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Chapter III.

Database

Chapter III.

James Dodson

THE CHURCH, OR MYSTICAL BODY OF CHRIST, COMPLETE AT HIS COMING


Our preliminary inquiries being now concluded, the way is open for bringing out the mind of the Spirit on the great question at issue, namely, Whether the fleshly state at the second advent, instead of coming to an end, will only be then reconstituted and inaugurated as one of the departments of a millennial kingdom;—whether, after one portion of Christ’s people have appeared with him in glory, for ever beyond the experience of imperfection and the reach of evil, another portion of them will be left below for a thousand years in their mortal bodies, subject to all the imperfections of the life of faith and the state of grace, as contradistinguished from the glory of the risen and changed saints. The Scripture evidence against this theory I propose to arrange under a series of propositions, the first of which will occupy the present chapter.

PROPOSITION FIRST:

THE CHURCH WILL BE ABSOLUTELY COMPLETE AT CHRIST’S COMING

If this can be established, the whole system falls to the ground. If all that are to be saved will be brought in before Christ comes, of course there can be none to come in after his advent, and in that case the lower department of the expected kingdom disappears.

The difficulty here is not to find proof of the point, but any thing like evidence to the contrary. No plain reader of the Bible ever doubts that the Church will be completed ere Christ comes; not a few even of the premillennialists themselves have been constrained to admit it—with what effect upon the sobriety of their own views we shall by and by see; and even those who deny it, give evidence of the extreme weakness of their ground, and virtually concede the point, by admitting that “the Bride” of Christ will be complete, though they contend that the whole number of the saved—whom they distinguish from “the Bride”—will not.

The following passages are quite decisive:—

1 Cor. 15:23. “But each (ἕκαστος δὲ) in his own order: Christ the first-fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.”

Any one who even glances at this sublime chapter will see, that the burden of it is the resurrection of believers in general—of “them that are Christ’s,” considered as the second Adam. As their death is deduced from their federal relation to the first Adam, so their resurrection is argued from their federal connection with the second. “As in Adam (they) all die, even so in Christ shall (they) all be made alive.”[1] And it is immediately after this that the apostle says, “But each (party) in his own order”—that is, the federal Head and those federally related to him—“Christ the first-fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s (the full harvest) at his coming.”

Can any thing be more decisive than this? What commentator explains it otherwise?[2] What unbiased reader ever understood it otherwise? Is it not, then, a very bold liberty with the Word of God to say, that only a fractional part of “them that are Christ’s” are here spoken of?—that it means only such of them as shall have lived before the millennium?—that there will be millions of “them that are Christ’s,” that will not be “made alive at his coming,” but remain in their mortal and unglorified state upon earth for at least a thousand years thereafter? Here, on the contrary, we find the whole federal offspring of the second Adam made alive together at his coming. As surely as “Christ, the first-fruits” of his covenanted people, “was made alive in his order,” so surely shall “they that are Christ’s be made alive in their order—at (ἐν) his coming.”[3]

The next passage I have to adduce in proof of the completeness of the Church at Christ’s coming, is

Eph. 5:25–27. “Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word; that he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish.”

It is impossible to doubt what “Church” is here meant, for it is defined by three bright unmistakeable marks within the bosom of the passage itself. It is “the Church which Christ loved” from everlasting,—“the Church for which he gave himself” in the fulness of time,—“the Church which he is now sanctifying and cleansing by the word,” as “with the washing of water:” It is this Church, even the whole loved, ransomed, and purified company, which Christ will “present (παραστήσῃ) to himself a glorious Church.” Calvin takes the allusion to be to the bridal beauty in which the Church will be presented to her Lord.[4] Bengel does the same.[5] And as this apostle tells the Corinthians that he had espoused them “to one Husband, that he might present them (παραστῆσαι) as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:2), there can be no doubt, I think, that they are right. Well, when is this to be? Clearly “at his coming.” But should any hesitate about this, I will put it beyond doubt by comparing it with two or three passages, in which the same delightful truth is expressed, and nearly in the same terms.

2 Thess. 1:10. “He shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that have believed[6]—in that day.”

The party in this passage is the same as in the former: there called “the Church” loved, purchased, and purified from every stain; here, “his saints”—“all them that have believed.” The purpose in view, too, is in both passages the same. In the former, to present it to himself “a glorious Church;” in the latter, “to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe”—to be greeted with the “admiration” and get the “glory” which is his due, when beheld by the side of his spotless and resplendent Church, as its Life, Head, and Husband—in that day of his second coming. This is decisive. As it determines the time of presentation, so equally the party presented, by definitions not to be misunderstood. To the same effect,

Jude 24. “Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,” &c. (στῆσαι κατενώπιον).

Here the thing to be done, and, beyond all doubt, the time of doing it, are the same as in the two former passages. So precisely in two other passages:

Col. 1:21, 22. “And you, that were sometime alienated, and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy, and unblameable, and unreproveable in his sight” (παραστῆσαι κατενώπιον).

1 Thess. 3:13. “To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.”

Here we have the additional idea of the presentation of the Church, not only to Christ, as a Bride to her Husband, but of both to the Father—at the second advent.

And now, I think it impossible to resist the combined force of these passages. One broad magnificent conception pervades them all—

The absolute completeness of the Church at Christ’s coming,

The spotless purity in which it will then be presented, “as a chaste virgin,” to Christ,

The resplendent glory in which, as “the Bride, the Lamb’s wife,” she shall then be “adorned for her Husband,”

The praise which will redound from such a spectacle to the Redeemer himself,

The rapturous admiration of Him which it will kindle, and,

The ineffable complacency with which the whole will be regarded by “God, even our Father.”

Thus have I established the completeness of the Church at Christ’s coming. I have limited myself to a few passages, on the import of which all commentators, ancient and modern, are agreed[7] (one or two others will occur by and by); but it is written as with a sunbeam on the pages of the New Testament, and those who call it in question, are driven to seek support from highly figurative portions of Old Testament prophecy, and from the corresponding book of the New Testament, the Apocalypse. Now, it is an old maxim in divinity, that doctrines are not to be built upon prophetic or symbolical scripture.[8] The principle is one of undoubted soundness, and of indispensable necessity as a bulwark against the abuse of figurative language. Premillennialism, however, is one entire product of the reverse of this principle; and, in the case before us, it can produce nothing in proof of the incompleteness of the Church at Christ’s coming, but what is studded all over with figures. How slender is the support derived even from this source, I shall now show.

The following are the passages chiefly relied on:—

Zech. 14:5. “The Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.” (עִמָּךְ—LXX. μετʼ αὐτοῦ, reading עִמּוֹ with him.)[9]

Here, it is said, is Christ’s second coming with all his saints before the millennium, when their number is confessedly incomplete. “All the saints,” therefore, must mean here only all living before that time; and if here, why not every where?

My answer to this is twofold. First, The best interpreters, including some premillennialists, take “the saints” here to mean the holy angels (as in Deut. 33:2; Dan. 8:13, &c.), as ministers of divine vengeance. I was inclined to think otherwise, but Old Testament usage seems decidedly in favour of it. In this case, I think, the passage proves nothing. But, waiving this, my principal answer is, that it has never been proved, nor I believe can be, that the “coming” spoken of in this chapter is the second personal advent of Christ. The minute details of this prediction—all to be taken literally in that case—are totally irreconcilable with “the burning up of the earth and the works that are therein,” which is to signalise the second coming of Christ (2 Pet. 3:10). The majority of commentators apply the prophecy to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, when the Lord “came” to establish on the ruins of a carnalized and faithless Judaism the kingdom of his grace.[10] In this case, of course, it has nothing to do with our subject. But even if we apply the prophecy to the conflicts which are to usher in the millennial kingdom—which good interpreters think the sequel of the chapter obliges us to do—the sense will be very much the same.[11]

But however this passage is to be expounded, since the whole context is highly figurative and involved in difficulty, as is evident from the diversities among commentators, it shows great poverty of solid proof to appeal to it so frequently and confidently on a question confessedly of vast moment, and on which the New Testament abounds in the plainest statements.

Rev. 19:6–9. “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.”

The argument here is, that the marriage of the Lamb with his Bride, or the Church, is said to take place immediately after the fall of Antichrist, or before the millennium, when the number of the elect will certainly not be complete.

In reply to this, it may be enough to say that this cannot be the actual consummation of the marriage between Christ and his Church in glory, because in the two last chapters of this book (which most of my opponents agree with me in referring to the everlasting state) the Church is described as “descending,” after the millennium is all over, “as a bride adorned for her husband;” and it is rather awkward to suppose a bridal preparation and a presentation of the parties to each other a thousand years after the union has been consummated.[12] “Christ’s marriage with his Church,” says Durham, “is three ways spoken of in Scripture: 1. As it cometh by the offer of the gospel, wherein many are espoused, and by faith engaged to him (2 Cor. 11:2.) Thus it hath been since Christ’s days; his marriage was then, and many were and are invited (Matt. 22. &c.) 2. As it is consummated and perfected at the end, when the Queen is brought to the King, and abideth with him for ever (Ps. 45.) 3. There is an intervening step, when the fulness of the Gentiles and the Jews shall be brought in together: that is marrying eminently, because it is the grafting again of the old branches, and the bringing back of a divorced wife, for a time forsaken.… And as in Scripture there is a threefold resurrection—(namely, 1. By the gospel, which was and is alway, John 5:14; 2. At the end, which is general, as the first is partial; 3. When Jews and Gentiles shall come in together, which is, Rom. 11, as life from the dead, which is between the two former)—so may we consider the Church’s marriage, which is the same with the resurrection, in a threefold consideration also. It is not the first nor the second marriage that is mentioned here; for it is, in a singular way, such a marriage as was not before, and the last end is not intended here; for the last marriage doth not comprehend an accession to the militant Church, as this doth here, going along with the Pope’s overthrow before the end.”—(Commentary upon the Book of the Revelation, 1658, ad loc.)

