« PreviousContinue »
Matthew Henry, commenting on Luke 12:45, says: “Our looking at Christ's second coming as a thing at a distance is the cause of all those irregularities which render the thought of it terrible to us.” And on watching, he says: "To watch implies not only to believe that our Lord will come, but to desire that He would come, to be often thinking of His coming, and always looking for it as sure and near, and the time of it uncertain."
As followers of Christ we are compared to soldiers, fighting the fight of faith (1 Tim. 1:18; 6:12; 2 Tim. 2:3; 4:7), and perhaps no better illustration could be given us of watching, than that of picket duty in the army.
Old soldiers know that out on the skirmish line it is full of life and excitement, because they are watching for something immediately possible. But in camp it is a dull, soulless drudgery, because they are expecting nothing until the outer pickets, perhaps five or six miles away, are driven in.
How intensely do we increase this difference in watching, if we separate the pickets by a thousand years. And this is what post-millennialism does.
We believe this argument appeals to the common sense of every person, and we pray God that these seven arguments may be blessed to the perfecting of that which is lacking in your faith.33
He is faithfu' that hath promised, an' He'll surely como
again, He'll keep his tryst wi' me, at what hour I dinna ken; But he bids me still to wait, an' ready aye to be, To gang at ony moment to my ain countrie.
So I'm WATCHING aye, and singing o' my hame as I wait, For the soun'ing o' His footfa' this side the gowden gate, For His bluid hath made me white, and His hand shall
dry my e'e When He brings me hame at last to my ain countrie.
(33) 1 Thes. 3:9. For what thanks can
we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God;
10. Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?
True watching is an attitude of mind and heart which would joyfully and quickly turn from any occupation to meet our Beloved, rapturously exclaiming "this is the Lord; we have waited for Him.” Isa. 25:9.
Continue to Watch. But, perhaps, you say: "The Church has been watching for eighteen hundred years and He has not come, and He may not come for eighteen hundred years more.”
Well, possibly He may not; but do we know He will not? and shall we set a date for His coming? and cease to watch?
Post-millennialists say that He will not come for a thousand years or more, which is equivalent to setting a date, as it places His coming out of all possibility in our lifetime; and then, dear reader, how quickly do we lay down our watching..
The principal condemnation pronounced in the Scripture, in regard to the Lord's return, is to those who say "My Lord delayeth His coming:
It is immeasurably better to be ready than to be late.35
Pre-millennialists believe that He may come any moment, and that we should ever be found watching and waiting, with our loins girded about, and our lights burning, and ourselves like men that wait for their Lord. Lu. 12:35.
The eighteen hundred years which have passed only make "our salvation" much "nearer than when we believed," and it is "high time to awake out of sleep.” Rom. 13:11.
A Little While. There is no prophesied event which has to be fulfilled before His coming in the air to receive the Church. Therefore
(34) Mat. 24:48. But and if that evil servant shall say in his beart, My lord delayeth his coming;
49. And shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken ;
50. The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an bour that he is not aware of,
51. And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be
weeping and gnashing of teeth.
See also Luke 12:45.
(35) Mat. 25:10. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
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,37 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 yo 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, signifieth the removing ot those gs 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 giory for ever and eyer. 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.)
“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." I
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 Irenæus, 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
*Geisler'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 liis “Treatise on Traditions,” candidly acknowledges that, “he 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 ali Christians that were cxactly orihodox.”
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.) Irenæus, as a disciple of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyra, 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 doc
*Milman's Gibbon's Rome, Vol. 1, p. 262.