We now invite your prayerful attention to the following scriptural arguments, which, we believe, show that the coming of our Lord will be pre-millennial.
No. I. The Antichrist.
In 2 Thes. 2 :8,(1) The Antichrist, who is on all sides confessed to be pre-millennial, is to be destroyed with the brightness of His (Christ’s) coming, or more literally the epiphany (appearing*) of His own presence. This fixes the coming of Christ to be pre-millennial.
Bishop McIlvaine says of this argument that “it is wholly unanswerable.”
Even Mr. Brown, the great champion of post-millennialism, admits that this is an apparent evidence for the pre-millennial advent, and he has been obliged to meet it by that process of “spiritualizing” Scripture which has been so condemned by Dr. John Pye Smith, Martin Luther, Sir Isaac Newton, Bishop Hooker, Dr. Adam Clarke, and others. On this argument alone we might rest, but we have others fully as conclusive.
No. II. Immediately After the Tribulation.
In Mat. 24:29-31, the coming of the Son of Man is said to be immediately after the Tribulation. But this Tribulation is pre-millennial, or before the reign of peace. See also the diagram on page seventy-two. Therefore the coming is pre-millennial.
No. III. A Persecuted Church.
The true Church is a persecuted, suffering, cross-bearing people. thereunto appointed, so that “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3 :12), and this will continue until Christ comes, which precludes any Millennium until after His coming.
No. IV. Tares and Wheat.
We are nowhere in the New Testament directed to look for the Millennium before the coming of Christ. But we are expressly taught that the tares and the wheat will grow together until the end (of this age); that evil men and seducers will wax worse and worse; that as it was in the days of Noah and Lot, so shall it be at the coming of the Son of Man. And such is the character and number of the tares that their destruction, before the harvest, would endanger the children of the kingdom. Mat. 13 :29. This absolutely precludes the idea of a millennial reign of righteousness in this dispensation.
>From the time that the first Adam surrendered the kingdom to Satan, the effort to re-establish it with man has been a continual failure, though it was given to Noah, Saul (1 Sam. 9:16; 13:13), Nebuchadnezzar9 and others. And it will be a failure in this sin-cursed earth until the second Adam, who has overcome Satan, shall return to purify the earth and establish the kingdom on resurrection ground. Therefore there will be no Millennium until Christ comes.
But while we are not told to look for the Millennium, we are repeatedly and most solemnly enjoined to look for the return of our Lord. So we again conclude that His return must be pre-millennial.
No. V. The Literal Reign of Christ.
The millennial kingdom will be a literal reign of Christ on the earth, and not simply a spiritual exaltation of the Church.
“A king shall reign in righteousness” (Isa. 32:1; Jer. 23 :1-6), “upon the throne of David”l0 “in Jerusalem.” The apostles shall sit upon the twelve thrones (Mat. 19 :28), and the Sajnts shall reign upon the earth. Rev. 5 :10.
Speaking of the kingdom, or crown of Israel, the Lord God says: “I will overturn, overturn, overturn it, and it shall be no more, until He come whose right it is; and I will give it Him.” Ezek. 21 :27.
The multiude of passages which bear upon this fact we can not even refer to. Dr. J. Pye Smith says that they are far more numerous than those which describe the humiliation and suffering of Christ.
And they are so specific, so full of detail, so like the prophecies concerning the first coming, in their literalness, that our post-millennial brethren are compelled to do the utmost violence to the laws of interpretation in the “spiritualizing” method with which they meet this argument.
We believe that we have the word of prophecy spoken by “holy men of God,” “as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1: 21), and that we should direct our first efforts toward understanding the literal sense (as it is called), “which alone,” as Martin Luther says, “is the substance of faith and of Christian theology.”
Jesus is in “heaven,” at “the right hand of God” (1 Pet. 3:22), “upon the throne with the Father” (Psa. 110:1; Rev. 3 :21), in the Holy of Holies, or true Holy Place (Heb. 9:24), making intercession (Rom. 8:34), for those that come unto God by Him. Heb. 7 :25. But Heaven has only received Him until the time of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His. holy prophets (Acts 3 :21), when He shall come again, to sit in the throne of His Father David.
