Christopher Wordsworth
On the Doctrine of a Millennium

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The Creation Concept

Contents

Characteristics of the Apocalypse

Origin of the doctrine of a Millennium in Judaistic preconceptions

The Rabbinical idea of a Sabbatical Millennium

A Parallel in the case of the Epistle to the Hebrews

Congress and Conference on the Millennium

The doctrine of a Millennium called heretical

Judgment of the Church of England

Pleas of advocates

Erroneous notions of the Plan of the Apocalypse

How Scripture is to be interpreted

The Millenarian doctrine "repugnant"

Notes and References

Christopher Wordsworth. Lectures on the Apocalypse: critical, expository, and practical: delivered before the University of Cambridge. F. & J. Rivington, 1849. pp. 42-77.

LECTURE I. On the Doctrine of a Millennium.

[Go to LECTURE II]

Characteristics of the Apocalypse

Rev. xx. 1—3.

And 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 hound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

The Apocalypse, or Book Of Revelation, closes the Canon of the Old and New Testament; [1] and, in this respect, it demands special attention. The peculiarities, also, of its style, and the solemn import of its prophecies, require the most earnest reflection. And the circumstances of the eventful period in which, by God's Providence, our lot is cast, cannot fail to draw the mind of the devout and thoughtful Christian to serious meditations on the prophetical portions of Holy Scripture, especially the Apocalypse; and if there is any portion more than another of the Sacred Volume which ought to be approached with sober and reverential awe, it is assuredly this mysterious book. Hence, therefore, they whose office it is rightly to divide the word of truth, (2 Tim. 2:15) are solemnly bound, as occasion offers, to provide such instruction for their hearers as may serve to guide them to a profitable study of the words of this prophecy. (Rev. 1:3)

These considerations appear to me of so much weight, that, being now enabled and invited by the reverend and learned the Trustees of the Hulsean Lectureship to resume the former argument, commenced and pursued in the Lectures of last year, concerning the Canon of Holy Scripture, I propose to devote the time allotted me to the Apocalypse; and to conclude the whole with a summary of what has been said in preceding discourses, concerning the Canon of the Old and New Testament.

May the Holy Spirit, Who spake by the Prophets, and descended in tongues of fire on the Apostles, and Who sheds His bright beams of light upon the Church, so illumine our minds with His heavenly radiance, that we may have grace to perceive the truth, and power to declare the same!

The proof of the Inspiration of the Apocalypse is involved in the question of its right interpretation; and upon the present occasion it will be my endeavour to show, by a remarkable example, that this divine book has been brought into discredit by a false interpretation, concerning a question of solemn importance; and that its honour has been vindicated, and its authority retrieved, and can only be maintained, by a true Exposition.

This, as will be seen, is a very interesting enquiry, and leads to the most instructive results both in doctrine and practice.

There is scarcely any book in the whole Bible whose genuineness and inspiration were more strongly attested on its first appearance than the Apocalypse. No doubts whatever seem to have been entertained on these points. This I propose to show more at length on another occasion. [2] Suffice it now to say, that Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenseus, Melito—that is, eminent teachers of the Church, in the next age to that in which it was written—proclaim that its writer was St. John, the beloved Disciple of Christ.

Such was then the voice of the Church.

And yet it is no less true, that in the third and fourth centuries of the Christian era many private persons, and even Churches, especially in Oriental Christendom, questioned its canonicity. For example, [3] St. Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, does not mention it in his catalogue of the Canonical books of the New Testament; nor does St. Gregory of Nazianzum. St. Amphilochius, Bishop of Iconium, [4] speaks of it as of doubtful authority; [5] and it does not appear in the Canon ascribed to the Council of Laodicea, in the fourth century.

Origin of the doctrine of a Millennium in Judaistic preconceptions

Are not these things, it may be asked, somewhat strange? Can they be accounted for? If so, by what means? Can it be shown that these doubts, to which we have now referred, do not in any degree invalidate the proof, that the Apocalypse is the work of St. John and the Word of God?

