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    THE ENGLISH REFORMERS

    The vitious humor of this party of the reformers never formed malignantly again after A. D. 1532; but was scattered over the whole body, threatening every part of Protestant Christendom for a time with intestine commotion. It was sufficiently formidable in England to call for a distinct article of condemnation in the creed framed under Edward VI., 1552. The Church of England had in that day a creed of forty-three articles, of which the forty-first reads as follows: “Qui millenariorum fabulam revocare conantur, sacris literis adversantur, et in judaica deliramenta sese precipitant. They who seek to restore the millenary fable, oppose the holy Scriptures, and plunge into Jewish fanaticism.”HDM 28.1

    This language of the English martyrs is even more severe than that of the German reformers. The Episcopal creed of Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer, condemns the hope of a church millennium, “prior to the resurrection,” to the grade of a heathen fable, (which in truth it may be considered,) and those who seek to revive it they pronounce to be “hostile to the holy word, and to be carried headlong into the hallucinations of Judaism.”HDM 28.2

    I have been often told that the doctrine which now prevails is quite different from this, which the British and continental reformers unite to stigmatize and condemn.HDM 28.3

    And it has been well said, that if they condemned the doctrine, it is conclusive proof of the existence of the doctrine earlier than the eighteenth century. We will look at these matters.HDM 28.4

    First. It is objected against the use of the calm, public, official, and unanimous sentence of condemnation, pronounced by the great reformers of Germany and England, against those who propagate the doctrine of a millennium in this world, prior to the resurrection, that it is not the same now which they stigmatized “a judaizing notion, opposed to the holy Scriptures.”HDM 28.5

    I reply. The objection is not sound on examination. For the reformers do not condemn the hope of a glory to come with Christ in the end of this world; nay, not the millennium itself, if it be held after the resurrection. They do not forbid the hope, that in the world to come with the resurrection of the dead, “the pious will engross the government of the world, and the wicked be everywhere subdued.” They condemn nothing of this sort, which is an anchor to the soul. a hope within the veil of the eternal world, to which christian faith is in this world fastened. The error by them reprobated is not found in Justin Martyr, and ancientest millenaries, who never separated from their hope the coming of the Lord Jesus with the resurrection of the dead; but their censure is directly levelled and aimed at the modern and now prevalent error, that prior to the resurrection, the pious are to engross the government of the world; are to obtain, possess, and enjoy the dominion of this world for a long period, prior to the judgment day; and that day; and that they are to convert, or to conquer, or, any how, “to have and to hold” the temporal government of the nations, and to sway the scepter of universal empire, long before the Lord’s appearing.HDM 28.6

    This is the doctrine which the reformers disallow and repudiate as “a judaizing notion,” and “they also condemn those who circulate it;”-theologues in the Protestant church, high and low, without number. And in this age of light and learning, so much wiser than the fathers, the very sons of learning do neither know the malediction of their fathers, nor believe it is upon them, when recited in their hearing. “O no,” they reply, “not us; but the errorists of that day the reformers condemn, who by the sword would possess themselves of the existing rule and empire of the world.”HDM 29.1

    But the reformers do not regard the means of obtaining; they condemn the whole doctrine of obtaining, and include, by the terms they employ for reprobation, the very hope of possessing the government of the world for the pious, prior to the day judgement, and they stamp it truly “a judaizing notion.” Judaizing,-for it is the same fanatical delusion which characterized the capital of Judea, and which rides on the breasts of her scattered sons in all ages and places of their dispersion, like a nightmare, from which they cannot be shaken by any revolution, even to confessing that Jesus is the Christ, the blessed King. Judaism,-it is scorching, withering Judaism, to entertain the doctrine of the kingdom of the saints in this mortal world; and for the most part, those who circulate it own the carnal mark on the forehead, by conceding the administration in chief of that millennial kingdom to the natural Jews and restored children of Israel.HDM 29.2

    The reformers denominate it, on the Continent, “a notion,” and in England, “a fable,” “a figment,” deliramenta, “a doting fancy.”-How perfectly characteristic this mark also is of the prevailing doctrine of the millenium in this world, a little attention will show; for a more unstable, changeable, chameleon-colored, Protean-shaped doctrine is not current in Christendom. Each man, woman, and child has some “notion” of the millennium, and he will tell it just as if he had learned of the reformers the proper name for the thing, “a notion;” and every one will convince most other ones, that some figment, or doting fancy, enters into the composition of his own individual notion. So far, therefore, from being another thing than the reformers condemned, it is the very same thing which is current now in the Protestant churches: a confident expectation that the pious will reign and rule over all the earth, prior to the resurrection.HDM 29.3

    Second. How, then, can it be said this doctrine was not until the eighteenth century?HDM 30.1

    Thus, my brethren: it was not received into any work or treatise of known and standard value; it was current in no denomination of the Protestant church, or individual church of acknowledged reputation, before the eighteenth century. I admit that John of Leyden, king of Munster, and his company and their books, received and cherished it. To that dignity the doctrine rises in its antiquity, but no higher can it go; and certainly no lower can it go in its dignity.HDM 30.2

    Hence it appears that these matters are both substantially consistent with each other: first, that the reformers explicitly condemned the doctrine of a millennium in this world; and that the doctrine was never received into the church, in any of its acknowledged branches, until the eighteenth century.HDM 30.3

    Since then it has come in like a flood, regardless of the hope of the Lord’s coming and of the resurrection; and has cooled the ardor of the church in Apocalyptic Philadelphia to the lukewarm state of the church in Laodicea. “For my own part, I am persuaded, that the generally-received opinion, that Christ will not come again, at least for many hundred years, has had a carnalizing, yea, a demoralizing tendency. This opinion hath dimmed the eye of hope, and diminished the motives to watchfulness, made death a part of the gospel, and caused the last harmonious words of Jesus, ‘Behold I come quickly,’ to grate on many an ear.”-(John Cox’s Thoughts on the Coming and Kingdom of our Lord, p. 221.)HDM 30.4

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