Brief Remarks on "Christ's Second Coming: Is It Pre-Millennial?"

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I have, in the lectures delivered at Toronto, stated my views at length as to the Lord's coming, and the divine purposes and plans in connection with that great event. I do not repeat them here, merely summing up in a sentence or two the whole scheme. But since I delivered those lectures, Dr. Brown's " Second Advent " has been put into my hands as a kind of unanswerable text-book of those who oppose Christ's premillennial advent. My object therefore here has been to show the utter untenableness of his views, and unscriptural character of his arguments. I have been as brief as possible, answering a book of nearly five hundred pages in a not very long tract, but I do not think I have omitted anything very material. I have found difficulties greater than those he has alleged, and I believe have solved them, and by a principle Dr. B. admits, so that I have not gone into them in detail here. The direct proofs of Christ's second advent I believe to be irrefragable for one taught of God-His advent to judge the world and bless it before the end. I have not thought it necessary to follow Dr. B. in all his comments on men's views. It sufficed to take up those of Scripture.
Two great subjects, after our personal salvation, fill up Scripture-the government of the world; and the church, the special fruit of sovereign grace. Prophecy treats of the former, and, as Paul-who alone in the epistles speaks at all of the church or even names it*-declares, never speaks at all of the church. It was a mystery hid in God, could not be revealed; for it was founded on the breaking down of the middle wall of partition, on the maintenance of which the Jewish system was founded.
(* John speaks of a particular church; but elsewhere none but Paul even employs the word.)
Now the true pre-millennial view is that God's purpose is to gather together all things in heaven and earth under one head, Christ. The church is the center after Christ of the heavenly system, the Jews of the earthly. The church is caught up, when He comes, to take her place with Him there, as are all raised saints with her; and then He comes with them to establish peace and blessing on the earth. For the world (Greek-the habitable earth) to come-to come, mark, after Christianity was set up in the world-is not subjected to angels, but to man. We have a heavenly place, nor does Christ give up His heavenly place because He takes the earth to bless it. He holds both under His power-only His agents are glorified saints, who certainly appear with Him (Col. 3), and to whom He has given His glory, that the world may know (not believe) that they are loved as He was, proving distinctly the existence of the heavenly visible glory of the saints while the world and men subsist-not the angels, though these ever minister to His glory. Such is the express testimony of Scripture. See Psa. 8, Heb. 2 He waits at the right hand of God till the time comes for Him to take His power and reign. Psalm Ito and Hebrews to). Such is the statement of Scripture. (See Eph. 1 and Col. 1)
Now I agree with Dr. B. that this, while leaving orthodox foundations where they are, changes the whole nature and character of Christianity. Salvation remains the same, but all the thoughts and relationship of the saved are different. " Pre-millennialism is no barren speculation-useless though true, and innocuous though false. It is a school of scripture interpretation; it impinges upon and affects some of the most commanding points of the Christian faith, and when suffered to work its unimpeded way, it stops not till it has pervaded with its own genius the entire system of one's theology, and the whole tone of his spiritual character, constructing, I had almost said, a world of its own; so that, holding the same faith and cherishing the same fundamental hopes as other Christians, he yet sees things through a medium of his own, and finds everything instinct with the life which this doctrine has generated within him," p. 6.* This is thoroughly true, and shows how necessary it is, in all grace and patience, to see where the truth lies. Above all, Christ's Person, and our being with Him, acquires special importance in the heart of him who holds it. The bride looks for the Bridegroom as a present hope; Christ is coming again to receive us to Himself, not to judge us, though we shall surely be manifested before His " Bema," but already glorified; for we are raised in glory.
(* The numbers enclosed thus denote the pages referred to in Dr. B.'s book. New York Edition, Robert Carter, 1856.)
The post-millennial Christian may, nay must, love His appearing as an abstract idea; but it is no present hope: he looks to the gospel spreading and filling the whole earth (I do not say desires-that abstractedly every saint would say Amen to), and thinks it must be so. He can therefore love the appearing though it has no practical reality for him, but he could not say " We which are alive and remain " (the remainers, the apostle putting himself in the class, without fixing a day) " unto the coming of the Lord." He could not place himself in such a class at all. He could not seek to be kept without rebuke in service till the appearing, nor say of the dead, as Paul in Thessalonians 4, ‘Weep not, he will be brought with Jesus when He appears, for, raised or changed, we are going to meet Him’ Such a comfort no saint thinks of now. A present hope it cannot be. It is not that he cannot morally love it (though the making the earth blessed by it he does not believe); but he must look for it across at least a thousand years, and hence (though not altogether with Dr. B., yet given he speaks of a perfect analogy) we constantly see death take the place, as an equivalent, of the Lord's coming-a thing unknown to Scripture, blessed as death is for the saint.
But this catching up of the saints to meet the Lord in the air and be forever with Him, and His appearing, and the day of the Lord, are all confounded by these theologians. They all abide His appearing to be judged-a senseless thing for those already centuries in heaven. Then Dr. B. says the Redeemer's second appearing is the very pole star of the church (p. 14). It is not so at all. It is His coming to receive her to Himself, that where He is, she may be also. It is expressly revealed that when He appears, she will appear with Him. This mixture of hope with judgment leads him to quote its terror for sinners as a part of this hope. Now as no apostle speaks of the church, so no apostle speaks of its rapture, but Paul. He was minister of the church to complete the word of God. But he never confounds the appearing with the rapture. Joy of grace belongs to this last; all responsibility is referred to His appearing. The general thought of His coming runs through all as gladness and joy to saints. The class of texts which present a difficulty are those which speak in a general way of judgment. But, as Dr. B. says, the church is seen as a whole from beginning to end. This is true: and not only so; often the principle of judgment, applied as it was to come on those then on the earth, as 2 Thess. 1, as the Lord says, "to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return "* (the whole space now of one thousand years being taken as no time because the principle only was in question); this goes yet farther. Judgment is spoken of morally without reference to time or circumstances. " He that confesseth me before men, him will I confess before the angels of God." It does not speak of when. So judgment day is used as characteristic, not as a point of time-" more tolerable for Sodom in judgment-day than for that city." It may be a point of time. In this case I suppose it will, but it is not the point which is before the Lord. The result of judgment is given, not the circumstances of it.
(* It is a mistake of Dr. B.'s to suppose Matt. 25 corresponds with Luke 19. It certainly was at another time.)
Before treating of details, I would notice the way in which traditional theology obscures the truth and complicates men's thoughts as to it. Christ is spoken of in Scripture as Prophet, Priest, and King. Nothing can be simpler. But, having got hold of these three official positions, everything must come under them. Now these titles grow from Jewish analogies, and the full gospel light is dropped by this. He is King-king to save, they say, to give life, and the like.
All this is unscriptural. He was the great Prophet on earth. He is Priest in heaven. He is in title, and will be in fact, King of Israel, and over the nations. Scripture never speaks of His being King of the church, nor of His saving in the spiritual sense of salvation as king. The whole system of thought is narrow, and, if Scripture be simply received, it is much simpler. He is Son of God, and gives life as such- quickens whom He will. He has suffered as Son of man, and will be head over all things as such. He is Advocate with the Father. He is Head of the body, the church, His bride-the firstborn, too, among many brethren. I only notice these as examples to point out the narrowness of the system and the far greater simplicity and richness of Scripture.
I proceed to my examination of Dr. B.'s proofs. The first question Dr. B. puts on this subject of judgment, which I take first as the only one having any difficulty for my reader, shows how tradition usurps the place of Scripture. He inquires (p. 261), speaking of judging-ruling and governing being admitted to be a scriptural sense of the word, " Are these the senses in which Christ will come to judge at the great day? " Now this is the traditional assumption that the great day of judgment-the great white throne-is the great day. Now the great day is never used in Scripture for this-save in Jude as to the angels, which does not apply to the judgment of men at all-but for a terrible day on the earth; for Jacob's trouble, Jeremiah 30: 7; the day of Jezreel, Hos. 1:1111Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel. (Hosea 1:11); again, Joel 2: 11-31, quoted Acts 2:2020The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: (Acts 2:20), showing clearly it is on earth. Those who call on the name of the Lord are saved in it (Zephaniah 1:1414The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the Lord: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. (Zephaniah 1:14)), where it is unquestionably on the earth; Mal. 4:55Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: (Malachi 4:5), where smiting the earth is in question. Does the New Testament help us further? Jude 66And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. (Jude 6): here we have the judgment of fallen angels, as to which we have no further light in Scripture. The expression is general. There is not the smallest hint that it is before the " great white throne "; but the contrary. The dead only appear there. As far as there is any intimation of scripture, it is not there; for we read (1 Cor. 6) that we are to judge angels, so that the character of the judgment is quite different; nor is it a judgment of details of conscience. The devil, not necessarily included in Jude's words, is cast into the lake of fire, as an adversary, before the great white throne is set up. Rev. 6:1717For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? (Revelation 6:17), and 16: 14, both expressly speak of a terrible day on earth. To begin with, therefore, the great day is not a general day of judgment of the dead. That thought is the fruit of tradition, not of Scripture. The dead will surely be judged; but that is not called the great day in Scripture. The terrible time of God's judgment on earth is so called. The fallen angels are reserved for it; but we judge them.
I now occupy myself with the passages. Matthew 10:32, 33: Dr. B. (p. 269) very culpably, I think, adds a passage in Mark-words certainly not spoken at the same time, but which adds " when he cometh "-which is not in Matthew 10. In Mark 8:3838Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. (Mark 8:38) there are not two classes at all; the passage merely states that, when Christ comes in glory, He will be ashamed of those ashamed of Him in His humiliation. It is the contrast of state. Matthew 10: 32, 33, which refers to both classes, does not say a word of His coming. It is said, without any reference to time at all, He will confess or deny before His Father. The statement of Dr. B. is positively and totally false. He says, " Here the acknowledging of the one class, and the disowning of the other are expressly said to take place at the same time, namely, when Christ comes in His glory." This is false, and it is a disgraceful way of dealing with Scripture. When Christ's coming is spoken of, there are not two classes; when two classes are spoken of, His coming is not alluded to.
As to Rev. 21:7, 87He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 8But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Revelation 21:7‑8); chap. 22: 12-15, one is in the eternal state of the new heavens and new earth, and at that time Christ does not come at all. He had come at a preceding epoch, when the time of restoring grace was over, and the things which were shortly to come to pass had come to their climax. Nor does " every man " include necessarily the coming dispensation, though there is nothing at all in pre-millennial views to hinder anyone thinking so; for, according to these and Scripture, the judicial period, as Dr. B. says, is contrasted with this present time. Christ is to judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom. This general application of judgment in contrast with the time of responsibility is universal in the Lord's teaching, where details are not gone into at all. There is a time of responsibility; another time when actions are weighed.
Here the quotation, however, is unfortunate; for it is closed by a reference to the transfiguration, which in every one of the three gospels follows these words, as in Mark 8:3838Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. (Mark 8:38), and is declared by Peter to be an exhibition of the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the Son of man coming in His kingdom, where we have the excellent glory of the Shechinah, into which the saints enter-the Father's house-the Lord and His saints displayed in glory on earth, and living saints witnesses of it. Hence we learn that when He speaks of rewarding every man according to his works, He refers specially to the coming in His kingdom, not to the final state, though surely the judgment will endure then.
Matt. 7:21-2321Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:21‑23). The question is of those fit, not to enter into heaven, but into the kingdom of heaven; and it speaks of their then existing dispositions, as the whole sermon on the mount does, while Christ was on the way with them. Their righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, or they could not enter, etc. Christians are in the kingdom of heaven. That is clear. All Christ adds is, that those who have made a profession, and wielded spiritual power, if not godly, will be rejected, which is very clear, in that day-the day He judges in (the epoch being left in perfect obscurity). The truth is, the kingdom of heaven was coming in a wholly unexpected way (as shown in chapter 13), as to which the Lord does not lift the veil here.
The virgins are still more plainly the opposite of what Dr. B. says. The Christian epoch is, as he admits, looked at as one whole, and as if no one would die, as the parables of the servant (chap. 24) and of the talents prove. But none are spoken of but Christians here-those of the kingdom of heaven -showing that, while He tarried, all would forget His coming. They are both classes; but certainly not, as Dr. B. asserts, of every age. The judgment refers solely to Christians, real or bearing the name. It proves the contrary to what Dr. B. says, but only gives the principle and the true character of Christians: they have gone out to meet Christ; showing how His coming was to be their present expectation and hope, what characterized them and their faithfulness-not a distant thing, but a present expectation; no thought touching on the resurrection, and the principle applicable solely to this time in connection with the coming of Christ. The discourse refers to the Jews in chapter 24: 1-31; to Christians to chapter 25: 31; to the nations on earth then to the end. The great white throne does not appear at all. Matt. 25 is thus made as plain as possible; it is the judgment of the nations of the earth.
Matt. 13 refers to the end of this age; and there is avowedly an age to come-a habitable world to come (Heb. 2) subjected to man. Here we find the work of Satan on earth when the good seed had been sown; it is mingled with tares, and the crop spoiled, and this must continue so till harvest; so that a millennium is impossible till judgment comes, and the saints are in glory. First, the evil doers are gathered together on earth providentially; then the wheat taken to heaven; then the wicked are cast into hell, and the righteous are like Christ in the Father's kingdom. But this, which is the end of this age, applies only to Christendom, save so far as the explanation declares that Christ clears His kingdom as Son of man, that is, the earth; for there were the things that offended, and the field embraced the world, though it is not said all of it was sown. This parable wholly sets aside Dr. B.'s system. It is a judgment of Christendom to purge the field, when the wheat is taken to heaven and shines as the sun; when Christ does not give up the kingdom, but takes His power (left in abeyance till then).
