« VorigeDoorgaan »
ON THE MILLENIUM.
Isaiah, xi. 9.
"The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”
WE have in these words an unequivocal prediction of the future and universal prevalence of true religion. The period, when this prediction shall be accomplished, is usually denominated the Millenium. The word Millenium literally signifies a thousand years; and, in its religious application, is employed to denote that thousand years, when the gospel shall be diffused and received over all the earth. Whether the duration of the predicted Millenium will be precisely a thousand years, or a much longer period, it is no part of my present object to determine. I shall here use the word as expressive of a long and happy season, referred to in the text, when "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."-With this explanation, I propose,
I. To shew that there will be a Millenium.
II. Inquire how the Millenium will be introduced. And,
III. Offer some general remarks relative to the period of its commencement.
The evidence that there will be a Millenium, is the unfailing promise of God; or the numerous and unequivocal predictions of his word. He said long
ago to Abraham, and the succeeding Patriarchs, "In thy seed" (which is Christ) "shall all the nations and families of the earth be blessed."-He is represented as saying to his son, "Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. I will give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the ends of the earth."-It is predicted by the Psalmist, that "all the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before him. God shall bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear him. All kings shall fall down before him; all nations shall serve him. Men shall be blessed in him ; all nations shall call him blessed."-It is predicted by Isaiah and the prophets, that “in the last days, the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be 'exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it. The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. Jerusalem shall be called the throne. of the Lord, and all nations shall be gathered unto it, neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart. His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river even unto the ends of the earth."-Daniel "saw in the night visions one like unto the Son of man; and there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him. And the kingdom, and dominion, and greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High."-Our Saviour compared his kingdom in the world to leaven hid in three measures of meal, until the whole was leavened ;" and predicted, that after he was "lifted up," or at some
period subsequent to his sufferings, he should "draw all men unto him."-The Apostle Paul predicts, that "the fulness of the Gentiles shall come in and all Israel shall be saved;" and that the time is coming, when, "at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess he is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."-And finally it is represented in the Revelation, when the seventh angel sounded, that "there were great voices in heaven, saying, the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord, and his Christ, and he shall reign forever and
Here, my brethren, we have a specimen of the predictions, or, if you please, the promises of Scripture, relative to the interesting subject before us. They have been selected from different parts of the inspired volume, to shew how the whole current of Scripture pertaining to this point runs in the same channel, and directs us forward to the same glorious Certainly the earth has never yet witnessed a time answerable in any degree to the declarations which have been quoted. We may infer therefore, with the entire confidence which is due to the promises of Jehovah, that the period is future, and will in its season be ushered in, when "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea," and when all that the Scriptures represent in regard to the Millenial glory of the Church will be accomplished. I proceed to inquire,
II. How the Millenium will be introduced.-The manner of its introduction will, I think, be obvious, if we take into consideration its distinctive features or character. The Millenium will be distinguished from all preceding periods, by an universal diffusion of christian knowledge, piety, and christian enjoy
ment; or in other words, by the universal diffusion of true religion. Plainly therefore it must be introduced, by an universal dissemination of the means of grace, accompanied by the promised Spirit and blessing of God. How can true religion be rendered universal, except through the instrumentality of appointed means? And how can means render it universal, unless accompanied by the influences of the Holy Spirit? This, it will be recollected, is the way, in which true religion ever has been, and is, extended. The gospel is preached; the Bible and other religious books are read; the light of Divine truth is scattered; the various means of grace are used; and through the accompanying power of Divine grace, they are made effectual to salvation. Why then shall we not believe that the religion of the gospel will continue to be spread, and will at length become universal in the same way? Indeed, there appears to me no other way in which it can be spread. "How shall any call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard ?" True religion consists essentially in holy exercises of heart. But every such exercise implies a motive, or means. To attempt therefore to promote religion without a use of appointed means would be an attempt to excite and diffuse holy exercises without motives. It would be an attempt, I do not say to work a miracle, but to perform a natural impossibility. And the attempt to promote religion by means, without the influences of the Holy Spirit, would be little better,-Accordingly we find it represented in the Scriptures, that the universal prevalence and triumph of our religion are to be brought about by the continued use of means, and the accompanying operations of the Spirit of God.
"This gospel of the kingdom must first be preached among all nations.' "I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people." "It shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh."-I think therefore we have abundant evidence, as to the manner in which the Millenium will be introduced. It will be introduced, not by miracles, but means-by an universal dissemination of the means of grace, attended by the promised Spirit and blessing of God.
I come now to the third general proposition, in which I am to offer several remarks relative to the time when the Millenium may be expected to com
Different periods have been fixed on by different conjecturers and calculators, for the commencement of this desired and happy state of the Church. I will not however detain you a moment, to examine the evidence in favor of each, or either, of these periods, or so much as to state what periods they are. On a subject which has led to so much, I had almost said, idle speculation, I shall confine myself to such views and remarks as will be deemed indisputably, if not self-evidently, just. And if what has been said is true, I consider it as in a sense submitted to the Christian world, at what period the Millenium shall commence. The time for this event, as well as for every other, we know is fixed in the immutable counsels of heaven; yet as means are necessary for the introduction of the Millenium, why may it not be said of this, with as much propriety as of any thing for the accomplishment of which human means are necessary, that it is referred to Christians to say,