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with them. And it shall be before they cry, I will hear; and while they yet speak I will say, What is it? Then the wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and the serpent earth, like bread. They shall not hurt or harm in the holy mountain, saith the Lord.'*
“What, therefore, is said in these words, 'For as the days of a tree shall be the days of my people; the produce of their toils shall be multiplied,' we understand mysteriously to signify a millennium: for when it was said to Adam, that in the day he ate of the tree he should die, we know he did not live out that millennium. Moreover, we understand in the same way this also : The day of the Lord is a millennium. To this agrees what one among us by the name of John, one of the apostles of Christ, foretold in a Revelation made to him : that the faithful in Christ would spend a millennium in Jerusalem, and after that will be the general, and I may say, in a word, the eternal resurrection and judgment of all together : the same as our Lord said : They shall neither marry, nor be given in marriage, but shall be equal to angels, since they are sons of the God of the resurrection."'+ The
scope of Justin's, argument in these remarks seems to be this: The Jew hears him with surprise speak of returning with Abraham and his seed under Messiah to Jerusalem; and this fills the Jew with distrust of some imposition. It was evidently a new form of gospel to the Jew.
Justin assures him it is his honest persuasion, recorded as well as spoken; nor is it peculiar to himself, though many pious men do not so receive it: but they all agree in the resurrection of the body. He quotes the prophet Isaiah, showing the Jerusalem of the risen saints to be in the new heaven and new earth, after the present world has gor out of sight and out of mind; and neither sorrow nor crying, nor any evil thing, brute, reptile or imaginary, is to enter therein ; but the dumb creatures are to partake of the holiness and innocence of Eden. We cannot fail to see in this quotation from Isaiah the picture of "the restitution of all things;" the adoption of the sons of God; the renovation of nature into their glorious liberty at the redemption of the body in the resurrection of the dead; the coming of the
* Is. Ixv. 17 to end.
† Justin indicates a resurrection of " the faithful," a millennium before the general resurrection. Rev. xx. 4, limits the first resurrection to martyrs. The day of the millennium indicates a thousand years, and the whole time at that rate would be three hundred and sixty millions of years. I shrink from speculation of this sort with instinctive dread, lest, in attempting the unfathomable word, I speak what is not, or contradict what is spoken.
Lord with the whole house of Israel, his faithful, into the New Jerusalem, adorned and enlarged, as Ezekiel and St. John describe it. This is, as it should be, in the world to come with the Lord Jesus from heaven.
There is no evidence that Justin Martyr understood the millennium of the Apocalypse much better than one of us. He was a hearty believer in the coming and kingdom of our Lord in the resurrection and day of judgment. In defence of this faith he argued with Trypho the Jew, and before the Roman emperors, and for it he died a martyr; but no scrap of his allows the supposition, that he looked for a millennium in this world, any more than himself to wear the crown of the Cæsars. On the contrary, his doctrine requires Rev. xx. to be understood as wholly relating to the world to come beyond the resurrection, and in the restitution of all things.
IRENÆUS, A. D. 178, bishop of Lyons, and a strenuous defender of the resurrection of the body, is the second christian writer in the records of time who discourses of the millennium. He is led to speak of it incidentally, like Justin, while he treats of the hopes of Christians. He recognises with confidence the term of 6000 years for the time of this world.* He enlarges upon the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel 37th chapter, to prove the resurrection of the faithful, and their inheritance of the promised land, t and he expounds the prophecy of Daniel in the order of times and kingdoms, as that the Messiah's kingdom succeeds the fourth, or Roman, which ruled over all in Irenæus' day. I In the end of Antichrist's time, “ The Lord will come,” he says, heaven with clouds in the glory of his Father, and hurl him and his followers into the lake of fire, but he will introduce the times of his righteous reign, that is, the rest,' the seventh day sanctified ; and will restore to Abraham the promised inheritance, in which kingdom the Lord says, Many shall come from the East and the West, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."'S In this way he identifies the millennium with the kingdom of God preached in the evangelists, as Justin had done before him. But for one to suppose hence that Irenæus believed the kingdom of heaven and inheritance of Abraham might be in this. world, would be doing him great injustice, and none the less to charge him with allowing them only a thousand years' duration
* Iren. Con. Her. B. 5. c. 28.
Idem c. 25, 26.
+ Idem c. 15.
However, from subsequent pages Irenæus may be quoted to show, that the millennium of the Apocalypse is a day of training the risen saints for a higher glory, and that the renovated earth, in which they are to Le trained, will be redeemed from the curse of barrenness and toil.* He enlarges on the beauty and fertility of the new earth, in the times of Christ's kingdom and Abraham's possession; he gives a famous tradition, as if from St. John by Papias and Polycarp; and concludes with quoting Is. xi, 6, and onward, which is holy writ for a glory in the earth, that this world will neither believe nor see. But Irenæus becomes dazzled and confused in his vision, as a steady gaze on a brilliant object is sure to make poor mortals. While in the main he expounds the ancient prophets with great clearness and fairness, applying their rich and varied descriptions of the holy land to the renovated earth, and to the resurrection; he cornes at last to fainting by the length of the way, and in the 35th and 36th chapters of his work, he rehearses some from Isaiah, and some he says from Jeremiah, which proves to be Baruch, and some other imputed to Isaiah, which does not come up to view in his pages; and from it all Irenæus concludes : “ Things of this sort cannot be understood of heaven above, but they must be understood of the times of the kingdom, the earth having been renewed by Christ, and Jerusalem rebuilt in the fashion of Jerusalem above." Hereby he attempts a distinction between the New Jerusalem of the new earth, and the Jerusalem above; and between the times of the kingdom in the new heavens, and in the heaven above, which I have not discovered in him before, or in any other before him; though it passes current with many at this day.