In reply to these enquiries, let me first remind you that the Jews of our Saviour's time, misunderstanding the figurative language of ancient prophecy, imagined that the Messiah would be an earthly Potentate, and that he would rule in triumphant majesty in the city of Jerusalem for a period of a thousand years. [6]

You will remember, also, that in the first and second centuries there were many false teachers who corrupted the Gospel by amalgamating it with Judaism. One of the most celebrated of these, Cerinthus, is characterized by the Ecclesiastical historian Eusebius as an Ha?resiarch, and an enemy [7] of Holy Scripture; and it is recorded, that such was St. John's abhorrence of his opinions, that he would not remain in his company, nor even abide with him under the same roof. [8]

Cerinthus embraced the Jewish tenets concerning a temporal Messiah, who would reign gloriously for a thousand years in the earthly Jerusalem. According to these notions, Paradise was to be revived in Palestine. The Saints were to be raised from their graves, and to enjoy in Sion a millennial banquet of Elysian bliss.

This doctrine, thus transferred from the Synagogue into the Church, was eagerly embraced by the enthusiastic followers of Montanus in Phrygia. [9] Nor was this all. Some even eminent in the Church espoused it. Of these one of the first was Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis, in the second century. He, we are informed by Eusebius, was a man of ardent zeal, but of slender judgment. [10] It is also recorded of him—indeed, he states it of himself—that he did not set so much value on what he read, even in the Scriptures themselves, as on what he heard from oral tradition. [11] He gave currency in his writings to certain fantastical fables, [12] which he had received on hearsay; one of which was the doctrine of a millennial reign of Christ on earth. This tenet, it is added, he imputed to Apostolic language, which he had erroneously understood in a literal and material, [13] whereas it was spoken in a figurative and spiritual sense. [14]

The facts and doctrines of Holy Scripture have been allegorized into shadowy parables by the wild and destructive licentiousness of some expositors; [15] but, on the other hand, the literal interpretation of what is spoken figuratively in Holy Scripture, especially by the Prophets, has been one of the most prolific sources of error. It generated the carnal notions current among the Jews in our Saviour's age, concerning the Messiah's temporal reign on earth; and so it was one of the most powerful hindrances to the reception of Him Whose kingdom is not of this world. (John 18:36) It suggested the question of St. John himself, and of his brother, St. James: Grant, Lord, that we may sit, the one at Thy right hand, and the other on Thy left, in Thy kingdom; (Matth. 20:21; Mark 10:37) and it is remarkable that our Blessed Lord appears to have given in the present chapter, the twentieth, of the Apocalypse, rightly understood, a correction of those earthly notions concerning Himself and His kingdom—a correction so much the more striking, because it is supplied by St. John, who, as we know from the petition just quoted, once entertained the Jewish notion of a millennial kingdom of the Messiah on earth, and aspired to fill a place of eminence and dignity in it. [16]

So deeply rooted was this expectation of a temporal reign, even in the hearts of the Apostles, at the very close of Christ's ministry, that the last question which they are recorded in Scripture to have addressed to Him was,—Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? (Acts 1:6. Compare Luke 17:20) Again, this literal mode of interpretation produced another misapprehension concerning St. John himself. If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee f said our Blessed Lord of him. (John 21:22) Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die. They understood literally what our Lord had spoken figuratively. It was for St. Peter to follow Christ to the cross, but for St. John to tarry till Christ came, and took Him to himself by a natural death: and, in a higher spiritual sense, St. John was to tarry in the world, in his Gospel and in his Apocalypse, which reveals the history of the Church even to the end; and thus St. John tarries with us till Christ comes.

