Foreword: (this Foreword written February, 2003 (updated 2021) by Daniel Winters. Any comments or questions will be glady answered: earlysda @ hotmail.com)
This book is a collection of lectures William Miller gave in the years before 1843. It is more of a transcript of oral lectures, rather than a book written for a reader. It's hard to believe today in 2003, that nearly all "Christians" in the early 1800s were dead-set against the idea that Jesus would literally come back to this earth and reward the faithful and punish the wicked. A man led of God, Mr. Miller, gives in natural sequence the results of his studies of the Bible regarding the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ. He spends quite a bit of time on explaining the various symbols used in prophecy, comparing scripture with scripture. Some of his main points are that, the 2nd coming will be literal; the prophecies have a historical fulfillment, and pagan and papal Rome are the main beasts spoken of in Revelation. As a result of applying the prophecies historically, he was required by his own rules of interpretation to interpret prophecy as all finishing by 1843 when he believed Jesus would return. He closes nearly every lecture with an appeal to sinners to get ready for the soon coming of the Lord, which is the overriding theme of all his lectures.
This particular book was typed in letter by letter (623,627!) from a photo-copy of the original, and i neither added nor deleted anything to this work other than this Foreword and what is noted in this paragraph. Spellings were left as found. I spent around 100 hours typing this in, and tried to make this format for the computer look as much like the original as possible, but if i made any errors, someone please let me know. There were 5 mistakes noted, but left as in the original:
p. 97: "It it" should be "It is"
p. 130: ")if" should be "(if"
p. 162: "saints," should be "saints."
p. 208: "sanhedrim" should be "sanhedrin"
p. 219: "least" should be "last"
One mistake was changed as it affects the meaning intended:
In the Supplement section, there is a mathematical mistake. In the original it shows 475 being added to 4190 resulting in 4695. I changed this to 4665. Also, 30 added to 508 is shown as 508, so i changed this to 538.
The notes (*), were originally placed at the bottom of the page, but with no pages here, i put them at the end of each chapter where they are referenced. There is a Chronological chart of the world in a fold-out at the end of the book that i scanned in and is available separately as a jpg file. To download the chart, or this whole book, along with other of William Miller's works, please go to: www.earlysda.com
For this HTML format, i split the book into 5 physical pages for easier loading. All sections can be accessed easily from the INDEX section further down on the page you are on now.
A few notes on this book: Roman numbers are used for Bible and book chapter numbers. A short refresher course:
Yes, having greater light now in 2003, we may smile at some of his interpretations; for example - he would probably be shocked more than anyone to see the resurgence of the Papal power - but in looking at the overall effect of his message, and seeing how God led him in the whole (read chapter 22 of the 1858 Great Controversy titled "William Miller") we should be even more thankful to God for leading his people in a mighty way, out into the truth (^-^).
IN presenting these Lectures to the public, the writer is only complying with the solicitations of some of his friends, who have requested that his views on the Prophecies of Daniel and John might be made public. The reader is therefore requested to give the subject a careful and candid perusal, and compare every part with the standard of Divine Truth; for if the explanation the writer has given to the scriptures under consideration should prove correct, the reader will readily perceive that it concerns us all, and becomes doubly important to us, because we live on the eve of one of the most important events ever revealed to man by the wisdom of God--the judgment of the great day.
In order that the reader may have an understanding of my manner of studying the Prophecies, by which I have come to the following result, I have thought proper to give some of the rules of interpretation which I have adopted to understand prophecy.
Prophetical scripture is very much of it communicated to us by figures and highly and richly adorned metaphors; by which I mean that figures such as beasts, birds, air or wind, water, fire, candlesticks, lamps, mountains, islands, &c., are used to represent things prophesied of--such as kingdoms, warriors, principles, people, judgments, churches, word of God, large and smaller governments. It is metaphorical also, showing some peculiar quality of the thing prophesied of, by the most prominent feature or quality of the figure used, as beasts--if a lion, power and rule; if a leopard, celerity; if a bear, voracious; an ox, submissive; a man, proud and independent. Fire denotes justice and judgment in its figure; in the metaphor, denotes the purifying or consuming up the dross or wickedness; as fire has a cleansing quality, so will the justice or judgments of God. "For when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness." Therefore almost all the figures used in prophecy have their literal and metaphorical meaning; as beasts denote, literally, a kingdom, so metaphorically good or bad, as the case may be, to be understood by the subject in connection.
To understand the literal meaning of figures used in prophecy, I have pursued the following method:--I find the word "beast" used in a figurative sense; I take my concordance, trace the word, and in Daniel vii. 17, it is explained to mean "kings or kingdoms." Again, I come across the words "bird or fowl," and in Isa. xlvi. 11, it is used meaning a conqueror or warrior,--Cyrus. Also, in Ezekiel xxxix. 4-9, denotes armies or conquerors. Again, the words "air or wind," as used in Rev. ix. 2, and 16, 17, to understand which I turn to Eph. ii. 2, and 4-14, and there learn that it is used as a figure to denote the theories of worldly men or vain philosophy. Again, "water or rivers" are used as figures in Rev. xvii. 15, it is explained to mean "people or nations." "Rivers" of course mean the nation or people living on the river mentioned, as in Rev., xvi. 12. "Fire" is often used in a figurative sense; explained in Num. xxi. 27-28, Deut. xxxii. 22, Psal. lxxviii. 21, Heb. xii. 29, to mean justice and judgment.
