AN INQUIRY INTO THE CHURCH'S HAPPY CONDITION DURING THE THOUSAND YEARS OF HER GLORY AND PURITY.
"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel,"—Mark 1:15.
WHEN men are agreed about the reality and general nature of any object, and are not of the same mind as to some material circumstances and qualities which belong to it, their descriptions of it may be very different, and even contradictory: the one class will be disposed to give such an account of it as does not sufficiently embrace and exhibit its excellencies, and the other may carry their descriptions of it above its real properties. The low representation of the former, may excite the other to exaggerate its glory; and the lofty account of the latter, may influence those of a different opinion, to underrate its value and importance. It has happened thus with the Church's blessed condition, which the Scriptures warrant us to expect, at the latter day. While some writers have given a description which is too grand, by ascribing to it things which the Scriptures do not reveal, the representations of some others have certainly been too general, and have fallen short of its great and peculiar splendor. In conducting an inquiry into this subject, it were desirable, could it be attained, to avoid extremes, either on the one side or on the other.
Having endeavored to mention, in the foregoing discourse, some of those times which shall be fulfilled at Antichrist's fall, and at the church's entry into her Millennial rest, I am now,
II. To describe the Church's happy condition during the thousand years of her glory and purity.
1. The Holy Scriptures and the preaching of the Gospel, accompanied with Divine influence, shall then be enjoyed by all nations. These are blessings which are absolutely necessary, and infinitely precious. To what other cause than the enjoyment of them, can we ascribe the religious, moral, ecclesiastic and political improvement of the nations who are privileged with their light? Whence is it, that most absurd and abominable systems of religion; gross and abounding immoralities, and civil and ecclesiastic tyranny, prevail in Popish, Pagan and Mahometan nations, where those blessings are not enjoyed? Scripture prophecy foretells the spread of spiritual light among all nations, by bestowing on them the Divine word and a preached Gospel. This was intimated to Abraham, and frequently renewed: "In thee, and in thy seed, shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." Isaiah and Micah predict, that "in the last days, all nations shall flow into the mountain of the Lord's house." Isaiah and Habakkuk say, "That the knowledge of the Lord, and the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, shall fill the earth, as the waters cover the sea." Our Savior declares,—"And this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come:" Matt. 24:14. In John's visions it is declared, that "the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ;" that "all nations shall come and worship before the Lord;" and that at the beginning of the Church's prosperity, the saints who shall praise the Lord for that deliverance, shall be "of all nations, and kindred, and people, and tongues." What less than these enjoyments can be imported, in that prophetic description of this happy time, by the symbols of Satan's binding, the saints' sitting on thrones, reigning with Christ, and the wicked not living, all for the long period of a thousand years. When the word of God, and the preaching of the Gospel, were put in operation, after Christ's ascension, they were the mean of enlightening many in every land to which they were sent, in the knowledge of the only way of salvation, through our Lord Jesus Christ. When the Gospel had thus begun to illuminate mankind, nothing did prevent it from enlightening the whole world, but that dreadful corruption of Christianity which ended in the establishment of the Antichristian apostacy, which has prevailed so universally, and has continued so long. The change produced on the nations by the labors of the Apostles, and of those who succeeded them, cannot be considered as a full accomplishment of those predictions. It was but a part of the nations that was then enlightened; it was only a small number of their population that submitted to Christ's sceptre; the Church was still exposed to persecution; the time of its continuance was of short duration, and it took place before the existence of the grand apostacy; all which is inconsistent with a full accomplishment of those predictions. We are, therefore, warranted to expect this complete fulfillment at the time of the destruction of that wicked one, whose rise and reign prevented Gospel-light from spreading, and filled the world with darkness. The change which the nations shall undergo, according to those predictions, is of such a nature, that nothing but the Divine word, and the preaching of the Gospel, with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, can accomplish it. What else can be the mean of causing them to be blessed in Christ, the seed of Abraham; to be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord; to flow into the mountain of the Lord's house; to become the kingdom of the Lord and of his Christ; to come and worship before the Lord; to celebrate his praise in a triumphant song, for his marvelous works in their deliverance; and to sit on thrones, and reign with Christ a thousand years? We may, therefore, most confidently expect, that after the fall of Antichrist, all nations shall be enlightened with the word of God and the preaching of the Gospel; "when the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be seven-fold, as the light of seven days."
2. The kingdom of Christ shall then be erected, and the pure worship of God shall be celebrated in all nations. Of their enjoyment of the Divine word and a preached Gospel, these shall be the happy effects. The kingdom of Christ shall be established in the nations; for at that time, they shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ. This honor and blessedness of the nations are imported in those parts of the Church's song—"Thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned—Now is come salvation and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ; for the accuser of our brethren is cast down."—"The marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready." By the grand solemnities of a coronation, and by those of a royal marriage, is represented to us the erection of the Gospel kingdom among the nations. The instituted worship of God in Christ shall then be celebrated in all the earth. "All nations," says the blessed company standing on the sea of glass, with the harps of God in their hands,—"All nations shall come and worship before thee." With a view to this happy season, Malachi, the last of the prophets, utters, in the name of the Lord, this delightful prediction: "For from the rising of the sun, even unto the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering; for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts." The parties who are concerned in this prediction are the Gentiles and the heathen, nations who had not been called by his name. The employment in which they should engage is stated—offering incense to the Lord's name, and a pure offering. The spiritual worship of the Gospel-Church is signified by the incense and a pure offering, words taken from the services of the old dispensation, under which the prediction was given. The extent of these religious services among the nations is also affirmed:—From the rising of the sun even to the going down of the same, and in every place. On all the nations that are enlightened with the light of the natural sun, on them shall the Sun of Righteousness arise, with healing in his wings. The reason of this glorious change in the condition and religious employment of the nations, is also contained in the prediction. For my name shall be great, by the revelation of the word, and the preaching of the Gospel, accompanied with the Spirit's influence: For my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts. The nature of that worship which all nations shall then give to the Lord, may be distinctly learned from this prophecy. As the burning of sweet incense before the Lord, and the bringing offerings unto him, were of Divine institution under the law; so the acts of religions worship, which shall then prevail in all the earth, shall not be those which originate in human device, but shall be such as are instituted in the word of God. The kingdom of Christ is erected, and Divine worship is celebrated in a land, when its inhabitants cordially receive and publicly profess the faith of Jesus; when they acknowledge themselves to be taught by him as their infallible Prophet, to be redeemed by him as their great High Priest, and to be governed by him as their mediatorial King; when they set up among them the instituted administrators of Divine ordinances, pastors and teachers, helps and governments; and when they carefully observe all the ordinances of Divine worship, and submit to all the administrations of his spiritual kingdom which he has established among them. This shall be the blessedness of all lands, when the kingdom of God shall come.