Rev. 21:24. “And the nations [of them which are saved[13]] shall walk in the light of it (the New Jerusalem), and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.”

It is surprising that any thing should be made of such a passage as this. For, as “the kings of the earth bring their glory and honour (εἰς) unto or into the New Jerusalem,” the state of both must be the same—the receptacle and the things received into it must be homogeneous. If “the kings of the earth” mean potentates living in the flesh, and if their “glory and honour” mean their regal wealth and influence, then “the New Jerusalem” into which they enter, bringing this with them, must mean an earthly state of the Church. If, on the other hand, the “New Jerusalem” mean the glorified state of the Church, then “the kings” who bring their glory and honour unto or into it, cannot mean the sovereigns of the earth living in the flesh, nor can their “glory and honour” mean any thing earthly, because “flesh and blood can not inherit the kingdom of God, neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” Accordingly, though commentators are divided as to whether the two last chapters of Revelation denote the heavenly state, or a bright state of the Church upon earth, they agree in applying the whole verse before us to the one or the other of these states, but not to both. Thus Vitringa and others apply it to the Church on earth,[14] despite the “impudence” which Augustine thought it would require to venture on such a view:[15] while, on the other hand, Durham, Marck, and the majority of commentators, apply it to the Church in glory—under the idea of a confluence of all that can be conceived of regal magnificence and grandeur to adorn that blessed state.[16]

Such, then, are the passages relied on to prove that the Church, or the whole mystical body of Christ, will not be complete at his second coming. I think I have proved that it will; and I appeal to the reader if any thing, I say not of equal weight, but even of weight at all, is adduced in opposition to it. Other arguments, however, abundantly confirming the position I have laid down, will occur in the sequel.

If Christ, then, when he comes the second time, is to reign on the earth for a thousand years, it will not be over believing men still left in their mortal bodies upon earth. Living Christianity will have disappeared from the earth: The number of the elect accomplished, the whole body of Christ transfigured, and thus prepared, as a Bride adorned for her Husband, “will with gladness and rejoicing have been brought—will have entered into the King’s palace.” This is “our gathering together unto him,”[17] this is “the universal concourse and assembly of the first-born registered in heaven,”[18] for which preparation is now making, and to which every believer is in spirit already joined.

What do the premillennialists say to this? It divides them into two classes: one class boldly avowing the completeness of the Church before the millennium, and doing their best, by various adjustments of their system, to avoid the harsh consequences which flow from it; while the other class, recoiling from the conclusions, take refuge in a denial of the premises from which they flow—affirming that the Church, so far from being complete at Christ’s coming, will have an accession of myriads of believers after his coming, from among the Jews and Gentiles over whom he is to reign. Let us try it both ways, and see where we are on either supposition.

First: Let us hear one or two of the former class—who place the Reign upon earth after the completion of all the elect.

Homes, a contemporary of Mede, two centuries ago, placed the conflagration, the creation of the new heavens and new earth, the resurrection of all the deceased, and the change of all the living saints—embracing the whole number of the elect—before the millennium.

“In that new creation,” says he, “Christ restores all things to their perfection, and every believer to his; to the end that all believers may jointly and co-ordinately rule over the whole world, and all things therein, next under Christ their Head. I say all, and not a part only, as some unwarily publish. And I say jointly, and not one part of saints to usurp authority over the rest, as many dream. And co-ordinately, all upon equal terms, not some saints to rule by deputies made of the rest of saints, as men seem to interpret.”[19]

But will there be no other men on the new earth besides these risen and changed saints—to perpetrate the rebellion and suffer the perdition predicted, at the end of the thousand years? Yes, myriads; but all unconverted and inconvertible. None but “open and obstinate ungodly men” being destroyed by the conflagration, the rest will be “reserved out of the fire to be an appendix of the new creation, as Lactantius, Sixtus, Senensis, and Dr. Twisse understand.” These, “by virtue of the Adamic covenant, shall be restored in soul and body to the natural perfection which Adam had in the state of innocency; but being mutable, they shall fall, when in like manner they are assaulted by Satan. Out of these shall spring the brood of Gog and Magog.”

“The Church, being now as heaven on earth, the false-hearted spawn of future Gog and Magog shall be remote on earth, near their future hell.… But if these hypocrites were nearer the Church, they might perhaps be converted? We answer, No: for it is (if we may use that word) the fate of the millenary period, I mean, God’s righteous peremptory sentence, that as all that time there shall be no degenerating of believers, so no more regenerating of any unbelievers.”[20]

Burnet, a little later, in his celebrated “Theory of the Earth,” agrees with Homes as to the time of the conflagration, the new heavens and new earth, and the completion of the elect to reign, in a resurrection state, on the new earth.

“Neither,” says he, “is there any distinction made, that I find by St John, of two sorts of saints in the millennium, the one in heaven (in resurrection bodies), the other upon earth (in a mortal state). This is such an idea of the millennium as to my eye hath neither beauty nor foundation in Scripture.”[21]

But whereas, according to him, all the wicked are to perish in the conflagration, he has to reproduce them, one way or other, to “compass the camp of the saints and the beloved city” at the end of the millennium (Rev. 20:7–9), and to be consumed in their mad assault upon immortal men. “This,” says he, “is a common difficulty to all” (that is, all premillennialists, for it is their system alone which creates the difficulty); “and every one must contribute their best thoughts and conjectures towards the solution of it.” The reader will smile at Burnet’s own solution of it, if new to him.

“It seems probable,” says he, “that there will be a double race of mankind in the future earth, very different from one another.… The one born from heaven, sons of God and of the resurrection, who are the true saints and heirs of the millennium: the others born of the earth, sons of the earth, generated from the slime of the ground and heat of the sun, as brute creatures were at the first. This second progeny, or generation of men, in the future earth, I understand to be signified by the prophet under these borrowed or feigned names of Gog and Magog.”[22]

Perry, early in the last century, thus emphatically expresses himself on the completion of the elect before the personal advent and reign on earth:—

“It is certain that when Christ personally comes from heaven will be the time of the open solemnization of the marriage glory between Him and the Spouse; and, if so, then the Bride must be ready against that time, as it is expressed in this text, ‘And his Wife hath made herself ready;’ which cannot be if they are not all converted before Christ comes. For this I think is undeniable, that by the ‘Wife,’ ‘Bride,’ or ‘Spouse’ of Christ, the whole Elect must be understood.… How can it be thought that Christ, when he comes from heaven to celebrate the marriage-feast between himself and his people, that he should have a lame and imperfect Bride; as she must be, if some should be with Christ in a perfect glorified state, and some of his mystical body at the same time in an imperfect and unglorified condition?”[23]

Perry, however, went farther than this; not only denying the existence of saints in the flesh during the millennium, but even of men at all in the flesh during that period—the earth being, according to him, in exclusive possession of men in the resurrection-state during the millennium. A pleasant theory, truly; but how, according to it, did he get the last conflict after the millennium brought about (Rev. 20:8, 9)? “This,” says he, “seems to me to be the knottiest text throughout the whole Bible in relation to this glorious time.” In his attempts to solve it, he first rejects the ordinary view—of the spiritual glory of the latter day terminating in an extensive outbreak of human corruption (that is not a glorious enough view of the millennium for those who hold the Personal Reign): Next, he rejects the now prevalent view among premillennialists, of two classes of saints—the one perfect, immortal, glorified, and reigning; the other unglorified, mortal, imperfect, and ruled over, having also mixed up with them a multitude of unconverted professors, who are at last to attack the rest and perish in the attempt. Homes’ view he then rejects—of “some, not in the covenant of grace, preserved for the” premillennial “burning of the world, and restored unto an Adamitical state of innocence”—as a thing to him unintelligible.[24] He admits, indeed, that a remnant of the wicked may be preserved from the conflagration, who may “be left to multiply in some of the outside parts or borders of the earth,” far enough from seeing or beholding the glory of Christ and the saints during the time of “that glorious reign,” and renewed to no Adamitical state. But he gives a number of reasons against even this view, and ventures finally on one of his own, “which he knows is out of the common road of almost all expositors; and that is, that the Gog and Magog who will arise at the end of the thousand years, to compass the camp of the saints, will consist of the number of all the wicked when raised out of their graves!”—(P. 409.) He is aware that “this, by reason of its being altogether new, may seem strange, sound harsh, and appear altogether incredible unto many.” But he “earnestly entreats the reader” to weigh his reasons for it, especially as he only humbly propounds it for the clearing of the darkest point in the premillennial scheme. His reasons are sensible and convincing, as against the other theories of his premillennial brethren; but in favour of his own view, I shall not trouble the reader with them.

