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that the above passages in the Old Testament are not intended to foretell any such period. The reader will observe I do not say there are no such passages, but merely that I cannot remember any.
II. While I cannot remember any passages in the New Testament which lead me to expect any such period, I find many which induce me to conceive there will not be any such state of religion in the world. First, The parable of the wheat and the tares, Matt. xiii. 24—30, and 37–43 (see p. 24), appears to me to indicate clearly these two points : (1) That there will be tares, ungodly professors, constantly springing up in the world in the midst of the wheat, the real children of the kingdom, during the whole period of the Gospel, even until the end of the world : (2) That the devil will be engaged in sowing the tares during the whole of that period. The representation, therefore, conveyed to my mind by this parable, would certainly lead me to conceive, that there will not be any period, and far less such a period as a thousand years, during which there will be no ungodly men whatever, and the influence of the devil will be entirely suspended. Second, The parable of the net cast into the sea, Matt. xiii. 47–50 (see p. 26), appears to me also to imply, that the Gospel net will be drawing to the shore during the whole Gospel period, and will, until the end of the world, be inclosing bad as well as good fish. Hence I do not conceive there will be any period, and far less one of a thousand years, during which not a single bad fish will exist. - Third, The same observation applies, I think, to the representation given of Christ's kingdom of grace, in the parable of the marriage supper (Matt. xxi. 1—14); which seems to me to imply, that during the whole period previous to the King coming in to see the guests, that is, I conceive, to the second coming of Christ, the Gospel will be preached; and some will reject it, and some embrace it in mere form, while they remain entirely destitute of the wedding garment.
This also appears to me to contradict the idea of there being any period, during which every human being will not only be gathered into the wedding as a guest, but also
every guest have on the wedding garment.- Fourth, The parable of the Ten Virgins (Matt. xxv. 1-13), at least in its full and complete sense, appears to me to represent, that during the whole period of the Gospel which precedes the coming of the Bridegroom, there will be many graceless professors in his visible church ; instead of there being any period, and far less one of a thousand years, during which every human being will be a subject of real grace. These are indeed all parables, and I am well aware that we must not strain parables too far; but the points which I have now been considering, appear to me to be some of the chief truths intended to be gathered from them.--Fifth, I cannot but conceive that the discourse of Jesus, given in Matt. xxiv., is intended to convey some representation of the state of the world, previous to and at the coming of the Son of Man (vers. 30, 37). I am aware that vers. 15, 16, 20, 26, 28, 33, 34 might, strictly speaking, confine our application of the whole description to the coming of Christ, in a figurative sense, at the destruction of the temple and city of Jerusalem.
Still it appears to me, that these Scriptures intimate an analogy between that event, and the great day of the Lord; and the mode of expression in ver. 27, and in the account of the same discourse as given in Mark xiii. 26, and Luke xxi. 27, lead me to conceive that, while this part of the prophecy respecting the coming of the Son of Man received a first figurative fulfilment at the destruction of Jerusalem, it will yet receive another, a literal fulfilment at his second coming in glory. Viewing it in this light, I am led to conceive, (1) That the Gospel of the kingdom will indeed be preached among all nations for a testimony, before his second coming; and thereby, as was the case before the destruction of Jerusalem, a vast number will be gathered into the church of Christ : but (2) That the state of the world in general will remain, as then, like the state of the world previous to its destruction by the flood : “For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away ; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be" (Matt. xxiv. 38, 39). In stating this, I merely mean to set before the reader the impression which this consideration, combined with others, makes upon my own mind; leading me to suppose, there will not be any period, and far less one of a thousand years, of universal holiness in every part of the earth.—Sirth. I am led to conceive, that the prophecy contained in Rev. xx. 1–7, is not intended to foretell a period of universal holiness, from considering the declaration in 2 Pet. iii. 3, 4 concerning the scoffers, who shall come in the last days, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming ? The impression upon my own mind is, that the last days, signify the latter days of the Gospel, the time preceding his second coming.