3. God's ancient people, the Jews, shall then flourish in the midst of the earth, as an holy and prosperous Christian church. The apostle Paul assures us, in the 11th chapter of his epistle to the Romans, that though they have been diminished, yet they shall in due time enjoy a fullness; though they have been cast away, there will also be a receiving of them, which shall be to themselves and others, as life from the dead; though they were broken off, they shall again be grafted into their own olive; though God has shut them up in unbelief, he will yet have mercy upon them; though blindness in part has happened unto them, yet all Israel shall be saved, and there shall come out of Sion, the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob; and though the Gentiles have obtained mercy through their unbelief, yet the time shall come, when, through the mercy of the Gentiles, they also shall obtain mercy. It is quite natural to suppose, that when the darkness and misery of their rejection shall be finished, and when the happy time of their spiritual illumination in the knowledge of Christ shall come, their faith in his Gospel which they have rejected; their love to his person whom they have blasphemed; their obedience to his law which they have transgressed; their zeal for his glory which they have profaned; their admiration of his grace which they have despised; and their attachment to his religion which they have opposed, will be altogether singular and extraordinary. At that time they shall obtain a complete deliverance from all the misery which is contained in the threatening, that for so long a period has been executed on them. Their unbelief and dispersion, with the evils which proceed from both, comprehend it all. They shall be delivered from their unbelief, when Christ shall come by his word and ordinances, applied to them by the Holy Ghost, giving them a sight of their guilt and danger; manifesting himself savingly to them; implanting faith in their hearts; enabling them to believe in him; taking away all their sins; and giving them an interest in the blessing of Abraham, in the sure mercies of David. This work the glorious Deliverer will carry on among them, till the body of that people shall repent and believe the Gospel and till it grow up to a national salvation. They shall also be restored to their own land, and continue as a blessing to the rest of the nations, in the midst of the earth, till the end of the world. Our Savior's prediction concerning the Jews, contains two proofs of their return to their own land: "They shall be led away captive into all nations." The dispersion of the Jews is, therefore, a part of their punishment. When the Deliverer rescues them from their misery, he must turn back their captivity like streams in the South; otherwise, the seed of Israel, after they are turned to the Lord, must still exist under a very conspicuous part of their calamity. Our Savior adds,—"And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled." The times of the Gentiles are fulfilled at Antichrist's fall, at the conversion of the Jews, and at the church's entry into her state of glory and purity. This prediction, therefore, assures us, that from the destruction of Jerusalem in the first century of Christianity, to the fall of Antichrist in the nineteenth,1 Jerusalem and the holy land shall be possessed by a people very different from the seed of Abraham; and we have seen the exact fulfillment of the awful threatening. But this prediction further assures us, that when the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled, none of them shall any more tread down Jerusalem; but they shall surrender it to its former possessors. If the Jews do not return to their own land at the latter day, then the Gentiles must continue to tread it down or occupy it, after their times are fulfilled, which is contrary to our Savior's prediction. The words of Daniel prove the same thing: "And when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be fulfilled." God's scattering the power of the holy people signifies the period of their dispersion, when they continued without a king, without a prince, without a sacrifice, and without an ephod. His accomplishing to scatter their power, must therefore mean their being gathered to their own land, and existing in it as an independent power, both in their civil and ecclesiastic capacities. Without this, the scattering of their power cannot be accomplished, or brought to an end. Many Old Testament prophecies foretell such a return of Israel to their own land, as would never be followed with a general dispersion, or a partial captivity:—"Thou shall no more be termed forsaken, neither shall thy land any more be termed desolate:" Isaiah 62:4. "Then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more. Judah shall dwell forever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation:" 17,20. "And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God:" Amos 9:15. "And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited:" Zechariah 14:11. These predictions assure us that the Jews shall enjoy a glorious return to their own land, after which they shall never be forsaken, nor their land become desolate; after which no strangers shall pass through them any more; after which they shall never be pulled up out of their land; and after which there shall be no more utter destruction, but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited. As the Jews, in their present state, are deprived of all the privileges which those predictions promise them, there must be another restoration to their own land contemplated in those prophecies; a restoration, after which they shall possess it till the end of time. We are, therefore, authorized to believe, that when the Lord shall set up an ensign for the nations on the Gospel Millennial day, "He shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth:" Isa. 11:12.
