May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speaketh, is for thou bringeth certain strange thins to our ears: We would know, therefore, what these things mean.
ACTS XVII. 19. 20.
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which-had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon there foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished: This is the first resurrection.
Rev. XX. 4, 5.
And is it come to my lot to treat of the Millennium, or Christ thousand years reign on earth? Thousand pities, fir, that you had not allotted the task to one of these older and abler students! But since it is your pleasure, I will do my possible: and in the attempt will work by a rule you have often recommended, viz. ” To take the scriptures in a literal
Sense, except when that leads to contradiction or absurdity.” I need say no more to inform you, sir, that I with to be understood as a minister of the letter only while I treat of the said Millennium. Very able men have already handled the subject in mystical, or allegorical, or spiritual way: and could I rest satisfied with their sentiments, I might have colleted those sentiments, and deliver, them perhaps) with applause; as that would show my reading, and, at the same time, free a novice from the affectation of singularity and taking too much upon him, like another son of Levi. And glad I am that I may speak freely to the matter. It is what I could not have done in a late reign, for fear of being called a fifth monarchy man (as Venner and his company); and being cut to pieces by soldiers. But George the second is not Charles the second: George (whom God long preserved) is not afraid of the fifth monarchy, nor would be loth to give up his kingdom to him by whom kings reign and princes decree justice. But enough of preambling. Come we now to the doctrines of the Millennium; some of which are visible in my text; as
I. There will be. Two resurrections;
For a first resurrection supposes a second; and the supposing and supposed are in my text. Paul advances the same doctrine in his first letter to the Thessalonians ‘ ‘ the dead in Christ shall rise first.” (Chap. iv. 16). But more of this in another place.
II. The distance between the first and second resurrection will be somewhat more than a thousand years.
I say, somewhat more; because the dead saints will be raised, and the living changed at Christ’s ” appearing in the air” (1 Thes. iv, 17); and this will be about three years and a half before the millennium, as we shall see hereafter: but will he and they abide in the air all that time? No: they will ascend to paradise, or to some one of those many ” mansions in the father’s house of God” (John xiv: 2), and to disappear during the foresaid period of time. The design of this retreat and disappearing will be to judge the risen and changed saints; for ” now the time is come that judgment must begin,” and that will be at the house of God” (1 Pet. iv. 17): to this • refers that part of my text, ” and I saw thrones; and judgment was given,” viz. ‘the saints were judged, and their rewards specified; of. -Which, mark hereafter. Knowing all this, the devil will follow to accuse the brethren to the judge; and will continue at it day and night in hope of preventing their acquaintance: their pleas against him will be those borrowed from the ” blood of the lamb, and the word of their testimony:” by these they Will prevail in judgment; and their accuser wi1l be hurled down to the earth by the strong arm of Michael; and with him will come, that notable voice; ”Wo unto the inhabits of the earth for the devil is come
Down among you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time;” viz. three years and a half, as before (Rev. xii. 7-11). Add to the above, that between the end of the, millennium and the second resurrection the devil is to be let loose, and Gog and Magog’s army to be destroyed, which will require a considerable time, tho’ John calls it ” a little season.” (Rev. xx. 3.)