The Revelation as God gave it.

W. Kelly.

(B.T. Vol. 20, p. 61 etc.)

Dr. Joseph Hall, bishop successively of Exeter and Norwich in the 17th century, was pious, learned, and able. It may be well therefore to examine with care how such a man could write on the last book of the N.T. so as even to entitle his essay "The Revelation Unrevealed" (Works, Pratt's ed., x. 79-127). No doubt some in his day as in others taught unadvisedly, as in the "Five Lights at Walton," and "Zion's Joy in her King;" but he was not entitled to speak slightingly of Joseph Mede, John Archer, Thomas Brightman, or J. H. Alsted, who, notwithstanding many a mistake, were more enlightened in the prophetic word than himself. Let us then turn the wandering of so good a man to account by tracing if we can its source.

The first four sections are an effort to show that the Thousand Years' Reign in Rev. 20, till fulfilled, must be a riddle as insoluble as the number and name of the Beast in chap. 13. How unfounded is this appears from the latter scripture alone where the Beast's number is treated in the prophecy itself as quite exceptional. The very opening of the book disproves the assumption that prophecies need fulfilment to render them intelligible. It is an unbelieving denial of the value of prophecy; for thus they can only be understood when they are accomplished. All O.T. faith hung on unfulfilled prophecy. Thus expressly Noah condemned the antediluvian world; and Abraham enjoyed in peace what even Lot knew before fulfilment took place.

It was on the contrary, as Isaiah tells us (Isa. 41, 42, 44 - 48), the privilege of God's people to know both the former things, and new things to come, in contrast with the blinded heathen. So Daniel 9 understood precisely from Jeremiah's prophecy. Even the Jewish chief priests and scribes were not so dark when Jesus was born in Bethlehem; better far, Simeon, Anna, and others were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. Indeed, before the Messiah presented Himself, the people were in expectation to which prophecy gave birth, and all were reasoning inwardly, as Luke says, whether haply John were He. The time, said our Lord, is fulfilled, when He began His public ministry. Prophecy had long proclaimed the place, the time, the characteristic marks, the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow.

It is a false and unworthy maxim that prophecies in general, especially before they are fulfilled, are no other than riddles. For this puts the world and the church on the same ground of darkness and unbelief. The Lord on the contrary treats it as the privilege of His disciples to know as friends what the slave knows not, even all things which He heard from His Father; and the Spirit, when come, was to report to them the things to come. So the apostle Paul communicates to comparatively young believers in Thessalonica the correction of their mistake as to the dead saints, and convicts as error the alarm others were infusing into the living saints (1 Thess. 4, 2 Thess. 2). Again the Apostle Peter appeals to the faithful as knowing beforehand what God had revealed, even to the eternal things, the new heavens and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness (2 Peter 3). As if to cut off anticipatively the bishop's discouragement, the Holy Spirit pronounces, in the first and the last chapters of that prophecies, a special blessing on reading, hearing and keeping the things written in it: a nugatory thing, if they consist of no other than riddles for men to guess at.

The truth is that the same Spirit Who alone enables us to understand the rest of scripture gives intelligence in the prophecies. Past, present, and future, are alike open to Him Who, as only He has told us of the first things when man did not exist to see or hear, so He has spoken up to the last, and especially of His own glory yet to have its triumphant and blissful display in the universe. What more worthy, of God, what more cheering and elevating to His children! The consequence for the bishop and all of his way of thinking is a barren blank, instead of the bright anticipation of the fair and fruitful scene the Lord will establish according to the word for His own great Name. The unbelief of a believer has of course its limits; but it is a darkening principle just so far as it works; and this is as plain in the case before us as anywhere else.

Section 5 is a summary of Archer's view, which is wrong and defective in important respects. In the first place the bishop undertakes to show the universal error which runs through his whole writing; secondly, the chief paradoxes involved; thirdly, its consequents improbable; and, lastly, "such fair, safe orthodox constructions, as may be warrantably admitted of that dark passage of Scripture, the misprision [i.e. misapprehension] whereof is guilty of this controversy" (section 6).

Let us only now notice briefly section 7, in which the literal construction put on the prophecies is regarded as the great strain of error. Two passages are cited as instances, Zech. 2:12, 10 [a singular mode of citing], and Isa. 65:9-10. Instead of seeing a future condition of glory for Judah and Jerusalem on earth, the bishop contends for no more than the past Babylonish restoration, and under that figure the comfortable condition of the church under the gospel.

Now is either of these a tolerable interpretation of either scripture? How does the context decide? "For thus says Jehovah of hosts: After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you; for he that touches you touches the apple of his eye. For, behold, I will shake mine hand over them, and they shall be a spoil to those that served them; and ye shall know that Jehovah of hosts hath sent me. Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion; for lo, I come and I will dwell in the midst of thee, says Jehovah. And many nations shall join themselves to Jehovah in that day and shall be my people; and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that Jehovah of hosts hath sent me unto thee. And Jehovah shall inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and shall yet choose Jerusalem again" etc. It must be remembered that the main body which returned from captivity had gone up long before under Zerubbabel and Jeshua. Is it credible that Zechariah's prediction was fulfilled in the little company that accompanied Ezra in the seventh year of Artaxerxes? Certainly neither answers to the prophecy. They were both after the captivity, an earnest only of what is promised. But here it is to be "after the glory." So, in Ps. 102:16, His appearing in His glory goes with His building up Zion; and thus it is, as the verse preceding says, that the nations shall fear His name and all the kings of the earth His glory. It would be the grossest exaggeration to pretend that anything like the psalm or the prophecy was fulfilled in the returned remnant.

Are these words accomplished in the church? Why, the essence of our calling is in contrast with it all. For us Christ is received up in glory. Here He was rejected even to the death of the cross, and is now glorified on high. Our life is hid with Christ in God; and when He shall be manifested, then shall we also with Him be manifested in glory. Meanwhile the fidelity of the Christian and of the church is in sharing His rejection on earth with Him. The worldly-minded were the first we read of who ignored and forsook this true place here below, to which we are called in contrast with Israel of old and by-and-by. "Already are ye filled, already ye are become rich, ye have reigned without us; yea and I would that ye did reign that we also might. reign with you." it was a mistaking of and a departure from Christ's mind. "For, I think, God hath set forth us the apostles last of all, as men doomed to death; for we are made a spectacle unto the world, both to angels and to men" (1 Cor. 4). But the place promised to Israel is power over the nations which spoiled them. In this way, as in others, will Jehovah prove how dear they are to Him in the day when He shakes His hand over the Gentiles. Never since the Babylonish captivity has this been true either of the Jews or of their Gentile masters; but it will assuredly be when their heart turns to Him Whom they slew. Then shall Zion sing, and Jehovah dwell in their midst, and many nations join themselves to Jehovah; but in Zion will be His earthly seat and centre, when He is risen out of His holy habitation, and all flesh must hush before Jehovah.

Again, how baseless is the traditional prejudice as to Isa. 65:9-10! No Christian doubts, that the Jews' rejection of their Messiah (as in Isa. 49 - 53) has brought a fresh scattering on themselves, in addition to the penalty of their old idolatry. On that, during the fall of the disobedient and gainsaying people, God is found of the Gentiles who sought Him not, according to Isa. 65:1-2. But as plain as is Jehovah's judgment of the wicked among Israel in vers. 3-7, so is His mercy to an elect remnant of that people in the verses that follow; and both in a day of executed judgments, which usher in a season of blessedness for the earth and all creatures on it, in a way beyond all example since sin entered the world. Hence we hear of the new heavens and a new earth — at least in an incipient sense, the pledge of the absolute truth which follows the judgment of the dead (Rev. 21). But what has all this to do with the comfortable condition of the church under the gospel, any more than with the returned remnant in Ezra's day or any other's of old? Jehovah coming in fire, and His chariots like the whirlwind, to render His anger with fury and His rebuke with flames of fire, is as different as can be from the Holy Spirit coining in power from on high, and tongues parting asunder as of fire sitting upon each. So differs the future gathering of all nations and tongues to see His glory, from the work of grace in now gathering out of them a people for His name wherein is neither Jew nor Gentile, but Christ is all.

