quickened by the grace of God; or were not raised from the death of sin, before they suffered for the sake of Christ, or professed his name?
3a1c. Persons once raised in this sense, never die again; nor stand in need of being raised a second time; he that lives, and believes in Christ, never dies a spiritual death; grace in him is immortal and incorruptible: and could this possibly be their case, it would not be the first, but a second resurrection.
3a1d. There is no such resurrection after death. Those persons are represented in the vision, as having been slain for their faithful testimony; or as having departed this life, either under Rome pagan or papal; and as they stood in no need of such a resurrection, so if they had, they could not have had it; if a man dies in his sins, he remains in them; if he dies impenitent, and an unbeliever, so he continues; neither faith nor repentance any grace, are given after death.
3a1e. Persons who have been quickened in this sense, or have been spiritually raised from the death of sin, and have lived, never lived corporeally a thousand years; not any of the saints in the patriarchal state, partakers of a spiritual resurrection, even those that lived the longest, not Adam, nor Methuselah, lived to such an age; nor any afterwards to the times of John; nor any since; nor is there any reason to expect that any will in the present state.
3a1f. There will be none to be raised in this sense at the coming of Christ in the last day; the Jews will have been converted, and the fulness of the Gentiles brought in; all that God meant should come to repentance, will now have been brought to it; and when everyone of them is effectually called, or, in other words, raised from a death of sin to a life of grace, then will the day of the Lord come, and the general conflagration take place, in which all the wicked of the earth will be burnt up; and the whole election of grace being gathered in, and the whole church of God completely prepared for Christ her husband, there will remain none to be the subjects of a spiritual resurrection.
3a1g. If this living again before the reign, or at the beginning of the reign of the thousand years, is to be understood of a spiritual resurrection, then the living of the rest of the dead, that is, of the wicked, at the end of the thousand years, must be understood in the same sense, that they shall live a life of grace, being raised from the death of sin; for it is expressly said, “The rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished;” which supposes they will live when they are finished, and live in the same sense as they will who will live at the beginning of them; that is, a corporal life, being raised from the dead; not, surely, a spiritual one.
3a2. Secondly, nor is this first resurrection to be understood in a civil sense, of the resurrection of the martyrs, not in their own persons, but in their successors, or of a revival of the cause for which they suffered; which it is supposed will be,527527So Brenius in loc. et de Regno Eccl. Glorioso, c. 10. The Author of Theopolis, Whitby on the Millennium, Dr. Ridgley in his Body of Divinity, &c. when in the latter day the Jews will be converted, and the fulness of the Gentiles brought in; the conversion of the Jews being represented by a resurrection, by opening their graves, and bringing them out of them, and causing them to live (Ezek. 37:13, 14), and of which some528528Brightman in Dan. xii. 2. understand Daniel 12:2 and by the apostle Paul called, “life from the dead” (Rom. 11:15). But,
3a2a. Though this may be called a resurrection, in a figurative sense, yet it is never called, “the first resurrection;” nor can it be called so, with any propriety; because there have been already revivals of the cause of the martyrs: there was a revival of the cause of them who suffered in the persecutions of the pagan emperors, in the times of Constantine, when paganism was demolished throughout the Roman empire, and Christianity got ground, and flourished everywhere; and there was a revival of the cause of the martyrs and confessors under Rome papal, at the time of the reformation; when whole nations, even many of the European nations, fell off from popery, and embraced the truths of the gospel; so that, admitting the time referred to may be called the revival of the cause of the martyrs, it cannot be said to be the “first,” but rather the “third” resurrection. Besides, a first resurrection, supposes a second, of the same kind. Now after the conversion of the Jews, and the great spread of the gospel among the Gentiles, what further reviving of the cause of Christ is there to be expected in the present state, that can be called a second resurrection?
3a2b. Those that shall have part in the first resurrection, are expressly the same persons who really existed in the times of Rome pagan, and Rome papal, and not any successors of theirs, of whom the same things cannot be said as are of them; nor in the times referred to, will there be any persons similar, and answerable to the martyrs and confessors described; since there will be no antichrist to suffer from, nor to bear a testimony against; for the kingdoms of this world, both pagan, papal, and Mahometan, will now become the kingdoms of Christ, and serve him.
3a2c. The time of the conversion of the Jews, and of the Gentiles, will be over before this first resurrection takes place; and an account is given of those events in the book of the Revelation, before this resurrection and millennium state. They are signified, partly, by the ascension of the witnesses to heaven; and partly by the kingdoms of this world becoming Christ’s (Rev. 11:12, 15), and particularly, the conversion of the Jews, by the marriage of the Lamb being come (Rev. 19:7-9).
3a2d. The resurrection of the cause of Christ, as in the conversion of the Jews, and the accession of the Gentiles, and this first resurrection, are assigned and belong to two different periods; the events relating to the Jews and Gentiles, will be upon the destruction of the Pope and Turk, at the sounding of the seventh trumpet, and the pouring out of the sixth and seventh vials, and when all the antichristian kings and states will be destroyed: but the events of the first resurrection, and the millennium, will be not only after the destruction of antichrist, but after the binding and shutting up of Satan and his angels, with the wicked, in the bottomless pit, and after the burning of the world; and not before.
