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No. XVII.--Page 280.
ON THE MILLENNIUM, &c.—BY THE REV. J. W. BROOKS AND DR. BOGUE.
“Dr. Mosheim observes : ' After the encomiums we have given to Origen, &c., it is not without deep concern we are obliged to add, that he also, by an unhappy method, opened a secure retreat for all sorts of errors, which a wild and irregular imagination could bring forth.' And after noticing that he abandoned the literal sense, and divided the hidden sense into moral and mystical, or spiritual, he adds: “A prodigious number of interpreters, both in this and the succeeding ages, followed the method of Origen, though with some variations ; nor could the few who explained the sacred writings with judgment and a true spirit of criticism, oppose, with any success, the torrent of allegory that was overflowing the church.'” (Ch. Hist., cent. III., part 2., sect. 5, 6.) “ Milner, in his Church History, says somewhat similar ;—No man not altogether unsound and hypocritical, ever injured the church of Christ more than Origen did. From the fanciful mode of allegory, introduced by him, and uncontrolled by scriptural rule and order, there arose a vitiated method of commenting on the sacred pages ; which has been succeeded by the contrary extreme, viz., a contempt of types and figures altogether. And in a similar way his fanciful ideas of letter and spirit tended to remove from men's minds all just conceptions of genuine spirituality. A thick mist for ages pervaded the Christian world, supported and strengthened by his allegorical manner of interpretation. The learned alone were considered as guides implicitly to he followed; and the vulgar, when the literal sense was hissed off the stage, had nothing to do but to follow their authority, wherever it might lead them.' (Vol. 1., p. 469.)”
“Of those fathers from Origen to Jerome who decidedly took the Millenniarian view, the most eminent was Lactantius, who flourished in the time of Constantine the Great, about A.D. 310. He was considered the most learned of the Latin fathers, and his works abound with testimonies to the matter in hand."
“Methodius, bishop of Olympus, who suffered martyrdom under Decius about A. D. 312, says, in his book on the Resurrection, written against Origen. 'It is to be expected that at the conflagration, the creation shall suffer a vehement commotion, as if it were about to die, whereby it shall be renovated and not perish; to the end that we, then also renovated, may dwell in the renewed world, free from sorrow. Thus it is said in Ps, civ: Thou wiit send forth thy Spirit, and they shall be created, and thou wilt renew the face of the earth, &c. For seeing that after this world there shall be an earth, of necessity there must be inhabitants.'
“The most important testimony in regard to the prevalence of the Millennial doctrine during the fourth century is, the countenance given to it by the council of Nice, called by Constantine the Great, A.D. 325. This council, besides their definition of faith and canons ecclesiastical, set forth certain datUA WOELS, or forms of ecclesiastical doctrines. Some of these are recorded
by Gelasius Cyzicenus, (Hist. Act. Con. Nic.) among which is the following, on the last clause of the Nicene creed, 'I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.'— The world was made inferior (uikpótepos) through fore-knowledge: for God saw that man would sin; therefore we expect new heavens and a new earth, according to the holy Scriptures, at the appearing of the great God, even our Saviour Jesus Christ.”
“Later in the period now under consideration, there is evidence that Millennarian opinions were held by Gregory, of Nyssa, and by Paulinus, Bishop of Antioch. And Jerome informs us, that they were likewise held by Victorinus Bishop of Pettaw, by Apollinaris, Bishop of Laodicea, and by Sulpitius Severus, Bishop of Bituria. There is not the shadow of an evidence that any orthodox ecclesiastics in the first two centuries” thought otherwise.
“ So convinced, indeed, were the bishops of Rome, even after the times of Constantine, that the Anti-Christ was yet to come, and that he was to appear in the Roman empire, that, in order to evade the awkward inference, that he would probably prove to be some apostate Emperor or bishop of Rome, they gradually fell into the conceit that the Millennium commenced with Constantine; and then maintained, to reconcile this figment with the non-appearance of the Anti-Christ, that he was not to be revealed until the thousand years were expired ;--an opinion which was not only contrary to Scripture, and to all previous antiquity, but which has been one great means of darkening the counsel of God, so far as it is revealed in the page of prophecy. The Greek church, at the same time that they hold the coming of Anti-Christ to be future have not departed from the opinion that the thousand years follow his manifestation, The Romish church have universally adopted the error just noticed and do, to this day, consider the coming of Anti-Christ to be future; though it was not until the Council of Florence, in 1439, that they avowedly and formally contradicted the expectation of his coming previous to the Millennium.”
