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of Origen, of St. Jerome, and St. Augustine, on a multitude of other great points of controversy which have agitated the Church at different periods, and let him honestly say whether these opinions have not been more pernicious, and are not equally inconsistent with scriptural truth as anything which he has alleged against millenarianism. Besides, if the authority of the fathers is to be adduced on this point and is really worth anything, surely it must be that of those who lived in the first age of Christianity, and not at a period when it was evidently declining from its purity. Why, it may reasonably be asked, are the opinions of those who flourished nearest to the times of the apostles to be discarded, and these to be embraced of the men of a later age when the leaven of superstition was visibly beginning to diffuse itself in the Church, and to bring with it a proportionate weakness of judgment even in the minds of the best theologians? We do not understand on what principle the decisions of such persons as Justin Martyr and Irenæus, for instance, to say nothing of others, are to be considered as of no weight in the balance against those of Origen, St. Jerome, and St. Augustine. In the one case we know we have to do with men of unsophisticated minds, who had caught the mantle of the apostles or of apostolic men: in the other, with those which were helping at least to degrade Christianity by superstitious notions, and whose piety, zeal, and great abilities, are insufficient to free them from a suspicion of prejudice or intellectual dimsightedness in not discerning the truth of a doctrine that had been fully admitted and believed by some of their illustrious predecessors.
One word more on the case of Caius--who gave up the epistle to the Hebrews because the Montanists bad abused the sixth chapter of it to support the ascetic discipline—the hatred of such a man to millenarianism proves nothing but his own imbecility of mind. It cannot be alleged as any proof that this doctrine was injured by so rash an antagonist. Some of our early reformers were led into the same intemperate line of argument to suit their own views. Luther, for example, rejected the epistle of St. James; and, because it seemed to imply the doctrine of justification by works, he called it an epistle of straw. If it can be proved that his rejection of one of the canonical books has led to the discountenancing of the true doctrine of this book, or of the book itself, on the part of Christians generally, it may with equal truth be argued that millenarian doctrines led, in the primitive time of the Church, to the renunciation of the book of the Apocalypse, or that its reception was deemed incompatible with the truth of such doctrines.
There is no reason, however, as Dr. Wordsworth supposes, for believing that the repudiation of a Millennium was necessary to the admission of the Apocalypse as an inspired book; and, indeed, such a theory is founded on a petitio principii, for it takes for granted as a self-evident truth that the doctrine was universally seen to be incompatible with Scripture-an opinion which, if it be held as certain of the primitive Church, should have seemed equally so of all Christians in the present day; and this would have rendered any argument on the subject unnecessary. We may account for the decline of the doctrine from the days of St. Augustine upou very different grounds. About the time of this father, history telis us that the empire of the West was overrun with barbarian or heretical invaders, and the East had been already disturbed by a worse pest-the Arian heresy and its concomitant and successive beresies. By these circumstances the attention of the Christian Church was turned exclusively to the fundamental doctrines of religion, or to those subjects which had an immediate bearing upon its present and more vital interests. In following centuries, other controversies agitated the East and West, particularly that on the worship of images. A carnal and secular spirit took possession of the Church, and the Pope, by degrees, boldly assuming the title of Christ's vicar, excluded from the minds of all those devoted to the Papacy every idea of Christ's reigning upon earth except in the person of his Papal vicegerent. 5 This doctrine (says Burnet) never yet pleased the Church of Rome, and, so far as the influence of that would go, you may be sure it would be discountenanced. I never yet met with a Popish doctor who held the Millennium, and Baronius would have it to pass for a heresy and Papias for the inventor of it: whereas, if Irenæus may be credited, it was received from St. John, and by him from the mouth of our Saviour; and neither St. Jerome nor his friend Pope Damasus durst even condemn it for heresy.”—(“Sacred Theory of the Earth," vol. ii. p. 258.)
But we turn now to a more important branch of the argument against the doctrine in question. Dr. Wordsworth asserts that the Church of England, by acknowledging the authority of the creeds, condemns the doctrine of a Millennium. “ That doctrine (he says) is irreconcileable with the assertion that when Christ comes he will come to judge all men,” &c.
To this it may be replied, first—that the doctrine of a Millennium, as it is explained and understood by many, by no means contravenes this assertion. It has been held by the soundest divines that “Christ's coming is not a phrase to be applied solely to his coming at the day of judgment. In a secondary sense it is admitted that
Christ came to destroy Jerusalem;" and it is impossible to explain his language in the Gospels where he predicts this latter event without supposing that there is another sense in which he might be said to come besides that of his final coming. When St. James said " Be patient, &c., the coming of the Lord draweth nigh" (v. S.), did the apostle, we ask, use this language in reference to what is called the coming of Christ intended in our creed, or did he not (as is much more probable) refer to the destruction and judgment which was speedily coming upon his nation? If this be admitted, we see not why there might not be other events to which such a phrase may suitably refer, and which are not comprehended in the great articles of our faith. Dr. Macknight—(see " Preface" to 2 Thess. viii. 4)—has shown that there are various senses to which this scriptural expression applies. He observes that, in the prophetic writings, "great exertions of the Divine Power, whether for the salvation or destruction of nations, are called the coming, the appearing, the presence of God." The circumstance then, that the creeds have used this
” expression of our Saviour's coming in reference to his final advent, by no mean excludes every other advent of the Son of Man-as, for instance, that advent which is spoken of by Daniel (vii. 13-14), which cannot refer either to Christ's coming to destroy Jerusalem or to the day of final judgment; for in neither of these events could the prophecy receive anything like a real accomplishment. In this world, no such a dominion as that referred to has ever yet been given to the Son of Man; and as this vision, if interpreted with any consistency, must refer to an earthly kingdom (see particularly verse 27), it cannot be applicable to that which will subsist after the day of judgment. But on this we may remark more particularly hereafter. Suffice it now to say that it is a most gratuitous assumption that any of our creeds necessarily condemn the doctrine of a Millennium because they speak of Christ's coming in connection with the final judgment.
