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tant event, full of instruction, suited to support, comfort, and encourage Christians in the present dark appearance of things, respecting the interest of Christ and his church, and to animate them to faith, patience, and perseverance in obedience to Christ, putting on the hope of salvation for a helmet; and to excite them more earnestly to pray for the advancement and coming of the kingdom of Christ, of which kingdom, as it is to take place in this world, or of Christianity itself, there cannot be so clear, full, and pleasing an idea, if the Scripture doctrine of the Millennium be kept out of view.
In the first three centuries after the apostles, the doctrine of the Millennium was believed and taught; but so many unworthy and absurd things were by some advanced concerning it, that it afterwards fell into discredit, and was opposed, or passed over in silence, by most, until the reformation from Popery; and then a number of enthusiasts advanced so many unscriptural and ridiculous notions concerning it, and made such a bad improvement of it, that many, if not most of the orthodox, in opposing them, were led to disbelieve and oppose the doctrine in general, or to say little or nothing in favor of the doctrine, in any sense or view of it.
But few of the most noted writers of the last century in Britain, or in other parts of the Protestant world, have said any thing to establish or explain this doctrine; and they who have mentioned it do appear, at least the most of them, not to have well understood it. In the present century, there has been more attention to it; and the Scriptures which relate to it have been more carefully considered and explained by a number of writers, and it has been set in a more rational, scriptural, and important light than before. Dr. Whitby has written a Treatise on the Millennium; and Mr. Robertson and Mr. Lowman have asserted and explained it, in some measure, in their exposition of the Book of the Revelation by the apostle John, especially the beginning of the twentieth chapter of that book; and the late President Edwards attended much to this subject, and wrote upon it more than any other divine in this century. In the year 1747, he pub
lished a book, entitled “ An humble attempt to promote explicit agreement, and visible union of God's people, in ex. traordinary prayer for the revival of religion, and the advancement of Christ's kingdom on earth, pursuant to Scripture promises and prophecies concerning the last time;” in which he produces the evidence from Scripture that such a day is yet to come. And in a posthumous publication of his, entitled “ A History of the Work of Redemption,” this subject is brought into view, and particularly considered. There is also extant a
on the Millennium, by the late Dr. Bellamy; and other writers have occasionally mentioned it; and this subject appears to be brought more particularly into view in the public prayers and preaching, and in conversation, in this age, than in former times, and the doctrine of the Millennium is more generally believed and better understood.
This is rather an encouragement to attempt further to explain and illustrate this important, pleasing, useful subject, in which every Christian is so much interested, than a reason why nothing more should be said upon it. The subject is far from being exhausted; and as the church advances nearer to the millennial state, we have reason to think the predictions in divine revelation respecting it will be better understood, and the minds of Christians will be more excited to great attention to this subject, and strong desires to look into those things, and to earnest longings and prayers for the coming of the kingdom of Christ, as it will take place in that day; and all this is to be effected by means and proper attempts and exertions. “Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.”
The prophecies of events which are yet to take place cannot be so fully understood before these events come to pass as they will be when they are fulfilled, and there is great danger of making mistakes about them; and it is certain that many have made mistakes, since they have made very different and opposite constructions of the same predictions, and, therefore, all cannot be right. So far as the prophecies which respect the Millennium, of which there are many, can be understood, and the real meaning of them be made
plain, by a careful and diligent attention to them and comparing them with each other, men may go on safe ground, and be certain of their accomplishment; and whatever is a plain and undeniable consequence from what is expressly predicted, is equally revealed in the prediction, as an event, or circumstance of an event, necessarily included in it. But every opinion respecting future events, which is matter of conjecture only, however probable it may be in the view of him who proposes it, ought to be entertained with modesty and diffidence.
The following Treatise on the Millennium is not designed so much to advance any new sentiments concerning it, which have never before been offered to the public, as to revive and repeat those which have been already suggested by some authors, which are thought to be very important, and ought to be understood and kept constantly in the view of all, in order to their having a proper conception of the church of Christ this world, and reading the Scriptures to their best advantage and greatest comfort; though perhaps something will be advanced respecting the events which, according to Scripture, are to take place between the present time and the introduction of the happy state of the church, which have not been before so particularly considered.
TREATISE ON THE MILLENNIUM.
In which it is proved from Scripture that the Church of Christ
is to come to a State of Prosperity in this World, which it has never yet enjoyed; in which it will continue at least a Thousand Years.
The first revelation of a Redeemer, in the prediction spoken to the serpent, may be considered as implying the destruction of the kingdom of the devil in this world, by the wisdom and energy of Christ.
“He shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Gen. iii. 15.) Satan has bruised the heel of Christ in the sufferings and dishonor he has been instrumental of bringing upon him, and in the opposition he has made to the interest and church of Christ in this world; and it is natural to suppose that Christ shall bruise his head in this world, by destroying his interest and kingdom among men, and gaining a conquest over him, in the struggle and war which has taken place between the Redeemer and seducer of men; and by the Redeemer's bruising the head of the serpent, is signified that he will not destroy him by the mere exertion of his power, but that by his superior wisdom he will confound and defeat Satan in all his subtlety and cunning, on which he depends so much, and by which he aims to disappoint Christ and defeat him in his designs. And by this he will make a glorious display of his wisdom, as well as of his power, while he discovers the craftiness of Satan to be foolishness, and disappoints him in his devices, carrying all the counsel of this cunning, froward enemy headlong. If all this could not be gathered from this passage, considered by itself, yet that this is the real meaning will perhaps appear from what has already taken place in accomplishing this prediction, and from other prophecies respecting this, some of VOL. II.
which are to be brought into view in the sequel; without which the full meaning of this first promise could not be known.
In order to bruise the head of the serpent, in this sense, most effectually, and turn his boasted wisdom and cunning into foolishness, and entirely defeat him in this way, he must have opportunity and advantage to try his skill and power, and practise all his cunning, in opposing Christ and the salvation of men, and in this way be overcome and wholly defeated in the ruin of his interest and kingdom among men; so that all his attempts shall turn against himself, and be the occasion of making the victory and triumph of the Redeemer greater, more perspicuous, and glorious, in the final prevalence of his kingdom on earth, by drawing all men to him, and destroying the works and kingdom of Satan in this world, and setting up his own on the ruins of it, and so as to turn all the attempts and works of the devil against him, and render the whole subservient to his own interest and kingdom. And thus the coming and kingdom of Christ will be “as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain." When the sun rises in a clear morning, after a dark night, attended with clouds, rain, and storms, the morning is more pleasant, beautiful, and glorious, and the grass springs and grows more fresh and thrifty than if it had not been preceded by such a stormy night. So the prosperity and glory of the church, when the Sun of righteousness shall rise upon it with healing in his beams, will be enjoyed to a higher degree and be more pleasant and glorious, and Christ will be more glorified than if it had not been preceded by a dreadful night of darkness, confusion, and evil by the wickedness of men and the power and agency of Satan.
The words above cited are the last words of David the prophet and sweet psalmist of Israel, and are a prophecy of the glorious event now under consideration. “ The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake by me. He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be like the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morn ng without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.” (2 Sam. xxii. 2-4.) The first words may be rendered so as to give the true sense more clearly: “ He who is to rule over men (i. e., the Messiah) is just, ruling in the fear of God." The words must be, in our translation, are not in the original, and the helping verb is, which is commonly not expressed, but understood, in the