This again proves His coming to be pre-millennial.
No. VI. Argument From the Order of the Resurrection. We believe we have a conclusive argument based upon the Resurrection, which may be briefly stated as follows: All the dead will be raised, but, as Jesus was raised out of the dead and the rest of the dead were left, so the dead in Christ that are His at His coming, will be raised out of the dead, and the rest of the dead will be left until another and final resurrection, and the Millennium will occur between these two resurrections, thus clearly showing Christ’s coming to be pre-millennial.
We believe that any unprejudiced mind will be convinced of this by simply reading the following passages:
Order of the Resurrection.
1 Cor. 15:22-26. For as In Adam all die, even so In Christ shall all be made alive. But every man In his own order. Christ the first fruits; afterwards they that are Christ’s at His coming. Then (or afterwards) the end…… The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
Dead in Christ Rise First.
1 Thes. 4:13-17. But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For IF WE BELIEVE that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep In Jesus will God bring with Him…… For the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead In Christ shall rise first.
The First Resurrection.
Rev. 20:4-14. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon 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 worshipped the beast. . .. 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. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the FIRST RESURRECTION, on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. And when the thousand years are expired Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations .And I saw a GREAT WHITE THRONE, and Him that sat on It, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away;… And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God;… and the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and hell (Hades) delivered up the dead which were in them…
These three passages are so plain that the wayfaring roan need not err therein.
In the first, we are told the order of the resurrection- each “in his own order” (Gr. Band.). The figure is taken from troops moving by bands or regiments.
First, Christ (“the first born from the dead.” Cot 1: 18).
Next, the godly, who die in Christ and who are His at His coming.
Next, the end, when “the rest of the dead” (who are not Christ’s) shall come forth and death itself be destroyed.
The second passage reiterates and emphasizes the fact that the dead in Christ shall rise first and that they rise when the Lord descends from Heaven with a shout. The resurrection of the ungodly is not spoken of, for they have no part in this blessed first resurrection.
In the third passage we have the first resurrection completed by the resurrection of the Tribulation Saints and the reign with Christ for a thousand years is stated to occur before the rest of the dead are raised. And after the thousand years the rest of the dead, who lived not again until the thousand years were finished, stand before God, and death and Hades deliver up the dead in them.
This one thousand years is the Millennium (Latin, mille annum). What could be plainer than this proof that Christ’s coming is to be pre-millennial? The dead in Christ are raised at His coming and they are raised before tht millennium. Therefore His coming must be pre-millennial.
It is objected that we have no right thus to bring together these passages from different parts of the Word.
We answer-why not? Are they not all inspired? Are they not all the product of one mind? See how plainly we are taught that they are all the utterances of the Holy Spirit. And it is clear that they all relate to the same subject, viz.: the resurrection.
Paul uses quotations in the same manner in Rom. 3 to prove that all have sinned, and again in Rom. 10 to prove the righteousness which is of faith, and in Heb. 11 to show the fruits of faith. We must certainly acknowledge the propriety of following his example.
Indeed, the same method of aggregating proof texts is used and relied upon to show the divinity of Christ and every evangelical doctrine.
Only Souls Mentioned.
It is objected that only the souls are mentioned in Rev. 20 and therefore it cannot be a literal resurrection, but is only the regeneration, or spiritual resurrection and present life of believers in Christ.
The fallacy of this is easily seen, for these holy dead enjoyed the spiritual resurrection before they “were beheaded for the witness of Jesus.” Clearly, it was because of this spiritual life in Christ and their faith in the Word of God, that they became witnesses for Jesus and refused to worship the beast, or his image or receive °his mark, and therefore they were beheaded (see chap. 13:11-15). Besides, (psukas-souls) means also life, person or individual. See same word in Acts 2 :41, “there were added unto them about three thousand souls (persons)” and in Acts 7:14; 27:10-37; 1 Cor. 15:45; 1 Pet. 3: 20; Rev. 12 :11; 16 :3, it unmistakably means persons. A spirit could not be beheaded. Only a person having body and spirit could be beheaded, and such it is evident these were. But they suffered physical death; that is, separation of soul and body, and became part of the great company of the dead. The 5th verse emphatically confirms this-these being that portion of the dead ones (nekron) who lived, while “the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished,” and “this is the first resurrection.”
