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In which it is proved from Scripture, that the church of Christ in to come to a state of prosperity in this world, which it has never yet enjoyed; in which it will continue at least a thousand years.
THE first revelation of a Redeemer, in the prediction spoken to the serpent, may be considered as implying the destruction of the kingdom of the devil in this world, by the wisdom and energy of Christ. “He shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”563563 Gen. iii. 15. Satan has bruised the heel of Christ, in the sufferings and dishonour he has been instrumental of bringing upon him, and in the opposition he has made to the interest and church of Christ, in this world. And it is natural to suppose that Christ shall bruise his head in this world, by destroying his interest and kingdom among men, and gaining a conquest over him, in the struggle and war which has taken place between the Redeemer and seducer of men. And by the Redeemer’s bruising the head of the serpent, is signified that he will not destroy him by the mere exertion of his power, but that by his superior wisdom, he will confound and defeat Satan, in all his subtilty and cunning, on which he depends so much, and by which he aims to disappoint Christ and defeat him in his designs. And by this he will make a glorious display of his wisdom, as well as of his power, while he discovers the craftiness of Satan to be foolishness, and disappoints him in his devices, carrying all the counsel of this cunning, froward enemy headlong. If all this could not be gathered from this passage, considered by itself, yet that this is the real meaning, will perhaps appear from what has already taken place in accomplishing this prediction; and from other prophecies respecting this, some of which are to be brought into view in the sequel: without which the full meaning of this first promise could not be known.
In order to bruise the head of the serpent, in this sense, most effectually, and turn his boasted wisdom and cunning into foolishness, and entirely defeat him in this way, he must have opportunity and advantage to try his skill and power, and practise 418all his cunning, in opposing; Christ, and the salvation of men. And in this way be overcome and wholly defeated, in the ruin of his interest and kingdom among men; so that all his attempts shall turn against himself, and be the occasion of making the victory and triumph of the Redeemer greater, more perspicuous and glorious, in the final prevalence of his kingdom on earth, by drawing all men to him; and destroying the works and kingdom of Satan in this world, and setting up his own on the rums of it, and so as to turn all the attempts and works of the devil against him, and render the whole subservient to his own interest and kingdom. And thus the coming and kingdom of Christ will be “As the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after ram.” When the sun rises in a clear morning, after a dark night, attended with clouds, rain and storms, the morning is more pleasant, beautiful and glorious, and the grass springs and grows more fresh and thrifty, than if it had not been preceded by such a stormy night. So the prosperity and glory of the church, when the Sun of righteousness shall rise upon it, with healing in his beams- will be enjoyed to a higher degree, and be more pleasant and glorious, and Christ will be more glorified, than if it had not been preceded by a dreadful night of darkness, contusion and evil, by the wickedness of men, and the power and agency of Satan.
The words above cited are the last words of David the prophet, and sweet Psalmist of Israel, and are a prophecy of the glorious event now under consideration. “The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was m my tongue. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake by me. He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be like the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth, by clear shining after rain.”564564 2 Sam. xxiii. 2, 3, 4. The first words may be rendered so as to give the true sense more clearly. “He who is to rule over men, (i.e. the Messiah) is just, ruling in the fear of God.” The words must be, in our translation, are not in the original, and the helping verb is, which is commonly not expressed, but understood, in the Hebrew, should have been supplied: “He that ruleth, or is to rule over men, is just.” This is evidently a prophecy concerning Christ, his church and kingdom, when he shall take to himself his great power, and reign in his kingdom, which shall succeed the, reign of Satan during the four preceding monarchies, which were first to take place, which will be more particularly explained, as we proceed in examining the prophecies of this great event, The latter day glory. And that these words of David are a prediction of the reign of Christ on earth, after the long prevalence of Satan and wicked men, is farther evident from the words which follow, relative to the same thing. “But the sons of Beliel, shall all of them as thorns be thrust away, because 419they cannot be taken with hands. But the man that shall touch them must be fenced with iron, and the staff of a spear, and they shall be utterly burnt with fire in the same place.”
Exactly parallel with this prophecy, is that of the prophet Malachi. “Behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, all that do wickedly, shall be stubble, and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name, shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth and grow up as the calves in the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet, in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts.”565565 Mal. iv. 1, 2, 3.
But to return from this, which may seem to be some digression, or anticipation: The great and remarkable promise, so often made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and more than once mentioned by the Apostles, will next be considered. Tins promise was made to Abraham, and of him, three times. “In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”566566 Gen. xii. 3. “All the nations of the earth snail be blessed in him.”567567 Chap. xviii. 18. “And in thy seed shall the nations of the earth be blessed.”568568 Chap. xxii. 18. And this same promise is made to Isaac. “I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father—and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.”569569 Chap. xxvi. 4. And to Jacob. “In thee, and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”570570 Chap. xxviii. 14. The apostle Peter mentions this promise as referring to the days of the gospel. “Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, and in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.”571571 Acts iii. 35. The apostle Paul speaks of this promise as referring to Christ, and all who believe in him, making him to be the promised seed, and believers in him to be those exclusively who are blessed in him, in whom the promised good takes place. “Know ye, therefore, that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying. In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith, are blessed with faithful Abraham—Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.”572572 Gal. iii. 7, 8, 9, 16.
This prediction and promise is very express and extensive, That all the families, kindreds, and nations of the earth, should be blessed in Christ, by their becoming believers in him. This has never yet taken place, and cannot be fulfilled, unless christianity and the kingdom of Christ shall take place and prevail in the world to a vastly higher degree, and more extensively and 420universally, than has yet come to pass; and all nations, all the inhabitants of the earth, shall become believers in him, agreeable to a great number of other prophecies, some of which will be mentioned in this section.
The reign of Christ on earth, with his church and people, and the happiness and glory of that time, is a subject often mentioned, predicted and celebrated in the book of Psalms. To mention all that is there spoken with reference to that happy time, would be to transcribe great part of that book. Only the following passages will now be mentioned, which are thought abundantly to prove that the kingdom of Christ is to prevail and nourish in this world, as it has never yet done; and the church is to be brought to a state of purity, prosperity and happiness on earth, which has not yet taken place, and so as to include all nations, and fill the world.
In the second Psalm, it is predicted and promised, that the Son of God shall inherit and possess all nations, to the ends of the earth; which necessarily implies, that his church and kingdom shall be thus extensive, reaching to the ends of the earth, and including all the nations and men on earth. “I have set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: The Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” By Zion here is meant, as in numerous other places in the prophecies, the church of Christ, of which mount Zion was a type.