Before examining the alleged paradoxes and improbable consequents of taking the millennial reign literally, and putting to the test Bishop H.'s "fair, safe, and orthodox constructions," let us take a general survey of scriptural truth.

Besides life and incorruption brought to light through the gospel, two great subjects are prominent in the written word, the kingdom of God, and the church of God: the latter, which, established in N.T. times, closes (as far as itself is concerned) all distinction of Jews and Gentiles, and hence gives a mysterious form to the kingdom (Matt. 13) when concurrent with it; and the former, which was the central fact of the O.T., as it will be displayed in power and glory, after the Lord's appearing to judge the living and dead (2 Tim. 4:1).

Theology has confounded these two totally different matters to the incalculable injury of revealed truth; and so hindered both the Lord's glory and the blessing of souls. Hence the importance of bringing to a clear issue a question of the greatest gravity for all that hold the doctrine of Christ, maintain the foundations intact, and desire sure growth in the truth. The author put to the test is inferior to none in godliness, acquirements, and general reliability; and if he acquiesced in prevalent views, it was with singular freedom from personal fads,

There is another truth overlooked in its capital importance, the real root of all failure in spiritual intelligence. Neither Israel nor even the church is the prime object of God, but His glory in Christ. Every Christian ought to feel this when presented seriously to him; but in "practice, nay in doctrine also, it is apt to be obscured and forgotten to the mind's inevitable darkening. Yet what can be more certain? All His counsels, all His ways, centre in Christ, as He alone is personally and absolutely worthy, the One in Whom His soul delighted, Who emptied and humbled Himself to the uttermost to glorify Him in a world of evil, in order that He might righteously and in love give effect to His grace and display His glory, even before the eternal rest, when nothing but good abides, and all evil is done away in solemn endless judgment, and God is all in all.

Christ, then, the Son, the Word made flesh, is the One Who alone explains all revelation, as He alone is the accomplisher and accomplishment of all divine purpose, in Whom His nature and character, His gracious designs, and His righteous ways, find their moral justification in His sight and their manifest glorification before the universe. Incarnation gives us His person glorifying His Father obediently in the midst of the old creation. His infinite work on the cross was the basis of redemption; His resurrection and ascension were God's placing Him at His right hand, as head of the new creation. But as yet the new creation applies solely here below to those that are in Christ, who have also the Holy Spirit given them, seal of their acceptance and earnest of the coming inheritance; for we are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. But as He is head of the body, the church, even so are we His members, baptized by One Spirit into one body, God's habitation also by the Spirit. And this is what God is doing while Christ is glorified on high—calling out and gathering together His sons and heirs, who therefore await Christ's coming as their heavenly hope, and who love His appearing which will put down every evil and establish God's kingdom indisputably in power and glory to the joy of all the earth.

Even this implies Christ's various glory; and the Christian who can see no more in the written word than the church's blessedness in Him falls into an error akin to the Israelite who left room only for Jehovah's association with the chosen nation. The effect of the error is even worse for the Christian than the Jew. For the latter (however inexcusable in his unbelief of Jesus) is quite right in looking for the restoration of the people, Judah and Ephraim no longer alienated but united in their land, under Messiah's reign and the new covenant; and a kingdom therefore, not figurative but proper though spiritual also and everlasting while the earth endures. Then too the Gentiles, however blessed, are subordinate and willingly own the first dominion given by Jehovah to the daughter of Zion; and all the earth sings praises to Him that judges the world with righteousness and the peoples with equity. The Christian who tortures the prophets by hearing only of a spiritual Israel, and makes Zion and Jerusalem, Judah and Ephraim, to be nothing but the church, loses the sense of his own distinctively heavenly privileges as made known in the N.T., and defrauds the nation of their grand and peculiar hopes, in the incomparable mercy of God (faithful in spite of their unfaithfulness), but ere long to be the blessed and beloved of Jehovah at the feet of their once crucified but then adored Messiah, never more to be rooted out of the land.

Does this seem marvellous in men's eyes? The real marvel is that any who heed the word of God can be ignorant of it. Isaiah, to take the first in order and the richest of all the O.T. prophets, overflows with this hope for Israel from his earliest chapter to his latest. So chap. 1, after laying bare the sins of the people and their reduction to a little remnant, declares that Jehovah will deal with His adversaries, purge away the dross of His people, and restore their judges as at the first and their counsellors as at the beginning. Has this ever been verified for the returned remnant? As none can say so with truth, it is equally clear that it is wholly distinct from the blessings of the church or the gospel, which were not introduced as Israel's will be by a downpour of judgments.

Isaiah 2 is just as clear for Israel by-and-by, as distinct from what the bishop calls "the evangelical church." For us Christ is the heavenly centre, and the gospel goes forth to all nations. Is it only Popery that falsely claims an earthly centre for all the nations to flow to its spurious Zion, whence goes forth the canon-law, not the gospel? But whether it be Protestant confusion or Papal pretension, the word of the Lord in Matt. 24 is the disproof of both; inasmuch as He sets the world's state till He come again in evident contrast with the prophet's picture of universal peace after His world-kingdom is come, as predicted in Rev. 11:15, 17, and elsewhere.

Equally plain is Isa. 4 that the Lord will not wash away the filth of Zion or the blood of Jerusalem, save "by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning," in contradistinction from the grace of God which has now appeared presenting salvation to all, founded on the characteristically different starting point of Christ bearing the divine judgment of sin on the cross, not the day of Jehovah in the valley of decision for all the nations. Then and thus only will deliverance come for the ancient people of God, as indeed for all nations and the earth. The gospel and the church are alike based on the atoning death of Christ, His resurrection, and His ascension to heaven, whence He sent forth not judgments but the Spirit of grace, as both gospel and church are its fruit and witness. The contrast is no less certain than momentous; and the confusion of theology most mischievous.

Thus might we pass through the fertile field of prophecy, with no other result than the fuller confirmation of the all-important distinction already traced. For scripture is harmonious and cannot be broken. Ascertain the mind of God in a single authority of His word, and all else must surely be consistent and will corroborate it; as on the other hand, when an error is assumed, every witness cited will be found to expose it, as we have seen in the bishop's misuse of Zech. 2 and Isa. 65. Nor this only; for the positive truth shines out, that the displayed kingdom of Jehovah is the main testimony on which the O.T. prophets converge; and all tell more or less of the stupendous judgments which usher it in, when Israel shall take them captive whose captives they were, and shall rule over their oppressors (Isa. 14). "And it shall come to pass in that day that Jehovah will punish the hosts of the high ones on high, and the kings of the earth on the earth. And they shall be brought together, an assemblage of prisoners for the pit, and shall be shut up in prison, and after many days shall they be visited. And the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed; for Jehovah shall reign on mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients [shall be] glory (24)." This (and it is but a sample, however brilliant, of those living oracles) speaks of a state of things different wholly from either the post-exilic Jews, or "the evangelical church." Further, it is not at all what scripture shows of the church glorified in heaven, any more than on earth sharing Christ's rejection and suffering. It is precisely and exclusively, what the prophet professes it to be, the Jewish people no longer a prey to evil and enemies, but brought, through terrific judgments on the wicked among themselves and all nations, to trust in Jehovah for ever, and to acknowledge Him Whom they erst despised as their king coming with power and glory in Jehovah's name, the Righteous Servant in Whose hand Jehovah's pleasure shall prosper.

The apostle in Rom. 11 particularly warns believers now against that very snare into which theology has fallen. "Be not high-minded, but fear: for if God spared not the natural branches, neither will he spare thee. Behold then God's goodness and severity: toward them that fell severity; but toward thee goodness, if thou continue in [his] goodness; otherwise thou also shalt be cut off... For I would not, brethren, have you ignorant of this mystery, lest ye be wise in your own conceits, that obdurateness in part hath befallen Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And, so all Israel shall be saved, as is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer; he shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. And this is my covenant unto them when I shall take away their sins" (vers. 20-27). Can any language be plainer or more solemn for all who refuse the siren voice of tradition and cleave only to God's word? Can any saint venture to say that the Gentile profession continued in God's goodness, more than the Jewish or natural branches of the olive tree? What mean Popery, superstition, infidelity, worldliness of every kind, within Christendom? and even believers playing fast and loose with these horrible evils, as if the ever present Holy Ghost tolerated them? Yet the inevitable sentence is, "Thou also shalt be cut off": no promise of restoration, but the positive assurance of excision. The judgment of Christendom is sure, and the moral signs of its approach manifest. It is a fond "conceit" that its end on earth will be spiritual beauty and glory, enlargement universally, or the overthrow of its enemies. Babylon will be judged finally and unsparingly; Jerusalem will be restored to such blessing and glory as it never had under David or Solomon, to such as only the One greater than either can and will effect. Of this glorious consummation the prophets sing in full chorus.