As prophecy is a language somewhat different from other parts of Scripture, owing to its having been revealed in vision, and that highly figurative, yet God in his wisdom has so interwoven the several prophecies, that the events foretold are not all told by one prophet, and although they lived and prophesied in different ages of the world, yet they tell us the same things; so you take away one, and a link will be wanting. There is a general connection through the whole; like a well-regulated community they all move in unison, speaking the same things, observing the same rules, so that a Bible reader may almost with propriety suppose, let him read in what prophecy he may, that he is reading the same prophet, the same author. This will appear evident to any one who will compare scripture with scripture. For example, see Dan. xii. 1, Matt. xxiv. 21. Isa. xlvii. 8. Zeph. ii. 15, Rev. xviii. 7. There never was a book written that has a better connection and harmony than the Bible, and yet it has the appearance of a great store-house full of all the precious commodities heart could desire, thrown in promiscuously; therefore, the biblical student must select and bring together every part of the subject he wishes to investigate, from every part of the Bible; then let every word have its own Scripture meaning, every sentence its proper bearing, and have no contradiction, and your theory will and must of necessity be correct. Truth is one undeviating path, that grows brighter and brighter the more it is trodden; it needs no plausible arguments nor pompous dress to make it more bright, for the more naked and simple the fact, the stronger the truth appears.
Let it be noticed that God has revealed to his prophets the same events in divers figures and at different times, as he has to Daniel in the second, seventh, and eighth chapters concerning the four kingdoms; or to Peter, (see Acts x. 16;) also Isaiah and John. Then, to get the whole truth, all those visions or prophecies must be concentrated and brought together, that have reference to the subject which we wish to investigate; and when combined, let every word and sentence have its proper bearing and force in the grand whole, and the theory or system, as I have before shown, must be correct. I have likewise noticed that in those events, visions, and prophecies which have had their fulfilment, every word and every particular has had an exact and literal accomplishment, and that no two events have ever happened, that I can learn, which will exactly apply or fulfil the same prophecy. Take, for instance, the prophecies concerning the birth, life, and crucifixion of our Savior, and in his history we find a literal fulfilment; yet in the birth, life, or death of any other individual it would be in vain to find a parallel. Again, take the prophecies which have been admitted, by Protestants at least, to apply to Cyrus, Alexander, Julius Cæsar, destruction of Jerusalem, and the church of Rome, and I have never been able to trace even a resemblance to the prophecies in question in any historical events except the true ones. If this is true, may we not suppose that the unfulfilled prophecies in their accomplishments will be equally as evident and literal?
There are two important points to which all prophecy seems to centre, like a cluster of grapes upon its stem--the first and second coming of Christ; the first coming to proclaim the gospel, set up his kingdom, suffer for sinners, and bring in an everlasting righteousness. His second coming, to which the ardent faith and pious hope of the tried and tempted child of God centres, is for complete redemption from sin, for the justification and glorification promised to all those who look for his appearing, the destruction of the wicked and mystical Babylon, the abomination of the whole earth.
His first coming was as a man, his human nature being only visible. He comes first, like the "first man of the earth, earthy;" his second coming is "the Lord from heaven." His first coming was literally according to the prophecies. And so we may safely infer will be his second appearance, according to the Scriptures. At his advent, his forerunner was spoken of--"one crying in the wilderness;" the manner of his birth--"a child born of a virgin;" the place where--"Bethlehem of Judea;" the time of his death--"when seventy weeks should be fulfilled;" for what he should suffer--"to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy." The star that appeared, the stripes he received, the miracles he performed, the tauntings of his foes--all were literally fulfilled. Then, why not suppose that all the prophecies concerning his second coming will be as literally accomplished as the former! Can any man show a single reason why it will not? If this be true, we can obtain much light by reading the Scriptures. We are there informed of the manner of his second coming--"suddenly, in the clouds, in like manner as he ascended;" the majesty of his coming--"on a great white throne, with power and great glory, and all his saints with him;" the object of his coming--"as the Ancient of Days, to send his angels into the four winds of heaven gather his elect, raise the righteous dead, change the righteous living, chain Satan, destroy anti-Christ, the wicked, and all those who destroy the earth, judge, justify and glorify his people, cleanse his church, present her to his Father, live and reign with her on the new heavens and new earth," the form of the old having passed away.
The time when these things shall take place is also specified, by some of the prophets, unto 2300 days, (meaning years;) then shall the sanctuary be cleansed, after the anti-Christian beast has reigned her "time, times, and a half;" after the two witnesses have prophesied "a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth;" after the church captivity in the wilderness, "forty-two months," after the "gospel should be preached in all the world for a witness, then shall the end come." The signs of the times are also given, when we may know, he is near, even at the door. When there are many "lo here's and lo there's;" when the way of truth is evil spoken of; when many seducers are abroad in the land; when scoffers disbelieve in his coming, and say, "Where is the promise of his coming;" when the wise and foolish virgins are called to trim their lamps, and the voice of the friend of the bridegroom is, "Behold, he cometh;" when the city of the nations is divided into three parts; when the power of the holy people is scattered, and the kings of the east come up to battle; when there is a time of trouble, such as never was before, and the church in her Laodicean state; when the seventh seal opens, the seventh vial is poured out, the last woe pronounced by the angel flying through the midst of heaven, and the seventh and last trumpet sounds;--then will the mystery of God be finished, and the door of mercy be closed forever; then shall we be brought to the last point, his second coming.
Again, prophecy is sometimes typical; that is, partly fulfilled in the type, but completely only in the antitype. Such was the prophecy concerning Isaac, partly fulfilled in him, wholly so in Christ; likewise concerning Israel, partly fulfilled in them as a nation, but never fully accomplished until the final redemption of spiritual Israel. Likewise the prophecies concerning the Jewish captivity in Babylon, and their return, are only partly accomplished in the history of past events. The description of those things in the prophets is so august and magnificent, that if only applicable to the literal captivity of the Jews and their return, the exposition would be weak and barren; therefore I humbly believe that the exact fulfilment can only be looked for in the captivity of the church in the wilderness, under the anti-Christian beast, destruction of mystical Babylon, and glorification of the saints in the New Jerusalem state.
There are also in the 24th chapter of Matthew many things prophesied of, which were not fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem; such as the coming of the Son of Man in the clouds, the gathering his elect from the four winds of heaven, his taking one and leaving another. This shows a typical meaning in this prophecy, and that it will not all be fulfilled until the end of the world. Also, the transfiguration of Christ on the mount, prophesied of by himself eight days before, is noticed by Peter, 2d Epistle, i. 16-18, as being a type or figure of his second coming.
