« PreviousContinue »
the general judgment? · How can it be imagined that Jesus Christ should quit the throne of his glory above, to reign personally upon the earth, before he comes as the judge of quick and dead? In addition to what has been stated before, it appears from the following considerations that this hypothesis cannot possibly be true.
of liness to the Lonursing father dom shall file him."--"
1. It supersedes the numerous predictions respecting the spiritual reign of Christ..
The universal spread and prevalence of true religion is expressly asserted in a vast number and variety of predictions and prophecies, which are so clear and positive, that it seems impossible they should be misunderstood. The God of love and truth promised Abraham, that " in his seed all the nations “ and all the families of the earth should be blessed." The predictions both of the Old and New Testament unite in affording us the highest assurance that it is the design of the, Almighty Father to “ give to his Son the heathen for his in. “ heritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his pos. “ session.”—For “ all kings shall bow down before him, and “ all nations shall serve him."-2" The earth shall be full of the “ knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea."-—“Holi“ ness to the Lord shall be written on every thing.”—“ Kings
shall become nursing fathers, and queens nursing mothers to “ the church."-" This kingdom shall fill the whole earth." « All nations and languages shall serve him." " The ever“ lasting Gospel shall be preached to every nation, and kindred, « and tongue, and people." -The Jews shall be converted to the faith of Christ, the fulness of the Gentiles shall be brought in, and “ the kingdoms of this world shall become the “ kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ *." Now, it is very evident, that these predictions, with many others that might be cited, refer to the universality of Christ's spiritual reign on the earth. But when the religion of Christ shall universally prevail in spirit and in power, Satan, who works in all the children of disobedience, must be bound and shut up in prison, that he may be prevented from deceiving the nations, as he had done in all former ages, and the Spirit must be poured out from on high on all flesh. If the devil be suffered to continue to exercise his power, this universal prevalence of religion cannot
* Gen. xi. 3; xxii. 18. Ps. ü. 8; lxxii, 11. Isa. xi. 9. Zech, xiy. 20, 21. Isa. xlix. 23. Dan. ii. 35; vii. 14. Rev. xiv. 6. Rom. xi. 1232. Rev. xi. 15; &c. &c. &c.
possibly take place. Hence, if he be not bound and cast into the abyss, in order to restrain him in his usurped dominion previously to the period when Christ is supposed to come to reign on the earth personally, it follows that the universal spiritual reign of the Messiah, predicted in so many express passages of Scripture, must necessarily be superseded.' But the doctrine of the spiritual reign of Christ is undoubtedly the doctrine of the millennium. Satan shall be bound, and the church shall live in tranquillity, holiness, and peace, without disturbance from this enemy of God and man. The God of grace will shew what true religion can effect even in the present world, when he restrains its enemies and pours out his Spirit from on high. All shall know the Lord from the least to the greatest. The saints shall live and reign with Christ in the power of his Spirit. True religion shall so universally prevail and be manifested in such eminent faith, and hope, and charity, that it shall appear as if the souls of the martyrs and confessors of former ages were raised from the dead, and appeared again upon the earth all at once*. This language is not more boldly figurative than that of our Lord, when he said of John the Baptist, “ This is Elijah which was to come:- I say unto you, that “ Elijah is come already t.”
2. The supposed doctrine of the personal reign of Christ, expressly contradicts those declarations of Scripture which assert that Christ will come the second time to judge the world.
The advocates for this hypothesis affirm, that Jesus Christ will come the second time to reign personally at Jerusalem. But what saith the Scripture? It explicitly assures us that he will come to “ judge the quick and the dead at his appearing " and kingdom 1." The express design of his glorious appearing is to judge the world, to gather bis saints into the heavenly kingdom, and to complete the end of his mediatorial reign. — Again, it is said by the Apostle, “ As it is appointed unto man " once to die, but after this the judgment: so Christ was “ once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that « look for him shall he APPEAR THE SECOND TIME without sin
* See Daubuz, Whitby, Guyse, Doddridge, Scott, and many others of the most judicious commentators, on Rev. xx. 1-10.