In a word, and coming down to our own day, Dr. M‘Neile thus refers to those premillennialists whom he had found maintaining the completeness of the Church at Christ’s coming:—

“It is objected again, that the mystical body of Christ shall be completed at his second advent, and consequently admit of no increase, and that therefore the nations of the earth subsequent to that event cannot be brought into a Christian state;” for “since they fall after the millennium, it is necessary to limit the nature of their blessedness during the millennium to an Adamic state—an Adamic state of innocent creatureship,” language uncouth enough certainly, but not more so than the thing it is intended to describe—“from which it is alleged they may fall, as our first parents fell.”[25]

Lastly, in a beautiful little work lately published,[26] a theory is propounded identical with Perry’s, except in one particular. The conflagration, the creation of the new heavens and new earth, and the completion of the elect—are all to be premillennial: The new earth is to be in exclusive possession of the glorified saints, with their Head in the midst of them, and their millennial bliss undisturbed by the presence of any other men whatever.

“When the Lord God Omnipotent,” says Mr. Burchell, “the Son of man, is come in his glory, then all flesh comes to its end; the earth, with all that is therein, must be dissolved in fire. The work of the ministry has ceased; there are none to seek and save when the Lord has made up his jewels, and is making a full end of his enemies. The Lord Jesus Christ is coming to reign over the renewed earth, with his Church perfected and complete—with all who love his appearing, whether they have died in faith, or then remain alive. The thousand years is the Lord’s great Sabbath-day, the glorious rest; when, having finished his gospel work, he will initiate his redeemed in the possession of bliss, and in the unclouded knowledge of an eternity to follow.” As to saints living in the flesh after the Lord’s coming, “I agree,” says he, “in rejecting (I would say abhorring, if it were not that I fear to offend many good men) the mixed millennium, the half-carnal, half-spiritual glory drawn out by many.” And as to sinners, “the idea,” he says, “of a sinner surviving that day (of Christ’s coming) would be absurd, if it were not worse than an absurdity.”—(Pp. 3, 4, 50.)

But if neither saints nor sinners survive the coming of the Lord before the millennium, whence does he bring the apostate nations, who, at the close of that period, come up against the camp of the saints and the beloved city? Not from the dead, as Perry does. Yet here he feels the tenderness of his ground. “I well know,” he says, “where the chief difficulty lies.” His solution of it is certainly new. “The nations” (τὰ ἔθνη) “who, deceived by Satan, gather themselves together, as the sand of the sea, from the four quarters” or corners (γωνίαις) “of the earth,” are evil spirits, “an invisible kingdom, headed by the Serpent, who, at the millennium, are bound at the angles or corners of the earth, at the four winds of heaven, the mysterious starting-point of spirits.”—(P. 20.) This is to make Satan the deceiver of himself—which, I suppose, I may leave without comment.

The weight of these testimonies to the absolute completeness of the Church at Christ’s coming, lies merely in the quarter from which they come. With any other than premillennialists, such statements as we have quoted would be a matter of course; for none but they have any doubt that Christ will stay in the heavens till all his redeemed be brought in. But when any of them admit this, we see at what a sacrifice it is done. It destroys at once the sobriety and credibility of their scheme. What it seems to gain at the beginning, and during the currency of the thousand years, it more than loses at the end of that period. Bright would be the hope they hold out, of “our gathering together unto him” at his coming, and reign with him on the earth—none that are “his” left behind, but all “ever with the Lord”—were the prospect not overcast, and the vessel marred in the hands of the potter, by the introduction of a very different and discordant element at the end of one brief millennium of celestial bliss—even the rush of myriad hosts from all the ends of the earth against——what? against the very glory of the Lord, and the pavilion of his immortal and transfigured people! It matters little which of the ways of explaining this be adopted—whether, with Homes and Burnet, the rebel multitude be thought to be mortal men; or, with Perry, the wicked raised from the dead; or, with Mr Burchell, evil spirits. The absurdity of all ways of it is alike manifest. But those who concede to us that there will be no earthly Church after Christ comes, and yet insist on bringing him from heaven before the millennium, cannot help themselves. As their concession to us deprives them of all materials for bringing about the final conflict, they are driven into such extravagant ways of realizing it as only serve to show the hopeless impracticability of their scheme. They could avoid their difficulty by denying the completeness of the Church when Christ comes. But to this notion they have as much repugnance as we have; and rather than fall in with what they regard as abhorrent and in the face of Scripture, they resort to solutions of their difficulty which all but themselves perceive to be extravagant and incredible. It is this, then, which gives weight to their testimony to the completeness of the Church at the Lord’s coming. It is the testimony of those who have every inducement (so to speak) to deny it—who feel themselves shut up to the admission, cost what it may, that when Christ comes—whether before the millennium or not—he will want none of his redeemed.

The second class of premillennialists consists of those who deny this—embracing nearly all who hold the Personal Reign in our day, and against whose system I chiefly write. According to them, when the apostle says, “They that are Christ’s (shall be quickened) at his coming,” he means not his whole mystical body—the universal family of the redeemed—but only such of them as shall have lived up to the millennium. On this extraordinary liberty I submit the following remarks:—

1. It is a violent, offensive, and perilous departure from the plain meaning of the words, not only here, but in all similar passages of Scripture, in which it is impossible to point out any thing, I say not which demands, but which even admits, of a limitation in the sense.

2. This departure from the plain meaning of words comes strangely from the advocates of literal interpretation—who ascribe to this same vicious habit of departing from the literal and obvious sense of Scripture, nearly all the opposition which their doctrine meets with. Those who will allow no latitude in the interpretation of prophetic language—who insist on our taking predictions imbedded in symbol and figure with a literality reckless of consequences—are the very persons who take to themselves this prodigious latitude in the interpretation of the most unadorned statements that can be imagined. The intelligent reader, while he marks this inconsistency, will trace it to its true source, the difficulties of the system. Once insert the premillennial wedge into the text of Scripture, and a loosening process will commence, the extent of which will depend upon the energy and determination with which it is driven in.

3. Strange to say, the very party who contend for the glorification of only a fractional part of Christ’s people at his coming, seem at times to forget themselves, and fall in with our views. They cannot part, it seems, with the bright expectation of a perfect, public, and simultaneous glorification of the whole Church at the Saviour’s second appearing; and they kindle into just ardour at the glorious prospect—as if their system did not cut it up by the roots. “O how glorious,” exclaims sweet old Durant, already quoted, “will that salvation be, when all the heirs of salvation shall meet together! Now, all are not saved; the whole body now is in trouble for a part. Then, all the children of the Father shall meet together in their Father’s presence; they shall come from the east and west, from north and south, and sit down in that kingdom; yea, and then all saints shall be sweetly conjoined. Jewels scattered are not so resplendent; but joined in some rich pendent, O how glorious are they! In that day Christ will gather up all his jewels—he will bring in every saint into one—gather them into one great jewel, one precious pendent, which shall jointly lie in his own bosom. Now, a saved soul sighs and cries, Where is Israel?—where is Judah? When will the Lord save them? Why, poor hearts, you shall all meet at that day—be saved with an universal salvation; and so be all of you with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the patriarchs, prophets—all the apostles and martyrs; yea, all that fear God, small as well as great. All, always, altogether in the presence of your Saviour!—surely, then, you will say, that salvation is very sweet. Not one saint shall be missing in that day; but all shall altogether meet, and enjoy the salvation of Christ then, so universal shall it be.”[27] Now, these statements are very pleasant upon our principles. We can cordially respond to them, and take the full comfort of them. But what are we to make of them upon the premillennial doctrine—“All the heirs of salvation meeting together in their Father’s presence,” at the beginning of the thousand years—“not one saint missing in that day?”

But perhaps this is more the language of ardour than of accuracy, and of an age when the doctrine of the premillennial advent was not so well understood in its manifold bearings as it is now? Hear, then, the late much-esteemed Mr. Bickersteth,—hear him, not giving vent to his feelings in loose language, but calmly and didactically delivering what he takes to be the testimony of Scripture on this point. In his chapter on the “Period of the Second Coming,” the following is the fifth of what he calls “The New Testament Statements bearing on this subject:” “One glorious hope is set before the Church, in the New Testament.[28] This hope is set before us collectively and in common. It is not to be given separately and at different periods; but it is a glory belonging to the Church, to be given to it as a corporate body, and at a particular period—the coming of our Lord; and while it is to be the one object of hope of all the Church in every age, it is to be enjoyed together as one body. For this all are to be looking.”[29] Then follow a number of excellent proof-texts. Now, in this statement we perfectly and zealously concur; but the marvel is, how any man who holds the views which he does, can put it down as a statement of his own belief. If the author will unchurch the myriads that are to people the earth during the thousand years—if he will tell us plainly, that the “men who shall then be blessed in Christ”—the “all nations who shall call him blessed”—will not be “blessed” with vital union to him and participation in the blessings of his salvation, we can understand him; for then he will just rank with our first class, whose views of the “Adamic state of innocent creatureship,” in which the millennial nations are to rejoice, have at least the merit of consistency. In such case, he is at full liberty to speak of the glorification of the Church as being “given to it as a corporate body, and at a particular period—the coming of our Lord;” for the “corporate body” is then completed—“the Church,” by his own hypothesis, “is then entire.” But it will not do to take the benefit and the comfort of a simultaneous glorification of the whole Church at the commencement of the millennium, and then to expatiate on the glories of a millennial Church, after that, sojourning on earth for a thousand years. Your expectation of the Church’s corporate glory at the coming of our Lord is beautiful and soul-stirring; but that expectation is ours, not yours. You have no right to it, but on one condition—that you unchristianize—that you sever from Christ and all his saving benefits—every one of the holy and happy myriads with whom you people and bless the earth during the thousand years. When you have done this, you will then be entitled to kindle at a prospect infinitely superior to even this happy state of things—the prospect of appearing in glory “as a corporate body, and at a particular period, even the coming of our Lord.” But while you believe in the Church-state of the millennial nations—in the Christian character of the latter-day glory—you do but dazzle your readers with descriptions of a glory never to be realized on your principles; for it is a manifest abuse of language to say, that you expect the Church in its entireness to appear with Christ in glory at his coming.

