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    THE MILLENNIUM OF THE APOCALYPSE. (A Comet.)

    This is revealed in Revelation 20., and from the first notice of it by Justin Martyr, has been a stumbling-block to the curious, a sort of absurd quantity to the prophetic mathematicians; an enigma of mystery, glorious, like Melchisedec among kings, and divine like Elijah among prophets; but abstruse as the lineage of that king, and unapproachable as the chariot of fire which carried that prophet into heaven. I have no solution of it quite satisfactory to my own mind, but I have learned to regard it as a comet in the heavenly system, forming and performing a true and important part in the economy of revelation; comet-like, of an orbit so eccentric, and a revolution so diverse among the great doctrines of the heavenly kingdom, that no man has yet been able to measure its pathway, to determine its specific gravity, or to calculate its period: and seen in one view, its train on a time sweeps with terrific grandeur over a quarter of the skies, filling all hearts with dismay and alarm; and seen at another time, it dashes in among the moons of a planet, as if it would brush them all away, but absolutely passes off, and leaves them unharmed, unmoved, unshaken, itself pursuing its inscrutable way among the starry host of heaven, without any deviation or perceptible change.HDM 11.1

    Before Justin Martyr we have Barnabas, Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp and Hermas, whose writings record their hope of the coming and kingdom of Christ, as preached in the Evangelists; and I submit to every devout mind, how little we ought to be affected by any new view of divine truth, which first appears in the church after the middle of the second century: it seems to be safer to expound the millennium by the kingdom of heaven, as the apostles and primitive Christians did, than to open a new doctrine out of Revelation 20., which some in the third and fourth centuries attempted to do.HDM 11.2

    A. D. 150. Justin Martyr is the first in whose writings the millenary doctrine is found united with the practical christian church and faith; therefore I quote freely what he says about it.HDM 12.1

    Arguing with Trypho, a Jew, on the truth of the gospel, Trypho asks, as a Jew,-HDM 12.2

    Trypho. “But tell me, do you honestly allow this Jerusalem will be rebuilt, and do you expect our nation will be gathered, and with joy be brought back, together with the Messiah, and the patriarchs, and prophets, and proselytes, before the coming of your Messiah, or do you hold this that you may seem to triumph in the argument? 1This was evidently a new mode to the Jew of understanding the gospel; since he suspects some trap in it.HDM 12.3

    Justin. “I am not reduced to the miserable necessity, Trypho, of saying what I do not think. I profess to you again that myself, and many others with me, think this will take place. But I have told you, also, that many again, and they of the sort of Christians who follow sound and holy doctrine, do not acknowledge this. 2The learned Mede thinks the “not” here is interpolated by the enemies of the millenaries. Bishop Newton and Mr. Vint concur with him. They suppose the sense and the construction require its omission; but, with great deference, as to the construction. I differ; as to the sense, that depends on the reader, whether the “not” be rejected or retained. But it is there, and as the sense does not forbid it, and as the adversative character of the preceding requires no less than the subsequent seems to refuse it, the “not” will stand; and that the better, because Justin is the first to notice this doctrine, and the Jew distrusts it for its novelty. For I have told you that some indeed called Christians are in fact atheists, and impious heretics, because in every way they teach blasphemy, impiety, and folly. And that you may know I say this not to you only, I compose a volume of all my conversations, according to my ability, in which I record whatever passes between us, showing that I publicly profess the same which I confess to you. For I am determined to follow not men, or human authority, but God and the doctrine taught by him. For should you happen upon some, who are called Christians, indeed, and yet are far from holding these sentiments, 3“These sentiments” mean the general sentiments of the dialogue, rather than the particular sentiments of this clause; and the dialogue maintains at, large the doctrine of the resurrection of the body, according to the power and wisdom and goodness of God, the righteous Governor and just Judge of the universe. -but even dare to assail the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob with blasphemy, and say, There is no resurrection of the dead; but instantly, when they die, their souls are received up into heaven; do not count these among Christians, 4This is a blow at Platonism, which will his much current doctrine of the day. According to the gospel, all the faithful enter into the promised inheritance together. Hebrews 11:40. 2 Timothy 4:8. This part of his argument is levelled not against the opposers of the millennium, but at the heretics who say there is no resurrection. -even as they are not Jews, if accurately considered, who are called Sadducees, and the like sects of Genistæ, Meristæ, Galileans, Hellenists, Pharisees and Baptists, and others, (that I may not tire you to hear me express all I think,) but under the name of Jews and sons of Abraham, they worship God, as he charges them, with their lips only, while their heart is far from him. But I, and all Christians properly instructed in all things, believe there will be a resurrection of the flesh, and a millennium in Jerusalem rebuilt, adorned, and enlarged, which the prophets Ezekiel, Isaiah and others have explained. 1Justin Martyr evidently set the highest Value on the doctrine of the resurrection of the body, as all primitive Christians and martyrs did. His reference to the millennium is sufficient to prove him a millenary, but the manner of reference also proves him to have been one of a peculiar sort; for he speaks of it only in the light of the resurrection of the dead, and of the New Jerusalem, in the world to come, with the Lord from heaven.HDM 12.4