† Matt. xi. 14. Mark, ix. 13. I 2 Tim. iv, 1.
“ unto salvation *.” This passage of Scripture expressly as serts that Christ contes the second time to judgment. « These “ words can have no other imaginable sense but. this; that “ Christ, at his first coming, sustained the person of a sinner, “ and suffered instead of us: but his SECOND COMING shall be “ on another account, and he shall appear, not as a Sacrifice, “ but as a JUDGE."— Archbishop Tillotson.
3. The hypothesis of the personal reign of Christ on earth stands in direct opposition to the doctrine of the Church of England.
However irrelevant to the truth or falsehood of the doctrine this circumstance may be viewed by some who are dissenters from our Church, it must undoubtedly be admitted as an argument ad homines in respect to those who are the minis ters and members of it. The Church of England has set apart four weeks in the year in which the SECOND COMING of Christ to JUDGE THE WORLD is the grand subject to the meditation on which all her members are invited. How is it then possible that those who believe that Christ will come the second time to reign personally upon the earth, for a thousand years before the judgment will take place, can use with sincerity the collects for the first and third Sundays in Advent? The former of these is appointed to be used every day for a month nearly. In this admirable collect, we pray that when Christ “shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the “ quick and the dead, we may RISE to the life immortal.” This prayer is not offered for a glorious resurrection before the judgment; but that we may rise to eternal life at the judgment.- Again, we pray in another of those forms, the beauty, chastity, sublimity, and orthodoxy of which have probably never been exceeded by any devotional compositions merely human:-“ O Lord Jesus Christ, who at thy first coming “ didst send thy messenger to prepare thy way before thee: “ grant ..... that at thy SECOND COMING to judge the world we “ may be found an acceptable people in thy sight, &c."Hence it is evident, that the Church of England neither knows nor acknowledges any advent of Christ previous to that after his coming to judge the world. Whatever pious or learned individuals, therefore, may have held the doctrine of the personal reign of Christ on earth for a thousand years before the day of judgment, nothing can be more clear than that, in
the estimation of the Church herself, the hypothesis implies heterodoxy.
4. Finally, this supposed doctrine is incumbered with im. possible consequences.
Basilicus argues, that at the restitution of all things, when Christ shall come to restore the Jewish Theocracy, and personally to reign upon earth, the heavens and the earth which are now, are to be dissolved by fire, and to undergo material alteration in form, properties, and appearances; but not to be consigned to utler destruction. It has been admitted, in the body of this work, that the earth may not be annihilated and destroyed at the last conflagration. But whatever that conflagration may effect, admitting the truth of Scripture, it is impossible that it should take place a thousand years previous to the judgment; for, in the very text on which Basilicus grounds his hypothesis, it is expressly asserted that “ the “ heavens and earth which are now, are reserved unto fire “ AGAINST THE DAY OF JUDGMENT *.” Again, Basilicus argues that, since after the expiration of a thousand years, Satan shall go up with Gog and Magog, and compass the camp of the saints about and the beloved city; it is plain that a church state on earth must be intended, as it is not possible that Gog and Magog, or any other enemies on earth, can encompass the mansions of the blessed above. This is readily admitted; for who ever supposed they could ? But it is equally impossible that the nations which Satan will again have deceived, typified by Gog and Magog, should encompass Jerusalem, the beloved city, if the hypothesis of Basilicus be true, as that they should attack the mansions of the blessed above. This consideration so completely demolishes his whole system, that it “ leaves not a wreck behind.” For what does this system assert?—that Christ will come to destroy all the wicked, to raise the pious dead and change the living; to reign personally at Jerusalem; and that his subjects are to be the saints and the saints only. Where then, upon this hypothesis, are the nations to be found whom Satan will go out to deceive, and whom he will actually deceive and influence to go up and compass the camp of the saints and the beloved city?' The supposition, upon the assumed principle of the personal reign of Christ, is absurd and impossible. Admitting the doctrine of the spiritual reign, this circumstance in the prediction may be clearly and satisfac
2 Pet. ii. 7.