The Rabbinical idea of a Sabbatical Millennium

Still further: It is well known that an opinion was entertained by many of the Jewish Rabbis, from whom it was borrowed by some early Christian teachers, that as the world was created in six days, which were succeeded by a seventh of rest, so it would endure for six millenary periods, to be followed by a Sabbatical Millennium. [17] It will appear, from these considerations, that many of the primitive Christians, especially those of Jewish extraction, were predisposed to misunderstand, in a carnal sense, the prophecies concerning the Second Advent: and we shall not be surprised that such an exposition of the twentieth chapter of the Apocalypse should have been adopted by Cerinthus, who is called by the Fathers half a Jew; [18] or by Papias, who was more eminent for zeal than for some other qualities which are requisite in an interpreter of Scripture; or by others, however learned, who passed from the Synagogue into the Church.

Such, then, was the origin of the doctrine of the Millennium.

Papias, by reason of his piety and antiquity, exercised great influence. Eusebius [19] expressly testifies that the propagation of this dogma was mainly due to him. We need not wonder that it should have been embraced by Tertullian, whose Montanistic bias prepossessed [20] him in its favour; nor that it should have been, in some respects, sanctioned by Justin Martyr, when we recollect his Jewish extraction, and his Platonic training; [21] nor that it should have been adopted by Lactantius, who appears to have derived it from the Sibylline oracles; [22] nor even that it should have found, to a certain extent, an advocate in Irenaeus, paying, as he himself informs us, a tribute of respect to Papias, the companion of Polycarp, the scholar of St. John. [23]

Let us pause here to observe two facts.

I. First; that no doubt was entertained by any of these parties, to whom we have now referred, concerning the genuineness and inspiration of the Apocalypse. They all received it as a work of the Apostle and Evangelist, St. John. And to speak only of one of them, Papias. [24] Whatever may be thought of his authority with respect to a question of doctrine, yet it must be regarded as high, concerning this matter of fact. lie might easily, from previous impression, or from defect of judgment, or insufficient care, be deceived as to the meaning of a particular passage in such a book as the Apocalypse. But, living as he did at Ilierapolis, in Asia, the country to which the Apocalypse was first sent, and within a few years after it was written, he could not easily have been mistaken with regard to the fact of its authorship. And when we remember that his affirmation is corroborated, as [25] we shall show hereafter, by other witnesses of the same country and age, and by internal evidence, his testimony appears to prove beyond the possibility of a doubt that the author of the Apocalypse was St. John.

II. The second circumstance to which I refer is this: No sooner were Millenarian doctrines imputed to the Apocalypse, than the Apocalypse itself declined in repute.

I do not say that it was rejected. But it was felt that these Millenarian doctrines were inconsistent with the general teaching of Holy Scripture; and hence many in the Church began to show symptoms of restlessness and perplexity concerning the Apocalypse, to which these doctrines were ascribed. And it may be added, that the feeling of distrust and anxiety, produced by the same causes, still lingers in the minds of some even to this day, and operates to the prejudice of this divine book.

A Parallel in the case of the Epistle to the Hebrews

The case of the Apocalypse in this respect is similar to that of the Epistle of the Hebrews. Both these books were received as divine as soon as they were written. But doctrines, inconsistent with the plain drift of Scripture taken as a whole, were imputed by some persons to them both. The Novatian heretics fixed on the sixth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Here they entrenched themselves, and planted the standard of their heterodoxy. So the Millenarians thought themselves impregnable in the twentieth chapter of the Apocalypse.

And what was the consequence?