    “For thus Isaiah speaks of this time of the millennium: ‘For there shall be a new heaven and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind; but they shall find joy and rejoicing in that which I create; because I will make Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will exult over Jerusalem, and rejoice over my people: and no longer shall the voice of weeping be heard in it, or the voice of crying, 2The millennium, as Justin describes it, is the kingdom of heaven in the new heaven and earth; the Jerusalem Bride, coming as one adorned for her husband over which the Lord exults with joy and greatly rejoices. It is the very thing we pray for, and all creation is in pain to procure: when the earth is renovated, and the creation itself is delivered from the thraldom of death and corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. And there shall not be anymore one of unripe age, and an old man that has not fulfilled his time: for the young man shall be a son of a hundred years; but the dying sinner shall be a son of a hundred years; and also accursed. 3Though long expiring, he is accursed to the last. And they shall build houses and inhabit them; and plant vineyards and eat their fruit, and drink wine. They shall not build, and another inhabit; and they shall, not plant, but others eat; for as the days of the tree of life are the days of my people. 4They are immortal, or else, being removed by death, others would inhabit their houses, and eat the fruit of their vineyards, which is not to be in the new heaven, earth and Jerusalem. Therefore, in the millennium, according to Justin and Isaiah the inhabitants of the earth are immortals, enduring as the days of the tree of life. The produce of their toils shall be multiplied; my elect shall not labor in vain, nor beget sons unto a curse, (ei kataran) for they shall be a righteous and blessed seed of the Lord, and their offspring with them. And it shall be before they cry, I will hear; and while they yet speak I will say, What is it? Then the wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and the serpent earth, like bread. They shall not hurt or harm in the holy mountain, saith the Lord.’ 1Isaiah 65:17 to end.HDM 13.1

    “What, therefore, is said in these words, ‘For as the days of a tree shall be the days of my people; the produce of their toils shall be multiplied,’ we understand mysteriously to signify a millennium: for when it was said to Adam, that in the day he ate of the tree he should die, we know he did not live out that millennium. Moreover, we understand in the same way this also: The day of the Lord is a millennium. To this agrees what one among us by the name of John, one of the apostles of Christ, foretold in a Revelation made to him: that the faithful in Christ would spend a millennium in Jerusalem, and after that will be the general, and I may say, in a word, the eternal resurrection and judgment of all together: the same as our Lord said: They shall neither marry, nor be given in marriage, but shall be equal to angels, since they are sons of the God of the resurrection.” 2Justin indicates a resurrection of “the faithful,” a millennium before the general resurrection. Revelation 20:4, limits the first resurrection to martyrs. The day of the millennium indicates a thousand years, and the whole time at that rate would be three hundred and sixty millions of years. I shrink from speculation of this sort with instinctive dread, lest, in attempting the unfathomable word. I speak what is not, or contradict what is spoken.HDM 14.1

    The scope of Justin’s argument in these remarks seems to be this: The Jew hears him with surprise speak of returning with Abraham and his seed under Messiah to Jerusalem; and this fills the Jew with distrust of some imposition. It was evidently a new form of gospel to the Jew.HDM 14.2