Ours is quite another destiny. The body of Christ on earth, as united to our Head in heaven, we shall be His bride, the heavenly Eve of the Last Adam. King is His relation to Israel, as He will be of all the nations. Never is He so spoken of in relation to the Christian or the church: we are one with Him, and shall reign with Him. Hence He is said to be given as Head to the church over all things. The traditional confusion, of which this pious bishop was the exponent, as many others are to-day, loses sight of our peculiar relationship, its present privileges and future hopes; as it denies to Israel its distinctive and pledged promises, is a deep wound to God's predictions, and descends for the church from heaven to earth. And what havoc and perversion for God's word, Old and New!

Undoubtedly there are moral principles which always apply, whatever be the difference of dispensation, as truth and righteousness, love and obedience. At no time can there be licence to indulge in lust, dishonesty, lying, or violence. Nor can there ever be indifference to the true God or His revealed will without sin. But as promise formed the soul and enlightened the path of the patriarchs, so the law bound Israel in due time; and now the gospel and the church are characteristic of those called of God since the appearing of Christ. The reception of the Lord into heavenly glory and the consequent mission of the Holy Spirit give rise to a new state of things distinct from all that has ever been and from what is to follow our Lord's return, when seasons of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. For this is He fore-appointed, though heaven must receive Him till times of restitution of all things whereof God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets since time began. Pentecost, in some respects more wonderful, could not accomplish those seasons and times; for as its peculiar blessing is while Christ is received on high, so they can only be when He comes and takes the earth in hand according to prophecy. The work now proceeding is as unprecedented as the revelation of its special truth; so the apostle Paul insists often and expressly. "According to the revelation of the mystery which hath been kept in silence through times eternal, but now is manifested, and through prophetic scriptures (according to the commandment of the eternal God) is made known unto all the nations for obedience of faith" (Rom. 16:25-26). "God's wisdom in a mystery, that which hath been hidden, which God ordained before the ages to our glory" (1 Cor. 2:7). "The mystery of Christ; which in other generations was not made known unto the sons of men, as it hath now been revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; [to wit] that the Gentiles are fellow-heirs, and fellow-members of the body, and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel" (Eph. 3:4-6). "The mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations; but now hath it been manifested to his saints" (Col. 1:26).

All this goes far beyond the predictions of the O.T., though these leave room for and justify Jehovah's hiding His face from Israel, and calling in of Gentiles meanwhile. But the N.T. furnishes the "prophetic writings" referred to, and the apostle treats it as his stewardship to let us know the new glory of Christ as Head over all the universe, and the church (wherein Jewish and Gentile conditions are alike blotted out) united to Him as His body, the Holy Spirit being the earnest of that universal inheritance. God did not reveal this unearthly glory of Christ on high while He was held out as the hope of Israel to reign in Zion; still less did He reveal that new body the church wherein He breaks down all distinctions, while He was in the O.T. insisting on the great superiority of Israel over all other nations. The cross cancelled all such differences. Both Jew and Gentile were alike enemies of the Lord, in Whose death of shame but of infinite efficacy the middle wall of partition was taken down; and He risen and ascended becomes the Head of the church wherein both, if believers, are alike members, His body while on earth but for the heavens. Through Him we both have the access by one Spirit unto the Father, as both are also builded together for God's habitation in the Spirit. In heaven and for heaven earthly distinctions are null.

It is quite otherwise when the Lord assumes and enforces His earthly rights, as He will when He appears in glory. Then must be got ready to receive Him the earthly people, as well as the nations. But revelation is explicit that this will not be without the execution of appalling judgments, of which the 0. T. prophets are not more full than the great prophecy of the N.T. Both give unmistakable testimony that divine judgments on the guilty earth (as the Revelation adds a guiltier Christendom) precede the incoming of His manifested kingdom. People may not understand details; symbols are not to be read off-hand; and above all the confusion of what God is doing now with "the age" and "the world to come," as we hear in Hebrews, makes it impossible, so long as this exists, to be clear as to either things present or things future. For grace is now reigning through righteousness; whereas righteousness will then reign over the earth, as it has never done, before the eternal state when, all evil removed by judgment, righteousness shall dwell in holiness, peace, and love, inviolable in the heavens and on the earth throughout the day that has no end.

Our Lord Himself in His use of the prophets gives us striking help for their right application. Thus when, in the synagogue at Nazareth, He reads from Isaiah our chap. 61:1-2, He closed the roll in the middle of a sentence after the words "to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD." For this He was come, not to consume the wicked, but to save sinners. When He appears again, "the day of vengeance of our God" must take its course, in order to establish His kingdom here below, in total contrast with the grace of the gospel and the mission of the church as now.

So the Spirit of God through Matthew and John cites Zech. 9:9, omitting all that bears on His judicial dominion of the future, and bearing witness only to His lowly presentation of Himself as the true Messiah. And the reader may find illustrations of the principle elsewhere.

In the Epistles the same thing occurs. Thus in Rom. 3, the apostle quotes from Ps. 53 and Isa. 59, in order to prove that the Jews are condemned by their own inspired oracles as utterly as they condemned the heathen. There the apostle stops, and meets their demonstrated ruin by proclaiming propitiation through faith in the blood of Jesus for both Jew and Gentile. It is the gospel now. But the prophet, like the psalmist, goes on to His return and the display of His kingdom and the restoration of Israel. Both are true; yet they are not the same, but wholly different states: one following the grace of the first advent; the other awaiting the judgment of the quick when the Lord returns to reign over Israel and the earth. Those who confuse things so different have only to blame themselves and their guides, if they lose a great deal of both and see nothing as clearly as they might but for the oversight that misleads them. In that day no corrupters, no false teachers or prophets, nor antichrists, can be,—not even a crooked or perverse generation, nor any likeness to the days of Noah or those of Lot, though at the end Satan is let loose to sift all whose obedience was feigned, not being born of God.

What can be plainer than that the Lord contemplates but a "little flock" now, whilst the prophet speaks of Israel as a whole righteous in that day, and all nations as blessed? And no wonder; when they all flow to the common centre where the mountain of Jehovah's house is established, to be taught of His ways and to walk in His paths. But never will this be, till there be a day of Jehovah of hosts on all that is proud, haughty, and lifted up; never, till the idols pass away to the moles and to the bats; never, till from before His terror and from the glory of His majesty man is brought low, and Jehovah alone is exalted in that day (Isa. 2). For then, and not before, shall the Branch of Jehovah be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land be excellent and comely for those that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass that he that is left in Zion, and he that remains in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem (Isa. 4). It is holiness universally there, and universally in profession at least among all the nations. How different from the gospel a witness only unto all, and an eclectic gathering of saints for heavenly glory, while evil men and impostors wax worse and worse from apostolic days, holding a form of godliness but denying its power, till the apostasy and the man of sin bring down overwhelming judgment inflicted by the personal appearing of the Lord Jesus!

Again, the Lord warned the disciples, while having peace in Him, of tribulation as their portion in the world (John 16); and so the apostles among the Gentiles (Acts 14). In the days of the kingdom on the contrary shall the righteous flourish, instead of suffering persecution, and abundance of peace be till the moon be no more. How could it be other wise when the Lord shall sit on His own throne (Rev. 3:21), and have dominion not only in Zion but also from sea to sea and from the river unto the ends of the earth, when all kings fall down before Him, all nations serve Him (Ps. 72)?