As to John 5, " The hour is coming," Dr. B. admits, gives no argument from the word " hour." It is stated there is a resurrection to life, and a resurrection to judgment. There are " no multifarious and broken transactions " at all. There is a resurrection to life, and a resurrection to judgment quite distinct. How long apart, the passage does not say. Dr. B. admits their entirely mutually exclusive character.
Acts 17:3131Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. (Acts 17:31). Dr. B. cannot have looked at the Greek, in which this passage is a very strong proof of the falseness of his system. It is this habitable world which is judged. There are no fragmentary judgments, but there is a judgment of this " habitable world," which is not the judgment of the dead at all. Then, according to Heb. 2, we look for a world to come, " habitable world to come."
Rom. 2:5-165But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6Who will render to every man according to his deeds: 7To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life: 8But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, 9Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; 10But glory, honor, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: 11For there is no respect of persons with God. 12For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; 13(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. 14For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) 16In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. (Romans 2:5‑16). Here Dr. B. has most culpably changed by leaving out, as before by adding; nor has he even noted it here. Verses 11-15 are left out, and verses 10 and 16 put together as if they were connected. The direct connection is not with verse io; but with verse 12 (verses 13-15 being parenthetical as marked in every Bible I can lay my hand upon), so that it applies only to sinners, and teaches no general judgment day; while no one will deny that the general term " that day " may apply vaguely to all judgment. It is only in the vagueness of such language that Dr. B. has the smallest ground to stand upon. " That day " is used all through the prophets, as a Concordance will chew, to signify the judgments which are to burst forth when Messiah comes; and as His first and second comings opened out when He came, so through this present time it is used in the same general way to signify coming judgment. Yet herein revelation opens out a further vista of heavenly glory, and an age and habitable earth to come before the end. This the opposers of the hope of the Lord's coming seek to obliterate, and take refuge in the vague term, as the Jew does, in the one coming of Christ. " Last day " and " last days " are similarly used, and " last time," so that John could say in his day it was " the last time." This vagueness might cast obscurity on the subject. I have therefore examined the passages in detail: one or two remain.
The reader will see the direct arguments of Dr. B. examined in what follows: 2 Cor. 5:10, 1110For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. 11Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. (2 Corinthians 5:10‑11) is quoted. We must all be manifested before the judgment seat of Christ. Some have taken this to apply to believers only; I believe it applies to all, and simply believe it. We must all give an account of ourselves to God: of the time, manner, or anything else, the passage says nothing.
1 Corinthians 4: 3. Certainly the Lord will make bare the secrets of men's hearts, of all hearts. No one doubts it. Here, however, the apostle is not thinking of the unjust, though it be most surely true of them, but of Christians judging their fellow Christians. God's praise is what they had better be looking for, man's day was little matter. Nothing can be more general than the truth referred to, however solemn.
2 Thess. 1:6-106Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; 7And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. (2 Thessalonians 1:6‑10) refers to an immediately expected coming, looking only to those on earth, and gives its character. The saints were troubled now by sinners; when Christ comes, that will not be so. The tables, as men speak, will be turned. The following chapter proves the impossibility of an intervening millennium. But this dwells on the character of the coming, and that character it will surely have. It did not concern the Thessalonians to explain the great white throne. This is sessional judgment, not the coming in power for every eye to see Him and the saints with Him. They thought the day was then: the apostle shows that the character of the day made that impossible. The wicked were to be punished then- so they will be.
As to Rev. 3:55He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. (Revelation 3:5) Tim. 5:24, 25; Rom. 14:10, 1210But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. (Romans 14:10)
12So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. (Romans 14:12)
, we have simply to believe them as they stand. They offer no difficulty nor question. 2 Peter 3:7, 10, 127But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:7)
10But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (2 Peter 3:10)
12Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? (2 Peter 3:12)
might. I have noticed it elsewhere; I only say here that it is the day in the which, etc.; and with others I am fully persuaded from other passages, it is at the end of the day. Peter (rather the Spirit of God) takes care to add that God does not count a day as we do. Into this Dr. B. does not enter. I have spoken of this and other texts further on.
I now enter on Dr. B.'s general proofs of his views. I would remark in passing, the day-star arising in their hearts is not to be waited for till the end. It was desirable for the apostolic Christians. They did well to look at the prophecies which showed the judgment of the world, till Christ Himself, their own proper hope to receive them to Himself as His bride, became a brighter and better power in their hearts: Christ, before the day of the Lord, is the day-star; the prophecies a candle in the dark.
The writer has borrowed enormously from Millenarians, and partly admits the good they have done, but even so cannot really enter into what they say, or rather what Scripture says. Thus, he says death is a perfect analogy with the Lord's coming, as it is the saints' summons to appear before the judgment-seat. But death is not resurrection. We are predestinated to be conformed to the image of God's Son, not when He was dead. When He shall appear, we shall be like Him. Surely death is gain (this too Dr. B. does not reach), for we are absent from the body and present with the Lord. But they are forced to admit the importance of the Lord's coming, and blame the opposers of it, and learn the language of those who hold it-but they speak the language as foreigners. It is not even necessary that we should die: we shall not all sleep. Mortality can be swallowed up of life, and Paul (2 Cor. 5) was looking for this in contrast with death, and puts himself in this category (1 Thess. 4)-a thing impossible if the thousand years were to come first; and (p. 27) no confusion as to its beginning or ending, or comments on watching or waiting, can alter this. The notice of it is only throwing dust in people's eyes. Men may love His appearing who never thought of the time-perfectly true; but they could not speak as Paul did, if they put a thousand years between.
Dr. B.'s statements as to the mystery of the kingdom are entirely mistaken (pp. 34, 333). It is not said, the field was to be sown; nay, there is plain prophetic proof it would not. The kingdom title reaches over the world. There is not a word of the tree's overshadowing the world, nor of Christianity leavening the mass of human society. All these statements, which are the very pith of Dr. B.'s argument on this point, are not in Scripture. It is said Satan would spoil the crop where it was sown; this Paul looked at as a present time, and so did John, and so did Jude, and dealt with as a then immediate evil. The great tree is merely a great power in the world- Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, the Assyrian. The three measures are not all human society. Paul speaks of it as in principle, " come into all the world."
The times of the Gentiles being fulfilled was as uncertain as the Lord's coming. Men's speculations as to this are not scripture, and I believe wholly false. The measure is Daniel's seventy weeks; and sixty-nine and a half (or at any rate sixty-nine) were fulfilled in the apostle's time; when the seventieth would begin to run, no one could nor can tell. If the apostles were to be witnesses to the end of the earth (p. 34), they gave it up; and Paul went to the Gentiles, and says it had come into all the world.
The passages Dr. B. quoted (pp. 36, 37) as to the degeneracy of the church, he admits, might be in no long time. His answer is simply his own addition to the parables. But that degeneracy is of all importance; because, if it took place according to Rom. 11, the whole system would be cut off, instead of bringing in a millennium. Apostasy or falling away (2 Thess. 2) is not continuing in God's goodness. As to Acts 3:22And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; (Acts 3:2)o, 21 (p. 37), the simple answer is, It is a proposal to the Jews, founded on Christ's intercession on the cross, for His present return, cut short by the chief priests.
Dr. B. quotes Luke 19 the parable of the pounds as correcting any speedy expectation of Christ (p. 39). They thought it was then and there to appear on earth. Christ teaches them it would not be, and that He must go away, and the Jews thereon refuse to have Him as king, which they did; Acts 3 and 7. If it is said in Matt. 25 that the bridegroom would tarry, the effect is not to be the spreading of the gospel, but the going to sleep of the saints; and what awoke them was the cry of His coming pressed on them. The present order of things contrasted with a then earthly kingdom was taught by the Lord; so was the delay parabolically; but then the opposite to a millennium of blessing was declared to be the effect- sleep, till they were awakened by the cry of His coming, which made it too late for those not ready to prepare. They were asleep till thus awoke. He teaches us we ought to watch; and He teaches us the church did not when He tarried, but lost the sense of His coming and fell asleep. Note, too, when it said, " My Lord delayeth his coming," as Dr. B. does, it became worldly and hierarchical, and was treated as a hypocrite.
I do not believe the importunate widow is the church, which is never widowed, but the Jewish people, which is. The connection shows it; and Christ's coming may be expected at any time: the last days were come in the apostle's time.
Next I turn to 2 Thessalonians (p. 42). All Dr. B.'s statements are wrong. Paul insinuates nothing: he refers to false means employed to say, not that the day was at hand or imminent, but then come. The word is always used in the New Testament for present,' or come '-twice for " things present " in contrast with " things to come." The Thessalonians, excessively pressed by tribulation, were tempted to believe " the day " there-an expression always used for a time of trouble, of darkness and not of light. In chapter the apostle urges it could not be the day of the Lord; for then His people would have rest, not tribulation, and their enemies the trouble; and then he urges them, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, not to be shaken in mind, as if the day were there. We are to be gathered to Christ first, and before the day of the judgment of evil comes. Next the evil must be there to be judged. The passage therefore largely confirms our thoughts, because we are to be caught up before the Lord appears to bring in the day; and events refer to the day, not to our rapture. Of all this Dr. B. is ignorant. He always confounds the day and Christ's coming for us-which, whatever the interval, are certainly distinct; for when He appears, we shall appear with Him, and thus must be with Him before.
When the twelve hundred and sixty days are made years of (save as a general possible analogy) all is false. The three times and a half are the half week of the seventy weeks of Daniel. The days are already years. There have been analogies, as there were many Antichrists (not the Antichrist); but there is no proper date but Daniel's weeks; when it begins is nowhere stated. The church is a heavenly timeless gap in the world's history, while it is said, Sit at my right hand, till-when God puts Christ's enemies under His feet, earth's history, and the Jews, and computation of time, begin again.
Chapter 4, Dr. B. insists that the mystical body is complete when Christ comes. Hence, he concludes that it must be at the utmost end of the world. The mystical body is complete: this is clear; and I fully admit it. It is exactly what makes the subject clear. His reasoning is the effect of judging new truth by old traditions. He assumes that all that are to be saved are the church, which is totally unscriptural. The church, or God's assembly, Christ's body, what He builds on earth, is solely what is His between Pentecost and His coming. There was the congregation of Israel before, the vast majority of whom were not saved at all; and before the exodus there was no congregation at all. There could not be the body before the Head was in heaven. The baptism of the Spirit, by which the one body was formed, as Scripture expressly states, took place on the day of Pentecost; and whatever the millennium is, the marriage of the Lamb takes place before it. (See Rev. 19 and 2o.) 1 Cor. 15 proves nothing good or bad. It does not even comprehend some of the church, for in the verse referred to, and up to verse 51, it speaks only of resurrection, and thousands, it may be millions, of the church, will not die at all, but be changed.
Hence, his whole argument fails, because those that are Christ's do not comprise all, but only those that are His who are dead; 1 Cor. 15:22, 2322For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. (1 Corinthians 15:22‑23). I simply believe, however, that the church is complete; Scripture leaves no doubt of it. 2 Thess. 1:1010When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. (2 Thessalonians 1:10) proves He will be admired in all them that believe, i.e., who believe the gospel. Paul speaks only of Christians, though I doubt not He will in those who believed before He came; but Paul is speaking only of Christians. All that Dr. B. says here is nothing to the purpose. So Col. 1:2222In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: (Colossians 1:22) is confined to Christians reconciled through the death of Christ, once alienated Gentiles; i.e., Christians and the gospel; though, I doubt not, from other passages, Old Testament saints come in. But against the thesis I have no objection, I accept it fully. But I deny that saints before Christ's first coming, or after His second, are part of the church. The Head of the church is Christ, once dead, exalted above every principality and power, the body [consists] of those united to Him by the Holy Ghost. Dr. B.'s efforts to get rid of Zech. 14:55And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. (Zechariah 14:5): " The Lord my God shall come, and all his saints with thee," are pitiable. They that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful. Angels will come, but these cannot be angels. Angels are not called.
I do not admit the last two chapters of Revelation to be the everlasting state (Gentiles are not to be healed then) but only chapter 21: 1-8; and " as a bride adorned for her husband " is a mere description of the beauty of ornament, not the time of marriage. There is not a word of presentation to one another of Christ and the bride there, as Dr. B. states. There is a great difference: before, she was in the heavens; now, descended, whatever follows thereon, the kingdom being given up. The quotation of Heb. 12:2323To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, (Hebrews 12:23) (p. 64) is a blunder; it is not our gathering together to Him at all. Next, " the general assembly " and the " church of the firstborn " are wrongly connected. The first in Greek refers to the general assembly of all the Grecian States, and is used here for the whole heavenly host, the innumerable company of angels, the general assembly. Then, " the church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven "; and besides this, there are the Old Testament saints, " the spirits of just men made perfect "; and the new covenant saints, yet another class, alluded to. The divisions of subject in the text are by " and." I leave all the reasonings of men. All Dr. B.'s argument is founded on the church's comprising all the saved, which is wholly unscriptural.
The difference of the millennium on earth Dr. B. has not laid hold of at all. Now there are a faithful few, Satan being the prince and god of this world, going against the stream. Then Christ will be the prince of this world, and Satan bound, and obedience will be paid to Christ's manifested power even when men are not converted. When this obedience is not paid, excision takes place, so that all is peaceful and happy. It is a perfect government of the earth made good everywhere. When Satan is let loose and temptation comes again, those not kept by grace follow him. I have an impression that piety will decline in the millennium; but it is founded on a figure (Num. 28 and 29), so that I do not insist on it; but the rest of what I have said is revealed. That men should fall when tempted, however sad, is nothing but what is very simple. It is the last effort of Satan. Dr. B.'s reply (p. 73) to its being only such as have lived up to the millennium is only abuse. Besides, I have already answered it.