Still, one may say, perhaps even Mr. Bickersteth does not here speak the sentiments of his friends. Does so glaring an inconsistency pervade the writings of premillennialists generally? Let the reader judge from the following passages, which I quote from the second volume of Church of England Lectures on the Advent.[30] The first lecture is on “The manifestation of the Church at the coming of the Lord,” from Eph. 5:25–27, “Christ loved the Church,” &c., which the author[31] interprets quite as absolutely as we ourselves do. “What,” says he, “is meant by the Church? It is composed of all those who have been given to Christ by the Father from eternity. It comprises all those for whom, in an especial manner, Christ gave himself.” On “the nature of the manifestation,” he remarks, “1. The Church will be glorious in its completeness. Never before shall the whole Church have been seen together—then he will have accomplished the number of his elect. That prayer will be answered which our Lord offered up just before he was crucified, ‘Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word, that they all may be one,’ &c.—not one of the Lord’s people will be wanting”—and more to the same effect. He then comes to “the time when this shall take place;” on which, after adducing some very good texts, he says, “These statements positively and distinctly mark the time of the manifestation of the Church to be at the coming of the Lord.”—(Pp. 5, 7, 8, 12.)

The fifth lecture is on “the Lord’s Supper as a pledge of the Lord’s return”—a subject on which we shall have something to say by and by. The following sentences from this lecture are as destructive of the scheme they are brought to support as any thing we could say on the subject. “The Lord’s Supper,” says Mr. Brock, “is a feast. And what a festival will that be when all the sons of God are united at their Father’s table!… Catholicity is another manner in which the Supper of the Lord becomes a pledge to believers of the second advent. All the Church is made partakers of this ordinance. It is open to believers—to them only, and to each and all of them. Thus it is catholic to the Church, exclusive to the world. So will it be as to the future. There shall be an exclusion of all the wicked; an admission of all the righteous. They, they only, and each and all of them, shall be admitted to the Saviour’s presence. Not one of them shall be wanting. Their names have been written in the Lamb’s book of life, from the foundation of the world. Their place is prepared, and it cannot be vacant. They are members of his body, without whom (the least of them) that body would be maimed and incomplete. All shall appear at the appointed time, and each assist to make up the perfect symmetry and exact proportion of that catholic assembly.”—(Pp. 122, 126, 127.)

In the same strain, and with equal precision, speaks Mr. Grimshawe, in the sixth lecture, on “the joy of the faithful minister at Christ’s coming.” The third particular in which this joy will consist is (he says), “the gathering together in glory of all the ransomed Church of Christ—the perfect man—the completeness of Christ in all the members of his mystical body, elect, sanctified, and finally perfected in glory—the redeemed of every age, tongue, kindred, and people.”—(Pp. 153, 154.)

One other quotation from the eighth lecture, on “the hope of the advent, a remedy against superstition,” will show the uniformity of strain, and the identity, almost, of expression, in which all these premillennialists speak of the simultaneous glorification of the entire Church at Christ’s appearing. “This hope (of the advent, says Mr. Dibdin) is the hope constantly set before the Church in the Word of God.… But what Church?… It is all those who have been chosen in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world. The Church? it is every one of those who have been, are, or shall be born of the Spirit, and made new creatures in Christ Jesus.… Till all whom the Father hath chosen in Christ out of mankind are born again, and justified, the Church will not be complete.”—(Pp. 194, 195.)

I make no apology for the number of these quotations; each from a different witness—all from one volume, and that a recent one—expressing, with a clearness and a copiousness not to be misunderstood, the fixed belief, and the ardent expectation of those who are now looking for the coming of Christ before the millennium. And what is it? It is, that the entire Church shall appear with Christ at his coming; or, to take their own excellent definitions of the Church, that “all those who have been given to Christ by the Father from eternity—all those for whom, in an especial manner, Christ gave himself—all who have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb—every one of those who have been, are, and shall be born of the Spirit, and made new creatures in Christ Jesus”—in a word, “the completeness of Christ in all the members of his mystical body, elect, sanctified, and finally perfected in glory”—all, all shall appear with Christ at his coming. “Scripture positively and distinctly marks the time of the manifestation of the Church,” thus defined, “to be,” they tell us, “at the coming of the Lord.”

Well, agreeing with you cordially in all this, my simple question is, What will the Jews and Gentiles be, with whom you people the world during the millennium, and over whom you make the glorified Church to reign with Christ? They cannot belong to the elected, the blood-bought, the regenerated, and justified members of Christ’s mystical body; for you have taken all these away from the earth, and out of their fleshly condition, to appear with Christ in glory before the millennium. If your statements are not hopelessly unintelligible, there will not be found, from beginning to end of the thousand years, one of the elect, the redeemed, the regenerate, one believer, one saint upon earth. Whatever may constitute the felicity of that period, it will not be Christianity—it will not be saintship. Christ’s coming has put an end, by your own showing, to the existence of this upon earth and in the flesh.

Will you fall back, then, upon the Adamic theory? You ought to do it. But you will not. On opening your books again, we find you making the millennium the same Christian state that we expect it to be. The Jews, you say, looking on their pierced Saviour, will repent and believe, and be the missionary instruments of the Gentiles’ conversion; and you speak of the spiritual blessedness of that period when “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea”—when “the kingdom and dominion under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High”—when “men shall be blessed in Christ (with salvation, of course), and all nations shall call him blessed.”[32]

Here, then, is the inextricable difficulty into which your system shuts you up; and yet you are either unaware of it, or will not face it. You expatiate with equal confidence upon two things, the one of which is destructive of the other. You rejoice that Christ will bring all his people with him, before the millennium. You no less rejoice in the prospect of a world peopled with believing men for a thousand years after his coming! Let the reader now judge with what clearness premillennialists perceive the bearings of their own doctrine, and whether the parts of that doctrine are capable of hanging together as one consistent whole.

We have thus seen that Christ, at his second appearing, will come absolutely and numerically “with all his saints”—“them that are his;” and have seen how remarkably this is confirmed by the enthusiastic, though suicidal testimony of both classes of premillennialists. The first class, building their scheme upon the admission of this great truth, are thereby driven, as we have seen, into extravagances which it was unnecessary to refute, because they vanish at the touch. The second class, basing their scheme upon the denial of this truth, seem unable to want its inspiration; for thus only can I account for the strain in which they anticipate a prospect which their system repudiates. Does not this show where the weakness of the premillennial theory lies—obliging us either to deny the great scriptural doctrine of the completeness of the Church at Christ’s coming, or to believe in a millennium without Christians? And I venture to affirm, that from this dilemma there is no possible escape, but in the belief which clears all up—that Christ’s second coming will not be premillennial; that all the glory of the latter day—whether it be a definite or an indefinite period—together with the final efforts of the wicked, at the close of it, will precede and not succeed the coming of Christ.

SUPPLEMENTARY REMARKS

The preceding argument, as it appeared in the first edition of this work, has drawn forth a number of replies, particularly from Mr. Bickersteth, the Duke of Manchester, and Mr. A. Bonar,[33]—answers which, in my judgment, expose the weakness of the premillennial system, and the looseness of Scripture interpretation which it necessitates, more effectually than most of the arguments employed to refute it. They all distinguish between “the Bride of the Lamb,” and the whole number of the saved; affirming that the one will be complete at his coming, but the other not. Each, however, has his own way of reconciling his readers to this conclusion.

Mr. Bickersteth explains, that by “the Church,” which is to appear as a complete and corporate body with Christ at his coming, he meant, not all the saved, but only a peculiar portion of them, called “the bride, the assembly of the first-born, the kings and priests unto God, the city;” “whose privilege is distinct and peculiar—not holiness and blessedness merely, but these in a peculiar form.” And who are to constitute this peculiar portion of the saved? All who have believed up to the commencement of the millennium. These alone are the mystical body of Christ. But after they are completed, at the second advent the earth will be peopled by “nations of the saved” in flesh and blood—friends, companions, servants of the Bridegroom—a totally different party from the then glorified Bride. But in what respect different? The answer is, that though they have “holiness and blessedness,” they have “merely” that—they have it not in “the peculiar form” of union to Christ as his mystical body or bride. If one should ask again, what other union there is of sinners to Christ, but as “members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones” (Eph. 5:30), the answer we get is a little startling:—

“There may be,” says Mr. Bickersteth, “and doubtless are, a thousand stages and varieties of union with Christ, distinguishable from the glory of the Church of the first-born.”

