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Thus we may
in the womb of futurity. We have more to do with the great outlines of the prospect than with its minutiæ-more with the vast importance of the promised events than with their allocation in the field of millennial blessedness. firmly hold the restoration of the Jews—the rebuilding of the city and temple--the fertility of the renovated earth-the appearance of Messiah to Israel—his personal reign with his risen saints in the New Jerusalem. All these we may clearly discover in the page of inspiration, and yet we may not be able to see their precise order-how one event shall follow a preceding one, or how they will take place. Enough for us to hold the prominent features of the day of glory. Faith can leave the rest in the hands of Jehovah, who knows the end from the beginning, and who will work and none shall let him.
But here we cannot help protesting against a very common, and in our view, a very erroneous mode of contemplating the great and terrible day of the Lord, when he shall come to judge the world. It is commonly assumed that the day of judgment is a mere single act of passing sentence either of acquittal or condemnation.
In fact, men seem to speak of it like an ordinary day of twenty-four hours, merely because the word day is used. We readily concede that God could judge
the inhabitants of the world in the same short space of time that he made the light; but the question is not about God's power (of which there can be no doubt in the mind of a Christian), but rather of his revealed mind touching the last period of judgment. Where, then, is it stated that that period will be so exceedingly short as suppose? I know of no such statement. But I do read that “the saints shall judge the world,” * and therefore I conclude that the righteous are first acquitted before they sit with Christ as assessors upon his throne. I read also that "the field is to be joyful and all that therein is: then shall the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord: for he cometh to judge the earth.” And at that very time the command is given, “Say among the heathen the Lord reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously.” + Jeremiah testifies, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.” I And St. Paul says, “ That the Lord Jesus Christ shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and kingdom.”! Now all these passages plainly
* 1 Cor. vi. 2, 3. + Ps. xcvi. 10. 13.
Jer. xxiii. 5. § 2 Tim. iv. 1.
connect the judgment of the great King with his continuous reign of righteousness. In other words, they aver that in the kingly office there is a constant exercise of judicial power, as well as the possession of Royal state. We are, therefore, prepared not for a solitary act of judgment, but for a period of it; we expect to find the King of kings exercising all the authority of a Judge as long as the millennial kingdom shall last. Is there anything unscriptural in looking on the whole period of the millenium as the day of judgment, commencing with the acquittal of the saints, who shall enjoy the first resurrection, and ending with the condemnation of the raised wicked? I know of no solid objection, and, as far as I can see, this is the view held forth in the Word of God.*
But some will inquire, what shall become of the restored Jews and converted heathen? Will Israel remain a nation for ever, separate and distinct ? I know many think they will, according to the promise strictly interpreted, “ He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever.” But then they must remember that these words for ever have sometimes a limited sense as well as an extensive; and I
* It is true that Rev. xx. 12 exhibits all standing before the judgment-seat. This may therefore be called, peculiarly, the judgment, but it is the closing scene of the last dispensation.
could well believe that here as in other passages the perpetuity is commensurate with its subject ; or, in other words, that Christ will reign over Israel as long as they are a nation, without any further change or apostasy, and so far as they are nationally considered for ever, i.e., as long as they are Israel. But at the close of the reign of righteousness I believe the everlasting condition of each Israelite will be fixed, and that they will either be received into the assembly of the firstborn, the elect of God, the glorified saints-or cast away into endless misery. Such I humbly conjecture to be the winding up all that concerns that peculiar kingdom which Christ shall possess at the restitution of all things. It may be that this earth shall be the habitation of the redeemed and glorified saints for all eternity. It may be that the locality of our heaven shall be found in this very world, purified from the taint of sin and the very breath of Satan; but on these conjectural grounds, strong as they are, I cannot dwell. We must be cautious of advancing where the compass of revelation ceases to guide; and we must exercise patience and humility, where God is pleased to refuse further light. All I have been anxious to prove is, that our views of Christ's kingdom on earth do not require a third coming of the Saviour or a separate judgment of the raised wicked and the mortal
inhabitants of the earth; that these objections have been chiefly mooted from an arbitrary view of the day of judgment, and that we are authorized to look for a period of judgment coincident with the reign of righteousness.
Did time permit, I might show you that these views are not modern or novel, but that they were firmly held and taught by the primitive Church before the tide of corruption set in; and by citing the testimonies of the Fathers of the second and third centuries, I might prove that the figurative interpretation and idea of a mere spiritual millenium were the offspring of dark ages-when the Bishop of Rome began to claim supremacy, and, by sitting as a priest upon his kingly throne, endeavoured to antedate the glories of the true Melchizedec;but these citations I must reserve for a short appendix. I cannot, however, help expressing my joy that the researches of a Newton and a Greswell have proved that antiquity is on our side, and that novelty cannot be charged against us. The voice of antiquity is so far useful, as it tends to corroborate our appeal to the word. All, indeed, that is ancient is not true, and men may be led to place an overweening dependence on Fathers and Councils. I fear that this has been lately exhibited by some anonymous writers of our own Church to a distressing degree. Still there is the opposite