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form, is a prominent part of the Epistles to the unsettled churches. The duty of controversy, under many circumstances which might be stated, is perfectly clear. We must earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints.”— Bickersteth's Christian Student, pp. 113, 114.
The sermon to which we shall now direct the attention of our readers is from Rev. xx. 2, 3, the binding of Satan, and begins excellently. “ It will be proper to open a little the general subject, so far as a subject so mysterious, and as yet unfulfilled, can be opened, that I may prepare the way for the practical uses which I would draw from it. And to prevent the unreasonable disgust which persons void of all scriptural knowledge and reverence are apt to take at the bare hearing of such a text as this, I would say, with St. Paul, that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. It is not for us to say, Such and such parts are unsuitable, and useless, and would be better kept in silence. This is to affront the Holy Ghost. There are parts of Scripture on which we cannot say much, because we can know but little ; and we may be easily wrong in strained interpretations, and entering into curious niceties of interpretation for which we have no warrant. But those who say this, are often not so sensible of the wrongness of their views in another respect—in their forbidding us to treat such subjects at all. Why were they written, if they are not to be read and expounded? I have no notion of being restrained from studying and preaching from any part of Scripture. It is the inheritance which the God of grace hath given to his church; and happy were it for us to make a serious use of it! Under the teaching of the Spirit of God, with humility, discretion, and prayer, it is the very comfort of life; and those who live by the faith of the Son of God will find it their interest to attend to every part of Scripture ; and the neglect and discouragement of Scripture study is one of the worst symptoms of profaneness that we have among us.” (p. 267.) If the rest of the discourse had been in consistency with this beginning, we should have only had the pleasing duty of unqualified approbation. But it proceeds : “ The Apostolic prophet had been shewn in vision the complete destruction of Popery, and false religion, in the former chapters; and in this he is shewn the vision of what is called the Millennium, or the spiritual reign of Christ on earth for a thousand years, which will then take place” (p. 268). Now this we are compelled to protest against, as a “strained interpretation," " for which we have no warrant” (supra): for why should Christ's own reign and presence be spiritual, while that of the church is literal, and when
they are both spoken of in exactly the same terms? “ They lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years”—“they shall be priests of God, and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."
The position we contend for is exactly that laid down p. 271, We
e are no judges at all of the depths of the Divine dispensations. We are to study from his word what they are ; not on what grounds they are built; or why they are ordered so and
." The careful study of the word of God has convinced us that Christ shall really come again, and reign on this earth, where he once suffered ; and has further convinced us, that this second glorious advent at the commencement of the Millennium is near at hand. To prove the first point-namely, the real personal coming and reign-we need nothing more than the context, in Rev. xx., compared with the preceding sermon in this volume, or “The Church triumphant." It is not disputed, but on the contrary maintained, through the whole of the sermon under review, that the Millennium really takes place on this earth : “ The Millennium, or the spiritual reign of Christ on earth for a thousand years” (p. 268); " this glorious day of the church on earth” (p. 269); "the glorious reign of the saints on earth” (p. 270); “ the saints shall be uppermost and reign.” (ib.) It is also maintained that the binding of Satan during that period is real: “He will be shut up in the bottomless pit, that he may deceive the nations no more, till the end of the thousand years (p. 269). But here Milner stops, most unaccountably; saying (p. 272), "Those who read the chapter may take notice, that I have not dwelt at all on the circumstance of the martyrs rising from the dead and reigning with Christ, because in what manner it is to be understood seems not so clear.”—“ Not so clear!" it is written quite as clearly ;“ They lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years ;” and we had been told in the same discourse (p. 271), “ we are to study from his word what they are ; not on whạt grounds they are built.”—“Not so clear !” only because the mind was pre-occupied by the absurd notion of a spiritual reign; an unscriptural prejudice, which alone could lead a believing man, like Milner, to assert (p. 270), " there is no reason to suppose that Christ our Saviour will literally live on earth again : he will most probably reign in the hearts of men by his Spirit.”
But to the proof. Milner allows that the binding of Satan (Rev. xx. 2, 3) is to be taken literally, and that “the glorious reign of the church on earth” (p. 270) will also be literally realized at the same time: but this reign is recorded in ver. 6 of this same xx th chap.; and who can but grieve and lament that the bias of education, or barriers of man's imposing, should so far pervert the judgment of an able man, or shackle his powers, as
to make him interpret spiritually, as they call it, the two verses (4 and 5) which stand between these two literal passages ! But this is not all ; for he assumes that these reigning saints are men in flesh, in defiance of an assurance of their being risen saints, expressed as clearly as it is possible for language to do: “Beheaded for the witness of Jesus”...." they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years :". on such the second death hath no power.". Though their reign, therefore, may terminate at the end of the thousand years, their life shall not : “on such death hath no power.” Nor is it doubtful who these risen martyrs are, for they have been previously spoken of in xiii. 15, where the beast hath power to “cause that as many as would not worship the image should be killed.” And those who did, on the contrary, worship the image of the beast, are by the Word of God, the King of kings and Lord of lords, cast into the lake of fire (xix. 20) immediately before the reign of these resurrected witnesses for God. That the beast is either the Papacy, or a personal Antichrist arising out of the Papacy, admits of no reasonable doubt; and these two opposite bands--one of which, those refusing to worship the beast, are killed by him ("the noble army of martyrs”); the other, those receiving his mark and joining his standard, are destroyed by “ Him that sat on the ħorse” (xix. 21)—are remarkably interlaced with all the judgments of that time. When the seventh angel shall sound (xi. 15) the reign of Christ shall commence, and the time of wrath (ver. 18) shall come; but before it bursts forth in the thunderings, and earthquake, and great hail, with which the chapter concludes, the temple of God in heaven is opened (ver. 19), for the place of refuge for his people to hide themselves until the indignation be overpast. (Isai. xxv. 4; xxvi. 20; Ps. lvii. 1; xxvii. 5; xxxi. 20.)
