« AnteriorContinuar »
APPENDIX TO LECTURE XI.
Witby, in his treatise on tradition, has given the most decided testimony to the antiquity of these views. His general statement is, “ The doctrine of the Millenium, or the reign of saints on earth a thousand years, is now rejected by all Roman Catholics, and by the greatest part of Protestants; yet it passed among the best of Christians for two hundred and fifty years for a tradition apostolical, and as such is delivered by many Fathers of the second and third centuries, who speak of it as the tradition of our Lord and his apostles, and of all the ancients who lived before them, who tell us the very words in which it was delivered, the Scriptures which were then so interpreted, and say that it was held by all Christians that were exactly orthodox.”
He then proceeds to cite from the Fathers in proof of the following assertions : First, “ that the doctrine is delivered by the Fathers of the second and third centuries as a tradition received from the mouth of Christ and his apostles.” Secondly, “ they speak of it, not as a probable opinion, but as a thing they were certainly assured of.” Thirdly, “ they confidently cite, as plain assertors of this doctrine, the prophets of the Old Testament, and the sayings of our Lord and his apostles in the New.” Fourthly, “ that these Fathers do expressly teach that this doctrine of the Millenium was denied chiefly by heretics, and such as were deceived by them." * Under all these heads, the Doctor fully and honestly cites from the Fathers of the first three centuries,I say honestly, because, as Witby was a determined opposer of the Millennial doctrine, it was candid in him giving such ample quotations from those with whom he differed ; and in this way his testimony to the views of the ancient Church is invaluable.
* “ Witby on Tradition,” Part 1, pp. 74–79.
But of all modern writers, we are most indebted to Greswell, in his truly admirable work on the parables of our Lord, a work of deeper thought, more extensive research, and sounder exposition, than has appeared for many years. I would refer the reader to the first volume of this work for an ample discussion on the scriptural and historical testimonies for the doctrine of the Millenium ; and I feel convinced that the unprejudiced mind will admire the tone and substance of these discussions.
In examining the historical testimonies, Mr. Greswell first cites the writers of the three first centuries, and then makes most judicious remarks on each testimony. I must refer the reader to the work itself for his comments, and be satisfied with merely citing a few of the witnesses in question, Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis, was, according to Irenæus, a hearer of St. John, and a friend and acquaintance of Polycarp. He wrote a work, according to Eusebius, in five books, entitled, “ An Exposition of the Sayings of our Lord.” This has been lost, but Eusebius the historian gives us an outline of its contents, which he thus sums up : “Among these things, Papias says, that there will be a period of a thousand years after the resurrection of the dead, the kingdom of Christ being to be established bodily on the earth.” And Eusebius adds, “That he (Papias) prevailed with most of the clergy that lived after him to entertain it."
Justin Martyr, of Neapolis, in Palestine, who is supposed to have suffered martyrdom A.D. 146, gives the most unqualified testimony to the doctrine. In his dialogue with Trypho, the Jew, we find Trypho inquiring, If he really thought that Jerusalem would be built again ? upon which he answers, “ I am not such a wretch, 0 Trypho, as to say any thing but what I think. I professed to you, therefore, before also, that I indeed and many others think so, as I am sure you are aware that this thing will come to pass, but I told you on the other hand, even of those whose sentiments as Christians were sound and pious, that did not recognise it. I,
however, and any besides who are Christians of a right way of thinking in all respects, know that there shall be both a resurrection of the flesh, and a thousand years for Jerusalem built, and adorned, and enlarged, as the Prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah and the rest of them profess; forasmuch, too, as among us, also, a certain man called John, one of the apostles of the Messiah, foretold in a revelation which was made to him, that they who have believed in our Messiah shall pass a thousand years in Jerusalem, and that afterwards the general, and in one word, everlasting resurrection of all men, at once, with one accord and judgment shall take place; what our Lord also said, that they shall neither marry nor be given in marriage, but shall be equal to angels, being children of the God of the resurrection.” (Justin Martyr's “ Opera. Hagæ Comitum,” 1742, pp. 178, 179.)
“ This passage,” says Greswell, “ renders a distinct testimony to Justin's belief upon all the principal points at issue between the Millenarians and their opponents-that there will be a resurrection of the faithful dead--a reunion of all, both Jews and Christians, under Christ'at Jerusalem-a visible reign there for a thousand years ; and the like.” He proceeds then to cite from Irenæus ; and Tertullian Nepos, a bishop in Egypt, as mentioned by Eusebius, is referred to, " as having demonstrated by irrefragible proof that Christ's kingdom would be a terrestrial one.” Victorinus, Lactantius Apollinarius, and others, are cited as direct witnesses to the existence of this doctrine in the early Church. And these testimonies led Bishop Newton to make the following positive assertion, “ In short, the doctrine of the Millenium was generally believed in the three first and purest ages; and this belief, as the learned Dodwell has justly observed, was one principal cause of the fortitude of the primitive Christians; they even coveted martyrdom in hopes of being partakers of the privileges and glories of the martyrs in the first resurrection.” (See Dissertations on the Prophecies, on Rev. xx.)
BY THE REV. W. TILSON MARSH, INCUMBENT OF ST. MARY'S, LEAMINGTON PRIORS, CHAPLAIN TO THE MARQUIS
OF CHOLMONDELEY AND TO THE EARL OF CARNWATH.
[It will have been seen, by those who attended the course, that the Twelfth Sermon was advertised to be preached by Dr. Marsh. It was hoped that he would have preached this closing lecture ; and it was understood to the last, by those who had the arrangement, that he would have been able to take it, but he was prevented by medical direction from attending, and his son supplied his place; respecting whose sermon, Dr. Marsh says, it fully embodies his sentiments and views. He adds farther :-"I am thankful that such a course has been preached at Liverpool, Leamington, and London, and I hope that other towns will follow the example. The Christian Church has too long overlooked a people, never forgotten by prophets or apostles, a people beloved for their fathers' sakes, and for whom the greatest mercies are in store. History will confirm what prophecy has foretold concerning Israel, that · Blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee.' We cannot suppose that even neutrality should be considered as blameless in such a cause, when the attention of the Christian Church
is specially directed to the claims of the Jewish people, both from the pulpit and the press. The civil powers of Europe have declared the condition of the Jews to be worthy the consideration of every politician and every friend of humanity; it would be strange, therefore, if the Christian Church did not rise to the occasion and discharge her duty. They sustain great loss who do not give the literal as well as spiritual interpretation to the prophetic Scriptures. The restoration of Israel is a key to many passages, and with this key, they apply with double force to the experience of the Christian Church. To the eye of faith it lets in a flood of light on that glorious prospect, which will be opened to the whole Church, ' when the wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose;' for if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead? The time to favour Zion, yea, the set time is come, but the opportunity may soon be lost. Let us, therefore, apply ourselves instantly to the work, lest it should be said of us, as of the Ammonites and Moabites, · Ye met not the children of Israel with bread and with water, as they were coming up out of the land of Egypt.' Rather let us pray and labour for the peace of Jerusalem, for “they shall prosper that love thee.'
William Marsh." LEAMINGTON, April 19.]
DEUTERONOMY XXXII. 9, 10, 11, 12.
“ For the Lord's portion is his people; Jacob is the
lot of his inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the