3a2e. If the first resurrection could be understood of the revival of the cause of the martyrs, at the beginning of the millennium, it would follow, that there will also be a revival of it among the rest of the dead, or the wicked, at the end of it; since it is suggested, that they shall then live: but this is not only altogether improbable, but the reverse is the truth; for they will gather together in a body, and encompass the camp of the saints, the beloved city, with an intention to destroy it: it remains, therefore,
3a3. Thirdly, that this first resurrection is to be understood literally and properly, of a corporal one; for,
3a3a. This resurrection is of such who died a corporal death, either a violent one, being slain for their testimony for Christ and the gospel; or in a natural way, not having given into antichristian principles and practices; and therefore their living again, or their resurrection, which is called the first, must be a corporal resurrection; for as is their death, so must be their resurrection from the dead. The souls slain, cannot be understood of such, distinctly considered; for they die not, and cannot be said to be raised again; but of the persons of men with respect to their bodies, which only die, and are the proper subjects of a resurrection; and which being raised, are united to their souls, and live; and so the whole person lives.
3a3b. Of such a resurrection, is the living again of the wicked dead, at the end of the millennium; for as their living then cannot be interpreted, neither of a spiritual resurrection, nor of a civil one, it must be of a corporal one; and if theirs, who are the rest of the dead, is a corporal one, then those who lived before them, being raised from the dead, must be a corporal one likewise; for that one part of the dead should be raised, and live in one sense; and the rest be raised and live in another sense, is not reasonable to suppose.
3a3c. It is a resurrection, which, by way of emphasis, is called, “the resurrection,” which some persons are “worthy” of, and others are not; or, “the resurrection which is out of,” or “from among the dead;” the wicked dead, leaving them to continue under the power of death for a longer time; and this is the resurrection the apostle was so desirous of attaining to (Phil. 3:11), where he uses a different word, than what is commonly used of the resurrection; it being “a better resurrection” (Heb. 11:35), the resurrection of the just, which is better than that of the wicked, being unto life, and “through Jesus” (Acts 4:2), through union to him; and of which he is the example and first fruits.
3a3d. The resurrection in the text has a double article, which makes it the more emphatical, and points at what resurrection is meant, “The resurrection, the first;” that which is the first, with respect to the wicked, whose resurrection can be no other than corporal, and therefore this must be so too. And this may be confirmed by other passages of scripture; as by Psalm 49:14. “The upright shall have dominion over them,” the wicked; they rising first in the morning of the day of the resurrection; and the wicked in the evening, or at the end of that day: and especially by 1 Thessalonians 4:16. The dead in Christ shall rise first; this can be understood of no other than a corporal resurrection, which will be at the second coming of Christ; nor of any other but of the saints who die in Christ, in union with him; and of their rising before the wicked, who die not in him, but in their sins; and not of their rising before the change of the living saints, as some think; for the resurrection of the dead in Christ, and the change of the living saints, will both be together, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Cor. 15:52), and so not one before another. Nor are the several particular resurrections mentioned in scripture, any objection to the resurrection of the saints first;529529Theopolis, p. 53. since these were not a resurrection to an immortal life; and besides, would lie as strongly against Christ being the “first” that rose from the dead (Acts 26:23). Nor is the resurrection of the saints, at the resurrection of Christ, any objection to it (Matthew 27:52, 53), for whether or no they rose to an immortal life, is a question; and if they did, which is not improbable, theirs was only a presage and pledge of the general resurrection of the just, which is the first; and that of the wicked, the second.
3a3e. Nor are the passages in Daniel 12:2 and John 5:28, 29 to be objected to a first and second corporal resurrection, and to such a distance of time between them as that of a thousand years; the resurrection of good and evil men being mentioned together, as if they were events that took place at the same time; since, in prophecies especially, as these are, things are often laid together, which are fulfilled separately, and at a distance from each other; as some concerning the first and second coming of Christ; and also concerning his spiritual and personal reign. Besides, these passages may be considered as perfectly agreeing with, and as expressive of this twofold resurrection, as to the time thereof; thus the prophet Daniel says, “Many shall awake,” or rise from the dead; that is, “all;” but not at the same time, nor to the same end; “some” of these shall awake, or arise, at the beginning of the thousand years, “to everlasting life;” and “some,” at the end of them, “to shame and everlasting contempt”: and so our Lord says in the other passage; “The hour is coming;” the word ωρα, does not always signify that part of time which is sometimes called an hour; but “time” in general, and a very long time too; see 1 John 2:18 and Revelation 17:12 and so here; “The time is coming,” the time of the millennium; within the compass of which “all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life,” at the beginning of the said hour, or time: “and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation,” at the end of it.
3a3f. The apostle John, when, in the context, speaking of the resurrection from the dead, says, “they lived,” that is, rose from the dead; “but the rest of the dead lived not again,” did not rise again from the dead till afterwards; speaks in the language of his nation; nothing is more common with the Jews, than to call a corporal resurrection תחיית המתים “the quickening of the dead,” 530530T. B. Sabbat, fol. 88. 2. Sotah, fol. 48. 2. & Sanhedrin, fol. 92. l. Targum Hieros. in Gen. 19. 26. et in Gen. 25. 24. or causing them to live. And is agreeable to the sacred scriptures (Isa. 26:19; Hosea 6:2; Rom. 4:17). Now since only such who have part in the first resurrection, and which is a corporal one, will reign with Christ a thousand years; the millennium reign will be a reign only of risen saints, in a perfect state, and who will not be in a mortal and sinful one; so that here will be no conversion work, and so no need of the word and ordinances; and much less will there be an indulgence to carnal pleasures.