Both these books of Scripture, being thus misinterpreted, were in danger of being discredited, and were rejected by some even otherwise orthodox writers. Instead of examining whether these two books did or did not teach the erroneous doctrines ascribed to them, the persons, to whom I now refer, were uuhappily overreached by the bold assertions of their opponents, and cut short the matter by surrendering these books as apocryphal. Thus, for instance, Caius, [26] a celebrated Roman Presbyter at the commencement of the third century, in his controversy with Proclus, a follower of Montanus, abandoned the Epistle to the Hebrews. And it is remarkable, that the Montanists, who built their stern unrelenting discipline of penance on the sixth chapter of that Epistle, based their Millenarian doctrines on the twentieth chapter of the Apocalypse; and that this same Roman Presbyter, who gave up the Epistle to the Hebrews, [27] not only  surrendered the Apocalypse, but even was carried so far, in his hatred of the Millenarian doctrines imputed to it, as to ascribe it, either in whole or in part, to the Judaizing heretic, Cerinthus. [28]

For such reasons as these, doubts were entertained in the Church of Rome concerning these books. And let us observe, in passing, that if the Church of Rome had really been, as she professes to be, the sole Guardian of Scripture, and if Scripture depended upon her for its authority, as she pretends, then Christendom would have been in great danger of losing two Books of the New Testament,—the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the Apocalypse.

Next, let us remark the subtlety of the ArchEnemy of man in his aggressions against the Word of God. He not only inspired heretics to compose false books, and to propagate them as Scripture, but he tempted them to pervert Scripture by false interpretations; and thus he made Scripture itself appear to be heretical. Nor was this all: he tempted even such pious men as Papias unwittingly to abet their artifices by an overweening zeal for oral tradition; and he tempted such learned men as Caius to abandon portions of Scripture, because they had been perverted by heretics!

Let us observe, also, the striking fact, that this very chapter—the twentieth chapter of the Apocalypse—in which Satan is represented as a captive, bound by the chain in the hand of Christ, and as cast by Him into the bottomless pit, was perverted by Satan into an occasion of triumph to himself against the Church, in causing thereby the temporary and partial rejection of the book in which the prophecy of his own doom is contained. [29]

Behold here, my beloved brethren, a most striking proof of Satan's craft and of human weakness!

But, now, mark the glorious operation of God's Providence in vindicating His own Word!

The manner in which the Epistle to the Hebrews was retrieved has engaged our attention in a former Lecture. [30] We speak now of the Apocalypse.

The same person was employed by Almighty God in maintaining the inspiration and genuineness of both these Sacred Books—the learned teacher of Alexandria, Origen. He showed that the Apocalypse had been misinterpreted. [31] He gave its true exposition, and so restored it to the Church.

Congress and Conference on the Millennium

The school of Origen gave birth to Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria, [32] one of the greatest Doctors of the Church, in the third century; distinguished alike by learning and charity.

It appears, that in his age Millenarian doctrines had spread themselves widely in Africa. Inspired with zeal for the souls committed to his care, he repaired in person to the Churches in which these opinions prevailed, and summoned the Clergy of his diocese to a conference, at which many of the laity also were present. A book, in which those tenets were promulged, was made the subject of patient discussion for three days. The Bishop tested each of its propositions by Scripture, and carefully examined the allegations of the Millenarians. The result was most gratifying. The Clergy thankfully acknowledged the benefit they had derived from their Bishop's fatherly care; and the principal champion of Millenarianism among them ingenuously retracted his opinions, and acknowledged that they had no foundation in the Word of God. [33]

Dionysius was followed in the next century by St. Jerome. He [34] declares that the witness of Christian antiquity proclaims the genuineness and inspiration of the Apocalypse. He eloquently expresses his own admiration of the glorious splendours of this divine Book. [35] At the same time, no one could protest more strongly than St. Jerome against Millenarian doctrines. He calls them "Jewish fables." [36] He affirms that their advocates do not comprehend the Apocalypse. He is not one of those, he says, who have here a continuing city: (Heb. 13:14) no; he looks not for an earthly but for a heavenly Jerusalem, which is the mother of us all. (Gal. 4:26) He asserts that they who interpret the Apocalypse according to the letter, must Judaize. [37] He eulogizes the exposition of Dionysius, in which that venerable writer repudiated, what he terms, "the fable of the thousand years, and of the earthly Jerusalem, glittering with jewels and gold; and the restoration of the Hiero-Solymitan Temple; and the immolation of bulls and goats; and a new Kalendar of Sabbaths; and the victorious march of armies; and the furious din of battles; and the pompous pageantry of triumphs; and the voluptuous revelry of banquets." [38] These, he exclaims, are the feverish dreams of fanatical enthusiasts; not the sober deductions of sound reason, nor the fruits of holy meditation on the Word of God.