Who, that has read the prophecies with any degree of attention, will not acknowledge the great agreement between the Old Testament prophecies and the New? Almost every prophecy given by Christ and his apostles may be found, in the Old Testament prophets, represented by figures, which were familiar to the writers and readers of those times. The foregoing rules are some of the principal ones which I have observed in attempting to explain the prophecies of Daniel and John, and to give the time when the mystery of God will be finished, as I humbly believe it is revealed to the prophets.
If I have erred in my exposition of the prophecies, the time, being so near at hand, will soon expose my folly; but if I have the truth on the subjects treated on in these pages, how important the era in which we live! What vast and important events must soon be realized! and how necessary that every individual be prepared that that day may not come upon them unawares, while they are surfeited with the cares and riches of this life, and the day overtake them as a thief! "But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief," 1 Thess. v. 4. In studying these prophecies, I have endeavored to divest myself of all prepossessed opinions, not warranted by the word of God, and to weigh well all the objections that might be raised from the Scriptures; and after fourteen years' study of the prophecies and other parts of the Bible, I have come to the following conclusions, and do now commit myself into the hands of God as my Judge, in giving publicity to the sentiments herein contained, conscientiously desiring that this little book may be the means to incite others to study the Scriptures, and to see whether these things be so, and that some minds may be led to believe in the word of God, and find an interest in the offering and sacrifice of the Lamb of God, that their sins might be forgiven them through the blood of the atonement, "when the refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power," "when he comes to be admired in all them that believe in that day."
And now, my dear readers, I beg of you to lay aside prejudice; examine this subject candidly and carefully for yourselves. Your belief or unbelief will not affect the truth. If it is so, whatever you may think or do will not alter the revealed purposes of God. "Not one jot or tittle of his word will fail;" but you may, by your obedience in the faith, secure you an interest in the first resurrection, and a glorious admittance into the New Jerusalem, and an inheritance among the justified in glory, and you may sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of God. May this be your lot--is the prayer of your servant,
HAMPTON, Washington County, N. Y.
TITUS ii. 13.
Looking for that blessed hope, and glorious appearing of the great God, and our Savior Jesus Christ.
WHEN we take a view of the trials, pains, afflictions, persecutions, poverty, and distress, which the people of God suffer in this world, we are almost led to exclaim with the apostle, "If in this life only we have hope, we are of all men most miserable." But no; we will not complain; for to suffer the short period of threescore years and ten, at most, will only give a greater zest to the glory which shall follow at the appearing of our Lord and Savior the great God and Jesus Christ. I know the world are taunting us with the inquiry, "Where is the promise of his coming? for, since the fathers fell asleep, all things remain as they were, even from the creation of the world;" for they will pretend to be ignorant (as the apostle Peter expresses himself of the deluge) that the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished; and still more do they pretend to be ignorant, that the same earth is in like manner to be destroyed by fire, "reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men." 2Peter iii. 7. Also, my brethren, there are some even among us, who "are spots in your feasts of charity, feeding themselves without fear; clouds without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth; twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all; and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which they have spoken against him. These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaking great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration, because of advantage. But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy (or glorious appearing) of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." Jude 12-21. Or, as Peter says, 2Pet. iii. 12, "Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God." And again, Paul says, in Heb. ix. 28, "And unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." And Paul further saith, to his Philippian brethren, "For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body."
Having thus proved that the apostles directed our hope to the coming of Christ for the fulfilment of all our trials and persecution, and the completion of our faith, I shall now take up our subject in the following order:--I. I shall endeavor to prove that it is yet future; viz., the coming of Christ, spoken of in the text. II. The certainty of his coming. III. The object of his coming.
I. We are, according to our design, to show that the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ, spoken of in the text, is yet future.
Some teach us that he came at the destruction of Jerusalem, and quote to the 24th chapter of Matthew as proof. Let us examine their evidence. As Jesus went out of the temple, his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple, where Christ delivered his memorable prophecy, which was exactly fulfilled in little more than thirty-six years afterwards, "There shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down."
And it appears that, afterwards, as Jesus sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, having, as may reasonably be supposed, been ruminating in their minds, or conversing among themselves, on the prophecy, and had, perhaps, supposed that no power on earth could destroy those strong buildings, and concluded that, when this was accomplished, it would be the judgment-day. They therefore inquire of him, "saying, Tell us, when shall these things be?" that is, what he had prophesied of; "and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" They might not have intended to ask more than one question; yet they did ask three, and Christ answered them accordingly. He had before told them of the destruction of Jerusalem, 4th, 5th, and 6th verses; he cautions them against being deceived with false Christs, and not to be troubled at wars and rumors of wars,--and yet Jerusalem was destroyed in the first war of any note after this prophecy,--and then says plainly, "The end is not yet." Now, if this end was the destruction of Jerusalem, then where are those wars, spoken of by Christ? This cannot mean any thing less than the end of the world. From the 7th to the 14th verse, inclusive, he gives a prophetic history of the trials, afflictions, and persecutions of his people, and also of the success of the gospel immediately previous to the end, and says, "Then shall the end come."
Now, it must be evident that this cannot mean the end of Jerusalem, because, if so, he that endured unto the end was to be saved from all the troubles which Christ had been speaking of; and it was not true that the disciples of Christ did not suffer afterwards the same things which Christ said they would. From the 15th to the 28th verse, Christ instructs his disciples into their duty during the siege of Jerusalem, and also down to the coming of the Son of Man. This, you will see, must mean Christ in person; because neither the Holy Spirit nor Father is any where called Son of Man. He likewise speaks of the signs which should follow the destruction of Jerusalem. From the 29th to the 35th verse, inclusive, Christ explains the signs in the heavens and on the earth immediately after the tribulation of the people of God, which had been spoken of as the common lot of all his followers, and which he had promised to shorten for the elect's sake, and of his coming in the clouds with power and great glory; the gathering of his elect from the four winds of heaven; gives his disciples the parable of the fig tree, as an illustration of the end; and then says to his disciples, "Verily, I say unto you, This generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled; heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."