3b. Secondly, another part of the description of those that shall reign with Christ in the millennium, and which shows their happiness, is, “On such the second death hath no power”: the phrase, “the second death,” is only used in the book of the Revelation, and was common with the Jews, and what John was well acquainted with, and is frequently to be met with in their writings;531531Targ. Hieros. in Deut. 33. 6. & Tou in Isa. 22. 14. & 65. 6, 15. & in Jer. 51. 39, 57. δευτερος θανατος is a phrase in Plutarch. de facie in luna, p. 942. what is meant by it, may be seen in Revelation 20:14, 21:8 and is no other than the punishment of body and soul in hell; an eternal separation of both from God; and is called the “second” death, in distinction from the death of the body, which is the first death, and lies in a separation of the soul from the body: now to be free and secure from such a death, must be a great happiness; and this all in the millennium state will enjoy, and for evermore.
3c. Thirdly, those that will share in the millennium reign with Christ, will be “priests of God and of Christ;” that is, made priests to God by Christ; shall serve the Lord as the priests in the temple did; draw nigh to him, and offer up the sacrifices of praise continually; they will be a royal priesthood, both kings and priests; as in Revelation 1:6, 5:10 like Christ their head, who is a Priest on his throne; and as his type, Melchizedek, who was king of Salem, and priest of the most high God: nor has it been unusual, in the nations of the earth, for men to be both kings and priests;532532“Rex Anius, rex idem hominum Phoebique sacerdos,” Virgil. Aeneid. l. 3. so the Roman emperors were called Pontifices. and certain it is, that those in the millennium are priests, that shall reign as kings; and the same word, in the Hebrew language, signifies both priests and princes.
3d. Fourthly, upon the whole, it is no wonder that they are pronounced “blessed” and “holy”: they must needs be “blessed,” since they will be always before the throne, and serve the Lord day and night, and hunger and thirst no more; shall be free from evils of every kind, and from death in every shape, and of every sort; and shall be in the perfect enjoyment of the presence of Christ. And they will be holy in body, being raised in purity, in incorruption, and in glory, like the glorious body of Christ; and in soul, being perfectly sanctified, and entirely free from sin, from the being of it, and all defilement by it; see Revelation 21:27.
4. The continuance and duration of the reign of Christ and the saints together, which will be a “thousand years.” The things to be inquired into are, whether these years are to be understood definitely, or indefinitely? and whether they are past, or yet to come?
4a. First, whether they are to be taken indefinitely, for an uncertain number; or definitely, for an exact, precise, determinate time literally.
4a1. One ancient writer533533Ambros. in Apocalyps, c. 20. col. 473. understands the words indefinitely, for a long time, even from the first coming of Christ to the end of the world; a long time indeed! longer than the thousand years themselves; for more than nine hundred years above a thousand, have run out already. Another,534534Aug. de Civ. Dei, l. 20. c. 7. indeed, interprets them of the ages of eternity; for which Psalm 105:8 is quoted; but whatever may be the sense of that text, it cannot be the sense of the millennium reign, for that will have an end; it is expressly said, “The rest of the dead lived not again till the thousand years were finished” (Rev. 20:5), and of Christ’s reign and kingdom in them, there will be an end, when he will deliver up the kingdom to the Father (1 Cor. 15:24), or else, as the same ancient writer thinks, the latter part of the last thousandth year of the world may be meant, a part being put for the whole. But however indefinitely this phrase may be sometimes so understood, as in 1 Samuel 18:7 and Psalm 91:7 it cannot be so taken in the passages relating to the binding of Satan, and the reign of Christ and his saints; but must,
4a2. Be interpreted definitely and literally, of a precise, determinate space of time; better reasons for which cannot be well given, than are by a writer535535The Author of Theopolis, p. 43, 44. in the seventeenth century, though not in the scheme of the personal reign of Christ a thousand years; which are as follow,
4a2a. Because when there is no necessity to take a scripture in a figurative sense, we are to receive it in the letter; but neither the scope of the place, nor the analogy of faith, nor other scriptures, lay any such necessity upon us, so to take it.
4a2b. Because this same space is so often repeated by the Spirit, to which we should take the more earnest heed, as matter of instruction and information (and so fix it on the mind the more strongly) for thrice it is said, Satan was bound a thousand year’s, and afterwards loosed (Rev. 20:2, 3, 7), twice it is said, the saints shall reign a thousand years (Rev. 20:4, 6), once, that the rest of the dead lived not again till the thousand years were finished (Rev. 20:5), in all six times.
4a2c. The emphasis put upon the phrase. Pareus well observes, that in Revelation 20:2, 6 the thousand years are without an article, χιλια ετη, “a thousand years;” but in the other places, “four” times, with an article, τα χιλια ετη, “these thousand years;” these emphatically, these precise thousand years. As if he should say, Satan’s imprisonment shall continue a thousand years; the martyrs shall live and reign with Christ during these thousand years, and afterwards he shall be loosed.