Such is the language of St. Jerome.

His testimony is of greater weight, because, when he thus wrote, he dwelt in Palestine, at Bethlehem, at the close of the fourth century, and had familiar intercourse with the Rabbis of that age, and had been led to examine carefully the Jewish notions concerning the Millennium; and because the Churches of the East at that time had been beguiled by Millenarian arguments, extorted from the Apocalypse, to look with somewhat of distrust on that sacred book. Therefore, the assertions of St. Jerome, concerning the Apocalypse and the Millennium, reiterated as they are in almost all his expository works on the Prophecies, are to be regarded as the results of cautious investigation, and the deliberate verdicts of a well-informed judgment on these important points.

The doctrine of a Millennium called heretical

Another of the greatest luminaries of that learned age was St. Augustine. He also was led to examine this subject with scrupulous care. Millenarian doctrines had been prevalent, as we have seen, in his native country, Africa, in the preceding age. He himself had once [39] held some of these tenets, in a modified form. But he had seen reason to renounce them. [40] At that time, also, when the unwieldy fabric of the Roman Empire was now tottering to its fall, and he that letteth was ceasing to let, (2 Thess. 2:7) and the consequent rise of the Antichristian power was apprehended, and the whole structure of European society was convulsed from its base by the shock of barbarian irruptions, and men's hearts were failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which were coming on the earth, (Luke 21:26) their attention was naturally arrested by the Apocalypse.

In the longest work, one of the latest, which that great Father composed, his Treatise "On the City of God," written on the occasion of the tumults and panics caused by the incursions of the Vandal armies in Africa, and almost while his own city, Hippo, was beleaguered by a siege, in the midst of which he breathed his last, [41] St. Augustine discoursed on the Millennium. Perhaps no more valuable commentary on any portion of Scripture, certainly no more interesting one, can be found, than that which was written on the Twentieth chapter of the Apocalypse, amid the storm of arms, by the aged Bishop of Hippo. It will be found in the twentieth book [42] of his work on the City of God. Let me commend it to your careful perusal.

In it St. Augustine taught, as Origen, Dionysius, and Jerome had done before him, that the Apocalypse is the Word of God; and that the doctrine of the Millennium is not in the Apocalypse.

The question seemed now at rest. It was generally regarded as heretical, either to reject the Apocalypse, or to believe a Millennium. [43]

And such was the case for a thousand [44] years from that time. But, alas! after their expiration, amid the many extravagances which marred the beauty, and crippled the power, and damaged the success, of the Reformation of Religion in certain parts of Europe, in the sixteenth century, the doctrine of the Millennium was revived. [45] It soon bore its fruits. It showed itself not only in religious fanaticism, but also in civil licentiousness. Some who held it in that age, and in the next century, affirmed that the era of a Fifth Monarchy had now dawned on the world; that all other governments must be overthrown to make way for the reign of the Elect; and that they themselves were the Saints, the glories of whose Millennial reign were predicted in such glowing colours in the Apocalypse.

The confusions which they produced in our own Church and Nation are well known to you. Let me pass from them to remind you, that no sooner was the Millennium again preached from the Apocalypse, than the Apocalypse again declined in repute. Some great men of that age fell into the error of Caius. Instead of correcting the error of those who misinterpreted the Apocalypse, they visited their offence on the Book which they had misinterpreted, and rejected it, instead of refuting them.

