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A great deal is said about the now and then a spirit superior to antiquity of the doctrine of the his age arose ; but these were only Millennium. It indeed appears indications, that life was not from some of the early writers, utterly extinct; they were too that views on this subject, simi- feeble to enlighten or to purify lar to those which are now con- the horrid mass with which they tended for by some, were held had to contend. and propagated. But it is by At length the Reformation, at no means evident, that this was once the subject of prophecy, and the common or general belief of the occasion of reviving attention the first ages. On the contrary, to it, came. In itself the most the Millennarians are so com- extraordinary event in the church's monly referred to as a sect or history for a thousand years, party, that it cannot be reason- brought about by means which ably doubted, that their views distinctly evinced the finger of were rather the exception than God, and accompanied by a long the rule. This is no evidence, train of brilliant and most importhat they were wrong, but it is at tant consequences, we cannot least proof that their sentiments wonder that the attention of all were not universally entertained.* thinking men should be directed In regard to the nature of the to find it recorded in the page of Millennium, they were far from prophecy. agreeing, some of them holding The grand object of Luther and it in the general way in which all the Reformers, was to show it is now usually held, merely as that the Pope and his system a long period of great spiritual were the Antichrist of Scripture, prosperity to the church, and doomed to perdition, and whom others contending for all the lite- all the people of God were bound rality of a personal reign, and all to hate and to abandon. To acthe gratifications of sensual ap- complish this was not so easy a petite.
task as we might suppose. Luther The views entertained on this, himself had advanced consideror indeed on any subject of a re- ably in his opposition to Kome, ligious nature, during the long before he arrived at the convicperiod of the church's apostacy, tion that the Pope was Antichrist; need not greatly trouble us. All and as this was not the common things were then in a chaos- belief before the Reformation, it true religion was without form and obtained possession of the public void, and darkness brooded over mind after it, in a very gradual the whole face of the church and manner, and after a most deterthe world. Occasional corusca- mined struggle. tions shot across the gloom, and The excitement produced by
the extraordinary events of that * The reader may find their sentiments age was very great. Opposition quoted by Dr. Burnet in his Theory of roused the heroism of the German the Earth, Vol. 2. Book iv. chap. iv. Reformer, and of the noble band On the other side, let him consult Whit- which rallied around him for the by's Treatise on the Millennium, chap. i. A Catholic's estimate of them he will support and defence of the Gosfind in Ben Ezra, vol. 1. p. 59--80. On pel. Danger only produced inthis subject he' will also do well to trepidity, and threatening only consult Dr. Hamilton's late work on called forth increased Modern Millennarianism, in the ninth
boldness chapter of which he notices this sub and resolution. Success excited ject.
gratitude and wonder, and encouraged to fresh enterprise and figure as fanatics in the church new aggression on spiritual op histories of the Reformation, were pression and tyranny. The visible ignorant, profligate men. Many interpositions of heaven on be of them, according to Mosheim, half of the church, and of the men who is far from partial to their who rose in defence of her rights memory, “ were men of upright and liberties; the loss of influence intentions, and sincere piety, who and territory sustained by the were seduced into this mystery of Church of Rome; the circula. fanaticism and iniquity by their tion of the Scriptures, and the ignorance and simplicity on the marked effects of their doctrines one hand, and by a laudable deon the lives of men, all contributed sire of reforming the corrupt to produce a general impression state of religion on the other." that a new era had arrived, that " They imagined," says the same the day of God's deliverance was historian, “ that the time was now at hand, and that the Redeemer's come in which God himself was to kingdom would soon appear in dwell with his servants in an exgreater glory than it had ever traordinary manner, by celestial done,
succours, and to establish upon In the mind of Luther himself, earth a kingdom truly spiritual and and his more immediate coad- divine. As they expected that jutors, these feelings and expec- this kingdom was to be exempted tations were balanced by just from every kind of vice and imviews of human nature, provi- perfection, they were not satisdence, and the word of God. fied with the plan of reformation They knew that it was their duty proposed by Luther,” &c. &c. to persevere in the use of law. After passing through various ful means, and to leave the stages of a high mental fever, events of futurity to God. They produced by these false impreswere much more assured that the sions and overwrought feelings, path of duty was to preach the they proceeded to the utmost Gospel, and to translate and length of extravagance and mad. multiply the Scriptures, than that ness. From confidently interthey understood the meaning of preting unfulfilled prophecy, they the prophecies respecting the time became prophets themselves; and of the end, and the means by when tired of their own spiritual which it was to be brought about. fancies, and of waiting for Christ,