4. Great purity shall be obtained both in the civil and ecclesiastic constitutions and administrations which shall then exist in the world. In that happy time, Christ's Church, both Jew and Gentile, "shall suck the breasts of kings, and they shall be their nursing fathers, and their queens their nursing mothers;" and "the kings of the earth shall then hate the whore;" they will therefore discountenance false religion, and encourage and support that which is of God. The restraints which shall be laid on Satan; the overthrow of Popery; the spread and knowledge of the Holy Scriptures; and the great increase of true religion and morality, will all contribute to accelerate and confirm civil and ecclesiastic reformation. An important change shall then take place in the constitutions and administrations of civil governors.—Their constitutions shall no more be Popish, Prelatic, or Erastian. The conditions on which they shall receive their power, will not oblige them to maintain, and to be members of Popish and superstitious churches. An Antichristian supremacy over the Church shall no longer be given to them, or exercised by them, as an inherent or constitutional right of their crowns. The exercise of their power in their administrations shall be of such a kind, that the ravenous beasts of the desert, or the horns of a monstrous animal shall not, in any sense, be the appropriate symbols of their government. In the dispositions and conduct of the kings of the earth, at that glorious season, the words of David shall, in a high degree, be verified:—"He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of the Lord. And he shall be as the light of the morning when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth, by clear shining after rain:" 2 Sam. 23:3,4. As the Millennial nations shall become "an habitation of justice," so the Christian Churches, at that time, shall be "a mountain of holiness." The Church's doctrine shall then be evangelical and sound; her worship pure and spiritual; her government shall be regulated by the word of God; and her censures shall be administered according to the Divine rule, for the glory of God, the good of the offender, and the edification of all. Every thing in the house of the God of heaven shall then be conducted according to his law. Popery, error, superstition, persecution, infringing on the rights of the Christian people, divisions, and abounding immoralities, shall be, to the Millennial Churches, former things that have passed away. At that time the Redeemer's kingdom shall look forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners. The saints shall have in their hands all civil and ecclesiastic rule. After the judgment shall sit on the beast and the little horn, "the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heavens"—all kinds of authority through the whole earth—"shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High." In John's vision of the same object, he saw them on thrones, living and reigning with Christ a thousand years. Filled with the knowledge of God, and love to his glory; conscious of their obligations to act according to the law and the testimony; and studious of the welfare of men, and the good of the Church; such rulers, though they had the opportunity, could not have the inclination to pervert the government, either in church or state.
5. Universal and permanent peace, both among the nations of the earth and the churches of the living God, shall then be maintained. It is mentioned as the effect of all nations flowing into the mountain of the Lord's house, when it shall be established on the top of the mountains, and exalted above the hills, that "they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." This vision is doubled, in the prophecy of Micah, because the thing is true, and shall be fulfilled in its season. This prophecy cannot be accomplished, while there exists on the earth any of the four secular monarchies which were represented in Nebuchadnezzar's vision of the great image, and in Daniel's vision of the four beasts: the time of its accomplishment, therefore, is yet to come. The distinguishing mark of the season of its fulfillment, is stated by Isaiah and Micah in the following words: "And many nations shall go and say, come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." These words, which can only receive their accomplishment when the Scriptures and the preaching of the Gospel shall enter all nations, as they characterize the time, so they state the grand instrumental cause of this universal tranquility. The purifying and peaceful influence of the Gospel on the rulers and inhabitants of the earth, shall be so powerful as will dispose them to live peaceably with one another—to love as brethren—and to seek the universal happiness of mankind. When the nations are enjoying comfortable peace, the Churches of Christ will not be distracted with religious discord. Ecclesiastic peace, as well as national tranquility, is predicted for that happy time: "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling, together; and a little child shall lead them: and the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice-den." To show that those astonishing symbols of harmony and peace, relate to ecclesiastic concord, it is added,—"They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain." To shew likewise that the instrumental cause of ecclesiastic peace, is the very same with that which produces national tranquility, it is also said,—"For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea:" Isa. 11:6-9. We are not to imagine that those prophetic symbols are hyperbolical exaggerations; for there shall be many instances of persons of different situations, principles and dispositions, joyfully harmonizing at the Church's deliverance, which will be as great a mystery in grace, as the things mentioned in the prophecy, were they to happen, would be a wonder in nature.
6. The number of the world's inhabitants and of God's saints, shall then be exceeding great. The inhabitants of the earth shall then be greatly increased. This is evident both from Scripture and reason. It is confirmed by the word of God. The Scriptures assure us, that when a people are the objects of Divine favor, and when they endeavor to walk in his way, that a great increase of their number is a blessing, which he will bestow on them. After the rebels were destroyed in the wilderness, their posterity, to whom the promise of enjoying Canaan was accomplished, obtained this blessing; for to them Moses said, in the plains of Moab, "The Lord your God hath multiplied you, and behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude:" Deut. 1:10. God's promise to his people is, "I will multiply them, and they shall not be few:" Jer. 30:19. To Israel does Ezekiel say, chap. 36:38, "As the holy flock, as the flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feasts, so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men; and they shall know that I am the Lord." The ordinary inhabitants of the waste cities should resemble, in their number, those who were in Jerusalem, when the greater part of Israel's male population repaired to it at their solemn feasts. If the Lord acted in this manner to Israel, when they enjoyed his favor and walked in his fear, we have abundant reason to conclude, that the nations of the earth, when they shall be converted to Christianity, and shall live according to the doctrines and precepts of the true religion, will then enjoy an extraordinary increase of inhabitants. The principles of reason, as well as the promises of God, support this conclusion. If secular misrule, ecclesiastic oppression, cruel wars, famines, pestilences, destructive immoralities, and such other things that waste a nation's population, shall then be banished from the earth, it must follow as a necessary consequence, that mankind will rapidly increase, and that their number will become exceedingly great on the face of the earth. But the number of the saints also will be greatly increased. The visions that John had of the Millennial Church, and which he records at the middle of the seventh chapter, and at the beginning of chapter nineteenth, clearly show that the saints in those days of blessedness and rest, shall be very many. In the former of those representations, his words are the following—verse ninth: "After this"—the vision of the sealed company—"After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands." While the saints who were sealed, are represented by an hundred forty and four thousand, those who shall rise up in the Church at the beginning of the Millennium, are said to be a great multitude, which no man can number, out of all the nations of the earth. As far as an hundred and forty and four thousand are exceeded by a number that baffles all human calculations, so far shall the number of the saints at that time exceed the number of them who have lived in the age before it. In the other vision, their number is mentioned in the first and sixth verses: "And after these things"—the lamentations of the kings and merchants of the earth, and the captains and sailors on the sea, over Babylon's fall—"After these things, I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; and I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of mighty waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia; for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth." How loud, how solemn and majestic is the voice of this much people, of this great multitude, who shall then worship and praise the Omnipotent God! The number of the singers may be understood from the loudness, the solemnity, and the majesty of the song. As all nations shall know and profess the true religion, there is reason to conclude that a great part of their inhabitants shall be true believers, and the saints of the Most High God. Since all nations shall be enlightened with the word and the preaching of the Gospel; and since every land shall possess a greater number of real Christians, than ever existed in any land of equal population, since the world began; the number of the saints, at that time, must be altogether inconceivable. Such, however, is the idea of their number, which the Scriptures warrant us to entertain. How glorious and frequent must conversion then be! The apostolic success will then be revived, continued and exceeded. As it is difficult in the present state of the world and the Church, to be a Christian in reality, so it will be difficult in the condition to which the Church and the world shall then be advanced, for any person to be an hypocrite, or a nominal professor.
