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In which it is considered, in what the Millennium will consist, and what will be the peculiar happiness and glory of that day, according to Scripture.
THERE have been, and still are, very different opinions, respecting the Millennium, and the events which will take place in that day; which are grounded chiefly on the six first verses in the twentieth chapter of the Revelation, which passage has been brought into view, in the preceding; section; but is to be more particularly considered m this.
Some have supposed, that this passage is to be taken literally, as importing that at that time, Jesus Christ will come in his human nature, from heaven to earth; and set his kingdom up here, and reign visibly, and personally, and with distinguished glory on earth. And that the bodies of the martyrs, and other eminent christians, will then be raised from the dead, in which they shall live and reign with Christ here on earth, a thousand years. And some suppose, that all the saints, the true friends to God and Christ, who have lived before that time, will then be raised from the dead, and live on earth perfectly holy, during this thousand years. And this they suppose is meant by the first resurrection. Those who agree in general in this notion of the Millennium, differ with respect to many circumstances, which it is needless to mention here.
Others have understood this paragraph of scripture in a figurative sense. That by this reign of Christ on earth, is not meant his coming from heaven to earth, in his human, visible nature; but his taking to himself his power and utterly overthrowing the kingdom of Satan, and setting up his own kingdom in all the world, which before this had been confined to very narrow bounds; and subduing all hearts to a willing subjection, and thus reigning over all men, who shall then be in the world, and live in that thousand years. And by “The souls of them which were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, 445neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands ,” living again and reigning with Christ a thousand years, they suppose, is not meant a literal resurrection, or the resurrection of their bodies, which is not asserted here, as there is nothing said of their bodies, or of their being raised to life: But that they shall live again and reign with Christ, in the revival, prosperity, reign and triumph of that cause and interest in which they lived, and for the promotion of which they died; and in whose death, the cause seemed in a measure, and for a lime, to die and be lost. And they shall live again in their successors, who shall arise and stand up with the same spirit, and in the same cause, in which they lived and died, and fill the world and reign with Christ a thousand years, agreeable to ancient prophecies. “The meek shall inherit the earth. 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 him.” And they suppose, that this revival of the truths and cause of Christ, by the numerous inhabitants of the earth, rising up to a new and holy life, and filling the world with holiness and happiness, is that which is here called the first resurrection, in distinction from the second, which will consist in the resurrection of the body; whereas this is a spiritual resurrection; a resurrection of the truths and cause of Christ, which had been in a great degree, dead and lost; and a resurrection of the souls of men, by the renovation of the Holy Ghost.
That this important passage of scripture is to be understood in the figurative sense, last mentioned, is very probable, if not certain. And the following considerations are thought sufficient to support it.
1. Most, if not all the prophecies in this book, are delivered in figurative language, referring to types and events recorded in the Old Testament; and in imitation of the language of the ancient prophets. And this was proper and even necessary in the best manner to answer the ends of prophecy, as might easily be shown, were it necessary. The first part of this passage, all must allow, is figurative, Satan cannot be bound with a literal, material chain. The key, the great chain, and the seal, cannot be understood literally. The whole is a figure, and can mean no more than that when the time of the Millennium arrives, or rather previous to it, Jesus Christ will lay effectual restraints on Satan, so that his powerful and prevailing influence by which he has before deceived and destroyed a great part of mankind, shall be wholly taken from him, for a thousand years. And it is most natural to understand the other part of the description of this remarkable event to be represented in the same figurative language; as the whole is a representation of one scene; especially, since no reason can be given why it should not be understood so: And 446there are reasons against taking it in a literal sense, which will be mentioned in the following particulars.
2. To suppose that Christ shall come in his human nature to this earth, and live here in his whole person visibly a thousand years before the day of judgment, appears to be contrary to several passages of scripture.
The coming of Christ, and his appearing at the day of judgment in his human nature, is said to be his second appearance, answering to his first appearance in his human nature on earth, from his birth to his ascension into heaven, which was past. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them who look for him shall he appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation.”612612 Heb. ix. 27, 28. The appearance here spoken of, is the appearance of Christ at the day of judgment, to complete the salvation of his church. This could not be his appearing the second time, were he thus to appear, and be bodily present in his human nature on earth, in the time of the Millennium, which is to take place before the day of judgment. The coming of Christ does not always intend his coming visibly in his human nature; but he is said to come, when he destroyed the temple and nation of the Jews, and appeared in favour of his church. So his destruction of heathen Rome, and delivering his church from that persecuting power, was an instance of his coming. And he will, in the same way, come to destroy antichrist, and the kingdom of Satan in the world, and introduce the Millennium; and in these instances, and others, he may be said to appear. But his coming to judgment, and appearing to complete the final destruction of all his enemies, and to perfect the salvation of his church, is his last coming and appearance. And though this will not be his second appearance and coming, in the sense now mentioned- and with reference to those instances of his coming; yet, as he will then come and appear visibly in his human nature; this will be his second coming and appearance in this way and manner, having never appeared on earth in his human nature more than once before, or since his first ascension to heaven, after his incarnation. Therefore, when the final judgment shall take place, Christ is represented as being revealed, and coming from heaven, and this is often called, by way of eminence, his appearing; meaning his appearing and coming from heaven in visible splendour and glory, in his whole person, in both natures, divine and human. But if he were here on earth, visible in his human nature, and reigning in his glorified body, during the Millennium; he would be already here to attend the last judgment, and he could not be properly said to come from heaven, and to be revealed from heaven, because this was done a thousand years before. Therefore that Christ should come from heaven, and appear and reign in his human nature and presence before the day of judgment, seems to be contrary to the following scriptures: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven 447with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: And the dead in Christ shall rise first. When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, &c. When he shall come to be glorified in his saints.”613613 1 Thess. iv. 16. 2 These, i. 7, 8, 10. This is evidently his appearing the second lime, for the salvation of all them that look for him: but were he on earth before this, in the human nature, during the time of the Millennium, how could he be said to be revealed, to descend and come from heaven to judge the world?
3. As it seems to be contrary to the above mentioned scriptures to suppose that Christ will appear on earth, and reign a thousand years in his human nature; so it appears contrary to all reason. Jesus Christ is now on the throne of the universe, having all power in heaven and earth given to him as God-man, and Redeemer, being made head over all things to the church. He is in the most proper, agreeable, and convenient situation to govern the world, and take care of his church. It does not appear agreeable to his station and office, as king and head over all things, for him to descend in the human nature, and erect a throne on earth; which, so far as can be conceived, would be no advantage to his person, design and work; but very much to the contrary. He is gone to heaven in the human nature, that he might reign there, till his enemies are made his footstool, and all things shall be subdued under him. And his church on earth will enjoy him to as great a degree, and as much advantage, as if he were personally on earth in the human nature, and more; and will have as great enjoyment of his presence. He is now in the best situation to be adored and worshipped by his church on earth. Though they now do not see him, yet believing and loving him, they rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. And it would not tend to increase this faith, love and joy, to have him come from heaven, and live in some place on earth, in his human nature; but the contrary: For but few, compared with the whole inhabitants of the world, could have access to him, or see him more than they now do. And when the human nature is in heaven, all may equally have access to him, love and worship him. His church and kingdom on earth will be as happy, splendid and glorious, as if he were on earth, as he is now m heaven, and much more so; for these will consist in his spiritual presence and influence, which may be as great, while his human nature is in heaven, as if it were on earth; and in their holy conformity to Christ, which would not be increased by his being in that sense on earth. It hence appears in no respect advantageous or desirable, but the contrary, that Jesus Christ should come personally in the human nature from heaven to earth, to reign here with his church, or that he should thus appear, till he shall come to judgment. It is therefore unreasonable to expect or suppose he will thus come, unless it were expressly asserted in scripture, which it certainly is not; but there 448are some, if not many passages, which seem to be inconsistent with it.
It may be proper to observe here, that the question respecting the manner in which Christ will reign on earth in the Millennium, has no concern with the question concerning the literal or figurative meaning of this passage, as the former does not depend upon the latter: For no man will suppose, that Christ’s reigning on earth, is to be understood in a figurative sense. If he shall reign on earth in the hearts of men, by their voluntary subjection to him, he will reign as literally, as if he were present on earth in his humanity. The question, whether this passage is to be understood literally or figuratively, respects the soul of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, &c. their living and reigning with Christ a thousand years. This therefore leads to other observations.
4. The Apostle Paul in his writings does not appear to expect to have his body raised from the dead to live here on earth again, after he died; or say any thing to lead the christians of this day to expect any such thing, but the contrary.