    Justin assures him it is his honest persuasion, recorded as well as spoken; nor is it peculiar to himself, though many pious men do not so receive it: but they all agree in the resurrection of the body. He quotes the prophet Isaiah, showing the Jerusalem of the risen saints to be in the new heaven and new earth, after the present world has gone out of sight and out of mind; and neither sorrow nor crying, nor any evil thing, brute, reptile or imaginary, is to enter therein; but the dumb creatures are to partake of the holiness and innocence of Eden. We cannot fail to see in this quotation from Isaiah the picture of “the restitution of all things;” the adoption of the sons of God; the renovation of nature into their glorious liberty at the redemption of the body in the resurrection of the dead; the coming of the Lord with the whole house of Israel, his faithful, into the New Jerusalem, adorned and enlarged, as Ezekiel and St. John describe it. This is, as it should be, in the world to come with the Lord Jesus from heaven.HDM 14.3

    There is no evidence that Justin Martyr understood the millennium of the Apocalypse much better than one of us. He was a hearty believer in the coming and kingdom of our Lord in the resurrection and day of judgment. In defence of this faith he argued with Trypho the Jew, and before the Roman emperors, and for it he died a martyr; but no scrap of his allows the supposition, that he looked for a millennium in this world, any more than himself to wear the crown of the Caesars. On the contrary, his doctrine requires Revelation 20. to be understood as wholly relating to the world to come beyond the resurrection, and in the restitution of all things.HDM 15.1

    Ireneus, A. D. 178, bishop of Lyons, and a strenuous defender of the resurrection of the body, is the second christian writer in the records of time who discourses of the millennium. He is led to speak of it incidentally, like Justin, while he treats of the hopes of Christians. He recognises with confidence the term of 6000 years for the time of this world. 1Iren. Con. Her. B. 5. c. 28. He enlarges upon the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel 37th chapter, to prove the resurrection of the faithful, and their inheritance of the promised land, 2Idem c. 15. and he expounds the prophecy of Daniel in the order of times and kingdoms, as that the Messiah’s kingdom succeeds the fourth, or Roman, which ruled over all in Irenæus’ day. 4Idem c. 20. In the end of Antichrist’s time, “The Lord will come,” he says, “from heaven with clouds in the glory of his Father, and hurl him and his followers into the lake of fire, but he will introduce the times of his righteous reign, that is, ‘the rest,’ the seventh day sanctified; and will restore to Abraham the promised inheritance, in which kingdom the Lord says, Many shall come from the East and the West, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” In this way he identifies the millennium with the kingdom of God preached in the evangelists, as Justin had done before him. But for one to suppose hence that Irenæus believed the kingdom of heaven and inheritance of Abraham might be in this world, would be doing him great injustice, and none the less to charge him with allowing them only a thousand years’ duration.HDM 15.2

    However, from subsequent pages Irenæus may be quoted to show, that the millennium of the Apocalypse is a day of training the risen saints for a higher glory; and that the renovated earth, in which they are to be trained, will be redeemed from the curse of barrenness and toil. 1C. 33. He enlarges on the beauty and fertility of the new earth, in the times of Christ’s kingdom and Abraham’s possession; he gives a famous tradition, as if from St. John by Papias and Polycarp; and concludes with quoting Isaiah 11:6, and onward, which is holy writ for a glory in the earth, that this world will neither believe nor see. But Irenæus becomes dazzled and confused in his vision, as a steady gaze on a brilliant object is sure to make poor mortals. While in the main he expounds the ancient prophets with great clearness and fairness, applying their rich and varied descriptions of the holy land to the renovated earth, and to the resurrection; he comes at last to fainting by the length of the way, and in the 35th and 36th chapters of his work, he rehearses some from Isaiah, and some he says from Jeremiah, which proves to be Baruch, and some other imputed to Isaiah, which does not come up to view in his pages; and from it all Irenæus concludes: “Things of this sort cannot be understood of heaven above, but they must be understood of the times of the kingdom, the earth having been renewed by Christ, and Jerusalem rebuilt in the fashion of Jerusalem above.” Hereby he attempts a distinction between the New Jerusalem of the new earth, and the Jerusalem above; and between the times of the kingdom in the new heavens, and in the heaven above, which I have not discovered in him before, or in any other before him; though it passes current with many at this day.HDM 16.1