Here is the great stumbling-block to many. Christ is talking about his elect, his children, and his generation; and not, as some will have it, about the generations that then lived on the earth; for they did undoubtedly pass off, a large share of them; for it was about thirty-six years before the destruction of Jerusalem. But his kingdom has never been taken from the earth. Although they have been hunted from one part of the earth to another; although they have been driven into caves and dens of mountains; have been slain, burnt, sawn asunder; have wandered as pilgrims and strangers on the earth;--yet the "blood of the martyrs has been the seed of the church;" and Christ has had, and will have, a people on the earth, until his second coming. 1 Peter ii. 9: "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people," &c. The Psalmist says, "A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation." Psalm xxii. 30. I humbly believe that Christ has quoted the sentiment contained in the 102d Psalm, 25th to last verse: "Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the work of thine hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure; yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed; but thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end. The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee."
Here we see the Psalmist has expressed the same sentiment that I understand Christ to have given in these two verses, which I conclude is the proper explanation. And then the parables which follow in the remainder of the 24th and 25th chapters, are easily understood as having reference to the end of the world; and in that way will exactly compare. See the 31st verse of the 25th chapter: "When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory; and before him shall be gathered all nations," &c. This verse was not fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem, for the "Son of Man" was not seen in the clouds with power and great glory; and yet the words are, "every eye shall see him;" and as sudden and as visible "as the lightning, that shineth from the east even unto the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be." Can this have passed, and the history of the world have been silent? No. Could all nations be gathered before him, and there be divided, the righteous from the wicked, and the one part sent to everlasting punishment, while the other is received to life eternal, and none know it? No. Were the elect gathered from the four winds of heaven at the destruction of Jerusalem? No; they were commanded to flee to the mountains; and history says they did leave that devoted city when the Romans encompassed it with their armies. Then, could the prophecies contained in these chapters have been fulfilled, and the world remain ignorant of some of the most important events? I answer, No. Then the "Son of Man" did not come to the destruction of Jerusalem. If he did, where is the evidence? None, none, not a particle. But if he did come to the destruction of Jerusalem, then it must have been his second coming; for Paul says, Heb. ix. 28, "And unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." Can this be true if he came to Jerusalem? The passage certainly implies that his people would have no more sin, or afterwards would be "without sin." Experience teaches us to the contrary. Again it is said, 1 Thes. iv. 16, 17, "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall arise first; then we, which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord." Who saw this great transaction at Jerusalem? Were there no witnesses? Yes, the apostle John lived many years after this, and wrote his Gospel, his Epistles, and his Revelation, long after the destruction of Jerusalem. And what does he testify? In his Gospel, 14th chapter, 3d verse, "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come and receive you to myself, that where I am there ye may be also." Again, 28th and 29th verses, "Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father; for my Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that when it is come to pass, ye might believe." Again, 1 John ii. 28, "And now, little children, abide in him, that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming." And iii. 2, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." And, again, in Rev. i. 7, "Behold, he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him; and they also which pierced him, and all kindreds of the earth, shall wail because of him." Many more places might be mentioned in John's testimony, but not one word that he had already come again, as some supposed. Let this, then, suffice to prove, that the "glorious appearing," spoken of in our text, is still future.
And now we will examine some of the evidence of the certainty of his coming, which is our second proposition.
II. The certainty of it:
1st. Because the ancient prophets all spake of it. Jude tells us that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, Behold the Lord cometh, with ten thousands of his saints, &c. Balaam was constrained to admit, "Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city," plainly referring to the judgment-day; for he says, "Alas! who shall live when God doth this?" See Numbers xxiv. 17-23. And Moses as plainly refers to this day in Deut. xxxii. 43, "Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people, for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful to his land and to his people." David says, Psalm l. 3, 4, "Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence; a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him; he shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, (that he may judge his people.") And Isa. xl. 5, "And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." In the 39th chapter of Ezekiel, you will see the same day of judgment prophesied of in a clear and plain manner. In Dan. vii. 9, 10, "I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened." Joel iii. 14, "Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision, for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision." Zeph. i. 14, "The great day of the Lord is near; it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the Lord; the mighty men shall cry there bitterly." Zech. xiv. 5, "And the Lord thy God shall come, and all the saints with thee." Mal. iv. 2, "But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings, and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves in the stall." And Christ himself says, in Matt. xvi. 27, "For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels; and then shall he reward every man according to his works." The angels that stood by the disciples at the time Jesus ascended up, and a cloud received him out of their sight, said, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." Let us take particular notice of the phrase this same Jesus, and compare with other parallel passages, as, our God shall come, and it will prove to our satisfaction that Jesus Christ is God, as well as man, and we may have strong consolation for our hope in his appearing, for his promises can never fail. "Heaven and earth may pass away, but not one jot or tittle of his word shall fail." Also take notice of the words "like manner," which agree with the often expressed sentence, "He shall come in the clouds of heaven." We shall be led to admire the general harmony of the Scriptures, and the agreement of the prophets in their descriptions of future events. Again, Christ says to the church of Philadelphia, Rev. iii. 11, "Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast thou hast, that no man take thy crown." "For yet a little while and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry," Heb. x. 37. And will not the evidence I have brought from the word of God be sufficient to prove the certainty of his future coming? And if I should argue the tradition of nations that never saw the word of God, the conviction on the mind of men generally, that there must be a day of retribution; could I open the breast of the reader, and show the thundering of your conscience; yes, could I see and expose the tremblings and failings of heart, which you have had, while you have been looking with fear for those things that are coming on the earth--of what use would it be? Would you believe it if I could raise a dead friend who would tell you to prepare to meet your God? No. If they believe not Moses and the prophets, neither would they though one rose from the dead. How foolish, then, would it be for me to try to prove in any other manner what God has revealed or promised, than by the means which God has appointed. By his word you will be judged; and if this condemns you now, (unless you become reconciled,) it will condemn you hereafter.