It appears to me, that the commencement, continuance, and ending of a period of a thousand years of universal holiness, would be so exactly defined, and so universally seen and acknowledged, that it would remove every shadow of ground for such scoffs. (1) If we suppose these scoffers to come before this period of the thousand years, the answer would be most obvious and immediate--"You have not a vestige of reason to scoff about any delay in the performance of the promise of his coming; since he has expressly declared, his coming will not take place till after the period of a thousand years of universal holiness in every part of the earth, and this period has not even commenced as yet.” (2) Or if we suppose these scoffers to arise after this period of a thousand years were passed, and during the little season foretold in Rev. xx. 7–10 (though the possibility of such scoffing taking place on such grounds after such a period is scarcely conceivable, as already observed,) yet here also the answer of the saints would be most simple and obvious— Your scoffings will soon be completely silenced, for his coming must be very near; since the period of the thousand years of universal holiness has passed away, as you yourselves must allow; and we are now in the subsequent period, which we know will be but a short one; and, therefore, all will soon be over, and he will come.' It appears, therefore, to me that these scoffers could scarcely arise, or any perplexity of mind be occasioned to the saints by their
scoffings (as is, I conceive, intimated in 2 Pet. iii. 8), if Rev. xx. foretold any such period of universal holiness, concerning which all the Lord's people must agree after it was past, even if they did not in their expectations of it before it began. When, therefore, I combine all these considerations together, the impression and conviction of my own mind is, not only that in Rev. XX. 3—7 the Holy Ghost does not signify any period under the Gospel during which every species of influence of Satan will be entirely restrained, and universal holiness will prevail; but that he does not foretell any such period in those passages in the Old Testament to which I have referred, or in any other.
SECOND. I would now endeavour to lay before the reader the view which I have been led to take of those passages in the Old Testament to which I have referred, and of many others of the same kind. I conceive, therefore, that they refer to the calling in of the Gentiles at the first coming of Christ. I would begin by obserying, that it appears to me that we have much lost sight of two things connected with this subject; namely, the mystery of the thing itself; and the great calling in of the Gentiles, which actually took place in the first ages of Christianity.-- First, As to the mystery of the calling in of the Gentiles. To my own mind there would now appear, at first sight, to be no mystery in the subject at all, nothing peculiar in the calling in of sinners from among the Gentiles any more than from among the Jews, especially as in our days the religion of Christ, as it were, exists only among Gentiles. The lapse of eighteen hundred years has, I conceive, obliterated the mystery of this from our minds; and hence we naturally form no idea that such passages in the Old Testament, as those to which I have alluded, can refer to the calling in of the Gentiles, an event which to us appears to have nothing peculiar or mysterious in it. In addition to this, we are so accustomed to include every human being in such expressions as the world, all flesh, all men, &c., that we are naturally led to interpret passages in which such expressions occur, as referring to every human being. Let me, however, observe,
First. The calling in of the Gentiles is spoken of as a great mystery in the New Testament; a mystery which had been hidden from ages and generations, and which could not, I conceive, be understood until the ceremonial law, which was the middle wall of partition, and the main source of enmity between Jew and Gentile, was done away by the death of Christ (Eph. ii. 14, 15). That this was a mystery, appears to me to be plainly declared (1) in the Epistle to the Ephesians. The Apostle, in addressing the church at Ephesus, chiefly consisting of Gentile converts (Eph. iii. 1), declares that this, which he calls the mystery, was made known to him by immediate revelation (ver. 3); and explains it as referring to the calling in of the Gentiles, and their union in one body with the Jews : “Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ: which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the Gospel” (Eph. iii.4–6). We may also observe that this forms one part of what is represented as the great mystery of godliness, “ And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness : God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Tim. iii. 16). Here the preaching of God unto the Gentiles, and his being believed on in the world, that is, among men in general, as contradistinguished from his being believed on only in one nation, the Jews, is declared to be as truly a constituent part of the great mystery of godliness, as that he was manifest in the flesh. Such, then, are the declarations given in the New Testament concerning the mysteriousness of this point; and in agreement with this, we find not merely that the Jews in general disbelieved, and hated the idea of the calling in of the Gentiles; (compare Acts xxii. 21), but that the Apostles themselves were very slow of heart to understand and believe it, however expressly it had been foretold in the Old Testament. To remove Peter's scruples, and to explain this mystery to him, previous to the admission of the first Gentile converts, Cornelius and his household, into the church of Christ,