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triumphs of these antagonizing spirits fill up the grand outlines of the prophetic drama. If they are not discussed and exhibited in this order, and under these titles, they are in other and various forms: for these, in fact, engross all human nature, human character, and human destiny.
Much of the prophecy of the Old Testament constitutes the history of the New; and all civil and ecclesiastic history are but the developments of Jewish and Christian predictions. One of the difficulties, and indeed a chief difficulty in the path of all interpreters, is the separation of the fulfilled from the unfulfilled portions of the prophetic intimations. We shall not in the commencement attempt to draw these lines. What is clearly and by almost universal consent unfulfilled, will first command our attention. That the two great impostures of the East and of the West have arisen-that Mahomet and the Pope have been born, needs not to be proved: consequently those prophecies which concern the rise of the pretended Prophet of God, and the infallible Vicar of Christ, have been fulfilled. But the fortunes of the Koran, and of the oral traditions-the downfall of the Eastern and the Western impostures, or the triumphs of the gospel over its four grand rivals, Mahometism, Papalism, Paganism, and Atheism, occupy a large space in the yet unfulfilled visions of Daniel and of John.
Public attention is, therefore, specially directed to five great events: -The downfall of Mahometanism, the demolition of the Papacy, the conversion of the Jews, the end of Paganism, the abolition of Atheism, or the Millennium, and, as connected with them, the coming of the Lord. Of these the last is now the first in importance; because as we contemplate it, so must we understand the others. For if the Lord is to destroy Mahometanism, Papacy, Judaism, Paganism, Atheism, by the brightness of his coming-by his personal and literal return-then indeed we settle the whole matter the moment we settle the question in the affirmative, Will the Lord in person come before, or after, the Millennium? Two points, then, almost equally press upon our attention-the Millennium and the coming of the Lord. They mutually explain each other. If the Lord come in person before the Millennium, the Millennium will be a very different state of things compared with a Millennium which precedes the personal return of the Lord. Contemplated in this point of view, it must be obvious to all that the clear and scriptural settlement of the question, What is the Millennium; or of the question, Will the Lord personally return before the Millennium, settles the chief points in the yet unaccomplished portions of Jewish and Christian prophecy. Considered in this light, we must all feel a greater interest in settling one or both of these questions: and of these two, in my view, that which ascertains the coming of the Lord,
whether in person or in spirit, before the Millennium, is the cardinal point in the whole subject of prophecy. We shall therefore give the precedence to this question, When will the Lord personally return— before or after the Millennium? Still we shall pioneer the way by presenting a synopsis of the more prominent and popular theories of the Millennium.
THEORIES OF THE MILLENNIUM.
Mr. Begg's Theory.-Israel shall return to their own land. Jerusalem will be rebuilt. The Lord will descend from heaven and dwell in Jerusalem-"Then the moon shall be confounded and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously." He will continue his personal presence on earth certainly 1000, and probably 365,000 years. The nations will go to see him, and to worship in Jerusalem, and keep the annual feasts. The Man of Sin shall be destroyed by the Lord in person or by the brightness of his coming, and the race of evil doers shall generally be cut off. A resurrection of the saints and martyred witnesses of Christ precede the millennial reign. This is the first resurrection, and shall precede the second from 1000 to 365000 years. The earth and the atmosphere will be changed. A more genial climate and a more fruitful soil will reward the labors of the husband. man. Still the earth's identity and its present localities shall continue; and "although it will be a period of unprecedented holiness and happiness, neither sin nor death will be wholly excluded." "The child shall die a hundred years old; and the sinner being a hundred years old, shall be accursed." And, therefore, during the millennial dispensation this world will be the abode of men in the flesh, who will have intercourse with the immortal men who are reigning with Christ. But of the nature of the employment of the reigning saints, and of their intercourse with mortal men, he has no knowledge.*
A short apostacy will succeed the Millennium. Satan will be set free from his captivity, but will ultimately be destroyed. Then comes the general resurrection of all that died during the Millennium, and those who were not raised at its commencement, which will be followed with the general judgment and eternal rewards and punishments.
Mr. Miller's Theory. This is bolder and more intelligible than any of the moderns. According to this view, the general conflagration, the resurrection of the dead saints, the transformation of the living, and the personal and glorious return of the Lord, must precede the Millennium. "The Millennium is a state of personal, glorious, and immortal reign on the new earth-a new dispensation, new heavens,
* Page 239.
and new earth." The wicked, their counsels and works, will all be destroyed at the coming of the Lord. The thousand years of millennial glory and bliss will transpire "between the two resurrections"that of the righteous and of the wicked; the latter having been slain at the commencement of the Millennium, and all the living saints changed. There will be neither birth nor death, conversion nor apostacy during one thousand years. Gog and Magog can be found only in the wicked spirits who lived and died before the Millennium, and who, when reanimated at its close, will lay siege to the New Jerusalem; but will be judged, and cast down to hell by fire from heaven falling upon them in the very act of their rebellion. The Millennium will commence, or rather this world will come to an end, in the year 1843, or 1847 at farthest. The day of judgment will then commence, and will continue for the whole thousand years; at the end of which the wicked shall be raised and sentenced to everlasting ruin.