4a2d. The parts to which this number is applied, are so cemented together, as cause and effect, distinction and opposition, that they very much strengthen and prove that just account of a thousand years; namely, Satan is bound a thousand years, that he should not deceive the nations till the same thousand years be fulfilled; then the saints lived and reigned a thousand years with Christ, that same thousand years: but the rest of the dead lived not again until these thousand years were finished; while the holy ones, as their happiness, made priests of God and of Christ, reign with Christ a thousand years: to which may be added, that these thousand years are bounded both at the beginning and end: they are bounded by the binding of Satan at the beginning of them, and by loosing of him at the end of them (Rev. 20:2, 7), and they are bounded by two resurrections; by the first resurrection of the saints, and the reign of them with Christ upon it; and by the second resurrection, or the resurrection of the wicked, at the close thereof. The next enquiry is,
4b. Secondly, whether these thousand years are past or to come? To the solution of which, this observation is necessary, that the binding of Satan, and the reign of Christ, are contemporary; that the same thousand years Satan is bound, Christ and his saints reign together; the thousand years of the one, and the thousand years of the other, run parallel with each other: and it is further to be observed, and what will contribute greatly to the settling of this point, and even to the decision of it, that by the binding of Satan is meant, an entire and absolute confinement of him, and of all his angels, in the bottomless pit; so that he and they will not be able “to deceive the nations” any more, till the thousand years are ended; that is, not be able to draw them into idolatry, to fill them with bad principles, and lead them into bad practices, and to stir them up to make war with the saints, and persecute them; and so by any, and all of these ways, deceive; during which time, the church and people of God must be in a state of purity and peace. Now if any such time can be shown, in which the nations of the world, not any of them, were not so far under the influence and deception of Satan, as not to be drawn into idolatry; nor to embrace false doctrines, and go into evil practices; nor to be excited to persecute the saints, for the space of a thousand years; and that the church of Christ, during such a time, has been in a state of perfect purity and peace; free from being disturbed and distressed by idolaters, heretics, and persecutors; then may these thousand years be said to be past; but if this cannot be made to appear, then most certainly they are yet to come. Let us put this to the trial; which will he best done by considering the several epochs, or periods, from whence these thousand years have been dated. As,
4b1. First, from the birth of Christ, who came to destroy the works of the devil, and before whom Satan fell as lightning from heaven; yet this falls short of the binding and casting him into the bottomless pit: whoever considers the state of the Gentile world when Christ came, being under the power of the god of this world, the nations thereof being left to walk in their own ways; nay, Christ forbade his disciples going into any of the cities of the Gentiles; nor had they a commission to preach the gospel to all nations, till after his resurrection from the dead; who, I say, that considers these things, can ever imagine that Satan was now bound? And if we look into the state of the Jewish nation and church, how sadly corrupted in their morals, being a wicked and an adulterous generation, and depraved in their religious sentiments; neglecting the word of God, and preferring the traditions of the elders to it; rejecting Christ, when he came to them with all the marks and characters of the true Messiah, and treating him with the utmost indignation and contempt; and were, as cur Lord says, “of their father the devil,” and his “lusts” they would “do;” there can be no reason to believe that Satan was now bound. His many attacks on the person and life of Christ show the contrary; as his putting Herod on seeking the young child’s life to destroy it, in his infancy; and to make that carnage of the infants in, and about Bethlehem, he did; his tempting him in the wilderness, in the manner he did, which was bold, daring, and insolent; instigating the scribes and Pharisees to lay hands on him, and kill him, marching towards him as the prince of the world, and combating with him in the garden; and putting it into the heart of Judas to betray him; and stirring up the people of all sorts to he pressing to the Roman governor, for the crucifixion of him, and by which means he was brought to the dust of death. And though, indeed, Satan was dispossessed of the bodies of men, which possession shows he was not bound; yet when dispossessed he was not bound; and cast into the bottomless pit, but was suffered to go and rove about where he pleased; and though Christ, by his death, destroyed Satan, who had the power of death, and spoiled his principalities and powers, and ruined his works; yet all this did not amount to a binding and confinement of his person in prison.
4b2. Secondly, Others date these thousand years of Satan’s binding from the resurrection of Christ; when it is true, Christ ascended on high, and led captivity captive, and poured down his Spirit upon his apostles, on the day of Pentecost, whereby they were wonderfully fitted to preach his gospel; and accordingly preached it with great success, both in Judea and in the Gentile world; but still Satan was not bound. Not in Judea; for in the first and purest Christian church, he filled the hearts of Ananias and Sapphira to lie against the Holy Ghost. He stirred up the Jews to lay hold on the apostles, and put them in prison; and to stone Stephen the proto-martyr; he raised a violent persecution against the church at Jerusalem, and havoc was made of it, and men and women hauled to prison; he put Herod upon killing James the brother of John, and committing Peter to prison. And whereas the ministers of the word went into other countries, preaching the gospel, the Jews, under the instigation of Satan, stirred up the people against them wherever they came; as at Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Thessalonica, and other places; and what the Christian Hebrews suffered from them, may be seen in Hebrews 10:32, 33. Nor was Satan bound in the Gentile world; for though the gospel made its way into divers countries and cities, to the conversion of many souls, and the forming of many churches; yet heathenism, under the influence of the god of this world, was the prevailing religion everywhere; and the sect of the Christians was everywhere spoken against; and the apostles and ministers of the word, were everywhere persecuted; bonds and imprisonment waited for them in all places; and all the apostles suffered death for the sake of the gospel; see the account the apostle gives of himself and others, in 1 Corinthians 4:9, 12, 13.