7. The holiness, the religious exercises and blessedness of the saints, shall then be of the most exalted order. As their number shall be exceeding great, their spiritual attainment shall be very high. John's two visions of the Millennial Church, referred to already, for an account of their number, must be considered again, that from them we may learn the nature of their exercises and attainments. As they warrant us to conclude that their number will be immense, so they prove that their religious enjoyments will be extraordinary. In those visions, their dignity, their position, their attire, their employment, their associates, and their entertainment, are disclosed to our view. When the glorified Church was after this revealed to John, her dignity was marked by her relation to her Lord: "Come hither, and I will show thee the Bride, the Lamb's Wife." So when the Millennial Church is set before him, her dignity is asserted in the same manner: "The marriage of the Lamb is come, and his Wife hath made herself ready." Though true believers, and the Church of God have, in every age, enjoyed this blessed relation to their spiritual Husband; yet there shall be such peculiar solemnities attending the celebration of the nuptials betwixt Christ and his Millennial Church, as will reflect on him the highest glory, and confer on her the greatest dignity. They shall also have an honorable position. John saw them "standing before the throne, and before the Lamb." Having been brought to the throne of grace, they stand before Him who sits on it, and before Him who is in the midst of it; they approach to God through the blood of the Lamb; they devote themselves to God and the Lamb; and depend, for all Divine influence, on "the seven Spirits who are before his throne." John saw them also "in heaven." Delivered from the earth, and belonging to the spiritual heavens, they shall enjoy that state of the Church which bears the nearest resemblance to the heavenly glory, that can be attained in this world. When presented to John in vision, "they were clothed with white robes, and had palms in their hands. And to her it was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." Delivered from the defilements of the foregoing season, they now appear in a holy and purified state. Clothed with Christ's righteousness, adorned with regenerating grace, and beautified with the sanctification of the Spirit, they are justified in their state, faithful in their profession, and holy in their conversation. They also had palms in their hands, as the symbols of victory over Satan, Antichrist, and all other enemies; as the tokens of triumph before God and the Lamb, and as the ensigns of peace and rest in their blessed condition. They are also described from their employment. They are not engaged in fasting, mourning and girding with sackcloth; for the Bridegroom is with them, and the days of their mourning are ended. They "cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God, and unto the Lamb." The great voice of much people said, "Alleluia,—salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God. And again they said, Alleluia.'' "And the four and twenty elders, and the four beasts, fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen, Alleluia." The voice of the great multitude cried, "Alleluia; for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth; let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come." In these words, there are four periods of singing. The first, when the judgments of God against his enemies shall assume a decisive aspect; the second, when they shall be terminated in the destruction of Antichrist; the third, when the Millennial Church shall visibly appear; and the fourth, when she shall obtain consistence and stability. The reasons assigned for these different songs, demonstrate the truth of this statement. The first is sung for the Lord's judging the great whore; at the second, her smoke rose up forever and ever; the third is connected with a call to the servants of the Lord, and to those who fear his name, to engage in the work of praise; and the fourth song is sung on account of the reign of the Lord God Omnipotent, and the coming of the marriage of the Lamb. These exercises of religion are of the highest kind, thankfulness, praise, adoration, extolling, and magnifying God. These characterize their spiritual frame from which they proceed; their holy thoughts of which they are the expression, and their heavenly deportment to which they have a powerful tendency to excite them. These exercises of praise demonstrate their bright views of the Divine glory; their deep impressions of his omnipotent power; their high sense of his mercy and faithfulness; and their vehement desire to show forth the praises of him, who, both in their conversion, and in the Church's deliverance, has called them out of darkness into his marvelous light. They will have active associates in this delightful work. They will not sing alone: "And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces and worshipped God, saying, Amen; blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God forever and ever,—Amen." If the holy angels participate in the joy of the rising Millennial Church, the spirits of just men made perfect, will neither be ignorant nor silent on this solemn occasion. Their entertainment is also mentioned; for they shall be "called to the marriage supper of the Lamb." The spiritual provision, on which the saints have all along been fed, shall be administered to them in a plentiful manner. On Christ the bread of life—on the fullness of the blessing of salvation—shall they delightfully feed. With the marrow and fatness, and goodness of God's house, they shall be satisfied abundantly. For the exercise of grace in their hearts; for the performance of religious duties; for the habitual nature of their spiritual frames and enjoyments; for the holiness of their conversations; for their love and usefulness to one another; and for the extent of their knowledge; the strength of their faith; the fervor of their love; the warmth of their zeal; and their comfortable death, the Millennial saints will be peculiarly eminent.