He says, “It is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment:” And leads christians to look forward to the second coming of Christ, when he will come to judgment, as the next great event that will immediately respect them; which seems to be inconsistent with the saints having their bodies raised, and living in this world again, a thousand years before the day of judgment. He addresses christians m the following words, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”614614 Col. iii. 1, 2, 3, 4. He directs them to expect and seek enjoyment in heaven where Christ is; and not to expect that he will leave his throne there, till he shall appear the second time, to receive his saints to glory in heaven. For appearing with Christ in glory, means, appearing with him in heaven, as that is the place of glory, where the redeemed are brought to be glorified, to be where Christ is, to behold his glory. The Apostle Peter, speaking of the dissolution of the heavens and earth, says, “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”615615 2 Pet. iii. 13. Some have supposed, that this is the Millennial state, which shall take place after the general conflagration, by which the earth will be renewed: in which a perfectly holy and happy state shall commence, to which all the saints who had died shall be raised, &c. But such a notion cannot be reconciled to other passages of scripture, in which, as has been observed, the Millennium is represented as taking place before the general conflagration and the day of judgment. And alter these are over, and the wicked are cast into endless 449punishment,616616 Rev. 20. the Apostle John says, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: For the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.”617617 Chap. xxi. 1. By which the heavenly state is chiefly if not wholly meant, where redemption and the church will be perfected. By the new heaven and new earth, is meant the work of redemption, or the church redeemed by Christ. This is the new creation infinitely superior to the old creation, the natural world, and more important, excellent and durable; of which the latter is a faint type or shadow.
The renovation of the hearts of men, by the Spirit of God, by which they become true christians, is in scripture called a new creature, or as the original words κινὴ κτίσος may as well be rendered, a new creation. “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: Old things are past away, behold, all things are become new.”618618 2 Cor. v. 12. “For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.”619619 Gal. vi. 15.—Therefore, every true member of the church belongs to the new creation, and is part of it; and this new creation of the new heaven and new earth, goes on and makes advances, as the church is enlarged and rises to a state of greater prosperity, and proceeds towards perfection.
The new heavens, and new earth, the redeemed church of Christ will be brought to a very happy and glorious state in the Millennium, and greater advantages will be made then in this new creation, than were ever made before. Therefore, to this event, the following prophecy of Isaiah does chiefly refer, if not wholly. “For behold, I create new heavens, and a new earth. And the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be you glad and rejoice forever, in that which I create: For behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.”620620 Chap. lv. 17, 18. It appears from the preceding and following context, that this prophecy refers to the Millennium, in which the new creation, the church of Christ, will come to the most perfect and happy state to which it will be brought in this world; from which it will pass to a perfect slate, and be completely finished, after the general resurrection and judgment. Then the old creation, the heavens and the earth shall pass away, and be burnt up, and the new creation shall be finished, and brought to a most perfect, beautiful, happy and glorious state. To the new heaven and new earth, thus completed, wherein that righteousness or true holiness, which is the beauty, happiness and glory of the new creation, will dwell, i.e. continue and flourish forever, the apostles Peter and John have chief reference in their words, which have been transcribed above.
5. It does not appear desirable, or to be any advantage to the departed saints, or to the church of Christ on earth, to have the bodies of all who have died before the Millennium, raised from their graves, and come to live a thousand years in this world, before the general resurrection. They are now perfectly holy 450and happy; and so far as can be conceived, it would be no addition, but a diminution to their happiness, to come and live in this world, in the body, to eat and drink, and partake of the enjoyments of the world. This would be a degradation, which on no account can be desirable to the spirits of the just, now made perfect in heaven. And it would be no advance in the work of redemption, which is then to be carried on in a greater degree, than ever before. Nor would this be any advantaged to the church, in that happy state, to which it will then be brought; but the contrary, as they would take up that room in the world, which will be then wanted for those who will be born in that day. And the spirits of the just could not know or enjoy so much of the prosperity and happiness of the church, in the salvation of men, were they to live in bodies on earth, in that time The inhabitants of heaven have a more particular and extensive knowledge of what takes pi ice in favour of the church on earth, than any in this world have, or than they could have, were they to come and live here. They know of every conversion that takes place in this world; and they must have the knowledge of the state of the church on earth, and of every event which comes to pass in favour of it, and see the whole of its prosperity. And they have great joy in every thing of this kind, “There is joy in heaven, in presence of the angels of God, over one sinner that repenteth.” How greatly will the happiness and joy m heaven be increased, when all the inhabitants of the world shall be converted to Christ, and the church of Christ shall fill the earth, and appear in the beauty of holiness! Agreeable to this, the inhabitants of heaven are represented as greatly rejoicing in the prosperity of the church on earth, and the overthrow of all her enemies. “Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God bath avenged you on her. And I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Hallelujah: salvation, and glory, and honour, and power unto the Lord our God; for he hath judged the great whore, kc. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him; tor the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.”621621 Rev. xviii. 20. xix. 1-7.—Surely none will desire to leave that place of knowledge, light and joy, and come and be confined in the body in this world, which will be darkness, and solitary, compared with that: Such a change of place could be no privilege or reward: but rather a calamity. Therefore, it is not to be believed, unless it be plainly, and in express words revealed; which, it is presumed, it is not. This leads to another observation.
6. There is nothing expressly said of the resurrection of the body in this passage. The Apostle John saw the souls of them which were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, &c. and they lived and reigned with Christ. The resurrection of the body, is no where expressed in scripture, by the soul’s living. And as there is nothing said of the body, and he only saw their souls to live, this does not appear to be a proper expression, to denote the 451resurrection of the body, and their living in that. This therefore does not seem to be the natural meaning of the words; and certainly is not the necessary meaning. We are therefore warranted to look for another meaning. and to acquiesce in it, if one can be found, which is more easy and natural, and more agreeable to the whole passage, and to the scripture in general. Therefore,
7. The most easy and probable meaning is, that the souls of the martyrs, and all the faithful followers of Christ, who have lived in the world, and have died before the Millennium shall commence, shall revive and live again, in their successors, who shall rise up in the same spirit, and in the same character, in which they lived and died; and in the revival and flourishing of that cause which they espoused, and spent their lives in promoting it, which cause shall appear to be almost lost and dead, previous to the introduction of that glorious day. This is therefore a spiritual resurrection, by which all the inhabitants of the world will be made spiritually alive, where spiritual death before had reigned; and they shall appear in the spirit and power of those martyrs and holy men, who had before lived in the world, and who shall live again, in these their successors, and in the revival of their cause, and in the resurrection of the church, front the very low state, in which it had been before the Millennium, to a state of great prosperity and glory.
This is agreeable to the way of representing things in scripture, in other instances. John the Baptist was Elijah, because he rose in the spirit of Elijah, and promoted the same cause in which Elijah lived and died; and Elijah revived and lived in John the Baptist, because he went before Christ, in the spirit and power of Elijah.622622 Luke i. 17. Therefore Christ says of John, “This is Elijah who was to come.”623623 Matt xi. 14.
It is also to be observed, that the revival and restoration of the church to a state of prosperity, from a dark, low state, is represented by a resurrection to life, or as life from the dead. “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise; awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.”624624 Isa. xxvi. 19. In the thirty seventh chapter of Ezekiel, this is represented by bringing dry bones to life; and from them, raising up a very great army. This is a metaphorical or figurative resurrection. “Then he said unto me, son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: Behold, they say our bones are dried, and our hope is lost; we are cut off for our parts. Therefore, prophecy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.” The apostle Paul, speaking of the conversion of the Jews to Christ, at the Millennium, says it shall be as “life from the dead.”625625 Rom. xi. 15.
In the Millennium, there will be a spiritual resurrection, a Resurrection of the souls of the whole church on earth, and in 452heaven. All nations will be converted, and the world will be filled with spiritual life, as it never was before; and this will be a general resurrection of the souls of men. This was represented in the returning prodigal. The father says, “This my son was dead, and is alive.” And the apostle Paul speaks of christians as raised from the dead to life. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for the great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ.”626626 Eph. ii. 4, 5. “If ye then be risen with Christ.”627627 Col. iii. 1. And this will be a most remarkable resurrection of the church on earth from a low, dark, afflicted state, to a state of great life and joy. It will be multiplied to an exceeding great army, which will cover the face of the earth. And heaven will in a sense and degree come down to earth; the spirit of the martyrs, and of all the just made perfect, will now revive and appear on earth, in their numerous successors, and the joy of those in heaven will be greatly increased.