The twenty-second Psalm contains a prophecy of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that shall follow; and of the latter it is said; “The meek shall eat and be satisfied. They shall praise the Lord that seek him: your heart shall live forever. All the ends of the world shall remember, and turn unto the Lord: And all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. For the kingdom is the Lord’s; and he is the Governor among the nations: For evil doers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be; yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth, and delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”573573 Ps. xxxvii. 9, 10, 11. This is a prediction of an event which has never taken place yet. Evil doers and the wicked have in all ages hitherto possessed the earth, and flourished and reigned in the world. When it is promised, that they who wait upon the Lord, and the meek shall inherit the earth, and delight themselves in the abundance of peace, the meaning must be, that persons of this character will yet have the possession of the earth, and fill the world, when no place shall be found for the wicked, as they shall be all destroyed, and their cause wholly lost. And all of this character who have lived before this time, and waited upon the Lord in the 422exercise of meekness, shall flourish and live in their successors, and in the prosperity and triumph of the cause and interest, in which they lived and died. This is agreeable to other prophecies of this kind, as will be shewn in the sequel. “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn unto the Lord: And all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.” Who can believe that this has ever yet been? But few of mankind, compared with the whole, have yet turned unto the Lord. By far the greatest part of the nations of the earth, even to the ends of the world, have worshipped, and do now worship false gods and idols. But when all the ends of the world shall remember, and turn to the Lord; and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before him; then the meek shall inherit the earth, and delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
The whole of the sixty seventh Psalm is a prediction of the same event, and of the same time, which is yet to come. It is a prayer of the church that such a time may take place; at the same time expressing her assurance that it was coming; and the whole is a prophecy of it. “God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us. That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations. Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee. O let the nations be glad, and sing for joy; for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Then shall the earth yield her increase: and God, even our God, shall bless us. God shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear him.
The seventy second Psalm, the title of which is, “A Psalm for Solomon,” contains a prophecy of Christ and his kingdom, of whom Solomon was an eminent type. The Psalmist looks beyond the type to the antitype, and says things which can be applied to the latter only, and are not true of the former, considered as distinct from the latter; which is common in the scripture, in such cases. Here it is said, “He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass; as showers that water the earth. In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. All kings shall fall down before him: All nations shall serve him. His name shall endure forever: His name shall be continued as long as the sun; and men shall be blessed in him: All nations shall call him blessed. Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doth wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name forever, and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen.”
“Arise, O God, judge the earth; for thou shalt inherit all nations.”574574 Ps. lxxxii. 8. In this Psalm, the rulers and judges among men are accused of unrighteousness, and condemned: and then the 422Psalmist concludes with the words now quoted, which refer to some future event, in which God should judge the earth, and inherit all nations, in a sense in which he has not yet done it. In the second Psalm, the heathen, i.e., the nations, all nations, are given to Christ for his inheritance; and here the same thing is expressed, “Thou shalt inherit all nations;” and by his judging the. earth, is meant his reigning and subduing the inhabitants of the earth, to a cordial subjection to himself; which will be more evident by what follows, where we shall find the same thing predicted.
The ninety-sixth Psalm relates wholly to redemption by Christ; to the happiness and glory of his kingdom, and his reign on earth. “O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. Fear before him all the earth. Say among the heathen, that the Lord reigneth: the world also shall be established, that it shall not be moved, he shall judge the people righteously. Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad: Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein. Then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord; for he cometh to judge the earth: He shall judge the world with righteousness and the people with his truth.” What is here foretold, is to take place before the end of the world, and the general judgment; and it relates to the whole world, all the earth and the nations in it; the kingdom and reign of Christ is to extend to all of them: And his coming to judge the earth, and the world in righteousness, intends his reigning in righteousness, and bringing all nations to share in the blessings of his salvation and kingdom. Agreeably to this, it is said of Christ, by Isaiah and Jeremiah, “Behold a king shall reign in righteousness. In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David, and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land,” or in the earth.575575 Isai. xxxii. 1. Jer. xxxiii. 15.
Great part of the prophecy of Isaiah relates to the flourishing and happy state of the kingdom of Christ, and the prosperity of the church in the latter days. When he foretells the return of the people of Israel from the Babylonish captivity, which was a type of the deliverance of the church of Christ from spiritual Babylon, and from all her enemies in this world, visible and invisible, he commonly looks forward to the latter, and keeps that in view, and says things of it, which are not true of the former, and cannot be applied to it. And as Zion, Jerusalem, and Judah, and Israel, were types of the church and kingdom of Christ, as including all nations, the former are commonly mentioned only as types, being put for, and signifying the latter. And when the gospel day, the coming of Christ, and his church and kingdom, are brought into view, all that is included in these is comprehended; and commonly chief reference is had to the Millennium, or the day of the flourishing of the kingdom of Christ on earth, which is in a peculiar manner, and eminently the day of 423salvation; and will issue in the complete redemption of the church, at and after the day of judgment. He who reads this prophecy with care and discerning will be convinced of the truth of these observations; and in any other view, great part of it cannot be understood.
Only part of the many prophecies of the glory and extent of the kingdom of Christ in this world, which are contained in this book, will be now mentioned, as those which are most express and clear, with reference to the subject in view. They who attentively read this prophecy will find many more which refer to the same event.
“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”576576 Isaiah ii. 2, 3, 4. It is certain that this prophecy has not been yet fulfilled, except in a very small degree, as the beginning, and first fruits of it.
“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord: And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord, and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his cars. But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity, for the meek of the earth: And he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”577577 Chap. xi. 1-9.
This is evidently a prophecy of Christ, and his kingdom on earth. He shall judge and reprove for the meek of the earth, and slay all the wicked on earth, that the meek may inherit it; which is exactly agreeable to the forementioned prophecy in the 424thirty seventh Psalm. “Evil doers shall be cut off, and yet a little while and the wicked shall not be; but the meek shall inherit the earth; and delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” And this universal peace and harmony among men, which shall take place at that time, is expressed in the prophecy before us, in very strong, figurative language; by the wolf dwelling with the lamb, &c.—And the ground and reason of this is given. “For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” By the knowledge of the Lord is meant true religion, or real christianity, which consists most essentially in benevolence and goodness, as has been shown. So far as this takes place, love, peace, and the most happy concord and union are promoted; and every thing contrary to this suppressed and banished. Therefore, when this shall take place universally among men, and fill the earth, as the waters cover the sea, there will be nothing to destroy or hurt, but universal safety, peace, and love. No such time has ever been yet known. The true knowledge of God has been so far from filling the earth, that gross darkness has covered much the greatest part of it; and real christianity has been confined to narrow bounds; and but very few of mankind have attained to the character of true christians, even where the gospel has been published. And a horrible scene of oppression, cruelty, war and murder, has spread all over the earth; and will continue to do so, until Christ shall arise and smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and slay the wicked with the breath of his lips; and cause the earth to be filled with the knowledge of God. Such a happy time is yet future, and will certainly come.