8. The goodness of God to the world's inhabitants, in the provision he will make for their bodily wants, shall then be great and astonishing. Among the many judgments which the Lord has threatened to inflict on nations for their iniquities, famine is frequently mentioned; and among the calamities which guilty nations have suffered on account of their transgressions, it has often been one of the most distressing. In the Holy Scripture, and in the common history of mankind, we have abundant information, that famine has often been God's rod, and the punishment of his rebellious creatures. Many of the sins of men, which provoke the Lord to anger against them, consist in their abuse of his outward goodness: it must, therefore, be a righteous dispensation of Providence, to deprive men, in a greater or lesser degree, of that Divine bounty which they use to his dishonor. Besides, for the sin of despising the bread of life, God's taking away from us the bread that perisheth, is a most appropriate correction. But when that happy time shall come, in which the greater part of men shall be holy, those promises shall be accomplished: "I will also save you from all your uncleannesses; and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you. And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field; and ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen:" Ezek. 36:29,30. One of Sion's songs, in which the inspired writer contemplates the latter-day glory, contains the following words: "O let the nations be glad, and sing for joy. Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee. Then shall the earth yield her increase, and God, even our own God, will bless us. God shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear him:" Psalm 67. If the Lord caused the land of Canaan, small as it was, to yield abundant sustenance for the many thousands of Israel, when their ways pleased him; shall he not make the earth bring forth and bud, and yield fruits of increase, for the comfortable support of its inhabitants, when it shall be filled with the knowledge of his glory, as the waters cover the sea? Of the Millennial Church it shall be said,—"Blessed of the Lord shall be their land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath, and for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon, and for the precious things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills, and for the precious things of the earth and the fullness thereof, and for the good will of Him that dwelt in the bush;"—all those blessings shall come upon the head of those generations of the righteous, and on the top of the head of those whose lot shall fall in that day, when the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ. God's goodness to them in temporal things will bear some proportion to his peculiar kindness to them in spiritual things. Living under the influence of the Gospel, walking in the fear of the Lord, and enjoying the comforts of the Holy Ghost, "they shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord their God, who hath dealt wondrously with them; and they shall never be ashamed."
9. The glory of God shall then be illustriously manifested to the children of men. When the wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; when the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; when it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing; and when the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, and the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, which shall be the spiritual condition of all the nations at the latter-day; then they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of their God. Jehovah's glory and excellency the saints shall see, by contemplating both his works of judgment against his enemies, and his works of mercy in behalf of his Church. Of the Church's singing Alleluia, and ascribing to him salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, this is the cause: "For he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand." In these strange acts, the saints shall understand, admire and praise the Lord, for the displays of the glory of his wisdom, sovereignty, justice, power, holiness, and faithfulness. In the wonderful deliverance he will work for his Church; in her vast extent, her high elevation; the number of her members, the glory of her privileges; and the fullness of blessings which shall be enjoyed by believers, the saints shall see the glory of all those attributes, in connexion with the brightest display of his goodness, mercy, love, and grace, to his own people in Christ Jesus. Of this glory of the great God, in those wonderful events which the Church shall behold; the minute accomplishment of his own predictions, and the exact fulfillment of his promises and threatenings, will be a most delightful display, and a special object of their contemplation. In those glorious works they shall see his word realized, and will clearly discern the time, the manner and circumstances of accomplishing those important predictions, concerning which we dare not now positively determine, and can only see as through a glass darkly. In the view of his admiring saints, O what glory will then surround him, as the God of providence, as the King of nations, as the God, the Father, and the portion of his Church! To them will that call be peculiarly applicable, and the reason assigned for it, completely verified: "Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee." At this happy time, as well as at the important season to which our text did primarily apply, that promise shall be eminently fulfilled,—"And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it:" Isaiah 40:5. At this time the Lord, in a most singular manner, will build up Sion; and when he does so, "he shall appear in his glory." As the manifestation of his glory is one of the greatest blessings which God bestows on men; so spiritual sight and impression of that glory, is one of the highest attainments to which the Church or the children of God can reach. Since, therefore, the displays of the Divine glory at the Millennial day, shall be peculiarly eminent, the spiritual felicity of believers, at that time, must be inconceivably great.
That the displays of the Divine glory, at this time, will be altogether extraordinary, is evident from Daniel's vision of it—chap. 7:9,10: "I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery flame issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him: and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the judgment was set, and the books were opened." In these verses, the representations of the Divine glory at the fall of Antichrist and the revival of his Church, are set before us in such a manner, as bears a strong resemblance to the appearance of his glory, at the final judgment of the last day. John's vision which corresponds with this, is found, Rev. 11:14-19. At the time of this judgment, the Son of Man shall ask, and the Father shall give him the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost ends of the earth for his possession. "And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom:" verse 14. At the time of this judgment, the great God shall punish his Antichristian enemies: "But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end:" verse 26. And at the time of this judgment he shall give reward to his servants: "And the kingdom, and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High:" verse 27. In all these solemn transactions at Antichrist's fall, the Lord's glory shall eminently appear to his Millennial Church.
10. The glory of Christ the Mediator shall then appear in a very bright and wonderful manner, to the children of men. He who is represented in the visions of Daniel, as the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven, to the Ancient of days, and receiving from him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all nations and languages should serve him—whose dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed"—shall then appear in his glory unto men, as the Prophet, Priest and King of his Church. This prediction concerning the peculiar aggrandizement of our Mediator, relates to the period of time which we are now contemplating; because this season of his glorious manifestation to men will come at the fall of Antichrist, and at the Church's enlargement in her Millennial state. The former of these is evident from verse 11th, in Daniel 7th, where the vision is recorded: "I beheld then, because of the voice of the great words which the horn spoke: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body was destroyed, and given to the burning flame." The latter description of this time is also clear from verse eighteenth: "But the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever." At the time when judgment shall be executed for pulling down civil and ecclesiastical corruption and tyranny, and at the time when the Church shall receive deliverance, enlargement and prosperity, at that very time the glory of the Lord Jesus shall be brightly displayed among men. This blessed day will not be the commencement of his reign, nor the beginning of the display of his mediatorial glory to his people; but it will be the season of a more remarkable exercise of his power, and of a more illustrious display of his glory. Having overcome all his Antichristian enemies; having bound the Dragon, who is called the Devil and Satan; having sent his word and Gospel to the uttermost ends of the earth; having received the subjection of all nations to the sceptre of his grace and rule; and having begun to execute his offices in the establishment and prosperity of his Church in all nations, and in the spiritual salvation of believers of every kindred, tongue and people, he will then make such manifestations of his glory, and of the glory of God in him, as will fill the earth with the knowledge of it, as the waters cover the sea. In the number of places where it shall be displayed; in the multitude of persons to whom it shall be manifested; and in the bright discoveries that shall be made of it to every believer, Christ's glory will then be peculiarly illustrious. The Lord Jesus will then, by his word and Spirit, manifest himself in such a manner, and will, through the medium of the word and ordinances, be discerned by his people with such bright illumination, in the glory of his person as God manifested in the flesh; in the glory of his offices, general or particular; in the glory of his righteousness for the justification of believers; in the glory of his fullness for supplying his Church and his children's wants; in the glory of his salvation which contains the blessings of eternal life; and in the glory of his administrations to his Church, both on earth and in heaven, as will constrain them to cry out, "And we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." He will be glorified in the overthrow of his enemies; for they shall fall by "the wrath of the Lamb." He will have honor in his Church's song; for they will say,—"Salvation to our God that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb." At that time also he shall perform a glorious work for his people's comfort and salvation: "For the Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."