This is the first resurrection, in which all they who have a part are blessed and holy. “Blessed and holy is he who hath part in the first resurrection: On such the second death hath no power.” It is implied that they only are blessed and holy, who share in this resurrection; and therefore that all the redeemed in heaven and earth, who are blessed and holy, are the subjects of it, or have part in it. All who have been or shall be raised from death to spiritual life, have by this, a part in this first resurrection; and they, and they only, shall escape the second death. This is a farther evidence that this first resurrection is a spiritual resurrection, a resurrection of the soul; for if it were a literal resurrection of the body, no one would think it would include all the happy and holy, all that shall be saved. The second resurrection is to be the resurrection of the body, in which all shall have part, both the holy and the unholy, the blessed and the miserable; which is to take place after the first resurrection is over, and the Millennium is ended, and after the rise and destruction of Gog and Magog; when the day of judgment shall come on, of which there is an account in the latter part of this chapter. “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it: And death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: And they were judged every man according to their works.” “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.” The rest of the dead, are all the dead which have no part in the first resurrection; that is, are not holy, and partakers of spiritual life. This includes all the wicked who shall have lived, and shall die before the Millennium, the last of which will be slain, and swept off the earth previous to the Millennium, and in order to introduce it, of which there is a representation in the words immediately preceding the passage under consideration. “And the rest were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth, and all the fowls were filled with their flesh,” In our translation, it is the remnant. 453It is the same word in the original Ὀι λοιποὶ, which is translated the rest, in the words transcribed above; and the latter seem to have reference to the former. The rest of the dead are the wicked dead, in opposition to the righteous, who lived again in their successors, who take possession of the earth, and reign; and in the revival and prosperity of their cause, and the kingdom of which they are members. During this thousand years, the rest of the dead, all the antichristian party, and the wicked enemies of Christ, who lived and died in the cause of Satan, do not live again: They will have no successors on earth, who shall rise in their spirit, and espouse and promote their cause; but this will be wholly run down and lost, till the thousand years shall be ended: And then they shall live again a short time in their successors, Gog and Magog, who shall arise in their spirit and cause, and increase and prevail, while Satan is loosed again for a little season. This is implied in the words, “But the rest of the dead lived not again, until the thousand years were finished.” It is supposed that they will live again then, which must be during the time in which Satan shall be loosed; for the general resurrection of the bodies will not be till this is ended. These dead will live then, just as the souls of the martyrs, and all the faithful followers of Christ, who had died, will live in the Millennium.628628 “It is very agreeable to the design and connection of this prophecy, to understand the rest of the dead, who lived not again till the thousand years were finished, of the rest or remnant, viz. of those who were slain with the sword of him that sat on the horse. Thus the dead church, raised to life, and living and reigning for a thousand years, and the enemies of the church remaining dead, and not living again till the thousand years were finished, will exactly agree in the same figurative meaning. This will be a sense consistent with the resurrection of the antichristian party again, for a little season, after the thousand years shall be finished. Mr. Lowman’s Note on Rev. xx. 5.
That this prophecy respects all nations, and the whole of mankind who shall live in the world in that thousand years, is evident, in that the binding of Satan respects them all. “That he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled.” And this answers to a prophecy in Isaiah. “And he Will destroy in this mountain, the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations.”629629 Isaiah xxv. 7 All nations, the world of mankind therefore, who shall then live on the earth, will have part in the first resurrection. And this warrants the application of all the prophecies which have been mentioned in the preceding section, and others of the same tenor, to this time. And there is good reason to believe, that this prophecy in the first six verses of the twentieth chapter of the Revelations is expressed in language best suited to answer the end of it, if it be understood as it has been now explained. The meaning is as obvious and plain, as is desirable and proper that of prophecy should be, when compared with other prophecies. And it is in 454the best manner suited to support and comfort the followers of Christ, who live before that time; and to animate them to faithfulness, constancy and patience, under all their sufferings in this cause, while the wicked prosper and triumph, and Satan reigns in the world, which is one special end of this revelation. Here they are taught, that an end is to come to the afflictions of the church, and to the triumph of all her enemies; that Satan’s kingdom on earth shall come to an end, and the church shall rise and spread, and fill the world; that the cause in which they labour and suffer shall be victorious, and that all who suffer in this cause, and who are faithful to Christ, shall live to see this happy, glorious day, and have a large share in it, in proportion to the degree and length of their sufferings, labours, and persevering patience and fidelity, in the cause of Christ and his church.
The way is now prepared, to consider and show more particularly, in what the happiness and glory of the Millennium will consist; and what particular circumstances will attend the church at that day: What is revealed concerning this by express prophecies, and what is implied in them, or may be deduced as consequences from what is expressly declared. It will be no wonder if some mistakes should be made on this point; but it is hoped if there should be any, they will not be very hurtful: And it is apprehended that the greatest error will be in falling short, and not coming up to the reality, in the description of the happiness and glory of that day; for doubtless, our ideas of these, when raised to the highest of which we are at present capable, fall vastly short of the truth. There is good reason to conclude, however, that the church, and christians, will not be perfectly holy in that day; but that every one will be attended with a degree of sinful imperfection, while in the body, however great may be his attainments and advantages in knowledge and holiness. Doubtless the inspired declarations, that “There is no man which sinneth not—There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good and sinneth not—That if any who professes to be a christian, say he hath no sin, he deceiveth himself, and the truth is not in him,” will remain true to the end of the world, even in the Millennium; and there will be no perfection on this side heaven. The apostasy which will take place at the end of the Millennium can be better accounted for, on the supposition that the saints will not be perfect in that time, and seems to suppose it. Though they may, and doubtless will, have vastly higher degrees of light and holiness, than any shall have before that time; yet they will be far from being wholly without sin.
It is most probable, that every individual person who shall then live will be a real christian; and all will doubtless be members of the church in that day. That is the time when “all shall know the Lord, from the least to the greatest.” God says to his church, speaking of that day, “Thy people also shall be all righteous.”630630 Isai. lx. 21. “Awake, awake, put on thy strength, O Zion, put on thy beautiful 455 garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: For henceforth there shall no more come unto thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.”631631 Isaiah lii. 1.
The following things will take place in the Millennium in an eminent degree, as they never did before; which may be mentioned as generals, including many particulars, some of which will be afterwards suggested.
I. That will be a time of eminent holiness, when it shall be acted out by all, in a high degree, in all the branches of it, so as to appear in its true beauty, and the happy effects of it. This will be the peculiar glory, and the source of the happiness of the Millennium. The prophet Zechariah, speaking of that day, says, “In that day, shall there be upon the bells of the horses, Holiness unto the Lord; and the pots of the Lord’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the Lord of hosts.”632632 Chap. xiv. 20, 21. In these metaphorical expressions, is declared the eminent degree of holiness of that day, which will consecrate every thing, even all the utensils and the common business and enjoyments of life, unto the Lord.
Holiness consists in love to God, and to man, with every affection and exercise implied in this, which being expressed and acted cut, appears in the exercise of piety towards God, in every branch of it; and of righteousness and goodness, or disinterested benevolence towards man, including ourselves. This, so far as it shall take place, will banish all the evils which have existed and prevailed in the world; and becoming universal, and rising to a high and eminent degree will introduce a state of enjoyment and happiness, which never was known before on earth; and render it a resemblance of heaven in a high degree.
This will be effected by the abundant influences of the Holy Spirit, poured down on men more universally, and in more constant and plentiful effusions, than ever before; for all holiness in man, is the effect of the Holy Spirit. That day will be, in a peculiar sense, the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, when he will appear as the author of all holiness, by whose influence alone divine, revealed truth, and all religious institutions and means, become efficacious and salutary; by which he will have peculiar honour, in the holiness and salvation which shall then take place. The prophecies of scripture which respect the Millennium, represent it in this light. God, speaking by Isaiah of that time, says, “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring. And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.” And the same time and event is mentioned as the effect of the Holy Spirit, poured out upon the church. “Neither will I hide my face any more from them: For I have poured out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God.”633633 Ezek. xxxix. 29. The same event is predicted by the prophet 456Joel. “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh. And also upon the servants, and upon the handmaids in these days, will I pour out my Spirit.”634634 Joel ii. 28, 29. The apostle Peter applies this passage in Joel to the pouring out of the Spirit on the Apostles and others on the day of Penticost.635635 Acts ii. 16, &c. But this prophecy was fulfilled only in a small degree then. This was but the beginning, the first fruits, which will issue in that which is unspeakably greater, more extensive and glorious in the days of the Millennium, to which this prediction has chief respect, and when it will have the full and most complete accomplishment.
II. There will be a great increase of light and knowledge to a degree vastly beyond what has been before. This is indeed implied in the great degree of holiness, which has been mentioned. For knowledge, mental light, and holiness, are inseparably connected; and are, in some respects, the same. Holiness is true light and discerning, so far as it depends upon a right taste, and consists in it; and it is a thirst after every kind and degree of useful knowledge; and this desire and thirst for knowledge will be great and strong, in proportion to the degree of holiness exercised: And forms the mind to constant attention, and to make swift advances in understanding and knowledge; and becomes a strong guard against mistakes, error and delusion. Therefore, a time of eminent holiness must be a time of proportionably great light and knowledge. This is the representation which the scripture gives of that time. The end of binding Satan, and casting him into the bottomless pit, is said to be, “That he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled.” This will put an end to the darkness, and multiplicity of strong delusions, which do prevail, and will prevail, till that time, by which Satan supports and promotes his interest and kingdom among men. Then “the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil spread over all nations, shall be taken away and destroyed:”636636 Isai. xxv. 7. “And the eyes of them that see, shall not be dim; and the ears of them that hear, shall hearken. The heart also of the rash, shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly.”637637 Isaiah xxxii. 3, 4. The superior light and knowledge of that day is metaphorically represented in the following words: “Moreover, the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be seven fold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the Lord bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.”638638 Isa. xxx. 26. In that day, “The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”639639 Isa. xi. 9.