III. The object of his coming.
1st. He comes to raise and gather his saints to him in the air. "As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive; but every man in his own order--Christ the first fruit, afterwards they that are Christ's at his coming," 1 Cor. xv. 22, 23. Again, "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive, and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them that are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we, which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord," 1 Thess. iv. 14-17. "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him," 2 Thess. ii. 1. "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death shall have no power," Rev. xx. 6. In Psalms we have the same account of the gathering of his people. "Gather my saints together unto me, those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice," Psalm l. 5. Again, see Isaiah lxvi. 18, "It shall come that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see my glory." "For thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day," Ezekiel xxxiv. 11, 12.
And now I refer you to one more passage, and then pass on. "Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, (that is, die,) but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this mortal shall put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory." These texts, to which I have called your attention, will apply only to the people of God, or those who are in Christ Jesus. I have, therefore, only been proving to you the object of Christ's coming, as it respects his people. And I think I have plainly proved that when Christ shall appear in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, he will raise the righteous dead, change the righteous living, gather them from among all nations, where they have been scattered during the ages of persecution and trial. "in the dark and cloudy day," and receive them unto himself in the air, when they will ever be with the Lord.--I will,
2dly, Show that the wicked will be destroyed from the earth by fire, and the world cleansed from the curse of sin by the same means, and prepared for the reception of the New Jerusalem state, or the glorious reign of Christ with his people. That the wicked will be destroyed by fire, at his appearing, we prove by the following texts: Deut. xxxii. 22, "For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth, with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains." 2 Samuel xxii. 9, 10, 13, "There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens and came down, and darkness was under his feet. Through the brightness before him were coals of fire kindled." Psalm xcvii. 2, 3, "Clouds and darkness are round about him, righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne. A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about." Isa. lxvi. 15, 16, "For, behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by his sword will the Lord plead with all flesh; and the slain of the Lord shall be many." Dan. vii. 11, "I beheld then, because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake; I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame." Again, Nahum i. 5, "The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burnt at his presence; yea, the world and all that dwell therein." Habakkuk iii. 3-5, "God came from Teman, (south) and the Holy One from Mount Paran, (from glory.) Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise: and his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand; and there was the hiding of his power. Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet. He stood and measured the earth; he beheld and drove asunder the nations, and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting." Also, Malachi iv. 1, "For, behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch." Matt. iii. 12, "Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." Matt. xiii. 30, "Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn." 40, "As therefore the tares are gathered and burnt, so shall it be in the end of the world." 49th verse, "So shall it be in the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just." Again, Paul to the church of the Thessalonians writes, "And to you who are troubled, rest with us; when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power." 2 Peter iii. 10, "But 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." Rev. xviii. 8, "Therefore shall her plagues come in one day--death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire; for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her." These passages are but a part of the word of God which prove the destruction of the wicked--of the anti-Christian beast--and the cleansing of the world by fire. Yet if Scripture proof can be sufficient, surely I have brought enough; and where that can have no bearing on the mind of men, how vain should I be to search the archives of natural philosophy to give you more evidence! for He who hath all wisdom in heaven and in earth, and who knows what is in the mind of man, hath used the best arguments, the most persuasive means (I had like to have said) in the power of a God to use; and indeed he says, "What could I have done more than I have done for my vineyard." He has taught us by his own word, by the mouth of his prophets, and by examples: witness his word on Mount Sinai, where the people heard his voice and saw the fire; witness all the declarations of the prophets which I have read; witness Jesus Christ himself, in the parable of the tares and wheat, and the harvest; witness, also, the destruction of the old world by water, and Sodom and Gomorrah by fire; Jerusalem by famine, sword, and fire. These are all set forth as samples to warn us of the approaching judgment. And yet who believes the report? Who is willing to examine the evidences--to reason candidly and to reflect seriously on these things? Who among us puts implicit confidence in the word of God, especially in that which is unfulfilled? Any may believe in so much as has been accomplished; but where is the virtue in such faith? Where is the blessedness of our hope in the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ? If we are "looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ," we shall examine the word of God faithfully; we shall compare scripture with scripture; we shall take notice of the signs which Christ has given us of his coming. That the day may not overtake us as a thief, we should live with a steady reference to that day, and rejoice more and more as we see the day approaching.
3d. I will now give some of the evidences concerning the glorious reign which must follow his coming. The earth, being cleansed by fire, will, like the phœnix, be revived from its own ashes. The destruction of the wicked, the end of death, sin banished, it will lighten the world of a load of crime which has made it reel to and fro like a drunkard; the internal fires will have spent their force on all combustible matter, and have gone out; volcanoes will cease; earthquakes, tornadoes, and whirlwinds can no more be experienced or needed, for the cause is gone; the earth or the heavens can no more be shaken, "that those things that cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear; for our God is a consuming fire," Heb. xii.27-29.
Then, when this earth shall become new, by being cleansed and purified, the New Jerusalem will "come down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them and be their God," Rev. xxi. 2, 3. "And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the Holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God," 10th verse. "And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it, for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." "And I saw thrones and they that 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 in their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years; but the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished."