Nor is it only that the bulk of N.T. exhortation to the saints and a vast deal of the O.T. will then cease to apply, because of so great a change as the overthrow of Satan, when Christ takes the reins as Messiah and Son of Man in power and glory over the earth, but the principle of dealing is wholly opposed. Now for instance, while the kingdom is a mystery, the Lord forbids His servants to root out the tares sown by the enemy among the wheat. Grace reigns here also, and the righteous suffer, and the wicked speak and act proudly. But in the end of the age (harvest time), all is to be reversed: the reaping angels shall at His word gather out of His kingdom all offences or pitfalls, and those that practise lawlessness for judgment. Then will the magnificent promises of blessing and glory be fulfilled on the earth, as the glorious purpose of God for the heavens also, when Christ is manifest as the Head over all things to the church His body, alike the King and the Priest, the true Melchizedek, as He is in His person also the most High God, possessor of heaven and earth.

Thus the question is, not whether the earth is to be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah's glory (which all believers, intelligently or not, do indeed expect longingly), but how such a blessed consummation is to be achieved. The prediction in substance occurs in Num. 14:21, Isa. 11:9, and Hab. 2:14; and in all it is associated with the execution of divine judgments, in no case (as has been hastily and erroneously assumed) by the preaching of the gospel, the action of the church, or the dealings of providence ordinary or extraordinary. It is an honour reserved for the Lord Jesus; and He alone is worthy. No one doubts that the Holy Spirit will be afresh poured out, the latter rain, for the blessing of that day. But as it is certain that favour shown to the wicked, as now in the gospel, will not teach him righteousness as it does us that believe (Titus 2:11-12), so we are assured by the prophet (Isa. 26:9, 10) that, when Jehovah's judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness. And as the Son is now revealed full of grace and truth, as every Christian owns in Jesus our Lord; so hath the Father given Him all judgment, whether over quick or dead, that all may honour the Son even as they honour the Father. The believer needs no such action (for we already honour the Son in the higher and deeper way of faith), and so has eternal life in Him, and comes not into judgment, having passed out of death into life already. But His judgment awaits not only all the dead destined to that final judgment, but those living when He introduces His world-kingdom. And this falls in perfectly with a scripture already cited from a crowd of others (Acts 3), which is conclusive that God will send Jesus from heaven, where He now is (while the gospel and the church are in operation here below), to bring in seasons of refreshing and times of restoring all things according to the prophets.

Here again we may exult as believers in the expectation which scripture forms, so essentially superior to human tradition. Those who have embraced the latter prophesy smooth things for the church and look for the reign of the gospel; and the earth's blessedness as the fruit of their own more and more triumphant labours, etc. We believe the solemn warnings of the N.T. as well as the O.T. prophets, and testify that scripture gives no warrant for any such self-exalting hopes from church, or gospel, or providence, for the world. Scripture on the contrary sets forth from the early days ruin and departure, which even apostolic energy only stayed in measure; and it uniformly and clearly and unmistakably assures that, whatever grace may effect by the word and Spirit, for the blessing of souls called to heaven, the mystery of lawlessness (which already wrought from apostolic days of Christianity) will ripen and rise into the open rebellion of the lawless one, only to be destroyed by the appearing of the Lord Jesus. Thus we look for Christ, not only as our heavenly hope but for the adequate execution of judgment on evil and the wicked, and as the revealed introduction of the earth's predicted blessing in power, when the church is glorified on high and Israel, repentant and believing, shall lead all the nations in the praise of their Lord and their God, even Jehovah Jesus.

It is evident then that the grand defect of theology, and even for pious souls otherwise sound in the faith, is the failure to see the purpose of God for His glory in Christ: a purpose for administration of the fulness of the times. And this is, as the apostle explains, to head or sum up the universe in Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth, in Him in Whom we also were given inheritance, being fore-ordained according to purpose of Him that works the whole according to the counsel of His will.

The epoch is not in the present, any more than in the past; nor is it the unchanging eternity, when Christ will have delivered up the kingdom to the Father, and God shall be all in all. Its essential character is Christ administering the universe as the glorified Man, and the church glorified with Him and sharing that vast inheritance, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. The eternal state neither admits of "administration," such as is here shown to be God's purpose; nor does it consist with "the fulness of the seasons," which will then have passed away instead of being in accomplishment. Eternity is not the kingdom in which the risen Man must reign, till He shall have put all the enemies under His feet, death as last enemy being brought to naught. In eternity the Son, instead of being thus displayed at the head of all and bringing to naught all rule and all authority and power, shall Himself be in subjection to the Father that subjected all things to Him.

On the other hand that administration is in no sense going on now, though Christ personally is both risen and exalted as head over all things to the church which is His body. By His death there is, as all must admit (John 11:52), a gathering together into one of the children of God that were scattered abroad; a baptising, as Paul adds, into one body, in the power of one Spirit, of all believers whether Jews or Greeks. For they are His co-heirs; and when He shall be manifested, then shall they also be manifested with Him in glory (Col. 3:4). Meanwhile we suffer with Him (a state but like His on earth, wholly opposed to that coming administration), that we may be also glorified together. Faithful is the saying; for if we died with Him, we shall also live together; if we endure, we shall also reign together. But our present state is in contrast with our hope, yet is there fellowship with Christ in both.

Grace is now gathering into union with the Head the members of His body; and the Holy Spirit is in our hearts earnest of the future inheritance, as well as unction and seal. But as the members are not yet complete, so Christ is still on the Father's throne. When the administration of the fulness of the seasons is come, He will not only receive His own throne, but give us to sit with Him there. Then it will be God not taking out of mankind a people for His name, a work distinctively of the elect, but gathering "all things" under Christ's headship. The things in heaven and the things on earth are in no way gathered together or summed up in Him now: this is the expression of God's purpose to put the universe under Christ as head over all, which only gross ignorance can confound with His headship of His body. It is the inheritance of Him Who is Heir of all things, as Heb. 1 says, and Reconciler of all things whether the things on the earth or the things in the heavens, as says Col. 1. But this very passage distinguishes our reconciliation (who once were alienated and enemies in mind by wicked works) as already effected, from that which awaits all the creation.

So does Rom. 8 show that we have now the Spirit of adoption (ver. 15), not only that we may cry Abba, Father, but while we groan, ourselves delivered (ver. 2), our bodies not yet, any more than creation around, as we await adoption, the redemption of our body (ver. 23). For the coming glory is to be revealed to usward in that day. And the revelation of the sons of God, which hinges on that of Christ, is the signal for the deliverance of creation itself also from the bondage of corruption (vers. 18-21).

No doubt the truth has suffered from its professing friends who have entered feebly, faultily, or at least imperfectly, into this immense and glorious purpose of God, and dwelt most if not altogether on its least and lowest part, the happy and holy change that awaits the earth, when Christ and the glorified reign over it. They have exposed their testimony to the taunts of those that object to the view of the glorified Christ coming personally and administering "a monarchical state of a kingdom here on earth" visibly in power and glory. To this Bishop Hall, as the first paradox § 8, opposes the words, My kingdom is not of this world (John 18). But it is written again (Rev. 11:15), "The kingdom of the world is become [that] of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign unto the ages of the ages." This certainly is not the present state of things, nor is it eternity, but the kingdom which He is to receive from Him Who is God and Father, and will deliver up to Him at the end for that unchanging and everlasting state. It is not the supremacy of God; nor yet a question of His peace ruling or arbitrating in the heart; any more than of His headship of the church. It is, what even the penitent robber anticipated, Christ coming in His kingdom, when the glorified shall reign with Him, and His enemies, according to the parable, be slain before Him. This is the coming of His world-kingdom, which theology ignores, and its votaries think "very strange news." If Fathers and Doctors of Christendom dropt it (some few in the third century, most since then), none ought to be surprised who remembers the apostolic warnings. The apostles themselves bear clear and ample testimony to Christ's coming and kingdom; as did the holy prophets since the world began. But how could even saints testify to a truth which condemned their abandonment of suffering with Christ and seeking to rule the world, which really means the world ruling them? Such a revolution the fourth century saw an accomplished fact; as the worldliness of previous centuries, even before the apostles passed away, paved the way for it.