The holy scriptures will then be attended to by all, and studied with care, meekness, humility and uprightness of heart, earnestly desiring to understand them, and know the truth; and the truths they contain will be received with a high relish and delight: 457And the Bible will be much better understood, than eve? before. Many things expressed or implied in the scripture, which are now overlooked and disregarded, will then be discovered, and appear important and excellent; and those thin£3;s which now appear intricate and unintelligible, will then appear plain and easy. Then public teachers will be eminently burning and shining lights; apt to teach; scribes well instructed into the things of the kingdom of heaven, who will bring out of their treasures, things new and old: and the hearers will be all attention, and receive the truth in the love of it, into honest and good hearts; and light and knowledge will constantly increase. The conversation of friends and neighbours, when they meet, will be full of instruction, and they will assist each other in their inquiries after the truth, and in pursuit of knowledge. Parents will be able and disposed to instruct their children, as soon as they are capable of learning; and they will early understand what are the great and leading truths which are revealed in the Bible, and the duties and institutions there prescribed. And from their childhood they will know and understand the holy scriptures, by which they will grow in understanding and wisdom; and will soon know more than the greatest and best divines have known in ages before. And a happy foundation will be laid for great advances in knowledge and usefulness to the end of life. Agreeable to this, the scripture speaking of that day, says, “There shall be no more thence (i.e. in the church) an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days; for the child shall die an hundred years old.”640640 Isa. lxv. 20. “An infant of days” is an old infant. That is, an old man who is an infant in knowledge, understanding and discretion. Many such aged infants have been, and still are to be found. In that day all shall make advances in true knowledge, discretion and wisdom, in some proportion to their years “Nor an old man that hath not filled his days.” That is, an old man who has not improved in knowledge and usefulness, and every good attainment, according to his age. “For a child shall die an hundred years old.” That is, children in years shall then make such early progress in knowledge, and in religion, and in all excellent and useful attainments, that they shall equal, if not surpass, the highest attainments in these things, of the oldest men who have lived in former ages.
They will then have every desirable advantage and opportunity to get knowledge. They will all be engaged in the same pursuit, and give all the aid and assistance to each other, in their power.—They will all have sufficient leisure to pursue and acquire learning of every kind, that will be beneficial to themselves and to society; especially knowledge of divinity. And great advances will be made in all arts and sciences, and in every useful branch of knowledge, which tends to promote the spiritual and eternal good of men, or their convenience and comfort in this life.458
III. It will be a time of universal peace, love, and general and cordial friendship. War and all strife and contention shall then cease, and be succeeded by mutual love, friendship and beneficence. Those lusts of men, which originate in self love, or selfishness, which produce all the wars and strifes among men, shall be subdued and mortified, and yield to that disinterested benevolence, that heavenly wisdom, which is peaceable, gentle and easy to be intreated. This will effectually put an end to war, as the scripture teaches. “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. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.”641641 Isa. ii. 4. xxxii. 18. The whole world of mankind will be united as one family, wisely seeking the good of each other, in the exercise of the most sweet love and friendship, founded upon the best and everlasting principles. “The meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” This change, which shall then take place, in which men, who were in ages before, like savage beasts, injurious, cruel, revengeful and destructive to each other, shall lay aside all this, and become harmless, humble and benevolent, is set in a striking, beautiful light in prophecies, representing it by the most fierce and cruel beasts of prey, changing their nature, and living quietly with those creatures which they used to destroy; and so tame and pliable that a little child might lead them; and by the most venomous creatures and insects becoming harmless, so that a child might play with them without any danger of being hurt. Isaiah, speaking of that day, says, “The wolf 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. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den.”642642 Isa. xi. 6, 7, 8. Then “they shall sit every man under his vine, and under his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid.”643643 Mic. iv. 4.
IV. In that day, men will not only be united in peace and love, as brethren; but will agree “in sentiments, respecting the doctrines and truth contained in the Bible, and the religious institutions and practice, which are there prescribed.
Professing christians have been from the beginning of christianity to this day, greatly divided, and have opposed each other in their religious sentiments and practices; and are now divided into various parties, sects and denominations, while all appeal to divine revelation, and profess to take their sentiments and practices from that.459
It has been often said by some professing christians, and is a sentiment which appears to be spreading at this day, that difference in religious sentiments, and in attendance on the institutions of the gospel, and modes of worship, is attended with no inconvenience, but is rather desirable and advantageous; and by this variety, christianity is rendered more agreeable and beautiful: That it is impossible that all men, whose capacities and genius are so different and various, and their minds and way of thinking and conception are naturally so far from being alike, should ever be brought to think alike, and embrace the same religious sentiments: That this difference in man’s belief and sentiment cannot be criminal; for men are no more obliged to think alike, than they are to look alike, and have the same bodily features and stature. All the union that is required, or that can take place, is that of kind affection, love and charity.
But such sentiments as these are not agreeable to reason or scripture. Error in judgment and sentiment, especially in things of a moral nature, is always wrong; and does not consist or originate merely in any defect of the natural faculties of the mind; but is of a moral nature, in which the taste, affection, or inclination of the heart is concerned; and therefore is always, in every degree of it, morally wrong, and more or less criminal. Were the moral faculties of the mind, were the heart perfectly right, man would not be capable of error, or of judging wrong, or making any mistake, especially in things of religion. The natural faculties of the mind, of perception and understanding, or reason, considered as separate from the inclination or will, do not lead, and have no tendency in themselves, to judge wrong, or contrary to the truth of things. To do so, is to judge without evidence, and contrary to it, which the mind never would or could do, were not the inclination or heart concerned in it, so as to have influence, which must be a wrong inclination, and contrary to the truth, and to evidence; and therefore is morally wrong, or criminal.
Therefore, all the mistakes and wrong opinions which men entertain respecting the doctrines, institutions and duties revealed in the Bible, are criminal, and of a bad tendency. They must be so, as they are contrary to man’s obligation and duty to believe air revealed truth: and are wholly owing to a wrong bias or inclination, or the depravity and corruption of the heart. What God has revealed in his word, he has declared to man, to be received by him, and believed to be the truth; of which he has given sufficient evidence. And the man who does not believe what God has clearly revealed, and of which he has given sufficient evidence, even all that can be reasonably desired, does abuse and pervert his own understanding, and shuts his eyes against the truth, and refuses to receive the testimony which God has given. And who will say there is no crime in this!
Since therefore all mistakes and errors contrary to the truths made known in the Bible, are criminal, and owing to the corruption 460of the heart of man, then perfect holiness will exclude all error, and there neither is, nor can he, any wrong judgment in heaven; and in the Millennium, which will be a greater image of heaven than ever was before on earth, holiness, light and knowledge, will rise so high, that the former errors in principle and practice will subside, and there will be a great and general union in the belief and practice of the truth, contained in divine revelation.
As there is but “one Lord, one faith, and one baptism,” so in that day men will be united in the belief and profession of this one faith, in the system of doctrines revealed in the Bible, which then will appear plain, and with the clearest evidence to all. And they will have one common Lord, will understand, and obey all the commands of Christ; and they will know what are the institutions and ordinances which Christ has appointed, which are all implied in baptism: They will understand what is the import of this, and implied in it, and be united in sentiments and practice, so as to form a beautiful, happy union and harmony; which will put an end to the variety and opposition of opinions and practices, which now divide professing christians into so many sects, parties and denominations. The whole church, with all the members of it, which will fill the earth, and include all mankind then living, will in that day come to that to which the gospel tends, and is designed to bring it: It will “Come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That they shall be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and the cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive: But speaking the truth in love, shall grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.”644644 Eph. iv. 13, 14, 15. Then, agreeable to the wish and injunction of the Apostle Paul, christians will “all speak the same thing, and there will be no divisions among them; but will be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment.”645645 1 Cor. i. 10. Then the inventions and prescriptions of men, both in doctrines and modes of worship, and in christian practice, will be abolished and cease. The Bible will be then understood, and be found a sufficient and perfect rule of faith and practice, in which all will agree, and will join, “with one mind, and one mouth, to worship and glorify God.”646646 Rom. xv. 6. Then the weapons of the gospel, the truths of divine revelation, being preached, understood and received, will cast down the imaginations of men, and every high thing, introduced by the pride of man, which now exalts itself against the knowledge of God; and will bring into captivity every thought, to the obedience of Christ.”647647 2 Cor. x. 4, 5. “And the Lord shall be king over all the earth. In that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one.”648648 Zech. xiv. 9. All shall agree in their view and acknowledgment of the divine character, and consequently in all the revealed truths 461and dictates contained in the Bible. Christ will then come to his temple, his church, “and he will be like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap. And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.”649649 Mal. iii. 1, 2, 3. The question will be asked now, as it was then, “But who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth?” What sect or denomination of christians will abide the trial of that day, and be established?