After this, we need not of course wonder to find the Adamic variety among the multitudinous types of millennial humanity—the curious Mosaic which is to adorn the new earth. Accordingly, Mr. Bickersteth thus proceeds:—

“In the first place, an Adamic state of innocence is not, as is unguardedly said (by Dr. M‘Neile), infinitely inferior to Christian union with God; for it is a real union, and like that of unfallen angels in kind, though a little lower in form.” “In every human household,” he afterwards says, “there are usually four parties—the bridegroom and bride, friends and servants.”[34]

The Duke of Manchester limits the mystical body of Christ still farther—excluding from it not only all the saints who are to live after the second advent, but also all who lived before the first, or rather prior to the ascension of Christ.

“The gifts,” he says, “necessary for forming the Christ mystical were not conferred until after the ascension of Jesus.… We could not, therefore, say with propriety that the Church under former dispensation was ‘Christ.’ The Bride is the New Jerusalem.… Now the great glory of the New Jerusalem is, that it is the abode of Deity. But for the believer to be a habitation of God, is the peculiar glory of the dispensation founded by the apostles, according to the promise, ‘He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.’ ”

In what state his Grace expects the Old Testament saints to be, when they rise from the dead to inherit Canaan during the millennium, as he expects them to do—I scarcely know. Probably he distinguishes between mere resurrection and glorification, and that inhabitation of Deity which he makes the distinguishing privilege of believers under this dispensation.[35]

Mr. Bonar differs materially from both these authors. According to him, the millennial saints will be saints in the same sense as all other saints, whether under this dispensation or before it. The only difference will be in their external circumstances. Having none of the trials of preceding saints, they will not attain to the dignity, reserved exclusively for tried Christians, of being the Bride of Christ.

“All saints,” says he, “redeemed amid toil and temptation, and sorrow and warfare, shall form the Bride at the Lord’s coming; and this Bride shall reign with him a thousand years. Then, as to the saints who shall people earth during these thousand years, they are as really saints, and as simply dependent on this Head, as any of those already in glory. As to state, character, and modes of spiritual life, they are not saints of another stamp from those of the Patriarchal, Jewish, and Gentile days; but, on the contrary, they are converted as they were, live by faith as they did, war with their own corruptions as they, and hang on Christ alone to the last. It is only their circumstances that are different from former saints. They live during these millennial days with scarcely any, or rather with no opposition at all; without persecution, and without Satan’s temptations, for he is bound. It seems good, therefore, to the sovereign God to make a difference between them and those that lived not in millennial days.… The children of the millennium shall be our children.” … But “children are not different in nature from the parents. We wholly reject all theories about an Adamic race, or any thing similar; we maintain that the children of that age shall be found in the miry clay by the sovereign God; converted by his Holy Spirit; led to see sin and the Saviour, as we do; sanctified, probably far more rapidly and thoroughly, yet still by the same Spirit, through the Word, and so prepared for a future eternity.”[36]

What fantastic and bewildering speculations are these! How opposed to the general strain of Scripture; how destitute even of the semblance of support; how alien from any thing that would occur to an ordinary reader of the Bible; how contrary to the belief of all churches, and the judgment of all commentators, from the beginning; and, as now put forward by the advocates of the premillennial theory, how manifestly are they suggested by the necessities of a system! A few paragraphs on each of the three forms in which this alleged distinction between “the Bride” and the whole number of the saved is exhibited, in the extracts which I have given, will suffice to justify these reflections.

1. As the Duke of Manchester is aware that he stands almost alone among his brethren,[37] in excluding all who lived before the ascension of Christ from the privileges of “the Bride,” “the New Jerusalem,” “Christ” mystical, “the body of Christ,” I shall merely say of his scheme, that it is founded on most untenable and dangerous views of the difference between the Old and the New Testament dispensations. Where the real difference lies, is one of the oldest questions in the Christian Church; but while orthodox men have slightly differed in their mode of conceiving the characteristics of the two economies, they have ever entertained a common jealousy against those low views of the Old Testament dispensation which would go to strip it of all spiritual vitality, or make salvation possible by merely external operations of the Spirit. In these low views, when fully carried out, a Manichean tincture was early detected; they were opposed as heretical; their defenders all along have been, for the most part, men otherwise unsound; and although there have been, from time to time, divines, sound in the main, who—either not perceiving the full effect of their own statements, or not taking sufficiently inward and ethical conceptions of certain truths, or from kindred causes—have approached too closely to the views of those with whom, in other things, they have no sympathy, we cannot consent, in deference to them, to give up the essential oneness of the Church and people of God under both dispensations, or admit any such difference between them as to require, or even to tolerate, the exclusion of all the Old Testament saints from the glory which is prepared for saints under the gospel.[38] Why, instead of a question whether they are to share with us, the whole strain of the New Testament language goes merely to show that we shall not be excluded from sharing with them—that we shall come from the east and from the west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (not they with us) in the kingdom of God.—(Matt. 8:11.) True, “They without us could not be made perfect” (Heb. 11:40)—that is, without Christ and the Spirit, whose proper economy our’s certainly is; but as this manifestly implies that with us they have all the perfection which we have—that with Christ to save and the Spirit to sanctify them, which they got anticipatively from our dispensation, they are in all respects on a par with us—there is not a shadow of ground for excluding the Old Testament saints from the glory prepared for those of our dispensation.[39]

2. Mr. Bickersteth’s “thousand stages and varieties of union with Christ”—for poor sinners of mankind—defy comment. Happily, however, they do not need it. The only wonder is, that speculations so out of the line of all that is sober, on such a subject as union to Christ, and language which even the author himself would find it hard to explain, should have been hazarded by one so distinguished for the meekness and gentleness of Christ.[40] The reader, however, when he comes to our chapter on the “Resurrection,” will find this esteemed minister laying down positions quite as startling and repulsive as this. And when he finds that even these novel and unsavoury speculations are advocated, as clearly revealed truths of Scripture, by one of the acutest writers on that side—Mr. Birks—and by a writer of considerable ability on the other side of the Atlantic—Mr. Lord; when moreover, he considers how difficult it is for those who would work out the premillennial scheme to avoid being driven into conclusions of this nature, he will see afresh what a wedge this system is, upheaving, when introduced into the text of Scripture, almost every thing which has hitherto been regarded as most fixed and sacred—all that has been “most surely believed among us.”

Before passing from Mr. Bickersteth here, I will give one brief illustration of the extreme slenderness of the ground on which he rests the weightiest conclusions. “In every human household,” he says, “or marriage, there are usually four parties—the bridegroom, the bride, friends, and servants;” and if we do not admit as many “varieties” at least of “union with Christ,” we are charged with “not only crossing many express statements, but every lesson of analogy.” Now, let us see what conclusion this will bring out of a single passage of Scripture.[41] “He that hath the Bride,” said the Baptist, “is the Bridegroom: but the friend of the Bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the Bridegroom’s voice. This my joy therefore is fulfilled.” (John 3:29.)[42] According to Mr. Bickersteth’s way of viewing such language, the poor Baptist will not be of “the Bride” at all. Though “the first resurrection,” and the millennial glory of the risen saints, is said to be specially designed for suffering believers, the very forerunner of Christ—that rare example of fidelity, humility, love to the Saviour, and self-sacrifice—will not be found in this class at all, but be seen on the lower platform appropriated to the “friends” of the Bridegroom! At this rate, the wise virgins who went forth to meet the Bridegroom in the parable (Matt. 25), represent not those who are to be “the Bride” at his coming, but those who merely attend the nuptials as “friends;” and those who are invited to the marriage-supper (Matt. 22), though clothed with the wedding-garment, are, on this principle, to be held as representing a distinct class altogether from those called “the Bride.” I cannot persuade myself that the author would have accepted these conclusions. But why not? and where shall we be if we are thus to explain the figures of Scripture? Who does not see that the Baptist called himself “the friend of the Bridegroom,” not to express his personal, but his official standing in relation to Christ? and that the same believers are termed “the virgins,” in respect of their call to be ready for Christ’s coming—the “guests” at the marriage-supper, in respect of the fellowship they hold with him—and “the bride,” in respect of their intimate and endearing union to him? In vain, then, are endless “varieties of union with Christ” drawn out of such figurative language; and wonderful it is, that from premises so very slender, such mighty conclusions should, by any sober writer, be drawn.

3. Mr. Bonar’s theory of the distinction between the Bride and the whole number of the saved, has not certainly the repulsive appearance of the other theories we have been noticing. He admits that the Christians who are to people the earth after Christ has descended to it with his completed Bride, will, like ourselves, “be found in the miry clay by the sovereign God, be converted by his Holy Spirit, led to see sin and the Saviour,[43] sanctified probably far more rapidly and thoroughly, yet still by the same Spirit, through the Word, and so prepared for a future eternity.” It is something to get footing like this—to get a Christianity that one can understand—for the millennium. Nor will I disturb it by asking, just now, how this Christianity is to be produced in sinful men, with Christ in glory before their eyes, and “the righteous shining forth as the sun” in their very presence. Waiving this for the present—the following very obvious remarks are enough to show that the theory which Mr. Bonar propounds is without any solid foundation, and is opposed to the whole current of Scripture.

