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About the year seventeen hundred a new error crept into the Church, to-wit, Post-millennialism.
This was instituted by Daniel Whitby, an English divine, or proclaimed by him as a new hypothesis, namely, that the Church would prosper and extend until the world should be converted, and this triumph of the Church would constitute the Millennium; and that Jesus would not come until after the Millennium.
No wonder that he calls it a "new hypothesis," for he himself bears testimony in his "Treatise on Traditions" that the doctrine of the Millennium, or the reign of Saints on earth a thousand years, 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 century, who speak of it as the tradition of our Lord and His apostles.
For want of space we refer the reader to "The Voice of the Church," by D. T. Taylor, to show the long line of eminent witnesses, embracing Hermas, Justin and the Martyrs, Luther, Melanchthon, Mede, Milton, Burnett, Isaac Newton, Watts, Charles Wesley, Toplady, and a host of others, illustrious in the annals of the Church, who, through the past eighteen centuries, have borne overwhelming testimony to the truth of the pre-millennial coming of Christ*
Strange, indeed, that the Church, in the face of such evidence, should drift away from the simple teaching of the Word and the faith of the fathers. And yet, though of such recent origin, this error of post-millennialism has not only crept into the Church, but has been accepted by the great majority of Christians, pastors and people.
This, then, is the principal point of the question,
namely: Will the coming of Christ occur before the Millennium, and may it therefore happen at any moment, as Pre-millennialists believe, or will it occur after the Millennium, and thus be, at least, a thousand years in the future, as Post-millennialists believe?
We now invite your prayerful attention to the following scriptural arguments, which, we believe, show that the coming of our Lord will be pre-millennial.
No. I. The Antichrist.
In 2 Thes. 2:8/ The Antichrist, who is on all sides confessed to be pre-millennial, is to be destroyed with the brightness of His (Christ's) coming, or more literally the epiphany (appearing*) of His own presence. This fixes the coming of Christ to be pre-millennial.
Bishop Mcllvaine says of this argument that "it is wholly unanswerable."
Even Mr. Brown, the great champion of post-millennialism, admits that this is an apparent evidence for the premillennial advent, and he has been obliged to meet it by that process of "spiritualizing" Scripture which has been so condemned by Dr. John Pye Smith, Martin Luther, Sir Isaac Newton, Bishop Hooker, Dr. Adam Clarke, and others. On this argument alone we might rest, but we have others fully as conclusive.
No. II. Immediately After the Tribulation.
In Mat. 24:29-31,2 the coming of the Son of Mant is said to be immediately after the Tribulation. But this
*See Greek inut>ivna same word used in 1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Tim. 1:10; 4:1; 4:8; and Titus 2:13; in each place translated appearing.
tThis is His coming at the Revelation; see diagram, page 72.
(1) 2 Thes. 2:8. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
(2) Mat. 24:29. Immediate
ly after the tribulation of those
Tribulation is pre-millennial, or before the reign of peace." See also the diagram on page seventy-two. Therefore the coming is pre-millennial.
No. m. A Persecuted Church.
The true Church is a persecuted, suffering, cross-bearing people4 thereunto appointed,5 so that "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (2 Tim. 3:12), and this will continue until Christ comes,9 which precludes any Millennium until after His coming.
No. IV. Tares and Wheat.
We are nowhere in the New Testament directed to look for the Millennium before the coming of Christ. But we
sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
(3) Mat. 24:21. For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
Isa. 24:20. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.
21. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth.
22. And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited.
23. Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.
Also Luke 21:24, etc.
(4) John 15:19. If ye were
of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
20. Remember the word that I said unto you. The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
21. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.
Also John 16:33.
(5) 1 Thes. 3:3. That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.
(6) 2 Thes. 1:7. And to you that are afflicted rest with us, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power in naming fire,
8. Rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus:
8. Who shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might,
are expressly taught that the tares and the wheat will grow together until the end (of this age); that evil men and seducers will wax worse and worse; that as it was in the days of Noah and Lot, so shall it be at the coming of the Son of Man.7 And such is the character and number of the tares that their destruction, before the harvest, would endanger the children of the kingdom. Mat. 13:29. This absolutely precludes the idea of a millennial reign of righteousness in this dispensation.
From the time that the first Adam surrendered the kingdom to Satan, the effort to re-establish it with man has been a continual failure, though it was given to Noah,8
10. When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be marvelled at in all them that believed (because our testimony unto you was believed) in that day.
(7) Mat. 13 :29. But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
30. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
2 Pet. 3 :3. Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
4. And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
1 Tim. 4:1. Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.
2 Tim. 3:13. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
Luke 17 :26. And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.
27. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.
28. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;
29. But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed thpm all.
30. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.
Also 2 Tim. 4:3-4; Mat. 24: 37-51.
(8) Gen. 9:1. And God blessed Noah ana his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.
2. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.