What can be plainer than Peter's own words in that very context of Acts 3, the use of which so astonished the good prelate? "Repent ye therefore," he preached to the Jews, "and be converted, for the blotting out of your sins; so that seasons of refreshing may come from the Lord's presence, and He may send Jesus Christ that hath been fore-appointed for you, Whom heaven must receive till times of restoration of all things, whereof God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets since time began" (vers. 19-21). How evident that the repentance of the Jew, in the mind of the inspired apostle, must precede the mission of the Lord from heaven to introduce times of universal restoration, according to the prophets! These times coalesce with the administration of which we have heard in Eph. 1; only, as is Paul's wont, in a still grander and more comprehensive form. And how absurd to confound this period of universal blessedness for heaven and earth with "the end," when Christ shall deliver up the kingdom! It is neither more nor less than Christendom's unbelief as to the kingdom spoken of here and elsewhere. These Doctors do not know that the saints shall judge the world (1 Cor. 6:2); still less that we shall judge angels (ver. 3). They do not really believe in Christ's administering the universe at a period which is after the gospel and the church as now on earth, and before the eternal state, when there shall be no such thing as the world-kingdom of Christ, still less Israel, the nations, or kings.

Hence the importance of understanding Rev. 21:1-8, the fullest description of the eternal state in the scriptures; with which may be compared 1 Cor. 15:24 and 28, and 2 Peter 3:12. Nothing temporal is found in any of these passages. What has led many into error, and some of them able men and believers, is that they regarded Rev. 21:9-27, 22:1-5, as continuing to tell us of eternity. But it is demonstrable that this is not so. In fact the first eight verses of chap. 21 alone give that information, as the sequel of the successive events in Rev. 19-20. Whereas in Rev. 21:9, etc., we are taken back by a marked break in the vision, when one of the seven angels that had the seven bowls came and talked with John for an important retrospective purpose here, as was done before in Rev. 17:1, et seqq. In the latter case it was Come hither, I will show thee the judgment of the great harlot; in the former, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the wife of the Lamb. They have the analogy of most striking contrasts: the corrupt and corrupting city Babylon; and the holy city new Jerusalem. And, as I am here alleging, they both go back to describe objects of the deepest moment, which had been noticed historically before now but called for a full description later, that we might know their true character, and their relationships: the one to "the beast" and the kings of the earth who committed fornication with her; the other to the Lamb, and the kings of the earth who bring their glory unto it, as the nations do when they walk by her light which excludes all uncleanness, and lying, and abomination.

No wonder that the power of the Pentecostal Spirit only led the apostle to yearn for that blessed time, which is altogether distinct from the present one of the Saviour's absence, as well as from the eternal state when His administration closes and God is all in all. It is high time that these things should no longer be strange news to christian ears. Our Lord affirmed to Pilate that His kingdom is not of (ek) this world as its source. He receives it from God, and such is its character as no other is, all the rest being merely providential after He ceased to rule in Israel or Judah. Christ's kingdom is of Him immediately; and accordingly, as all may see, He assuredly did not deny in John 18 what He asked of the Father in John 17:22-23, "that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and lovedst them (i.e. the saints composing the church), even as Thou lovedst Me." It is in vain to argue that this will be in the gospel day of believing as in ver. 21. It is on the contrary a day of knowing, when the glory, of which the Lord speaks in those two verses, is revealed with its overwhelming proofs. Thus all hangs together, whether John 17-18, Rev. 11, or 21. It is the administration of the fulness of the seasons, also times of restoration, the universal testimony of the O.T. prophets, on which John impresses the final seal of the N.T.

It is indeed a feigned gloss of men that a single one of these scriptures speaks of Christ's judgment of the dead before the great white throne, which is represented there as taking place more than a thousand years after He comes in His kingdom. Never does God's word say or imply that Christ comes for that final judgment. It speaks generally of His judging living and dead (2 Tim. 4:1), of His being ready to judge both (1 Peter 4:5), and of the season being come when the seventh trumpet is blown (Rev. 11:18); but when details are given, the dead are shown to be judged only at "the end" when He delivers up His millennial kingdom, not when He receives it as He does to establish and administer it over the earth, and the universe indeed, when He comes on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. The scene of the great white throne and the judgment of the dead is long after His coming, and coincidently with it the fleeing away from His face of the earth and the heaven. Hence for this judgment His coming is out of the question: there is no earth at that solemn moment for Him to come to. The dead stand before the throne to be judged severally according to their works; but it is not His coming here, but their going before His throne, when the earth and the heaven flee which now are, and no place is found for them. This therefore is in no true sense His coming, any more than is a saint's departure at any time to be with Christ; though both are so called in that imaginary view which has no being but in theological tradition. Yet we are assured that this Jesus that was received up into heaven shall so come in the manner in which He was beheld going into heaven. Hence the Revelation puts the Lord's issuing for the judgment of the quick in chap. 19:11 et seqq.; then His reign of peace for a thousand years and of the glorified with Him over the earth in chap. 20; and (after a brief manifestation of man deceived once more and for the last time by Satan, which is not without special and profound moral value) the judgment of the dead when the heavens and earth that are now are dissolved (2 Peter 3, Rev. 20), followed by the new heaven and new earth for eternity (Rev. 21:1-8). It is well that pious men do not attempt a formal confutation of all this; for God's word is too strong alike for their light touches or their heaviest threats.

The second paradox is a mistake. The future kingdom of Christ does not exclude kings as scripture shows.

The third is due to confusion on all sides from lack of subjection to the truth that the believer does not come into judgment, i.e., the eternal judgment at the end. There accordingly in Rev. 20:11-15, we find none but the dead; and these dead, as the context proves, are exclusively the wicked. The blessed and holy had been raised long before. Even in O.T. times this truth ought to have been and was known. See Ps. 143:2: "Enter not into judgment with thy servant; for in thy sight shall no man living be justified." If even a saint, God's servant, came into His judgment, he could not be cleared: it would annul the force of judgment or deny the manifold faults of a saint. God will do neither. His judgment will take full effect on all that enter there. How then are any saved? "By grace have ye been saved through faith," because Christ bore their judgment, which therefore they shall not enter. If they did, they could not be justified; whereas they are already in this life justified by faith. All teaching is false which supposes that "both saints and sinners shall be judged." Our Lord Himself in John 5 expressly lays down on the contrary that the believer, the saint, does not come into judgment, but has even now eternal life, which is incompatible with it, and has passed from death into life. Such is the way of divine grace with all believers. They already honour God's Son by believing God's testimony to Him. Those who now dishonour His word and His Son by their unbelief cannot escape the judgment by-and-by and must honour the Son of man Who judges them. For in this capacity it will be. They disputed His divine glory. They denied His Sonship in the supreme sense. They despised or derided eternal life, His giving it or their need of it. As they dishonoured Him now, in contrast with all who bowed to His name in faith, He will raise and judge them at the end. For all must honour the Son. Happy they that do so by now believing in Him, receiving life, and doing the good that follows that divine nature; most miserable those that reject God's word and Son, and so have not life but only worthless ways, and therefore must be judged and thus honour Him perforce in that day.

It is true however that Matt. 25:31-46 describes a scene wholly distinct from the close of Rev. 20. For what can differ more than the time, and the persons concerned? In that Gospel it is expressly the Son of man when He shall come in His glory to the earth whence He went to heaven. Rev. 20 on the contrary is when His coming cannot be, because heaven and earth are fled and passed as they now are. And those gathered before Him in the Gospel are all the nations, the quick and none but the quick; and not all of them, for the Jews are shown already dealt with in Matt. 24:1-31, with the comparisons to 41; after which the judgment of Christendom in the three great intervening parables of the household servants, the ten virgins, and the servants trading with the Lord's goods, down to Matt. 25:30. It is therefore strictly the King's dealing with all the living nations or the Gentiles of that day, according to the way they treated His brethren who will preach to them the gospel of the kingdom before He comes and takes the throne of His glory over the earth. The sheep are the believing Gentiles in that day who did good to the preachers; as the goats are the Gentiles then who were utterly careless or cruel to His brethren through unbelief of the coming King. In Rev. 20:11 to the end, it is expressly the dead who are judged for their works, with not one living man among them.

