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diate re-appearance of Jesus Christ, what did St. Paul say? Did he tell them a Millennium would first ensue? No; he that letteth will be taken away.
Antichrist would then be revealed, the Son of Perdition; and then the Day of the Lord will come—come suddenly—not after a fixed period— but like a thief in the night*. What, again, did St. Peter teach? Was it that the heavens and earth, as they now are, would be kept in store, reserved for the habitation of Christ in this lower world? No; they are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment t; and then the Saints of God, as St. Paul | teaches, who are alive, will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, (not to dwell with Him on earth,) and so be ever with the Lord. What, in fine, does St. John teach in the Apocalypse itself ? At the sounding of the seventh Trumpet, that is, a short time before the coming of Christ, the voices in heaven say, Thy wrath is come, and the time, or season 5, of the dead to be judged ;
2 Thess. ii. 1-3. It appears probable that St. Paul, in his Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, (2 Thess. ii. 2.) alludes to Millenarian notions, propagated by Judaizers in Thessalonica, (Acts xvii. 5. 13. 1 Thess. ii. 14.) which abounded with that class. See Gieseler, Eccl. Hist. § 50. They studiously propagated the opinion that “the day of the Lord was at hand,” and appear to have forged an Epistle in St. Paul's name, to countenance that notion. Many other spurious writings were current, which were fabricated with this view.
† 2 Pet. iii. 7.
and that thou shouldest give reward unto Thy servants, the Prophets and to the Saints * Therefore the Reward of the Saints and the General Resurrection will be contemporaneous. And, again, we there read that Christ will come suddenly-come quickly
a thief in the night; that, behold, He cometh in the clouds, and that EVERY eye will see Him; they also who pierced Him t.
Such is the teaching of Holy Scripture, not in one isolated passage, nor in one single book, but throughout the New Testament; and I now leave it to you to decide, whether this language can be reconciled with the doctrine of a Millennium.
Next, as we have seen, this doctrine is repugnant to the teaching of the Church. The Church is the Guardian of Scripture; it is also its divinelyappointed Interpreter; and that man has but little judgment, and ought to have less authority, who sets up his own private opinions against the public judgment and authority of the Church.
If the doctrine of the Millennium be true, it is a most important doctrine ; and being so, it would doubtless have found its place in the public confessions of the Church. But there is no Creed in Christendom in which it is to be found; and it is contradicted by the Creeds received in the Universal Church.
* Rev. xi. 18.
† Rev. i. 7.
Some persons in the Church, we allow, did once hold this doctrine. But they were not the Church *. We should do wrong to them and ourselves, if we permitted them to have dominion over our faith t. St. Cyprian erred in the matter of heretical baptism. St. Augustine erred concerning the authority of certain Ecclesiastical books; and he erred in some other respects: and he had the courage and the wisdom publicly to avow and to retract his errors. But none of the Fathers erred so far as to imagine himself infallible, or to persist in error when proved to be such. Let us not, therefore, be told that Justin Martyr, and Tertullian, and Irenæus, and Lactantius, believed in a Millennium; and that therefore it is true. But let it be shown to us in Scripture. Let it be shown to have been the faith of the Church. It may be shown in the writings of some few Fathers in one or two centuries, and we can show how it came into those writings; by oral tradition, and from the dreams of Judaism, and from an incorrect view of the Apocalypse. It may be shown in Papias : but let it be shown to us in Clement, in Ignatius, in Polycarp—the disciples of St. John. Remember, when the grandsons of St. Jude, the
Neander Eccl. Hist. ii. 324. (Rose's Translation.) “We are not to understand that Chiliasm ever belonged to the universal doctrines of the Church."
† 2 Cor. i. 24.
brother of our Lord, were brought before the Emperor Domitian, in the very age in which the Apocalypse was written *, (for, as Herod feared the first coming, so the Emperor feared the second coming of Christ,) and when they were asked by the Emperor concerning Christ and His kingdom, their reply was—not that there would be a Millennium, in which Christ would reign with His Saints on earth, but they said ; “ His kingdom will not be on earth, but it will be angelical and heavenly. It will appear, when He shall come in glory to judge the quick and dead, and to give every man according to his works." Such were their words to the Roman Casar. But why do we speak of particular testimonies? As we have said, the doctrine, when broached, was examined by a diligent search into Scripture, and it was condemned, as we have seen, by the Church Universal in her Creeds. And it is due to such wise and holy men as Irenæus and Justin, to conclude, that if they had lived after, instead of before, such examination and public sentence of the Church, they would have reformed their opinion by her judgment; and, instead of setting up their own notions against it, they would have sided with Origen, and Dionysius, and Eusebius, and Jerome, and Augustine, and with every theological writer, without exception, of any reputation, for a thousand years, from the fifth to the fifteenth century.
* Euseb. ii. 20.