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law will be restored, the rite of circumcision renewed, and the ancient sacrifices offered again in the temple of God.
These are called Judaical Millenarians, not as being Jews, but as having invented and upheld a millennium according to the Jewish taste. The principal authors of this error were Nepos, an African bishop, against whom St. Dionysius wrote his two books on Promises ; and Apollinaris, whom St. Epiphanius confuted in his work against heresies. The utter falsehood and absurdity of this millennium, which is altogether repugnant to the nature of the Jewish dispensation as well as to that of the Christian Church, is manifest. For the whole system of the Mosaic law, with all its ceremonies and sacrifices, was but a shadow of the things to come, and has been entirely fulfilled and ended by the establishment of the new law of grace, which shall last for ever. “ For heaven and earth shall pass away,” says our Blessed Lord, “but My words shall not pass away.”! And the apostle St. John, in the Apocalypse, calls the Gospel law which the apostles and their successors were commissioned by Christ to preach to every nation and tribe, and tongue, and people, "the eternal Gospel.” 3
The third class comprehends all those who on the one side reject and condemn the sensual millennium of Cerinthus as well as the Jewish millennium of Nepos, but, on the other, are of opinion that Christ, immediately after His coming, and before the universal judgment, will actually and sovereignly reign upon earth, together with His saints, in holiness and justice, for a thousand years. | Heresy 77th.
2 Matt. xxiv. 35. Apoc. xiv. 6.
To this class many ecclesiastical men who lived in the first ages of the Church belong, as well as several martyrs, who sealed their faith with their own blood. St. Jerome declares this in his commentary on the nineteenth chapter of the prophet Jeremias, where, after mentioning the opinions entertained by some ancient fathers respecting the millennium, he says, “ Although we do not follow these opinions, yet we cannot condemn them, because many ecclesiastical men and martyrs have taught them, and every one may abound in his own
The chief supporters of this opinion amongst the ancient fathers are blessed Papias, St. Justin Martyr, St. Ireneus, St. Victorinus, Sulpicius Severus, Tertullian, and Lactantius.
Although the authority of these venerable men, who illustrated the primitive Church by their holiness and wisdom, has weight with us, so far as to incline us to their opinion, yet we confess that we are still far from feeling anything like a firm conviction or persuasion on the subject; we look upon it only as an open question, as a matter of mere probability.
Principal ground for the opinion of the kingdom of Christ upon
earth for a thousand years, together with His saints. The chief support of this opinion is the authority of St. John, of that beloved disciple of Christ, who by a particular privilege, not granted to the highest seraphim, was allowed to lay his head, and
Quæ licet non sequamur, tamen damnare non possumus, quia multi ecclesiasticorum virorum et martyres ista dixerunt, et unusquisque in suo sensu abundet, et Domini cuncta judicio reservantur. (In Jerem. xix. 10, 11.)
to rest upon the bosom of the Incarnate Son of God at the last supper, from whence he drew those treasures of wisdom and knowledge for which his writings are so highly distinguished. In the fifth chapter of the Apocalypse, after relating how the Lamb, who was standing as it were slain, had opened the book which he took out of the right hand of Him that sat on the throne, St. John thus continues : The four living creatures and the four-and-twenty ancients fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of the saints : and they sung a new canticle, saying : Thou art worthy, O Lord, to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; because Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God in Thy blood, out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, and hast made us to our God a kingdom and priests, and we shall reign on the earth.”ı Again, in the eleventh chapter, he writes thus: “ The seventh angel sounded the trumpet, and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdom of this world is become our Lord's, and His Christ's." ? In the twentieth chapter, after describing the defeat of Antichrist and of his followers, together with the binding of Satan for a thousand years, he continues: “And I saw seats, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them and the souls of them that were beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not adored the beast nor his image, nor received his character on their foreheads, or in their hands, and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. And the rest of the dead lived not, till the thousand years were finished. Apoc. v. 8, 9, 10.
2 Ib. xi. 15,
This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection. In these the second death hath no power: but they shall be priests of God and of Christ : and shall reign with Him a thousand years."1 This passage of St. John has great similarity with the prophecy of Daniel, where the prophet, after describing the coming of the Son of Man in the clouds of heaven, and the defeat of the beast which persecuted the saints of the Most High, says, “That all power, and glory, and kingdom was given to the Son of Man; that all people, and tribes, and tongues should serve Him, and that the kingdom and the power, and the greatness under the whole heaven was given to the saints of the Most High.”
The passage of the Apocalypse, quoted in the preceding article,
explained by St. Augustine and other Catholic writers. St. Augustine, in his celebrated work “ On the City of God,” explains the passage of St. John in a mystical and spiritual sense. According to him, the thousand years during which Satan is bound, signify the whole time from Christ's first coming to his second advent at the end of the world; or rather, to the last short persecution under Antichrist. The binding of Satan means, that his power, since the coming of Christ, is much lessened and restrained in comparison of the great and extensive
he had over all nations before Christ's incarnation. By the first resurrection, he understands the rising of the soul to the state of glory, which is effected by the merits of Christ, while the devil is chained for a thousand years, namely, during the Christian dispensation. He takes notice that the present state of the Church is many times called the kingdom of God, and that the Church of Christ reigns now with Christ, both in the living saints and those who are dead; namely, in the martyrs and others, who, having lived and died piously, now reign with Christ, not yet in their bodies, but in their souls, or rather their souls reign with Him. On those words : who had not adored the beast, nor his image, nor received his mark, he says, that by the beast may be understood the multitude of wicked sinners in general, and by the image of the beast, those who are of the Church in their outward appearance and profession only, and not by their good works. When it is said that the rest of the dead lived not till the thousand years were finished; “ they lived not,” says he," as to their souls, when they should have lived, and therefore having no part with the blessed in heaven, when their bodies shall rise, it shall not be to life, but to judgment and damnation, which is the second death.” i This exposition is adopted by the generality of Catholic writers.
The thousand years here mentioned by St. John may signify either a literal period of a thousand years, or a long period of time known to Him who has the times and moments in His power.
% Dan. vii.
The same passage explained by several ancient fathers and
other ecclesiastical men.
The ancient fathers who favour the opinion of the millennium explain the passage of the Apocalypse quoted above in its obvious and literal sense; namely, they teach that Christ at his second
· St. Augustine de Civit. Dei, 1. xx. c. 7, 8, 9.