In this objection Post-millennialists manifest one of their most remarkable inconsistencies. They labor assiduously to disprove the literalism of the first resurrection, described in verses 4-6, where zao = to live and anastasis = resurrection are each twice used, while they hold that verses 12 and 13 do describe a literal resurrection, though neither zao nor anastasis are used therein. Consistency requires that, if either is spiritual, it should be the latter. How much better to accept both as literal.
Spiritual Life in Paradise.
Equally fallacious is the interpretation which claims that the first resurrection is the spiritual life of believers with Christ in Paradise (the intermediate place of the holy dead). For this spiritual life begins, not at death, but at the regeneration. It begins with the first exercise of faith in Christ. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.” John 3 :36. Hath it now. Is quickened already (Col. 2:13), and has been raised (Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1), and lives the life he now lives by the faith of the Son of God. Gal. 2 :19, 20. This spiritual resurrection spoken of in Eph. 2:6; Col. 2 :12, 13; 3 :1, is expressed by words entirely different from anastasis, which is used in Rev. 20: 5-6, and which everywhere in the New Testament expresses a literal resurrection.
Only the Beheaded Mentioned.
Again it is objected that only the beheaded are mentioned and those who have special1y to do with the beast and His image.
This is true of the latter part of the verse only. And we believe that these are the Tribulation Saints who accept of Christ and become His martyrs under the reign of Antichrist after the Church has been caught up to meet Christ in the air, But notice that the first part of the verse speaks of some as though they had already been raised. “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgement was given unto them.”
Nothing is said about the resurrection of these because they had already been raised at the Rapture previous to the Tribulation.
They are all ready to occupy the thrones and reign upon the earth according to the proDlises,18 But John sees the Tribulation Saints also raised to take part in this reign with Christ, which is in perfect accord with the order of the first resurrection.
CHRIST………………………………… THE FIRST FRUITS.
The Church and the Old Testament Saints
who are raised at the Rapture when
Christ comes in the air.
The Tribulation Saints who are raised at the
Revelation when Christ comes
to the earth.
The Last Day.
Again we hear it objected that Christ said He would raise up those who believe in Him at the last day (John 6 :39, 40, 44, 54), and if it is at the last day there can not follow a thousand years before the unbelievers are raised. But Peter says “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.” 2 Pet. 3 :8. This is the great Millennial day ushered in and ending with resurrection and judgment, and during which Christ shall rule the nations and judge the world in rightousness.
It is “the day of an age” as the Holy Spirit designates it in 2 Pet. 3 :18. See the Greek (heemeran aionos). In harmony with this we find that the same word (heemera-day) signifies “a long period,” in John 8:56; 9:4; Rom. 10:21; 2 Cor. 6:2; Heb. 4:7-8.
is the key to the book of Isaiah and many of the other prophets. Note how frequently it occurs. Isa. 2:11; 3:7, 18; 4:1, 2; 5:30; 7:18, 20, 21,23; 10:27, etc.; Jer.25:33; Ezek. 38 :14, 16; 39:11; 48:35; Joel 3 :18; Amos 9 :11; Micah 4:6; 7:11, 12; Zeph. 3:11, 16; Hag. 2:23; Zech. 9:16; 12:3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11; 13:1, 2, 4; 14:6, 8, 13, 21; Mal. 3:17; Mat. 7:22; 24:36; Mark 13:32; Lu. 21:34.
See how plainly it is identified With the Day of the Lord. Compare Isa. 2 :12 with 20. “For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon everyone that is proud and lofty. . . . . In that day a man shall cast his idols . . . . . to the moles and bats.” Also Zeph. 1 :14, 15. “The great day of the Lord is near. . . that day is a day of wrath.”
