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HISTORY AND DOCTRINE OF THE MILLENNIUM.
So long as the clover-seed brings clover, and the barleycorn barley; so long as the acorn brings the oak, and coffee raises coffee ; so long as wool grows on the sheep, and cotton springs from seed planted in the ground; so long as the robin's egg hatches a robin, and the hen's egg a chicken; so long as grass grows, bees swarm, waters run, and the breath of man is in his nostrils, the children of Adam will bring, in his likeness, an erring, suffering, dying race, whose brow is doomed to sweat with toil, or to wrinkle with care, and to mingle with dust at last. Religion, common sense, experience, and philosophy, unite to tell us so. "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.”* This transitory world cannot inherit the promises : a long rest to its troubled waters is contrary to the laws of nature, and to the word of the blessed God, Promises, apparently to the contrary, are to be rightly understood of the world to come,” in the new heavens and earth. In this world, wars, fightings and commotions are to continue, “the sea and the waves roaring, men's hearts failing them for fear,” to the very last, so long as summer and winter, seed-time and harvest, succeed each other, and man is born of woman: but when man is born of the earth; when the earth brings forth at once, and a nation is born in a day;t when “the earth shall cast out the dead,"I and man is born a new creature, in the new creation and restitution of all things, at the coming of the Lord from heaven, who shall change this vile body, and fashion it like unto his glorious body is then will Immanuel and heaven, immortality, glory, and joy be in the earth, with Jerusalem new and holy; and the saints will reign on the earth, in “JESUS AND THE RESURRECTION.
This is our millennium. Our faith sees no other, our hope anchors in no other, our heart embraces no other, for ourselves, for faithful Abraham, or for any of his seed, or for any of the seed of Adam.
* 1 Cor. xv. 50.
+ Is. Lxvi. 8.
* Is. xxvi. 19.
$ Phil. iii. 21.
PROCEEDINGS OF THE CONFERENCE
ON THE SECOND COMING OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, HELD IN BOSTON, MASS., OCTOBER 14, 15, 1840.
The brethren assembled in the Chardon St. Chapel, Oct. 14, at 10 o'clock A. M. J. V. Himes, the pastor officiating in this Chapel, took the desk, and read the following call of the Conference, with appropriate remarks.
The undersigned, believers in the Second Coming and Kingdom of the Messiah “at hand,” cordially unite in the call of a general Conference of our brethren of the United States, and elsewhere, who are also looking for the advent near, to meet at Boston, Mass., Wednesday, Oct. 14, 1840, at 10 o'clock A. M., to continue two days, or as long as may then be found best.
The object of the Conference will not be to form a new organization in the fcith of Christ; nor to assail others of our brethren who differ from us in regard to the period and manner of the advent; but to discuss the whole subject faithfully and fairly, in the exercise of that spirit of Christ in which it will be safe immediately to meet him at the judgment seat.
By so doing, we may accomplish much in the rapid, general, and powerful spread of “the everlasting gospel of the kingdom at hand,” that the way of the Lord may be speedily prepared, whatever may be the precise period of his coming.
Having read the call, a chairman pro tempore was called for, and Henry D. Ward was chosen. David Millard addressed the Throne of Grace.
The chairman made the following remarks on the object of the meeting :
My BRETHREN AND FRIENDS :-We have convened on a great and solemn consideration, the near coming of our Lord in his kingdom. It becomes us to understand, and to let others know, that ours is not a new doctrine. Sound Christians in every age have cherished it; it was the universal faith of the primitive church; it is the plain doctrine of the New Testament. The novelty which seems to characterize our views, takes its color from the errors of a fallen church, and will be entirely removed by the inspection of
the gospel, and of the records of the ages of the martyrchurch.
The disciples came unto Jesus, after he had told them of the overthrow of the temple; and they asked him of these things, when they should be, and what should be the sign of his coming, and of the end of the world. He replied to them at large; but of the time when, he replied particularly, as follows:
"But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days of Noah, they knew not, until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be."* Nevertheless, he taught them especially that the time would be short, and added, “Watch, therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.”+
In his last discourse with his disciples, recorded in the 14th, 15th, and 16th chapters of John, he warns them of his being about to leave them; and promises them the Comforter; and, moreover, that he would be absent but “a little while;" only a short time. In chapter xvi. 16, he says: “A little while, and ye shall not see me; and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father. Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me; and again, a little while, and ye shall see me; and, Because I go to the Father? They said, therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? We cannot tell what he saith.”
