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reason that this is desired, it will be equally desirable, and more so, that the time of salvation should be lengthened out yet longer, and so on without end. This reason for making the time longer, that more may be saved, cannot cease; and a desire of more time on this ground, or for this reason, is like the four things which Solomon mentions as never satisfied, and say not, It is enough. It is most wise and best, that a certain number and proportion of mankind should be saved. And God only knows what this number is, how great, and what proportion it bears to the whole human race. And no man has any reason to think that this number will not be completed within a literal thousand years, after the millennium commences. Nor can there be the least evidence from any quarter that it will not, unless there be evidence that the millennium contains a longer time; which is the question under consideration. And it is supposed that no evidence of this has yet been produced, or can be at present. And it is certain that the salvation of more of mankind, were the time to be longer, is no reason why it should be longer. But this will be best, and most infallibly decided by the event which will take place in due season; which, perhaps, cannot be determined with certainty now, or so that all shall be satisfied and agreed in the matter. And it may not be wise to be very confident on either side of the question.
T'he evidence has now been produced from Scripture, that there is a time coming, in which the cause of Christ shall prevail in this world, and his kingdom spread and fill the earth, as it has never yet done; in which time the church and people of Christ shall come to a state of peace and prosperity; when the kingdom of Satan shall be utterly destroyed, and all wicked men shall be put down, and cast out of the earth, and there shall be none to destroy, hurt, or oppose the truth and ways of Christ or his people; and this happy, glorious day shall last a thousand years.
This is foretold, not by one single prophecy, but is repeatedly and abundantly mentioned in the sacred, prophetic writings, and represented by a variety of strong expressions, and by different similitudes, and in figurative language; and yet all perfectly agree to point out the same thing. And there are many prophecies of the same event by Isaiah, and in other parts of the Bible, which have not been particularly mentioned.
Nothing has yet taken place in favor of the church of Christ, and in opposition to his enemies, which is in any measure answerable to these predictions. By far the greater part of mankind have been in a state of ignorance of Christianity, or of opposition to it, ever since the gospel has been preached to men; and Satan has had a greater and stronger kingdom on earth than Christ, most of the time since his ascension. And sin and real opposition of Christ, in principle and practice, have abounded in every age, even among nominal Christians. The overthrow of the Jews by the Romans, and the consequent spread of Christianity among the Gentiles, were events favorable to the church of Christ, and were a pledge and type of what he will yet do, in overthrowing his enemies and delivering his church in the latter days. And so was the overthrow of heathen Rome, and the spread and prevalence of Christianity through all the Roman empire, in the days of the Emperor Constantine, in the fourth century. But this was of short continuance, and within twenty years the church fell into a state of great calamity by divisions, contentions, and heresies, and the empire was involved in confusion and war; and from that time to this the church has been in a low, afficted state. The many promises made to Israel by the prophets, of restoration to a long, abiding state of obedience, holiness, and prosperity, have not been in any measure fulfilled to that nation, nor to the church, including Jews and Gentiles, represented and typified by Israel, Jerusalem, Mount Zion, etc. If such a day of prosperity of the church of Christ, comprehending Jews and Gentiles, and all nations, were not yet to come, great part of the prophecies in the Bible could have but a very low and little meaning, and would be in a great measure, if not wholly, useless; whereas, if they be understood according to the most natural, plain import of them, they open a most pleasing, wonderful scene, suited to support and animate the Christian, and fill him with gratitude and joy on the agreeable prospect.
It appears reasonable and desirable that Jesus Christ, who suffered shame and reproach in this world, and was condemned and put to death as a malefactor by men, should have this reproach wiped off in the sight of all men, and that the cause in which he suffered and died should prevail and be victorious in this same world, where he suffered and died; that he should, agreeably to ancient prophecies, be here on earth, “exalted and extolled, and be very high. As many were astonished at him, (his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men,) so shall he sprinkle many nations, and kings shall shut their mouths at him ; for that which had not been told them shall they see, and that which they had not heard shall they consider. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied. He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he hath poured out his soul unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors.” (Isa. lii. 13-15; liii. 11, 12.)
And it appears very desirable that the enemies of Christ and his church should meet with disappointment, be defeated and confounded in this world, and that the reproach which has been cast upon the church should be removed;— that the church should put on her beautiful garments, and shine in the true beauties of Christianity; that it should be seen from experiment in this world what Christianity is when acted out according to the true nature and spirit of it, and that this, and this only, can render men and society happy in this state. All this is, therefore, predicted and promised. “Behold, at that time I will undo all that aflict thee, and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out, and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame; for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth.” (Zeph. iii. 19, 20.)
