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will soon arise in all his millennial glory with healing in his wings. Let us rejoice in the gradual progress which the Gospel is making in our own age, and welcome those various societies and individuals which are engaged in promoting its universal flow. Hail, ye Bible Societies! Hail, ye Missionary Societies! Hail, ye Tract Societies! You will probably exist to witness the millennial glory of Christ, when the hands which are now working your mighty machines are mouldering in the dust ; and when many of the spirits, which are at present directing their beneficent movements, will be standing “ before the “ throne of God and the Lamb.” Hail, ye missionaries ! Hail, ye ministers of the Gospel ! Hail, ye faithful disciples of Christ of every class, name, and age! The Lord is with you, and will soon amply reward your labours of love. You will not indeed live to witness the happy days which are shortly to commence; but you may look forward with encouragement, amidst all your conflicts and trials, assured that the glorious cause in which you are engaged will be finally triumphant. After having served God and your generation, according to his will, you will enter into his promised rest, and take possession of those heavenly mansions which your exalted Lord is gone before to prepare for you. From thence you will look down and enjoy the triumph and felicity of your brethren upon earth as much as if you lived among them. They, indeed, as well as you, will be out of the reach of the second death; but you will have got over the pain of the first. Your spiritual and royal priesthood will be more advantageously exercised in heaven than theirs can possibly be on earth : you will, therefore, have no desire to leave your heavenly habitations to come down and again dwell among the inhabitants of this world, however happy and glorious their state may be. -" Seeing then ye look for such things, be “ diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, “ without spot and blameless."-" Therefore, my “ beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, al“ ways abounding in the work of the Lord, foras“ much as ye know that your labour is not in vain “ in the Lord."
Chap. xx. 4–6. We are now to consider what the Scripture declares respecting the duration of the millennium. The time specified by the sacred writer for the continuance of this blessed and glorious epoch is a thousand years; and this term is mentioned no less than six times in the course of the first seven verses of this chapter. But a question here arises, in what sense are we to understand this prophetic period, and what is the precise portion of time which the Spirit of God here intends ? To this inquiry commentators have given three different answers. Some consider the thousand years a prophetic period, consisting of as many years as there are days in this protracted term; others understand the period literally, as consisting of neither more nor less than the thousand years expressed in the sacred text; while a third class consider the word thousand as an indefinite term, implying a long period, but which may be more or less than a thousand precisely. .
In respect to the first opinion, that the thousand years are to be reckoned prophetically, and that each day is to be taken for a year, this would make the duration of the period at least three hundred and sixty thousand years. But this view of the time seems to be so much beyond all proportion, and so phetic : : yet the
different from the various statements which are given us in the word of God respecting the final judgment, that the hypothesis is not generally admitted. Nor will it bear the test of scriptural examination. For it may be remarked that, although in Daniel's celebrated prophecy of the seventy weeks, and in the twelve hundred and sixty days, or forty-two months of the reign of Antichrist, a day is evidently reckoned for a year, as has been shewn before; yet the term year, when employed in a prophetic sense, never denotes a longer time than a year literally, or an annual revolution of the earth in its orbit. Days are used to signify years; weeks, weeks of years, or periods of seven years each; and months, months of years, or periods of thirty years each. But no passage can be adduced from the Scripture, in which a year signifies twelve months of years, or three hundred and sixty years. The prophetic twelve hundred and sixty days, or forty-two months, are never called three years and a half; but three times and a half, or “a time and times and the dividing of “ time." To adopt an interpretation, therefore, which can receive no confirmation from any other passage in the Jewish or Christian Scriptures, is building on the sand, and can afford no satisfaction to the candid and impartial student of this important and interesting prophecy. To this it may be added, that though the prospect of a millennium of three hundred and sixty thousand years would, in one point of view, be vastly grand and glorious ; yet, in another aspect, namely, that of contemplating the general resurrection and final judgment of mankind as not taking place till these hundreds of thousands of years have run their rounds, the view would be tremendously distressing and afflictive. The intermediate state would then assume a character which is no where given it in the word of God; and the minds of believers would be perplexed and distressed beyond measure with the painful sentiment, that the body,
the dear and faithful companion of the soul, would lie so long in the dust, and be detained so many ages from its destined reunion to the soul, to share with its other self the glories and felicities of heaven.
-If any thing more were necessary to refute this hypothesis, it would be effectually accomplished by the scriptural account of the duration of the world. The Apostles evidently considered themselves as having passed the meridian of time, and as drawing on towards its close. That such was their sentiment, is clearly evinced by the following passages : -“God hath in these last days spoken to us by his “ Son."_" But now once, in the end of the world, “ hath he appeared to put away sin, by the sacrifice ~ of himself.” -“ The end of all things is at hand.” _" The coming of the Lord draweth nigh.”—“ Be“ hold, the Judge standeth before the door."-" He “ that testifieth these things saith, Surely I come “ quickly.” But if the thousand years be reckoned a day for a year, we are yet not only on the threshold of time, but the last judgment is at such an immense distance from us, as to make the period when it shall take place totally inconsistent with the express declarations of Scripture.
A second class of commentators interpret the period mentioned as the duration of the millennium in its literal meaning, and consider that it will continue a thousand years precisely, neither more nor less. In support of their argument, they urge the frequent repetition of the terms, a thousand years, verse after verse, in the short passage which contains the subject of the prophecy. The design of the Holy Spirit, they argue, can be nothing less than to mark out to the Church in every age the precise period of time during which the millennium will continue to bless mankind. If it should be admitted that this era will commence about the year of Christ 2000, or about six thousand years from the creation of the world; the idea, that the seventh chiliad of years will be a sabbath of rest and felicity to the preceding six chiliads, favours the view of the literal hypothesis.
A third class of expositors consider the thousand years as, in some measure and degree, indefinite; and suppose that the phrase may imply either more or less than the specific terms literally signify. They agree with the last-mentioned commentators, that the word years is to be taken literally, but think that the term thousand may be indefinite. It is not uncommon for the Scriptures to use a definite term for an indefinite number. Thus, St. Paul says, “I prayed " to the Lord thrice;" and David, “ Séven times a 6 day will I praise thee.” Thus also Jacob addressed Laban, “ Thou hast changed my wages ten times.” In all these cases, it does not appear that the exact number was intended to be specified; but the words merely imply many times. So, in this book of Revelation, it is said, that in the earthquake there were “ slain seven thousand men;" but it does not follow that such was the precise number. The word thousand is evidently used in this indefinite sense in many parts of Scripture. Thus Moses prays for the Israel. ites, “ The Lord God of your fathers make you a “ thousand times so many more as you are." So, also, we read of a “ thousand generations; that one « shall chase a thousand; that a thousand years in the « sight of God are as one day *,” &c. &c. The advocates for the indefinite hypothesis argue, that it is not the intention of the sacred writers here to express the exact number of a thousand, and therefore that we are not required to confine the thousand years of millennial glory to that precise time. If, however, these expositors mean to imply that the duration of the millennium may in any great degree vary from
* See Deut. i. 11; vii. 9; xxxii. 30. Judges, xv. 15. Ps. I. 10; lxxxiv. 10,; xc. 4; xci. 7. Eccles. vi. 6. Isa. XXX. 17. 2 Pet. ii. 8; &c. &c.