Dr. Bogue observes : “Some have imagined that the duration of the Millennium may be extended to 365,000 years. Days are used to signify years ; weeks, weeks of years; and months, months of years : but no passage in the whole of the sacred writings can be adduced, were a year certainly signifies 365 years, or each day for a year.
"A thousand years are repeated, verse after verse, (Rev. xx.) in the seven verses into which the subject is compressed.” It has been suggested that " the design of the Holy Spirit 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.
“ In the Scriptures it is not uncommon to use a definite term for an indefinite number ..... On the same principles, we” might, perhaps, “interpret the thousand years of Millennial glory. We” may “ not be required to limit it to that precise period of time:" its duration for some years more or less would not falsify the prediction, under this supposition, “nor expose to the charge of mistake or error the intention of the writer, or the mind of the Spirit.”
No. XVIII.- Page 330.
EXTRACTS FROM BAGSTER'S COMPREHENSIVE BIBLE RELATIVE TO
THE TEMPLE OF EZEKIEL *.
Ezek. XLIV. 22. ** Under the law the high priest only was thus restricted, but this includes all the priests, perhaps to show the superior holiness of the times to which the vision relates."
Chap. xLv. 7, 8. “Tithes are not mentioned in any part of the vision, which shows that the ritual Mosaic law will not then be in force."
Ver. 17. Here the Prince must provide the oblations ; “These variations may intimate a change in the external constitution of the church; and it is probable that they are to be understood emblematically."
Ver. 18. “This seems to enjoin not a mere dedication, but an annual purification of the sanctuary; of which there is nothing said in the Mosaic law.”
Chap. xlvi. 13. “It is observable, that there is nothing said about the evening sacrifice, or the additional lamb, morning and evening, on the Sabbath, which makes an important difference between this and the old law.”
Chap. xlii. 16, &c. “This court not only far exceeds the size of that belonging to Solomon's temple, or that after the captivity, which was only five hundred cubits, or a furlong on each side, (Talm. Middoth, per. 2; Josephus Ant., l. xv., c. 14,) and exactly half a mile in circuit; but is nearly equal to the whole extent of Jerusalem itself, which, when greatest, was but thirtythree furlongs in circumference, somewhat less than four miles and three quarters. (Josephus, Bel., 1. vi., c. 6.)”.
Chap. xLv. 1. “ Canaan would not admit of so large a portion for the sanctuary, &c.; this was no doubt intended to intimate the large extent of the church in the glorious times predicted."
Chap. xlvii. 30, 35. “It is certainly most obvious to interpret these measures, not of cubits, but of the measuring reed, which the prophet's conductor had in his hand ; according to which, the city would be about thirtysix miles in circumference, and nine miles on each side of the square; which was nearly nine times larger than the greatest extent to which Jerusalem ever attained. The large dimensions of the city and land were, perhaps, intended to intimate the extensive and glorious propagation of the Gospel in the times predicted ; and the land was not called Canaan, nor the city Jerusalem, probably because they were figurative of spiritual blessings to the church and to Israel, but the name of the city from that day shall be,' (Heb., JEHOVAH shammah,) 'The Lord is there.' "
Ver. 4, &c. “In this division of the Holy Land, a portion is laid out for each of the twelve tribes, directly across the country, from east to west, and deducting the square of 25,000 reeds or nearly fifty miles, on each side, between Judah and Benjamin, for the priests, Levites, city, and temple, with the inheritance of the prince from east to west, from 280 miles, the length of the country from north to south, there will remain, for each tribe, a portion of less then twenty miles in width, and 150 miles in length. This division of the land entirely differs from that which was made in the days of Joshua, in which the tribes were not only differently placed, but confused and intermixed ; while here distinct lots are assigned to each of the twelve tribes in a regular mathematical form. It seems to denote the equality of privileges which subsists among all the tribes of believers, of whatever nation, and whatever their previous character may have been."
* The author takes this opportunity of acknowledging that throughout the progress of the work he has been much indebted to Mr. Bagster for many useful elucidations of Scrip
Ver. 15. “The whole plan of the division of the country, lying out of the city, temple, and all its appendages, is perfectly regular and uniform ; and would, therefore, convey to the minds of the Jews the most complete idea they were capable of conceiving of the most perfect church, commonwealth, city, temple, and conveniences, on the largest and grandest scale for the Divine worship; and it, doubtless, ultimately points out the land of Immanuel,"the" Millennial “ church, the house of the living God. 1 Tim. III. 15.”.