11. The glory of the Holy Spirit shall then be most illustriously displayed in the Church. This Divine person is called the seven spirits, which are before his throne, from whom, as well as from Him who is, and was, and is to come, and from Jesus Christ, grace and peace come to the saints. In his enlightening, purifying and warming influences, he is represented by that most significant emblem of "seven lamps of fire burning before the throne." The seven eyes of the Lamb in the midst of the throne, "are the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth." At that blessed season, the Spirit of God shall be sent forth, in a peculiar manner, into all the earth. The sphere of his special operations shall then comprehend the whole world. The subjects of his gracious influence shall then be in all the earth. The effects of his glorious power, in the conversion, sanctification, comfort and establishment of sinners in the ways of God, shall then be conspicuous in all nations. Those words of God shall have, at that time, a more extensive accomplishment, than ever they had in the days of the Apostles: "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh." The influence of the Holy Spirit was exerted, and his glory was displayed in reviving the Church, after she returned from her captivity in Babylon. Zechariah was commissioned to say,—"This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts." Haggai, who prophesied at the same time, was sent to declare to Zerubbabel, to Joshua the high-priest, and to all the people of the land, to strengthen and encourage them in the Lord's work: "According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, my Spirit remaineth among you; fear ye not." If the Holy Spirit was glorified by his operations among the captives, when they returned from Babylon, how much more gloriously will he manifest himself, when the Christian Churches shall be delivered from Babylon the Great, and when all nations, through his influence, shall bow to the Redeemer's sceptre! At the erection of the Gospel dispensation, he also performed glorious administrations. At the day of Pentecost, there appeared unto the Apostles cloven tongues, like as "of fire, and it sat upon each of them; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.'' When the Apostles afterwards were enduring much persecution, and were assembled for solemn prayer, it is said,—"And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness:" Acts 4:31. When the Apostles preached the Gospel through the world, it often happened that the Holy Ghost fell on all them who heard the word, communicating to many saving grace, and to some extraordinary gifts. If the Holy Spirit performed such glorious operations, and exerted such Divine influence, for overcoming Jewish prejudices; for removing heathenish darkness; and for establishing the Christian religion; we may certainly conclude that he will perform similar operations, and will exert the same influence, when "all the ends of the earth shall remember and turn unto the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before him." To this truth, an holy Apostle gives a direct testimony: "And then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume by the Spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:" 2 Thess. 2:8. The Holy Spirit, accompanying the word with divine power; exhibiting to men the glory of Christ as a Saviour, and displaying to them the glory of God in him, shall be the great efficient cause of destroying the abominations of Popery, and of establishing the Redeemer's kingdom in all the earth. Then shall the Spirit of the Lord appear in the glory of his distinct personality; of the divinity of his character; and of his special work in the scheme of redemption. Then shall all nations be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; and then the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, shall be with them all:—Amen.
12. All this blessedness which has been mentioned, shall be the Church's enjoyment, not for a short space, but for a very long lime. When we are assured that the time which is fixed for our enjoyment of any good, is very short, it will diminish both its value and our pleasure in the possession of it. But when we know that the time of our enjoyment of it is long, it augments its worth in our estimation, and enlarges our satisfaction in the fruition of it. The saints' happiness, at this blessed time, will be increased by the consideration of the long continuance of their prosperity and peace. The number by which this season is marked in the visions of John, is one thousand years. Whether this number signifies exactly so many years, or a long time, cannot be positively ascertained; but, from either of these views of it, we may be assured that the Church's glory and purity will be continued for a very long time. That opinion, however, which considers each day in the thousand years to signify a year, by which the duration of the Millennium is extended to three hundred and sixty thousand years, being out of all proportion to other prophetic numbers, and to them all put together, has not, so far as I know, been adopted by many. This number of one thousand years is mentioned six times in as many verses, at the beginning of Revelation 20th. It is mentioned in verse second, to fix the time during which Satan shall be bound; it is mentioned again in verse third, to state the time in which he shall be restrained from deceiving the nations. The same number is repeated in verse fourth, to mark the duration of the Church's living and reigning with Christ. It is still mentioned in verse fifth, as stating the time in which the rest of the dead, or the wicked, lived not. It is contained in verse sixth, to describe the time during which, those who have part in the first resurrection, shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him. It is brought before us, for the last time, in the seventh verse, to show that when it shall expire, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison for a little season. As no other prophetic number is ever used in Scripture, to represent the Church's blessedness in the latter-day; as it is always employed without any alteration in its form; and since it is so clearly and frequently applied to the different things that are connected with that happy season, there seems to be some reason to conclude, though it must not be asserted positively, that the Church's state of happiness and prosperity will continue exactly one thousand years, and may perhaps constitute the last day in the week of time, and the Millennial Sabbath, which the Lord our God hath blessed and sanctified for himself.