Answer.—Nothing but the truth, or that which is conformable to it, will abide the trial of that day. “The lip of truth shall be established forever.”650650 Prov. xii. 19. “The righteous nation which keepeth the truth shall enter in,” and be established in that day.651651 Isai. xxvi. 2. Those of every denomination will doubtless expect, that the doctrines they hold, and their mode of worship and discipline, and practice, with respect to the institutions and ordinances of Christ, will be then established as agreeable to the truth; and all others will be given up; and all men will freely conform to them. But the most, and perhaps all, will be much disappointed in this expectation; especially with regard to the different modes of worship, and practices relating to discipline, and the ordinances of the gospel. When the church comes to be built up in that day, and put on her beautiful garments, it will doubtless be different from any thing which now takes place; and what church and particular denomination is now nearest the truth, and the church which will exist at that time, must be left to be decided by the event. It is certain, that all doctrines and practices which are not agreeable to the truth, will at that day, as wood, hay, and stubble, be burnt up. Therefore, it now highly concerns all, honestly to seek and find, love and practise, truth and peace.
It is agreeable to human nature, and seems to be essential to rational creatures, to be most pleased with those who think as they do, and are of the same sentiments with themselves, in those things in which they feel themselves chiefly interested and concerned. And this agreement in sentiment cements and increases their union and friendship. But this is true, in a peculiar sense and degree, in the case before us. There can be no proper, cordial, religious union among professing christians, who wholly suffer and oppose each other in their opinion, respecting the truths and doctrines of the gospel. And agreement in sentiment, and in the knowledge and belief of the truth, is essential to the most happy christian union and friendship. To him who loves the truth, error in others is disagreeable and hateful, and that in proportion to the degree of his love of the truth, and pleasure in it. Therefore, christians love one another in the truth, as the apostles and primitive christians did. “The Elder unto the well beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.”652652 3 John, verse 1. Where there is no 462agreement and union in sentiment, and belief of the truth, there is no foundation for christian love and friendship. Love, without any regard to truth, is not christian love. In this sense, the knowledge and belief of the truth, and christian love, cannot be separated: and where there is no knowledge and belief of the truths of the gospel, and agreement in sentiment, there can be no union of heart, and true christian love and friendship.653653 They who talk of christian union, love and charity, where there is no agreement in sentiment, respecting the truths and doctrines of the gospel, but a great difference and opposition; and think that doctrinal sentiments are of no importance in christianity; and that their having no belief of particular doctrines, and no creed; or differing in their religious sentiments ever so much, is no impediment to the greatest union and christian friendship, seem not to know, what real christian union, love and friendship is. It is certain they do not love one another in the truth, and for the truth’s sake, which dwelleth in them, as christians did in the apostles’ days. 2 John 1, 2. The Catholicism and love for which they plead, appears to be a political love and union, which may in some measure unite civil worldly societies; hut has nothing of the nature of real christianity, and that union and love by which the followers of Christ are one.
As light and knowledge will be greatly increased in the Millennium, and the great truths and doctrines contained in divine revelation will then be more clearly discerned, and appear in their true connection, excellence and importance, they will be understood and cordially embraced by all; and they will be united together in the same mind, and the same judgment; and by this be formed to a high degree of happy christian union, love and friendship, loving one another in the truth, with a pure heart fervently Thus were the primitive christians united in knowing and obeying the truth, whom the Apostle Peter thus addresses: “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit, unto unfeigned love of the brethren; see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.”654654 1 Pet. i. 22. In that day the promise and prophecy spoken by Jeremiah will be accomplished to a greater extent and degree than it ever was before. “And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me forever, for the good of them, and of their children after them.”655655 Jer. xxxii. 39.
V. The Millennium will be a lime of great enjoyment, happiness and universal joy.
This is often mentioned in prophecy, as what will take place in that day, in a peculiar manner and high degree. “For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: The mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Be you glad, and rejoice forever in that which I create; for I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.”656656 Isai. lv. 12. lxv. 18. The enjoyments of that day are represented by a rich and plentiful feast for all people, consisting in provision of the most agreeable and delicious kind. “And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all 463people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, a feast of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.”657657 Isa. xxv. 6. The enjoyments and happiness of the Millennium are compared to a marriage supper, “Let us rejoice and give honour to him: For the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. Blessed are they who are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.”658658 Rev. xix. 7, 9. And there will be a great increase of happiness and joy in heaven, at the introduction of that day, and during the continuance of it.659659 Rev. xviii. 20. xix. 1-7. “There shall be joy in heaven, and there is joy in the presence of the angels of God, over one sinner that repenteth.”660660 Luke xv. 7, 10.
And this great increase of happiness and joy on earth will be the natural and even necessary consequence, of the great degree and universality of knowledge and holiness, which all will then possess. The knowledge of God, and the Redeemer, and love to him, will be the source of unspeakable pleasure and joy in his character, government and kingdom. And the more the great truths of divine revelation are opened and come into view, and the wisdom and grace of God m the work of redemption are seen; the more they are contemplated and relished, the greater will be their enjoyment and happiness; and great will be their evidence and assurance of the love and favour of God, and that they shall enjoy him, and all the blessings and glory of his kingdom forever. Then, as it is predicted of that time, “The work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.”661661 Isa. xxxii. 17. Then the eminent degree of righteousness or holiness, to which all shall arrive, will be attended with great enjoyment and happiness, which is often meant by peace in scripture. And the effect and consequence of this high degree of holiness, and happiness, in seeing and loving God and divine truth, shall be that they snail have a steady, quiet assurance of the love of God, and of his favour forever, which will greatly add to their happiness.662662 Note. Assurance of the love of God, and of enjoying his favour forever, is here said to be the effect of the exercise of holiness, and that peace of soul and enjoyment which attends it: So that persons must first be holy, and love God, before they can have any assurance or evidence that God loves them, and that they shall be saved; the latter being the effect, and not the cause of the former. They therefore turn things upside down, and contradict this passage, and the whole of divine revelation, and even all reason and common sense, who hold that persons must first have assurance, or at least believe, that God loves them, with an everlasting love, before they can love God, or exercise any degree of true holiness: And that the latter is the effect of the former!
They will have unspeakable satisfaction and delight in worshipping God in secret, and in social worship, whether more private or public. And their meditations and study on divine things will be sweet. The word of God will be to them sweeter than 464honey or the honey comb; and they will rejoice in the truths there revealed, more than the men of the world ever did, or can do in all riches. In public assemblies, while the heart and lips of the preacher will glow with heavenly truth, and he pours light and instruction on a numerous congregation, they will all hang upon his lips, and drink in the divine sentiments which are communicated, with a high relish and delight. And in such entertainments there will be enjoyed unspeakably more real pleasure and happiness than all the men of the world ever found in the most gay, brilliant company, with the most agreeable festivity and mirth, music and dancing, that is possible. The latter is not worthy to be compared with the former.
Then religious enjoyment, whether in company or alone, will appear to be a reality, and of the highest and most noble kind; and every one will be a witness and instance of it. There will then be no briar and thorns to molest enjoyment, or render company disagreeable; but all will be amiable, happy and full of love, and render themselves agreeable to every one. Every one will behave with decency and propriety towards all, agreeable to his station and connections. The law of kindness will be on the tongues of all; and true friendship, of which there is so little among men now, will then be common and universal, even christian love and friendship, which is the most excellent kind of friendship, and is indeed the only real, happy, lasting friendship. And this will lay a foundation for a peculiar, happy intimacy and friendship in the nearest relations and connections: By which conjugal and domestic duties will be faithfully performed; and the happiness of those relations will be very great; and the end of the institutions of marriage, and families, be answered in a much greater degree than ever before, and they will have their proper effect, in promoting the enjoyment of individuals, and the good of society.
Then the happiness and joy each one will have in the welfare of others, and the blessings bestowed on them, will be very great. Now the few christians who exercise disinterested benevolence, have, as the apostle Paul had, great heaviness, and continual sorrow in their hearts, while they behold so many miserable objects: And are surrounded with those who are unhappy m this world, and appear to be going to everlasting destruction, by their folly and obstinacy in sin. They have great comfort and joy, indeed, in the few who appear to be christians, and heirs of eternal life.—When they see persons who appear to understand and love the doctrines of the gospel, and to have imbibed the amiable, excellent spirit of christianity, and to be the blessed favourites of Heaven, they greatly rejoice with them in their happiness, and can say as Paul did, “What thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy wherewith we rejoice for your sakes before our God!”663663 1 Thess. iii. 9. But in the Millennium, the happiness and joy of each 465one will be unspeakably greater in the character and happiness of all. The benevolence of every one will be gratified and pleased to a very high degree, by all whom he beholds, all with whom he converses, and of whom he thinks; and in their amiable character, and great happiness, he will have pleasure and joy, in proportion to the degree of his benevolence, which will vastly surpass that degree of it, which the best christians now exercise. There will then be no such infinitely miserable objects, which are now every where to be seen, to excite painful grief and sorrow; and the character of christians will then be much more beautiful and excellent, than that of real christians is now, as they will abound so much more in all holy exercise and practice; and their present enjoyment, and future happiness in heaven, will be more evident and realized by each one, which will give pleasure and joy to every one, m the amiable character and happiness of others, even beyond all our present conceptions. “There shall be no more a pricking brier unto the church, (or particular christians) nor any grieving thorn, of all that are round about them.”664664 Ezek. xxviii. 24. But all will live in pleasing harmony and friendship; and every one will consider himself as surrounded with amiable friends, though he may have no particular connection or acquaintance with them, and all he will see or meet as he passes in the public streets, or elsewhere, will give him a peculiar pleasure, as he will have good reason to consider them to be friends to Christ, and to him, and as possessing the peculiarly amiable character of christians: and this pleasure will be mutual between those who have no particular knowledge of each other. But this enjoyment and pleasure will rise much higher between those who are particularly acquainted with each other’s character, exercises and circumstances; and especially those who are in a more near connection with each other, and whose circumstances and opportunities lead them to form and cultivate u peculiar intimacy and friendship.