    This new strain runs through his last chapter, and through volumes of millenary authors of a more recent age; authors of high respect, of fervent piety, and of varied learning, whose strain I do not well understand; but with whom I prefer myself to err, rather than to err with them who are expecting a spiritual reign of the saints in the flesh, to wield the sceptre of this world in the blood of old Adam, with a millennium on this ground, which is the rightful domain of the king of terrors.HDM 16.2

    To err, however, on either side seems unnecessary to one who lifts to his eye the telescope of faith in the promise, the prophecies, and the gospel, and by its aid obtains a clear and distinct vision of the promised kingdom of heaven; a place inconceivably more delightful than Eden; and a vision of the immortality, in Christ secure and imperishable, and infinitely preferable to that which Adam betrayed and lost. Direct the capacious tube toward any part of the spiritual horizon, and it opens upon the same kingdom of heaven, and brings it very near, and clearly into view. No eye can see beyond that kingdom, however far-sighted it may be; and my own eye discovers no object this side of that kingdom which is not in the valley of the shadow and under the curse of death. Our millennium is not there, in that valley. Paul’s was not expected there; nor was Abraham’s, or Polycarp’s, or Justin’s expected in the world under doom of death. Nor do the ancient millenaries expect theirs wholly there; but in an uncertain mixed state neither in this world exactly, nor that which is to come; but in transitu between both, and compounded of this and that, mortals and immortals, natural Jews and risen Gentiles, and a vast increase of the blood and comforts of life.HDM 16.3

    I subjoin in my notes some remarks on other christian writers of the second century, with an occasional extract: not a word being found in their pages to favor the doctrine of the millenaries, although they discourse much of the resurrection of the dead. 11. Tatian, A. D. 150. Oration vs. Greeks, bound with Justin Martyr. “Sec. 7. Wherefore, we believe there will be a resurrection of the body, after the end of all things: not as the Stoics teach, according to whom there is a continual round of worlds, forever coming and going without any use; but to be once and forever, in the fulfilment of our times, for the sake of judgment, according; to the constitution of man.”-He does not name any church glory for the hope of this world.
    2. Hegesippus, A. D. 178, relates the story of Domitian and the grandsons of Jude, in a way which proves that Domitian feared, as well as the historian looked for, the epiphany and kingdom of our Lord, preached in the gospel, to be manifested soon in the end of the world.
    3. Theophilos, A. D. 180, bishop of Antioch, wrote three books to Autolicus, a heathen friend, which are well written, to contrast the purity and truth of the divine records with the fables of the poets and darkness of the philosophers; but throwing no light on this history and doctrine.
    4. Athenagoras, A. D. 180, who wrote an Apology for Christians, addressed to the emperors Aurelian and Commodus; and also a treatise on the resurrection of the dead. I have been interested by his pages; but he makes no allusion to any hope of the faithful, to be realized prior to the resurrection. Of the time, circumstances, place, or condition of the resurrection he gives no intimation; having in view to satisfy heathen dignities of its propriety, rather than to comfort believers with its hope.
    5. Clement of Alexandria, A. D. 192. This writer seems to me the most vapid of the fathers, having no salt in him; and though quoting the pure word, yet losing it again instantly, as a man does the fashion of his face the moment he turns from the glass. I have no pleasure in his pages. He says much more of Plato than of Christ, and takes notice neither of the millennium, nor of the coining of Christ, nor of the judgment, nor scarcely of the kingdom of heaven.
    This name concludes the list of christian authors of the second century. In the text and these notes the name of every Christian is mentioned whose writings are transmitted to us from the first two centuries of our era; and their individual sentiments I have sought carefully to spread in their own words before the reader, if they have spoken to the point in hand. If they neglected it, yet I have not neglected them; but have faithfully sought light on this subject from all their surviving works.
    HDM 17.1

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