The opinions of Luther and Calvin on this subject, as well as those of other great divines of the Reformation, cannot be esteemed of any importance from the fact that they were strongly biassed against millenarian doctrines by reading its exposition in the frantic proceedings of the Anabaptists and the FifthMonarchiy-men. We may take the general sense of the Church in the present day as evidence that, great as the leading reformers were in some respects, they are not to be now implicitly followed as safe guides. Luther's doctrine of consub- . stantiation, and Calvin's wild theory of reprobation, would find, we presume, few supporters in modern times; and, if they erred
on topics of this nature, they might well do so on others which are less explicitly revealed.
Secondly: but to come more closely to the doctrine of the Church of England, here we are met by several declarations which would make it appear that this Church accounts the doctrine heretical. First: the Article in King Edward's reign, which condemned the Millenarii, is insisted on as decisive of this point.
Inasmuch, however, as this Article was omitted among those published in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and as our standard of faith as now embodied in the Thirty-nine Articles does not contain any censure of millenarian doctrines, it is a preposterous conclusion that the Church still judges such to be heretical. This is to suppose that the Church of England binds us now to the same decision after the three additional Articles of King Edward's reign were swept away as before ; whereas the natural conclusion would be, on viewing this transaction, that she had thought it the wiser course to leave the subject of the Millennium, as well as the others on which she pronounced a hasty judgment, to private opinion. Thus, she acted in omitting from the second Prayer Book of Edward VI, in the prayer for the whole state of Christ's Church, “all petitions in reference to the dead, and all commendations of the saints departed." Are we to conclude, however, from this circumstance, that the Church holds still the lawfulness of prayers for the dead in Christ, and that the contrary opinion is heretical; or, are we therefore, with the Bishop of Exeter, to conclude that this prayer, as it now stands, is the most Protestant prayer of our service book? Again: to recur to the Articles, we find, in the third of those agreed upon in the Convocation of 1552, the doctrine of Christ's descent into hell thus expounded — As Christ died and was buried for us, so also it is to be believed that he went down into hell; for the body lay in the sepulchre until the resurrection, but bis ghost departing from him was with the ghosts that are in prison, or in hell, as the place of St. Peter doth testify.” Are we to affirm that this is still the received creed of the Church, though in the present Article the proof from St. Peter is withdrawn ?-as if (says Bishop Horsley) “ the literal sense of the text which affords the proof had fallen into suspicion and some other exposition had been adopted.” Why then, it may be asked, are we not permitted to infer that a similar suspicion had influenced the minds of our reformers who revised the Articles in Queen Elizabeth's reign, and struck out that which had before condemned the doctrine of a Millennium ? Their expunging the sentence of condemnation is a proof that they dared not venture as far as Dr. Wordsworth does to pronounce the doctrine heretical. Their wisdom and cautious spirit displayed itself in leaving a doctrine of this kind an open one; and, for any member of the Church now to condemn what they refused to condemn, is to take up a false position for his own credit: it is an endeavour to impose upon us bis ipse dixit as the verdict of the Church, and to adopt a course of argument equally injurious to the interests of truth and to the cause of religious freedom and charity.
We might argue the question, however, with Dr. Wordsworth upon another ground. In opposition to his sweeping assertions that to believe in a Millennium is heresy according to the Article of Edward VI.'s reign-we say that this Article has reference to a particular sect--"those who go about to renew the fable of the Millennium.” Of these only it is affirmed-(not of the general doctrines on the subject) — “ that they be repugnant to holy Scripture;” and that they who hold them “cast themselves headlong into a Jewish dotage.” If, therefore, modern millenarians can prove that their system of interpreting these doctrines has nothing in it of the fables which characterised some of the early heretics if they can show that there is nothing whatever in their theory which savours of Jewish dotage-they will no longer be condemned by the terms of the Article alluded to, even if that Article were still in force, instead of being, as it is, one which has in reality no more to do with the faith of the members of the Church of England in the present day than a “ Popish Bull.”
To Scripture then—and to Scripture fairly and consistently interpreted- the appeal must finally be made for the troth or falsehood of this and every other disputed doctrine. If the oracles of God in the Old and New Testaments clearly condemn the theories of modern millenarians, let them be condemned---not else. It will, therefore, be necessary for our inquiry to examine-first, the arguments which Dr. Wordsworth has produced from this source; and, secondly, to bring forward those which he has entirely omitted or cast into the back ground while investigating this subject. The passages which are quoted from the New Testament as connecting the coming of Christ with the day of judgment-(such as the following, John xiv. 2 ; John xii. 23 ; and others of similar import) —are at once put aside as altogether irrelevant to the argument. No modern millenarian denies that there will be a day of judgment in connexion with the final coming of Christ, and that these events are thus often spoken of; and that the attention of mankind is particularly directed to that period in which they shall