4b3. Thirdly, others begin these thousand years of Satan’s binding at the destruction of Jerusalem, which was very dreadful; in the siege of it eleven hundred thousand men perished;536536Joseph. de Bello Jud. l. 6. c. 9. s. 3. and when such insurrections, internal quarrels, seditions, murders, and scenes of iniquity were among the Jews themselves, Satan could never be thought to be bound then; and after it, though things took a different turn with the Jews, and in favour of the Christians, in Judea and elsewhere; the Jews, though they had the same ill will to them, had not the same power against them; yet they themselves manifestly appeared to be under the deception of Satan, by their giving heed to false prophets, and false christs, which our Lord foretold would arise; witness Bar Cochab, a false messiah, who rose up in the times of Trajan, whom the Jews embracing, rebelled against the empire, which brought a war upon them in which fifty eight thousand were slain;537537Lampe Synops. Hist. Sacr. et Ecclesiast. l. 2. c. 3. p. 110. and under the same deception by false messiahs, and under the same blindness and hardness of heart, and malice against Christ and his gospel, have they continued to this day. And as for the Gentile world, though the gospel got ground every where, and multitudes of souls were converted, and the Gentile oracles were struck dumb;;538538“—Delphis Oracula cessant, Juvenal,” Satyr. 6. v. 554. the temples almost desolate, and worship in them was intermitted;539539Plin. Epist. l. 10. ep. 97. yet Gentilism continued to be the prevailing religion throughout the Roman empire, till the times of Constantine, at the beginning of the fourth century; as appears by the persecutions of the Christians by the Roman emperors: the first persecution was under Nero; this was indeed a little before the destruction of Jerusalem; the occasion of it was this, he himself set fire to the city of Rome, and then, under the instigation of Satan, charged it upon the Christians, whom he most inhumanly racked and tortured, and put to the most cruel deaths that could be invented.540540Sulpicii Severi Sacr. Hist. l. 2. p. 96. The tenth and last persecution was under Dioclesian, a little before the times of Constantine; his area was called by the Egyptians the area of the martyrs;541541Schmid. Compend. Hist. Ecclesiast. sec. 3. p. 116. the whole world was imbrued with their blood; and the world was more exhausted of men thereby than by any war, as the historian says;542542Sulpicius ut supra, p. 99, 100. it was the longest and most severe,543543Orosii Hist. l. 7. c. 25. it lasted “ten” years; and perhaps, in allusion to the ten persecutions, or to the ten years of the last persecution, it is said in Revelation 2:10. “The devil shall cast some of you into prison, and ye shall have tribulation ten days;” and if the devil cast the saints into prison, he himself could not be bound and cast into prison; nor could this be their reigning time; nay Dioclesian thought he had got an entire victory over the Christians, and therefore set up pillars,544544Gruter. Inscript. p. 280. apud Fabricii Salutar. Lux. Evangel. p. 157. in some parts of the empire, signifying that the Christian name was blotted out, and the superstition of Christ everywhere destroyed, as he called it; and the worship of the gods propagated; so far was Satan from being bound, that he triumphed over Christ and his cause: and that he could not be bound in this period of time, appears by the multitude of heathen deities worshipped; the number not only of heathen philosophers among the Greeks and Romans, but of the Magi in the east, and of the Druids in the west, and of the Brahmins among the Indians; also from the vile and false charges brought by the heathens under the influence of Satan against the Christians, of idolatries, murders, incests, impurities, and unheard of crimes; which obliged their writers, as Justin Martyr, Tertuilian, &c. to write apologies in the defence of them; to which may be added, the scoffs and flouts, the malice and blasphemy of the heathen writers against Christ and the Christian religion, as Crescens, Lucian, Celsus and Porphyry: and if we look into the Christian church in the three first centuries, how it was harassed and distressed with heretics and heresies, we shall soon be convinced that Satan was not bound, nor Christ’s reign began; to reckon up only the names of them from Simon Magus to Sabellius, would fill up a page; some denying the doctrine of the Trinity; some the distinct personality in the Deity; some the person of Christ, either his real humanity or his proper Deity, or divine Sonship; as vile a set of men now were, for corruption in doctrine and practice, as perhaps ever was, and may truly be called a “synagogue of Satan,” as they seem to be in Revelation 2:9 in the times of these men therefore the devil could never be said to be bound, when he had a synagogue of them.