The assertion that His mystical body is the universal family of the redeemed, is unscriptural; all the declaration is founded on this gross and unscriptural error, that all the saved belong to the church. Before Christ's exaltation there was no Head for them to be united to, though, as Son of God, doubtless He was the source of life to them. But life is not union. The scripture expressly reveals that the church was not formed, nor the Holy Ghost who formed it given, till Christ was glorified. See John 7:3939(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) (John 7:39); Eph. 2:20-2220And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:20‑22); Matt. 16:18; 118And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18) Corinthians 12: 12, 13; John 1:3333And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. (John 1:33); Acts 1: 5. Men's reasonings about it I cannot give heed to, nor the inconsistencies of men who do not at all know what the church is. Bickersteth (p. 82) has stated it justly as far as he goes. Only he talks of union with Christ as if it were something else than the church, leaning on tradition, and so lays himself open to Dr. B. Union is by the Spirit and belongs to Christ's body, the church, only. The Duke of Manchester had learned it with " Brethren."
To this, accordingly, Dr. B. gives no answer, because he has none, except that it is founded on most untenable and dangerous views of the difference of Old and New Testament dispensations. Of course, as Dr. B. is ignorant of what the church is, he cannot tell what this difference is. But he might have known that the disciples were far before the Old Testament saints, for Christ says so: yet, that it was expedient that they should lose that, in order to get the Comforter. And, to say nothing of the church, the least in the kingdom is greater than the greatest born of woman. I suppose then there is a difference. There is no church of God under both dispensations, as Dr. B. and tradition say. If there is let it be shown. Could Abraham say, I am united by the Holy Spirit to a Man in heaven? Is this nothing? Is it nothing to know that we are in Christ and Christ in us? This is by the Comforter. Surely they will be made perfect with us or we with them; that is, we shall have resurrection together; but God, that passage says, had reserved some better thing for us. What is that? The child then differed nothing from a servant. We have the Spirit of adoption consequent on redemption. The Old Testament saints could not even talk of flesh and spirit. This degrading the effect of known redemption, a Man at God's right hand, and the consequent coming of the Comforter, is deplorable.
And just see the maze Dr. B. gets into. " They without us could not be made perfect, that is, without Christ and the Spirit [!!!], whose proper economy ours certainly is " (pp. 86, 87). And this in a sentence which says, God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us, etc. They will not be excluded from the glory; but that does not make them the church. On this, which is the whole point he has to meet, Dr. B. has utterly broken down. But if this be so, the completing of the bride for Christ's coming, which he brings forward to disprove it, is the pregnant proof that the millennial saints are another class.
Dr. B. (p. 90) says, " united to him by faith as a man "-all this is traditional language. We are never said to be united to Christ by faith. It is wholly unscriptural. All this is unproved by Scripture. All Dr. B., wholly destitute of the word, can say is, " Who ever doubted? " I am satisfied his order of thought dates from Augustine only. His reasoning from John 17:2, 242As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. (John 17:2)
24Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:24)
, is wholly without force. John never speaks of the church, but of life, of individuals-another truth equally precious. " All the elect get eternal life from Christ's hands "-an ugly expression; but what it means is fully admitted-Will any get less, Dr. B. asks, can any get more? Now this proves distinctly only one thing: that the idea of the body and bride of Christ has never entered into Dr. B.'s mind at all. By life we are sons with the Father, Christ the firstborn among many brethren. Infinite privilege and blessing! But by union with Christ we are the body and the bride of our ascended Head, the Man Christ Jesus. The very existence of this as a distinct truth does not cross Dr. B.'s mind. See Eph. 1
His reasoning on Rom. 8 is the only passage that affords the semblance of an argument. But it really proves the contrary; for Paul is speaking all through of the saints of the present day, now delivered from the law, their first husband, and married to Christ risen from the dead, the saints knowing the effect of Christ's resurrection, set free by the death of Christ, God having sent forth His Son to do what the law could not do, and having, as a sacrifice for sin, in Christ condemned sin in the flesh. He is speaking of those who know it, who had received the firstfruits of the Spirit. If it be used (though as a present thing, we only are spoken of, those whom the Holy Ghost calls " we ") to prove as a consequence that the millennial saints will be finally glorified too, since they are elect: I have nothing against it. It proves nothing at all as to their' state and circumstances in the millennial period, which may or may not be (as far as this goes) the same as ours. Paul is speaking of those who have the Spirit of God as come down from heaven, consequent on redemption. Whether with that he uses general terms which, as to what is said in them, go farther, is a question whose solution does not touch the point we are upon. " Whosoever " Paul uses to bring in the Gentiles. This is spoken of those for whom Christ intercedes now, while at the right hand of God. Whether general terms apply to others, when God's purposes are accomplished, is a question on one side of our argument. The deliverance of the creature from the bondage of corruption when we have the liberty of glory, which does not take place in the liberty of grace, proves that there will be a deliverance of the present creation system when those who have the firstfruits of the Spirit are glorified and find this deliverance themselves.
I am aware in page 1 it this is said to be a new earth after its melting with fervent heat. But I ask if all being burned up with the fire of judgment (for such it is according to Peter) is not a singular deliverance of the creature into the liberty of the glory of God's children from the bondage of corruption. I admit sufferers with Christ mean all true Christians; but what then? It does distinguish (not martyrs-they suffer for Him, but) those who live in the time of Christ's rejection and share in it, and those who live when He reigns and do not suffer with Him at all. Those who suffer with Him will be glorified with Him; those who do not will not, but enjoy the full blessing of His reign. There is glory celestial and glory terrestrial: and this difference of a present Christ and an absent Christ is an immense one. Dr. B. calls these differences in external circumstances contrasted with inward and spiritual ones. I have already shown that his view of the internal ones is wholly unfounded in Scripture, but Christ has too small a place in his mind here. " Thomas, because thou hast seen, thou hast believed: blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed." This is the stated difference. Finally the kings of the earth do not bring their glory into it, but unto it- own it as the source of power. Finally, saint-ship is the same thing for all; but union or membership of the body is not the portion of all saints.
Dr. B. makes a great handle of the pre-millennialists having nothing to say as to the saints of the one thousand years. They have something to say, but not more than Scripture does. That Dr. B. omits, and concludes against plain full statements because of what he says must be. The Scripture states that after the destruction of Gog and Magog-as to which Dr. B.'s statements are the wildest fancy and nothing else-there is the judgment of the dead (of which hereafter), the heavens and the earth pass away, and there is a new heaven and a new earth, and no more sea, and that then the tabernacle of God (nothing more being said of the Lamb, as being in a distinct mediatorial office) is with men, and men are His people. Now here the tabernacle, the bride, the Lamb's wife, is distinguished from men, when the kingdom has been given up and all things made new. I am not aware, save general principles, that anything is said of the transmutation. It is not only positively said, " As the days of a tree shall be the days of my people "; but it is said " he that liveth and believeth in me shall never die." Death is not yet destroyed; but I do not see why they should die during the millennium. God has told the church what is to happen to the church. He has not indulged curiosity: only we know corruption cannot inherit incorruption. This may show that they will be changed into an incorruptible state, though the passage speaks only of the saints of this time. Where nothing is said I respect the silence of Scripture; as I receive implicitly what is distinctly and fully revealed. God shall be all in all, the kingdom be delivered up to the Father. The tabernacle of God is with men, this Scripture tells us. Can Dr. B. tell us more? If so, let him produce the passage. His reasonings as to passages that speak of Christ's coming, we have or will examine. His telling what must be is of no avail; he must tell us what will be according to Scripture. This is very plain indeed as regards the church: we openly avow that we dare not go beyond Scripture, and are content to be silent. Scripture does say that the Lord is to be glorified in the church forever, and that this tabernacle of God will be with men. This prophetical distinction of the church we believe. How the millennial saints are transformed, Scripture does not say; nor do we therefore pretend to know. But we will show that the scriptures as to the Lord's coming are so plain that they cannot be set aside, as Dr. B. wishes.
We have next to deal with the cessation of the means of grace, chapters 5 and 6. Dr. B. argues that all the means of grace absolutely cease at Christ's coming: hence none can be converted after, as pre-millennialists allege (p. 100). This reasoning is singularly futile, and shows the effect of traditionary teaching as contrasted with Scripture. For if they could not be saved without our means of grace, neither could the saints before Christ. Special means of grace are to be contrasted with the work of grace. That this last is needed no Christian doubts; but to reason from this to the means is to the last degree idle. It is perfectly clear that if the Lord Jesus is manifested in glory, there must be a change as to the means and ordinances of grace. His death and the Spirit's work remain the unchangeable way of salvation; but the forms of presenting it, of course, must be different. The word will have lost none of its value. The Old Testament is far more valuable for us than for a Jew, though in a different way. We have the divine key to connect it. " The Lord is that Spirit ": the true and pure mind of the Spirit in it; not as Dr. B. says, because it was an opening out and carrying forward of the former, for the law was given by Moses, and grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. The church was a mystery wholly hidden, hidden from ages and generations, hid in God. It required the breaking down of the Jewish system entirely to set it up. The middle wall of partition, required by the one to be maintained, must be broken down to allow the other to exist. Judaism had its existence by maintaining what the church had its existence by throwing down.
I have no doubt the New Testament will be the source of the deepest instruction to saints in the millennium, a door into the knowledge of the heavenlies, where they are not, and to the understanding of the infinite grace of God which led there. The direct connection between the millennium and the Old Testament is much closer than ours. It is the fulfillment of the new covenant there promised, the presence of the Messiah there foretold, and the scene of peace and blessing, of the restoring of all things of which the prophets spoke. That people cannot expect Christ when He is come, nor suffer with Him when He is reigning, needed no sagacity to discover. But I cannot, with the Old Testament saints, look in patient hope to His first coming, or the sufferings of Christ. Have they, or the testimonies as to them, therefore lost their value?
As to the sacraments, they will not have, surely, such as we have. What then? If this proves there cannot be salvation, there could not have been among the Jews, for they had not the same; nor the patriarchs, for they had not either. All this is of a futility tedious to reply to. Ministry, in its present form, is peculiar to this, as a distinct priesthood was to the Jewish time. But a certain ministry is spoken of, at any rate, at the beginning of the millennium; otherwise its distinctive revealed character is: " They shall not say, Know the Lord." Does Dr. B. object to this, when he says that as to the sacraments, passages so implicate the grace conveyed with the means of conveying it, that both disappear together? It is as rash as it is false to say that the communication of grace from Christ is dependent on these means. That the form is suited to the time is certain. It will be in the millennium. It was in Judaism: it is in Christendom. What then? Grace in all has effect according to the wisdom of God's ways.
As regards the priesthood, I deny entirely that priesthood is for conversion. We have to deal with great ignorance of Scripture in all this class of theologians. Priesthood, save the finished act of sacrifice, maintains reconciled men at the height of their calling and relationship to God, in spite of the actual weakness in which they walk, or restores them to the enjoyment of it. But it supposes man in relationship with God. Our place is in heaven, our priest is there. In the millennium, Christ will be a Priest upon His throne, and the counsel of peace will be between Him and Jehovah. It is another order of priesthood suited to the time. Christ has taken this as to the power of an endless life already; but He exercises it after the pattern of Aaron in the heavenlies now, then as Melchisedec on His own throne.
The statement, that " the old order of things which Christ's coming is to supersede (p. 114) includes not only the present means of grace but the grace itself conveyed by them," is of a character so monstrous as to show where Dr. B. is. It is tying up the possibility of God's grace to the outward ordinances of the Christian system, and denying all grace before Christ's coming, when their ordinances and means certainly did not exist. When he talks of a revelation, he forgets that Christ Himself is there revealed, and that grace so works that it will not then be said, " Know the Lord." Those who are militant now will reign, not merely be saved. Those who, because Christ reigns and Satan is bound, are not militant may be saved, but will not reign. So utterly blind is Dr. B. to the force of this fact of his argument, that he insists that the agencies of salvation cease, and takes as a first proof Christ's intercession. " When intercession is done, salvation is done " (p. 119), he maintains; yet he says, it stands intermediate between His first and second coming (p. 116). None, therefore, were saved before His first, if they cannot be after His second. Christ's priesthood in heaven is confined to His being as man in the holiest. Be it so; for we have access there, boldness to enter into the holiest. While the first tabernacle had its standing, the way there was not made manifest. As I have already said, In the millennium He is Priest on His throne.
As regards the work of the Spirit (p. 119), Dr. B. equally admits that this is consequent on Christ's exaltation. This work of the Comforter ceases at the Lord's coming. Now the passages he quotes show the sending of the Comforter (p. 12o), consequent on Christ's going away. Hence, if this were needed for salvation, none were saved before. He has confounded the work of the Spirit and the sending of the Comforter. This last was consequent on Christ's being glorified. All direct work on the creature is by the Holy Ghost, yea, even creation. There is no divine work in the soul but thus wrought. But this is not the sending of the Comforter. However, I do not doubt from Scripture that there wilt be not a sending of the Comforter, but the latter rain of the Spirit. Dr. B.'s " continued effusion " (p. 120) of the Spirit is wholly unscriptural: the Comforter came and was to abide forever with the disciples. He acts continually and as He will. The whole reasoning is simple ignorance of Scripture, and inattention to the force even of what he himself says.