Accordingly scripture never speaks of "a general judgment," and still less of an indiscriminate resurrection. 2 Cor. 5:10 does speak of manifestation before Christ's Bema (judgment-seat) for all without exception; but in no way is it insinuated that it will be at one time, still less all together. Hence the care of the Holy Spirit to say that we, the whole of us, are to be manifested. So saints will be every one before Him, and their fidelity or failure owned. We shall know as we are known. A great loss it would be, if there were no such manifestation for them; and position in the kingdom will be ruled accordingly. But it is not "judgment," for into this no believer comes, as the Lord declares and other scriptures confirm, if this were needed, which God forbid. But for the wicked, it will be judgment when they are manifested in their season before Him; for they have nothing but bad works without the Saviour and without life. And therefore we hear of a resurrection of judgment: two resurrections, not merely distinct, but in the strongest possible contrast of character. How profound the error that ignores their opposition and lumps them in one!

The fourth paradox rightly objects to a threefold coming of Christ. Scripture speaks of but two: the first, as to which all Christians agree; the second, when He comes in His kingdom, having received the saints to Himself as His prefatory act, that they may reign with Him. The notion that He will come to judge all at the end is a mere blunder of humanised theology, refuted by scripture. He will assuredly judge the dead at the end, the righteous having long previously been changed to reign with Him and judge the world in a kingly but glorious way, as well as evermore reigning in life by Him, when the kingdom is given up. But the dead stand before the throne, wherever it be, for their judgment, and therefore go to Him for this, instead of His coming when heaven and earth are no more, which scripture does not say but excludes. There is no double resurrection therefore, as in the fifth paradox, but as the apostle testified, and even orthodox Jews allowed, a resurrection of dead persons, both of just and unjust. These, we have seen from scripture are contrasted not more in time than in character. Judgment is given to the risen saints; the raised unjust are to be judged by the Lord Jesus. Nor is there the least ground for limiting the first resurrection to martyrs. Such martyrs as might have been thought too late are raised to join the mass of saints already raised at Christ's coming, so that all may share the reign for the thousand years.

Scripture gives no countenance to the sixth paradox of a threefold ascension to heaven.

The next half dozen of the Bishop's paradoxes need not detain us long, though like their predecessors they have often done duty for many who since his day to our own have opposed the premillennial advent of Christ.

Of these the first (or seventh in the entire series) is his objection to the restoration of Israel, i.e., of the ten lost tribes. Rom. 2:28-29, 9:8, he cites as the apostle's interpretation, delivering us all from slavery to syllables. Jerusalem is built up, said the witty prelate, not in the soil of Jebus, but in the hearts of believers. The answer is simple, clear, and sure. Impossible that the inspired apostle could contradict himself. The Bishop cites Rom. 2 and 9 in opposition to Rom. 11:25-26; which last beyond legitimate dispute declares that "all Israel shall be saved, after the fulness (or complement) of the Gentiles (now being called by the gospel) is come in." To overlook the marked distinction, to identify the Gentiles now with all Israel then, is to ignore scripture, and contradict the same apostle. Rom. 2 simply insists on the worthlessness of bare name and form, and the value of reality: true now, as well as in that day. Mere fleshly descent from Israel is unavailing. Therefore are unbelievers of Israel rejected now, as by-and-by they shall perish judicially when the Deliverer turns away ungodliness from Jacob.

His eighth paradox is that the saints when glorified should, as he calls it, meddle with earthly affairs. 1 Cor. 6:2-3, anticipates and rebukes this unbelief. "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life"? Our Lord had already taught so in Matt. 19:28; and so we read in Rev. 2:26-27 (to say nothing of Rev. 20:4-6, however mutually consistent and confirmatory); as Dan. 7:18, 27, and Zech. 14:5, had taught or implied long before. "Meddling" is an unsaintly thought and word; but when a saint slips into unbelief, irreverence follows. It will be a worthy exercise of love and glory which we shall share, and the Bishop too, with Christ the Lord.

His ninth is the living saints mortal and yet sinless. But why should it seem incredible that grace is thus to keep the living saints in a day conditioned by Satan bound, the Spirit poured out on all flesh, and the Lord Jesus reigning in power and glory? Instead of doubts, cavils, or fancies, it were better to weigh such scriptures as Isa. 60-62 and especially 65 where one at a hundred years is but an infant of days, and only dies then under an inflicted curse. This is not heaven surely, but the earth under the Lord's reign as never yet it has been. It is amazing that any believer should fall short of so blessed an outlook. Let the reader compare Isa. 11:12-13; 14:1; 19:24-25; 27:12-13; Jer. 3:17-18; 30:3-9; 31:1-9, 31-40; 33:14-26. For Ezekiel chaps. 35, 36 may suffice. The Minor Prophets are plain enough.

The tenth is the fulness of temporal blessing for the thousand years of Christ's reign. Here again it is the unbelief of the plain testimony rendered by the prophets as a whole, on the assumption that we are the people, and that God has no different scheme than the gospel, unless it be its eternal results in heavenly glory. What can be a more overwhelming refutation than the apostle Peter's discourse in Acts 3:19-21? It is the more impressive as so soon following the Pentecostal gift of the Spirit to us who wait for Christ and heavenly glory. But he presents also Christ sent from heaven on Israel's repentance to bring in the fulness of blessing on earth according to prophecy; which no Christian ought to deny or despise. Christ is the centre of all blessing.

His eleventh is that after all this reign men should be suffered to grow up and defy their governors. Such is the solemn issue of human weakness and of Satan's deceitful power for all not born of God, even after seeing glory for a thousand years (Rev. 20:7-9). It is a lesson lost for all who explain away these words. Unbelief in Christ's millennial kingdom leaves a gap irreparable, and in various respects of great moment for God's glory, no matter how orthodox we be otherwise.

The twelfth is the paradox of judgment then, especially when the angel before this swore that "time" should be no more. Zeal to censure here betrays gross ignorance; for Rev. 10:6, means not the end of time, but "no more delay or lapse of time." The mystery of God was to be finished when the seventh trumpet should sound and usher in judgment on both quick and dead. This leaves ample room for the thousand years' reign and more. The worthy Bishop did not understand the passage. There is no paradox.

His last is a supposed determination of a double hell and its place. We only know what God reveals of hell any more than of heaven. But it is undeniable, that, as in the Gospels Hades and Gehenna are not confounded, so in Revelation "the pit" or "abyss" is distinguished from "the lake of fire," which is final, and out of which none emerges. It is therefore seen contrasted with the new heaven and the new earth, the solemn background of the everlasting state (Rev. 21:1-8) which admits of no more change.

Section ix. need not detain us long; the strange and improbable consequents do not follow nor can be proved from scripture.

There seems some mistake as to Dr. Twiss' correspondence with Mr. Mede; for though the Works of the latter (fol. 4th ed. 1677) contain fifteen letters of the Oxford divine, not one "complete argument," instead of twelve, have I seen against the literal millennial reign, but the utmost respect and value for the views of his Cambridge Mentor. Even had it been a fact, the question is, What says the Scripture?

The first of Bishop Hall's "absurd" consequents is, "Thy kingdom come." And he is right that it is the Father's kingdom, but wrong in overlooking the very next petition. For the Father's will can only be done on earth as in heaven by the Son of man coming in His kingdom and putting down the power of evil. Hence they are duly connected, and await all things in heaven and all things on earth put under Christ, when we to share His exaltation over both as joint-heirs in glory (Eph. 1:10-11).

Secondly, what is there strange to one who believes the scriptures, that on earth men not born again should at length break out in rebellion when Satan is let loose at the end of that glorious age? It is a fresh trial, and even the sight of glory will no more convert souls then, than the Divine Presence and its solemn judgments did the unreconciled Israelites in the 40 years of the wilderness. Men might have thought otherwise. Scripture is clear.

Thirdly, the Bishop finds it hard to believe that, after His present work in the church is completed, the Lord should come to set up His kingdom, and take heavenly and earthly administration in the way of displayed power. But this is what scripture abundantly testifies, as we have already shown. Taking His leave, etc., may be left to Mr. Archer or others who add to scripture. The glorified are to reign with Christ.

Fourthly, it is a "misbecoming" consequent that a commixture of earth and heaven, risen and natural, etc., ensues. The error is in making Christ's public kingdom, either all earthly, or all heavenly, or a jumble of the two. His kingdom will have both heavenly and earthly things, but each in its own suited sphere. The glorified shall shine in the heavenly places; Israel and the nations be blessed on earth. Compare Matt. 13:41 and 43. The reign of the glorified is over, not "on," the earth. The A. and R. versions of Rev. 5:10 convey a regrettable mistake in this respect.