In like manner (xii. 10), “Salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ,” are proclaimed as come: after which the devil is represented as “having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (ver. 12). In xiv. 8--11 Babylon's doom is denounced, and blessedness pronounced upon the saints who die in the Lord, before the reaping of the harvest and vintage (ver. 14—20). In xvi. 14 the kings of the earth and the whole world are gathered : in ver. 15 the Lord comes as a thief; and the earthquake which destroys great Babylon ensues, in vers. 18–21. In xvii. 14 the “called, and chosen, and faithful” are with the Lamb, when the kings give their power and strength to the beast : after which these latter make war with the Lamb. In xix. 5 a command is given from the throne, “ Praise our God, all ye his servants, and
ye that fear him, both small and great....for the Lord God omnípotent 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," &c. After which (ver. 11) the Word of God came forth from heaven, followed (ver. 14) by the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean : after which the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, are destroyed (vers. 20, 21): and after all these things Satan is bound for a thousand years (xx. 2); and then (xx. 4) “the thrones are placed, and they (that is, the armies of heaven, xix. 14) sat upon them,” and become “priests of God, and reign with Christ a thousand years ” (xx. 6).
This is no interpretation of ours, but the plain narrative of Scripture, as clear and as positive as any portion of the Gospel narratives; and we marvel how any man, with these passages before him, could dare to say that “the Millennium, whenever it begins, will give no warning at all” (p. 276). But the whole passage
is so remarkable that we extract it, in order to draw from it an inference the very opposite of that which is several times insisted on through this sermon, and which is a favourite argument with the opponents of prophecy at the present time. It says, “that as the shutting up of Satan seems to be sudden, and it does not appear that the angel with the chain will be a long time in executing his commission, hence the Millennium, whenever it begins, will give no warning at all. No gradual diminution of Satan's power will, it seems, enable a man to foretell his imprisonment; but it seems from the text, that the change, however great and surprising, will be at once. And if this be so, how vain a thing is conjecture as to the particular time and season!” Now, granting for a moment the validity of this argument, it is quite as strong against the denial, as against "the conjecture as to the particular time and season;" yet such a denial is either expressed or implied through the whole sermon : As, p. 269, “there is no sort of probability that the
youngest of us will ever live to see the Millennium.” How can we expect or look for marks of “probability,” if “the Millennium, whenever it begins, will give no warning at all!”—“There is no ground, in this description of the Millennium, whence I can at all collect when it is to begin; and it is very foolish for persons to apprehend any for themselves” (p. 275). If it is to give “no warning,” how should there be any "grounds ;” but if “there is no ground when it is to begin,” there is, on the same shewing, no ground when it is not to begin.--" I see the minds of many persons have been afloat, within these two or three years, on account of the surprising changes in the world which have happened. Some have been confident that the reign of Christ on earth is very near; and others have indulged themselves in flattering expectations, far beyond what they had any right to
đo” (p. 273). To which we find the sufficient answer p. 278 :
Nothing happens but according to the Scriptures ; and you see that they are being fulfilled continually. Hide yourselves for a little moment, till the glorious end-that is (I would to God our hearts were steadily fixed on it!) when Christ shall appear; for, then ye shall appear with him in glory.' Learn, then, with the first Christians, to look for that blessed hope.”
We cannot be quite sure that Milner here means the Millennium; but the context seems to require it, as he has been just speaking of “God's work carrying on victoriously amidst all these confusions ;” and as he says a little further on, “Till the time of Satan's imprisonment come, the general reign of Christ's kingdom on earth is not to be expected” (p. 281). But whatever sense he may have given to the text quoted, it is certain that the Apostle had in mind the glorious personal advent of our Lord : for he has just been pointing the disciples to the risen Christ, at the right hand of God; with whom the life of his people is at present hid in God, but who shall appear with him in glory when Christ our life shall appear (Col. iii. 1-4). This “ appearing” we know is the second advent; for “ Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for him shall he appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation” (Heb. ix. 28). We know also that it shall take place at the restitution of all things, “when he (the Lord) shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you” (Acts m. 20). At which time all who have partaken of his sufferings shall share his glory: “Rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings, that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad with exceeding joy:" “ And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1 Pet. iv. 13; v. 4). Which is also called the appearance of God: “ Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ” (Tit. ii. 13). For he shall then appear in his own glory, and in the glory of his Father, with his holy angels" (Matt. xvi. 27; Mark viii. 38). And at this time shall the holy city, the new Jerusalem, come down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband ”—(which preparation, be it remarked, has preceded the destruction of the wicked and the binding of Satan, for she hath “ made herself ready,” xix. 7). “And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he wilí dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away, all tears from their eyes ; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain : for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon VOL. 11.-- NO. 11.