See the same in Zech. 14:1-4.
In Hosea 6:2 we read “After two days will He revive as; in the third day He will raise us up.” These are evidently three days of one thousand years each, for “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years.” So “that day’ is doubtless the last thousand year day of God’s great’ week of aions (ages).
Mentioned in Same Verse.
Again it is objected that, while there will be a great difference in the character of the resurrection of the just and of the unjust, yet they must be simultaneous in time, for both are mentioned in conjunction, that is in the same verse.
But Jesus has taught us that this objection has no force, by giving us a remarkable example to the contrary. In Luke 4 :16-21, we read, that He opened the book, found the place and read from Isa. 61, to the comma (or division of clauses) in verse 2, and closed the book, saying: “This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.” Why did He stop there’ Because the time had not come to proclaim “the day of vengeance.” That comma has been over eighteen centuries long and will continue until Christ (having gathered His saints, 1 Thes. 4:16-17) shall appear with them executing vengeance on the ungodly. 2 Thes. 1 :7-10; Jude 14, 15. Therefore, Jesus, Himself, having taught us, that two events, stated consecutively in Isa. 61 :2, are separated by more than eighteen hundred years, surely we should respect God’s Word, when it so plainly states that there will be a period of a thousand years between the resurrection of the “blessed and holy,”-and that of “the rest of the dead.”
The word (hora-hour) which Jesus used in John 5:28 is the same word as that used in verse 25.22 The latter we all believe has been over eighteen hundred years long. Why, then may not the former be at least a thousand years long and thus perfectly harmonize with Rev. 20? See also John 4:21, 23 and Rom. 13:11 (high time = hora = it is already the hour) in each of which hour signifies a long period.
Tregelles-who is supported by the Jewish commentators-renders Dan. 12:2 as follows:
“And many from among the sleepers or the dust of the earth shall awake; these shall be unto everlasting life; but those (the rest of the sleepers who do not awake at this time) shall be unto shame.” (See Jamieson, Fausset and Brown on this passage.) It is needless to add that this most intensely confirms the doctrine of the first resurrection.
Only One Text.
Lastly it is objected that a difference in time for the resurrection of the just from that of the unjust is stated in only one place in the Word, to-wit: Rev. 20. and that this is a book so symbolical, that we must not rely upon it for such an important fact.
Only one place indeed! But is not that enough? Why! the existence of all light rests upon the single sentence in Gen.’ 1 :3, and it rests safely, because God spoke those words. The most marvelous fact, in connection with our Lord’s first appearing, was the immaculate conception. It has caused suspicion of Mary’s character, and it calls for the greatest exercise of faith to believe in the Holy Ghost Fatherhood of her Son. It professes the holiest purity where the world can see only fornication and shame. And yet this astonishing event rested for centuries upon a single passage of prophecy, “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son.” Isa. 7 :14, and although it was given by the Lord to the Jews as a special and important sign they will not rely upon it, because it occurs in a poetical book, and so they reject the Babe of Bethlehem. But shall we,-who believe that Isa. 7 :14 has been literally fulfilled-condemn the Jews for not accepting it, and yet justify ourselves in rejecting the literal fulfillment of this plain statement in Rev. 20? God forbid. Remember that He says, “Behold I come quickly; blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.” Rev. 22:7; 1 :3. Oh then let us earnestly entreat you, to heed this one passage even though it may pierce through your established opinions.24 Don’t reject it. Don’t pervert its simple teaching, for it is God’s holy Word of prophecy and is as immovable as the rocky fastness of the mountains-yea more-for these shall pass away” but the Word of the Lord endureth forever.”
Dean Alford’s Comments.