We have now to treat of the kingdom and offices of Christ, and to rescue plain Scripture statements from the garbage of theology. As regards the comments of men who mingle both, I have little to do with them; but Dr. B. is not just in his comments even on them. In the first place, the Duke of Manchester is wholly opposed in his views to nearly all the others. He holds that Christ's kingdom is now, and that He gives it up in the millennium; the others exactly the contrary. These, though there may be confusion in their views, because they mix up traditional theology with the word of God, and do not see what the church is as essentially one, are practically right. They hold that it is a kingdom now, but one of which the proper power is not in exercise, but will be in the millennium; and this is what Scripture teaches.
Speaking of Christ as prophet, priest, and king, and reducing all saving grace to these offices, is a very poor and confused way of considering the Lord's grace. The Son of God quickens whom He will, and with the Father (John 5) is by the Spirit the one source of life to whosoever receives it: He is the one only accomplisher of redemption by which any are delivered and saved. But to make Him always prophet, priest, and king for this, is theology and confusion. He is the Truth. It was by His Spirit any prophet spoke. But to say He was always prophet is only making confusion. God declares by Moses, that a Prophet should the Lord their God raise up unto them. This Peter assures Israel God had done: though all testimony of truth flowed from Him by the Spirit, He was a prophet when God raised Him up in the midst of Israel according to promise. He became a priest after He was made like to His brethren in all things. In other words, He became a man that He might be a priest. But even this, though laying the ground for it in the sacrifice of Himself as the high priest representing His people on the great day of atonement, He did not exercise, the apostle tells us, till on high in heaven. He was King in title when He became incarnate, but did not exercise His royalty.
It is not a question of the efficacy of His sacrifice reaching backward and forward in God's mind, no Christian doubts it, or rather there is no backward and forward there-nor if the love of God be the source of life. It is a question of special positions, taken in time, and which attach themselves to His manhood, and are exercised in it: Christ was a King when a man on earth. He witnessed a good confession to it before Pontius Pilate. But He did not take His kingdom; He sat on no throne; He was accomplishing a far more important work. And after having, as necessarily faithful to promise, presented Himself to Israel, a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, He forbids His disciples to say He was the Christ (saying, " the Son of man," a much larger title, in which He passes from Psa. 2 to Psa. 8, " must suffer "), and so, riding in on the ass, passes from that to the cross. Remark here how He shows that, in the literal interpretation of the prophecies as to the kingdom, the Jews did not deceive themselves. He is King as to His title now, but He has not taken His kingdom; He is not sitting on His own throne, but on His Father's; and He Himself makes the difference. To him that overcometh will I give to sit down on My throne, as I have overcome, and am set down on My Father's throne. To Him alone, the Son, it appertains in righteousness to sit on His Father's throne. It would be blasphemy to set us there.
He glorified God His Father and is glorified with Him; we with Himself when He takes the kingdom. He is gone to receive the kingdom and to return.
To say the Father's throne is David's throne, is nonsense. God was to raise up one of David's seed to sit on David's throne, and that means, they tell us, the Father's (p. 139). Cannot a child see the perversity of such an interpretation? The royalty is not, and is never said to be, to save (p. 186 and following), unless in outward deliverance by power. If it be, let Dr. B. quote the passage. He saves, in giving life as Son of God, in redeeming by His precious blood, in the exercise of His priesthood, from weaknesses. But salvation of souls is not attributed to His royalty, nor is He King over His church. On the contrary, Scripture declares that when He reigns, we shall reign with Him. It is in vain to use large words about it. There are those who must have Scripture testimony for what they believe. Nor does a teaching which makes the Father's throne David's throne, commend itself to those who have received their teaching from Scripture. Neither the apostles nor the Lord seek to overthrow the prophecies of the kingdom. They give something better. The Lord sanctions the expectations of His disciples when they speak of restoring the kingdom to Israel. They ask, Wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? What is His answer? " It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power." Is that the times and the seasons for not doing it at all, or for doing it? It is impossible that a child could not see that it is to be done, but that the time was not revealed, and that the Lord gives them another work to do now. But He explicitly sanctions their expectations. So Paul declares that the restoration of Israel will be by the Redeemer going forth out of Zion. The object of the New Testament is not the kingdom in Israel; but a rejected glorified Christ and the church, and our present condition. But the prophecies of the Old Testament are expressly sanctioned. " Ye shall not see me henceforth till ye shall say, Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord."
When once the place of the church is seen, and its place with Christ in heavenly glory, all falls into its scriptural place, and the church itself is not reduced to an improved Judaism, as it is by these teachers. But it is important to notice here that the kingdom is not everything, but the lower part of the glory, the glory terrestrial. Moreover Scripture carefully distinguishes Christ's headship over all things and His headship to the church. God will gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, in Him, in whom we have obtained an inheritance; Eph. 1. We are joint-heirs with Christ. As Son of man He is set over all the works of God's hands, His own creation. All things, the Father excepted, are put under Him. They are not yet actually so (Heb. 2), and He sits on His Father's throne till they are-till His enemies are made His footstool. They are not so yet. Thus He has not taken the exercise of His kingly power to reign, though owned of God and believers as King. But He is given to be Head over all things to the church which is His body.
But though all things are not reconciled, believers are, marking the difference between the heirs and the inheritance, see Colossians r. He is the firstborn of every creature for He created them: there is one pre-eminence. He is the firstborn from the dead, the Head of the body, the church: there is another. God is to reconcile all things in heaven and earth by Him. " You [the saints] hath he reconciled." Thus, His universal supremacy, supremacy given to Him as man, is distinguished from His headship to the church. Compare Eph. 1:2222And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, (Ephesians 1:22), and Heb. 2:6-96But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? 7Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: 8Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. 9But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. (Hebrews 2:6‑9), commenting on Psa. 8: see also 1 Cor. 15:25-2825For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 28And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:25‑28).
As to the passages quoted by Dr. B. to prove His personal sitting on the throne of David now and His kingly rule, it is striking that not one speaks of His being King, or of sitting on David's throne. David had prophesied (Acts 2:25-3625For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: 26Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: 27Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 28Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. 29Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. 30Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 31He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. 32This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. 33Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. 34For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35Until I make thy foes thy footstool. 36Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:25‑36)) that God would raise up Christ to sit on His throne, and in view of this, that His mercies might be sure, tells of His resurrection: they are sustained according to the power of that. The fact, Christ's resurrection, Peter testifies to, and we all believe it. He then explains, not the kingdom, but the point contrasted by Christ in Acts 1:6, 76When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. (Acts 1:6‑7), with the kingdom as a distinct and different thing, and shows that Christ had been exalted by God the Father. Dr. B. then leaves out a material point, namely, that David was not ascended into the heavens, not a word being said of his throne or kingdom. It shows that Christ was to sit as Lord on God's right hand, according to Psalm when His enemies were not made His footstool, i.e., it contrasts Christ's heavenly headship with His royal power exercised against His enemies, and solemnly declares that God has thus made Jesus Lord. That is, that He has the exaltation He was to have till His enemies were made His footstool, an exaltation contrasted with the exercise of His royal power which He was to exercise when He left His Father's throne; and, this being left out, the passage is used to show He is King in fulfillment of a previous part of the passage. Is this quite honest? Dr. B. leaves out what Peter insists on in express terms, and applies what he says to another part which is in contrast with it (p. 138).
As to Zechariah, it seems to me as plain as can be that it is the reign of Christ on His throne, not on the Father's. He is to re-establish Jerusalem blessings, for that is the question and the only question there.
As to Rev. 5:66And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. (Revelation 5:6), it is not the Father's throne nor Christ sitting on it, nor a throne of grace at all, but Elohim-Jehovah-Shaddai's throne-a throne of judgment with the Lamb in the midst of it-a throne where, if intercession be used, it brings in judgment, not the gospel-the throne, not of the kingdom indeed, but which establishes the kingdom by power. Such it must be evident to all is the book of Revelation. Not one word of the gospel is in it save the everlasting gospel which declares that the hour of God's judgment is come. And it leads, in Dr. B.'s rapturous hallelujahs, to the conclusion that they will reign over (not on) the earth; i.e., the reign is not come, Christ is not seen building the temple of the Lord. There is nothing about a benign sway (p. 142), but judgment, ever more and more terrible, till He come to smite with a rod of iron. Is a rod of iron Dr. B.'s idea of what he would call the gospel kingdom? When Christ is king in Zion, that is His scepter to break in pieces the nations as a potter's vessel. He that sits on the throne is carefully distinguished from the Lamb in Revelation. Nor is there a hint on the seven Spirits of God of any gospel service.
Nor is this all. Christ's dealing with the church was complete in chapters 2 and 3, and this is what is to come afterward, " after these." The question was the opening of the book, not the gospel of salvation. The seven Spirits of God are not the description of the Holy Ghost as Comforter in the church, and the strength of gospel witness in those sent to proclaim it: of this there is not a word here.
As to the key of David, it is used figuratively as one who has a right to shut and open. But Dr. B. has forgotten that, while Christ surely exercises this power, the key of David was not in the king's hand, neither Shebna nor Eliakim was king or David's son. No Christian denies Christ is Lord; none that He has all power in heaven and in earth. But while having the personal title to be king, they say that Scripture shows He has not taken the proper power of the kingdom: of this further on. I notice now a remaining text-Isa. 9:6, 76For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:6‑7). A very short answer suffices. The reader has only to consult the passage, and he will find that the increase of Christ's government is consequent on the great battle day of God's judgment.
The next quotation proves only one thing-the extreme weakness of Dr. B.'s cause, and the desperate condition he is reduced to. It is said God has glorified His Son Jesus, that is, that Christ is glorified. Dr. B. adds, Ye have killed the Prince of life. This, says he, proves His princedom. Does killing the Prince of life prove that Christ is reigning-is king? This I may leave.
Next (p. 147), a time of restoring all things of which the prophets have spoken (Acts 3:2121Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. (Acts 3:21)), is spoken of, and it is said that the heavens must receive Him till then-till the time of restoring takes place, and that then He will be sent. The Jews must repent, the apostle tells them, that this time of refreshing may arrive: till then the heavens must receive Him. This proves, we are told, He must be reigning now and come to put an end to all. The prophets speak of Messiah's kingdom, and that blessed time when all, subjected to Him, shall be set in order (which, being accomplished, we learn in the New Testament that He will give up the kingdom). Till He is sent for this exercise of royal power, the heavens receive Him. He must be sent for its accomplishment. This, we are told, proves that the restoring cannot take place after He comes! The new birth of souls has nothing to do with this restoring. That has been going on from Abel, whereas this time does not come till the end of Christ's present sojourn in heaven as a man at the right hand of God, and it is the time of restoring all things spoken of by the prophets. It is really tedious to reply to such reasoning.
The quotation (p. 15o) of the comment on Psa. 2 in Acts 4 by Dr. B.. as a proof Christ is now a king, is curious. Peter declares that the rulers, etc., had combined to accomplish God's counsel, that is, in the death of Christ. This, we are told, was to overthrow the gracious rule of Christ. But if this is it, He was a king ruling on earth, and they succeeded; for they did not rise up against Christ in heaven, but on earth. Not only so, but the psalm does not speak of a gracious rule, but God's mocking at men's efforts, and Christ's rule set up in Zion; and there He rules them with a rod of iron, and breaks them in pieces like a potter's vessel-a singular description of a gracious rule, and, moreover, one which the church is to possess in glory with Him when He comes, according to the promise made to the overcomers in Thyatira. As to Acts 5:29, 3129Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)
31Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. (Acts 5:31)
, it is not said at all that Christ is a king, but Leader, nor even prince at all, but a Savior to give repentance. Christ is called the Author of faith in Heb. 2 A Savior Prince is simply a false interpretation.
On Psa. 110 I have commented. It is the declaration that Christ is made Lord, but would not have royal power over His enemies during the present period. The passage is important. Dr. B.'s reasoning is simply from the assumption that His sitting at God's right hand is His own throne and kingdom; but that is just what he has to prove-the time, he says (p. 153), of this glorious session and enthronization, for they are both one. My answer is, The passage is to show that the session is to continue till His enemies are put by God under His feet, then He begins to subdue them by His own power; and when all is complete, He gives up the kingdom. Now the epistle expressly contrasts the glorification and the putting of things under Him. But now we see not yet all things put under Him, but we see Him crowned with glory and honor. That is, though Jesus personally has the heavenly glory of a crown, the rest of the psalm is not fulfilled, is not the same thing. Therefore He has the glory, but all things are not put under Him. He sits at the right hand of God till God makes His enemies His footstool. He does not, and as to God's counsels cannot, touch them till that-the present time-is past. Indeed, Dr. B. admits it (p. 153). " He is in the attitude of tranquil expectancy till the enemies of His regal authority be made His footstool." He has royal title in the believer's eyes, but He is expecting the exercise of the power, and must till another, God, even His Father, makes His foes His footstool. Then, " He rises up to the prey " (p. 154). One thing is clear beyond all controversy (for it is the object of the passage to state it), that the time of subduing His enemies with His royal power does not come till the time of His session on the Father's throne has closed. Christ contrasts that throne with His own.
Let us add here that Mr. Gipps' distinction of the Greek eita being short, and epeita long, is a mere fable (one is " then," the other " consequent on "). The reader has only to consult i Corinthians is: 5, and following, and i Corinthians 12: 28, where these words are interchanged, to see that there is not the smallest possible ground for such a notion. Eita is the common word where one is used; epeita for a euphonious succession when there are many things succeeding.
The notion of Christ " giving an account of His stewardship " of the kingdom to the Father (p. 160) is as unscriptural as it is incorrect. It is very bad indeed. That Christ remains eternally mediator (p. 162) as to His Person, as man, I do not doubt; but official mediation is over when the kingdom is given up.