The twenty fifth chapter contains a prophecy of the same event, some of which is worthy to be transcribed. “And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wine on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees, well refined. And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces, and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth; for the Lord hath spoken it. And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God, we have waited tor him, and he will save us: This is the Lord, we have waited for him, we will be glad, and rejoice in his salvation.”
The gospel is here represented by a rich feast; and it is promised that all people and nations shall have their eyes opened to see it; and all reproach and opposition to the church of Christ shall be taken away from off all the earth; and there shall be universal joy in the salvation, for which the church has long waited, and which shall come in the last day.
“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: For she hath received 425of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a high way for our Cod. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: For the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”578578 Isaiah xl. 1, &c.
This is a prophecy of the times of the gospel, as it is thus applied in the New Testament. It does refer to the first introduction and the coming of Christ into the world; but is not confined to this: It gives a comprehensive view of this great salvation, and the favour and glory which is to come to the church of Christ in this world, and looks forward to the day when the glory of the Lord shall be so revealed, that all flesh, that is, all nations, all mankind, shall see it together. This has not yet been fulfilled; but is to be accomplished in a time yet to come, when “The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”579579 Hab. ii. 14. All that precedes this day is preparatory to it, as the ministry of John the Baptist was an introduction to it, and more immediately prepared the way for Christ.
From the beginning of the fortieth chapter of Isaiah, to the end of the sixty sixth chapter, with which his prophecy closes, there is almost one continued series of predictions and promises of good, salvation, happiness and glory to the church of Christ, which have principal reference to the latter day, when the Millennium shall take place; and when they will have their chief accomplishment. It will be sufficient to answer the end now proposed, to mention the following passages.
Salvation by Christ is frequently represented as actually extended to the ends of the earth, which has not yet been accomplished. “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else. And he said, it is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth. The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.”580580 Isa. xlv. 22. xlix. 6. lii. 10.| The same phrase is used by the prophet Micah. “And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God, and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth.”581581 Chap. v. 4.
The sixtieth chapter of Isaiah is filled with comfort and promises to the church, as also are the preceding chapters. The following expressions. may be particularly noted. “Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For behold the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his 426 glory shall be seen upon thee. The Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to thy rising. Therefore, thy gates shall be open continually, they shall not be shut clay nor night, that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought. For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish: Yea, those nations shall be utterly “wasted.” No such event has been yet. When this shall take place, all nations, all mankind, must belong to the church; for all others shall be utterly wasted. The same thing is foretold by the prophet Zechariah.582582 Chap. iii. 14-19.
The sixty first chapter of Isaiah is on the same subject, and the sixty second throughout. Upon such promises made to the church, she breaks forth into joy and praise, in the prospect of the good that is coming to her. “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation; he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with jewels. For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all nations.” “For Zion’s sake, I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake, I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: And thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night. Ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence, and give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth. Go through, go through the gates; prepare you the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway, gather out the stones, lift up a standard for the people. Behold, the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. And they shall call them. The holy people, the redeemed of the Lord: And thou shalt be called. Sought out, A city not forsaken.”583583 Isa. lxii. 1, 2, 6, 7, 10-12. “Who hath heard such a thing! Who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day, or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children. Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the Lord. Shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her; rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her: That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory. For thus saith the 427Lord, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream.”584584 Isa. lxvi. 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.
In the prophecy of Jeremiah, the following passages are found, which predict the utter abolition of idolatry on earth, and the conversion of all nations to christianity, which events have not yet come to pass. “At that time they shall call Jerusalem (i.e. the church) the throne of the Lord, (i.e. the Lord shall reign in and by it.) And all nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem; (i.e. shall become members of the church.) Neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart.”585585 Jer. iii. 17. They shall wholly renounce their idolatry, and all their wickedness. “Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under those heavens. They are vanity, and the work of errors. In the time of their visitation they shall perish.”586586 Chap. x. 11, 15. According to this prophecy, this will take place while this earth and the heavens remain, and therefore before the day of judgment.
This subject is set m a very clear light in the book of Daniel the prophet It is there repeatedly declared that the church or kingdom of Christ, shall be the last kingdom on earth; that it shall succeed four preceding monarchies, become great, and fill the world, and exist in a very happy and glorious state on earth. By the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, and the interpretation of it in the second chapter of Daniel, the kingdom of Christ is set m this light. The image which Nebuchadnezzar saw represents four kingdoms or monarchies, viz. 1. The Babylonian. 2. The Medo Persian, or that of the Medes and Persians. 3. The Macedonian or Grecian. 4. The Roman. These are all to pass away and be destroyed, to make way for a fifth kingdom, which shall be great, and fill the world; which is described in the, dream, by the following words: “Thou sawest till a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and break them in pieces. Then were the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver and gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshings floors, and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them. And the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.” This is interpreted by Daniel in the following words: “And in the days of these kings, shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: And the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces, and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver and gold, the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter.” That this last kingdom is the kingdom of Christ, there 428can be no doubt.587587 See Newton on the Prophecies, vol. i. p. 426, 427, &c. The same is called in the New Testament, “The kingdom of God, or the kingdom of heaven.” This is to succeed the kingdom of the Romans, and to fill the whole earth, in which all nations, all mankind will be included. The Roman empire or kingdom, is not yet wholly destroyed; therefore what is here predicted of the kingdom of Christ is not yet accomplished, but shall take place in some future day. Nothing can be plainer and more certain than this.
In the seventh chapter of this book there is a representation of the same thing in a vision which Daniel had. He saw the same four empires or kingdoms in their succession, represented by four great, wild, fierce beasts, coming up from the sea. The last kingdom turned into a little horn which came up last; and Daniel “beheld till this fourth beast with the little horn was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame.” And then the vision proceeds; “I saw in the night visions, and beheld one like the Son of man, come with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations and languages should serve him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” This vision is briefly explained to Daniel in the following words: “These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, (i.e. kingdoms) which shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.” Daniel requested a more particular explanation of the fourth beast, and of the ten horns, and of the little horn, “Even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than hie fellows. And the same horn made war with the saints and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” And he is then told, “That the fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth. And the ten horns out of this kingdom, are ten kings that shall arise: And another shall rise after them, and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws: And they shall be given into his hand, until a time, and times, and the dividing of time. But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it to the end. And the kingdom, and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.”