And here, dear reader, let us invite your careful attention to Dean Alford’s comment upon this passage, viz.: “this is the first resurrection.” He says: “It will have been long ago anticipated by the readers of this commentary, that I cannot consent to distort its words from their plain sense and chronological place in the prophecy, on account of any considerations of difficulty, or any risk of abuses which the doctrine of the Millennium may bring with it. Those who lived next to the Apostles, and the whole Church for three hundred years, understood them in the plain literal sense; and it is a strange sight in these days to see expositors who are among the first in reverence of antiquity, complacently casting aside the most cogent instance of unanimity which primitive antiquity presents. As regards the text itself, no legitimate treatment of it will extort what is known as the spiritual interpretation now in fashion. If, in a passage where two resurrections are mentioned, where certain souls lived at the first, and the rest of the dead lived only at the end of a specified period after that first, if in such a passage, the first resurrection may be understood to mean spiritual rising with Christ, while the second means literal rising from the grave; then there is an end of all significance in language, and Scripture is wiped out as a definite testimony to anything. If the first resurrection is spiritual, then so is the second, which I suppose no one will be hardy enough to maintain. But if the second is literal, then so is the first, which in common with the whole primitive church and many of the best modern expositors, I do maintain and receive as an article of faith and hope.”
Resurrection From the Dead.
Now if Christ is coming to raise the righteous a thousand years before the ungodly, it would be natural and imperative that the former should be called a resurrection from, or out of the dead, the rest of the dead being left until after the thousand years. We rejoice therefore that this is just what is most carefully done in the Word, and in this we believe we have another most comprehensive and definite proof of the pre-millennial coming of Christ. It consists in the use made, in the Greek text of the words (ek nekron).
These words signify “from the dead” or, out of the dead, implying that the other dead are left.
The resurrection (nekron, or ton nekrop-of the dead) is applied to both classes because all will be raised. But the resurrection (ek nekron = out of the dead) is not once applied to the ungodly.
The latter phrase is used altogether 49 times, to-wit: 34 times, to express Christ’s resurrection, whom we know was thus raised out of the dead.
Three times, to express John’s supposed resurrection, who, as Herod thought, had been thus raised out of the dead.
Three times, to express the resurrection of Lazarus, who was also raised out of the dead.
Three times, it is used figuratively, to express spiritual life out of the deadness of sin.
Rom. 6 :13: “As those that are alive from the dead”; 11 :15: “Life from the dead.”
Eph. 5 :14: “Arise from the dead.”
It is used in Luke 16 :31. Parable of the rich man. “Though one rose from the dead.”
And in Heb 11 :19. Abraham’s faith that God could raise Isaac from the dead.
And the remaining 4 times it is used to express a future resurrection out of the dead, namely, in Mark 12 :25, where Jesus says: “When they shall rise from the dead they neither marry, nor are given in marriage;, but are as the angels which are in heaven,” and in Luke 20 :35-36. “But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection which is from among (the) dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage; neither can they die any more; for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.
*Mat. 22:31; Acts 17:32; 23:6: 24:15. 21;’ 1 Cor. 15:12, 13, 21, 42 and especially John 5:28-29 (R. Y.): 28. Marvel not at this: for the hour cometh, In which all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice, 29 and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment. %Mat. 17:9; Mark 9:9-10; Luke 24:46: John 2:22; 20:9; 21:14: Acts 3:15; 4:10; 10:41; 13:30; 13:34; 17:3; 17:31; 26:23; Rom. 1:4; 4:24; 6:4-9; 7:4; 8:11; 10:7, 9; 1 Cor. 15:12, 20; Gal. 1:1; Eph. 1:20; Col. 1:18; 2:12; 1 Thes. 1:10; 2 TIm. 2:8; Heb. 13:20. 1 Pet. 1:3. 21. Mark 6:14, 16; Luke 9:7. (II)John 12:1, 9. 17.
In Acts 4:1-2: The Sadducees were grieved because Peter and John “preached, through Jesus, the resurrection which is from among (the) dead”
And in Phil. 3 :11, it is used in a manner remarkably significant. Our version renders it, “resurrection of the dead,” which is especially wrong, for the Greek preposition ek occurs here in a duplicate form, in all the oldest manuscripts.* The phrase is (teen exanastasin teen ek nekron), and the literal translation is the out resurrection from among the dead, which peculiar construction of language gives a special emphasis to the idea that this is a resurrection out from among the dead.
