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we have need of patience that we may receive the promise: "For yet a little while" (Greek—very, very little while) "and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry." Heb. 10:37.
"But," you say, "it is not a little while." Ah! beloved, does it seem long to you from creation to the flood, or from the flood to Christ? The "little while" of Hag. 2:67,36 we believe, has not ended yet,31 and it certainly covered the five hundred years up to Christ's first coming. Remember that God speaks to you as to an immortal soul.
Wait until you have realized a few of the mighty cycles of eternity, and then these eighteen centuries will indeed appear to be "a very, very little while."
O! let us fix our eyes upon Jesus. Let us watch and wait for the King Eternal.38
The Faith of the Early Church.
It is admitted on all sides that the pre-millennial coming of Christ, and His reign with His saints upon the earth a thousand years, was the faith of the early church. Indeed, this is substantiated by such an abundance of evidence, that it cannot be denied.
We would that we had space to quote at length, from the many authorities on this point, but must be content to select a few:
(36) Hag. 2 :6. For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land;
7. And I will shake all nations, and the Desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts.
(37) Joel 3:16. The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.
17. So shall ye know that I am the Lord your God dwelling
in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.
Heb. 12 :26. Whose voice then shook the earth; but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.
27. And this word, Yet once more, signifies the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
(38) 1 Tim. 1:17. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Mosheim says: "The prevailing opinion that Christ was to come and reign a thousand years among men before the final dissolution of the world had met with no opposition previous to the time of Origen." (Vol. 1, p. 89.)
Geisler says: "In all the works of this period (the first two centuries) Millenarianism is so prominent that we can not hesitate to consider it as universal."*
Chillingworth, with his characteristic invulnerable logic, argues: "Whatever doctrine is believed and taught by the most eminent Fathers of any age of the Church and by none of their cotemporaries opposed or condemned, that is to be esteemed the Catholic doctrine of the Church of those times. But the doctrine of the millenaries was believed and taught by the most eminent Fathers of the age next after the Apostles, and by none of that age opposed or condemned; therefore, it was the Catholic doctrine of those times.""
Stackhouse, in his "Complete Body of Divinity" (Vol. 1, p. 597), says: "It cannot be denied but that this doctrine (Millenarianism) has its antiquity, and was once the general opinion of all orthodox Christians."
Bishop Newton says: "The doctrine of the Millennium (as held by Millenarians) was generally believed in the first three and purest ages."^
Bishop Russell, though an anti-millenarian, says: "Down to the beginning of the fourth century, the belief was universal and undisputed."'
Gibbon, who is at least an unprejudiced witness, says: "The ancient and popular doctrine of the Millennium was carefully inculcated by a succession of Fathers from Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, who conversed with the immediate disciples of the Apostles, down to Lactantius, who was the preceptor of the son of Constantine. It appears to have been the reigning sentiment of orthodox believers."
He also says: "As long as this error (as he calls it) was permitted to subsist in the Church, it was productive
•Gelsler's Church History. Vol. 1, p. 215.
of the most salutary effects on the faith and practice of Christians."*
Dr. Daniel Whitby,—the father of the modern post-millennial theory,—in his "Treatise on Traditions," candidly acknowledges that, "the doctrine of the Millennium 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 a 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 so interpreted, and say that it was held by all Christians that were exactly orthodox."
Lest anyone should lose the full force of these quotations, it may be proper to state, that this "ancient and popular doctrine of the Millennium," as Gibbon styles it, was the belief in the pre-millennial coming of Christ, and His reign on the earth for a thousand years. It was commonly called chiliasm, which see in Webster's Dictionary.
Such, in brief, is the testimony of historians, both ecclesiastical and profane upon this subject. And some of the early Fathers, of whom they speak, were very nearly, if not quite, the cotemporaries with the Apostles.
Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia, who was a disciple of St. John, or who at least received his doctrines from the immediate followers of the Apostle, was an extreme Millennialist, and has been called the father of Millenarianism. (See McClintock and Strong's Enc.) Irenaeus, as a disciple of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, was directly connected with St. John. And also Justin Martyr was one of the earliest of the Fathers.
Is it not solemnly incumbent upon us, to respect and heed this doctrine, which these eminent Christian Fathers so undisputedly taught, as being the "tradition of our Lord and His Apostles"? Why is it, that, upon every other subject connected with our holy religion, such as Baptism, Church government, Forms of worship, Articles of faith, etc., we go back and search diligently to ascertain the doe
trine'of the Fathers, placing so much stress upon what we think they believed and taught, and yet upon this most important theme, cast aside what we know was their faith and testimony? Is it consistent? Dear reader, do let us here emphasize Paul's exhortation to the Thessalonians: "Brethren, stand fast and
Hold the Traditions
(teachings) which ye have been taught whether by word or by our epistle."39 That is, whether taught in writing, or orally, see Verse 5. Now, what were these traditions (teachings) if not the coming of Christ and the Reign of the Saints, of which Paul and the other Apostles wrote so freely? Being thus exhorted, it is reasonable to believe that they did hold them, and that they are the very traditions which Whitby and the other authorities clearly prove were held by the early Church. Then let us also hold,—not the comparatively modern post-millennial theory of Whitby, —but the aged faith of the Fathers.
The Apostles Were Not Mistaken.
We cannot believe (as some assert) that the Apostles were mistaken, and consequently not inspired upon this theme, nor that they and all the early Christians mocked themselves with false hopes in regard to the pre-millennial coming of Christ. They watched and waited for the return of our Lord, as a sure event, the hour of which none but the Father knew, but which had been enjoined upon them as uncertain40 and imminent.41 And as they passed away
(39) 2 Thee. 2 :5. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
15. So then, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which ye were taught whether by word, or by epistle as of ours.
(40) Mat. 25:42. Watch therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
43. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known
in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
44. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man com e.
(41) Luke 12:35. Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;
36. And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, to the unseen domain of Paradise, they have left us the written Word, their reiterated traditions (teachings handed down), and their great hope. So we take up their vigil, hopefully watching, not daring to say that He will come tomorrow, nor a thousand years hence, but only this are we sure of, He may come now.
God has held this glorious hope constantly before the Church, to keep her in her proper attitude of expectancy and longing, until the Bridegroom comes. Like Israel in the wilderness, we should realize that we are pilgrims and strangers, seeking a Land, a City, and a King, which are beyond our Jordan of death and resurrection.
Death and Resurrection is the common lot of the great mass of the Church. But, of course, there will be some living when Christ comes,42 who will not die but be changed in a moment,43 and be caught up, like Elijah, with the raised saints to meet the Lord in the air. 1 Thes. 4:16-18.
when he will return from the wedding; that, when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.
37. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.
38. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.
39. And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.
40. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
Heb. 10:37. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
(42) 1 Thes. 4:15. For this we say unto you by 'the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
(43) 1 Cor. 15:51. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and