The same difficulty attends on "some of his disciples" to this day; they do not understand "the little while” he spoke of. They cannot conceive how it could embrace a period of eighteen hundred years; and, therefore, they do not know, neither can they tell what that means, "A little while.' But that it embraces the whole period from the Lord's ascension to his second advent, is manifest from the fact, that the Holy Spirit was promised, and is given, to be the guide and comforter of his disciples during that “little while.”
The uncertainty of the time is everywhere set forth in the Scriptures, and frequently in the symbol of a thief in the night; and likewise its shortness is insisted upon in many remarkable passages. Among these, I cite that in Heb. x. 37, where the apostle, having in mind their despondency under the protracted delay of the Lord's coming, exhorts * Matt. xxiv. 36-40.
* Matt. Div. 42.
them to patience, that after they had done the will of God they might receive the promise, and not faint in their hearts, and so fall short of the glory of God; and then he adds, with the most vigorous expression, to assure them both of his coming, and that very soon, these memorable words: "For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry;" he will make no unnecessary delay.
I could cite many passages of the same sort out of the Scriptures, but I content myself with one more, found in Rev. xxii. 20: “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly." These are proofs that the Lord taught, in his last communications with his disciples on earth, that he should come again at an unexpected hour, and that quickly; not in the article of natural death, but in the clouds of heaven, and the resurrection of the dead. For “this same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." And his coming is by no means a daily event, or an occasion of national judgment, or any other thing, but this only: "unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation :'* in the end of the world, to judge the quick and the dead, in his kingdom.
That this was the manner in which the primitive ages of the church understood the Holy Word, is manifest from their records; but before I quote them you may please to hear the high testimony of two imperial Cæsars, to the same truth, from their throne of empire over the known world.
The first of these royal witnesses is Domitian, under whom St. John was banished to "the isle of Patmos for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Gibbon relates, on the authority of Eusebius and Hegesyppus, that the expectation of the Lord's coming in his kingdom, about the end of the first century, was so general, and so confidently entertained, that the report of it came to the ears of the emperor, and troubled him; as the coming of the wise men to Jerusalem at the birth of Christ troubled Herod, and all Jerusalem with him. Domitian had brought before him from Judea some of the royal seed of David, surviving in grandsons of Jude the Lord's brother; and he demanded of them if they were of the family of David. They said it was most true. Then the emperor would know what kind of a kingdom they expected, and when it would be. They replied that it is not a terrestrial kingdom, but celestial, and its time is in the end of this world. The emperor, seeing
* Heb. ix. 28.
their hands were hard, and they were poor laboring men, despised them, and set them at liberty, not regarding the kingdom to come, if he might be allowed to have that which is now here.
The other emperor who is witness for our doctrine, is the nephew of Constantine the Great. His name is Julian, called the Apostate; because he was educated a Christian, and when he came to the throne, he disowned the faith, and restored the worship of the vain gods of the heathen. The Christians of that day, A. D. 360, feared lest he would turn to persecute them again; but in a letter preserved by Baronius, Julian assured one that he would not molest the Christians generally; but there are some, he said, who have made themselves rich on the plunder of the Valentinians, whose wealth he should distribute among his soldiers, that these believers might go lighter on their way to the kingdom of heaven, which even now they expect.' Thus the apostate emperor taunted the believers of his age for their folly in continuing, even to that time, to look for the coming and kingdom of the Lord proclaimed in the gospel; and he mocked them for entertaining the hope of the Lord's coming in his kingdom, which continued to distinguish the church in the fourth century.
From this testimony of crowned heads, and enemies of our faith, I turn to the witness of the early and eminent christian martyrs, to prove the same thing out of their meek lips, to wit: that they verily understood the gospel to be glad tidings of the near coming of our Lord in his kingdom, and in the end of this world, even as we believe at this day.
St. Clement of Rome, whose name is held in the highest respect among the Christians of antiquity, and who is counted a saint in the Catholic church, and by whose name our Episcopal brethren call one of their churches in New York, flourished A. D. 95; and about that time wrote two letters to the church of Corinth, in the name and behalf of the presbyters and brethren of the church of Rome. In the first of these letters, Clement speaks of the coming and kingdom of our Lord on this wise :-"Let that be far from us which is written: miserable are the double-minded, * and those who are doubtful in their hearts; who say, These things have we heard, and our fathers have told us these things; but, behold, we are grown old, and none of them has happened unto us.t Oye fools! consider the trees; take the vine for example: first it sheds its leaves, then it puts forth