4b4. Fourthly, others begin the date of Satan’s binding, and Christ’s reigning, from the times of Constantine; and reckoning the thousand years from hence they will reach to the beginning of the fourteenth century. Those who go this way suppose the vision in Revelation 12:1-17 and that in Revelation 20:1-15 to be the same, which cannot be; that in the former respects the imperial dragon, or the papal empire under the influence of Satan; the latter the person of the devil himself, with his angels; the former respects a battle in heaven, the latter a combat on earth; the former represents Satan as east out of heaven on earth, the latter as cast out of the earth into the bottomless pit; the former says nothing of the binding and shutting up of Satan, the latter does; the former speaks of him after his casting down, as at liberty to go about in the earth and distress the nations, and annoy the church; but the latter as in such confinement as to be able to do neither: but that Satan could not be bound, nor the reign of Christ take place in the above period of time is manifest; for though upon Constantine’s coming to the throne, and declaring himself a Christian, the Christian religion lift up its head, and flourished greatly with respect to numbers, wealth, riches, and grandeur, yet all its outward greatness in the issue ended in its ruin; and though heathenism was demolished throughout the empire, and pagan temples shut up,545545Orosius, ibid. c. 28. yet pagan rites and ceremonies were introduced into the church, and gradually prevailed; and especially when the man of sin was revealed, so that the followers of antichrist go by the name of Gentiles ((Rev. 11:2). That the devil was not now bound, appears by the flood he cast out of his mouth to destroy the woman, the church, who was obliged to disappear and flee into the wilderness, the remnant of whose seed he persecuted (Rev. 12:13-17), by which flood is meant either a flood of heresies, as those of the Arians, Nestorians, Eutychians, Macedoninns, and Pelagians, which sadly infested and disturbed the churches; or a flood of persecution, particularly by the Arians, which was begun by Constantine himself; who, as the historian says,546546Sulpicius, ibid. p. 102. Socrat. Eccl. Hist. l. 3. c. 11, 12. exercised “vin persecutionis,” towards the latter end of his life, being imposed upon: and this was carried on with great violence by his sons, Constantius and Valens, who embraced that heresy; and in after times by some of the northern nations, who broke into the empire, and became Arians. In the reign of Julian, which, though but short, heathenism was in a great measure restored, and many diabolical arts were used by him to revive paganism, and extirpate Christianity; the schools of the Christians forbid, their temples shut up, and those of the heathens opened. These, with his attempt, in favour of the Jews, to rebuild the temple at Jerusalem, in spite of prophecy, and his outrageous blasphemies against the Galilean, as he used to call our Lord, plainly show that Satan was not bound. The irruptions of the Goths and Vandals, and other northern nations, into the empire, and the destruction they made in church and state, is a full proof of this. Within this interval of time antichrist rose up, and manifestly appeared; whose coming was after the working of Satan, with all powers and signs, and lying wonders; whose followers give heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; and who worship devils, and idols of gold and silver; and whose reign is to continue one thousand two hundred and sixty days or years, and so not yet at an end: and while antichrist reigns, Christ’s reign cannot take place, nor Satan be bound. Also much about the same time, that vile impostor Mahomet, under the instigation of the devil, arose; when the bottomless pit was opened, and then Satan surely could not lie bound in it; out of which came the smoke of the absurd Alkoran, which darkened the sun and moon, the light of great part of the world; and from whence came his locusts, the Saracens, which, for some centuries, greatly afflicted the Christian empire, whose king was called Abaddon, and Apollyon (Rev. 9:11), as did the Turks after them, whose empire was set up in the beginning of the fourteenth century, and continued to distress Europe till the latter end of the last. And now, so long as Mahometanism prevails over so large a part of the world as it does, the thousand years reign, and the binding of Satan, cannot be expected. To which may be added, the persecutions of the Waldenses and Albigenses, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, by the papal antichrist, and which have been exercised on them, even in the last century, in the valleys of Piedmont,547547See Perrin’s History of the Waldenses, and Morland’s History of the evangelical Churches in the valley of Piedmont. show that Satan cannot be bound. And as to the state of heathenism, it will appear, by consulting the Magdeburgensian centuriators, that it has subsisted in various parts of the world, throughout all the centuries, from Constantine to the fourteenth century; and about the end of the fifteenth, when America was first discovered, in what state were the inhabitants of it? Idolators: yea, they worshipped the devil in some places in the West Indies;548548P. Martyr de Angleria Decad 1. l. 9. Oviedo de Ind. Occident. c. 5. as the inhabitants of the East Indies,549549Vartomauni Navigat. l. 5. c. 2. 23. & 16. 27. Ross’s View of all Religions, p. 59. see p. 77, 79, 80, 88, 89. and others in North and South America: and how many nations and kingdoms, both in America and in the East Indies, are, at this day, under the power of heathenism? And it was a calculation made by some in the last century, that if the whole known world, was divided into thirty equal parts, nineteen of them would be found idolatrous Gentiles.550550Schmid. compend. Hist. Ecclesiast. sec. 17. p. 500. Surely then Satan cannot be bound, so as not to deceive the nations.
4b5. Fifthly, some begin the thousand years reign, and the binding of Satan, at the reformation from popery; but whether the date is from Wicklift, John Huss, and Jerom of Prague, or from Luther; they all of them either suffered death, or met with great inhumanity and ill treatment, from the instruments of Satan, and therefore he could not be bound; and great numbers of their followers were persecuted unto death. Since the reformation, were the massacre in Paris, when ten thousand Protestants were murdered in one night, and seventy thousand in seven days time:551551Ibid. sec. 16. p. 462. and the many martyrs burnt here in England, in queen Mary’s reign; and the massacre in Ireland, in which two hundred thousand perished; all under an hellish influence, are clear demonstrations that Satan was not bound. Besides, though various nations, at the reformation, fell from popery, yet all did not, and some have revolted to it since; and whoever considers the great decline of religion in our day, the increase of popery, and the spread of errors and heresy among us, and the great profaneness and immorality that prevail, can never think that Satan is bound, or that the millennium is begun. Upon the whole, it must clearly appear, that there never as yet has been such a time, in which it could be said, that Satan had no power to deceive the nations, either by drawing them into idolatry, and other bad principles, or into persecuting practices; nor any time in which the church of Christ has been in a state of purity and peace, free from idolatry, heresy, and persecution; wherefore it may be strongly concluded, that Satan is not yet bound; and that Christ’s kingdom is not yet come; nor are these things to be expected in the present state.
