Page images

has part in the first resurrection is blessed and holy, and that upon such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with bim a thousand years.

What then is the second resurrection, to which this stands related as the first resurrection ? It is manifestly found in the words, “ but the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.” The second resurrection follows immediately upon the close of the first, which embraces in its whole sweep of events one thousand years. We do not turn aside here to inquire into the length of these prophetic years, since our argument is wholly apart from the discussion of that point. But here are evidently two resurrections, the one following the other; and our assumption is, that if one is literal the other is literal, and if one is metaphorical the other is metaphorical. Every principle of interpretation demands this. Now the declaration," blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection," does not imply that they who share in the second or following resurrection, are not also blessed and holy; but the sentiment is, that the persons embraced in the first åváoTaois are pre-eminently blessed and holy, and exempt from the power of the second death. This idea is rendered still more emphatic by the clause which follows: “they shall be priests of God and of Christ," and the repetition from vs. 4: “and shall reign with him a thousand years." What conceivable meaning can be attached to this verse, if the resurrection in vs. 4 is to be interpreted as metaphorical or symbolical of some great moral change which is to take place in the latter day upon the earth? The passage is deprived of all sense, if the resurrection in vs. 4 be regarded as other than what is actual and real. Are we not justified, then, in claiming from this passage the most abundant and conclusive evidence that there are to be two distinct and successive resurrections of the pious dead? Have we perverted the laws of grammar or the meaning of words in reaching this conclusion ? Have we turned aside from the sacred text to follow the wild speculations and vagaries of

human reasoning? We are not ignorant of the objections which may be advanced against this view, nor would we undervalue them. We may not be able to give a satisfactory answer to them; the subject lying, as it does, so far in the distant future, and relating to that which so far transcends the unaided power of the human intellect to compass. But formidable as these objections may be, they are powerless when confronted with the great utterance of the passage, that there is to be a resurrection of the martyrs and a portion of the righteous dead, which shall antedate by a chiliad of prophetic years that of the rest of the dead, and which is therefore called “ åváoTaois ń pótn, the first resurrection, or more literally, the resurrection (viz.) the first. It may not be unprofitable, however, to notice several of the more common objections to the doctrine of a first and second resurrection of the pious dead.

It is alleged as adverse to this view, that it is taught nowhere else in the word of God. What if this were so ? It would not invalidate the testimony of the passage before

Some of the sublimest truths of revelation are unfolded in single passages. The fact that Christ's mediatorial kingdom is to be given up to the Father, when he shall have put all enemies under his feet, is revealed only in 1 Cor. xv. 24-28. The nature of the resurrection-body is discussed only in this same chapter. The marvellous declaration that saints shall judge angels is made only once, and that too in the form of an interrogation. The allegation, then, that this doctrine of a first and second resurrection is found only in the passage now under consideration, if it were so, would not invalidate its truth. But, as we have shown in the former portion of this Article, it seems clearly referred to by Paul, in his εξανάστασις των νεκρών, and in the order (εν τω idio Táyuate) in which the dead are to arise ; so that were this text in Rev. xx. 4 blotted out, the hiatus might be quite readily filled from the teachings of Paul.

also be objected, that the exegesis of these passages which we have adopted, would raise to heaven a portion of


It inay

the pious dead without the preliminary process of the judg. ment; or, in other words, that it is opposed to the great fact of revelation, that the righteous are to be first judged, and then enter into life eternal. But may not a virtual judg. ment be passed upon the pious, in whole or in part, so that they may have a foretaste of the blessedness which shall be confirmed to them in the solemn award of the final judg. ment? Is not a preliminary judgment of this sort passed upon all who die in the Lord and are admitted into the presence of Christ? It does not preclude their standing with the rest of the human family before the judgment seat of Christ, that Enoch and Elijah were translated bodily to heaven. The resurrection of those who came forth from their graves

after the resurrection of Christ will not stand in the way of their appearance at his bar, in whose triumphal train they ascended to heaven, and whose bodies, fashioned after the image of his glorified body, are the pledge of his redemptive grace that all, in due time, shall be raised from the grave and transformed into his glorious likeness. Nor can it be reasonably charged upon the doctrine of the resurrection of the martyr-saints, to live and reign with Christ antecedent to the resurrection of the rest of the righteous dead and the final judgment, that this class will be exempted thereby from standing before the bar of God, to be judged like all the rest of mankind. As Professor Stuart well remarks: “The decisions of conscience need no protracted time for examination. Each spirit takes, of course, the place to which its character necessarily assigns it, and all this, as we may suppose, without any general or even any particular and formal judgment after the manner of human tribunals."

We believe fully in the doctrine of a general judgment; but this is not inconsistent with the belief of an order in the resurrection of the pious, nor of the admission to blessedness of those who attain unto the first resurrection, long anterior to the Parousia of the Son of man to sit upon the throne of judgment. Preliminary to the final act in the drama of time, the most stupendous scenes will be enacted, which, as

precursors of scenes of greater glory and blessedness yet to come, will fill all holy beings with admiration and rapture. The glory of the first millennium will be far transcended by that of the second, when the devil having been cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where have already been consigned the beast and the false prophet (Rev. xx. 10), the whole earth shall be at rest and be quiet (Isa. xiv. 17), and heaven above shall resound with new hallelujahs as the martyr-saints enter upon the glory and blessedness of the first resurrection. Then shall be realized the predictions of the latter-day glory, made by Isaiah, Zechariah, and other prophets of the Old Testament. Then, in view of the vast multitudes who in successive generations shall throng the ways of Zion, and come up to her solemn feasts, the blessed Redeemer “ shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied," and it shall be rapturously exclaimed : “ Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows ?"

To the first resurrection (ý åváoTaois ń zpútn), which shall be the crowning event of this glorious epoch, we believe that Paul had reference in the passage under consideration. It was to be attained only by the most intense and persevering efforts after holiness. With all his devotion to the cause of his Master, with all his self-denying labors, with all his high spiritual attainments and gifts, even though he had been caught up into paradise and heard unspeakable words which it was not lawful for man to utter, with all these gifts and graces and abundance of revelations, he was not certain of having fully attained to this εξανάστασις των νεκρών, , but he avowed it as his fixed and unalterable determi. nation, “ to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” “Let our conversation be in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able to subdue even all things unto bimself.”






OTHER FORMS OF ASCETICISM. The monastic institution arose in the beginning of the fourth century, and thenceforth occupies a distinguished place in the history of the church. Beginning in Egypt, it spread in an irresistible tide over the East and the West, continued to be the chief repository of the Christian life down to the times of the Reformation, and still remains in the Greek and Roman churches an indispensable institution, and the most productive seminary of saints, priests, and missionaries.

The germs of the ascetic tendency are found among the heretics and the weak, Judaizing Christians opposed in the writings of Paul. Monasticism is only the full development and organization of asceticism. It is by no means confined to the Christian church, but belongs also to other religions, both before and after Christ, especially in the East. It proceeds from religious seriousness, enthusiasm, and ambition, from a sense of the vanity of the world, and an inclination of noble souls towards solitude, contemplation, and freedom from the bonds of the flesh and the temptations of the world; but it gives this tendency an undue predominance over the social, practical, and world-reforming spirit of Christianity.

Among the Hindus the ascetic system may be traced back

1 The Monks of the West. By Count de Montalembert. Translated from the French. Edinburg and London : 1861. 2 vols. Vol. I. contains the history of Monasticism before St. Benedict of Nursia. Vol. II. is devoted mainly to St. Benedict. The French original is to embrace six volumes, and to come down to St. Bernard.

« PreviousContinue »