« PreviousContinue »
day as a day of holy rest, or Sabbath ; so it has been supposed, that the church, after being in a state of labour and toil and distress for six thousand years, will find the seven thousandth a period of holy rest, of peace and glory. We read that, one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. Accordingly, as the world stood about four thousand years before Christ, so it is supposed, that the Millennium will commence about the year of our Lord two thousand, that is, about one hundred and seventy years from this time. And do not the Signs of the Times proclaim even now that this blessed day is approaching?
II. HOW LONG WILL BE THE DURATION OF THE MILLENNIUM?
Under this head, we shall also be very brief. The only question is, Whether the thousand years mentioned in the text are to be considered as literal, or prophetic years; and if prophetic, whether they represent a definite period, or one that is indefinite? Much ingenuity has been exercised upon this point by learned men. Some suppose that, considering the state of the world during the six thousand years previous to the Millennium, and the little season when Satan is again to be let loose after the Millennium, a literal thousand years for the saints to live and reign with Christ upon earth, even if all are saved who live at that time, will not answer the prediction of bruising the serpent's head by the Seed of the woman. They thus conclude, that the years are to be understood as prophetic, and to intimate a much longer period. But it is much more important that we should possess the temper of the Millennarians, and that we should exert ourselves to bring on the blessed day, than that we should know its duration.
III. WHAT WILL BE THE STATE OF THE WORLD DURING THE MILLENNIUM?
1. We may in general observe, that in the Millennium, true religion will much more prevail, than before. The world has lain in wickedness for near six thousand years. This was the case in the times before the flood;
it was the case in the days of the patriarchs, the prophets, and the apostles. It is the case now. But this dreadful state of irreligion will then have an end. The Serpent's head will then be crushed. Sing, O daughter of Zion; for lo I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord of hosts; and many nations shall be joined unto the Lord in that day, and shall be my people.
2. During the Millennium, idolatry will cease through the world. Idolatry has constituted a principal feature in the picture of all nations, and all ages, since the flood. Even God's ancient people, to whom he was manifested in so many ways, and in a manner so glorious, were infected with idolatry. The two very first of the commandments from the top of Sinai were pointed against idolatry. It was for this sin, more than for any other, that they were finally carried captive, and scattered among nations. Multitudes of idols have been worshipped from ancient times to the present day. Heathen lands are still full of idols. The destruction of idolatry, therefore, will produce an amazing change in the world. Many passages of Scripture prove that the day is coming, when idolatry shall be extirpated from the earth. But one is sufficient for our present purpose. In that day, a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they have made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; to go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for the fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. From this prophecy, we may conclude that, just before the Millennium, there will be tremendous judgments, and that the earth will be most terribly shaken.
3. During the Millennium, the Jews will be converted to Christ. The Saviour, while on earth, came unto his own, and his own received him not. The Jews were peculiarly his own, because he was a Jew, and because they had been God's covenant people for nearly two thousand years. But they received not Christ. Though thousands after thousands were miraculously fed by him; and though even his enemies were constrained to acknowledge, that never man spake like him, yet comparatively very few sincerely
received him into their hearts. There were his eleven disciples, his seventy others, a number of devout women, and a few more. But of the many thousands of Israel, who at one time and another attended his preaching and miracles, there is no reason to believe, that more than one thousand sincerely received him, while he remained on earth. After Christ rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven, his gospel was indeed preached with more success among the Jews. In a short time the church of Jerusalem amounted to four or five thousand. But still a very small part of the Jewish nation were converted to Christ. It is supposed that there are now upon earth seven or eight millions of Jews; and probably there are not so many as five hundred Christians among them all; not one among a thousand. But blessed be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the house of Israel shall not always remain in such woful unbelief. The ancient promises of Jehovah to this stiff-necked and rebellious people will be accomplished; for faithful is he who hath promised. For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. The time is coming, when Jew and Gentile shall be one sheep-fold under Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls. 4. During the Millennium, the church will be delivered from her external enemies. Numerous, bitter, and dreadful have been the enemies of the church, from the beginning of her existence. The persecution of the good -the persecution of the good, on account of their goodhas been almost coeval with the world. Almost from the beginning of time, they that have been born after the spirit have been persecuted by them who have been born after the flesh. Among the first-born of mankind, behold the hands of a brother are bathed in a brother's blood. And wherefore slew he him? Why did Cain slay his brother, his only brother, Abel? