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no real ambiguity in the use of such a word; for a resurrection necessarily implies a body, and this the souls seated upon thrones must have had, or the following description would be unsuitable
.“ But the rest of the dead lived not till the thousand years were finished.”
To meet the weighty objection, that if the second resurrection is spoken of as a real one the first cannot be figurative, we are told that the word “resurrection” is here used in a double sense, and we are referred to passages in which our Lord himself has adopted this mode of speaking, as Matt. viii. 22; Luke ix. 60; and John v. 24-29. To this we may reply that these passages carry their own meaning along with them and are incapable of being misunderstood. Not so the passage in the Apocalypse, which, if understood with this double sense, is exceedingly perplexing, not to say unintelligible ; so that the cases are not similar. What might be admitted in one place would be wholly unsuitable in the other. St. John, describing as an historian of the future two events in the same passage, could not employ words in a double sense without confusing the minds of his readers. Neither do we see how his words, “ The rest of the dead lived not again till the thousand years were finished: this is the first resurrection,” are consistent with the argument assumed for a spiritual resurrection. For the partakers of this are said to have been living and reigning with Christ a thousand years. To whom, then, does the privilege apply, and from what period does this reign commence? Does it refer to those who lived in the first
of Christianity ? Then “the rest of the dead” must mean all the unconverted. But how could these who should be converted at the eleventh hour," or at some later period in the history of the Church, be said “to reign with Christ a thousand years ?
How could the rest of the dead be said to have lived not, when conversions were still going on during all this period ? Without, therefore, bringing into the argument an inexplicable confusion of terms, we must limit this phrase, “the rest of the dead,” to one time and to one sense or the other in both cases—that is, to a spiritual resurrection or to a corporeal resurrection; and we must conclude the souls here meant to be a particular class of persons who at a particular period should enjoy the privilege of a first resurrection, of which none else would partake till the thousand years were finished.
The language here is so precise that, like that used to denote the binding of Satan, it will not submit to the Procrustean method of Dr. Wordsworth without suffering a dislocation and violence which must render the vision wholly useless or unserviceable to the design of the Apocalypse. Of what advantage could it be to intimate future events in a manner so arbitrary, meaningless, and uncertain ? View this vision as only intended to describe the fact that those who should be converted to the faith of the Gospel should reign by means of their doctrines acquiring some ascendancy over mankind during the period indicated, and what does it describe more than had been already revealed in plain language over and over again ? What does it give us but a vague perception of some great but general effects that would follow the propagation of Christianity? How little ground, moreover, can we perceive in the existing state of the Church and of the world, even since the first public recognition of Christianity by earthly governments, for that marked pre-eminence of purity and blessedness which seems implied in the words, “ Blessed and holy is he who hath part in the first resurrection : on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years?". On the other hand, view this vision as a literal description of a company of saints who had been remarkably distinguished for their zeal in the service of God in times of trial, enjoying the honour and blessedness of a first resurrection, and exalted to thrones of royal dignity in the millenial kingdom of the Messiah ; and it then acquires new importance and value, revealing as it does a fact more obscurely intimated in other portions of the book of God, and one which may well be regarded as the strongest incentive to Christian heroism and faithfulness in every age of the Church. When we place this passage side by side with that singular declaration of Jesus to his followers—“ Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations, and I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me, that ye may eat and drink at
table in my kingdom and sit upon thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Isreal” (Luke xxviii. 28-30)—we cannot but be struck with the coincidence of idea which this and similar declarations seem to present (see Matt. xx. 20-23; and Matt. xix. 28-29). If there were to be no temporal glory or distinction above the rest for Christ's chosen disciples in his future kingdom, why, it may be enquired, does the Messiah hold out expectations of this kind ? We can see no reasen why such an idea should have been encouraged at all, if it had not possessed some better foundation than a merely imaginary hope. He who was truth itself, when solemnly asked the question, “What shall we have then ?” would not, we may be sure, have given countenance to it in any way if it were nothing but a false conception
of the nature of his kingdom, or a Jewish fable fitted only to delude and mock them with unreal visions of glory.
For this reason alone, we prefer to take the passage of St. John, as a literal statement, in accordance with our Saviour's own words. We are free, however, to confess that the general doctrine of a Millennium does not appear to us to be at all affected by the particular sense which may be affixed to this part of the vision or prophecy. There have been many advocates of such a doctrine who have held that the millennial reign of Christ with his saints and martyrs is to be only a spiritual one. Vitringa may here particularly be referred to :
“The doctrine-(says this illustrious expositor of the Apocalypse) -of the true martyrs of Christ who have experienced the fury of the dragon or the ast, and specially of those who were publicly condemned as heretics and finally delivered over to eternal flames by the sentence of Romish synods and tribunals, shall now be brought to light-shall be vindicated and illustrated and its conformity with the doctrines of Christ and his apostles shall be publicly demonstrated. They also—the martyrs whose fame was obscured, being vindicated from calumny—shall be celebrated in the Church as the true doctors and ministers of Christ; and their labours, contentions, and merits being diligently searched out from the faithful monuments of history, will be commended to the Church and set before it as an example."