As in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, so in this vision, the fifth and last kingdom, is the kingdom of Christ, consisting wholly of 429saints. It is Jesus Christ whom Daniel saw, “And behold, one like to the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven. And there was given him dominion and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations and languages should serve him.” His kingdom and dominion is universal, including all the inhabitants of the earth. And these shall be all saints or holy persons; as no others can be the proper subjects of this kingdom “The saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shill be given to the people of the saints of the Most High.” The strongest expressions are used and repeated, to assert the universality of this kingdom, comprehending all mankind who shall then live on earth. And it is repeatedly declared, that this kingdom shall stand forever. It shall not be destroyed by any succeeding power or kingdom, as the former kingdoms were, but shall continue to the end of the world, and then be removed to heaven, to a more perfect and glorious state; and there exist and flourish in the highest perfection forever and ever.
The little horn which was on the beast, and destroyed with the beast, whose body was given to the burning flame, is the Pope of Rome, with the kingdom and power, civil and ecclesiastical, of which he is the head.588588 This is abundantly proved in Newton’s Dissertation on the Prophecies, vol. i. p, 441-498. This beast, with this horn, is not yet destroyed. When this is done, the kingdom and power of sin and Satan in the world will fall; and then the kingdom of Christ will rise and fill the world, as is predicted here, and in the second chapter of this book. This is very evident by these prophecies, if there were no other; but this truth is greatly illustrated and established by those predictions of the same event which have been considered; and more so, by those which are yet to be mentioned.
The prophet Micah predicted the prosperity of the church of Christ, and the prevalence of his interest and kingdom in the last days.589589 Chap. iv. 1-4. v. 1-4. And there is a particular prophecy of the same event by Zephaniah.590590 Chap. iii. 8. to the end of the chapter. This is also particularly foretold by Zechariah: “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord. And many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people; and I will dwell in the midst of thee.”591591 Chap. ii. 10, 11. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation, lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass. And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle-bow shall be cut off; and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: And his dominion shall be from sea even 430to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.”592592 Zech. ix. 9, 10. The whole of the fourteenth chapter relates chiefly to this great event, and happy time; of which only the following words will be transcribed. “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark. But it shall be one day., which shall be known to the Lord, not day and night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light. And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem: Half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter it shall be. And the Lord shall be king over all the earth. In that day there shall be one Lord, and his name one.”
This is a prophecy of the Millennial state in figurative language. Then, in the moral world, the church, there shall be no night or darkness; no change of day and night, as there was before, when the church was in a state of affliction, when her days of prosperity were short, and soon succeeded by darkness and night of degeneracy and affliction: But at the time when night used to come on, it shall be day; so that it shall be constantly light and day, and the enjoyment of prosperity, light and holiness, without interruption. And there shall be a constant flow of living waters, without any interruption, into all parts of the earth, among all nations; that is, spiritual blessings, consisting in spiritual life, holy joy and happiness. And then all idolatry and false worship shall be wholly abolished; and Christ shall reign in all the earth, and all nations shall trust in him, and obey him. This prediction agrees exactly with all those which have been mentioned, pointing the to same important glorious event.
The prophecies in the New Testament foretell the universal spread of christianity, until all nations shall become the servants of Christ; and that Christ and his people shall reign on earth a thousand years; when Satan shall be cast out of the earth, and his subjects and kingdom shall be destroyed; agreeable to the numerous prophecies in the Old Testament, which have been mentioned.
Jesus Christ has foretold this, by the following parables—“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field. Which indeed is the least of all seeds: But when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree; so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. Another parable spake he unto them. The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.”593593 Matt. xiii. 31, 32, 33. By the first of those parables Christ teaches, that his church and kingdom, though small in the beginning of it, should increase and become great in the world. In the next, he makes an advance, and more fully predicts the universal extent of this kingdom; that the gospel shall not cease to spread and influence the world, till 431all mankind, living on earth, the whole world, shall be formed by it, and imbibe the spirit of it; so as to become the children of this kingdom. If the kingdom of heaven shall not finally prevail and extend to all nations, and fill the whole world, how can this parable be a just or true representation of it? In this view of it, it agrees exactly with many of the prophecies which have been mentioned; and with others, which are yet to be considered.
Agreeable to this, are the following words of Christ, in which indeed he asserts the same thing,” Now is the judgment of this world: Now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”594594 John xii. 31, 32.—What is here foretold by Christ is not yet accomplished, except in a very small part, as the first fruits and pledge of the whole.— A foundation for this was laid in the death of Christ, when he was lifted up on the cross; but the prince of this world, the devil, is not yet cast out of the world; nor has Christ yet drawn all men unto him. Christ has drawn great numbers to him, who have become his faithful subjects and servants, and has made great inroads upon the interest and kingdom of the prince of this world; but very few of mankind, compared with the whole, have been drawn to Christ; by far the greatest number, even in the christian world, have rejected and opposed him; and the kingdom of Satan has been great and strong, including the most of men who have lived in the world, from the time in which these words were spoken by Christ, to this day. Both of these events are therefore yet future, and the former is to make way for the latter; or rather one is included in the other. The same things which are here foretold, are predicted in different words, in the twentieth chapter of the Revelation, which will be considered. When Christ says, He will draw all men unto him, he does not mean that every one of mankind shall come unto him; for this is contrary to known fact; and to many express declarations of Christ. But that m consequence of his death, the kingdom of Satan shall be utterly destroyed on earth, and then all nations, even all men then in the world, shall become his voluntary subjects, and believe in him.
This was suited to support and comfort his disciples and friends at that time, when he had been speaking of his own death as at hand, in the view of the glory that should follow his dying on the cross; and served to explain what was spoken by the voice from heaven, in answer to his petition, “Father, glorify thy name.”—“I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.”595595 verse 28.
What the Apostle Paul says in the eleventh chapter of his epistle to the Romans, of the Jews and Gentiles, which comprehend all mankind, holds forth this same truth. He there speaks of the Jews who were then, the most of them, broken off from the church by unbelief, as yet to come into the kingdom of Christ, even all of them, which he terms their fulness. And he says, that when they shall in their fulness be brought in, the fulness of the Gentiles shall come in also. The fulness of the Jews, and 432the fulness of the Gentiles, must include the whole of all nations. And he speaks of what had taken place in the days of the Apostles, in the conversion of Jews and Gentiles, as only the first fruits, the root, foundation and beginning, of the whole lump, and the tree which were to follow in the coming in of the Jews and Gentiles, of the whole world, in the fulness thereof.596596 Rom. xi. 12, 16, 25.
