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what is this expectation founded ? Has it unequivocally the warrant of any express declaration of holy writ?
Or is it anything more than a mere traditionary tenet, which from time immemorial has in some way obtained currency among the pious ? How few are there of the vast multitude of those who habitually have this kind of expression upon their lips, who are able to give a reason of the (millennial) hope that is in them ?:-how few who really and truly, on this point, 'know what they say or whereof they affirm?'
Let it be observed, however, that our interrogatory concerns not so much the belief, that a 'brighter and benigner period is yet to dawn upon our world—that an era of preëminent peace, purity, and prosperity, constituting what is frequently called “the latter day glory,' is yet destined to bless the globe, succeeding and compensating the years wherein we have seen trouble;' for this is abundantly testified by the predictions of the former and the latter prophets, and shadowed forth under many a significant parable, type, and allegory. The point of our inqury is this: On what sufficient grounds has this period come to be limited, in the minds of Christians, to the precise term of a thousand years, after which it is supposed that a grand defection is to ensue, and the followers of Christ to be again reduced to a diminutive handful? Judging from other portions of the prophetic oracles, our conclusion would certainly be altogether the reverse.
Dan. 7: 18, 27, The saints of the
Most High shall take the kingdom and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him." Again, Dan. 2: 44, “ And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed : and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all those kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” These annunciations would certainly seem to preclude the prospect of any mere secular empire ever acquiring that ascendancy which it is yet supposed will be acquired by the post-Millennial Gog and Magog of the Apocalypse.
To this we are aware it will be replied, that the 20th chapter of the Revelation, in announcing that the Dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, shall be bound and shut up in the bottomless pit a thousand years, and that the souls of them that were beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and the word of God, should live and reign with Christ a thousand years, while the rest of the dead should not live again till the thousand years were finished,' affords a sufficient warrant for the general expectation of the Christian world on this subject. This, however, it will be observed, is alleged on the presumption, that the millennial period spoken of by John is yet future, the very point which we shall endeavor to show is gratuitously assumed. Upon this presumption the labors of nearly all preceding expositors have been unhesitatingly based, and the object which they have mainly set themselves to accomplish has been, to fix the period of the commencement of this golden age of Zion. With this view they have constructed various arrangements of the chronological eras of the seals, trumpets, and vials; of the reign of the beast, and the resurrection of the witnesses ; while for the leading characters of the period, they have had recourse to what they conceive to be the parallel announcements of Isaiah and other ancient prophets, not doubting that their sublime visions of ultimate glory to the church pointed to precisely the same epoch with the Millennium of the Apocalypse. Now in all this we are constrained to believe, that the tower has been begun to be erected before the foundation was properly laid. For with one who takes nothing for granted in the matter of biblical exposition, the first inquiry would naturally be, What is to be understood by the Dragon or the Satan (the adversary) who is to be bound ?—what by his binding ?-and what by the Bottomless Pit (Abyss) in which he is represented as being shut up? For as the book of Revelation is couched throughout in a continuous series of symbols or hieroglyphics, the inference a priori is, that the Dragon is as truly a symbolie personage as the Beast with whom he acts in concert, or the Woman clothed in scarlet and purple, and drunk with the blood of the saints, portrayed as seated upon the beast and swaying his movements. If the Dragon be taken for the devil literally and personally, or the prince of fallen spirits, what, we ask, can possibly be intended by his being described with seven heads and ten horns ? The truth is, this portion of the hieroglyphical scenery of the Revelation, on the common interpretation, never has been, and never can be, satisfactorily explained. The great point, therefore, which the reader will find labored in the ensuing pages, is to settle clearly and demonstratively the symbolical import of the Dragon, for upon this the whole doctrine of the Millennium mainly hinges. In connexion with this, the writer has endeavored, at some length, to show the recondite meaning couched under the emblem of the Abyss into which the Dragon was cast, and to fix with as much certainty as the subject will admit the precise political powers shadowed forth by the mystic denomination of Gog and Magog.
The plan of this work unavoidably forced upon the author the necessity of somewhat of an imposing array of learned citations; for this he bespeaks the indulgence of his reader. If the inquiry could have been conducted without them, his pages would not have been encumbered with a mass of matter of so repellent a character. As the quotations, however, are all translated, he hopes the mere English reader will not be deterred, by the formidable aspect of his pages, from prosecuting a perusal to which the title-leaf and the table of contents may perhaps invite him.
Finally, the writer solicits a charitable view of the causes which have led him to the adoption of a theory of the Millennium so diverse from that generally entertained. In his own mind he is concious of having embraced it from no motive of broaching a novel hypothesis, for in truth it is not novel. He has been forced purely by stress of evidence to adopt the conclusion announced, and, in some sort, supported, in the ensuing work; and as his object has been to exhibit in a connected view the chain of proofs which have determined his own convictions, he feels free to demand, as matter of common justice, that the reader should sit in judgment, not, in the first instance, upon the conclusion itself, which must necessarily encounter a host of prejudices, but upon the sufficiency or insufficiency of the reasons alleged in its support. Let the premises be refuted before the conclusion is denied. This conclusion, whether sound or not, involves, indeed, the startling position that the Millennium, strictly so called, is Past; but that the writer has not been led to embrace or utter this opinion merely from a perverse love of paradox, and that he has no disposition ruthlessly to pluck from the bosom of the Christian or the philanthropist so fond and sacred a hope as that of a coming age of light and glory to the church, without offering any thing to compensate the spoliation, will be evident to every one who shall be sufficiently interested to