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In obedience to an order dated October the sixth, I have (as my present weakness will give me leave) perused that which hath been brought unto me, written by Dr. Homes in several Books, concerning the Kingdom of Christ on Earth; and do return this as my sense of it.
The subject (which is the reign of our Saviour with his saints on earth) is of a transcendant glory in itself, of universal importance to all persons and states, and very seasonable for the present times. Like a piece of rich coin which hath been long buried in the earth and lately dug up again, it begins to grow bright with handling, and to pass current with great numbers of saints and learned men of great authority. As the same star at different seasons is the evening-star, setting immediately after the sun, and then the morning-star, shining immediately before it; so was this truth the evening-star to the first coming of Christ, setting together with the glory of that day in a night of antichristianism; and now it appears again in our times, as a morning-star to that blessed day of the second effusion of the Spirit, and the second appearance of our Saviour in the glory of the Father.
The manner of handling this subject appears to be with pious and modest learning, judgment, industry, and variety ;-a variety of divine matter, excellent reading, choice Scriptures and expositions of Scripture ;-out of all which ariseth much present light, many hints for more, with quickening occasions for further searches and discoveries : so that this Book is, at once, a well grown orchard and a nursery of truths.
The opinions, which the Doctor holds forth in this book, cannot expect to have the concurrence of all gracious and judicious spirits, or a clearness in all particulars; the subject being a prophetic truth, approaching indeed, but still at some distance: yet they all move upon a hinge of three principal points, which seem to lie fair and uppermost in the letter of divers Scriptures, and have been stamped with the authority of men eminent in holiness and learning. These three points are such as cut off all pretence to sensuality and contention from the reign of Christ ;—such as instruct the saints to a peaceable, patient, and joyful waiting for Him; " that when he appears, they may appear with him in glory;"—such as, being rightly understood, confirm the letter and heighten the spirituality of Scripture, giving a distinct and joint accomplishment to letter and Spirit, each in the other; the letter having its fulness in the Spirit, and the fulness of the Spirit taking in
the letter. These three principal points of testimony and entrance to Christ's kingdom are, First, the indubitable evidence of our Lord's appearance in his own person, for the several purposes of conviction to the world, conversion of the Jews, glorification to the saints, and renovation to the creature: whether his appearance shall be miraculous ; (the Lord condescending to veil for a season his glorified body under a meaner form, that it may be fitted to our natural sense ;) or whether his appearance shall be mysterious ; (the Lord in the instant of it transfiguring the dead and living saints into a conformity to his glorified body, that in the twinkling of an eye they may see their King and he may see them in beauty ;) or whether both these, according to Matt. xxiv, 30; 1 Cor. xv, 51; and Phil. iii, 20, 21. Secondly, that the state of the saints' kingdom shall be the resurrection from the dead and the change of the living saints, equivalent to the resurrection of the bodies of those that sleep in the dust. Thus each particular saint and the whole church, being predestinated to be conformed to the likeness of his image, shall answer to the state of Christ between his resurrection and ascension; and which seems to have been his paradisiacal state ;-his soul entering into paradise at his death, and his body at his resurrection being re-assumed into the same state with the soul. The last head is, that there shall be a new earth to be the seat of this new kingdom. For if the earth, being made new with the newness of the Spirit, be also spiritualized, then will it be fit for glorified inhabitants. The streets of the new Jerusalem are said to be as gold, and glass, which describe its spirituality ;-as gold, for its solid simple substance, and for its shining glory: and as pure glass, for its transparency, clearness, and thorough lightsomeness.
October 19, 1653.
THE EDITOR'S PREFACE.
In presenting again this Treatise of Dr. Nathaniel Homes to the Public, the Editor considers himself called upon to state the alterations, which he has taken the liberty of making.
The first part of the Work was published without any view to the second. It consists of a mass of proofs from the Scriptures and Fathers, together with argumentation, in behalf of those doctrines usually denominated millennarian—including the personal appearing of the Lord Jesus, the destruction of Antichrist, the resurrection of the saints, and their rule upon a renewed earth, &c. There is evidence in this work from the author's own admissions, that it contains some things, which he would not and needed not to have published, especially in the
way of replying to objections : but this is still more apparent from his avowal in his supplementary work; which consists of Ten Exercitations” or essays, containing nearly as much matter as the former Treatise. These are intended to supply additional proof; to cancel some things which he considered unnecessary or injudicious; to treat on collateral topics ; and to reply to such further objections as had presented themselves, since the publication of the first part. In this second Work, besides the accession of much valuable matter, there is also a great repetition of that previously adduced; and the first object therefore of the Editor has been to incorporate the two treatises, and to endeavour to effect that more lucid arrangement of the whole, and those retrenchments, which the author, were he now alive to perform the work himself, would doubtless aim at.
Besides this, it is well known, that most writers of the age in which Dr. Homes lived, indulged in a prolixity of style, which often renders their works tedious, and in some instances obscure. Our author is perhaps as little chargeable with this fault as any writer of his time; but there are nevertheless numerous instances, in which his style may be condensed without the smallest detriment, but rather to the advantage of his argument; and which will enable the Editor, as he trusts, to reduce the two original volumes, forming together a bulk of nearly one thousand folio pages, into two moderate octavo volumes.
There are some sections of the second treatise, as also one or two in the first, which, as they are either irrelevant to the matter in hand, or break the thread of the argument, will be thrown into an appendix.
The Editor has likewise taken the liberty of modernising the phraseology by equivalent modes of expression, whenever he has deemed it conducive to greater perspicuity : but he can nevertheless conscientiously present it as a work, which in its opinions, arguments, and general style is faithfully conformed to the original.
The most sacred Scriptures do frequently affirm, that all the Saints shall reign with Christ a long time-namely a thousand years-at the Restitution of all things and their new creation, before the time of ultimate and general resurrection.
By saints I mean all the elect, called and to be called; whose characters (that we may know them in relation to our position) are in the Revelation drawn to the life. “ And I saw thrones,
and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them; and 'I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of ' Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped " the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon " their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived, and reigned " with Christ a thousand years.” xx. 4. In which words, I mind at this time, chiefly the three characteristics of them, that shall reign with Christ : viz. first, beheading, signifying, by a synechdoche, all persecution, either more particularly “ for the witness of Jesus,” or more generally " for the word of God.” Secondly, "not worshiping the beast, nor his image,” i. e. they reverence not either apparent gross idolatry, or specious and refined idolatry, in a divine worship, under the notion of prudentials. Thirdly, “ they receive not the mark of the beast in their hands, or foreheads;" that is, they yield not subjection to Antichrist, secretly or openly, neither profess him or contest for him, or for any thing against the truth.