« הקודםהמשך »
I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set his 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. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them : and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 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.
And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations.
In pursuing our argument on the authority of Holy Scripture, we were led in our first Discourse to commence an inquiry into the genuineness and inspiration of the Apocalypse. It was stated, on that occasion, that in the age in which it was written the Book of Revelation was received as an inspired work of the Apostle and Evangelist St. John. The question was then proposed, How came it to pass that in the third and fourth centuries doubts were entertained by some concerning its divine authority? To this a reply was found in the fact, that a portion of this book—the twentieth chapter—was misinterpreted, and made to bear a sense repugnant to the general tenour of Holy Scripture; and that this misinterpretation owed its origin to Judaizing prepossessions and to oral tradition, and to an incorrect view of the plan of the Apocalypse: that it consisted in imputing to that chapter the doctrine commonly called the doctrine of a Millennium; that is, of a personal reign of our Saviour Christ, together with His Saints, on earth, for a period of a thousand years before the General Resurrection and the Day of Judgment.
It was observed, that no sooner was this doctrine imputed to the Apocalypse, than the Apocalypse itself declined in repute: and that, unhappily, some persons, instead of refuting the human misinterpretation, rejected the divine Book; but that in course of time the misinterpretation was refuted; the doctrine of a Millennium was exploded ; and that no sooner was this the case, than the Apocalypse arose to its former position. You were reminded, also,
that for a period of ten centuries, that is, from the middle of the fifth to that of the fifteenth, there was scarcely a Church or person of any note in Christendom who did not receive the Apocalypse, or did not reject the Millennium; and that by our own Church the former is acknowledged to be inspired, and the latter condemned as heretical.
This doctrine, however, it is well known, has been revived in our own time, and is now propagated with industrious zeal, and appears to have laid a strong hold on the public mind : and for this reason also, as well as from its intimate connexion with our present subject, the Apocalypse, we were led to bring the doctrine of the Millennium to the test of Holy Writ; and we found (to adopt the language of our own Church) that it “is repugnant to Scripture."
Now, since, in the words of our twentieth Article, “ one place of Scripture” may not be so expounded “that it be repugnant to another,”—and, therefore, much more, one passage may not be so interpreted that it contravene the general tenour of Scripture,we conclude that, whatever may be the true meaning of the twentieth chapter of the Apocalypse, the doctrine of the Millennium cannot be. We may not always be able to discern the real sense of a passage of Scripture, but we are bound to believe, that its true sense, when discerned, would be seen to be in perfect harmony with the whole tenour of Holy Writ.
We are often blind, but Scripture is always consistent. It is also our duty to expound the dark places of Scripture by the clear ones, and to interpret the single texts of Scripture by the whole
proportion of Faith ; and therefore we greatly err, if we take up a single chapter of such a mysterious book as the Apocalypse, interpreted by us according to our own notions, and spread it like a thick cloud over the broad light of Scripture, instead of letting in the bright beams of Scripture to illumine and disperse the cloud *.
We would also remind you, my younger hearers, of what is too often forgotten, that a wrong interpretation of Scripture is not Scripture; and that it is only the true meaning of the Bible which can properly be called the Bible; and that they cannot be said to be really zealous for the perfection and sufficiency of Holy Writ, who would impose upon you their own notions of Scripture as Scripture. They do, in fact, substitute human imaginations for the Divine Word; and so they make Scripture to be very insufficient and imperfect : and when they speak of Scripture as sufficient and perfect, they are not contending for the sufficiency and perfectness of Scripture, but for the sufficiency and perfectness of their own wit.
* Tertullian well says, Adv. Prax. c. 20. Tribus capitulis totum Instrumentum utriusque Testamenti volunt cedere : cum oporteat secundum plura intelligi pauciora. Proprium hoc est omnium hæreticorum ; pauca adversus plura defendunt.
Therefore let me earnestly exhort you to be on your guard. Exercise your reason; use all the aids of learning; but lean not on your own understanding * Be not carried away by any private notions concerning the sense of an isolated passage of Scripture, but compare spiritual things with spiritual t. Remember that Scripture, as a whole, is your Rule of Faith, and receive nothing as the sense of any particular passage which is at variance with this Rule: and since the doctrine of a Millennium cannot be reconciled with Scripture as a whole, beware how you receive it.
Remember, also, that Almighty God has not only given us Scripture as our Rule, but He has also vouchsafed to us a guide for its application; namely, the Christian Church. In the words of our twentieth Article “the Church hath authority in controversies of Faith.” Do not then imagine that any private interpretations of Scripture are to be received as Scripture, if they are opposed to what the Church declares in her Creeds to be the true sense of Scripture. And inasmuch as the Doctrine of the Millennium is inconsistent with Scripture, as interpreted by the Church in the Creeds, (as was shown in the last Discourse,) let no private persuasions beguile you to adopt it. By so doing, you would not only embrace a doctrine fraught with pernicious results, but you would be giving up the fundamental
* Prov. iii. 5.
† i Cor. ii. 13.