With some inferences, this part of the subject may be concluded.
1. Christ's kingdom, in this world, shall be victorious over all her enemies. By the light of Divine predictions and promises, we have seen some of the great things which are prepared for her: she shall, therefore, be victorious. The Church may be low, but deliverance and enlargement are secured to her. Since Christ, her glorious Head, has spoiled principalities and powers, and has triumphed over them; since every believer in him shall be made more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus, the Church as a body shall also obtain the dominion. The purpose and promise of her God, the purchase and power of her Savior, and the quickening Spirit who dwells in her, secure to the Church victory and triumph over her enemies. Indeed, the enemy may say, "I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword; my hand shall destroy them." But in the appointed time, "He will blow with his wind, the sea shall cover them, and they shall sink as lead in the mighty waters." Embrace the promise by faith, live in the hope of its accomplishment, and beware of doubting the Church's deliverance and prosperity; for of old time, He has declared, with great solemnity, "As truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord:" Num. 14:21.
2. The change that will take place among men, at the coming of the kingdom of God, shall be exceeding great. As the alteration of the circumstances of Israel, from what they were in Egypt, or in the wilderness, was very great, after they were possessed of the land of promise; as the change in their situation from their being captives in Babylon, to their dwelling safely in Jerusalem, in the cities of Judah, and in the country which flowed with milk and honey, was very great; so the change in the Church's condition, when she is delivered from spiritual Egypt, and from Babylon the Great, and brought into her Millennial rest, shall be incomparably great and glorious. The change on the Jews shall be extraordinary, when they shall emerge from their unbelief and dispersion, return to the Lord, and take possession of Canaan. To the Protestant Churches the change shall be remarkable also, when they shall receive that deliverance which shall be like life from the dead. By the removal of Popish darkness, idolatry and wickedness, and by their obtaining the word, the Gospel, the worship, and the salvation of God, the change on the Antichristian nations will be most conspicuous and beneficial. What an alteration shall be produced on the Mahometan world, when the Mussulmen shall be delivered from the absurd doctrines, the irrational precepts and carnal promises of their impostor, and shall enjoy the light of the glorious Gospel of the grace of God! How great will be the transformation that shall be made on Pagan nations, when they shall be turned from their gross ignorance of God, their irrational and cruel idolatry, and their abominable wickedness, to the knowledge and worship of the living God! All nations shall then be changed, both in their ecclesiastic and civil interests, and placed under the reign of religion and righteousness. By the grace and power of God, the righteousness and intercession of Jesus, the Divine operations of the Holy Ghost, and by the word, the ordinances and providences of the Most High, shall these changes be produced among men. How important, how advantageous, and how desirable must those changes be! How earnestly should we pray without ceasing, "that his way may be known upon the earth, and his saving health among all nations!"
3. The privileges and enjoyments of the Church in the latter-day, shall differ from those of the Church in the foregoing ages, not in kind, but in degree. Whatever the Church shall then possess, we really enjoy the same, as it were, in miniature. Every Gospel privilege and Christian enjoyment which belong to us, shall be inherited by them in its highest perfection. No new dispensation of Divine grace to men, shall then be introduced, but that dispensation shall be perfected, both in its extent and in its efficacy. No further or additional revelation of the Divine will shall then be enjoyed, nor is it necessary; but that revelation will be better understood. No other doctrines of salvation shall then be preached; but their beauty shall be more clearly seen, and their influence more sensibly felt. No other ordinances of Divine worship shall then be administered; but they will be more purely dispensed, and more remarkably blessed for the conversion and edification of men. No other form of Church government shall then be used, than that which now exists according to the Divine institution; but the administration of it shall be more conscientious and spiritual. No other ordinances of censure different from those already revealed and practised; but they shall seldom be needed; and when they are employed, the offenders will be truly penitent, and the spectators will fear.2 There shall be no other administrators of Gospel ordinances, than the present Christian ministry, whose office is appointed in the Divine word; but in knowledge, holiness and fervor, they will far excel those who now labor in word and doctrine. There shall not be any other office-bearers in the Church, than those helps and governments which God hath already set in her; but their ability and faithfulness for the important work will then be greatly increased. To the Christian Church, in all the periods of her existence, there is one body, and one spirit, and one hope of the Christian's calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. Though there are diversities of gifts, it is the same Spirit; differences of administrations, it is the same Lord; and diversities of operations, it is the same God who worketh all in all.
4. Though the spiritual exercises and enjoyments of believers in the Millennial Church shall be very high, they will still be imperfect saints and militant Christians. The believers' perfection, both in blessedness and service, is reserved for that time, when Christ shall come and receive them to himself, that where he is there they may be also. Every believer while in this world, even in the most prosperous state of the Church, will find it necessary to adopt Paul's words: "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus:" Phil. 3:12. They will even then be exercised in the spiritual warfare, finding a law in their members warring against the law of their mind. They will still find imperfection attending them in all their religious duties, and in all their spiritual enjoyments; because, though their attainments shall be high, there are still greater things laid up for them in heaven. They will be exercised in the life of faith on the Son of God, and in the study of that holiness without which no man shall see the Lord. To all the ordinary trials of human life, and to the common difficulties of the Christian's religious duty and exercise, they will be exposed; though, on account of their high degrees of holiness and comfort, they will be less burdensome to them than they are to us. They will still feel mortality working in their bodily frame, and will in the end put off their tabernacle, as the Lord Jesus has appointed unto them.
