Page images
PDF
EPUB

and vanity, because we are not used to defend and assert it publicly; God enjoining us that by quiet and silence we should keep the secret hidden within our own conscience.”] The same opinion is supported by Victorinus and by Sulpicius Severus. St. Austin also for some time maintained this opinion, as we learn from the twentieth book on The City of God, chapter vii.; and after he abandoned it, he did not venture to condemn it, as he himself testifies in the same place.?

1 Hæc est doctrina sanctorum prophetarum quam sequimur: hæc nostra sapientia, quam isti qui vel fragilia colunt, vel ipanem pbilosophiam tuentur, tamquam stultitiam, vanitatemque derident, quia nos defendere hanc publice atque asserere non solemus, Deo jubente, ut, quieti ac silentes, arcanum ejus intra conscientiam nostram teneamus. ? Some writers interpret the prophecy of St. John

respecting the Millennium, as signifying a great triumph of the Church over the whole world, without, however, our Blessed Lord being personally and visibly present upon earth to reign over men. But even admitting this interpretation, it seems that the prophecy has not yet been fulfilled. For reckon the thousand years from the time of Christ, as it pleases some, or from the time of Constantine, as it pleases others, yet neither of these periods, nor indeed any other, will answer the description and character of the Millennium,—the purity, and peace, and holiness, and happiness of that blessed state. Before Constantine, indeed, the Church was in great fervour, but was also groaning under the persecutions of the heathen emperors. After Constantine the Church was in greater prosperity, but was soon shaken and disturbed by heresies and schisms; by the incursions and devastations of the northern nations; by the conquering arms and prevailing imposture of Mahoinetanism. If Satan was then bound, when can he be said to be loosed ? Or how could the saints and the beast, Christ and the Antichrist, reign at the same time?

ARTICLE V.

The opinion of the Millennium considered in reference to the

Divine system of Christianity. The object of the incarnation and passion of Christ was to rescue the human race from the power of Satan, and to establish the kingdom of God amongst men. Hence, both St. John Baptist and Jesus Christ began their preaching by exhorting men to prepare themselves by sincere repentance for the kingdom of God which was at hand. “ Do penance," said both the disciple and his Master," for the kingdom of God is at hand.From this the Gospel of Christ was entitled by the Evangelists, in an especial manner, the Gospel of the kingdom.

“ Jesus went about all Galilee,” says St. Matthew, “teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of the kingdom.” ?

The kingdom which Christ was commissioned by the Father to establish amongst men, was not to be like the other kingdoms of the earth, weak and perishable. But it was to possess an invincible strength, and to have an everlasting duration. It was not to be confined to any one people or nation of the earth, but to extend to the whole world without limitation. It was not to affect man's being partially only, but it was to affect the whole man with all his faculties and powers. It was not to possess limited power,

but it was to embrace the fulness of every power; " for all power is given to Christ in heaven and on earth."

Christ began to fulfil His mission of establishing the kingdom of God amongst men by the Matt. iii. 2; iv. 17.

Ib. iv. 23.

foundation of His Church. This great kingdom received its commencement in the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Ghost descended with great profusion of spiritual gifts on the apostles, and when the apostles, burning with heavenly fire, went forth to preach everywhere the wonders of God; but it did not receive all at once its full development; no, God has arranged that it should be developed by degrees, and by means of great combats and trials. The work in itself was perfect from the beginning; the law was perfect, the means of grace were perfect; the authority for governing was perfect. The divine germ contained within itself all that power and strength which was afterwards to be developed. Yet it was decreed, that this development should take place gradually until it should reach its consummation, namely, until Christ should have gained an actual, entire, and consummate triumph over all His enemies.

This is clearly proved by the words of our Blessed Saviour in the Gospel. For there He compares the kingdom of heaven, first, “to a grain of mustard-seed, which is the least indeed of all seeds : but when it is grown up, it is greater than all herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and dwell in the branches thereof." 1 Secondly, to "leaven, hid in three measures of meal, until the whole was leavened.” 2 Wherefore the apostle St. Paul, after declaring the great mystery of the final resurrection, thus speaks of the consummation of the great scheme of infinite wisdom and goodness, to which all things are made subservient. Afterwards the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God and the Father, when He shall have 1 Matt. xiii. 31, 32.

3 Ib. xiii. 33.

to

brought to nought all principality and power, and virtue. For He must reign, until He hath put all His enemies under His feet.

And the enemy Death shall be destroyed last; for he hath put all things under His feet.” 1

The kingdom of Christ, therefore, was receive a gradual development until it should reach its perfect consummation in the complete triumph over its enemies, in the full assembly of all the elect around the throne of Christ in the heavenly Jerusalem; consequently there is nothing unreasonable in the belief, that before the final consummation takes place, God has appointed a time of particular triumph for His kingdom here upon earth; a time in which Christ being personally present with His saints, will actually exercise over His regenerate people the fulness of every power, ruling and governing them as their sovereign Lord and King; a time in which all the princes and kings of the earth, like the four-and-twenty elders mentioned by St. John in the Apocalypse, will fall down before Him, and will cast their crowns before His throne, saying: “Thou art worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory, and honour, and power.”? As God in old times took upon Himself the government of His chosen people, and ruled them as their King, so there is nothing unreasonable in the belief that the incarnate Son of God, the Ruler of Israel, He to whom the Father has given all the nations for His inheritance, will reign and rule over them here upon earth, in holiness and justice, together with His saints, for a

thousand years.

11 Cor. xv. 24-26.

2

Apoc. iv. 10, 11.

ARTICLE VI.

Predictions contained in the second chapter of Daniel, which

seem to foreshow the kingdom of Christ upon earth. In the prophecy of Daniel there are two remarkable passages, which seem to relate to the kingdom of Christ upon earth. The first is, where the prophet declares to King Nabucodonosor his dream and its meaning: “Thou, O king, sawest, and behold there was, as it were, a great statue; the statue was large and its height great ; it stood before thee, and the look thereof was terrible. The head of this statue was of fine gold, the breast and arms of silver, and the belly and thighs of brass : the legs of iron, the feet part of iron and part of clay. Thus thou sawest, till a stone was cut out of a mountain without hands : and it struck the statue upon the feet thereof that were of iron and of clay, and broke them in pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold broken in pieces together, and became like the chaff of a summer's thrashing-floor, and they were carried away by the wind : and no place was found for them ; but the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. This is the dream : we will also tell the interpretation thereof before thee, O king. Thou art a king of kings: and the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, and strength, and power, and glory: and He has given into thy hand all places wherein the children of men, and the beasts of the field, and fowls of the air dwell, and hath put all things under thy sway; thou, therefore, art the head of gold. And after thee shall rise up another kingdom, inferior to thee, of silver:

« PreviousContinue »