On weaker and more enthusias- they at last took the sword of tic minds the principles and events vengeance and deliverance into of the Reformation, produced a their own hands, and perished different effect. The study of the by it. exciting language of the prophe. It is not very difficult to accies, impatience of the slow pro- count for this process. None gress of truth, and of ordinary of the individuals referred to, means, and a full persuasion that probably contemplated, at the the glorious kingdom of Christ outset, arriving at such a consumwas at hand, produced the vision. mation. It is, perhaps, impossiaries, and led to some of the ex- ble to look in fixed and admiring cesses, that occurred at an early contemplation on the glowing period of the Reformation. Those visions of the Apocalypse, without are altogether unacquainted with catching something of the wrapt the history of these things, who spirit in which they were first besuppose that all who make a held. As the mind dwells upon them, and endeavours to realize not far distant. He commences their existence, it forgets whether the date of Daniel's 1290 years it is in the body or out of the with Julian's attempt to restore body. What we ardently wish to the temple of Jerusalem, which see, we persuade ourselves may would accordingly expire in 1650. be near; striking coincidences This being the end of the 1290 encourage confidence; prayer ap- years, the 1335 would necessarily pears to be followed by fresh terminate in 1695, " when all the discoveries; others join in the saints shall be blessed, who shall same enterprise, and the combi. have a glorious resurrection, and nation of many increases the be raised 'out of the dust of warmth and the passion of each. destruction, and every one of Prophecy comes to be regarded them, shining like the firmament as a rule of duty, and what shall and stars, shall see New Jerusalem take place according to the will coming down from Heaven, and of God, it may be the will of themselves enrolled citizens thereGod that we should effect. Thus, of."* It is needless to say how from looking too intensely on much he miscalculated; yet did his the sublime scenery of prophecy, works make a considerable immen have transformed themselves pression at the time, and long into actors in the prophetic afterwards. drama.
Lord Napier, the Baron of MerSeveral persons in our own chiston, and the well known incountry, both in early and later ventor of the logarithms, was anoperiods of its history, have dis- ther of the early speculators on tinguished themselves by their the prophecies. He was a man of attention to the prophecies. To learning, a profound mathemasome of them we are much in- tician, and formed with all the debted, and by the example of prudent and cautious dispositions others we may receive salutary which characterise his profession warning.
and his country. His ~ Plaine One of the first of these was Discovery of the whole RevelaThomas Brightman, a very excel- tion of St. John," published in lent, and in many respects, an 1593, which passed through a enlightened man, a puritan of the number of editions in English, and sixteenth century. He published was translated into most of the a Commentary on Daniel and the European languages, is a book of Apocalypse ; the last of which he very considerable merit and redenominated the Revelation Re- search. The learned Baron evivealed. In these writings he puts dently devoted much attention to in a claim to a more than usual his subject, and left no means portion of the divine spirit. He untried to arrive at a knowledge maintains that the angel having of the text and its interpretation. power over the fire, was Arch- It is not our object to go into the bishop Cranmer; that the angel details of his system, but to nowith the sharp sickle, was Tho- tice some of his conclusions. mas, Lord Cromwell; that the “ Therefore,” he says, “ from the angel of the waters was the Lord year of Christ 365, Julian's atTreasurer Cecil; and that Queen tempt to rebuild the temple,) we Elizabeth and Martin Chemnitz are commanded to reckon 1335 were the representatives of two other angels. He foretels the destruction of Antichrist as then * Brightman on Dan. xii. 11, 12.
years, which falleth in anno 1700. ment and of mercy, roused the And then, saith Daniel, shall be attention of all thinking men. Inthe end of all wonders, even the dividuals of a warm and poetical wondrous and great day of the temperament, on whose 'minds the Lord.”* “ Fourthly,” he says, " it glowing language of prophecy opeis reasoned in the former propo- rated, together with the momensition, that every thundering angel tous events of the times, began to of three, contained forty-nine fancy that the reign of righteousyears, and then cometh the great ness and peace was just going to day of the Lord ; and by the commence. They lived amidst twelfth proposition, the first thun- volcanoes and earthquakes ; they dering angel began in anno were conversant with convulsions Christi, 1541; to which add thrice and throes, which seemed to indi49 years, which is 147 years ; cate that a new creation was and so the latter day will fall in about to spring into being. The 1688. Wherefore appearingly, sun of their political and religious betwixt this 1688 years, according firmament was turned into darkto the Revelation, and the 1700 ness, and its moon into blood; years according to Daniel, the said can we blame them for supposing latter day should fall.” | By that the great and terrible day of various other processes does this the Lord was at hand ? It was excellent man endeavour to prove natural for men, in such circumthat the world was not likely to stances, to dream dreams, and to outlive, at the latest, the year 1700. see visions. Accordingly they “ Not that I mean," he says, did so, and he that had a dream, “ that that age, or yet the world, thought himself bound to tell his shall continue so long, because dream, and he that discovered the it is said, that for the elect's sake, word of the Lord, was constrained the time shall be shortened; but to deliver it faithfully. I mean that if the world were to Those who regard the persons endure, the seventh age should con- of whom we are now speaking as tinue until the year of Christ mere crazy fanatics, who could 1686.”I
give no account of the reasons of The era of the Commonwealth their faith and expectation, totally was distinguished for the attention misconceive the characters of the which men devoted to prophecy, men. They were men of ardent and for the prevalence of excited minds-intensely heated a few feeling on that subject, as well as of whom became at last wild and some others. Nor can we be ungovernable ; but many of them surprised that it was so. Men were learned, intelligent men, then first began to breathe the well acquainted with the Scripair of freedom, and to enjoy tures, and capable of giving a something of that liberty with very plausible view of their sentiwhich Christ was pleased to make ments, and of the grounds on which his people free. The subversion they rested. We will venture to of despotic authority ; the enlarge- say, that we could select from the ment of the civil and religious millenarians, or fifth monarchy privileges of the country; the re- men of the Commonwealth, permarkable interferences of provi- sons equal in learning, in talents, dence, both in the way of judge in scriptural research, to any of the
individuals, who, in our own times, * Page 26. Edit. 1611. + Page 26. have devoted their attention to the | Page 15.