I now turn to some notices of the kingdom, which show how it is not now His kingdom, properly speaking. He reveals to His disciples that it is a kingdom which is not one. And the Scripture is more full on this than is supposed. The kingdom of God is the general idea of the king of God's power, and the rule of God's principles. Hence, Jesus could say, " the kingdom of God is among you," " come nigh to you ": for He was there. He could not then call it " the kingdom of heaven," because the kingdom was on earth, not in the heavens. This was only at hand. Matthew alone uses the expression, " kingdom of heaven." But what, when it comes, is its character? A kingdom is the government of a king over his sphere of rule. A great tree, three measures of leavened flour, a field sown with tares and wheat, and the like-these are the characters the kingdom takes, the mysteries of the kingdom; because the king took no direct rule. Secretly, He orders all things with divine power; but as the Christ He lets all go on without direct intervention of His power: so the Lord teaches in Mark. "It is as if a man should cast seed into the ground-that Christ did personally-and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should spring up and grow, he knoweth not how.... But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come." Christ acted personally at the beginning, then leaves it to spring up without interfering (though secretly ministering grace), and at the harvest acts personally again. He is sitting hid in God, though seen by faith, in the holiest during all this time.
I turn to another character of passage relating to the kingdom (p. 334). Whatever Joseph Mede's version, one thing is simply certain: that the stone never grew at all, nor exercised the smallest influence on any part of the image till it destroyed it utterly. Judgment was its first act. The kingdom of the Stone is a pure invention. Not a trace of it is in the vision or the interpretation. The first act of the stone is to smite the image in the very last divided state of it, and then it becomes a mountain which fills the whole earth. No statement could more distinctly show that the proper kingdom of Christ does not yet exist. The language is as remarkable as Mede's is inconsistent with its tenor. Daniel sees the image on to the toes of iron and clay. He then sees till a stone is cut out without hands, which smites the image on the toes. Of course it is in the days of these kings that God sets up a kingdom; for it destroys them all in order to its setting up. They were there together, for the one destroyed the others. But the statement is distinct that the whole image, toes and all, was there before the stone, and that the first act of the stone was the destruction of the image by smiting the toes, and that there was no growth of the stone till afterward, no action or influence before. It could not therefore be Christianity, for this had taken possession of imperial power before the toes existed at all. The toes destroyed its then existing power. To such straits is Dr. B. reduced here that he declares, " as kingdoms simply-as a mere succession of civil monarchies-the vision has nothing to do with them [!]. The mission of the church is, not to supplant, but to impregnate and pervade it [civil government] with a religious character, and render it subservient to the glory of God " (p. 340). The former, Christianity had done before the toes existed; whether the latter, some may question.
But let the reader only consult Dan. 2 and see if it is possible more to contradict what is definitely said. They were " broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floor, and the wind carried them away that no place was found for them." This is impregnating them and leaving them to subsist! If this last be Christianity, it is clear Daniel does not describe it. I do not see how the infatuation of tradition could go farther.
As to Dan. 7, Dr. B. tells us it means substantially the same (p. 342). Quite true. Taking and possessing the kingdom is the same, he says, as the stone smiting the image. It is rather the effect; but I admit it is the same epoch practically.
But we are told by Dr. B., the second (the latter of these chapters) has the additional character of a judicial assize (p. 345); yet, solemn as all the imagery is, nothing more is meant than " to intimate to us how righteous will be the destruction of that wicked instrument."* Let us, after seeing the kind of comment Dr. B. gives us, which needs none to be made on it, remark the real character of this scene, which is analogous to that of chapter 2. The judgment sits, and the beast is destroyed and given to the burning flame, and then the kingdom is given to the Son of man. That is, the Son of man does not get His kingdom in possession till the judgment is executed. His power is exercised in the destruction of the enemy. To use the language of the Revelation, " in righteousness he judges and makes war." Thus the adversary is destroyed and the kingdom set up.
(* Compare remarks (p. 266) on Matt. 25, where a far less solemn description, we are told, forbids its being used but for the great final judgment.)
It is urged that the Son of man comes to receive the kingdom from the Ancient of days. The remark is just; but it has been overlooked that the horn made war with the saints, and prevailed till the Ancient of days came. For Christ who comes is Jehovah; as He who is shown by the only Potentate, King of kings and Lord of lords, is found, when He comes, to be (Rev. 19) King of kings and Lord of lords Himself.
I do not know why Dr. B. leaves out a part of the passage (p. 343): " He shall think to change times and laws." This it is precedes the words; " and they shall be delivered into his hands." It is not the saints (long as it has been so interpreted) who are delivered into his hands, but the times and laws, the regular words for the Jews' periodical ordinances. God may allow His saints to suffer, but He never delivers them into Satan's hands.
As to Dr. B.'s interpretation of its being ecclesiastical Rome, etc., whatever analogies there may have been, I deny wholly the application of it to Pagan or Papal Rome. Bad and horrible as this last, this Babylon, may be, she is not the beast whom she rides. The horns and the beast subsist together, which has not taken place yet, and Babylon is yet another thing.
We have come to Dr. B.'s statements as to the first resurrection. He profits by the timidity of the advocates of pre-millennialism who are shackled by conventional views. It is alleged on the authority of Mr. Birks that Rev. 20 is the only passage which speaks directly of it (p. 220): I have never quoted this as any proof of a first resurrection, till I had shown that a common resurrection of all is wholly unknown to Scripture. But even Dr. B. is forced to admit that the resurrection of the just is a thing wholly distinct, peculiar to believers, exclusively theirs (p. 195): only priority in time is not to be alleged. Now this of itself is all important, the time comparatively immaterial; for it refers more to the duration of the reign consequent on the resurrection of the saints. But if all Scripture, which is the case, presents the resurrection of believers as exclusively theirs, we have made an immense step: a common resurrection, a coming up as one set to judgment, is false.
Let us examine where in the distinction lies. It is exclusively of the children of God (Luke 20:35, 3635But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: 36Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. (Luke 20:35‑36)): such alone are counted worthy to attain the resurrection from the dead and that world. They are raised on a different principle-by (or because of) the Spirit of God which dwells in them (Rom. 8:1111But 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. (Romans 8:11))-with a different object; it is a resurrection of life in contrast with a resurrection of judgment (John 5:2929And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:29))-a class whose righteousness is already wholly established and clear; it is a resurrection of the just; Luke 14:1414And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. (Luke 14:14). It is not together with the wicked in point of time; they that are Christ's only rise at His coming; 1 Cor. 15:2323But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. (1 Corinthians 15:23). The end comes afterward, whatever the interval: the Greek signifies a distinction in time. I have already said (page 360) that the difference of eita and epeita is a mere blunder. Here is the proof-I Corinthians 15: 6. Then (eita) of the twelve; then (epeita) to above five hundred brethren; then (epeita) to James, then (eita) to all the apostles. So i Corinthians 12: 28: first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, then (epeita) miracles, then (eita) gifts of healing. The excellent Mr. Gipps must have been singularly prejudiced by his views to make the observation. A qualm of conscience as to it, perhaps, made Dr. B. put the. passages in a note. Further, these possessors of life who rise do not come into judgment. Christ shows His power in grace in giving life: His power against the wicked in judgment, that all may honor Him; John 5:2424Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24). This resurrection is in glory, heavenly glory like Christ; 1 Cor. 15: 42, 49.
Such is the teaching of Scripture as to the resurrection, without looking at the Revelation. A common resurrection is a wholly unscriptural thought-one which has flowed from the loss of the knowledge of redemption. The saints are raised, because they have life, because they are the just, because they have the Spirit dwelling in them, because they are the children of God, and are consequently raised in glory, not to come into judgment, though to stand before the judgment-seat of Christ and receive their reward, giving an account of themselves. It is late to judge a man when he is glorified, when Christ has come to receive him to Himself, that where He is the saint may be also, before the saint gives an account of himself: when he does, it is certain from Scripture he will be like the Judge (1 John 3); conformed to His image (Rom. 8); transformed into the image of His glorious body, Himself, His righteousness. (1 Cor. 1)All this is certain by positive texts of scripture, is indeed but the quotation of them. See I Corinthians 15; Phil. 3; 1 Cor. 1; John 14. If the gospel is obscure, the first resurrection is obscure; and this is the case with these evangelical teachers. And if the first resurrection is not seen, the gospel is obscure. Men have to be judged after they are saved-men who have been even centuries in heaven. I insist on this point because it is a vital one.
I have not quoted Revelation. My readers will judge how far this is the only text. It teaches us one point, namely, that they who have part in this first resurrection will live and reign with Christ a thousand years. That is all. It adds the duration of the reign over the earth, which itself is amply revealed elsewhere; the duration alone is exclusively found here. Instead then of Revelation zo being the only passage, it merely adds the length of reign over the earth to a doctrine uniformly taught in the New Testament.
As regards the expression " from among the dead," I must beg also to differ from Dr. B. He says, If the Greek bears it out, it would have weight, but it will not bear an hour's examination (p. 198). He never loses anything by want of boldness; but boldness, as with Peter, may bring us into a scrape it cannot bring us out of. But, whatever he may think of Greek, or whatever the force of Mr. Elliott's silence, I affirm that Scripture never confounds resurrection of and resurrection out of the dead.
It is a very important doctrine that there is a resurrection of the dead. For a heathen that is the urgent point; it distinguishes the Pharisee and Sadducee. Martha could believe that, just as Dr. B. does: for in this point Dr. B. goes no farther than an orthodox Jew-a position he seems to dread. A resurrection "from among" or "out of the dead" is a special doctrine for a Christian, the essential character of privilege belonging to his resurrection-what makes it like Christ's resurrection and gives it all its peculiar importance. A resurrection of the dead is as true of the wicked as of the just. A resurrection out of or from amongst the dead is a divine favor which separates the accepted ones out from among those who have entered into the place where sin has brought us. Christ was raised from among the dead by the glory of the Father. All that is in that name and relationship was righteously and necessarily in exercise in raising Him, and is so in raising us as in Him. God's delight was in Him. He does not leave Him among the dead. In His case it could not be. He is called up out from amongst them. Is this nothing? Is it nothing that we have part in it?
I shall take the passages referred to by Dr. B. himself, and show that this difference always has place (p. 198). Acts 24:1515And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. (Acts 24:15). Here a resurrection of the dead both just and unjust makes it impossible to say out of, and it is not found.
Acts 17:31, 3231Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. 32And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. (Acts 17:31‑32). In speaking of Christ, as proof that God will judge this habitable earth by that man, the apostle says He raised Him out of-from among-the dead. Whereas the Athenians, hearing of the resurrection of the dead, mock. The fact of the resurrection of dead people, not any particular favor shown to Christ, was the subject of their ridicule.
1 Corinthians 15:1212Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? (1 Corinthians 15:12). Christ is preached that He rose out of, from among, the dead; the evil-taught Corinthians denied a resurrection-a resurrection of the dead, not merely a special resurrection. Such an evil would have been quite a different thing. Dr. B. denies a resurrection from among the dead. No one charges him with denying the resurrection of the dead. So by man comes the resurrection of the dead-the great fact, as death came by man. Resurrection " from among " would be wholly out of place here (p. 42); " resurrection of the dead " is its character. It is not here their being taken out from among others, but what the resurrection is as to the change that takes place in it.
Mark 9:9, 109And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead. 10And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean. (Mark 9:9‑10) is very marked. They were not to tell the vision till the Son of man was risen from among the dead. They wonder, inquiring among themselves what this rising from among the dead should mean. Now they certainly had Martha's faith, or Dr. B.'s, that men would rise in the resurrection at the last day. They were not Sadducees. They had the common faith of Jews. They were familiar with the resurrection of all; but a resurrection from among the dead-this they could not understand at all. They inquire what it should mean. Could we have a clearer proof that a resurrection from among the dead with a distinct and definite idea?
Acts 10: 41 is, as others have noticed, Christ's rising from among the dead. As to Acts 13:3434And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. (Acts 13:34), it is Christ's distinctive resurrection out from among the dead to assure the mercies of David.
Acts 26:2323That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light unto the people, and to the Gentiles. (Acts 26:23) is of more doubtful signification, but not on this point. The translation in English cannot be sustained. I suppose it is " he first, through resurrection (of the dead) should show light to the people, and to the nations." That is, the doctrine of resurrection was the starting point of this light to them. Hence we must have it general.
So in Rom. 1:44And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: (Romans 1:4), it is just the same. He is determined Son of God with power by resurrection, not by a special deliverance from amongst them, but by the great fact of resurrection-His own, ours, yea even that of the wicked. It is by resurrection.
Thus I have examined all the passages quoted; and they amply bear out the difference and prove it. Phil. 3, Dr. B. is obliged to admit, points unequivocally to a distinct resurrection. The word is unique, formed to express it, a resurrection out from among others. Many add another Greek preposition, but the important point here is that the apostle was willing to suffer anything to obtain this resurrection out from among others, to which he gives emphasis by putting the Greek preposition ek (if it be not repeated) to the beginning of the word itself. This resurrection he was looking for was a resurrection out from amongst. The force of the Greek word is therefore evident.
The first resurrection does not then offer a trial to the faith, as Mr. Birk says, but blessedly brightens the hope of him who trusts Scripture. He believes in the redemption which will give him a place in it, in the power which will accomplish it, if he be not here to be changed into the glory of his Master, and in the truth of His word who has promised it. He does not look to being called into judgment (though giving an account of himself to God) in a common resurrection; because he believes that he will be changed, or raised in Christ's own glory, before he can come before the judgment-seat, for the word of God tells him so.