(1.) When Christ’s people are termed his “Bride,” his “Spouse”—when they are said to be “espoused” and “married” to him—in a word, when conjugal relations, intercourse, and affections are employed to set forth what subsists between him and them,—who, until now, ever doubted that a union common to all believers is intended? And on what principle can it be maintained that the term “Bride” is meant to point, not to that internal, vital union to Christ which is common to all who shall ever believe in him, but to special privileges peculiar to one class of them?

(2.) As the union of all believers to Christ is the same as to its essence, so the future glory of them all alike is made to flow from that union, and not from any external circumstances in which they may differ from each other. Let me entreat the attention of my premillennial friends to this remark. Is it necessary to give proofs of what is so manifest?

“Thou hast given thy Son power over all flesh,” said Jesus to his Father, “that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.—Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory,” &c. (John 17:2, 24.)

Here we find all the elect getting eternal life from Christ’s hands—will any that ever shall believe in him get less than this? But here, also, Christ wills that the same elect company be with him where he is, to behold his glory—and can any class of believers have more?

“This is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.—No man can come to me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.—Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.—He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.” (John 6:39, 44, 54, 56.)

Who that reads these words can doubt that the elect—drawn to Christ by common supernatural grace, one with him in common, by mutual inhabitation through the Spirit, and thus saved with a “common salvation” (Jude 3), are destined to partake in common of the resurrection, life, and glory of their Head? “The glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.” (John 17:22.)

“Whom he did foreknow,” says Paul, “he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren, [in resurrection and glory surely, as well as every thing else.] Moreover, whom he did predestinate [the whole company of the elect], them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them [all of them] he also glorified.—If any man [during the millennium surely, as well as at any other time] have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.—But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” (Rom. 8:29, 30, 9, 11.)

But why go on? Who can read the New Testament, and fail to see that all the life, and glory, and fellowship with the Lamb, which any believer is ever to have, is made to flow from the common oneness of all believers with Christ, as Head of his body the Church, and not from the mere “external circumstances” which may distinguish one class of them from another?

Nay, not only is there no ground for any such distinction, but the passages which, by a palpable misconception of them, are adduced in support of it, prove just the reverse. For example:—

If so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Rom. 8:17.)

If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.” (2 Tim. 2:12.)

Who does not see that in these passages it is not suffering as opposed to unsuffering Christians, but true Christians as opposed to false, that are here described? In the one passage, we have but to read the whole verse to see this at once: “If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ: if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Shall we say that the latter clause of this verse is intended to limit the former? In that case, the meaning would be that none of God’s children are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, but only such of them as suffer with him. When the apostle says, “There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit,” does he mean that not all that are in Christ Jesus are freed from condemnation, but only such of them as walk in the Spirit?[44] The other passage shows this even more clearly, when, instead of only the one-half, we read the whole of it: “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us.” Here are not two kinds of Christians surely, suffering and unsuffering Christians, both genuine; but true Christianity distinguished from false, by “fellowship in Christ’s sufferings, and conformity to his death,” as the indispensable prelude to participation in his glory and reign.

Alas for the system which would set up a Christianity for the millennium, shorn of this essential characteristic—suffering! If these millennial Christians are to bask in such inward and outward sunshine, as to be strangers to “suffering with Christ,” call them not Christians in our—or rather in the New Testament—sense of the term; but if, on the contrary, “suffering with Christ” is to be common to them with us, notwithstanding the propitious circumstances by which they will be surrounded, why are they not to be “glorified together,” with their living Head, according to the indissoluble connection which the matchless wisdom of the mediatorial system has established? It is impossible to answer these questions, or evade the alternatives which they offer. Once more,

(3.) Let the vastness of the separation in eternal destiny, which this theory makes between those Christians whom they style “The Bride” and the rest of the saved, be observed, and its amazing unscripturalness, and purely fanciful character, will strike at once the thoughtful mind.

“This elect body,” says Mr. Bonar, “of believers before the millennium is the Bride, and shall be complete at the Lord’s coming. Not one other shall be added to this body after the Lord’s coming—not one.”—(P. 123.)

My estimable friend does not say that those living after this shall join the Bride, and merge into that blessed company, when the thousand years are over—he does not say that their accession to this body shall be merely postponed till the everlasting state arrive. He knows well that he has not a ray of Scripture for such an expectation—every text relating to the resurrection and glorification of believers at all being applied by him, and those who hold his system, to a resurrection before the millennium. For aught that Scripture says, therefore—on his way of explaining it—those believers who are to people the earth after the second advent must remain for ever apart from that “Bride that shall be complete at the Lord’s coming—to which not one shall be added after his coming—not one.” What though there be myriads of men during the millennium, snatched by sovereign grace out of the miry clay, and “prepared” by the Word and Spirit of Jesus “for a future eternity?” Over that future eternity a dark veil is drawn; for his system has no Scripture for bringing them ever out of the fleshly and imperfect state which it assigns to them upon earth during the millennium.[45]

Now, this seems to me quite as irrational as the other theories I have noticed. The objection to them was, that it made saintship, for sinners of mankind, a different thing under the Old and the New Testament—a different thing before the millennium and after it. The objection to this theory is, that while it makes saintship in every age the same thing, it makes the everlasting condition and issues of that saintship a vastly different thing in two classes of believers—those living before, and those living during, the millennium; and to ground this upon a mere difference in their “external circumstances,” what is it but to confound what is essential with what is accidental—as if the glorious oneness of the whole body of believers with Christ, in his death and resurrection, in his humiliation and glory, had less virtue to bring them all together with their adorable Head, to grace his second appearing—than the adventitious diversity of their outward circumstances to separate them from each other at that bright, transporting day?

And what, after all, are those “external circumstances” on which such vast stress is laid, as distinguishing the Christians of the millennium from all other Christians? “They live,” says Mr. Bonar, “during these millennial days, with scarcely any, or rather with no external opposition at all; without persecution, and without Satan’s temptations, for he is bound.” But what of all this? Are “external opposition and persecution,” then, so bound up with Christianity as it now exists, that it cannot be real without them? Is a uniformly tranquil and unruffled lot a phenomenon unheard of during the present dispensation—a phenomenon reserved for the millennium? Can there be no living by faith now, no walking in the narrow way, no crucifying of the flesh and living in the Spirit, no occupying till Christ come—nothing, in short, of living connection with Christ now, that shall give assurance of appearing with him in glory, unless “outward opposition and persecution” be superadded? Are not battles inly [inwardly] fought, and unseen victories won, in the sphere of the hidden life, which, to that Eye that looketh not upon the outward appearance but upon the heart, are brighter manifestations of the grace that bringeth salvation than many a martyrdom?

“Nor think, who to that bliss aspire,

Must win their way through blood and fire;

The writhings of a wounded heart

Are fiercer than a foeman’s dart.”[46]

If this be granted, even in one case, the ground of distinction, as far as that goes, is given up. This is so manifest, that Mr. Burgh—who takes the same view of outward suffering as indispensable to participation in the “first resurrection”—perceiving that this will necessarily exclude many true Christians from the millennial reign, goes through with it, limiting the millennial reign expressly to those whom he regards as suffering Christians. And this is the only consistent way of holding the theory.[47]

Mr. Bonar, indeed, mentions another ground of distinction—the freedom of millennial Christians “from Satan’s temptations, for he is bound.” In a subsequent part of this work, I believe I shall be able to show that this expectation is totally unscriptural—founded on a misapprehension of one single symbolical prediction, contradicted by the uniform tenor of Scripture, and at variance with the whole analogy of faith. But admitting for the present the total absence of Satanic agency during the millennium—if it be allowed, as it seems to be, that the natural heart will be the same then as now, that the grace of God will find men in the same “mire,” and be as illustrious in plucking any out of it, that there will be the same war with inward corruption in every Christian, the same inability to do the things that they would, and the same need to “hang upon Christ alone to the last,” as there is now—what mighty difference between them and us can even the absence of Satan make—what, at least, that should sever those from us in glory who share with us in our deepest struggles?

Thus—survey it in what light we will, and on whatever hypothesis may be framed to account for it—the distinction between one portion of the elect, ransomed, sanctified, and saved Church, as being exclusively “the Bride of the Lamb,” to be associated with him in his glory, and another portion of the same Church, who are not to rise and reign with him when he comes, is utterly foreign to the Bible and fanciful in its character, unknown to the faith of the Church, and suggested only by the necessities of a system. A tedious and ungenial work it has been to pursue into the shallows such poor, unfruitful distinctions as have engaged our attention in these supplementary remarks. Gladly, therefore, do we now come back to “a place of broad rivers and streams,” to repose on the clear bosom of such words as these:—“Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me”—all of them—“be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me;”—“This is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day;”—“He shall come to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe.”

“Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”


THE NOTES:


[1] So I incline to understand the words, the resurrection of believers being the one only case to which the apostle speaks throughout the chapter. But however this be, my argument from the passage will remain the same, provided it be admitted that the party or parties federally related to the first and second Adams are discoursed of as a whole, and not in fragmentary portions or classes.