The spiritual reign in the latter day bids fairest for it; and which, indeed, is a branch of Christ’s kingdom, when both Pope and Turk will be destroyed; but then Satan will only be destroyed in his instruments, but not in his person bound. Besides, the spiritual and personal reign of Christ, though branches of his kingdom, belong to different periods; and will not both take place in the present state; the spiritual reign will be in the present earth, and of saints in a sinful, mortal state, and in the use of ordinances: but the millennium reign will be on the new earth, and of saints in a risen perfect state, standing in no need of ordinances, as now. The millennium reign will not be till after the first resurrection; and the first resurrection will not be till the second coining of Christ, when the dead in him shall rise first. The personal reign of Christ will not be till the new heavens and the new earth are made, which will be the seat of it; and these will not be till the present heavens and earth are dissolved and burnt up; and this conflagration will not be till Christ comes a second time. The reign of Christ with his saints, will not be till Satan is bound, as well as antichrist destroyed; and Satan will not be bound, till Christ, the mighty angel, descends from heaven to earth, which will not be till the end of the world.
5a. I close all, with an answer to a few of the principal objections to the above scheme; and to two or three questions relative to the same.
5a. First, to objections. As,
5a1. It may be objected, to what purpose will Satan be bound a thousand years to prevent his deception of the nations, when there will be no nations to be deceived by him during that time, since the wicked will be all destroyed in the general conflagration; and the saints will be with Christ, out of the reach of temptation and seduction? I answer, this will not be the case at the first binding of Satan, which is the first thing Christ will do when he descends from heaven; first bind Satan, then raise the righteous dead, and change the living saints, and take both to himself; and then burn the world: but as the time between the binding of Satan, and the burning of the world, may be but short, I lay no stress on this. Let it be observed, that the same nations, Satan, by being bound, is prevented from deceiving any more, till the thousand years are ended, are those that will be deceived by him after his being loosed; as appears by comparing Revelation 20:3 with Revelation 20:8 and to prevent their being deceived by him, and put upon schemes to the disturbance of the saints, in their reign with Christ, he and they, that is, their separate spirits, will be shut up together in the bottomless pit; so that the one will be in a state of inactivity, and incapable of tempting and deceiving; and the other in a case and condition not susceptible of temptation and seduction; and both will have enough to do to grapple with their dreadful torments in this confined state; the one will not be at leisure to propose a mischievous scheme, nor the other to hearken to it; and Satan will full well know, that should he form a scheme, it would be impossible to put it in execution in their present circumstances. That the wicked, in an immortal state, are capable of being tempted and deceived by Satan, appears by a fact, after the loosing of him; for which reason it was necessary he should be bound during the thousand years: and that the saints, in an immortal state, are not exempt from attempts upon them, by him and his emissaries, only when he is under absolute confinement, which made it necessary, during the said term of time; and which will be his case after this affair is over, to all eternity.
5a2. That though the saints are said to reign with Christ a thousand years (Rev. 20:4, 6), yet they are not there said to reign “on earth.” But it is elsewhere said, the meek shall inherit the earth; and righteousness, or righteous men, shall dwell in the “new earth;” and the redeemed of the Lamb, who are made kings and priests unto God, shall “reign on earth;” and they are the same with the priests of God and Christ, that shall reign with him a thousand years. Besides, it appears from the context, that this reign will be on earth; the angel that descends from heaven to bind Satan, descends on earth; the binding of Satan will be on earth; for there he deceived the nations before, and will after his loosing: the resurrection, and living again of the dead, will be on earth; and so, in course, their reign with Christ there. Besides, they are manifestly the camp of the saints, the beloved city, the Gog and Magog army will encompass, who will come up on the “breadth of the earth;” and therefore the saints, the beloved city, must be on earth; and who are no other than the holy city John saw come down from God out of heaven, that is, on earth, where the tabernacle of God will be with them (Rev. 21:2, 3).
5a3. It is objected to the personal reign of Christ with the saints on earth, that they, by reason of the frailty of nature, will be unfit to converse with Christ, in his glorious human nature; but, like the apostles Paul and John, who, when he appeared to them, fell down at his feet, either trembling or as dead. But this objection proceeds upon a supposition, that the saints will then be in a sinful, mortal state; which will not be the case; but as their souls will be perfectly sanctified, so their bodies will be raised in incorruption, power, and glory, and fashioned like to the glorious body of Christ, and so fit to converse with him in it; yea, more so than separate souls in heaven.
5a4. It is suggested, that for the saints to come down from heaven, and leave their happy state there, and dwell on earth, must be a diminishing of their happiness, and greatly detract from it. No such thing; for Christ will come with them; all the saints will come with him, and dwell and reign with him; and where he is, heaven is, happiness is. Did Moses and Elias lose any of their happiness when they came down from heaven, and conversed with Christ on the mount, at his transfiguration? None at all. No more will the saints, by being and reigning with Christ on earth, in a more glorified state than he was then in: yea, so far from being lessened hereby, that the happiness of the saints will be increased; their bodies will be raised, and united to their souls, they had been in expectation of, to complete their happiness: and this being now done, they will be more like to Christ, and more fit to converse with him. At the death of Christ, he committed his human spirit, or soul, to his Father, and it was that day in paradise; on the third day, when he rose, his soul returned, reentered, and was reunited to his body; and after his resurrection, he continued on earth forty days, showing himself to, and conversing with his disciples. During this time, was his soul less happy than before his resurrection? yea, was it not more so?