These passages clearly show, that there is yet to be a resurrection out of the dead; that is, that part of the dead will be raised, before all are raised. Olshausen declares that the “phrase would be inexplicable if it were not derived from the idea that out of the mass of the dead some would rise first.”
That no unrighteous have part in this “first resurrection” is evident from Luke 20 :36: they “are the children of Golf” and “equal unto the angels.”
It is the resurrection of a select class only, Viz.: the righteous, and therefore Jesus calls it the resurrection of the just. Luke 14:14,-“And thou shalt be blessed; for they can not recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.”
Paul calls it the better resurrection. It is the resurrection of those that are Christ’s at his coming, “the dead in Christ,” who shall “rise first.”
The First Resurrection.
“Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection.” Rev. 20:6.
Paul, as a Pharisee, believed in the general fact of the resurrection. But we see from the foregoing, why he counted all things but loss that he might win Christ, . . . and know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, . . . if by any means he might attain unto the out resurrection from among the dead. Phil. 3:8-11.
And we see also, why the three favored disciples were “questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean.” They understood perfectly, what the resurrection of the dead meant, for this was a commonly accepted doctrine of the Jews.3O But the resurrection from the dead was a new revelation to them.
And it is an important revelation to us, for it is “the resurrection of life.”31
But there is also to be a resurrection of judgment (so the Greek). John 5:29. It is the resurrection of the unjust.32 It is the completion of the resurrection (nekron or ton nekron) of the dead. Hence we see there is a difference in time as well as in character in the order of the resurrection; the first being that of the just, and the second that of the unjust; and this difference in time is perfectly in accordance with the account in Rev. 20, where the interval is stated to be the 1000 years of the Millennial kingdom. And as Christ comes at the resurrection of the just, or those who sleep in Him (1′ Thes. 4:13-16), His coming must be pre-millennial.
No. VII. Watching.
We are commanded to watch for His coming. Again and again did Jesus tell His disciples to watch I He said: “Watch therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” Mat. 24:42. “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour.” Mat. 25:13. Adding, “And, what I say unto you, I say unto a11,- Watch.” Mark 13:35-37. He places especial emphasis on the word Watch, particularly in Rev. 16:15, “Blessed is he that Watcheth.”
Now it is absolutely inconsistent with the constitution of the human mind, thus to watch for an event which we believe to be one thousand years or more in the future. And yet this is just the position which Post-millennialists are forced to take.
We humbly invite a candid and prayerful consideration of the above argument. on the part of Greek students. Dr. David Brown quite superficially disposes of it by the erroneous presumption that Pre-mlllenarians apply the resurrection (nekron or ton nekron), of the dead, only to the ungodly. Whereas, we hold that it embraces all, even Christ Himself, but that (ek nekron) from the dead applies only to the select class who have part in the first resurrection. Again is he wrong In his citation of the texts, Mark 9:9-10; Acts 10:41; 13:34; 26:23, and Rom. 1:4, each of which. according to Griesbach have ek nekron or exanastaseos nekron.
Matthew Henry, commenting on Luke 12 :45, says: “Our looking at Christ’s second coming as a thing at a distance is the cause of all those irregularities which render the thought of it terrible to us.” And on watching, he says: “To watch implies not only to believe that our Lord will come, but to desire that He would come, to be often thinking of His coming, and always looking for it as sure and near, and the time of it uncertain.”
As followers of Christ we are compared to soldiers, fighting the fight of faith (1 Tim. 1 :18; 6 :12; 2 Tim. 2:3; 4 :7), and perhaps no better illustration could be given us of watching, than that of picket duty in the army.
Old soldiers know that out on the skirmish line it is full of life and excitement, because they are watching for something immediately possible. But in camp it is a dull, soulless drudgery, because they are expecting nothing until the outer pickets, perhaps five or six miles away, are driven in.