Mr. Bickersteth observes, “God has wonderfully provided for a deep and continued interest being preserved in every part of prophecy, by giving to it that largeness of aspect which comprehends the whole of his dispensations, and will not be fully developed till they be ended. This, which occasions one part of its obscurity, and the discussions upon it, does also serve to keep alive men's attention to it, to the very end, and manifests therein the wisdom of the Father of lights."
No. XIX.--Page 330. EXTRACT FROM FREY'S “ JOSEPH AND BENJAMIN," ON THE BUILDING
OF A TEMPLE BY THE JEWS, AT THEIR RESTORATION. Respecting the building of a temple” by the Jews on the restoration, " and having an altar and sacrifice, &c., my answer to the whole is in the affirmative. For how could I doubt it for a moment, even if the word of God were perfectly silent on the subject ? Suppose a company of five thousand pious conscientious Christians had gone to Africa to colonize, and had drawn up various articles how to proceed when arrived there ; viz., to build a city of such and such dimensions, to erect so many houses, to plant vineyards, to establish certain factories, &c. ; but not a word is said in this compact about keeping the Sabbath, and building a place of worship, forming a church and administering the ordinances; and suppose also, that intelligence has been received, giving an account of their safe arrival and establishment according to the original agreement, but again not a word is mentioned about their religious deportment; would any one who had known these five thousand pious Christians suppose for a moment that they kept no Sabbath, that they had no place of worship, that they had constituted no church, and consequently administered no ordinances, merely because they had not expressly covenanted to do so, and because the intelligence that has reached us of their perfect establishment made no mention of these things ? Would such a supposition not be a stigma on their character ? Would it not loudly proclaim their former religious profes
sions to have been a hypocrisy of the most heinous kind ? Or, must it not rather be taken for granted, by all who believe them to be sincere Christians, that after their arrival, in imitation of the pious patriarchs, who, whenever they pitched their tents, erected immediately an altar unto the Lord; the very first thing they attended to after their safe arrival, was to build a house of worship, and to walk in all God's appointed ways. And now, why should it be thought strange to believe that our dear people, who have, for nearly eighteen hundred years, most conscientiously observed all the religious rites which God gave to our fathers, in all countries, amongst all people, and under all cir. cumstances, as far as the law of God allows them to observe them in a strange land, although these observances exposed them to reproach, hatred, persecution, and death itself, would, when they are brought back by the wonderful goodness of God, to the land which God gave to our fathers, build again a temple for the worship of God, erect an altar unto the Lord, and offer up their sacrifices, and observe all other ceremonies which they observed before their dispersion by the Romans ? Did they not do so after their return from the Babylonish captivity? How strange and unaccountable would it appear if our people, who, whilst the chastening hand of God was upon them for ages, were, notwithstanding, steadfast and immoveable in worshipping that God, should cast off all their religious profession, love and attachment to him, when he has performed his promises in delivering them out of their captivity, and brought them back to the goodly land ? Would not such a supposition charge them with having denied the faith, and become worse than infidels ? God forbid that they should act so basely.'
“ A writer in the Christian Spectator of 1826, over the signature of Aleph, proposes the following question : · Will the Jews, after their conversion to Christianity, be restored to any of their former peculiar distinctions ? He then goes on to state his imaginary difficulties in a literal fulfilment of the prophecies. Now you will easily perceive that this writer has run into a slough of despond, from which he thought he could extricate himself only by making a desperate leap-of spiritualizing all that the prophets have said concerning the future condition of our people and nation.' Had he put the question thus, • Will the Jews be restored to any of their former peculiar distinctions, and afterwards be converted to Christianity ?? all would have been plain and easy. This has been the fatal mistake of almost all the writers in opposition to the literal restoration of our people that I have seen, viz., putting the conversion of Israel before their restoration, instead of after it.
Aleph objects that the New Testament speaks only of their spiritual conversion, but is silent respecting the return to Canaan, &c. Answer, the reason is plain : the Jews were, at that time, still in their own land ; the only question agitated was, whether all Israel was cut off, or only a part. Nor was the literal restoration denied till ages after their dispersion by the Romans.
“ Next he says, 'that at the time of the conversion of the Jews, there will be but one fold under one shepherd.' True, this is my belief, but that does not prevent their literal return before their conversion, and their re-establishing Judaism, and remaining, probably for forty years, till the Lord shall pour out the spirit of grace and supplication agreeably to Zech. xi. 10---14.