This leads to recollect the many prophecies by the ancient Prophets, of the restoration of the Jews to a state of holiness and happiness, in the last days, which has not yet come to pass, some of which it may be proper to mention here, as they serve to confirm the point under consideration The thirty fourth, thirty sixth, and thirty seventh chapters of Ezekiel, relate chiefly to this event. Though the return of the Jews from their captivity in Babylon may be implied in this prophecy, and some expressions may have particular reference to that, yet it evidently looks farther, to a deliverance and salvation, of which their return from Babylon was a type or pledge: And there are many things predicted, which cannot be applied to the former, and were not true of it. Particularly the following: “I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David: And he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. One king shall be king to them all. And I will cleanse them, so shall they be my people, and 1 will be their God. And David, my servant, shall be king over them, and they all shall have one shepherd. They shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt, and they shall dwell therein, even they and their children, and their children’s children forever, and my servant David shall be their prince forever.”597597 Ezek. xxxiv. 23. xxxvii. 22, 23, 24, 25. By David, Jesus Christ the Son of David is meant, as the former was an eminent type of the latter. Therefore this must refer to their restoration and happy state under Christ, which is certainly not yet come; but will take place, when there shall be one fold, and one shepherd, and Jews and Gentiles shall be united in one church under the Redeemer, which, after the Millennium, shall be transplanted from earth to heaven: where the spiritual David will reign over it forever.
The same is foretold by the Prophet Hosea. “The children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a Prince and without sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim. Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and shall fear the Lord, and his goodness in the latter days.”598598 Hosea iii. 4, 5.—The children of Israel are now in the state here described, without a king, and without a prince, without a sacrifice; for their temple is destroyed, and they cannot go to Jerusalem, and their law forbids them to sacrifice in any other place. They are without an image, without an ephod and teraphim; for they have a great and obstinate aversion 433from all kinds of idolatry, to which they were once so much addicted. They have been a long time, many days, in this state, and will continue so, until they return, and seek Jesus Christ their king and submit to him, which is yet to come.
These prophecies, und others of the same kind, if they be considered as having reference to the Jews exclusively, and not including the whole church of Christ, in the latter day, composed of Jews and Gentiles, do prove that there is yet to be a time, when the church of Christ shall be universal, and include all nations: For it appears from what St. Paul says, that when those prophecies shall be fulfilled to the Jews, the fulness of the Gentiles will also come in, and all men in every nation will be subject to Christ, and his kingdom shall be glorious, and fill the world. And in this sense “All Israel shall be saved.”
In the revelation made by Jesus Christ to the Apostle John, the final victory and triumph of the church on earth, over all her enemies, and the happy stale to which it will be brought, which shall continue a thousand years, is, in some respects, more clearly set forth, than in the preceding prophecies; by which they are illustrated, and their meaning; is more fully fixed and confirmed. Here the general stale and circumstances of the church, from the time when the revelation was given, to this time, and down to the end of the world, are predicted. Here the afflictions and persecutions, through which the church should pass; the respite which she should have, and victory over the persecuting power of heathen Rome, in the days of Constantine; the grand apostacy which should take place in the church by the rise of the Pope, and the hierarchy of the false church of Rome; the gross idolatry which should be practised m that church: and the violent opposition of this power to the true followers of Christ; their cruel persecutions of them, and shedding their blood, for a thousand two hundred and sixty years; the judgments that should be executed on that corrupt church and her adherents, and on the whole world, for their obstinacy in wickedness; and the final overthrow of the Pope and all who support him, and of the kingdom of Satan in the world, and the deliverance of the church of Christ into a state of rest and peace when the kingdom of Christ shall increase, and spread, and fill the world; and continue in this happy state on earth a thousand years: All this is foretold; much of which is already come to pass; but the most happy and glorious events are yet to come. The great and remarkable things which have come lo pass, as they were foretold, are a standing, incontestible evidence and demonstration, that the prophecies in this book are from heaven: For it is as certain, that none but the omniscient God can know and predict such events, which take place according to the prediction, as it is that this world was made by him. And the events which are come to pass, and are now taking place in the world before our eyes, agreeable to the prophecies in this book, at the same lime that they prove that those predictions are 434from God, are also a pledge and assurance, that the prophecies of things not yet come, will be fulfilled in due season.
The subject now in hand will lead more particularly to consider what are the prophecies in this book, which relate to the future prosperity of the church and kingdom of Christ in this world, in which all the darkness and afflictions which do attend it, being oppressed and trodden down by enemies, while they prevail and triumph, shall issue; and to show that such a day is certainly coming, according to the predictions which are to be found here.
In the fifth chapter of the revelation, the four and twenty elders, who represent the church, appear rejoicing and praising Christ in the prospect of their reigning on the earth. “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: For thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: And we shall reign on the earth. ” This is spoken of the church, and is not literally true of every particular member of it, that then actually existed in heaven, or on earth. When the church shall reign on earth, consisting of the numerous members who shall then exist in this world; all those who are gone out of the world, and are in heaven, will reign in and with the church on earth, as members of the same society and kingdom; and will partake in all the joy and glory of this event, in a much higher degree than if they were personally on earth: They will reign in their successors, who represent them, and in the prevalence, victory and triumph of that cause, which is theirs, and in which they lived and died. But this will be more particularly considered hereafter.
“And the seventh angel sounded, and there were great voices in heaven, saying. The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”599599 Rev. xi. 15. Here it is asserted, that under the seventh trumpet, which contains all the events from the time of its sounding, to the end of the world, all the nations and kingdoms in this world shall become one kingdom, under Christ, and shall be wholly swallowed up in this kingdom, which shall not be succeeded or give place to any other kingdom; but shall stand forever. It shall continue the only kingdom on earth to the end of the world, and exist forever in heaven. Which is perfectly agreeable to many other prophecies which have been mentioned. The meaning is not, that this event shall follow immediately upon the sounding of the seventh trumpet: but that this is comprehended in the events of this trumpet, to which all the preceding have respect, and in which they shall issue, as the most important and glorious event, to which all the inhabitants of heaven were attending, and in the prospect of which they had peculiar joy.