Much more evidence might be brought to prove the personal reign of Jesus Christ with his people; but this is enough to prove the glorious and personal reign after the resurrection; but few dispute it. But, say some, do you not believe in a spiritual reign of a thousand years before the resurrection? I answer, I believe in a reign of grace, by the influence of the divine Spirit, for more than 1800 years past; but when you speak of a thousand years, I suppose you mean the same time that I call the glorious reign after the resurrection of the righteous, and before the resurrection of the wicked. I know of no spiritual reign, mentioned in the word of God, and especially of that duration. We argue that there cannot be a reign of peace and glory until the world is cleansed from all wickedness, Satan is chained, and righteousness fill our world; nor until "the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ," even the anti-Christian beast will not be destroyed, (according to the texts we have already quoted,) until they are destroyed by "the brightness of his appearing." All those passages which speak of this happy period of rest to the people of God, or which in any manner allude to it, describe it as being after the resurrection of the saints, or after righteousness fills the earth, and after the anti-Christian beast is destroyed. And even our text more than implies that we shall not realize any great or glorious results from our hope, or collectively in a body the church will not receive any important deliverance until the "glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ." Is this true? I say the passages of Scripture already named fix it beyond a doubt. And any one who will examine the scripture for himself, will find that the second coming of Christ is the point to which Jesus Christ, the prophets, and the apostles directed their disciples, as the termination of their trials, persecutions, and afflictions; and Jesus Christ says, "In the world ye shall have tribulation." I say, I can find nothing in the word of God to warrant me to believe that we ought to look for or expect a happier period than we now enjoy, until he who has promised to come shall come the second time without sin unto salvation, and cleanse us, the world, and make all things new. These things are abundantly proved in the unerring word of God. And now, Christians, if these things are so, what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the day of God, "looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ"? Then let our conversation be in heaven, from whence we expect our Savior, and stir up each other's pure minds by way of remembrance of these things; for the time of the promise draweth nigh, when he will come and receive us to himself, that we may be with him. How necessary, my brethren, we should examine the word of God diligently; see if it does not give some indications, some signs, by which we may know the "Son of Man is near, even at the door," and our "blessed hope" is about to be realized in the "glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ." If he comes and finds us, or some of us, in this lukewarm state, hardly having looked into his word, and, making our want of talents an excuse, have neglected to trim our lamps, and have been very spare in holy conversation, and are crying peace and safety when sudden destruction cometh, and perhaps have sneeringly mocked and laughingly ridiculed the idea of Christ being near at the door, and perhaps have joined the infidel and unbeliever in their unholy remarks on this subject, and although we have heard the midnight cry, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh," yet we treat it with neglect or disdain, or some of us, perhaps, with reproach,--I ask, if the Lord of such servants come and find us so doing, what will he do with us? He will come in an hour that we think not, and cut us off, and appoint our portion among hypocrites and unbelievers, where shall be weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. But we will suppose that he will not come in so short a time as your speaker believes; still what do I ask of you, my brethren? Nothing but what Jesus Christ and the apostles required 1800 years ago. I ask you to compare these views with the Bible. Is this wrong? No. I ask you for holy conversation. Is this wrong? No. I ask you for heavenly-mindedness. Is this wrong? No, no. I ask you to stir up each other's pure minds, to make improvement on your one talent if no more; to come out of this cold and lukewarm state; to trim your lamps and be ready. Are these requirements wrong? Certainly not; no, no. I ask you again to compare scripture with scripture; to read the prophets; to stop your revilings; to take warning by the old world; to flee from sin and the wrath which is to come; to hide yourselves in Christ, until the indignation be over and past; to look "for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ." Is this wrong? Then be the wrong on my head.
And now, my impenitent friends, what say you? "We say, 'You know nothing about it.'" Do you believe the old world was deluged? "Why, yes." What makes you believe it? "Because our philosophers tell us there are a great many signs remaining of the flood, and we can believe them." And are there no signs of the near approach of the Judgment Day? What say the prophets, apostles, and Jesus Christ? Are they not equal to your philosophers? Examine your Bibles, and see; weigh well the evidence; your eternal happiness, the salvation of your immortal souls, may depend on your decision. But what say you more? "We say, 'You were very unwise to fix on the year 1843, or sooner, for this day to come; for it will not come; and then you will be ashamed." And I hope I may be able, by the grace of God, to repent. But what if it does come? You cannot with any propriety say positively it will not come, for you make no pretence to divination. But I say, What if it does come? Where will you be? No space then for repentance. No, no--too late, too late; the harvest is over and past, the summer is gone, the door is shut, and your soul is not saved. Therefore it can do you no harm to hear, and believe, and do those things which God requires of you, and which you think you would do, if you knew he would appear. First, I ask you to repent of your sins. Would this be right? Yes. Next, I ask you to believe in God. Is this right? Yes. And I ask you to be reconciled to his will, love his law, forsake sin, love holiness, practise his precepts, obey his commands. Would these things be right? Yes, yes. And last of all, and not least, I ask you to "look for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ." Amen.
REV. xx. 6.
Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power; but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
THE term "blessed and holy" is often used in scripture, and in many places is applied to man; but in no place without giving some characteristic mark of his being born of God, or inheriting the fruits of the divine Spirit; and very often the word blessed is used standing in immediate connection with the resurrection and coming of Christ, either expressed or implied, as in Isa. lxii. 11, 12, "Behold, the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, they salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. And they shall call them The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord; and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken." Isa. xxx. 18, "And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you; for the Lord is a God of judgment. Blessed are all they that wait for him." Daniel says, xii. 12, "Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the 1335 days." John says, Rev. xiv. 13, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord." "Write, Blessed are they which are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb." "Behold, I come quickly; blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book." "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." By these passages I show you that all the children of God are included in this blessing, and not the martyrs only, as some will have it. The next thing which will claim our attention will be to explain the resurrection spoken of in our text, called the first resurrection. The word resurrection signifies to revive, or resuscitate, or bring to life again, one now dead, who was once alive. It nowhere in the word of God conveys an idea of a new creation, and the word is nowhere used in the Bible expressing any thing less or more than a union of soul and body, and deliverance from natural death. The word resurrection is nowhere used in a figurative sense; it in all places has its own simple meaning, unless our text is an exception. And without the objector can show some rule of interpretation by which we shall be warranted to understand the word in a different sense, we must beg leave to attach to it the simple meaning, coming to life from the grave. I know some have supposed that regeneration is resurrection; but I cannot believe this unless they show some rule. I know some pretend to show us, in John v. 25, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live," as a rule; but in order to make this a rule, they must prove that Christ meant regeneration; until this is shown, we cannot admit it as any proof.