But it is not to be supposed that we are now able to give a proper and full description, or to form an adequate idea of the happiness, joy and glory of that day; but all that is attempted, and our most enlarged and pleasing conceptions, fall much short of the truth, which cannot be fully known, till that happy time shall come. They who now have the best and highest taste for divine truth, and the greatest religious enjoyment, who abound most in christian love, and have the most experience of the happiness of christian friendship, and attend most to the Bible, and study the predictions of that day, will doubtless have the clearest view of it, and most agreeable to the truth, and the highest satisfaction and pleasure, in the prospect of it.
There are many other things and circumstances which will take place in that day, which are implied in what has now been observed, or may be inferred from it, and from the scripture, by 466which the advantages, happiness and glory of the Millennium will be promoted; some of which will be mentioned in the following particulars:
I. All outward worldly circumstances will then be agreeable and prosperous, and there will be for all a sufficiency and fulness of every thing needed for the body, and for the comfort and convenience of every one.
This may be inferred from many passages of scripture, which refer to that day; among which are the following: “Then shall the earth yield her increase; and God. even our own God, shall bless us.”665665 Psalms lxvii. 6. “Then shall he give the rain of thy seed; that thou shalt sow the ground withal, and bread of the increase of the earth, and it shall be fat and plenteous: In that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures. The oxen likewise, and the young asses that ear the ground, shall eat clear provender, which hath been winnowed with the shovel and with the fan. And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick. And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: For as the days of a tree, are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble: For they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them.”666666 Isai. xxx. 23, 24. xxxiii. 24. lxv. 21, 22, 23. Ezek. xxxiv. 23-27. “They shall sit every man under his vine, and under his fig tree, and none shall make him afraid.”667667 Mich. iv. 4. “The seed shall be prosperous, the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things.”668668 Zech. viii. 12.
This plenty, and fulness of the things of this life, and worldly prosperity, by which all will be in easy, comfortable circumstances, as to outward conveniences, and temporal enjoyment, will be owing to the following things:
1. To the kindness and peculiar blessing of God in his providence. When all the inhabitants of the world shall become eminently pious, and devote all they have or can enjoy in this world, to God, to the reigning Saviour, he will smile upon men in his providence, and bless them in the city, and in the field, in the fruit of the ground, in the increase of their herds, and of their flocks, in their basket and in their store, as he promised he would bless the children of Israel, if they would be obedient to him.669669 Deut. xxviii. 1-8. There will be no more unsuitable seasons or calamitous events, to prevent or destroy the fruits of the earth; but every circumstance with regard to rains and the shining of the sun, heat and cold, will be so ordered, as to render the earth fertile, and succeed the labour of man in cultivating it: And there will be nothing to devour and destroy the fruit of the field.467
2. To the great degree of benevolence, virtue and wisdom, which all will then have and exercise, with respect to the affairs of this world. There will then be no war to impoverish, lay waste and destroy. This has been a vast expense and scourge to mankind in all ages, by which poverty and distress have been spread among ail nations; and the fruits of the earth, produced and stored by the hard labour of man, have been devoured, and worse than lost. Then there- will be no unrighteous persons, who shall be disposed to invade the rights and property of others, or deprive them of what justly belongs to them; but every one shall securely sit under his own vine, and fig tree; and there shall be none to make him afraid. Then there will be no lawsuits, which now, in civilized nations, are so vexatious and very expensive of time and money. Then, by the temperance in all things, which will be practised, and the prudent and wise care of the body, and by the smiles of Heaven, there will be no expensive, distressing, desolating pestilence and sickness; but general health will be enjoyed; by which much expense of time and money will be prevented.
The intemperance, excess, extravagance and waste, in food and raiment, and the use of the things of life, which were before practised, will be discarded and cease in that day. By these, a great part of the productions of the earth, which are for the comfort and convenience of man, are now wasted and worse than lost, as they are, in innumerable instances, the cause of debility of body, sickness and death. But every thing of this kind will be used with great prudence and economy; and in that way, measure and degree, which will best answer the ends of food, drink and clothing, and all other furniture, so as to be most comfortable, decent and convenient, and in the best manner furnish persons for their proper business and duty. Nothing will be sought or used to gratify pride, inordinate, sensual appetite or lust: So that there will be no waste of the things of life: Nothing will be lost.
And at that time, the art of husbandry will be greatly advanced, and men will have skill to cultivate and manure the earth, in a much better and more easy way, than ever before; so that the same land will then produce much more than it does now, twenty, thirty, sixty, and perhaps an hundred fold more. And that which is now esteemed barren, and not capable of producing any thing, by cultivation, will then yield much more, for the sustenance of man and beast, than that which is most productive now: So that a very little spot will then produce more of the necessaries and comforts of life, than large tracts of land do now. And in this way, the curse which has hitherto been upon the ground, for the rebellion of man, will be in a great measure removed.
There will also doubtless, be great improvement and advances made in all those mechanic arts, by which the earth will be subdued and cultivated, and ail the necessary and convenient articles of life, such as all utensils, clothing, buildings, &c. will be formed 468and made, in a better manner, and with much less labour, than they now are. There may be inventions and arts of this kind, which are beyond our present conception. And if they could be now known by any one, and he could tell what they will be, they would be thought by most, to be utterly incredible and impossible; as those inventions and arts, which are now known and familiar to us, would have appeared to those who lived before they were found out and took place.
It is not impossible, but very probable, that ways will yet be found out by men, to cut rocks and stones into any shape they please; and to remove them from place to place, with as little labour, as that with which they now cut and remove the softest and lightest wood, in order to build houses, fences, bridges, paving roads, &c. And those huge rocks and stones, which now appear to be useless, and even a nuisance, may then be found to be made, and reserved by him who is infinitely wise and good, for great usefulness, and important purposes. Perhaps there is good reason not to doubt of this. And can he doubt of it, who considers what inventions and arts have taken place in latter ages, which are as much an advance beyond what was known or thought of in ages before, as such an art would be, beyond what is now known and practised? The art by which they removed great stones, and raised them to a vast height, by which they built the pyramids in Egypt; and that by which huge stones were cut and put into the temple of Jerusalem, is now lost, and it cannot be conceived how this was done. This art may be revived in the Millennium; and there may be other inventions and arts, to us, inconceivably greater and more useful than that. Then in a literal sense, The vallies shall be filled, and the mountains and hills shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth, to render travelling more convenient and easy, and the earth more productive and fertile.
When all these things are considered, which have now been suggested, and others which will naturally occur to them who attend to this subject, it will appear evident, that in the days of the Millennium, there will be a fulness and plenty of all the necessaries and conveniences of life, to render all much more easy and comfortable, in their worldly circumstances and enjoyments, than ever before, and with much less labour and toil: And that it will not be then necessary for any men or women to spend all, or the greatest part of their time in labour, in order to procure a living, and enjoy all the comforts and desirable conveniencies of life. It will not be necessary for each one, to labour more than two or three hours in a day, and not more than will conduce to the health and vigour of the body. And the rest of their time they will be disposed lo spend in reading and conversation, and in all those exercises which are necessary and proper, in order to improve their minds, and make progress in knowledge; especially in the knowledge of divinity: And in studying the scriptures, and in private and social and public worship, and attending on 469public instruction, &c. When the earth shall be all subdued, and prepared in the best manner for cultivation, and houses and inclosures, and other necessary and convenient buildings shall be erected, and completely finished, consisting of the most durable materials, the labour will not be hard, and will require but a small portion of their time, in order to supply every one with all the necessaries and conveniences of life: And the rest of their time will not be spent in dissipation or idleness, but in business, more entertaining and important, which has been now mentioned.
And there will be then such benevolence and fervent charity in every heart, that if any one shall be reduced to a state of want by some casualty, or by inability to provide for himself, he will have all the belief and assistance that he could desire; and there will be such a mutual care and assistance of each other, that all worldly things will be in a great degree, and in the best manner common; so as not to be withheld from any who may want them; and they will take great delight in ministering to others and serving them, whenever, and in whatever ways, there shall be opportunity to do it.