How intensely do we increase this difference in watching, if we separate the. pickets by a thousand years. And this is what post-milleennialism does.
We believe this argument appeals to the common sense of every person, and we pray God that these seven arguments may be blessed to the perfecting of that which is lacking in your faith.
True watching is an attitude of mind and heart which. would joyfully and quickly turn from any occupation to meet our Beloved, rapturously exclaiming “this is the Lord we have waited for Him.” Isa. 25 :9.
Continue to Watch.
But, perhaps, you say: “The Church has been watching for eighteen hundred years and He has not come, and He may not come for eighteen hundred years more.” Well, possibly He may not; but do we know He will not? and shall we set a date for His coming? and cease to watch?
Post-millennialists say that He will not come for a thousand years or more, which is equivalent to setting a date, as it places His coming out of all possibility in our life-time; and then, dear reader, how quickly do we lay down our watching.
The principal condemnation pronounced in the Scripture, in regard to the Lord’s return, is to those who say “My Lord delayeth His coming.”
It is immeasurably better to be ready than to be late.
Pre-millennialists believe that He may come any moment, and that we should ever be found watching and waiting, with our loins girded about, and our lights burning, and ourselves like men that wait for their Lord. Lu. 12:35.
The eighteen hundred years which have passed only make “our salvation” much “nearer than when we believed,” and it is “high time to awake out of sleep.” Rom. 13 :11.
A Little While.
There is no prophetic event which has to be fulfilled before His coming in the air to receive the Church. Therefore we have need of patience that we may receive the promise: “for yet a little while” (Greek-very, very little while) “and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” Heb. 10:37.
“But,” you say, “it is not a little while.” Ah! beloved, does it seem long to you from creation to the flood, or from the flood to Christ? The “little while” of Hag. 2:6- 7,36 we believe, has not ended yet, and it certainly covered the five hundred years up to Christ’s first coming. Remember that God speaks to you as to an immortal soul.
Wait until you have realized a few of the mighty cycles of eternity, and then these eighteen centuries will indeed appear to be “a very, very little while.”
O! let us fix our eyes upon Jesus. Let us watch and wait for the King Eternal.
The Faith of the Early Church.
It is admitted on all sides that the pre-millennial coming of Christ, and His reign with His saints upon the earth a thousand years, was the faith of the early church. Indeed, this is substantiated by such an abundance of evidence, that it cannot be denied.
We would that we had space to quote at length, from the many authorities on this point, but must be content to select a few:
Mosheim says: “The prevailing opinion that Christ was to come and reign a thousand years among men before the final dissolution of the world had met with no opposition previous to the time of Origen.”
Geisler says: “In all the works of this period (the first two centuries) Millenarianism is so prominent that we can not hesitate to consider it as universal.”*
Chillingworth, with his characteristic in “Ulneraple logic, argues: “Whatever doctrine is believed and taught by the most eminent Fathers of any age of the Church and by none of their cotemporaries opposed or condemned, that is to be esteemed the Catholic doctrine of the Church of those times. But the doctrine of the millenaries was believed and taught by the most eminent Fathers of the age next after the Apostles, and by none of that age opposed or condemned; therefore, it was the Catholic doctrine of those times.”
Stackhouse, in his “Complete Body of Divinity,” says: “It cannot be denied but that this doctrine (Millenarianism) has its antiquity, and was once the general opinion of all orthodox Christians.”
Bishop Newton says: “The doctrine of the Millennium (as held by Millenarians) was generally believed in the first three and purest ages.”
Bishop Russell, though an anti-millenarian, says: “Down to the beginning .of the fourth century, the belief was universal and undisputed.”
Dr. Daniel Whitby,-the father of the modern post-millennial theory,-in his “Treatise on ‘fraditions,” candidly acknowledges that, “the doctrine of the Millennium passed among the best of Christians, for two hundred and fifty years, for a tradition apostolical, and as such is delivered by many Fathers of the second and third centuries, who speak of it as a tradition of our Lord and His Apostles, and of aU the ancients who lived before them, who tell us the very words in which it was delivered, the Scriptures which were so interpreted, and say that it was held by all Christians that were exactly orthodox.”