[2] “Nihil,” says Luther on this verse, “de privata resurrectione agitur, quomodo unus atque alter a mortuis surrexerit, sed de communi resurrectione, deque illius caussa et capite, quod est Christus.… Ipse enim suâ horâ surrexit, ita nos quoque, ubi hora nostra venerit, quoque resurgemus et ipsum sequemur. Neque enim ante nos excitare statuit, quam omnes simul quotquot ipsius sumus congregari fuerimus.… Hoc enim series et ordo postulant, ut ipse primus sit, qui strata via fores (quod dicitur) aperiret et immortalitatem apportaret: Deinde omnia sua membra ordine congregaret, quibus resurrectio ab æterno destinata est, ut uno die omnes Christiani simul (that is, as the connection shows, all Christ’s members, eternally ordained to life and resurrection) in lucem prodirent quem ipse ordinavit, atque ita cum eo perpetuo viverent … Ita Christus in suo, et nos in nostro ordine manemus.… Neque enim clanculum aut in angulo ista agentur, ut hic unus alibi alius resurgat, sed propalam, universo mundo inspectante, morte, peccato, et omnibus acerbitatibus juxta obolitis, et præter vitam et gaudium perenne nihil erit reliqui.” [“Here we are not dealing de privata resurrection [of private resurrection], how one or two arose from the dead, but with the general resurrection and with the Head or the Cause of the same, which is Christ. . . . He arose when His hour was at hand. And thus we, too, shall arise when our hour comes and follow Him. For He will not awaken us before all who are His own have been gathered together. . . . . For the order demands that He be the first; He must blaze the trail and produce life. After that He will gather all those who are His members and belong to the resurrection, one after another, so that they all come forth together (that is, as the connection shows, all Christ’s members, eternally ordained to life and resurrection) on one day appointed by Him and live with Him eternally. . . . Thus, Christ remains in His order, and we in ours. . . . . This will not happen in secret or in some nook or corner, one arising here and another person there; no, this will be a public spectacle viewed by the whole world, when death, sin, and every evil will end and all will be sheer life and joy.”]—Enarr. in xv. cap. i. Cor.

“Quemadmodum,” says Calvin, “in primitiis, totius anni proventus consecrabatur, ita vis resurrectionis Christi ad nos omnes diffunditur.… Christus, cujus officium est nobis restituere quæ in Adam perdidimus, nobis vitæ causa est; ejusque resurrectio hypostasis et pignus est nostræ.… Satis sit nobis, quod nunc in Christo habemus primitias: nobis autem adventus ejus tempus erit ad resurgendum.” [“For,” says Calvin, “as in the first-fruits the produce of the entire year was consecrated, so the power of Christ’s resurrection is extended to all of us. . . . Christ, whose office it is to restore to us what we lost in Adam, is the cause of life to us; and his resurrection is the ground-work and pledge of ours. . . . Let us therefore reckon it enough, that we now have in Christ the first-fruits, and that his coming will be the time of our resurrection.” in loco 1 Cor. 15:20-23.]

“Paulus,” says Bengel, who held in some things with the premillennialists, “loquitur hic de piis, quorum ἀπαρχὴ, primitiœ, Christus est; atque hi, ut in Adamo omnes moriuntur, sic etiam in Christo omnes vivificabuntur.—Οἱ τοῦ Χριστοῦ, qui sunt Christi: Suave Polyptoton, Χριστὸς, Χριστοῦ. Christiani sunt quasi appendix τῆς ἀπαρχῆς, primitiarum.—Ἐν τῇ παρουσῖᾳ αὐτοῦ in adventu ejus: Tum erit ordo Christianorum, 1 Thess. 4:16. Non alii post alios resurgent illo tempore.” [“Paul is here speaking of the godly, of whom the first fruits, ἀπαρχὴ, is Christ, and as these all die in Adam, so also shall they all be made alive in Christ.—οἱ τοῦ χριστοῦ, those who are Christ’s) A pleasant variety of cases, Polyptoton, Χριστὸς, Χριστοῦ, Christians are, so to speak, an appendage to τῆς ἀπαρχῆς, the first fruits. The ungodly shall rise at the same time; but they are not reckoned in this blessed number.—ἐν τῆ παρουσίᾳ, at His coming) then it shall be the order of Christians [their turn in the successive order of the resurrection], 1 Thess. 4:16. They shall not rise one after another [but all believers at once] at that time.”]

[3] All that is said in reply to this is, that the apostle is treating only of Christians living before the coming of Christ, which does not hinder us from believing that there will be others to come after that event. But my argument is, that the subject of discourse in this chapter is the whole federal offspring of the second Adam—the whole saving fruit of Christ’s work, in contrast with the ruins of the broken covenant. I believe it impossible to overthrow this, which subverts the whole premillennial system.

[4] “Hanc quidem primum sub figurâ describit, quæ argumento conveniebat. Ut sit speciosa, inquit. Nam sicuti formæ elegantia in uxore causa est amoris, ita Christus ecclesiam, Sponsam suam, ornat sanctitate, ut sit hoc benevolentiæ pignus.” [“This is described in metaphorical language appropriate to his argument. Not having spot or wrinkle. As the beauty of the wife produces love in the husband, so Christ adorns the Church his bride with holiness as a proof of his regard.”]

[5] “Ἳνα παραστήσῃ ἑαυτῷ, ut sisteret sibi ipsi: tanquam Sponso—Ἕνδοξον, gloriosam: Ex amore Christi debemus haurire æstimationem sanctificationis. Quæ Sponsa contemnit ornatum a Sponso oblatum?” [“Ἵνα παραστήσῃ, that He might present) This holds good, in its own way, already of the present life; comp. ch. 4:13.—ἑαυτῷ, to Himself) as to a Husband betrothed.—ἔνδοξον, a glorious Church) We should derive [draw] our estimate of sanctification from the love of Christ: what bride despises the ornaments offered by her husband?”]

[6] Τοῖς πιστεύσασιν is probably the preferable reading. On this reading Mr. Bickersteth founds a very slender argument for there being some to believe after “that day.”

[7] Perhaps I should not exactly say all, for of what interpretation could this be said? But certainly the unanimity is overwhelming.

[8] Theologia prophetica non est argumentativa. [Prophetic theology is not an argument.] Mr. Wood thinks this maxim inapplicable to subjects themselves prophetical. But the great fault of premillennialists is, that they mix up those great catholic doctrines of the second coming of Christ, the resurrection, the judgment, and its final issues—which are written as with the point of a diamond in the New Testament—with a profusion of particular prophetic events, of a local and changeable character, which are for the most part couched in figures and symbols. This is what I refer to.

[9] Mr. Wood justly complains of this passage being discussed in a mere note in the first two editions. It was an oversight; but when asked, before the work appeared in the United States, if I had any thing to alter, this was the one correction which I requested might be made. The correction came too late for the American edition, but it is now made.

[10] “The language,” says Luther, “suits well with the last day, but the preceding context does not harmonize with that sense.”—(Enarr. in cap. xiv., Proph. Zach.)

[11] Rev. 17:14. “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them, for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings; and they that are with him (μετʼ αὐτοῦ) are called, and chosen, and faithful.” Ch. 14:1. “And I looked, and lo, the Lamb (so Tisch. and Treg.) stood on the Mount Zion, and with him (μετʼ αὐτοῦ) an hundred and forty and four thousand.” Εἶναι μετά τινος (Thuc.) ab alicujus partibus stare, Jelf, § 636. 1. Also Rev. 12:7: “Michael and his angels (Christ and his friends in plain flesh and blood) fought with the dragon and his angels” (Satan, wielding the forces of Paganism against the early Christians.)

[12] Bengel.—Ἑτοίμασεν ἑαυτὴν, paravit se, i.e. cœpit parare se, ut πεπίστευκα, ἠγάπηκα, ἤλπικα, nactus sum fidum, &c. De nuptiis istis, vide c. xxi. 2, 9. ss. [“Ἡτοίμασεν ἑαυτὴν, hath prepared herself) that is, hath begun to prepare herself; as τεπίστευκα, ἠγάπηκα, ἤλπικα, I have obtained faith, etc. Respecting the marriage itself, see ch. 21:2, 9, etc.”]

[13] The words enclosed in brackets (τῶν σωζομένων) are excluded from the text by all critical editors as wanting in MS. authority.

[14] “Post longa tempora persecutionum, afflictionum, et calamitatum … magno numero implerent novam hanc Civitatem Populi Dei, et ad eam constituendam et exornandam undique confluerent; tum quoque Principes, Reges, Imperatores, Christo et Ecclesiæ ejus servaturi, suam gloriam, majestatem, vires, in eam inferrent; hoc est, in ejus converterent usum utilitatemque,” &c.—Anakris. Apocalyps. ad loc.

[15] “Nam hoc de isto tempore accipere quo regnat [ecclesia] cum Rege suo mille annis impudentiæ nimiæ mihi videtur.” [“For to refer this promise to the present time, in which the saints [church] are reigning with their King a thousand years, seems to me excessively impudent.”]—De. Civ. Dei, lib. xx. cap. xvii.

[16] “Magis placet, quod est apud Durhamum, tantam fore civitatis hujus gloriam, ut præ illa reges omnes regnorum gloriam deserant; vel quasi omnes reges omnem suam conferrent, ut locum suum gloriosum redderent, sic ut phrasis hæc ad externi emblematis decus spectet.”—Marckii in Apoc. Comm. ad loc.

[17] Ἡμῶν ἐπισυνάγωγη ἐπʼ αὐτόν. 2 Thess. 2:1.

[18] Πανηγύρις καὶ ἐκκλησία προτοτόκων ἐν οὐρανοῖς ἀπογεγραμμένων.Heb. 12:23.