2. In that day, mankind will greatly multiply and increase in number, till the earth shall be filled with them.
When God first made mankind, he said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish, (or fill) the earth, and subdue it.”670670 Gen. i. 28. And he renewed this command to Noah and his sons, after the flood, and in them to mankind in general. “And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.”671671 Gen. ix. 1. This command has never yet been obeyed by mankind; they have yet done but little, compared with what they ought to have done, in subduing and filling the earth. Instead of this, they have spent great part of their time and strength in subduing and destroying each other; and in that impiety, intemperance, folly and wickedness, which have brought the divine judgments upon them; and they have been reduced and destroyed in all ages by famine, pestilence and poverty, and innumerable calamities and evil occurrents; so that by far the greatest part of the earth remains yet unsubdued, and lies waste without inhabitants. And where it has been most subdued and cultivated and populous, it has been, and still is, far from being filled with inhabitants, so that it could support no more, except in a very few instances, if in any. An exact calculation cannot be made; but it is presumed that every man, who considers the things which have been mentioned above, will be sensible that this earth may be made capable of sustaining thousands to one of mankind who now inhabit it; so that if each one were multiplied to many thousands, the earth would not be more than filled, and all might have ample provision for their sustenance, convenience 470and comfort. This will not take place, so long as the world of mankind continue to exercise so much selfishness, unrighteousness and impiety as they do now, and always have done: But there is reason to think they will be greatly diminished, by their destroying themselves, and one another, and by remarkable divine judgments, which will be particularly considered in a following section.
But when the Millennium shall begin, the inhabitants which shall then be on the earth, will be disposed to obey the divine command, to subdue the earth, and multiply, until they have filled it; and they will have skill, and be under all desirable advantages to do it; and the earth will be soon replenished with inhabitants, and be brought to a state of high cultivation and improvement, in every part of it, and will bring forth abundantly for the full supply of all; and there will be many thousand times more people than ever existed before at once in the world. Then the following prophecy, which relates to that day, shall be fulfilled: “A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation. I the Lord will hasten it in his time.”672672 Isai. lx. 22. And there is reason to think the earth will be then, in some degree, enlarged in more ways than can now be mentioned, or thought of. In many thousands, hundred of thousands, yea, millions of instances, large tracts now covered with water, coves and arms of the sea, may be drained, or the water shut out by banks and walls; so that hundreds of millions of persons may live on those places, and be sustained by the produce of them, which are now overflowed with water Who can doubt of this, who recollects how many millions of people now inhabit Holland and the Low Counties, the greatest part of which was once covered with the sea, or thought not to be capable of improvement? Other instances might be mentioned.
Though there will be so many millions of millions of people on the earth at the same time, this will not be the least inconvenience to any, but the contrary; for each one will be fully supplied with all he wants, and they will all be united in love, as brethren of one family, and will be mutual helps and blessings to each other. They will die, or rather fall asleep, and pass into the invisible world; and others will come on the stage in their room. But death then will not be attended with the same calamitous and terrible circumstances as it has been, and is now; and will not be considered as an evil. It will not be brought on with long and painful sickness, or be accompanied with any great distress of body or mind. They will be in all respects ready for it, and welcome it with the greatest comfort and joy. Every one will die at the time, and in the manner which will be best for him and all with whom he is connected: And death will not bring distress on surviving relatives and friends; and they will rather rejoice than mourn, while they have a lively sense of the wisdom 471and goodness of the will of God, and of the greater happiness of the invisible world, to which their beloved friends are gone; and where they expect soon to arrive. So that in that day, death will in a great measure lose his sting, and have the appearance of a friend, and be welcomed by all as such.
3. In the Millennium, all will probably speak one language: So that one language shall be known and understood all over the world, when it shall be filled with inhabitants innumerable.
The whole earth was once, and originally of one language, and of one speech.673673 Gen. xi. 1, 6. And the folly and rebellion of men was the occasion of their being confounded in speaking and understanding this one language, and the introduction of a variety of languages. This was considered as in itself a great calamity, and was ordered as such: and it can be considered in no other light. Had men been disposed to improve the advantages of all speaking and understanding one language, to wise and good purposes, this diversity never would have taken place. And when men shall become universally pious, virtuous and benevolent, and be disposed to use such an advantage and blessing, as having one speech and language will be, for the glory of God and the general good, it will doubtless be restored to them again. This may easily and soon be done, without a miracle, when mankind and the state of the world shall be ripe for it. When they shall all become as one family in affection, and discerning and wisdom shall preside and govern in all their affairs, they will soon be sensible of the great disadvantage of being divided into so many different tongues, which will greatly impede that universal free intercourse which will be very desirable; and of the advantage of all speaking and using one language. And God may so order things in his providence that it will then be easy for the most learned and wise to determine which is the best language to be adopted, to be universally taught and spoken—And when this shall be once determined, and published through the world, by those who are acknowledged to be the wisest men, and best able to fix upon a language that shall be universal, and have a right to. do it, all will freely consent to the proposal. And that language will be taught in all schools, and used in public writings, and books that shall be printed; and in a few years will become the common language, understood and spoken by all; and all or most of the different languages now in the world will be forgotten and lost. All the learning and knowledge of former ages, contained in books, in different languages, worth preserving, will be introduced and published in the universal language, and communicated to all. This will, in a great measure, supersede and render useless the great expense of time, toil and money, which is now bestowed on teaching and studying what are called the learned languages. Many thousands, if not millions of youths are now consuming years in learning these languages, at great expense of money: 472and thousands of teachers are spending their lives in attending to them. It is thought by many now, that this is a useless and imprudent waste of time and money, in most instances, at least: it will appear to be much more so, when there shall be one universal language, which shall be understood and spoken by all; and when the books written in that language shall contain all the useful learning and knowledge in the world; and all farther improvements will be communicated to the world in that language.
And when this language shall be established, and become universal, all the learning and wisdom in the world will tend and serve to improve it, and render it more and more perfect. And there can be no doubt that such improvements will be made that persons will be able to communicate their ideas with more ease and precision, and with less ambiguity and danger of being misunderstood, than could be done before.
And ways will be invented to learn children to read this language with propriety, and to spell and write it with correctness, with more ease, and in much less time, than it is now done, and with little labour and cost. And ways may be invented, perhaps something like the short hands, which are now used by many, by which they will be able to communicate their ideas, and hold intercourse and correspondence with each other, who live in different parts of the world, with much less expense of time and labour, perhaps an hundred limes less, than that with which men now correspond.
This will also greatly facilitate the spreading useful knowledge, and all kinds of intelligence, which may be a benefit to mankind, to all parts of the world; and render books very cheap, and easy to be obtained by all. There will then be no need of translations into other languages, and numerous new impressions, in order to have the most useful books read by all. Many hundreds of thousands of copies may be cast off by one impression, and spread over all the earth. And the Bible, one of which, at least, every person will have, by printing such a vast number of them at one impression, may be afforded much cheaper than it can be now; even though it should be supposed that no improvement will be made in the art of printing, and making paper, which cannot be reasonably supposed; but the contrary is much more probable, viz. that both these will then be performed, in a better manner, and with much less labour and expense, than they are now executed. None can doubt of this, who consider what improvements have been made in these arts, since they were first invented.
This universality of language will tend to cement the world of mankind so as to make them one, in a higher degree, and to greater advantage, than otherwise could be. This will absorb the distinctions that are now kept up between nations speaking different languages, and promote a general, free communication. It is observed, when there was but one language in the world, that the 473people were one.674674 Gen. xi. 6. And this will greatly facilitate their united exertions, to effect whatever may be for the public good.
Therefore since there will be so many and great advantages, in having one universal language, understood and used by all mankind, and it will answer so many good purposes, when men shall be disposed to make a right improvement of it; and since it may be so easily effected, when men shall be united in piety and benevolence, and wisdom shall reign among them; there is reason to think that God will so order things in his providence, and so influence and turn the hearts of mankind, as in the most agreeable manner to introduce the best language, to be adopted and used by all, in that day in which great and peculiar favour and blessings will be granted to the world, far beyond those which had been given in preceding ages. And this is agreeable to the scripture, which speaks of that day, as distinguished and remarkable for the union and happiness of mankind, when they shall have one heart, and one way. And this seems to be expressly predicted: when speaking of that time it is said. “Then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.”675675 Zeph. iii. 9. These words have been understood in another sense; but the most natural and consistent meaning seems to be, That the people shall not then have a mixed language, speaking with different tongues, which would naturally separate them into different parties, and render them barbarians to each other in their worship: but God will so order things at that time, that one language shall be introduced and spoken by all; and which snail be more perfect, elegant and pure, free from those defects, inconsistencies, and that jargon, which before attended all, or most languages; that they may all, even all mankind, call upon the name of the Lord, with one voice, and in one language, to serve him with one consent; by which they shall be united in worship, and divine service, not only in heart, but in lip, as mankind never were before.
4. The church of Christ will then be formed and regulated, according to his laws and institutions, in the most beautiful and pleasing order.