Lest anyone should lose the full force of these quotations, it may be proper to state, that this “ancient and popular doctrine of the Millennium,” as Gibbon styles it, was the belief in the pre-millennial coming of Christ, and His reign on the earth for a thousand years. It was commonly called chiliasm, which see in Webster’s Dictionary.
Such, in brief, is the testimony of historians, both ecclesiastical and profane upon this subject. And some of the early Fathers, of whom they speak, were very nearly, if not quite, the cotemporaries with the Apostles.
Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia, who was a disciple of St. John, or who at least received his doctrines from the immediate followers of the Apostle, was an extreme Millennialist, and has been called the father of Millenarianism. (See McClintock and Strong’s Enc.) Irenreus, as a disciple of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, was directly connected with St. John. And also Justin Martyr was one of the earliest of the Fathers.
Is it not solemnly incumbent upon us, to respect and heed this doctrine, which these eminent Christian Fathers so undisputedly taught, as being the “tradition of our Lord and His Apostles”? Why is it, that, upon every other subject connected with our holy religion, such as Baptism, Church government, Forms of worship, Articles of faith, etc., we go back and search diligently to ascertain the doctrine of the Fathers, placing so much stress upoo what we think they believed and taught, and yet upon this most important theme, cast aside what we know was their faith and testimony? Is it consistent? Dear reader, do let us here emphasize Paul’s exhortation to the Thessaloniaus:
“Brethren, stand fast and hold the Ttaditions (teachings) which ye have been taught whether by word or by our epistle.”39 That is, whether taught in writing, or orally, see Verse 5. Now, what were these traditions (teachings) if not the coming of Christ and the Reign of the Saints, of which Paul and the other Apostles wrote so freely? Being thus exhorted, it is reasonable to believe that they did hold them, and that they are the very traditions which Whitby and the other authorities clearly prove were held by the early Church. Then let us also hold,-not the comparatively modern post-millennial theory of Whitby, -but the aged faith of the Fathers.
The Apostles Were Not Mistaken.
We cannot believe (as some assert) that the Apostles were mistaken, and consequently not inspired upon this theme, nor that they and all the early Christians mocked themselves with false hopes in regard to the pre-millennial coming of Christ. They watched and waited for the return of our Lord, as a sure event, the hour of which none but the Father knew, but which had been enjoined upon them as uncertain and imminent. And as they passed away to the unseen domain of Paradise, they have left us the written Word, their reiterated traditions (teachings handed down), and their great hope. So we take up their vigil, hopefutly watching, not daring to sax that He will come tomorrow, nor a thousand years hence, but only this are we sure of, He may come now.
God has held this glorious hope constantly before the Church, to keep her in her proper attitude of expectancy and longing, until the Bridegroom comes. Like Israel in the wilderness, we should realize that we are pilgrims and strangers, seeking a Land, a City, and a King, which are beyond our Jordan of death and resurrection.
Death and Resurrection is the common lot of the great mass of the Church. But, of course, there will be some living when Christ comes,42 who will not die but be changed in a moment,43 and be caught up, like Elijah, with the raised saints to meet the Lord in the air. 1 Thes. 4 :16-.18.
It may be at morn, when the day is awaking,
When sunlight thro’ darkness and shadow is breaking,
That Jesus will come in the fullness of glory,
To receive from the world “His own.”
It may be at midday, it may be at twilight,
It may be perchance, that the blackness of midnight.
Will burst into light in the blaze of His glory,
When Jesus receives “His own.”
While its hosts cry Hosanna, from heaven descending,
With glorified saints and the angels attending,
With grace on His brow, like a halo of glory,
Will Jesus receive “His own.”
Oh, Joy! Oh, delight! should we go without dying;
No sickness, no sadness, no dread, and no crying;
Caught up thro’ the clouds, with our Lord, into glory,
When Jesus receives “His own.”