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous. Enoch too was probably persecuted. We know that the righteous soul of Lot was vexed from day to day. Joseph was
cruelly persecuted. The prophets were persecuted. The people of God were also sometimes greatly molested by heathen nations, who united to crush Israel, and destroy the church. Even when the Prince of Peace came into the world, he did not find it a place of peace for him. The enemies of the church did not cease, until they with wicked hands had slain the Lord of glory. The sword of persecution has been bathed in the blood of martyrs for a considerable part of the time, ever since there were Christians in the world to be persecuted. But blessed be the Father of mercies, these days of blood and horror must have an end; and if not already finishing, will soon be terminated. God declares to Zion, In righteousness shalt thou be established, and thou shalt be far from oppression, for thou shalt not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near thee. Thus Christians shall be at peace, and dwell safely. Their grand adversary, that has taken the lead in every persecution since the foundation of the world, shall be cast out; he shall be confined during the whole Millennial period. This will appear with additional evi
dence under the next head.
5. During the Millennium, war will be unknown. The cessation of war will greatly distinguish the Millennial period from all others. A great part of the history of the world is a history of wars and fightings. Even before the flood, there were on the earth mighty men, men of renown, giants in wickedness, and giants in war. Nay, the earth was filled with violence. By war, the earth has been transformed into an Aceldama, a field of blood; into an amazing and horrid Golgotha, a place of sculls. Ezekiel's valley of vision, it has been full of dead men's bones. The Christian, with melting heart, lifts a supplicating voice to Heaven: How long, O thou God of peace, how long shall the sword devour? How long shall man be suffered to discharge his wrath and vengeance against his brother man? against his brother, who is of one flesh and blood with himself? O thou God of peace, scatter thou the people that delight in war. Such cries have been long ascending, like fragrant incense, before the mercy-seat, and have entered the ears of Him, that heareth prayer. An answer of peace is granted.
Lord will give strength to his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth, he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder. And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.' The ultimate reference of this passage was doubtless to the Millennial day, when the meek shall inherit the earth, and delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
6. During the Millennium, the saints will rule the earth. This has never been the case, since men began to multiply upon the earth. It is doubtful, whether one twentieth part of the kings and rulers, mentioned in the Bible, were truly virtuous. The rest were evil, enemies to God, and enemies to mankind; men, adorned with the ensigns of royalty, but some of the greatest pests, and most dreadful plagues, that ever the wrath of God commissioned to scourge a wicked world. Even if we look at the kings of God's ancient people, favoured and distinguished as they were by various privileges; and pressed as they were by obligations the most weighty, solemn, and affecting; were they all good men, haters of covetousness, ruling their people in the fear of God? No, my brethren, they were not all good men. Most of them were far, very far indeed, from righteousness. There is no reason to think, that a quarter of them were righteous. Of the twenty kings that ruled over Judah, not more than four or five were good men. Of the nineteen kings of the Ten Tribes, not one of them has left the least evidence of having been a good man. And now, I would ask the impartial historian, what nation, that has been ruled by as many as forty-two kings, or half that number, has ever been favoured by so large a proportion of those that were pious? What a dark, and gloomy, and horrible picture does this present of the royal families of the earth. Surely none of their descendants can have much cause to boast his royal blood. But if through the telescope of prophecy, we take a view of future ages, the prospect brightens; and a picture of royalty is presented, as lovely as it is splendid. Here it may be remarked, that although we use the word royalty in accommodation to the language of Scripture; yet it is very conceivable, that the