« PreviousContinue »
of the dead in Christ, that is, of all true believers, takes place at the commencement of the millennium; and if so, by this one fact it is established, that Christ's advent is pre-millennial, and not postmillennial. We read in the 20th chapter of the Revelation,—“And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled, and after that he must be loosed a little season. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or on their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until a thousand years were finished.” Some hold that the first resurrection that takes place at the commencement of the millennium is a spiritual or figurative resurrection, and not a personal one. Both Mr. Barnes and Mr. Brown hold this view, and quote prophecy in support of it, as, for instance, the 37th chapter of Ezekiel, where we read,—“Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.” In the same manner there is a similar prophecy in Hosea, where the resurrection is spoken of, at the 6th chapter and the 2d verse, where we read,—“ After two days will be revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight." Now, Mr. Barnes rests upon this as a proof that the rising of the dead spoken of in the 20th chapter of the Revelation is used in a figurative sense. My answer to him would be this:- The death and resurrection spoken of in the prophecies quoted, are expressly stated to be figurative. In Ezekiel the death is figurative, and therefore the resurrection is so; but the death in the Apocalypse is literal, and therefore the resurrection is so also. For if the death be literal, as it undoubtedly is, then the resurrection must be literal also. But again, it is said that the rest of the dead live not until the thousand years are finished. This is universally conceded to be literal, but the first resurrection is part of it; therefore these resurrections must be both literal. Our Lord when he speaks of the seven candlesticks adds their meaning, “The seven candlesticks which thou seest are, i. e. represent, the seven churches.” So this is, i. e. explains, the first resurrection. Throughout the New Testament we read of two resurrections. In Luke xiv. 14 we read,“For thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just." Again, in Luke xx. 35,–“But they
which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead," or, as it ought to have been translated, that we should be counted worthy of obtaining that, i. e. pre-eminent resurrection from among the dead. St. Paul says,
_“If by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the dead," or, as it should read, “from among the dead.” There can be no doubt that there are two resurrections spoken of, and that the resurrection of the saints is the first and previous to the millennium, and the resurrection that is last is after the millennium. In Romans viii. we have a beautiful illustrative passage, —"For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now, waiting the redemption of the body" as its restoration. The Apostle speaks of nature groaning and travailing in pain, waiting till she brings forth that new and beautiful heaven,—“the new heaven and the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” We have no idea now, I may remark, of the stores of beauty and magnificence treasured up in the bosom of this earth. You would hardly believe that the different varieties of roses are merely the old hedge rose subjected to artistic cultivation; and if man can bring forth by his skill such magnificent objects from nature, how beautiful will nature's roses and blossoms be when the repressing curse under which all nature is groaning and travailing shall be removed !
When Christ comes, then shall be realized the prophecy of the woman's seed as the destroyer of the serpent. Christ came into the world not to destroy the works of God, but to destroy the works of the devil, as it is so beautifully expressed in one of the Collects in the Prayer-Book: “O God, whose blessed Son was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil, and make us the sons of God, and heirs of eternal life; Grant us, we beseech thee, that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves, even as he is pure; that when he shall appear again with power and great glory, we may be made like unto him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, he liveth and reigneth, ever one God, world without end. Amen.” When Christ comes Satan's head shall be finally bruised, and he shall no longer trample or triumph over this world. The triumphs of Messiah shall be fully realized, when he shall present to his Father a glorious and complete church, without spot or blemish or any such thing. His promises with regard to his own peculiar people, the Jews, shall then be accomplished, for they shall be restored to their own land. When Christ comes, we shall meet all that fell asleep in Christ, all that believe with us in him as our Prophet, Priest, and King. We shall be raised, and you, dear reader, shall know me, and I shall know you, more distinctly than we now recognise each other. It will be the general assembly of the church of the First-born, sitting down with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob, knowing each other even as they also are known. We who have lost dear relatives shall have them restored to us, and all painful disruptions shall be healed; and we who have wept here on earth shall rejoice in joining with our friends in singing the praises of the Lamb for ever and ever. When Christ comes, this earth, which is now an island struck off from the continent of glory, shall be restored to its 'proper place from which it was originally broken, and God shall be with men, and dwell with us, and we shall dwell with him for ever. Then there shall be “no more tears, nor sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.” There shall be no more death, no night, no mistakes, no heart-burnings, no griefs to feel, nor fears to beat away. There will then and there begin the lasting reign of perfect holiness, and therefore of perfect happiness; we shall see no more of the presence or the power of corruption; we shall rise no more clothed with corruptible flesh and blood, but endued with bodies incorruptible, immortal, and radiant with glory; and then shall be brought to pass the saying, “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
But for a full and joyous view of all the future glory, we must refer to those magnificent sketches, the twenty-first and twenty-second chapters of Revelation. There we find the sure prophecy of the removal of all that disturbs, and the introduction of all that glorifies. The sorrows and the imperfections of the present are there seen retiring like