[19] Resurrection Revealed, ut supra, p. 279.

[20] Page 282. Also Appendix, No. II.

The editor of this reprint of Homes—Mr. Brooks—says, in a note to one part of the chapter from which we quote, that “in the Appendix it will be seen that Homes is aware of the distinction between the saints of the resurrection and those who remain in the flesh.”—(P. 286.) If, by “those who remain in the flesh,” Mr. B. means “those saints” or Christians—which is the plain sense of his words—it is not correct.

[21] Theory of the Earth, book iv. ch. 7. Second edition, 1691.

Though Burnet refers here to the view of Piscator and others, who took the millennial reign of the risen saints to be in heaven, the reader will observe that what he characterizes as void of beauty and Scripture foundation, is simply the distinction of two sorts of saints in the millennium.

[22] Ch. 10.

[23] The Glory of Christ’s Visible Kingdom in this World. By Joseph Perry, pp. 225, 226. Northampton, 1721.

[24] “By what means these will be cleansed, if not in the covenant of grace, from that original pollution which the whole posterity of Adam is polluted with, I am at a loss to know.”—(P. 406.)

[25] Lectures on the Prophecies relative to the Jewish Nation, pp. 185–189. First edition, 1830.

The Adamic theory put forth a few years ago by Mr. Scott, cannot be classed with those which admit the completeness of the Church at Christ’s coming. According to him, there will be two classes of righteous men in the flesh under the millennial reign of Christ and his glorified saints:—a race of Christians, “upheld from falling by union to Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit;” and a race of “Adamitical men”—as Perry would call them—“freed from all the effects of the fall,” particularly “the corrupt nature and original sin,” and “restored to the state of holiness and righteousness in which Adam was before the fall”—(how, we are left in the dark)—but who, “having merely Adam’s state, and nothing more, will fall as Adam fell.”—(“Outlines of Prophecy,” and “The Millennium of the Bible Vindicated.” By James Scott, Preacher of the Gospel, 1844, 1845.)

[26] The Midnight Cry; or, the Coming of the Son of Man Considered. By the Rev. Joseph Burchell. 1849.

[27] Christ’s Appearance the Second Time, ut supra, pp. 51–53. One would think from this extract, that Durant belonged to our first class; but as this is not clear, and some passages seem to look the other way, I give it in the above connection.

[28] The capitals and italics are the author’s own.

[29] Practical Guide to the Prophecies. Fifth edition, p. 80.

[30] The Second Coming of Christ Practically Considered. Nisbet. 1844.

[31] Rev. E. Auriol, Rector of St Dunstan’s.

[32] See, among others, Bickersteth’s Guide, passim.

[33] With whom Mr. Wood agrees.

[34] The Divine Warning to the Church at this Time. Fourth Edition, 1846: “Answers to some objections,” pp. 310, &c.—So Mr. Birks, pp. 153–155.

[35] The Finished Mystery. Appendix: “Examination of Mr. Brown’s Work on the Second Advent,” pp. 284–288. The modest and excellent author of “Plain Papers on Prophetical and other Subjects” (1854), No. 5 and 6, takes a view in substance the same with this, and in some respects preferable.

[36] Redemption, &c., pp. 124, &c.

[37] Not now, indeed (1855).

[38] His Grace refers to Archdeacon Hare, who quotes a long passage from Olshausen, concluding with this statement, that as “the special work of the Holy Ghost is regeneration,” therefore “regeneration belongs essentially to the New Testament, because under this dispensation the Holy Ghost first manifested his specific power.”—(Mission of the Comforter, ii. 492.) Whether the Archdeacon meant to extend his approval of the extract thus far (in the face of John 3:6, 7, 10, &c.), is doubtful, from what follows. But, be this as it may, I am not disposed, in a point of this nature, to consider either Hare or his author unexceptionable expositors of the general mind of the Church.

[39] “Istud”—says Calvin, who, on the Christology of the Old Testament, occupied what many would term low ground—“quoque scitissime eodem loco subjungit (Augustinus), pertinere ab initio mundi ad Novum Testamentum filios promissionis, regeneratos a Deo, qui fide per dilectionem operante obedierunt mandatis. Idque in spe non carnalium, terrenorum, temporalium, sed spiritualium, cœlestium, æternorum bonorum, præcipue credentes in Mediatorem: per quem non dubitarunt et Spiritum sibi administrari, ut benefacerent, et ignosci, quoties peccarent. Id enim ipsum est quod asserere in animo fuit, ejusdem nobiscum benedictionis in æternam salutem consortes fuisse omnes sanctos, quos ab exordio mundi peculiariter a Deo selectos Scriptura commemorat.… Atque hic quoque de sanctis Patribus annotandum est, ita sub Veteri Testamento vixisse, ut non illic restiterint, sed aspirarint semper ad Novum, adeoque certam ejus communionem amplexi sint.” [“In the same passage (Augustine), with great shrewdness remarks, that from the beginning of the world the sons of promise, the divinely regenerated, who, through faith working by love, obeyed the commandments, belonged to the New Testament; entertaining the hope not of carnal, earthly, temporal, but spiritual, heavenly, and eternal blessings, believing especially in a Mediator, by whom they doubted not both that the Spirit was administered to them, enabling them to do good, and pardon imparted as often as they sinned. The thing which he thus intended to assert was, that all the saints mentioned in Scripture, from the beginning of the world, as having been specially selected by God, were equally with us partakers of the blessing of eternal salvation. . . . And here also, with regard to the holy fathers, it is to be observed, that though they lived under the Old Testament, they did not stop there, but always aspired to the New, and so entered into sure fellowship with it.”]—Instit. Christ. Relig., lib. ii. cap. xi. 10.

Nos omnes de plenitudine ejus accepimus. Quid”—exclaims Augustin—“est, Nos omnes? Ergo Patriarchæ, et Prophetæ, et Apostoli sancti, vel ante incarnationem præmissi vel ab Incarnato missi, omnes nos de plenitudine ejus accepimus. Nos vasa sumus, Ille fons est.” [“From his fullness have we all received (John 1:16). What”—exclaims Augustine—is, we all? So the holy patriarchs and prophets and apostles, whether sent ahead before the incarnation, or sent by the incarnate one, from his fullness have we all received. We are the vessels, he is the fountain.”]—Serm. cclxxxix. 5. “Ipsum (Christum) martyres in manifesto confessi sunt, quem tunc Machabæi confessi sunt,1 mortui sunt isti pro Christo in evangelio revelato; mortui sunt illi pro Christi nomine in lege velato. Christus habet utrosque, Christus pugnantes adjuvit utrosque, Christus coronavit utrosque.” [“The martyrs (of Christ) confessed plainly that same one as the Maccabees at that earlier time confessed in a hidden manner; the former died for Christ unveiled in the gospel, while the latter died for the name of Christ veiled in the law. Christ possess both, Christ came to the aid of both as they fought the good fight, Christ crowned both.”]—Serm. ccc. 5.

[1 Mr. Birks (p. 150) charges me with “dismissing this remark of a beloved and honoured father, now gone to his rest, with contempt”—a feeling of which, towards that precious servant of Christ, I trust I am incapable.]

[40] This Sermon was delivered at the festival of the Maccabean martyrs.

[41] Let me request my friend Mr. Wood’s attention to this. (See p. 63, note.)

[42] The Jews thought to kindle in the Baptist a jealousy of his Master—as one who was requiting the generous testimony he had borne to him by drawing all his disciples away to himself. The reply of that blessed servant and martyr of Jesus, in the words above quoted, I have always thought to be one of the most glorious and affecting of human utterances, and perhaps beyond all the testimonies that ever were borne to Christ. “The Bride is not mine—why should the people stay with me? Ye yourselves bear me witness that I said, I am not the Christ: mine it is to point the guilty to the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world—to tell them, There is Balm in Gilead, and a Physician there; and shall I grudge to see them, in obedience to the call, flying as a cloud, and as doves to their windows? Whose is the Bride, but the Bridegroom’s? Enough for me to be the Bridegroom’s friend—sent by him to negotiate the match—privileged, as an humble instrument, to bring together the Saviour and the souls he is to come to seek and to save, and rejoicing with joy unspeakable to stand by and witness the blessed espousals. Say you, then, they go from me to him? You bring me glad tidings of great joy; for He must increase, but I must decrease: This my joy, therefore, is fulfilled!”

[43] He does not, I observe, say, “united to him by faith,” as we are; perhaps, because that might look like identifying them with the Bride.

[44] The second clause of both verses is (but see the critical editions on this clause) epexegetical, not restrictive, of the former—designed to characterize the persons mentioned in the first clause.

[45] “This is vain trifling,” says Mr. Wood. “We find them in that imperfect state. God will not leave them there. But Scripture does not make all things plain, and especially Scripture gives us almost no information of the eternity beyond the millennium. Where it is silent, wise men will not speculate” (p. 31.) But my fault with the system is, that it makes Scripture silent where it is not, and where it is hard to believe that it could be silent. To ask whether countless myriads of the human race will populate the earth during the brightest period of its history, without a hint in Scripture of what is to become of them when it closes, is not “vain trifling.”

[46] Christian Year.

[47] Lect. on Revelation and Lect. on Second Advent. In the latter work, Mr. Burgh is pleased to cut off from this class those who deny the premillennial advent! Nor is he altogether alone in this.