5. Christians should endeavor to employ themselves in those religious duties which are suited to their present situation. In the day of prosperity they ought to be joyful, and in the day of adversity they should consider. The Millennial saints will be placed in the most comfortable circumstances, having the wonderful works of God before their eyes, and enjoying abundantly the blessings of his favor: the spiritual employment which is ascribed to them, therefore, consists in praise, thanksgiving, adoration, wonder and delight. The wisdom that cometh from above, is profitable to direct Christians in the knowledge of their situation, and of those duties which that situation requires. The Divine injunction which ought to guide our way in this important concern, is expressed in the following words: "Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms:" James 5:13. The Millennial Church will be directed, wisely to observe this infallible rule. It is an effect of that spiritual madness which is naturally in the hearts of all men, to be ignorant of our condition, and to neglect those duties which are suited to it. Of this the following account of the ancient Church, is a melancholy illustration: "And in that day did the Lord God of hosts call to weeping and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth. And behold, joy and gladness, slaying oxen and killing sheep, eating flesh and drinking wine:" Isaiah 22:12,13. O let us study to avoid this sore evil, and to endeavor to be employed before the Lord, according as the state of the Church, the situation of our relatives, and our own personal condition do demand.
6. The Church enjoys the greatest purity and happiness, when she is favored with the brightest displays of the divine glory. The Church of the latter-day will behold the Divine glory, by his works of judgment, and of mercy, in an extraordinary manner. The manifestations of that glory, and their spiritual discernment of it, will be principal causes, both of their holiness and comfort. They will have an experimental enjoyment of that apostolic privilege,—"But we all with open face, beholding as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." The appearance of God's glory, is the greatest good that can exist among his creatures, and their perception of it, is their highest privilege. In those days, therefore, when God gives to the Church bright discoveries of his glory by his Spirit, his word and his works among them, the assembly of his saints will be highly privileged with consolation in the Lord, and with conformity to him. As it is with the Church as a body, so will it be with individual believers. When He who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, shines into their heart by the Spirit's application of the word to their souls, to give them the light of the knowledge of his glory, in the face of Jesus Christ, they act faith in him for their salvation; they see the beauty of the Lord; they love him with all their heart, and they have a blessed enlargement in holiness and comfort. All this glory is seen in the person and through the mediation of Christ; discerned by the Christian's knowledge; applied by the Christian's faith, and inwardly felt by the Christian's spiritual experience. Let us, therefore, improve the Divine word, the ordinances of Divine grace, and the duties of religion, that by them, as means prepared by himself, we may behold the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.
7. Christians have need to be prepared for the coming of those glorious days. The first vision that John had of the Millennial Church—chap. 7:9—was introduced by a vision which he had of another company, consisting of one hundred and forty-four thousand, who were sealed with the seal of the living God. This privilege consists in the powerful operations of the Spirit by the word, conveying to believers sanctifying, comforting, and establishing grace. By this privilege they are enabled to continue in the exercise of faith and the practice of holiness; to adhere to his truths, and to wait for his coming; to suffer for his name's sake, and to reverence his judgment; to rejoice in the hope of the coming of his kingdom, and to observe the signs of its approach. As those who have the mark of the beast in their right hand, or on their forehead, belong to him, and are devoted to wrath and destruction; so those who are sealed by the angel ascending from the East, belong to God, and are marked out for preservation and safety, whether in a time of calamity, or in the season of prosperity and rest. "The sun shall not smite them by day, nor the moon by night." If we are among the company of true believers, we belong to the one hundred and forty-four thousand who are sealed for the season of judgments, in the effusion of the vials; and are also prepared for the coming of the Church's glory and purity. If the vision that John had, at the beginning of that chapter, of four angels holding the winds, that they should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree, be now fulfilled in that providential dispensation, by which the four great powers in Europe, by their military occupation of France, are preserving national tranquility;3 if this application of the providence to the prediction, which has lately been made by one of the most able writers on Prophecy in modern times, be correct,—and indeed on the side of it there is high probability, what reason have we, at this time, to be seeking the application of the seal of the living God to our souls, that if we live to see the end of those wonders, we may joyfully mingle among the innumerable company, and join them in their triumphant song! And if this is denied to us, we may anticipate the song, by praising God for the revelation of the predictions and promises concerning those glorious days, in the faith and desire that he will accomplish his own word, "The Lord will hasten it in his time."
[Go to Discourse Three]Footnotes:
1. This is not a reference to something that is supposed to have happened, but rather the author's anticipation of the destruction of the Papacy in his own century. The year 1866 was asserted by some Reformed interpreters at and before the time of the author (1829), as a possible time for the fulfillment of the 1260 year Great Apostacy and the destruction of Antichrist the Pope of Rome. This was computed by the addition of 1260 years to the year 606, in which Phocas, Roman Emperor, declared Boniface III, bishop of Rome, to be head of the universal Church. An alternate date that has been suggested for the beginning of the Great Apostacy is 756, the year in which Antichrist the Pope of Rome gained temporal dominion. This brings us to the year 2016 as a possible date for the destruction of Antichrist and the beginning of the Millennium. See David Steele's Notes on the Apocalypse, 11.3.
2. The assertion that Church censures "shall seldom be needed" should be taken within the context of one speaking in a day when Church censures were actually used, and must therefore be understood as a relative comparison. Indeed, Church censures shall be both seldom needed and accordingly seldom used during this glorious time, in comparison to their need and use in Mason's congregation. Comparing to our day however, as true as it is that there shall be less need for Church censures in the future, it is likely that they shall be used more often, seeing as they are almost universally neglected today.
3. Obviously this conjecture was incorrect; nor did the providential dispensation referred to well accord with the prophetic description, seeing as the character of those four great powers mentioned could hardly be compatible with the title angel, while those very powers were at the same time, as they are still today, members of the Beast of civil tyranny and rebellion against King Jesus. David Steele asserts that these four angels actually represent the instruments of God's providence in a period far remote from the Millennium. His comments on Rev. 7.1. are as follows: "The 'four angels' represent the instruments of providence. The 'four corners of the earth' intend all nations of the world, as then known in geography. (Rev. 20.8,9.) The 'holding of the winds' is emblematical of the tranquility consequent upon the accession of Constantine to the imperial throne,—the temporary cessation of desolating wars and persecutions,—the 'rest' for which the martyrs prayed. 'Thou calledst in trouble, and I delivered thee.' (Psalm 81.7.)"