The same event is celebrated in heaven, as having actually taken place, in the former part of the nineteenth chapter. “And 435I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying. Hallelujah! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth: Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted, that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: For the tine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he said unto me, Write, Blessed are they who are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.” Here the Lord Jesus Christ is represented as reigning, as he never had done before; which is the same event which is so often predicted in the Psalms, and by the Prophets, especially by Daniel, by the Lord’s reigning, that is Christ. And which is mentioned and celebrated in the tenth chapter; and in the twentieth chapter: “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them, and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. ” By the bride having made herself ready, and being arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, is meant the eminent degree of holiness and moral beauty, to which the church will arrive at that day, in the Millennial state. This is represented as taking place upon the fall of Antichrist, and the great whore, the false idolatrous church of Rome. And it succeeds the overthrow of Satan’s kingdom in the world, and not only the destruction of the Roman empire under Antichrist, but of all the nations of wicked men; which is described in the sixteenth chapter, verse seventeenth, &c.
And the same event is again represented in the latter part of the nineteenth chapter, and in the beginning of the twentieth. “And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse: And he that sat upon him was called faithful and true, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. ” From the following description it appears, that this person is Jesus Christ prepared, and going forth to destroy his enemies on earth. And an angel is seen standing in the sun, in the most conspicuous place, calling with a loud voice upon all the fowls of the air to come “to the supper of the great God, to eat the flesh of kings and captains, &c. and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. And he saw the beast and the kings of the earth, and their armies gathered together, to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.” And the beast and false prophet were destroyed by him; and the remnant of those who joined with the beast and were enemies to Christ, were slain by him. This battle, and the destruction of the enemies of Christ, does not follow in time, and is not to take place after the events mentioned in the first part of this chapter, viz. the joy and praise in heaven, upon the reigning of Christ on earth, and the bride, the Lamb’s wife, making herself ready, &c. but is a repeated and more particular representation of what is to precede that happy event, which had been before mentioned in the sixteenth chapter, from the thirteenth verse to the end of it. There the kings of the 436earth, and the whole world, are said to be gathered together to battle; “The battle of the great day of God Almighty.” So here “The beast and the kings of the earth, and their armies, are gathered together to make, war against him that sat on the horse ,” And there the battle is described as coming on, upon the pouring out of the seventh vial, and great Babylon, which is the same with the beast, and the false prophet, and all the enemies of Christ, are destroyed in battle. Which is exactly parallel with the war and battle of which there is a more particular description in the nineteenth chapter, and must be one and the same event. This is confirmed by what immediately follows this destruction of the enemies of Christ, in the beginning of the twentieth chapter, which, as has been observed, is the same event with that described in the nineteenth chapter by the marriage of the Lamb, whose bride, that is the church, was made ready and arrayed in fine linen, clean and white. A more particular and remarkable description of this same thing, in the twentieth chapter, is in the following words.
“And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit, and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: And after that, he must be loosed a little season. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them. And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands: And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection. On such the second death hath no power; but they shall be priests of God, and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. ”
A particular explanation of this passage of scripture will be attempted in the next section. That it does express and confirm the truth which is contained in the numerous prophecies which have been mentioned, and which is set up to be proved in this section, the following observations will show.
I. This event here predicted, is to take place after the overthrow of the Roman antichristian kingdom, and the destruction of all the enemies of Christ and his church on earth. This is evident from the account of the destruction of these in the prophecy immediately preceding these words, and upon which the glorious scene opened in this passage, is to take place. And the same is predicted in the last part of the sixteenth chapter, as has been shown. This is agreeable to the prophecies of the same event, in the Psalms, and by Daniel, and others, viz. that the time of the reign of Christ, and of the saints on earth, shall 437succeed the destruction of the wicked, and the total overthrow of all the preceding kingdoms and powers in the world, which has been from time to time observed upon them, when they were transcribed. And in this very passage, Satan himself is represented as bound, and cast out of the earth, and shut up in the bottomless pit, antecedent to the reign of Christ, and his followers in the world; which necessarily implies the total ruin of his cause and kingdom on earth, and the extirpation of all the wicked who are his children and servants. Therefore, the time here predicted is not yet come.
2. All this is to take place before the end of the world, and the day of judgment. This is very evident and certain, since it is said, that when this happy time of a thousand years is ended, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth: And then, after this, Christ is represented as coming to judgment, of which there is a particular account; and of the final and eternal destruction of all his enemies.
3. Christ is here said to reign, and his saints to reign with him, which, without any doubt, is the same event, and the same period, which is foretold by Daniel and other Prophets, as a most happy and joyful time, when that nation and those men who will not serve Jesus Christ, shall be destroyed; and there shall be given to him dominion and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the saints of the Most High, and all dominions shall serve him. And the extent and universality of the kingdom of Christ, and of those who reign with him, as including all nations and all men, is supposed and implied in his binding Satan, and casting him out, “that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled.” Satan is said to deceive the whole world.600600 Rev. xii. 9. And when he is cast out of the whole world, Jesus Christ and his people will take possession of it. and reign in all the earth.
4. Christ and his people are to reign on earth a thousand years.601601 Hence this time is called the Millennium, which signifies a thousand years. All have not been agreed in the length of time denoted here by a thousand years. Some have supposed that a thousand years is used indefinitely, not to express any precise number of years, but a great number of years or a long time But this cannot reasonably be admitted, as the sense of the expression here, since this precise number of years, is mentioned six times in this passage, which appears inconsistent with its being used in such an indefinite, vague sense. And besides, there is nothing ill the connection here, or in the nature or circumstances of the case, to lead any one to understand this number, as put indefinitely.
There are others who suppose, that these are to be understood to be a thousand prophetical years, that is, as many years as there 438are days in a thousand literal years, a day being put for a year.—According to this way of reckoning, a thousand years are put for three hundred and sixty thousand years; for in that age, a year was reckoned to consist of three hundred and sixty days. It is said, that in this book of Revelation, a day is constantly put for a year. A thousand, two hundred and sixty days, mean so many years, and forty two months, mean as many years, as there are days in so many months, reckoning thirty days to each month, as they then did; which therefore amount to the same number of years, i.e. one thousand, two hundred and sixty years. And a time and times, and half a time, i.e. three years and an half, mean as many years as there are days in three years and an half; which are just as many as there are in forty two months; that is, one thousand, two hundred and sixty years. It is therefore concluded, that these thousand years must be understood in the same way; that is, that a day is put for a year; which will amount to three hundred and sixty thousand years.
It is acknowledged that this supposition is supported by some colour of argument and plausibility: But there are objections to it, some of which will be mentioned.