Dr. B. is surprised at the use of Isa. 25, and that we should apply the taking the veil of the covering off to men here in the flesh, and swallowing up death in victory to others who are raised. As to the last, Paul is he who is guilty of it in i Corinthians 15. He declares it is accomplished in the resurrection of the saints. Clearly it does not extend to the wicked. We have only to inquire if Isa. 25 refers to blessing to men on the earth. This Dr. B. holds himself (p. 426). " The dark places of the earth to be irradiated by the beams of the Sun of righteousness." For this I only ask the reader to read through the chapter and the following, or, better indeed still, to the end of chapter 28, which is incontrovertibly one prophecy, and see if there be not the most unequivocal prophecy that can possibly be of the blessing of Israel, and of the Gentiles-the whole world with them. That is the burden of the prophecy and nothing else. What is destroying the veil that is over the nations? Is it not bringing the Gentiles into the full light of blessing? The whole prophecy is clear as possibly can be. The iniquity of Jacob is purged; they are gathered one by one. He smites them only as discipline. Peace is ordained for them; the rebuke of His people will He take away from all the earth, etc., but another great event will take place at the same time- death will be swallowed up of victory. This the apostle tells us is resurrection. But if this be so (and that it is no one subject to the word will deny), all Dr. B.'s system is false, and what he denies is true. For the passage describes the filling the earth with the knowledge of the Lord; yet, if Paul is to be believed, the resurrection of the saints takes place then.
How Dr. B. can appeal to the reader of the Bible, if any one ever saw the distinction of celestial and terrestrial glory, is hard to tell. 1 Corinthians 15 plainly tells us there is this difference of glory celestial and glory terrestrial. Ephesians gives, as the proper and peculiar knowledge given to the saints, that God is going to gather under one Head, Christ, all things in heaven and on earth. Colossians 1 teaches the same thing. That we shall rule over the earth is equally clearly taught. If we suffer, we shall reign with Him; and what is celebrated in Rev. 5 is that the heavenly ones will reign over the earth.
As regards Dan. 12:22And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2) (pp. 199, 201), it is clear that it has nothing to do with a literal resurrection, for it is said, " Many of them which sleep," which it is impossible to apply to the resurrection. It would be a partial resurrection of wicked and saints. It applies to the land of which the Lord Jesus speaks, referring only to the Jewish people distinctly. Verse refers to the great tribulation which comes on then in the land of which the Lord Jesus speaks, referring formally to this chapter; verse 2 shows that this reawakening of Judaism will extend to those lost among the Gentiles. Sleeping or dwelling in the dust is a figure of common use to express utter ruin and abasement. I am not aware that it is ever used for death, literally speaking; I believe not. (Compare Isa. 26:19-2119Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. 20Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. 21For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain. (Isaiah 26:19‑21) and verse 14 of the same chapter. If we take the English, Nah. 3:1818Thy shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria: thy nobles shall dwell in the dust: thy people is scattered upon the mountains, and no man gathereth them. (Nahum 3:18).)
As regards the resurrection being necessarily continuous in John 5 (p. 203), because the quickening of souls is, if we take an hour in each to mean an epoch, there is no ground for it whatever. It is a matter of revelation. " Hour " in one case we know to have been eighteen hundred and sixty years or more. " Hour " in the other is an analogous period; but as to what is done in it, or how, is a pure matter of revelation. Souls are quickened in one period, bodies in another; at what epoch or how far successive, we must inquire from Scripture. It does not speak of a first quickening of souls, and then another; it does of bodies.
As regards the expression " dead, small and great " necessarily including all (pp. 210, 211), I reply, clearly all the dead. But, as the beginning of the chapter had been assiduously showing that a large and blessed class lived and reigned, it as clearly does not include those carefully stated to be alive. Dr. B.'s argument destroys his own thesis. " They that fear thy name small and great " gives that class universally. No doubt, but as evidently to the exclusion of those who do not fear it. So " the dead, small and great " gives the dead, as he says, universally or indiscriminately (p. 212). Clearly, but to the exclusion of those who were alive: nothing is more simple. " Now, in the passage before us," are his words, " the only party to whom the small and great ' belong, as far as appears, is the dead.' " Of course, hence not to the living who had been spoken of in the beginning of the chapter-not, even on his own showing, to the living changed when Christ comes. On his principles what will he do with them?
As to reigning with Christ only a thousand years, the reason is as simple as possible-Christ gives up the kingdom at the end of this period; of course they do not reign afterward save in the general sense of the glory. It is expressly said, they " shall reign over the earth ": this being kings and priests is expressly referred to Rev. 20:66Blessed 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. (Revelation 20:6).
As to Rev. 20:44And 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 worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4) being all exclusively a martyr scene (p. 244), I deny it. The promise to overcoming saints, and to all redeemed saints, in the Revelation is to reign with Christ. In Daniel, and in i Corinthians, judgment is given to all saints. This is here fulfilled. " I saw thrones, and sitters on them, and those who had been beheaded, and those who had not worshipped." These might seem to have missed all, as the Thessalonians thought in a similar case, and hence are specially named.*
(* If the church was gone before they suffered, as I do not doubt, they would have seemed to have lost the heavenly place as too late, the earthly as being killed. Hence the gracious Lord takes care to show they had part in the first resurrection.)
Dr. B. complains of there being none but the wicked in the last judgment. I answer, If God enters into judgment with any one, he is certainly condemned. John 5:2424Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24) carefully tells us that having everlasting life we shall not come into judgment (krisis all through the passage), but are passed from death unto life. Think of bringing Paul after living eighteen hundred years in heaven to be judged with the wicked! I repeat, we shall give an account of ourselves all; but the bringing of the saints into judgment is wholly unscriptural. Christ has put away sin for us. He is our righteousness. We shall then be like Him who is the Judge.
Dr. B. connects the expression, " rest of the dead," Rev. 20:55But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. (Revelation 20:5), with those slain, chapter 19: 21. The smallest attention to the passage shows the absurdity of this; " the rest of the dead " contrasts with some dead who had been made alive. Now these are expressly spoken of in chapter 20: 4. These lived and reigned; the rest of the dead did not. The words, " rest of the dead," cannot apply to chapter 19: 21, unless some of these had been raised. I recognize fully that the end of Rev. 20:44And 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 worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4) refers to the martyrs of chapter 6 and those they were to await (p. 246). But, save by a general analogy, which I admit in the sense in which there were many Antichrists (and such an analogy I believe exists, and is intended by the Holy Ghost), I wholly deny they are pagan and papal sufferers. The conclusion drawn from this reference is without force, because the first part of the verse takes in the whole company of saints, who, according to Paul, are to judge the world.
Dr. B. urges the difficulty that the saints judging means their being avenged, and that consequently their individual persecutors must be raised. This is every way wrong. The judging by the saints goes much further; as is evident, they reign in judgment. But even as to avenging, it is a mistake. If they sought vengeance against their persecutors individually, it would be evil and sinful. It is not so. They are avenged on the class of the wicked, those that dwell on earth, when these are righteously judged. So the apostles on Babylon, where all the blood of the earth is found. There is no sense in the objection. Dr. B. does not believe in it. He knows it is the power of evil, and those who there wield it, which is to be judged.
As to Matt. 25 (p. 263) nothing can be simpler. There is no resurrection at all. It is a continuation from Matt. 24:3131And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:31), of what follows on Christ's coming, the intermediate verses being warning to Christians. When the Lord has taken His seat on the throne of glory, having restored the Jews, He will judge the nations. It is the judgment of the quick, and of course, a final judgment. There was a judgment in war. This closes by the binding of Satan: then a sessional judgment. The saints are seen with Christ in both, Rev. 19 and 20: not so on the great white throne. There Christ does not come at all. Dr. B. says it is implied, He has just come. This is a mere invention. In Matt. 25 there are more than two classes. There are sheep, and goats, and brethren, who had been Christ's messengers to promulgate the kingdom.
As to 2 Tim. 4:11I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; (2 Timothy 4:1) (p. 286), when once God's ways as plainly revealed in Scripture are seen, that there is an accepted time, a time of grace, and a time of government and judgment, this passage is as simple and clear as possible. He says nothing of the when in that latter period, but that when that kingdom comes, He will judge both quick and dead. Now He judges no man; then He will judge all. Two things may be remarked: that the living and the dead cannot be judged together. The dead-small and great-stand before God, and earth and heaven flee away before the face of Him who sits on the throne. The living are not there; the living are judged on the earth where they live, and judged as living. This judgment of the living has been quite lost sight of by the anti-millenarians. The Jews knew that much better than the judgment of the dead. Next, if the period of the kingdom had not been needed for the judgment, the apostle had not said His appearing and His kingdom. But He shall judge at His appearing and His kingdom. His appearing did not suffice to tell the truth He would teach. Nothing can be simpler or clearer. It is certain that Christ will judge the quick at His appearing. The Lord will plead with all flesh. Details are given. The majority of the Jews will be cut off in the land; Zech. 13 Those of the ten tribes will never get into it; Ezek. 20 The beast's armies will be destroyed, not a sixth part left of Gog's. He will send a fire on them also who dwell carelessly in the isles; He will sit, as it is stated, to judge all the heathen round about. This is at His appearing. Now when He appears, it is equally certain we appear with Him. The judgment of the dead is certainly a thousand years after we have appeared with Him, for the armies in heaven follow Him clothed in the righteousness of the saints. They that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful. Nor are judgment and war ever confounded with sessional judgment. But it is a mistake of Dr. B. to say that there is no individual judgment. The day of the appearing of the Son of man is a day like that of Lot and Noe, a sudden and sweeping day of judgment on the earth; yet two shall be in one bed, the one taken the other left; two at one mill, the one taken and the other left. Sweeping, earthly, and sudden as it is, judging the living, yet two associated as closely as to lie in one bed, will be severed one from the other by it. It is better to give heed to Scripture than to speculate on what can be. I am perfectly aware that this is applied to the destruction of Jerusalem. Whatever analogies there may have been, it is impossible. Let any one do what the Lord tells us to do-read Dan. 12, and, Dr. B. himself being judge, he must see it is the day of judgment come. Further, take days or years, what is stated in that prophecy has had no fulfillment whatever. Further, the destruction of Jerusalem cannot be the Lord coming, in Matt. 24, for the Lord comes after the tribulation is over. I know it is said, the destruction of Jerusalem is His coming as there spoken of; but here the tribulation is over, and concludes by a subversion of all orderly authorities, and then the Son of man comes.
Luke does speak of the siege of Jerusalem, and consequently says nothing of the abomination of desolation, but does of Jerusalem being trodden down till the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. As to the generation not passing away, a reference to Deut. 32:5, 205They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation. (Deuteronomy 32:5)
20And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith. (Deuteronomy 32:20)
, will give the plain and sure sense of it, and that in reference to this very subject. The mere common use of the word is a class of persons, as, the generation of the wicked, not the period of a man's life.
It is curious enough Dr. B.'s insisting that the solemnity of the scene in Matt. 25 requires one general judgment (p. 266), the setting of the throne in Daniel with the judgment set and the books open, nothing of the kind. The arbitrariness of this shows an object in interpretation not a simple reception of the truth. Dan. 7, for Dr. B., is a mere conflict of interests, in which Christianity triumphs (p. 341, 342), religion shall be uppermost in the world (p. 438).
Dr. B. asks, in his summary (p. 288), how remnants can be spared and converted by occasion of the millennial judgments on the Antichristian nation. The answer is, Every scriptural statement of such judgment declares some will be spared, as Zech. 13, Ezek. 20; 38, Isa. 66, Dan. 12, Isa. 18, and Isa. 26 It is expressly stated, " when thy judgments are on the earth, the inhabitants of the world shall learn righteousness." That they will be the means of converting others at the beginning of that epoch has nothing I suppose wild in it. The wise will instruct many, says Daniel; the sheep had had brethren whom they had received; the everlasting gospel will be preached; and, when the Lord has appeared, messengers at least will go out to announce it to the nations who had not seen it yet. And I know of no proof that the warlike judgment is a final judgment, save as to the beast and false prophet. The sessional one as in Matt. 25 clearly is. We make the judgment of Rev. 20, that of one class only, namely, of the dead, for the simplest reason that it speaks of that class exclusively.
As to the believers in the millennium-believers have not to be judged at all in the proper sense of the word. Every knee shall bow to Christ, and every soul give an account of itself to
God. The wicked will do this before the great white throne. Of the saints who have not died in the millennium, If any have, giving an account of themselves, we have no detail in Scripture.
As to the conflagration, Dr. B. says (p. 293), 2 Peter 3, Rev. 20:1111And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. (Revelation 20:11); chap. 21: 1, " describe a conflagration to take place when Christ appears the second time." The simple answer is, None of them say a word of Christ's appearing. As to Revelation, Dr. B. is rather bold to affirm such a thing, because there is a long description of Christ's appearing the second time and the saints with Him (p. 19), and there is no other account of His coming at all in Revelation; and the passages Dr. B. cites are confessedly a thousand years after this and something more. I am aware Dr. B. explains away Christ's coming, as King of kings, and Lord of lords. But there is no other coming in Revelation. As to 2 Peter 3, there is nothing of the coming of Christ save the scoffs of the unbeliever, and then the apostle urges how everything the scoffer trusts in will be destroyed in the day of the Lord, but says nothing of His coming. And this suits the subject of Peter's epistles. His subject, after laying the foundation of the gospel, is the government of God, and the path of the saint in connection with it; in the first epistle in favor of the saints; in the second, as against the wicked. Hence he follows out this government to its final close, the melting of the elements with fervent heat, showing the folly of the wicked in reckoning on the continuance of earthly things, and what the saints ought to be, seeing all earthly things were destined to be burned. He does not say that this would be at Christ's coming, but in the day of the Lord, i.e., the time of His judgment, and so it will.
As regards the state of the millennium (part 2), Dr. B. has no apprehension of the great leading truths as to it at all; he loses himself in details, finding differences in teachers; cannel-. as it is said, see the wood for the trees. Nor does he see the force of the argument as to the subsistence of evil up to the time of Christ's coming and the distinctness of the character of the millennium. He looks at it as a question of how many tares* and the like (p. 325 and following). It is one of God's relationship with men, and His ways of government with them.
