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“We are the circumcision, who worship God in the spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." From these, and a multitude of other texts of the same import, it is very evident that the subjects of David's throne and kingdom, in its everlasting dynasty, are not the Jewish nation as such, but Christ's redeemed people from among all nations. For in him “shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.”
When, therefore, the Son of David sits on the throne of his glory, and says to those on his right hand, Come, ye blessed, and INHERIT THE KINGDOM prepared for you from the foundation of the world, he will say it not to the Jews, but to all who have ministered to him in the person of his disciples.
I am aware of the difficulty of conceiving of the glorious and personal reign of Christ on earth, as a man among men. And I think, also, that I can perceive the causes of that difficulty.
1. The first cause is the fact, that for ages Christ has almost universally been contemplated by the church in the character of some mysterious, glorious, and spiritual personage, seated on his Father's throne, where he shall FOREVER sit. It is true, we have been taught that he will come again to judge the world in the last day: but yet, such has been the manner in which even that truth has been taught, it has appeared more like a dream than a reality. In short, the whole subject of a future state of being has seemed to be wrapped up in mystery; and our teachers and keepers have all but forbidden us to inquire or examine anything in reference to it. The clearest definition I can form of the almost universal feeling and belief on the subject of a future heaven, is, that when we die, we shall go up to heaven, and there our happy spirits shall wear a dazzling crown of glory, have a golden harp, and sing praise to God and the Lamb forever and ever. I have found it one of the most difficult points of doctrine I have ever undertaken to impress on my hearers, to make them understand and feel, that Jesus Christ is a real man, and not a pure spirit, and that at the resurrection the souls and bodies of his saints will be reunited, and, as real men, restored to God's perfect image, that they will really REIGN in glory with Christ. The church, it is to be feared, do not to this day understand and feel the fact of the real, personal, human as well as glorious character of Christ. It is hard to eradicate old, long-cherished, and favorite views.
2. We have so long been accustomed to look at Christ almost exclusively in his Divine character, that, like the wise man, we are filled with wonder and doubt at the very
mention of the idea of his dwelling on earth and among men. Yet such is the glorions mystery, which was hid from ages and generations, but is now made manisest to his saints : "That in the dispensation of the fulness of times, he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him.”
When, then, the earthly image* is reduced to chaff, and the wind carries it away, the stone which smites it shall become a mountain and fill the whole earth. When the four beasts are given to the burning flame, the Son of man shall have given him an everlasting kingdom. The kingdom and dominion under the whole heaven shall be given to the saints. At the end of the world, (age,) when the wicked are cast into a furnace of fire, then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. And when the seventh trumpet sounds, the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ, AND HE SHALL REIGN FOREVER AND EVER.
HISTORY AND DOCTRINE
A DISCOURSE DELIVERED IN THE CONFERENCE ON TUE
SECOND ADVENT NEAR, AT BOSTON, MASS., oct. 14, 1840.
BY HENRY DANA WARD.
The word millennium simply means a thousand years. In this sense, the world has seen five millenniums, and above eight tenths of the sixth. Tradition, by an erroneous chronology, has long regarded the seventh as near, and has expected it to bear such a relation to the previous six millenniums, as the Sabbath of rest bears to the six days of labor in the week ;* but it is not to be followed by another six of labor: it is to be an eternal rest, in holy bliss, for the chosen people and faithful t The time is definitely a thousand years; but it has ever been, and now is, more generally received, in an indefinite sense, for a longer period; nobody can tell how long, but as probably three hundred and sixty thousand years, as one thousand.
In this common sense I chiefly use the word millennium, to designate a period of heavenly bliss, commencing in the conclusion of this world, and running into eternity with unknown limits; a period of which all prophets have prophesied, I and poets have sung is the golden age and restitution of all things, for which creation longs with outstretched neck in earnest expectation, || and we ourselves groan within ourselves, constantly praying, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, as in heaven so in the earth.” It is the
* See Barnabas, quoted below. + Heb. iv. 5, 9. Acts iii. 21. Rev. xix. 10. ' Ø Hesiod, David, Virgil, Milton, Cowper, Heber, Pollok. || Rom. viii. 19.