study of prophecy. Canne, the author of the marginal references stroyed. His army, probably, beside the to the Bible, which have been so sea of Gennezerat, otherwise called the
Lake of Tiberias, and the Turk himself long esteemed, was one of those at, or near Jerusalem. Upon this shall persons. His “ Voice from the follow a speedy and sudden conversion of Temple to the Higher Powers,” the Jews; in one day, and at once, as 1053, is now before us, in which the prophet speaks. And after this,
they shall dwell in their own land in he " opens several prophecies safety, inhabit all the parts of it as beconcerning the time of the end." fore; 'their country shall be more fertile From this work we shall make an and populous than ever it was, a most extract or two; speaking on Rev.
flourishing state of church and common
wealth. There shall be, after this vicxi. 3, he says,
tory once obtained, no separation any
more of the ten tribes from the other “So then, iu brief, my opinion is this ;
two, but both shall make one entire as the Antichristian state shall be de:
kingdom. All nations shall come in to stroyed before, or by the year 1660, and
them, and honour them, and willingly all that fulfilled which is set down, Rev.
or perforce submit unto the government xviii. 10; not beyond the year 1666,
of Jesus Christ.”-- p. 29. shall the Antichristians themselves, and worshippers of the beast, escape the
He was quite confident that vengeance of the Lord, and of his temple. But either by repentance from dead the year 1655 would bring about works, come in, and put themselves under extraordinary events. The fol. the glorious sceptre of Jesus Christ; or' lowing passage shows how far a cast into the great wine press of the well-meaning and otherwise inwrath of God, and so that fulfilled, Rev. xix. And here the Lord will put
telligent individual, may be misan end and period to all the troubles of taken in interpreting unfulfilled the Gentile churches, not to go beyond, prophecy. or further than the year 1666. After that time they shall be called to the mar- « But know this, in the year 1655, riage supper of the Lamb, and sing alle- the vial shall be so full, poured out so lujah, salvation, and glory, and honour, fast, and lie so close and hot upon the and power unto the Lord God: Allelujah,
persecuting powers of the world, as they for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” shall then see and be ashamed, begin to --p. 24.
take notice that it is the wrath of the
Lamb which follows after them. It is Speaking on Dan, xii. 12, after reported of moles, that a short time benoticing the contest which shall fore they die, they see a little, but never go on between the restored Jews before. So the blind Pope, and his and the Turks, and which he con
creatures, and the kings of the earth as
blind as he, a little before the final extirtends is to last forty-five years, pation of their state, something they will extending from 1655 to 1700, he see, as of God fighting from heaven says,
against them, though they repent not to
give him glory. “ These years being expired, about the “ At this time, great changes and reyear 1700, Michael the great prince will volutions will be in respect both of stand up for his people. Behold he persons and things; for howsoever I am cometh with the clouds, and every eye assured, that every change amongst us shall see him, &c. This is the set time shall be for good unto the nation, and this in which the Lord will arise, and have present government, and what follows, mercy upon Sion. His feet shall stand a great deal better than the former; in that day upon the Mount of Olives, yet I question whether the Lord will which is before Jerusalem on the east; thoroughly purge his floor, in sweeping and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in out all corrupt and selfish men, until the midst thereof toward the east, and that time; but some will still creep in toward the west, and there shall be a unawares, not serving the Lord Jesus very great valley, and half of the moun- Christ, but their own belly. Neverthetain shall remove toward the north, and less this I would have the reader obhalf of it toward the south. And he serve, that about the year 1665, the will plead with them there for his people, righteous alone shall flourish and be and for his heritage Israel. The Turk exalted. A two-edged sword is in their now totally, and finally, shall be de- hand, to execute vengeance upon the