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age, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands,” living again and reigning with Christ a thousand years, they suppose, is not meant a literal resurrection, or the resurrection of their bodies, which is not asserted here, as there is nothing said of their bodies, or of their being raised to life : But that they shall live again and reign with Christ, in the revival, prosperity, reign and triumph of that cause and interest in which they lived, and for the promotion of which they died ; and jn whose death, the cause seemed in a measure, and for a time, to die and be lost. And they shall live again in their successors, who shall arise and stand up with the same spirit, and in the same cause, in which they lived and died, and fill the world and reign with Christ a thousand years, agreeable to ancient prophecies. 66 The meek shall inherit the earth. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High ; whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve him.” And they suppose, that this revival of the truths and cause of Christ, by the numerous inhabitants of the earth, rising up to a new and holy life, and filling the world with holiness and happiness, is that which is here called the first resurrection, in distinction from the second, which will consist in the resurrection of the body ; whereas this is a spirit. ual resurrection ; a resurrection of the truths and cause of Christ, which had been in a great degree, dead and lost ; and a resurrection of the souls of men, by the renovation of the Holy Ghost.
That this important passage of scripture is to be understood in the figurative sense, last mentioned, is very probable, if not certain. And the following considerations are thought sufficient to support it.
1. Most, if not all the prophecies in this book, are delivered in figurative language, referring to types and events recorded in the Old Testament, and in imitation of the language of the ancient prophets. And this was proper and even necessary in the best manner to answer the ends of prophecy, as might easily be shown, were it necessary. The first part of this passage, all must allow, is figurative. Satan cannot be bound with a literal, material chain. The key, the great chain, and the seal, cannot be understood literally. The whole is a figure, and can mean no more than that when the time of the Millennium arrives, or rather previous to it, Jesus Christ will lay effectual restraints on Satan, so that his powerful and prevailing influence by which he has before deceived and destroyed a great part of mankind, shall be wholly taken from him, for a thousand years. And it is most natural to understand the other part of the description of this remarkable event to be represented in the same figurative language ; as the whole is a representation of one scene ; especially, since no reason can be given why it should not be understood so : And VOL. II.
are some, if not many passages, which seem to be inconsistent with it.
It may be proper to observe here, that the question respecting the manner in which Christ will reign on earth in the Millennium, has no concern with the question concerning the literal or figurative meaning of this passage, as the former does not depend upon the latter : For no man will suppose, that Christ's reigning on earth, is to be understood in a figurative sense. If he shall reign on earth in the hearts of men, by their voluntary subjection to bim, he will reign as literally, as if he were present on earth in his humanity. The question, whether this passage is to be understood literally or figuratively, respects the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, &c. their living and reigning with Christ a thousand years. This therefore leads to other observations.
4. The Apostle Paul in his writings does not appear to expect to have his body raised from the dead to live here on earth again, after he died ; or say any thing to lead the christians of this day to expect any such thing, but the contrary.
He says, “ It is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment :” And leads christians to look forward to the second coming of Christ, when he will come to judgment, as the next great event that will immediately respect them ; which seems to be inconsistent with the saints having their bodies raised, and living in this world again, a thousand years before the day of judgment. He addresses christians in the following words, “ If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Set your affection on things above, not on things on earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory."* He directs them to expect and seek enjoyment in heaven where Christ is ; and not to expect that he will leave his throne there, till he shall appear the second time, to receive his saints to glory in heaven. For appearing with Christ in glory, means, appearing with him in heaven, as that is the place of glory, where the redeemed are brought to be glorified, to be where Christ is, to behold his glory. The Apostle Peter, speaking of the dissolution of the heavens and earth, says, “ Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." Some have supposed, that this is the Millennial state, which shall take place after the general conflagration, by which the earth will be renewed : in which a perfectly holy and happy state shall commence, to which all the saints who had died shall be raised, &c. But such a notion cannot be reconciled to other passages of scripture, in which, as has been observed, the Millennium is represented as taking place before the general conflagration and the day of judgment. And alter these are over, and the wicked are cast into endless • Col. üi. 1, 2, 3, 4.
† 2 Pet. iii, 13.
punishment,* the Apostle John says, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth : For the first heaven and the first earth were passed away ; and there was no more sea.”+ By which the heavenly state is chiefly if not wholly meant, where redemption and the church will be perfected. By the new heaven and new earth, is meant the work of redemption, or the church redeemed by Christ. This is the new creation infinitely superior to the old creation, the natural world, and more important, excellent and durable ; of which the latter is a faint type or shadow.
The renovation of the hearts of men, by the Spirit of God, by which they become true christians, is in scripture called a new creature, or as the original words son xtícis may as well be rendered, a new creation. “ Therefore, if any man be in Christ, ne is a new creature : Old things are past away, behold, all things · are become new."' “ For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision
availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.”llTherefore, every true member of the church belongs to the new creation, and is part of it ; and this new creation of the new heaven and new earth, goes on and makes advances, as the church is enlarged and rises to a state of greater prosperity, and proceeds towards perfection.