One reason why this day of salvation is delayed so long after the death and resurrection of Christ doubtless is, that there may be proper and full opportunity to discover the depravity and wickedness of man, and the insufficiency of all means that can be used, or methods taken, to bring men to repentance and a cordial submission to Christ, unless accompanied by the special, omnipotent influences of the Holy Spirit to renew their hearts, and clearly to manisest the natural enmity in the hearts of mankind against Christ and the truths of the gospel, and their strong disposition, and unconquerable, by all possible external means and advantages to oppose and pervert the gospel, and abuse it to the worst purposes; that it may appear in the most clear and striking light how greatly and wholly depraved and utterly lost men are, unless they be saved by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, and that the whole praise and glory of the salvation of every one may be ascribed to the sovereign grace of Christ, and man be forever abased. When God has sulliciently tried men, and used a variety of the most proper and powerful means to bring the world to repentance, and all has proved in vain, he will then pour out his Spirit upon all, and renew their hearts, and converts will spring up as grass after showers of rain; and the obstinacy of man, and the power and sovereign grace of Christ, will be acknowledged by all, and that men are saved not by human might or power, but by the Spirit of the Lord. (Zech. iv. 6. Rom. xi. 32. 1 Cor. i. 21.)
And it appears proper and wise that this day of prosperity and salvation should be in the latter end of the world, in the last times, as this is suited to excite
and support the faith and patience of Christians who live in the preceding dark and evil times, and to encourage and animate them to faithfulness and constancy in following Christ, and adherence to his cause in the midst of temptations and trials; and this use is made of it in the Scripture, especially in the Book of Revelation. And this is suited to excite the prayers of Christians, in all the preceding ages of darkness, affliction, and suffering, and the prevalence of sin and Satan, for the coming and kingdom of Christ, which he has prescribed as the first and most important petition in the pattern of prayer which he has given. “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven." Daniel was excited and encouraged to fast and pray for the deliverance of the people of God from their affliction and distress in their captivity, by finding that this was foretold and promised by Jeremiah the prophet. (Dan. ix. 2-4.) And this has actually excited Christians to pray for this event in all ages of the church; and doubtless they will be awakened and stirred up
pray more generally, constantly, and fervently for this important, glorious event, as the approach of it is found by propliecy to be nearer. And it will be introduced in answer to the prayers of thousands and millions who have been, and who will yet be, crying to God night and day, resolving not to keep silence, or give him any rest, till he establish and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth. (Isa. Txii. 6, 7.7 For he will be inquired of for this by his church and people to do it for them. (Ezek. xxxvi. 37.)
In which it is considered in what the Millennium will consist,
and what will be the peculiar Happiness and Glory of that Day, according to Scripture.
THERE have been, and still are, very different opinions respecting the millennium, and the events which will take place in that day, which are grounded chiefly on the first six verses in the twentieth chapter of the Revelation, which passage has been brought into view in the preceding section, but is to be more particularly considered in this.
Some have supposed that this passage is to be taken literally, as importing that at that time Jesus Christ will come in his human nature from heaven to earth, and set his kingdom up here, and reign visibly and personally, and with distinguished glory on earth, and that the bodies of the martyrs and other
eminent Christians will then be raised from the dead, in which they shall live and reign with Christ here on earth a thousand years; and some suppose that all the saints, the true friends to God and Christ, who have lived before that time, will then be raised from the dead, and live on earth perfectly holy during this thousand years, and this they suppose is meant by the first resurrection. Those who agree in general in this notion of the millennium, differ with respect to many circumstances, which it is needless to mention here.
Others have understood this paragraph of Scripture in a figurative sense;- that by this reign of Christ on earth is not meant his coming from heaven to earth in his human, visible nature, but his taking to himself his power, and utterly overthrowing the kingdom of Satan, and setting up his own kingdom in all the world, which before this had been confined to very narrow bounds, and subduing all hearts to a willing subjection, and thus reigning over all men who shall then be in the world, and live in that thousand years. And by “the souls of them which were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands,” living again and reigning with Christ a thousand years, they suppose is not meant a literal resurrection, or the resurrection of their bodies, — which is not asserted here, as there is nothing said of their bodies, or of their being raised to life, - but that they shall live again and reign with Christ in the revival, prosperity, reign, and triumph of that cause and interest in which they lived, and for the promotion of which they died, and in whose death the cause seemed, in a measure and for a time, to die and be lost. And they shall live again in their successors, who shall arise and stand up with the same spirit, and in the same cause, in which they lived and died, and fill the world and reign with Christ a thousand years, agreeably to ancient prophecies. “ The meek shall inherit the earth. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the saints of the people of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominious shall serve him.” And they suppose that this revival of the truths and cause of Christ, by the numerous inhabitants of the earth rising up to a new and holy life, and filling the world with holiness and happiness, is that which is here called the first resurrection, in distinction from the second, which will consist in the resurrection of the body; whereas this is a spiritual resurrection, - a resurrection of the truths and cause of Christ, which had been, in a great degree, dead and lost, - and a