This, it will be seen, is a very different view from that of Dr. Wordsworth, and has the merit of some consistency with the doctrine of a Millennium and with other portions of the Apocalypse. It entails no necessity for the monstrous hypothesis that Christ and his saints are represented as spiritually reigning upon earth during the existence of the dragon and the beast, and all the attendant evils which are so plainly intimated in the opening of the seven seals, the sounding of the trumpets, and the pouring out of the vials. This illusion might have been dispelled bad our author more attentively considered one point which must be regarded as the key of the whole mystery (Rev. x. 7). We allude to the sounding of the seventh trumpet (see chap. xi. 15-18). One thing is sufficiently clear from this passage—the kingdoms of the world are not to become “the kingdoms of Christ" until this period arrives. It is impossible, therefore, to believe that Christ already reigns upon earth, except in that general one of exercising dominion as God over all. But this is manifestly not the sense of St. John in the vision to which we refer; for this has a special allusion to a certain class of souls, or persons, with whom he is to reign during a certain
* Anacrisis Apocalypseos, p. 862.
period. It therefore follows that Dr. Wordsworth's interpretation, it tried by the test of this single passage only, must fall to the ground.
We have not space here to notice the summary manner in wuch czas Wilca ceis writer deals with the sacred arithmetic. His notion that we voris - a thousand years ” have no precise limitation, an re to be cuasidered as a detinite number put for an indefi2. acets to us as ail his other conjectures on this subject, se me ant savowy that we profess our utter inability to fol* taen. Wien, however, he denounces the doctrine of a
eucun ia such strong terms as being inconsistent with Sirrore it seems to us that he ought to have defined more dery w226 :ad of a Vi lennium it is against which his hosti
specer; for surely he does not imagine that the gene
of use distisguished men in the past or present age e re beind this doctrine associated with it the dreams of e Casts. The principal feature of their system is no vedee wanting that before the period of the second resurrecDevesus as Messiah will set up his universal kingdom in the
pre teseribed by Daniel vii. 27; that the whole earth sense rerair aed truly “ filled with the knowledge of the For at the Lord (Hab. ii. 14); and that all those false HVPIN it region which now esist shall be destroyed and
Blace to pure Caristianity. But Dr. Wordsworth's views Ritu dua beli se ail such notions.*. He does not contem
kipek kex site of things in which “ the wolf shall dwell idea tu ili sl. 6); and “ the wilderness and the solitary FURT schwa ve gid and blossom as the rose : the desert shall
LILY Lir. 1); - when all men shall know the Lord from DHE PIN ten the greatest” (Jer. xxxi. 34); when “the Lord Schnittstage urer ail the earth, and when there shall be one
works durch die uitle shail be one” (Zech. xiv. 9); when “ Juund mica de sareu acu Israel shall dwell safely." (Jer. xxiii. 6);
wiadca je sirevi and
da de care of Israel shall return and seek the Lord Pivni diri dari their King." (Hosea iii. 5); when “the people Nikia be with righteous Isa. ls. 21); "and Jew and Gentile ww Tiervere ode tid and one shepherd ” (John x. 16). des remarkable passages, and many more of the same
Sie sind auf wie sie lase sate of the Church, which he supposes will be one of
a hawa de sars-"In that sad vesper-time Satan will be loosed, hwyt N fruw hurting the elect. The sun will be darkened Boty At vil we giver der light......, The Gospel will be overclouded with the **** Heyri lure will was cold. Iniquity will abound. Infidelity will
de danse lud. It will be a time of rebu ke aud blasphemy. ** datud osta x :** * i will be out of course. The earth will be full of dark: han de dives *
class, upon which the modern millennarian builds his expectations of a Sabbath of rest and peace for the Church of God, are unnoticed by this writer as bearing upon the subject, probably because he believes they are already fulfilled. In putting this part of the evidence in favour of a Millennium entirely out of sight, and asserting that the doctrine rests only upon an isolated passage in the twentieth chapter of the Apocalypse (" Lecture” i. p. 33), we cannot but complain that he has acted the part of a one-sided disputant. In his haste to arrive at a conclusion adverse to the offensive doctrine, he has overlooked or slighted that large portion of the evidence against his theories which would have shown that, so far from its resting upon a single passage or two of Scripture, it forms the sum and substance of a considerable part of the prophecies of the Old Testament. We repeat that this mode of dealing with Scripture, by assuming that the present mixed state of things shall continue to the end of the world, is one that seems to us to do it great injustice ; for it leaves out of sight a confessedly important part of the Bible, or else deprives it of all point and significancy. We are quite unable to conceive how the dignity and truth of prophecy can be maintained by such low views of its fulfilment as would confine the progress of Christianity nearly within its present limits, or within any limits short of universality. With Heathenism overspreading in its thick darkness nearly half the millions of the globe--with Mohammetanism claiming for its professors more than a seventh part-and with the whole Christian population numbering but little more than a fourth, what conclusion shall we reasonably draw as to such a magnificent announcement of revelation as the following ?_"All the ends of the world shall remember themselves and be turned unto the Lord, and all kindreds of the nations shall worship before him” (Psal. xxii. 27). contrast such a prophecy (and it is only one out of a hundred of a similar kind) with the statistics of the world's present condition, and what conclusion must we arrive at ? Shall we say that they are splendid exaggerations of the past ?-or shall we not rather say that they are infallible intimations of the future in God's good time to be realised? But suppose we look at this matter a little closer still—of the Christian population of the world: the Catholics, as they call themselves, proudly reckon that they are not less than one hundred and twenty-nine millions. Yet Dr. Wordsworth has convincingly shown in these Lectures that “the Babylon of the Apocalypse the Church of Rome : that she is the harlot there described that she teaches strange doctrines--that she has been untrue