(* It is revealed that the spared ones of Israel at least, and the nations at large, are all righteous (Isaiah 60: 21; Matt. 25); but it is not said of the multitudes afterward born.)
Up to the death of Christ man was under probation in every form-innocent, without law (promises being given to Abraham), under law, the priesthood given, royalty in Israel, imperial power among the Gentiles, prophets, and at last God's Son. As to all man failed wholly and irremediably. The mind of the flesh was found to be enmity against God. This was one great scene-the display of the relationship of God with man, when man was tried and found wanting, tried in every way, and by all God could win him by, saying, " I have yet one Son, it may be they will reverence my Son "-not only proved failure, when innocent and departing from God; but when God, in perfect grace, sought him when he had failed and where he was, irreclaimable. Man was lost, and had rejected, as far as his act went, Him that had come to save him. Before then God set up His glory publicly in the second Adam, in whom every one of the failing forms of relationship are fully and perfectly established: He calls a people to be joint-heirs with this second Adam-to be in a special place of association with Him, His bride, His body, the church, composed of children of God, conscious-through the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven-of their relationship of sons with the Father. These are heirs of God, joint-heirs with Christ. Their union in one body, with Christ head over all things, was a mystery hidden from ages and generations, and only now that Christ was gone up revealed to the sons of men. God's purpose is to gather together in one all things in heaven and earth under Christ. Called to be in the same relationship to God and the Father as Christ Himself, who is gone to His Father and our Father, His God and our God; we are joint-heirs with Him of this inheritance of all things. (Compare Rom. 8, Eph. 1, Col. 1) When the gathering of these is complete, Christ receives them to Himself; and then, setting aside by power, the power and reign of evil, establishes peace and order on the earth, and reduces everything into subjection (everything having been put under Him, as Man, by the Father); and, when all is subjected, delivers up the kingdom to the Father. The mediatorial kingdom of man ceases, though surely not the personal glory of Christ.
All this divine scheme is set aside by Dr. B.'s millennium, and his confounding the fact of efficient grace and salvation with the ways of God on the earth for the revelation of Himself and the instruction of men. From Adam to the end of time no one was or will be saved but by the redemption and the work of the Spirit. But this does not make promise law, nor law gospel, nor any of them God's government of the world.
Thus, promises apart, before Christ, God's way of dealing with men (after His leaving them to themselves, though not without testimony, had closed) was that of definite responsibility by a law, and man's bearing the consequences. " This do, and thou shalt live "; " Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law." After redemption was accomplished, it was the revelation of sovereign grace saving the lost, Jew or Gentile, the middle wall of partition being broken down. In the age to come- for that there is one is declared in Scripture-God's power in the government of this world will be displayed, setting aside the power of evil, according to the clearest prophecies. Now, by grace and the power of the Holy Ghost, saints make their way in patience against the prevailing power of the god and prince of this world. Then, the power of Christ will have set aside and bound down the power of evil. In all, people are saved in the same way.
But the destruction of Babylon and the marriage of the Lamb, the church being complete, are not small things in their nature, though they are not individual salvation. And it is beyond controversy that this, and the destruction of the beast by Christ's coming, and, note, the saints' coming with Him, precede the millennium; while, as I have already stated, on the setting up of the great white throne and the judgment of the dead, Christ does not come at all.
To make the working of grace and the execution of judgment and wrath on a whole system like Babylon the same, as Dr. B. does (p. 353), is really monstrous. And to call the public destruction of Christ's enemies by power, contrasted with gracious influence, carnal, is as irreverent as it is unsound. " Let favor be showed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness; yea, when thy hand is lifted up they will not see, but they shall see and be ashamed for their envy at the people; yea, the fire of thine enemies shall devour them." Thus grace and judgment are definitely contrasted, and it is stated that it is not by grace but by judgments that righteousness will be introduced into the world. The references in this part of Dr. B.'s book to Daniel I have fully answered.
As regards Dr. B.'s views of Satan's power, I can see nothing but the same ignorance of scripture truth as to what the character of that power is. He says, If unregenerate and regenerate still continue, the doctrine which supposes a cessation of Satan's influence must be erroneous. All this is a mistake, and besides that, leaves the true question untouched. When Adam was innocent there was no distinction; he was neither, but Satan's influence was shown. When the Lord was tempted by the devil, when his power returned to try Him after having left Him for a season, it had nothing to do with regenerate and unregenerate. Christ bound the strong man and spoiled his goods even in this world. Dr. B. confounds the state of a soul with Satan's action. When the Lord prospectively, as Dr. B. justly says, saw Satan fall from heaven, it had nothing to do with the whole conquests of his people (p. 419), but with casting out devils, the power (miracles) of the world to come when he will be wholly cast out. I have already said that the binding the strong man was first between Satan and Christ in person. When he had failed in tempting the Lord, the Lord removed here below the whole power of the enemy, as manifested wherever He met it-diseases, want, possession, death. But he had departed from Him only " for a season," because another difficulty, the carnal mind, enmity against God when He is displayed in goodness, had to be met. Hence he returns at the end. " The prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in me." Still it was Satan's hour and the power of darkness; yet that the Lord might triumph over him, accomplishing the work of redemption.
All this is not merely a conflict of interest on earth (p. 420). It is a change in the whole condition of the world, and the relationship in which it stands with God, the world's condition. Satan was not yet cast down from heaven by power and victory in conflict carried on there. The promised Messiah present in Person had been rejected, and with wicked hands crucified and slain. Was this simply a battle between Christ's truth and the devil's lies, in the persons of their respective adherents among men? (p. 409). That battle there was, and Christ's adherents fled, and then-God's purposes were accomplished surely, in the deepest personal humiliation of Christ, self-humiliation (blessed be God it was so!) but in which, an event to which none is parallel, took place by the public power of Satan, we can thank God-the destruction of his power in a total change of everything. And He who was humbled will be glorified, and the head of him who bruised the Lord's heel will be itself bruised.
I will now go through the passages Dr. B. refers to, to show how monstrous his glosses are; because, once this setting aside of Satan's power by power, as contrasted with overcoming his temptations by grace, is made clear, the whole question is settled between us. In the passages referred to we shall find the proof of that judicial destruction of the public power of Satan, which. Dr. B., by a fatal mistake, confounds with the victory of the heart over him by grace, when his power subsists. For this reason I do not insist on the proofs of that destruction now. The discussion of the passages will provide it.
Dr. B. first refers to Rev. 20:7, 1-37And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, (Revelation 20:7)
1And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. (Revelation 20:1‑3)
. His first objection is that it is found nowhere else: but this is a mistake. He must be aware, or ought to be, that, with the exception of Job and Zechariah, Satan is not mentioned by name in the Old Testament, save in Chronicles 21: 1, Satan provoked David to number Israel, and Psa. 109-both as an adversary. In Job we see Satan as an accuser, raising a storm to destroy Job's sons, smiting Job with diseases. He is only seen to excite lusts in urging Chaldeans and Sabeans to plunder; and in no case of lies and truth in any persons. In Zechariah he is seen in a vision resisting the high priest, as an accuser. So, in Psa. 109:66Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand. (Psalm 109:6), it is a judgment on a wicked man to have Satan at his right hand.
The truth is, till the true light came, neither the opposition of flesh and Spirit nor the deceitful working of Satan formed part of the public teaching or experience of the saints. But where the coming of the Lord in the judgment of this world is spoken of (Isa. 24), introducing the millennial state, even as Dr. B. admits, then we are told He shall punish the host of the high ones on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. (Compare chapter 32:1.) I do not doubt that the flesh was at work, nor that the devil tempted and deceived them; but it is not the subject of Old Testament teaching, nor the acting of Satan's power in the world, nor is its destruction. Satan is never recognized as prince of this world, till he was able to lead the world, Jew and Gentile, against Christ. He could not, while Jehovah ruled in His personal presence in Israel; and till Messiah came, God kept up that system more or less. The rejection of Christ marked out Satan as the prince of this world, yet the rejected One was to bruise his head. This was not done by Christianity nor individuals overcoming while Satan held his power. We wrestle against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places-there where our promises are; as Israel against flesh and blood where their promises were.
The possession of the Holy Ghost and the true light has shown us the spring and power of evil-the devil and Satan; and we see the Father opposed to the world, the Son to Satan, and the Spirit to the flesh. In Isaiah we have seen a distinct reference to the casting down of these powers on high at the renewal of the world: in the New Testament, this being his place of power, his falling from heaven-his being cast out of heaven, on which ensues a total change of governmental order, while to heaven he never returns. It is declared he shall be bruised under our feet shortly. That is, Scripture clearly contemplates the closing of the exercise of his power. The order of the setting aside of his power is stated. There was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought, and the devil fought and his angels; and the place of these last was no more found in heaven. According to Dr. B. this is Constantine.
Let us see how this hangs together. The accuser* of the brethren is cast down. Did this cease in Constantine's time? If so, the whole condition of the Christian was changed. But no: this only means " he lost his party " at court (p. 406); and the court, I suppose, was to rejoice, and on the earth (the lower orders, says Dr. B.) woe (those who wished to be pagans: who can tell why?). He has great rage, knowing his time to be short-just twelve hundred and sixty days. But rage against whom? On this, or on what the woman is, total and convenient silence. The woman flees into the wilderness. I suppose we must hop over to Popery here. But that will not do, because those who follow this system say that commenced two or three hundred years later; and at any rate, if all is joy by the triumph of Christianity, how comes the same epoch to be the time of the woman's flight? Was there ever a lamer interpretation, or one more calculated to bring scripture interpretation into contempt?
(* This cessation of the heavenly accusing power is collaterally confirmed by the fact that in chapter i3 the first beast only blasphemes those that dwell in heaven-cannot touch or injure them; and the second beast, Satan's active power, is false prophet and false king, as a lamb with two horns, but has no pretension to be an anti-priest now.)
Is it not evident that here a display of divine power in heavenly places has cast down Satan from the place where we, it is expressly said, have to wrestle with him? While he was there, he accused the brethren; while he did, they overcame by the blood of the Lamb and their testimony. This accusation had ceased. Satan could no more enter heaven, as in Job, to do it. The dwellers in heaven could rejoice; their trial in this way was over. The rage of Satan was now to vent itself on earth. The woman, the Jewish people as God's people, became his object. Satan could be no longer an accuser. That salvation, strength, the kingdom of our God and the power of His Christ, was come, meant, we are told, that it had taken a glorious start. That it is " the progress of what had been for centuries finding it hard, in the heat of continual persecution, to keep its ground " (p. 406). Yet, strange to say, the chapter tells us that the change was to the great rage of Satan and persecution, so that the woman had to flee entirely out of the scene. Only Christianity was well at court. His being cast out to the earth is his seeking to create a party among the people (p. 407), which, note, he had before.
Dr. B. says the expulsion was brought about by the Christians overcoming by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony. But the chapter states that they overcame him while he was the accuser, and in heaven in this way. His overthrow was by the exercise of power in Michael and the angelic host. In every case it is not a victory of faithfulness, but a judicial destruction of power, which brought about a new state of things. It was not adherents to Christ's cause victorious over the influence of Satan's lies, but a judicial action of God overthrowing Satan's royal, power in their favor. It is not a battle " between Christ's truth and the devil's lies in the persons of their respective adherents amongst men " (p. 409 or p. 417), " just the Christians, or Christ in them, believing men sprinkled with the blood of the Lamb undaunted in witnessing for Jesus, as become pardoned men, and ready to go as sheep to the slaughter for his name's sake." " Thus is the devil represented as cast out of the pagan world by the instrumentality of believing men." This is Michael and his angels fighting in heaven, and Satan and his angels cast out, so that he accused the brethren no more there, but persecuted them with relentless rage on the earth-the Christianizing of the empire, that is! (p. 405). Afterward, when the twelve hundred and sixty days are finished, during which the blaspheming beast had his power, the precise period of Satan being on the earth when cast out of heaven, but which is the Christianizing the empire, if we are to believe Dr. B., then the beast makes war against the Lamb (the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet having gathered the kings • of the earth for the final struggle). The beast is taken, and then Satan, who had raged the three years and a half, is bound in the bottomless pit. Such is the progress of the exercise of the Lord's power against Satan, not of the saints' overcoming.
But there is a statement of this book just alluded to which shows the more than absurdity of this whole system of interpretation. The coming of the kingdom and salvation of God, and the power of His Christ, is Constantine's accession to the throne, we are told. Thereupon, says the passage, the three years and a half of Satan's great rage and the persecution of the woman begin; but this three years and a half is the time of the reign of the blasphemous beast out of the bottomless pit; so that the coming of salvation, power, and the kingdom, is, according to Dr. B.'s system, the setting up of the power of the blasphemous beast, who is worshipped, and has every one killed he can, who does not do so. Can absurdity of a system go farther?
Now take the chapter simply. The woman is the Jewish system. Satan, the prince of the power of the air, is really cast out from his place of heavenly power, where the church had to contend with him when he was the accuser of the brethren. He is victoriously expelled thence by angelic power. And he thereupon comes down to earth, but raging at his defeat and casting down, to remain yet three years and a half on earth. He then persecutes the woman-the Jewish people, faithful to God; but they are preserved by God-setting up the last blasphemous state of the Roman Empire. At the end of this period (the same as that stated in Dan. 12, to which the Lord refers in connection with Jerusalem) the Lord comes as King of kings, and Lord of lords, the persecuting beast or blasphemous empire is destroyed, and Satan bound, so as not to deceive the nations till a thousand years are over. It is not grace given to overcome his wiles, as is expressly said to be the Christian position, and that in its most advanced state as in the epistle to the Ephesians; but Satan not allowed to exercise his wiles. Power external to man, divine power, figuratively represented by an angel with a great chain, binds the adversary and hinders his attempts to deceive the nations.