This new strain runs through his last chapter, and through volumes of millenary authors of a more recent age; authors of high respect, of fervent piety, and of varied learning, whose strain I do not well understand; but with whom I prefer myself to err, rather than to err with them who are expecting a spiritual reign of the saints in the flesh, to wield the sceptre of this world in the blood of old Adam, with a millennium on this ground, which is the rightful domain of the king of terrors.
To err, however, on either side seems unnecessary to one who lifts to his eye the telescope of faith in the promise, the prophecies, and the gospel, and by its aid obtains a clear and distinct vision of the promised kingdom of heaven; a place inconceivably more delightful than Eden; and a
* C. 33.
vision of the immortality, in Christ secure and imperishable, and infinitely preferable to that which Adam betrayed and lost. Direct the capacious tube toward any part of the spiritual horizon, and it opens upon the same kingdom of heaven, and brings it very near, and clearly into view. No eye can see beyond that kingdoin, however far-sighted it may be; and my own eye discovers no object this side of that kingdom which is not in the valley of the shadow and under the curse of death. Our millennium is not there, in that valley. Paul's was not expected there ; nor was Abraham's, or Polycarp's, or Justin's expected in the world under doom of death. Nor do the ancient millenaries, expect theirs wholly there; but in an uncertain mixed state, neither in this world exactly, nor that which is to come; but in transitu between both, and compounded of this and that, mortals and immortals, natural Jews and risen Gentiles, and a vast increase of the blood and comforts of life.
I subjoin in my notes some remarks on other christian writers of the second century, with an occasional extract: not a word being found in their pages to favor the doctrine of the millenaries, although they discourse much of the resurrection of the dead.*
* 1. Tatian, A. D. 150. Oration vs. Greeks, bound with Justin Martyr. " Sec. 7. Wherefore, we believe there will be a resurrection of the body, after the end of all things : not as the Stoics teach, according to whom there is a continual round of worlds, forever coming and going without any use; but to be once and forever, in the fulfilment of our times, for the sake of judgment, according to the constitution of man.”—He does not name any church glory for the hope of this world.
2. HEGESIPPUS, A. D. 178, relates the story of Domitian and the grandsons of Jude, in a way which proves that Domitian feared, as well as the historian looked for, the epiphany and kingdom of our Lord, preached in the gospel, to be manifested soon in the end of the world.
3. Theophilus, A. D. 180, bishop of Antioch, wrote three books to Autoli. cus, a heathen friend, which are well written, to contrast the purity and truth of the divine records with the fables of the poets and darkness of the philosophers; but throwing no light on this history and doctrine.
4. ATHENAGORAS, A. D. 180, who wrote an Apology for Christians, addressed to the emperors Aurelian and Commodus; and also a treatise on the resurrection of the dead. I have been interested by his pages; but he makes no allusion to any hope of the faithful, to be realized prior to the resurrection. Of the time, circumstances, place, or condition of the resurrection he gives no intimation ; having in view to satisfy heathen diguities of its propriety, rather than to comfort believers with its hope.
5. Clement of Alexandria, A. D. 192. This writer seems to me the most vapid of the fathers, having no salt in him; and though quoting the pure word, yet losing it again instantly, as a man does the fashion of his face the moment he turns from the glass. I have no pleasure in his pages. He says much more of Plato than of Christ, and takes notice neither of the millennium, nor of the coming of Christ, nor of the judgment, nor scarcely of the kingdom of heaven. This name concludes the list of christian authors of the second century. In
DOCTRINE OF THE MILLENNIUM IN THE THIRD CENTURY.
The christian writers of the third century are important for their number and character in this inquiry. At the head of the column in time
Tertullian stands, A. D. 220; having a character changeful, and a reputation of faith unsound at last; nevertheless, esteemed as an honest and important witness of the customs and opinions of the church in his day. He explicitly mentions the millennium, and identifies it with the New Jerusalem bride in Rev. xxi., and also with the new heavens and earth, Isaiah Ixv. 17, and adds: “ After the thousand years, in which is included the resurrection of the saints, rising earlier or later according to their merits; then we, being changed in a moment into angelic matter, shall be transferred to the celestial kingdom."* It is enough that in his view the millennium is the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven, instead of springing up in this world.
A. D. 240. Origen says: “T'he general resurrection of the flesh, which is common to all, is yet future, to be accomplished in the second advent of the Lord :''t showing that he paid no regard to that distinction of which Tertullian speaks. It is remarkable that so great a visionary and scholar as Origen should never speak of the millennium, except to condemn, if it was much known and respected in the churches of the East, before the middle of the third century.
A. D. 250. Novatian, first antipope in the annals of Rome, wrote a treatise called Regula Fidei, the rule of faith, —which does not mention the millennium any way.
A. D. 250. Sr. CYPRIAN, bishop of Carthage, an extraordinary man, and one of the most eminent of the martyrs and christian fathers, has left many valuable works, in all of which he appears to have been waiting for the coming of the Lord, to overthrow Antichrist, and to give his saints their eternal portion in the promised kingdom of heaven.
“ It were a self-contradicting and incompatible thing for us,” he says, “who pray that the kingdom of God may quickly come, to be looking unto long life here below.''I "Let us everin anxiety and cautiousness be awaiting the sudden advent of the Lord.” p. 149. For “as those things which the text and these notes the name of every Christian is mentioned whose writ. ings are transmitted to us from the first two centuries of our era ; and their indi. vidual sentiments I have sought carefully to spread in their own words before the reader, if they have spoken to the point in hand. If they neglected it, yet I have not neglected them ; but have faithfully sought light on this subject from all their surviving works. * Ter. ad. Mar. L. iii. c. 24.
t On Rom. vol. iv. 565, * Oxford Trans. Cyp. 188.