This is implied in what has been said; but is worthy of a more
particular attention. There will then be but one universal, catholic church, comprehending
all the inhabitants of the world, formed into numerous particular societies and
congregations, as shall be most convenient, to attend on public worship, and the
institutions of Christ. There will be no schisms in the church then: Christians will
not be divided into various sects and denominations; but there will be a beautiful
and happy union in sentiment, respecting the doctrines, worship and institutions
of Christ; and all will be of one heart, and one way, and serve Christ with one
consent. The ordinances of baptism and the 474Lord’s supper, and all the institutions of Christ will be attended
in due order, with solemnity and decency; and, being accompanied with divine efficacy,
will have their proper and saving effect. All the children will be members of the
church, having the initiating seal applied to them, and being solemnly devoted
to Christ in baptism; and they will be faithfully brought up for him, and early
discover their love to Christ, not only in words, but by obeying him, and attending upon
all his institutions. The discipline which Christ has instituted will be faithfully
practised, so far as there shall be any occasion; and christians, by watching over
each other in love, and exhorting and admonishing one another, will prevent, or
immediately heal all offences. In those respects, and in others not here mentioned,
and perhaps not thought of, the church of Christ will then be the best regulated,
most beautiful and happy society that ever existed, or can be formed on earth. “When the Lord shall build up Zion, the church,
he shall appear in his glory.” Then,
what is predicted in the sixtieth chapter of Isaiah, and many other prophecies of
the same event, shall be fulfilled. God says to his church, “Arise, shine, for
thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee: Whereas thou hast
been forsaken and hated, so that no man went through thee, I will make thee an eternal
excellency, the joy of many generations. I will make the place of my feet
glorious. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in tae hand of the Lord, and a
royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God.”676676 It has been a question, Whether in the Millennium, when the
church shall be thus universal, and be brought to such a well regulated, holy
and happy state, there will be any need of civil rulers, to preside and govern
in temporal matters? It is said, that every tiling which will be necessary of this
kind, will be regulated and ordered by particular churches, and civil officers will
not be needed, and will have nothing to do.
But when it is considered, that the church of Christ is not a worldly society, and has no concern with temporal matters, and the concerns of the world, considered merely as such, or any farther than they are included in obedience to the laws of Christ: And that there will be need of regulations and laws, or orders, with respect to the temporal concerns of mankind; it will appear proper and convenient, if not necessary, that there should be wise men chosen and appointed to superintend, and direct in worldly affairs, whose business it shall be to consult the temporal interest of men, and dictate those regulations from time to time, which shall promote the public good, and the temporal interest of individuals.
5. Then christianity will appear in its true beauty and excellence, and the nature and genuine effects of it will be more manifest than ever before, and the truth and amiableness of it be exhibited in a clear and striking light.
Christianity has hitherto been generally abused and perverted by those who have enjoyed the gospel; and but little of the genuine spirit and power of it has appeared among those who have been called christians. They have, the most of them, disobeyed the laws of Christ, and misrepresented and perverted the doctrines 475and institutions of the gospel, to accommodate it to the gratification of their selfishness pride and worldly spirit; and have hated and persecuted one another unto death. They have divided into innumerable sects and parties, and have not been agreed in the doctrines and institutions of the gospel; but have embraced various and contrary opinions concerning them; and contended about them with wrath and bitterness. And the greatest part of the christian world have been as openly vicious, as the heathen nations, if not more so. And as the name of God was blasphemed among the Gentiles by the wicked lives of the Jews,677677 Rom. ii. 24. so the name of Christ has been blasphemed by infidels and others, through the various kinds of wickedness of those who have been called christians: “By reason of whom, the way of truth has been evil spoken of.”678678 2 Pet. ii. 2. But few in the christian world, in comparison with the rest, have honoured Christ, by entering into the true meaning and spirit of the gospel, loving it and living agreeable to it: And those few have been generally hidden and overlooked by the multitude of merely nominal christians. And genuine christianity is not to be found in the faith and lives of those in general who assume the name of christians; but in the Bible only, since the most who profess to know Christ, by their doctrines and works do deny him.
But in the Millennium the scene will be changed, and christianity will be understood and acted out, in the true spirit and power of it, and have its genuine effect, in the lives and conduct of all. And when it comes to be thus reduced to practice by all, it will appear from fact and experience to have a divine stamp; and that the gospel is indeed the wisdom of God, and the power of God, forming all who cordially embrace it to a truly amiable and excellent character, and is suited to make men happy in this world, and that which is to come. Then all the disgrace and reproach, which has come upon Christ, his true followers, and upon christianity, by the wickedness and enmity of men, and the abuse of the gospel, shall be wiped off. This is foretold in the following words: “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. I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth.”679679 Zeph. xix. 20. After the various schemes of false religion and infidelity have been tried by men, and the evil nature and bad effects of them discovered, real christianity, as it is stated in divine revelation, when it shall be understood by all, and appear in universal practice, will shine with peculiar lustre and glory; and the beauty and excellence of it, and the happiness it produces, will be more apparent and affecting, and be more admired, by the contrast, than if no such delusion and false religion had taken place. This is represented in the fast words of David the Prophet. “And he shall be as the light 476of 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.”680680 2 Sam. xxiii. 4.—When the sun rises in a clear morning, after a dark, stormy night, and the tender grass springs up fresh and lively, it is much more pleasant and refreshing, than if it had not been preceded by such a night.
6. The time of the Millennium will be in a peculiar and eminent sense and degree, The day of salvation, in which the Bible, and all the doctrines, commands and institutions contained in it, will have their proper and designed issue and effect; and that which precedes that day is preparatory to it, and suited in the best manner to introduce it, and render it eminently the gospel day.
The Spirit of God will then be poured out in his glorious fulness, and fill the world with holiness and salvation, as floods upon the dry ground. All the preceding influences of the Holy Spirit, in converting and saving men, are but the first fruits, which precede the harvest, which will take place in that latter day. This was typified in the Mosaic institutions. The most remarkable festivals were the Passover, the feast of the first fruits, and the feast of Tabernacles, upon which all the males in Israel were commanded to attend at Jerusalem. The Passover typified the death of Christ, and he was crucified at the time of that feast. The feast of the first fruits, or Penticost, as it is called in the New Testament, typified the first fruits of the death of Christ, in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and the conversion of men, when the gospel was first preached, which took place at the time of this feast.”681681 Acts ii. 1. The feast of tabernacles, which was “the feast of ingathering, which was in the end of the year,”682682 Ex. xxxiv. 22. was a type of the Millennium, which will be in the latter end of the world, when the great and chief ingathering of souls to Christ and his church shall take place. This is the time when Christ will see the fruit of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied. To this day most of the prophecies of Christ, and salvation, and of the good things which were coming to the church, have their principal reference, and they will have their chief fulfilment then. This is the day which our Lord said Abraham saw with gladness and joy. “Your father Abraham rejoiced (or leaped forward) to see my day: And he saw it, and was glad.”683683 John viii. 56. He saw the day of Christ in the promise made to him. That in his seed all nations should be blessed; which will be accomplished in the Millennium, and not before. This is the day of Christ, the day of his great success and glory. This is the gospel day, in comparison with which all that precedes it, is night and darkness.
Then the chief end of divine revelation will be answered. It has been given with a chief reference to that time, and it will then be the mean of producing unspeakably greater good, than in all ages before. It will then be no longer misunderstood, and perverted and abused, to support error and wickedness; but be universally prized more than all riches, and improved to the best 477purposes, as the fountain of knowledge and wisdom. And all the institutions and ordinances appointed by Christ, will then have their chief effect. They will then be understood and take place in due order, and be attended in a proper manner; and the wisdom and goodness of Christ in ordaining them will be seen and experienced by all. Then the gospel will be preached, as it never was before, since the days of inspiration; in which the ministers of the gospel will be eminently burning and shining lights, exhibiting the important, affecting, glorious truths of the gospel, in a clear and striking light, and in a manner most agreeable and entertaining; which will fall into honest and good hearts, and be received with the highest relish and pleasure, and bring forth fruit abundantly. The Sabbath will be a most pleasant and profitable day, and improved to the best and most noble purposes. And the administration of baptism and the Lord’s supper, according to divine institution, will greatly conduce to the edification of the church, and appear in their true importance and usefulness, as they never did before j these and all other institutions of Christ, being appointed with special reference to that day, when they will have their chief use, and answer the end of their appointment.
As the winter in the natural world is preparatory to the spring and summer, and the rain and snow, the shining of the sun, the wind and frost, issue in the order, beauty and fruitfulness of the vegetable world; and have their proper effect in these; and the end of winter is answered chiefly in what takes place in the spring and summer, and the former is necessary to introduce the latter, and in the best manner to prepare for it: so in the moral worlds or the church of Christ, what precedes the Millennium is as the winter, while the way is preparing for the summer, and all that takes place has reference to that happy season, and is suited to introduce it in the best manner and most proper time, when the gospel, so far as it respects the church in this world, and all the institutions and ordinances of it, will have their genuine and chief effect, in the order, beauty, felicity and fruitfulness of the church.
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