5a5. The bodies of the wicked lying in the earth till the thousand years are ended, may be objected to the purity of the new earth, and to the glory of the state of the saints upon it. The purification of it by fire, will, indeed, only affect the surrounding air, and the surface of the earth, or little more, and the figure of it, and its external qualities and circumstances; and not the matter and substance of it, which will remain the same. And as for the bodies of the wicked, that will have been interred in it from the beginning of the world to the end of it, those will be long reduced to their original earth, and will be neither morally impure, nor naturally offensive; and if anything of the latter could be conceived of, the purifying fire may reach so far as entirely to remove that; and as for the bodies of the wicked, which will be burnt to ashes at the conflagration, how those ashes, and the ruins of the old world after the burning, will be disposed of, by the almighty power, and all wise providence of God, it is not easy to say; it is very probable they will be disposed of underground: and this will be so far from detracting from the glorious inhabitation and reigning of the saints with Christ upon it, that it will greatly add to the glory of that triumphant reign; for now all the wicked that ever were in the world, will be under the feet of the saints in the most literal sense; now they will not only tread upon the wicked as ashes, but tread upon the very ashes of the wicked; and so the prophecy in Malachi 4:3 will be literally fulfilled, which respects this very case.
Secondly, to questions.
5b1. What will become of the new earth, after the thousand years of the reign of Christ and his saints on it are ended? whether it will be annihilated or not? My mind has been at an uncertainty about this matter; sometimes inclining one way, and sometimes another; because of the seeming different accounts of it in Isaiah 66:22 where it is said to “remain” before the Lord, and in Revelation 20:11 where it is said to “flee away” from the face of the judge; as may be seen by my “notes” on both places, and by a “correction” at the end of the “fourth” volume on the Old Testament; but my last and present thoughts are, that it will continue for ever; and that the passage in Revelation 20:11 is a rhetorical exaggeration of the glory and greatness of the judge, which appeared such to John in the vision, that the heavens and earth could not bear it, and therefore “seemed” to disappear; the phrase, “from whose face,” which is unusual, seems to suggest and confirm it. I am of opinion therefore, that the new earth will be a sort of an apartment to heaven, whither the saints will pass and repass at their pleasure; and which agrees with other scriptures, which speak of the saints dwelling on, and inheriting the earth for ever.552552The Stoic philosophers speak of the final resolution of all things into fire, into a liquid flame, or pure ether. Dr. Burnet was of opinion that the earth, after the last day of judgment, will be changed into the nature of a sun, or of a fixed star, and shine like them in the firmament, Theory of the Earth, l. 4. c. 10. p. 317. Mr. Whiston thinks it will no longer be found among the planetary chorus, but probably become again a comet for the future ages of the world, New Theory, l. 4. c. 5. p. 451.
5b2. Who the Gog and Magog army are, that shall encompass the camp of the saints, when the thousand years are ended? What makes an answer to this the more difficult is, that at the general conflagration of the present earth, all the wicked in it will be burnt up, and none but righteous persons will dwell in the new earth; it is to no purpose therefore, to think of Turks, Tartarinns, Scythians, and other barbarous nations,553553Vid. Hieron. in Ezek. 38. fol. 238. K. types of these; nor of any remains554554Lactant. Institut. l. 7. c. 24. of the wicked who escaped the general destruction, as supposed; nor of such frightened at the first appearance of Christ, who fled to the remotest parts, and now resume their courage, and come forth: it is a strange absurd notion of Dr. Burnet,555555Theory of the Earth, l. 4. c. 10. p. 313. that these will be men born of the earth, generated from the slime of the ground, and the heat of the sun; and increasing and multiplying after the manner of men, by carnal propagation, after a thousand years will become very numerous, as the sand of the sea, and make the attack they are said to do. But there is no need to have recourse to so gross an expedient as this: the persons are at hand, and easy to be met with; they are “the rest of the dead,” the wicked, who live not till the thousand years are ended; and then will live, being raised from the dead, even all the wicked that have been from the beginning of the world; which accounts for their number being as the sand of the sea: and these rising where they died, and were buried, will be in and come from the four quarters of the world; and as they died enemies to Christ, and his saints, they will rise such; hell and the grave will make no change in them; and as they laid down with the “weapons of war, their swords under their heads,” they will be in a readiness, and rise with the same malicious and revengeful spirit; and though it will be a mad enterprise, to attack saints in an immortal state, who cannot die; and Christ, the King of kings, at the head of them; yet when it is considered, that they will rise as weak and feeble: as unable to resist temptation, and as capable of deception as ever; and what with being buoyed up with their own number, and the posse of devils at the head of them; and especially considering the desperateness of their case, and this their last struggle to deliver themselves from eternal ruin; it may not so much be wondered at, that they should engage in this strange undertaking.556556See my Exposition of Rev. xx. 8. See Gill on “Rev. 20:8.”
5b3. What the fire will be, which shall come down from heaven, and destroy the Gog and Magog army? Not material fire; but the wrath and indignation of God, which will be let down into their consciences; and which will so terrify and dispirit them, that they will at once desist froth their undertaking; like the builders of the tower of Babel, when the Lord not only confounded their language, but smote their consciences for their impiety. The issue of all this will be, the casting of the devil and his angels into the lake of fire, where the beast and false prophet are; and the everlasting destruction of the wicked, soul and body, in the same, after the general judgment is over; which is the next thing to be considered.
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