It is evident that grace given to overcome is different from the putting down the power, so that it is not there to be overcome. God has taken to Him great power and reigns (Rev. 11), and the worldly kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ is come. It was not come before as God's taking to Him His power and reigning. The saints were in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ. Christ is now expecting till His enemies be made His footstool. Then He will trample on them. But He has not them now to trample on: He is sitting on the right hand of the Father, expecting that time. Nothing, it seems to me, can be simpler, and proved by, or rather stated from, concurrent passages from various parts of the Scripture.
The difference of interpretation arises from this: Dr. B. judges of what must be from his own notions of what ought to be; the statement I have made is taken from Scripture itself. He says (p. 411), speaking of the binding of Satan, " Has the church, in all time before, come to the help of the Lord against the mighty? and has the Lord, reversing all His former methods, come now to the help of the church against the mighty? I think not. It is Christ's doing, doubtless; but it is His doing in and by His church."
He then refers to Rev. 19:2020And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. (Revelation 19:20); and says the church will do both (p. 411). I believe the church will have been caught up to meet the Lord in the air; but let that pass. The Lord does reverse His former methods. Up to this, Christ was expecting till His enemies were made His footstool. Now they are made such, and the Lord takes to Him His great power and reigns. Satan, heretofore an accuser in heaven, is now cast down; the salvation and kingdom of God is come, and the power of His Christ, and Satan is bound who before was not bound, and no longer allowed to deceive the nations which hitherto he had done. This is a total change in the state of things. " I think not " is no answer to scriptural statement such as this.
The other passages quoted by Dr. B. hardly need a comment. He quotes 1 John 3:8-108He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. (1 John 3:8‑10), and pretends that no one can sin unless actuated by Satan in all the sin which he cherishes and commits (p. 399). Now that this is the case I do not deny, though most clearly lust exists, and therefore sin, without the present action of Satan. That is fundamental truth. But the apostle has given altogether another explanation of what he says (not what Dr. B. says); the reasoning plainly is, " For the devil sinneth from the beginning." The sinner has the same character; consequently, by the universal Hebrew idiom they are called his children. There is not a word of being actuated by him in the passage. The reason given as to good is not that God actuates the saint, true as that is, but that he is born of Him-has His nature. The great subject of John in his epistle is life and nature, not the power of the Holy Ghost, which he only refers to as a proof of dwelling in God. There is no ground for what Dr. B. says at all, important as the subject is in its place and far too much forgotten.
The next is Heb. 2:14, 1514Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Hebrews 2:14‑15). To this I have nothing to say. Death is the last enemy to be destroyed. What then? It is not destroyed till death and hades give up their prey. But how does that hinder Satan, who has the immediate power of it, being bound for a thousand years? Christ can surely, if He see fit, cut off the wicked out of the land. He has the keys of hades and of death, and this scripture speaks of, not of the saints dying at all. These He would not cut off; Psalm l00, Isa. 65 He quotes Rom. 16:2020And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. (Romans 16:20), alluding surely to the old promise. But it is a fatal mistake, which showed itself in a previous passage less closely, to suppose that Satan being set aside " is equivalent to the complete destruction of all that stands in the way of our salvation." It is a fatal lie against the truth. There is our own sinful nature besides. How it acts when temptation is not there, men may have foolishly speculated on. But Dr. B. is utterly and fundamentally wrong. It is even false to say he actuates us in hell. There is no scripture for it at all. He is the most grievously punished there-has no power. All this argument is a total failure. That sin cannot exist without Satan's presence and tribulation, he has no ground for whatever. That they go together constantly now in us is true, not necessarily always. But there is temptation without sin being yet there, as in Adam, who fell under it, and Christ, who did not; there is temptation and sin as in our case; and there may be a sinful nature without temptation, for it certainly subsists now without it and before it. It is there already when temptation is applied to it. Dr. B. sees only a moral internal state in Satan's power, not external power, of which scripture largely speaks. " Behold I give you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means harm you." So the cases of possession, and Job's history to which I have referred.
He refers further to Rev. 2 (Satan's throne being in Pergamos), and says it " certainly refers to the powerful party which Satan had in the place." Why? A throne is not a party, and no way of expressing it, but the contrary. Satan is the prince and god of this world, the prince of the power of the air, the ruler of the darkness of this world. He has the throne. His having a party is a miserably false gloss.
I have only now to notice Dr. B.'s description of the millennium, which requires little remark, because he applies the same passages to it I should, and our controversy is as to how it is brought in (i.e., whether by Christ's coming again or not), which he does not here speak of, and we have considered it already. But I must object to this constant tendency to set aside Christ's personal glory and its display. Thus Dr. B.'s view of the millennium is founded on 1 Peter 1:11Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, (1 Peter 1:1) r, the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow. Here he takes glories for no personal glories of Christ at all, but "the glorious results of the sufferings" (p. 424). Now that tells the tale of the system. It is one which excludes Christ's Person and personal glory, to substitute results in man for them. I love the view I have, just because it brings in Christ personally. He quotes Isa. 11:99They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:9) (p. 425). It is diffusion of revealed truth! Isaiah says the knowledge of Jehovah (as elsewhere the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah), which is not revealed truth as known by the revelation of the Father in the Son, the Holy Ghost declaring it. Otherwise, of course, we expect the earth to be full of the knowledge of Jehovah. Isa. 25:77And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations. (Isaiah 25:7): he speaks of the progress of fulfillment; the passage, of destroying a covering at a particular time. The rod of Christ's strength out of Zion is assumed to be the gospel. Why so? We have already seen it is the time of the resurrection of the saints, if Paul is to be believed. The serpent's power is to be destroyed, judgment executed on the earth. Let the reader only read Isa. 24 and 27 and see if it be the gospel.
But a few words more precisely as to the quotation: " The rod of thy power out of Zion." It is from Psa. 110, where the time of Christ's sitting on God's right hand, that is, the present time of the gospel, is explicitly contrasted with the time of the rod of Christ's power. He is to sit there till God makes His enemies His footstool, and then rule in their midst in the day of His power, the rod being sent out of Zion which had rejected Him, smiting through kings in the day of His wrath. Is that the gospel? It is easy to quote the passages to which theological tradition has given an interpretation. Reading the passages always dispels these.
Again, Dr. B. quotes Psa. 2:77I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. (Psalm 2:7); but what follows was too plain, and he omits it. It is this: " Thou shalt rule them with a rod of iron, and break them in pieces like a potter's vessel." Is this the gospel too? Let the reader consult the promise to Thyatira in Rev. 2, and he will see that this promise is reserved for the overcomers also, when Christ comes. Till then, Christ sits at God's right hand, and His saints go to heaven. In Isa. 2, also quoted, He judges among the nations, arises to shake terribly the earth; the day of the Lord of hosts is on everything exalted for judgment, so that they would hide themselves in caves of the earth. How ridiculous it is to quote this for the gospel! In Isa. 66 the Lord comes with fire to render His anger with fury, and His rebukes with flames of fire, and pleads with all flesh, judging and destroying the wicked. This, for Dr. B. is the gospel. He is bold enough to quote Zech. 14:99And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one. (Zechariah 14:9), where the Lord gathers all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, goes forth and destroys them, and His feet stand on the Mount of Olives, and then the Lord is King over all the earth. To quote this for the spread of the gospel is infatuation. A person may say, I do not understand it; but to quote it for the gospel is presuming on carelessness or folly in the reader. The examination of the other passages would show rather that they had nothing to do with the matter, or that they prove the contrary.
A time of peace (p. 428) it will be. But Israel will be definitely owned as God's people (Isa. 1), which cannot be while the gospel endures-a fact which, of itself, suffices to overthrow Dr. B.'s system. Isa. 2 I have examined. Mic. 4 equally refers to Israel in the most explicit way, and judgment and vengeance on the heathen " such as they have not heard," and Christ's presence in Israel after Israel had been given up for rejecting Him. Its application to the last days is as plain as language can make it. Dr. B. says that the millennium will be distinguished by much spiritual power and glory (p. 431), and to prove it, quotes the revival at Northampton under President Edwards. He afterward quotes Isa. 56 and 60, both referring exclusively and expressly to Jerusalem and the Jews: the former insisting on the judgment of the Gentiles, the latter, as we have seen, of all flesh.
To quote Rom. 11: 26-29 is more than boldness. It is adduced as a description of the millennium, as it surely is, and declares that then there shall come out of Zion the Deliverer to turn away ungodliness from Jacob. Nor is that all. It is explicitly contrasted with the gospel, " as concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sakes." So far from Israel being brought in by the gospel, they were enemies as regards that; yet as a nation (as which they cannot possibly come into the church, where there is neither Jew nor Gentile) they are beloved for the fathers' sake-a principle which can have no place at all in the gospel as we possess it. And in quoting Zechariah, Dr. B. is obliged to add " by faith ": " they look [by faith] on him." What right has he to change the express text of Scripture? " Thomas, because thou hast seen, thou hast believed; blessed are they who have not seen who have believed." Hence there are those who believe not having seen, and those who believe when they see. And in Revelation we find " behold he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they who pierced him." And in the passage itself (the next preceding verse), the Lord destroys the nations which come against Jerusalem (all the people of the earth being gathered together against it). It is the day of the Lord, we further read, and His feet stand on Mount Olivet. Is it not as clear as daylight in all these passages that it is a time of judgment and display of the Lord's power, as different from the gospel as one thing can be from another?
The last character is the ascendancy of truth and righteousness on the earth (p. 437). Why not of Christ? No, this must not be. What is the proof given of that ascendancy? " I saw one like unto the Son of man." When the judgment of the Ancient of days was set, and the beast destroyed, and his body given to the burning flame-" and he was brought near before him. And there was given to him dominion, glory, and a kingdom." Why is Christ carefully excluded by Dr. B. from the fulfillment of this, and the thought changed into the ascendancy of truth? Christ's personal glory they will not have. Are not all things in heaven and earth to be brought under Him as Man? Is it not the special purpose of God to put all things under man's feet as man? to reconcile things to Himself in heaven and earth (not the infernal things, compare Phil. 2), and that contrasted with the reconciliation of the church? (Col. 1). Not only so, but in Dan. 7 the Ancient of days comes. Temporal prosperity there will be; I need not insist on it. But if it be the life of faith still, it is only a great danger, not a blessing.
All own this happy state will end in a final rebellion when Satan is let loose. I believe there will be a decline, as I have said, but this is not Satan's being let loose. He did not deceive the nations then. He is let loose, and does it afterward. Dr. B. tells us it cannot be an immediate change from piety to impiety-from the hypocritical form of piety to impiety it is, so as to form a complete and definite separation of the good and the evil. They are deceived and gathered together to battle, and the saints crowded into their own camp. There is no description of a decay of love, nor cry of saints, nor failure of faith as to the Son of man's coming. He does not come at all. There is not a hint of it, but a plain description of His coming a thousand years before, after the marriage of the Lamb, which Dr. B. says is not His coming. Now fire comes down from heaven and destroys them; and then, without any coming, the great white throne is set up, and the dead judged.
I have done: if Scripture is to be believed, Dr. B.'s system cannot stand. It is founded on tradition, not on the word. Difficulties of detail there may be: we may expect them. Human additions of theologians, Dr. B. may array in antagonism one to another; but no one can read the scripture with intelligence, and not see the difference between the gospel gathering the saints as Christ's joint-heirs and bride, while He is sitting on the right hand of God, and His judging this world when He takes to Him His power (God having put His enemies under His feet). These Dr. B. everywhere confounds, mixing up the judgment of the quick with that of the dead, and making the redemption of the church uncertain by bringing it into the same judgment as the wicked; whilst the plainest statements and language of scripture are explained away, so as to leave the personal glory of Christ out of the scene, where the word of God says it will be displayed.
As much excitement has been caused by the question, as to whether Louis Napoleon is the Antichrist or not, I add that I have not the smallest doubt that he is the great agent of the formation of the Latin or ten-horned beast at present, and that his operations distinctly mark the rapid approach of the final scenes. Blessed be God! But firstly, I do not think that beast to be the Antichrist, but that a false Christ in Judea, who will minister to his power and deceive the nations, will be. Secondly, the saints will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air before Antichrist is revealed. And, thirdly, the computation of dates is all unfounded. There are general analogies, I have no doubt, as there have been many Antichrists who were not the Antichrist. But the precise computation of time begins again with Daniel's last week (or, more accurately, half-week), when the abomination of desolation is placed in the holy place, and then the computation is by literal days, God's short work on the earth. In a word, exact computations are by literal days, though general statements and analogies may be by years. It is to be feared England will be dragged into the vortex of the ten kingdoms: God knows.
At any rate, for the Christian, his place, and country, his citizenship, is in heaven always. There evils will not come, nor Satan's power. Even out of the created heavens he will be cast for the power of evil to begin on earth. We justly mourn over the progress of his delusions on earth, and how the wise men of this world are deceived by him. But he cannot touch our portion; and his progress only brings us nearer to it. " Now is your salvation nearer than when ye believed." May we have our hearts delivered from this present evil world! I think Louis Napoleon a sign of prophetical progress towards the close; but I earnestly desire that the hearts of the saints may be in heaven, where evil or its signs cannot come. I may add that, though events have made progress, the view of the position of Louis Napoleon falls in entirely with Faber's view of the first Napoleon, that he was the seventh head of the beast who was to continue for a short time; indeed, it was that of others too.