Fifthly, Luke 18:8 presents no difficulty to those who believe in the rapture of the saints before the day of the Lord falls on a guilty world.

Sixthly, it is strange lack of intelligence to oppose Matt. 19:28 to Matt. 20:26, the former future, the latter present. This is a real "consequent" of denying the millennial reign.

Seventhly, for the disembodied saints to leave their bliss for that reign seems to the Bishop a "main and choking objection." What! to be raised from the dead and come with Christ to share His reign over the world and indeed all creation? Is this "an apparent" disadvantage? The earth, small as it is in comparison of many an orb on high, has been the favoured theatre for manifesting God and His ways. Here man fell through Satan's wiles. Here Israel was called but departed from Jehovah. Here the Gentiles have turned world-power against God. Here the Second man glorified God and defeated the enemy. Here the Holy Spirit makes the church God's habitation, alas! now become as a great house with vessels from which a faithful man is called to purge himself. But here clearly, on the earth and in view of it above, all that God has wrought is yet to triumph at Christ's coming and in His future kingdom: man, Israel, nations, the saints, the church one with Christ, in that day of glory. No truth that the good Bishop holds is tarnished or touched; but a vast deal must be added, if we receive all that the prophets, and especially the N.T., have revealed. The solutions of Mr. A. and others, or the rejoinders, we may dismiss; but the truth is plain which many miss.

Eighthly, the children of the saints are no difficulty for either heaven or earth, any more than now. Isa. 65 has expressly solved the earthly question: in heaven there can be no doubt.

Ninthly, there are outward ordinances on earth, as scripture shows, with the immense change of our reigning with Christ in visible power and glory, the Holy Spirit poured on all flesh, and Satan absolutely restrained during the thousand years.

Tenthly, heaven is not dispeopled because by Christ the universe is reconciled to Himself—all things (not all persons), whether things on the earth or things in the heaven. The glorified will ever be at home in heaven; but they share Christ's reign over the earth for the thousand years. There they suffered with Him, and over that earth they are glorified together. Their heavenly glory has no limit, no term. Compare John 17:22-23, and Rev. 21:24, 26.

The eleventh seems only the fourth in other words, and a total mistake of the future condition of the kingdom.

The twelfth is just confusion. Christ comes to raise the sleeping saints and change those alive, that God may bring them with Him for His day. Pious as well as able and learned, the Bishop was not at home with such scriptures as these.

It is agreed that those who with Archer appropriate the first resurrection to martyrs only are not well advised. 1 Cor. 15, 1 Thess. 4, Rev. 4-5, Rev. 14, wholly subvert such a restriction. Indeed so does the first clause of Rev. 20:4; as well as Rev. 17:14, 19:14. The previous aggregate of the heavenly saints were those seen already risen and seated on thrones, before the resurrection of the two classes of Apocalyptic sufferers, who are in the subsequent clauses of the verse shown to rise now in order to join those before enthroned for the reign with Christ. They all compose the blessed and holy company of the first resurrection, in contrast with the wicked raised after that reign for judgment (Rev. 20:11-15). Alsted's hypothesis is in this unfounded; quite as much is the Bishop's idea that the future kingdom of Christ depends on this single scripture, rich and plain as it is, which defines its length, as properly pertaining to the Revelation to communicate. The Gospels and the Epistles do not treat of times and seasons; the book of Revelation does.

It is satisfactory for one who dislikes opposing a good and able dignitary that "we are now fallen upon the last part of our task." Yet is it sad to find that such a man labours, not to learn the divine intention in Rev. 20:4, but to show that we are not, by any necessity of the case, cast upon what he calls a Double Resurrection of the body, and such a millennial reign of the saints, as is contended for by many, to put the last phrase in a decorous form.

Now if the "Revelation of Jesus Christ" never had been sent and signified by God to His servant John, every Christian is responsible to believe in two resurrections (of course of the body), wholly different in object, character, and end, as well as in time, that of "the just" preceding the other of "the unjust." How long the interval between them falls very naturally to the province of the great N. T. book of prophecy rather than to the Gospels or Epistles. So beyond doubt is the fact. The Gospel of Mark (Mark12:25) gives us a note beyond the more general form of the Lord's answer to the Sadducees in Matt. 22, for the Lord is represented as saying, "when they shall rise from the dead." This is more than a resurrection "of" dead persons; it is rising "from out of them" (ek nekron). So His own resurrection is described (chap. 9:9-10) which led to questioning among the disciples what it could mean; not merely rising again, but rising from among dead men, and therefore previously to the mass.

Still more fully does the truth, so unwelcome to theologians, come out in Luke 20:34-36, where our Lord contrasts the sons of this age with those accounted worthy to obtain that age (the future millennial age), and the resurrection "from" the dead. Just so in chap. 14:14, He had shown the true time of blessed recompence to be in the resurrection (not general, as men say, but) "of the just." There is therefore and beyond controversy a Double Resurrection; the just being raised from among the dead, while the rest of the dead, the unjust, await a later action of the Lord. Those are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection; whereas these left for a later day are only raised for their doom.

It is however in the Gospel of John that the Lord opens this out, as bound up with His divine glory and His rights as Son of Man: exactly the place most appropriate. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour comes and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live. For as the Father has life in Himself, even so gave He to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of man. Marvel not at this: for the hour comes, in which all that are in the tombs shall hear His voice and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done ill unto the resurrection of judgment" (ch. 5, R.V.). What can be plainer, more blessed, or so solemn? The Gospel hour has been going on ever since Christ spoke, at least the hour of quickening souls that believe. By-and-by will come another hour, wherein He will raise the bodies of believers, of those "that have done good;" and before it closes, the bodies of evil-doers: two resurrections, so distinct, that He characterises the first as of life, the second as of judgment, into which, He had already laid down, the believer comes not, as he has eternal life and has passed out of death into life. They are thus in direct and exclusive contrast. Those having eternal life now by faith are quickened by Him, the Son of God; those who do not believe on God's Son cannot escape resurrection of judgment which He will execute as Son of Man. Thus does God secure His honour from every child of man. The believer bows before, and serves Him Who is God the Son, one with the Father, is quickened now, and awaits His coming to complete it in his body, a resurrection of life; the unbeliever rejects Him now and lives in evil, but must rise to be judged by the Son of man, and honour Him then and thus, to his own endless shame and perdition.*
{* In the Bishop's Paraphrase upon the Hard Texts of Scripture not a word appears of the least moment on this.}

In John 6:39-40, 44, 54, we have exclusively the resurrection of believers; and so in chap. 11:24-26. In the Acts of the Apostles Christ's resurrection is often urged. Again, we hear in chap. 17 of the resurrection "of" the dead also, and in chap. 24:15, of a resurrection of both just and unjust, but not a word implying both together, irreconcileable as it would be with what we have seen. In Rom. 8 a principle (and fact indeed) is laid down which absolutely severs the believer now from the unbeliever: position in Christ with possession of the indwelling Holy Spirit; and this in ver. 11 is applied to his resurrection, its complement. So 1 Cor. 15 develops the resurrection of believers only from that of Christ; and this with the deepest interest also in 2 Cor. 4-5, quite excluding unbelievers. This is not the aim in recalling the bewitched Galatians to the ground of grace, whence they had fallen into law and ritualism. In Ephesians the truth is carried yet higher in chap. 1, etc., and its result even now in chap. 2:5-6; but their state did not call for any pressure of a truth so familiar to the saints.