The new heavens, and now earth, the redeemed church of Christ will be brought to a very happy and glorious state in the Millennium, and greater advantages will be made then in this new.creation, than were ever made before. Therefore, to this event, the following prophecy of Isaiah does chietly refer, if not wholly. “ For behold, I create new heavens, and a new earth. And the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be you glad and rejoice forever, in that which I create : For behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy."S It appears from the preceding and following context, that this prophecy refers to the Millennium, in which the new creation, the church of Christ, will come to the most perfect and happy state to which it will be brought in this world ; from which it will pass to a perfect state, and be completely finished, after the general resurrection and judgment. Then the old creation, the heavens and the earth shall pass away, and be burnt up, and the new creation shall be finished, and brought to a most perfeci, beautiful, happy and glorious state. To the new heaven and new earth, thus completed, wherein that righteousness or true holiness, which is the beauty, happiness and glory of the new creation, will dwell, i. e. continue and flourish forever, the apostles Peter and John have chief reference in their words, which have been transcribed above.
5. It does not appear desirable, or to be any advantage to the departed saints, or to the church of Christ on earth, to have the bodies of all who have died before the Millennium, raised from their graves, and come to live a thousand years in this world, before the general resurrection. They are now perfectly holy . Rev. 20.
# Chap. xxi. 1. * 2 Cor. v. 12. U Gal. vi. 15.
Chap. lv. 17, 18.
and happy ; and so far as can be conceived, it would be no addition, but a diminution to their happiness, to come and live in this world, in the body, to eat and drink and partake of the enjoy. ments of the workl. This would be a degradation, which on no account can be desirable to the spirits of the just, now inade perfect in heaven. And it would be no advance in the work of redemption, which is then to be carried on in a greater degree, than ever before. Nor would this be any advantage to the church, in that happy state, to which it will then be brought ; but the contrary, as they would take up that room in the world, which will be then wanted for those who will be burn in that day. And the spirits of the just could not know or enjoy so much of the prosperity and happiness of the church, in the salvation of men, were they to live in bodies on earth, in that time. The in. habitants of heaven have a more particular and extensive knowl. edge of what takes place in favour of the church on earth, than any in this world have, or than they could have, were they to come and live here. They know of every conversion that takes place in this world ; and they must have the knowledge of the state of the church on earth, and of every event which comes to pass in favour of it, and see the whole of its prosperity. And they have great joy in every thing of this kind, “There is joy. in heaven, in presence of the angels of God, over one sinner that repenteth.” How greatly will the happiness and joy in heaven be increased, when all the inhabitants of the world shall be converted to Christ, and the church of Christ shall fill the earth, and appear in the beauty of holiness! Agreeable to this, the inhabit. ants of heaven are represented as greatly rejoicing in the pros. perity of the church on earth, and the overthrow of all her enemies. “ Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets ; for God hath avenged you on her. And I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Hallelujah : saration, and glory, and honour, and power unto the Lord our God; for he hath judged the great whore, &c. Let us be glad and re. joice, and give honour to him ; for the marriage of the Lamub is come, and his wife hath made herself ready."* Surely none will desire to leave that place of knowledge, light and joy, and come and be confined in the body in this world, which will be darkness, and solitary, compared with that : Such a change of place could be no privilege or reward : but rather a calamity. Therefore, it is not to be believed, unless it be plainly, and in express words, revealed ; which, it is presumed, it is noi. This leads to another observation.
6. There is nothing expressly said of the resurrection of the body in this passage. The Apostle John saw the souls of them which were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, &c. and they lived and reigned with Christ. The resurrection of the body, is no where expressed in scripture, by the soul's living. And as there is nothing said of the body, and he only saw their souls to live, this does not appear to be a proper expression, to denote the
Rev. xviii. 20 xix. 1-7
resurrection of the body, and their living in that. This therefore does not seem to be the natural meaning of the words; and certainly is not the necessary meaning. We are therefore war. ranted to look for another meaning, and to acquiesce in it, if one can be found, which is more easy and natural, and more agreeable to the whole passage, and to the scripture in general. Therefore,
7. The most easy and probable meaning is, that the souls of the martyrs, and all the faithful followers of Christ, who have lived in the world, and have died before the Millennium shall commence, shall revive and live again, in their successors, who shall rise up in the same spirit, and in the same character, in which they lived and died ; and in the revival and flourishing of that cause which they espoused, and spent their lives in promoting it, which cause shall appear to be almost lost and dead, previous to the introduction of that glorious day. This is therefore a spiritual resurrection, by which all the inhabitants of the world will be made spiritually alive, where spiritual death before had reigned ; and they shall appear in the spirit and power of those martyrs and holy men, who had before lived in the world, and who shall live again, in these their successors, and in the revi. val of their cause, and in the resurrection of the church, from the very low state, in which it had been before the Millennium, to a state of great prosperity and glory.
This is agreeable to the way of representing things in scriplure, in other instances. John the Baptist was Elijah, because he rose in the spirit of Elijah, and promoted the same cause in which Elijah lived and died; and Elijah revived and lived in John the Baptist, because he went before Christ, in the spirit and power of Elijah Therefore Christ says of John, “ This is Elijah who was to come.”+
It is also to be observed, that the revival and restoration of the church to a state of prosperity, from a dark, low state, is represented by a resurrection to life, or as life from the dead. “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise ; awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead."| In the thirty seventh chapter of Ezekiel, this is represented by bringing dry bones to life ; and from them, raising up a very great army. This is a metaphorical or figurative resurrection. "Then he said unto me, son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel : Behold, they say our bones are dried, and our hope is lost ; we are cut off for our parts. Therefore, prophecy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.” The apostle Paul, speaking of the conversion of the Jews to Christ, at the Millennium, says it shall be as “ life from the dead."'S
In the Millennium, there will be a spiritual resurrection, a resurrection of the souls of the whole church on earth, and in
• Luke i. 17. † Matt. xi. 14. # Isa. xxvi. 19. $ Rom. xi. 15,