1. It does by no means follow that these are prophetical years, in the sense mentioned, because a day is put for a year, in other places in this prophecy. There may be reasons for putting a day for a year, in other instances; and yet there be no reason for puling a thousand years for as many years as there are days in a thousand years, in this instance; and therefore no reason for understanding them so. And a day is not put for a year in every other instance in this book. The dead bodies of the two witnesses are said to lie in the street of the city, three days and an half,602602 Rev. xi. 9. which do not mean three years and an half, as no event respecting them can be made consistent with such a meaning,
2. The number, a thousand years, being repeated so many times in one short paragraph, seems to be a reason that it is to be understood literally, for just so many years, and not so many prophetical years. Especially, as there is nothing in this case to lead us to understand it in the latter sense; but it may as consistently with every thing in this book, and this prophecy in particular, and more so, as will be now observed, be understood literally. And it is farther to be observed, that there is no instance in this book, or in the whole Bible, where a precise number is so often repeated in the same words, that is not to be understood literally.
3. It seems to be out of all proper proportion, to suppose there will be so long a time as three hundred and sixty thousand years of prosperity and happiness, and of great and universal holiness in this world, the habitation of an apostate, sinful race of men; and but six thousand years of evil times. And this does not appear consistent with this world being represented as an evil world, as it is in the scripture: Or with its being cursed in consequence 439of man’s rebellion. One thousand years may be an exception out of seven thousand, in which the curse may be mitigated, and in a great measure removed; and yet, on the whole, or the whole taken together, it may be considered and called, an evil and accursed world, for man’s sake. But if there were to be only six thousand years of evil and the curse, and three hundred and sixty thousand years of good and a blessing, it would not, on the whole, be an evil or cursed, but a happy and blessed world.
4. It has been observed, that the natural world is evidently a designed type or shadow of the moral world, especially of the redemption by Christ. And that creating it in six days, and then resting on the seventh, is designed to be a type of bringing the moral world in the work of redemption, to a state of rest; that there are to be six thousand years in which every thing with respect to redemption and the kingdom of Christ, is to be done and prepared, for a seventh thousand years of peace and rest, and joy in this glorious work. And it will be shown in the sequel, that there are institutions in the Mosaic ritual, which point out the same thing. The Apostle Peter seems to allude to this, when speaking of the coming of Christ, and the end of the world. “But beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise; but the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night,” &c.603603 2 Peter iii. 8, 9, 10. Hence the constant revolution of weeks, consisting of seven days, is an emblem of the revolution of time, which will come to an end, when the world has existed seven thousand years. And there has been a tradition among both Jews and Christians, agreeable to this sentiment.604604 “There is an old tradition, both among Jews and Christians, that at the end of six thousand years the Messiah shall come, and the world shall be renewed, the reign of the wicked one shall cease, and the reign of the saints upon earth shall begin.”— Newton’s Dissertations on the Prophecies. Vol. I. Page 490.—And again, Vol. III. Page 410.—“According to tradition, these thousand years of the reign of Christ and the saints, will be the seventh millenary of the world; for as God created the world in xix days, and rested on the seventh, so the world, it is argued, will continue six thousand years, and the seventh thousand will be the great sabbatism, or holy rest, to the people of God; One day being with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”—2 Peter iii. 8.—Now, this sentiment and tradition suppose, that the thousand years of the Millennium is but one literal thousand years, or the seventh part of the time in which the world is to stand. And as far as there is any weight in them, oppose and overthrow the notion that the world will not come to an end, till it has existed three hundred and sixty thousand years, after the Millennium shall begin.
5. All the ends of such a day of peace and prosperity, of victory, triumph and salvation to the church on earth, and of the so much celebrated reign of Christ with his saints, in this world, will be fully answered in a literal thousand years, so far as it can be 440learned what they are from scripture; or man can conceive them to be; as much and as fully answered, as they could be in hundreds of thousands of years, or in any supposed length of time.
Satan will be as much defeated, and his kingdom and interest wholly destroyed in the world; the cause of wickedness, and evil men, will be entirely ruined and lost, and they all banished from the earth. The wisdom, power, grace, truth and faithfulness of Christ will have a proper and glorious manifestation, by introducing such a state, and continuing it as long as is most for his glory, and the best good of his church, though it shall continue but a thousand years. The church may have all the reward and enjoyment m that time, that it is proper or desirable that it should have on earth; and it may be wisest and best, then to take it to a more perfect, happy and glorious state in heaven. A thousand years will be time enough for Christ to show what he can do, in bringing good out of evil, and vindicating his cause and church, and triumphing gloriously overall opposition from earth and hell, and filling the world with his powerful presence and kingdom, with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord; with holiness and happiness. There will be full opportunity in this time, to show and demonstrate, from fact and abundant experience, what is the nature, beauty and excellence of christianity; that it is exactly suited to form the world into a state of love, union and happiness; and that all the preceding evils among mankind have been chiefly owing to ignorance or neglect of Christ, and the true spirit of christianity, and opposition to those in life or heart, or both. And this will be time enough to show, that all means are ineffectual to reclaim man from sin; and that this can be effected by nothing but the Spirit of God, poured down in plentiful effusions; and to give a sample and foretaste of the beauty, happiness and glory of the holy society and redeemed church in heaven.
And in this thousand years the work of redemption, and salvation, may be fully accomplished in the utmost extent and glory of it. In this time, in which the world will be soon filled with real christians, and continue full, by constant propagation, to supply the place of those who will leave the world; there will be many thousands born and live on earth, to each one that had been born and lived in the preceding six thousand years. So that if they who shall be born in that thousand years, shall be all, or most of them, saved, as they will be, there will, on the whole, be many thousands of mankind saved, to one that shall be lost.605605 See Bellamy’s Sermon on the Millennium.
The only end that can be imagined would be answered by protracting this lime of the prosperity of the church in this world, is, that greater numbers of mankind might exist, and be saved. But that this is really desirable or best, all things considered, there is not the least evidence. A desire that more of mankind should be saved than will be saved, in a thousand years of the prevalence of holiness and salvation, in all the families of the earth, never could be satisfied: For though three hundred and sixty thousand years 441should be added, and all should be saved who lived in that time; still, for the same reason that this is desired, it will be equally desirable, and more so, that the lime of salvation should be lengthened out yet longer; and so on without end. This reason for making the time longer, that more may be saved, cannot cease; and a desire of more time, on this ground, or for this reason, is like the four things which Solomon mentions as never satisfied, and say not it is enough. It is most wise and best, that a certain number and proportion of mankind should be saved: And God only knows what this number is, how great, and what proportion it bears to the whole human race. And no man has any reason to think, that this number will not be completed within a literal thousand years, after the Millennium commences. Nor can there be the least evidence from any quarter, that it will not, unless there be evidence that the Millennium contains a longer time; which is the question under consideration. And it is supposed that no evidence of this has yet been produced, or can be at present: And it is certain, that the salvation of more of mankind, were the time to be longer, is no reason why it should be longer. But this will be best, and most infallibly decided by the event which will take place in due season: Which perhaps cannot be determined with certainty now, or so that all shall be satisfied and agreed in the matter. And it may not be wise to be very confident on either side of the question.