We shall, therefore, consider the word resurrection as coming up out of the grave, and pass to the word first. "The first resurrection." The resurrection of the saints is first as it respects order and time. Wherever the word resurrection is used in connection with life or damnation, the one unto life always comes first; as in Daniel xii. 2, "Some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt;" John v. 29, "They that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." Here are two samples as it respects order. One or two as it respects time: 1 Cor. xv. 23, "Christ the first fruits, then afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end." And again, 1 Thess. iv. 16, "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first." And then our context and text shows that the blessed and holy are raised a thousand years before the rest of the dead. If we are correct, then, Christ will come before the millennium instead of afterwards, as some believe; and the millennium is a state of personal, and glorious, and immortal reign on the new earth, or this earth cleansed by fire, as it was once by water; and it will be a new dispensation, new heavens, and new earth. This will be our next proposition to prove. And, first, we will examine the 20th chapter of Revelation, 1st verse: "And I saw an angel come down from heaven;"--this angel I consider no less a being than the Lord Jesus Christ; for it only can be said of him;--"having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand." See Rev. i. 18: "I am he that liveth and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, amen, and have the keys of hell and of death." And Christ only has power to bind Satan. "That he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil." Heb. ii. 14. 2d verse: "And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years." I suppose this verse needs no explanation. It can only be understood in a literal sense, for it explains itself in the figures used; as dragon and serpent, often used as figures, are explained to mean the devil and Satan. If the thousand years had been used, in this chapter, or any where else in the word of God, in a mystical or figurative sense, it would have been somewhere explained; but, as it is not, I consider we are to place upon it the most simple construction, and I shall therefore understand it literally. 3d verse: "And cast him into the bottomless pit;"--by bottomless pit, I have shown, by the proof on our first verse, that it is hell; see Rev. i. 18;--"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." This passage must be understood in its simple, plain meaning; no mystery in this. 4th verse: "And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given unto them;"--here we have a prophecy of the fulfilment of a promise that Christ made to his disciples, in Matt. xix. 28: "And Jesus said unto them, Verily, I say unto you, that ye which have followed me in the regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel;"--"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." In this description we have the whole family of the redeemed; for all that had not worshipped the beast or his image, or received a mark, and, in one word, all that were not the servants of Satan or sin, lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5th verse: "But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection." The rest of the dead means the wicked dead, who do not have part in the first resurrection; lived not again, showing conclusively that it is a natural life and death spoken of. The first resurrection is the resurrection of the saints at his coming. Then comes in our text, which has and will be explained in the lecture. 7th verse: "And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison." We may reasonably expect that, when Satan is let loose, all the damned spirits are let loose with him; and it has been strongly implied they were to live again in the body, at the end of the thousand years. 8th verse: "And shall go out"--that is, Satan--"to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth"--"ashes under the feet of the saints," as Malachi tells us: "And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts"--"Gog and Magog"--the armies of the wicked that were slain at the commencing of the thousand years, or coming of Christ, at the supper of the great God, and battle of Armageddon; see Ezekiel xxxviii., xxxix.--"to gather them together to battle;"--this is their design, but there is no battle, for God himself is with his people to defend them; and he destroys the wicked host, "the number of whom is as the sand of the sea;" evidently including the whole number of the wicked; for the figure, sand of the sea, is never used, only to express the whole class of the people named; as, the children of Israel, the whole host of Jacob. 9th verse: "And they went up on the breadth of the earth;"--that is, this army of Gog and Magog were raised up out of the surface of the earth, that only being the breadth of a globular body;--"and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city;"--plainly showing that the New Jerusalem, the beloved city, is on the earth during the thousand years, or how could this wicked host encompass it about? they have not climbed the celestial walls of heaven--no; for it says, "and fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them." This is the second death, represented under the figure of fire coming down from God out of heaven; not the conflagration of the world,--for that was in the commencing of the thousand years, when Christ came and cleansed the world from all the wicked, and the works of wicked men,--but the justice of God, under the figure of fire; "for our God is a consuming fire." Heb. xii. 29. 10th verse: "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever." In this verse, the final condemnation of the wicked, soul and body, is given; and the last that God has seen fit to reveal concerning them to us is, that they are cast into everlasting torment. In the next verse, John has another vision of the same things which he had before told us, only in a different point of view, or some circumstance not before clearly described. And I saw always implies a new view, or another vision. 11th verse: "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the heavens and earth fled away; and there was no place found for them." This is the same throne that Daniel saw, vii. 9-14: "I beheld till the thrones were cast down and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire." 12th verse: "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works." This is the same as Daniel saw, vii. 10: "A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him; thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The judgment was set, and the books were opened." It is very evident that this is the beginning of the judgment, when Christ comes in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory, to raise and judge his saints, and to reward every man as his work shall be. 1st, because it is when the judgment first sets; 2d, because the book of life is there, and open; and, 3d, because it was at the time or before antichrist was destroyed; and no one can believe that the antichristian beast can be on the earth during or in the millennium. 13th verse: "And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them." I conclude the apostle, after he had seen the righteous dead raised, small and great, and stand before God, and saw the book of life open to justify them, and saw them judged and rewarded, he then glides down to the end of the thousand years, and beheld the wicked dead given up by those elements and places wherein they had been confined during the millennial period, to be judged in the flesh, every man according to his works.