The Protestant Theory.-The Millennium, so far as the triumphs of Christianity is concerned, will be a state of greatly enlarged and continuous prosperity, in which the Lord will be exalted and his divine spirit enjoyed in an unprecedented measure. All the conditions of society will be vastly improved; wars shall cease, and peace and good will among men will generally abound. The Jews will be converted, and the fulness of the Gentiles will be brought into the kingdom of the Messiah. Genuine Christianity will be diffused through all nations; crimes and punishments will cease; governments will recognize human rights, and will rest on just and benevolent principles. Conversions will not only be genuine, but early and general. Large measures of divine influence will be vouchsafed. One extended and protracted series of revivals will keep pace with the exigencies ofsociety. The seasons will become more mild; climates more salubri ous, health more vigorous, labor less, lands more fertile, and the animal creation more prolific: for the knowledge of the glory of God st all cover the whole earth as the waters cover the channel of the sea. The Millennium is to precede the coming of the Lord, the general conflagration, and the creation of new heavens and earth.
Such are the chief attributes of the Millennium according to the more prominent theories of the present day. There are others different in some of their accidents; but in the main we have their essential features in those three. That which at present most agitates this community is the theory of Mr. Miller. It is more definite, bold, and positive than the others; and being so nigh at hand, cannot fail to awaken considerable interest Of all theories that have come under my consideration, it promises least of blessing to the human race.—
Its commencement is the end of conversion. The fruits of Christ's death are all gathered in 1843, so far as the number of participants is concerned. The number is never after to be increased nor diminished. It is sealed and registered for ever. During his thousand years there is not one child born, one sermon preached, nor one soul converted; the living saints are all changed, and the dead are all raised when the Lord comes; and his coming is the first day of Mr. Miller's Millennium. This does not, however, in the least affect its truth. It may be that the church has been dreaming of converting a world of Jews and Gentiles never to be converted; that Paganism, Mahometanism, Papalism, Atheism, and Bibleism are all predestined to live till the Lord comes, and they all shall die in the same day.
Again, it will be argued against his Millennium that it seems to have no object in view, except the mere occupancy of this earth for a thousand years as a mere gratification to the saints before the wicked shall be raised. It is giving them a long life on this planet by way of compensation for the bad treatment they received on it from those wicked men who are in their graves, while the saints are reigning here in great glory with their King. Still all this deducts nothing from either its possibility or its truth. This may be the Lord's wil and if so, we acquiesce in it.
Mr. Begg's theory promises more; but it has some inconveniencies also. The Lord is in Jerusalem, and his saints are dwelling in immortal bodies, while flesh and blood in sinful and mortal men are tabernacling among them. After his first resurrection they are marrying and giving in marriage; children are born, and sinners die; while the glorified Messiah and the saints in spiritual bodies are triumphing in Jerusalem. The saints are eating spiritual food in Jerusalem, while they are ploughing and sowing, reaping and threshing, grinding and eating earthly food in the country round about! A thousand such incongruities arise in my mind while speculating upon the speculations of these pious and benevolent men.
Again, the more popular theories are vague. indefinite, and in some points imaginative also; and, upon the whole, unsatisfactory. Still the subject is not to be abandoned in despair; and as "the promises still seem to travail with a glorious day of grace," and that the saints are to take and possess the kingdoms under the whole heavens, it is doubtless worthy of a more profound consideration and a more extended research than we have yet been able to bestow upon it. We shall resume the question of the coming of the Lord.
WHEN WILL THE LORD COME?
This is not, indeed, a speculative and uninteresting subject. It is highly practical. To be convinced of it we have only to observe the
conduct of those who are now looking for the immediate personal return of the Lord before the extension of his kingdom, and compare it with that of those who expect it after the Millennium. The former have almost, and they ought to have altogether, abandoned all effort and prayer for the conversion of the Jew and the Greek, for the breaking down of Mahometanism, Papalism, Paganism, and Atheism. In 1843 the day of judgment commences, and conversion ceases; and why should they who believe this engage in sending the gospel to foreign lands, or in translating the scriptures into foreign languages, or in any great enterprize that looks beyond a period so nigh-just at the door. It cannot be but that our views of the coming of the Lord must affect our action on such subjects as these. The expectants of the immediate personal return are, indeed, laboring to awaken their families and friends and neighbors to a preparation for that awfully grand and glorious event, and so far are acting both rationally and benevolently. But farther than this their theory will not suffer them to go. On the other hand, they who expect the Jew and the Greek to be converted, and all nations to be blessed by the Messiah before the end of the world-who are looking for a new moral order of things to continue for a thousand or more years, are full of ways and means for the diffusion of knowledge, for the intellectual and moral improvement of society, for the introduction of a new and better era in all that pertains to the political and moral condition of the world. They are seeking by new modes of instruction, mental and moral, to mould human nature after a more perfect model, and thus to prepare the way for a more perfect display of the transforming efficacy of the gospel on the whole constitution of man. It is therefore a practical question.
A personal and literal coming of the Lord was both the promise and the completion of the Old Testament dispensation; and as evidently it is the chief promise, the glorious hope, and the grand cosummation of the New Testament and its dispensation. Christians, then, who love their absent Friend, and in whose presence there is fulness of joy, cannot but reflect with intense interest upon the prophecies concerning his glorious and triumphant return. Theirs is the blessing promised to them that read and understand the visions of the future as sketched by the last and the most beloved of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb.
All parties concur that the Lord will come in some sense, either
I know it is difficult for those who believe the theory to act in a manner consistent with it. Even Mr Miller himself, of whose moral excellence I have a good report from various sources, has secured the copy-right of his book for some ten years after the end of the world, as if such a right could secure it against the general conflagration!