St. Jerome says of these words, they ask "for the kingdom of the whole world, that Satan may cease to reign in the world.” St. Chrysostom interprets them of the groaning, Rom. viii. 21; St. Cyprian of the coming and kingdom of our Lord in the end of the world. So the Assembly's and Ed. Sixth's Cate chisms.
resurrection of the dead, in angelic natures, to inherit the promised land in the new earth forever and ever. *
THE FALL. Creation was made for man, and put in subjection to him. Adam rebelled against his Maker, and nature rebelled against her rightful Lord. Sin entered Eden; and not only man, but all creation felt the wound, and received the wages of sin, which is death. The lord of creation dies, and passes through death to the resurrection, and to recovered immortality. Creation itself travels to incorruption by the same path way with its lord, -all creation must perish that it may be revived again incorruptible with its lord, in the times of anapsyxis, or resuscitation, from the presence of the Lord. I
* This view of the course of time in six days of a thousand years appears not to have been confined to Jews. The Chaldeans, according to Plutarch, believed in a struggle between good and evil for the space of six thousand years; "and then Hades is to cease, and men are to be happy, neither want. ing food, nor making shade." Zoroaster taught, that after six thousand years of suffering, men would be happy under one government, speaking one lan. guage. Plutarch assigns no reason for these opinions ; but Daubuz, from whom I extract them, supposes they are of patriarchal origin. He adds: The Tuscans had an opinion, which the Persians still hold, that “God has appointed twelve thousand years to his works; the first six thousand were employed in creation ; the other six are appointed for the duration of mankind."
Mr. Mede, p. 535, informs us that the whole school of Cabbalists call the seventh millennium “the great day of judgment,” because then they think God will judge the souls of all men ; and he quotes many of their Rabbis to show that they defined the day of judgment, “millennium," or a thousand years, together with the resurrection and Messiah's kingdom. For example, David Kimchi, on Is. lv. 5, says, “ The observance of the Sabbath is essential to the faith; for such only as observe the Sabbath confess that the earth will be renewed : because he who created it out of nothing will renew it." As if he who observes the holy Sabbath testifies his faith in the great Sabbath, in which God will renew the world.
The learned Dr. Gill has some valuable citations on this point. On 2 Pet. iji. 8, he says, The Jews interpret days, millenniums; the seventh is the Sabbath, and the beginning of the world to come. On Rev. xx. 4, The Rabbis say, The days of Messiah will be a thousand years. In these thousand God will renew his world, and then the righteous dead will be raised and die no more.
The following is in the name of St. Barnabas, the companion of St. Paul, and is of his age, whether the hand-writing be that of Barnabas, or another.
"In six thousand years (from creation) the Lord God will bring all things to an end; for with him one day is a thousand years, as himself testifieth, saying, Behold, this day shall be as a thousand years. Therefore, children, in six days, that is, in six thousand years, shall all things be accomplished. And what is that he saith, He rested the seventh day? He means this, that when his Son shall come, and abolish the season of the wicked one, and judge the ungodly, and shall change the sun and moon and stars; then he shall gloriously rest in the seventh day.”—Apoc. Test., Barn. xiii. 3.
+ Gen. i. 28. | Acts iii. 19. Isa. Ixv. 18. Matt. v. 18. xxiv. 35. Heb. i. 11. 2 Pet. iii. 7.
THE PROMISES. In Eden dwelt bliss; but sin came, and bliss fled: bliss cannot abide with sin, no, not in Eden. Man felt this; all nature felt: but the blessed God, by whose righteous law they were made subject to vanity and death, mercifully subjected them "in hope."*
This "hope" was begotten by the first promise: “ Thy seed shall bruise his head.”+ Adam and Noah died in the faith, and left this hope to be cherished by their posterity; and their race have, in one form or another, ever cherished this hope, and will cherish it, until the time comes for it to be fulfilled. But the race is ever prone to anticipate the time, as Eve did when she named her first-born Cáin, I have gotten the man from the Lord. I So James and John, when they sought the first seats in the kingdom; and all the apostles, when they inquired, “Wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel ?”'S And every age from that day to this has furnished memorable examples of anticipating the time.
The first promise was of a future triumph over the serpent, recovering what he took away:-innocence, Eden, and immortality. The "hope" it inspires belongs to this world; and so, likewise, the triumph of faith : but the triumph in fact belongs to the resurrection of the dead and the world to come, when the second Adam swallows up death in victory, and makes restitution of all things.
Possibly the old world were looking for this promise to be fulfilled in the blood, when the sons of God took wives of the daughters of men ;ll but the flood came, and swept them all away: certainly they were not looking for the flood. So shall the coming of the Son of man be; expected, but wholly of an unexpected character.
The second promise, of the recovery of the holy land, was made and confirmed by a covenant oath to Abraham and his seed, which the apostle tells us is Christ, ** " to give thee this land to inherit it;'++ and “that he should be the heir of the world.” It It is plain Abraham did not own, or inherit, in the days of his flesh, save only the burial-place in Macphelah before Mamre, which he bought of the sons of Heth. Otherwise, he with his posterity was a stranger and pilgrim in the land of promise, as having no inheritance in it, || || looking for a better country, even an heavenly, and a city which hath foundations. I But the oath and promise
* Rom. viii. 20. t Gen. jji. 15. Rom. xvi. 20. Gen. iv. 20.
Gen. xv.9, 10, 17, 18. ** Gal. iii. 16. tt Gen. xv. 7.
If Rom. iv. 13. $$ Gen. xxiii. 17. | Acts vii. 5.
TI Heb. xi. 9.