« VorigeDoorgaan »
3. Be this speculation, however, either well founded or ill founded, it is not difficult to conceive, how materially the face of society would be changed, and how wonderfully the general condition of mankind would be meliorated, were the Gospel cordially embraced and faithfully acted upon, if not absolutely by all, yet by an incalculably great majority. Let us picture to ourselves either the whole or nearly the whole of mankind, as being Christians, not in word only, but in deed: and we may perhaps form some conception of the specific nature of the Millennium. What the narrow primitive Church was in spirit and in practice, the immense millennian Church would likewise be. Behold how these Christians love each other, would again become a true remark. Where universal charity prevailed, where selfishness was as much extinguished, and where evil passions were as much subdued, as among the first believers; wars and dissentions, both public and private, would be no more: where holiness of conversation, springing from grateful love to God through Christ, was predominant; the various miseries, arising from vice and immorality, would be unheard of. The world, in a degree, would be brought back to a paradisiacal state: and, when the minds of men ceased to be agitated by bad dispositions, and their bodily strength to be undermined
4, 5. Ezek. xliii. 1-7. The whole of this, nevertheless, must antecedently be mere conjecture: for, unless we could be positive as to the meaning of the texts referred to, we can obviously prove nothing by their bare adduction.
as, both pati
I love to li le various
by excess; it is natural to suppose, that their lives would be extended to a much longer period than they are at present.
But some, perhaps, may ask: How can these things be?
To such a question it is not very difficult to give It was by an abundant effusion of the Holy Spirit, not by any natural inherent goodness of their own, that the primitive Christians were made to differ from others. It is by the agency of the same Spirit (I speak, throughout, of his ordinary operations), that every faithful Christian of the present day thankfully acknowledges, with Scripture and the Church, that a new heart is created within him.. And it is by a yet more abundant effusion of the Holy Ghost both on Jews and on Gentiles, as we are expressly taught in prophecy, that the great mass of mankind will truly and effectually be gathered into the fold of Christ in the days of the Millennium. There is no difficulty in conceiving, had it been agreeable to the purposes of the Most High so to have ordered matters, that all men in the apostolic age might have been like-minded with the primitive believers, and that the Gospel might have been universally received instead of being universally opposed. Consequently, there is no difficulty in conceiving, that the Holy Spirit, who was pleased only to operate to a certain extent in the days of the Apostles, may hereafter operate so generally, as to render nearly the whole of mankind similar, perhaps even supe
far, a de irs Christians, in tre icliness and in geanine pier. Al is. I repeat I may easily be enncaired; for lie to na presume to limit the ezzens of God's operations: and, accordingly (what requires not the intervention of any ting strictly and properly minetions, we are certainly from prophecy led to believe, that some such general diffasion of holtess will assuredly take place, and with it 'what is indeed its natural consequence) a general diffusion of happiness.
IV. At the close of the Millennium, the figurative liberation of Satan will occur: and the result of it will be a lamentable corruption of manners and principles, which will at length call down a signal display of God's vengeance.
After a thousand years of holiness and happiness, man will again be seduced into evil by the arch-deceiver. This corruption will commence at the close of the Millennium: but, since it cannot be imagined that the whole world will plunge at once from piety into impiety, both common sense and general experience may teach us, that a considerable time will elapse, ere the children of men will become so thoroughly depraved as to enter into a regular combination for the purpose of extirpating the small remnant of God's faithful people. St. John does not allot any specific period for this gradual progress of corruption: but we may gather from Daniel, that it will occupy a term of 335 years. Blessed is he, that waiteth and cometh unto the thousand and three hundred and
five and thirty days'. This period of blessedness
V. The overthrow of the last antichristian con-
For this awful consummation, no definite time is fixed; agreeably to the express declaration of our Lord, that of that day and hour knoweth no one, no not the angels of heaven, but his Father only. Here, therefore, conjecture were impiety
and raitzen. Yet we may gather from Ezekiel, that the last day will not quite immediately follow the rout of Gog and Magng: for he both describes the Israelites as employed, either literally or figuratively, in burying the bodies of their enemies during the space of seven months whether natural or prophetic; and he speaks of their knowing Jehovah their God from that day and forward, an expression which evidently implies a certain undefined continuance of time. As for St. John, he simply intimates, that he beheld in the spirit the solemnities of that great day, and that they are chronologically posterior to the overthrow of Gog and Magog.
I saw a great white throne and him who sat thereon, from before whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before the throne: and the books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged from the things written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead, which were in it; and death and the invisible state gave up the dead, which were in them and they were judged, every one, according to their works. And death and the invisible state were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And, if any one were not found
1 Ezek. xxxix. 9-16, 22.