In Phil. 3 we have important and unmistakable evidence in chap. 3:11, where the apostle employs a word only found there, as far as scripture is concerned, giving an eclectic force to this truth. He calls it "the out-resurrection from among dead persons," to attain which he minded not difficulty, danger, suffering by the way—nay, courted what was fellowship with Christ practically. So, in vers. 20-21, he represents our citizenship, or commonwealth, as subsisting in the heavens, whence also we await the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour, Who shall transform our body of humiliation into conformity to His body of glory: language differentiating our resurrection from those who shall be raised for judgment. In Colossians we read of our death and resurrection with Christ, not of the future rising for saints or for sinners; but in 1 Thess. 4, we have this and more for the saints exclusively, as allusively in chap. 5:10. The Pastoral Epistles do not give direct occasion for statement of this truth, though of course fully implied; nor yet Hebrews, save for one (chap. 6:2) as part of "the elements," and chap. 11:35 passingly for the other; nor do the so called Catholic Epistles, though clearly involved, and all in the truest mutual consistency. For the christian association with Christ is the key. This is lost in the cold lifeless systematic divinity of Christendom, which hears not nor speaks but of a vague universal resurrection to judgment: in painful opposition to such a clear and vital scripture as John 5, quite as much as to the famous Apocalyptic text in question; and the former is so much the more serious, as the full gospel is thus lost, and the grand testimony also to Christ's honour, as His sure words prove.

How striking it is that the Bishop silently ignores, as do his followers to our day, the first and most widely as well as deeply interesting clause of Rev. 20:4! Not a word does he say on "And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them" (as in A. and R. Vv.).* But this betrays fundamental ignorance of the book as a whole, and leaves out the portion of both the O. and the N. Test. saints during that glorious period, which is an object of moment to the Holy Spirit only second to that of our Lord Himself. They had been seen in heaven ever since chap. 4 under the symbol of the glorified elders, afterwards appearing as the bride of the Lamb, and as the guests at her marriage; next, as the hosts following the Divine Warrior out of heaven, now reigning as kings and priests with Him over the earth. Need one urge how irreparable such a gap is! The object which the inspired John saw next in the vision, was "the souls of those that had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God." But again another class is, as usual, confounded with the former, "and such as worshipped not the beast neither his image, and received not the mark upon their foreheads nor upon their hands." These are in fact the two companies of holy sufferers who are found here below, while those of the incomparably higher class were already glorified above. One of these two is described as already slain under the seals (chap. 6:9-10); and they are told to rest until their fellow-servants also and their brethren, that were about to be killed even as they were, should be fulfilled. And so these last were, when the beast and the false prophet ruled, as chap. 13 etc. show. Now all the Apocalyptic martyrs (for such they were exclusively) are raised from the dead to join the already glorified on their following the Lord out of heaven, in time to share the millennial reign with Christ. Otherwise it might have been thought that they had lost all part in that bright time of glory; for they only bear witness and suffer, after the O. and N. Test. saints in general had been caught up to heaven; and they do not live to enjoy Christ's blessed reign as saints living on the earth, like those described in Rev. 7 and elsewhere.
{*In his Paraphrase Hall has nothing to say on it, save what is deplorably mistaken; faithful ones during Satan's imprisonment enthroned, "and the power of judgment committed unto them, to manage the affairs of God's church and to execute due censures upon the offenders!" A mere dream of episcopal "glory and majesty."}

Of all this the excellent Bishop Hall was as profoundly dark as are the saints generally speaking since his day and before it till now. The more pressing is the call of love to testify the truth with all plainness of speech. His efforts to get rid of the language in detail are pitiful. 1. It is not so many souls beheaded, but the souls of those that had been beheaded. 2. The prophetic past as equivalent to the future cannot apply to the beheaded; for they are shewn at this epoch to live and reign after being thus put to death. 3. It is sorrowful to hear a godly man say that "the living and reigning with Christ is either in this life, or in heaven; present, or future; in grace or in glory; in way of government, or of blessed fruition." It only proves his bewilderment. Any thing was welcome, except the plain truth of the scripture. So with 4, "the thousand years, either punctually determinate, or indeterminate." How evasive! 5. The First Resurrection, either of the soul or body, etc. "All these, then, well put together, cannot but afford us our choice of orthodox and probable interpretations! without any violence offered to the sense"!! Yes, they offer it a death by poison. "Among the rest, I shall pitch upon these two, as the most clear and free from all just exception." And then he offers, first, the semi-political position Christendom acquired, in the west at any rate, after Paganism was publicly disowned (as in the note cited from his Paraphrase); while the other alternative is endless glory for a wide extension of the martyr classes to admit any real Christian. And all this makeshift series of misinterpretations he caps with calling up "an odious Cerinthus or an exploded Papias" to cry down the dreaded testimony to a millennial reign when our Lord appears from heaven.

It is humbling to find in such speculations how far a mistake can lead one who truly feared the Lord, as he was also jealous for the authority of the revealed word in other cases where he held fast the truth. Such alas! are we all, when we forsake scripture for tradition.

It may sound wise for Christians to keep close to their old tenets; it is of faith to cleave only to what is revealed. Apostolic antiquity is alone reliable. What came in since is but human and erroneous, however ancient.

First, we are exhorted to fix not our belief upon any kingdom of Christ our Saviour, but spiritual and heavenly. But this is to slight our Lord's own intimation that the kingdom of God has earthly things as well as heavenly; that the Father's will is to be done on earth even as in heaven; that there is to be the Son of man's kingdom no less than the Father's; and that in the regeneration the apostles at least are to sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. No Christian should question reigning in heaven; but to reign with Christ over the earth is without doubt scriptural truth, and so clearly that it is his shame who questions it or its importance. Nor is it true but deplorable ignorance and error, that "this reign is attributed to the souls, not to the bodies of the martyred saints"; for the vision itself declares, that after being put to death, "they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years"; and the comment is, "This is the first resurrection." To compare it with the exhortation in Eph. 5:14 is a mere shift and wholly baseless. It is vain to imagine difficulties in face of our Lord's own words, to cite none of His apostles as could easily be done.

Secondly, we are not to think of any absolute freedom from sin here below. Who contends for this? Isa. 66:17-25 is a glowing prophecy of the kingdom; yet the midst of it, ver. 20, is explicit that, even while Christ reigns over the earth and Satan is bound, sin may be, as it must entail death and curse. And in Ps. 18:43-44, we read that when He is made Head of the nations, strangers may render no more than a feigned obedience; as in fact Rev. 20:7-9 shows hosts seduced and rebelling and destroyed when that reign is over. But during its continuance texts like John 16:33, Acts 14:22, do not apply; for He then reigns over the earth, Who heals all diseases as well as forgives all iniquities, no doubt establishing His throne in the heavens, but ruling over all in such sort as the world has never yet beheld.

Thirdly, to expect Christ's coming only for final judgment (i.e., the great white throne) is to ignore the blessed hope, and to sink into the fear (however real) of a guilty world. How unworthy of a Christian teacher! No believer questions our Lord's judging quick and dead; and every intelligent one sees His appearing and His kingdom bound together (2 Tim. 4:1), contrary to the bishop's scheme, at His presence with all His saints (1 Thess. 3:13), instead of an unseen glory in the heavens. When the final judgment takes place, heaven and earth are fled: so that it is no coming of His (for there is no earth longer to come to), but all the dead (not before raised) summoned before Him for judgment. The time of the restitution of all things at His coming from heaven has no real place in all this unbelieving and defective system.

Fourthly, not to put the judgment far from us, nor yet punctually to determine its time, is language that betrays the grossest confusion. The Thessalonians were alarmed by the false rumour that the day of the Lord was actually come—not impending, but present. This the apostle dispelled, but so as to recall to the constant waiting for Christ to take us on high; which is a quite different truth, not judgment on the earth, but our proper hope of heaven with Him. The good bishop is painfully dark, confusing both with the judgment of the dead when the world is passed away.

It is not denied that Alphonsus, Conradus, Cotterius, etc., on one side, and on the other that Alstedius, Archer, etc., have erred in their speculations and computations. But no one hardly has been more thoroughly wrong than the grave, learned, and pious bishop under review, who counted himself modestly resting in revealed truths, while ignoring and denying in any true sense the world-kingdom of the Lord Christ (Rev. 11:15), and holding out an unscriptural jumble of what he calls "that awful and glorious coming of our Lord and Saviour." For himself it is right to cherish love and respect; but it seems a duty to prove how utterly baseless was his opposition to the truth, not only of Christ's coming to receive us to Himself for the Father's house, but of the kingdom of power and glory that follows, with the solemn judgment of the dead at the end. The error of a good and able man is apt to be all the more deplorable in its effects. The worth of his true testimony in other respects draws a crowd of admirers, many of them pious, into his wake, even when he has drifted into a stream of error; and error is always mischievous, because it deprives so far of God's truth and of Christ's glory.