The evidence has now been produced from scripture, that there is a time coming, in which the cause of Christ shall prevail in this world; and his kingdom spread and fill the earth, as it has never yet done; in which time, the church and people of Christ shall come to a state of peace and prosperity; when the kingdom of Satan shall be utterly destroyed; and all wicked men shall be put down, and cast out of the earth, and there shall be none to destroy, hurt or oppose the truth and ways of Christ, or his people: and this happy, glorious day shall last a thousand years.
This is foretold, not by one single prophecy, but is repeatedly and abundantly mentioned in the sacred, prophetic writings, and represented by a variety of strong expressions, and by different similitudes, and in figurative language: and yet all perfectly agree to point out the same thing. And there are many prophecies of the same event, by Isaiah, and in other parts of the Bible, which have not been particularly mentioned.
Nothing has yet taken place in favour of the church of Christ, and in opposition to his enemies, which is in any measure answerable to these predictions. By far the greater part of mankind have been in a state of ignorance of christianity, or of opposition to it, ever since the gospel has been preached to men; and Satan has had a greater and stronger kingdom on earth, than Christ, most of the time since his ascension. And sin, and real opposition to Christ, in principle and practice, have abounded in every age, even among nominal christians. The overthrow of 442the Jews by the Romans, and the consequent spread of christianity among the Gentiles, were events favourable to the church of Christ, and were a pledge and type of what he will yet do, in overthrowing his enemies and delivering his church, in the latter days. And so was the overthrow of heathen Rome, and the spread and prevalence of christianity through all the Roman empire, in the days of the emperor Constantine, in the fourth century. But this was of short continuance, and within twenty years the church fell into a state of great calamity, by divisions, contentions and heresies; and the empire was involved in confusion and war. And from that time to this, the church has been in a low, afflicted state. The many promises made to Israel by the prophets, of restoration to a long abiding state of obedience, holiness and prosperity, have not been in any measure fulfilled to that nation, nor to the church, including Jews and Gentiles, represented and typified by Israel, Jerusalem, Mount Zion, &c. If such a day of prosperity of the church of Christ, comprehending Jews and Gentiles, and all nations, were not yet to come, great part of the prophecies in the Bible could have but a very low and little meaning, and would be in a great measure, if not wholly, useless: Whereas, if they be understood according to the most natural, plain import of them, they open a most pleasing, wonderful scene, suited to support and animate the christian, and fill him with gratitude and joy, on the agreeable prospect.
It appears reasonable and desirable, that Jesus Christ, who suffered shame and reproach in this world, and was condemned and put to death as a malefactor, by men, should have this reproach wiped off in the sight of all men, and that the cause in which he suffered and died, should prevail and be victorious in this same world, where he suffered and died: that he should, agreeably to ancient prophecies, be here on earth, “Exalted and extolled, and be very high. As many were astonished at him (his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men) so shall he sprinkle many nations, and kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard, shall they consider. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied. He shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death; and was numbered with the transgressors.”606606 Isaiah lii. 13-15. liii. 11, 12.
And it appears very desirable that the enemies of Christ and his church should meet with disappointment, be defeated and confounded in this world, and that the reproach which has been cast upon the church should be removed: that the church should put on her beautiful garments, and shine in the true beauties of christianity: that it should be seen from experiment in this world, what christianity is, when acted out, according to the true nature and spirit of it; and that this, and this only, can render men and society happy in this state. All this is therefore predicted 443 and promised. “Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee, and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out, and I will get them praise and fame in every land, where they have been put to shame; for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth.”607607 Zeph. iii. 19, 20.
One reason why this day of salvation is delayed so long after the death and resurrection of Christ, doubtless is, that there may be proper and full opportunity to discover the depravity and wickedness of man, and the insufficiency of all means that can be used, or methods taken, to bring men to repentance, and a cordial submission to Christ, unless accompanied by the special, omnipotent influences of the Holy Spirit, to renew their hearts: and clearly to manifest the natural enmity in the hearts of mankind against Christ, and the truths of the gospel, and their strong disposition, and unconquerable by all possible external means and advantages, to oppose, and pervert the gospel, and abuse it to the worst purposes; that it may appear in the most clear and striking light, how greatly and wholly depraved, and utterly lost, men are, unless they be saved by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost; and that the whole praise and glory of the salvation of every one, may be ascribed to the sovereign grace of Christ, and man be forever abased. When God has sufficiently tried men, and used a variety of the most proper and powerful means to bring the world to repentance, and all has proved in vain, he will then pour out his spirit upon all, and renew their hearts, and converts will spring up as grass after showers of ram; and the obstinacy of man, and the power and sovereign grace of Christ, will be acknowledged by all; and that men are saved, not by human might or power, but by the Spirit of the Lord.608608 Zech. iv. 6. Rom. xi. 32. 1 Cor. i. 21.
And it appears proper and wise, that this day of prosperity and salvation should be in the latter end of the world, in the last times, as this is suited to excite and support the faith and patience of christians, who live in the preceding dark and evil limes; and to encourage and animate them to faithfulness and constancy, in following Christ, and adherence to his cause, in the midst of temptations and trials; and this use is made of it in the scripture, especially in the book of Revelation. And this is suited -to excite the prayers of christians in all the preceding ages of darkness, affliction and suffering, and the prevalence of sin, and Satan, for the coming and kingdom of Christ; which he has prescribed as the first and most important petition in the pattern of prayer which he has given. “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” Daniel was excited and encouraged to fast and pray for the deliverance of the people of God, from their affliction and distress in their captivity, by finding that this was foretold and promised by Jeremiah the Prophet.609609 Dan. ix. 2, 3, 4. And this 444has actually excited christians to pray for this event, in all ages of the church; and doubtless they will be awakened and stirred up to pray more generally, constantly, and fervently for this important, glorious event, as the approach of it is found by prophecy to be nearer: And it will be introduced in answer to the prayers of thousands and millions, who have been, and who will yet be, crying to God night and day; resolving not to keep silence, or give him any rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.610610 Isai. lxii. 6, 7. For he will be inquired offer this by his church and people, to do it for them.”611611 Ezek. xxxvi. 37.
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