This only can reconcile some of those conflicting passages (or seemingly so to us) concerning the resurrection; and I cannot see any impropriety in thus understanding these prophecies; for it is the common manner of the prophets, a little here and a little there. In all the descriptions of the resurrection of the righteous dead, they are represented as being gathered by the angels of God, from the four winds of heaven, when the seventh or last trump shall sound; and it is equally as evident that their works are brought into judgment. Although they may not be justified by their works, but out of the book of life, yet the apostle Paul says, speaking of his brethren, "We must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ." Rom. xiv. 10. And again, 2 Cor. v. 10, "For we must all stand 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." And, 1 Cor. iii. 13-15, "Every man's work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work, of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: yet he himself shall be saved, so as by fire." We see, by these texts, that the books of every man's works will be open, as well as the book of life, in the first resurrection; but, in the second resurrection, there is no book of life open in that part of the judgment, neither are they gathered by the angels of God; but the sea, death, and hell, delivered up the dead which were in them, and they were judged every man according to their works; and Satan is the means of gathering them around the beloved city, where they are judged in the flesh. By the sea, death, and hell, I understand the sea, grave, and place of punishment. The sea and the grave would give up the dissolved particles of the body, and hell (or Hades) would give up their departed spirits; this would constitute the second resurrection. "And they were judged every man according to their works." They had chosen, in this life, to stand on their works; they had refused to believe in a Mediator; they had not followed his commands, neither had they professed his name before men, or suffered persecution for the sake of his testimony. They had treated his word with total neglect, or called his grace tyranny. They had said he was a hard master, and buried their talent in the earth. They had placed their supreme affections on the world, and made fine gold their trust. They had persecuted the children of God in this world, and showed that they were the children of that wicked one who slew his brother. They had prostituted their bodies to whoredom, and sacrificed to Bacchus and Venus their first-fruits. They had professed damnable heresies, and filled the world with their delusive schemes and sects. They had worshipped the creature, and neglected prayer to the Creator. They had filled the world with their lies and abominations, and gloried in their shame. 14th verse: "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death." By death and hell I understand the body and spirit. 15th verse: "And whosoever was not found written in the Lamb's book of life, was cast into the lake of fire." "But 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." Rev. xxi. 8. "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie," Rev. xxii. 14, 15. Then our text says, "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection." This we have proved is the resurrection of the righteous dead, who died in faith in Jesus Christ, and who should live with him at his coming; on them the second death should have no power, "but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."
To be priests unto God and unto Christ, is to be holy; to be a kingdom of priests of a peculiar people, that should show forth his praises by declaring to the universe that out of nature's darkness they had been redeemed by his blood, called by his grace unto his glorious, happy, and holy kingdom, and that they should dwell on the earth. See Rev. v. 9, 10, "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth." See, also, Rev. i. 6, "And hath made us kings and priests unto God, and his Father." Again, 1 Pet. ii. 5, 9, "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood." "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people." The passages to which I have cited your minds, prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the thousand years spoken of in the text is between the two resurrections in a state of happiness, of glory, of holiness, and that it shall be on the earth. It is a state of immortality, as abundant scriptures evidently prove. Where, then, you may inquire, is the spiritual millennium which our theorists, in the present age, are teaching us to expect? I answer, There is not a thousand years spoken of in Scripture, except in 2 Pet., 3d chapter, and in which the judgment day is the subject of discussion, and in the chapter of which our text is a part; and in neither of these places is any thing said about spiritual reign; neither can we find any thing in the word of God by which we could fairly draw the conclusion of such a reign; and as it is not proper for me to show the negative, I call on all of you to show where we may find the evidence, that is, all of you who believe in a spiritual reign. If there is such a reign, it must be before the second coming of Christ; for when he comes, he will receive us to himself, that where he is there we may be also; no more away from his people, for he says he will be with them, and make his abode with them, and he will be their light, and will dwell with them, and make his abode with them, and they shall dwell on the earth. Where, when, or how the idea of a spiritual reign of a thousand years should or could obtain a place in our faith, having the word of God as our evidence, I cannot tell. Some say that the prophets speak often of times or things which have not been fulfilled in our day, or under the present dispensation, and which would be too gross to be admitted into a state of immortality. There may be such--yet I find no difficulty in understanding all those passages which have been presented, or come under my consideration, to refer to the gospel day. But how long do the prophets say that time shall be? Do they designate any time? No; neither one, ten, one hundred, or one thousand years are mentioned in any of those passages. Why then call it a millennium? Because Peter and John have mentioned a thousand years. This cannot be admitted to mean any state this side of the state of immortality; for Peter says plainly, "Yet, nevertheless, we look for a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." This would be a new state, surely--nothing gross or vile in this kingdom, whoever may be king; and John expressly says, "They lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years," and says, "This is the first resurrection." Now, admit there is such a time, how or by what rule shall we call it a thousand years?
Again, where, in all the prophecies, can any one show me that the church will be blessed and holy, or happy and righteous, as it may be rendered, until he comes, that is, at Christ's second appearance? And where in the word are we to learn that the kingdoms of this world are to be destroyed before the coming of the Ancient of days? Do we believe that the anti-Christian beast, or mystical Babylon, will be on the earth during this millennial reign? No, it cannot be; yet all must acknowledge that she is only destroyed by the brightness of his coming. Who can read the 19th chapter of Revelation, without being convinced that the marriage supper of the Lamb, the treading of the wine-press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God, and the supper of the great God, are events which must take place before the millennium? And if so, who can believe that after the marriage of the Lamb to the bride; after she is arrayed in linen clean and white, which is the righteousness of the saints; after they have received a crown of righteousness, which the righteous Judge shall give to all them who love his appearing in that day,--Christ will not be with her in person? None. But our text tells us he will live and reign with them, and they shall be priests to God.
Again: while in this state of mortality and trial, we are called the servants and ministers of Christ; but then, in the millennial blessedness, we shall be called priests of God and of Christ. You may ask, "Why this distinction in the language?" I answer, There is a great difference between the kingdom of Christ, as it was established when Christ was here on earth, and the kingdom given up to God, even the Father. The subjects of Christ's kingdom, in this state of things, may be, and in fact are, imperfect. Hypocrites and false professors may and do obtain an entrance into it; for an enemy hath sown tares. But the kingdom of God, no man, says Christ, can see, or enter, without being born of God. Here they may deceive the sentinels which guard the kingdom of Christ; but in the kingdom of God "there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination or maketh a lie; but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life." Here the children of the kingdom are persecuted, tormented, perplexed, cast down; but in the kingdom of God their enemies are all slain; they are comforted, glorified, justified, exalted; and not a dog to move his tongue. Here they weep, but there will rejoice: here they sin and repent; they there will be holy without fault before his throne. "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection." Amen.