Thanks be to God, such was not the spirit of the Church of England. She rejected the human misinterpretation, and retained the divine Book. By acknowledging, as she does, the authority of the Creeds, she condemns the doctrine of the Millennium. That doctrine is irreconcileable with the assertion, that when Christ cometh again, He will come to judge all men; that He shall come from the place where He now sitteth, at the right hand of the Father, to judge both the quick and dead; that is, to judge those who are alive on the earth, and those who are in their graves; and that "His kingdom,"—the kingdom which will then be gloriously established,—shall not be merely for a thousand years, but "shall have no end;" and that, to cite the words of the Church in the Athanasian Creed, at Christ's "coming, all men" (not the Saints only, but) "all men, shall rise again with their bodies, and shall give an account of their own works; and that they that have done good shall go" (not into the Millennial mansions of an earthly Jerusalem, but) "into life everlasting; and they that have done evil into everlasting fire."

This is the Catholic Faith. It is not the doctrine of the Millennium. [46]

Nor was this all.

In the year 1530, the Millenarian doctrines were censured by the most eminent among the continental Reformers, Melanchthon, [47] Luther, and others, in the Augsburgh Confession. [48] "Christ," say they in that public Formulary of Faith, "will come to judgment, and will raise all men, both bad and good; and we condemn those who are now propagating the Judaistic opinion, that, before the General Resurrection of the Dead, the Saints will reign on earth." [49]

Calvin says, "The error of the Millenarians is too puerile to deserve or require refutation. [50] Nor does the Apocalypse give any countenance to them."

Still more; The Church of England reprobated the doctrine of a Millennium, in a special [51] Article, in the reign of King Edward VI., in the year 1552. "They (she says) that go about to revive the fable of hereticks, called Millenarii, be repugnant to Holy Scripture, and cast themselves headlong into a Jewish dotage." She condemns it also in her fourth Article, where she says that "Christ ascended into heaven, and there sitteth, until He return to judge all men, at the last day." [52]

Judgment of the Church of England

And further: This doctrine is at variance with the Public Prayers of the Church of England.

It is irreconcileable with the language of the Collect for the first Sunday in the season of Advent, in which she prays, "that at the last day, when Christ shall come again in His glorious Majesty to judge the quick and dead, we may rise to the life immortal." It is irreconcileable with the prayer in the Order for the Burial of the Dead, that Christ would "shortly accomplish the number of His elect, and hasten His kingdom; that we, with all those that are departed in the true faith of God's holy name, may have our perfect consummation and bliss in body and soul in His eternal and everlasting glory."

Such, then, is the judgment of the Church of England concerning the Millennium.

It is unnecessary to remind you that she entitles the Apocalypse, "The Revelation of St. John the Divine."

Thus she rejects the Millennium, and receives the Apocalypse.

We should have been very unmindful of our duty, if we had not entered on this subject with feelings of reverent devotion for the Divine Word, and with an earnest desire of confirming your faith in its integrity and inspiration, and of increasing your gratitude to God for enduing our own Church with grace and wisdom, and enabling her to be a faithful witness and keeper of Holy Writ.

What a high dignity is this! What a glorious privilege! Yes; and believing with her that the Word of Almighty God is yea and amen, (2 Cor. 1:20) so that it cannot be inconsistent with itself; and that, like its Divine Author, it has no variableness or shadow of turning; (James 1:17) and that, in her words, "the doctrine of the Millennium is repugnant to Holy Scripture;" and that if it could be proved from the Apocalypse, the Apocalypse would not be Scripture; and knowing, as we do, from the history of the Church, that wherever this doctrine has been imputed to the Apocalypse, the Church has been in peril of losing the Apocalypse; and seeing with sorrow that this doctrine has been revived in this our day, and is now propagated with industrious zeal, therefore we would say, with affectionate and respectful earnestness, to all who suppose that they find the Millennium in the Apocalypse,—Be on your guard; beware lest you lose the Apocalypse. Take heed lest you cause others to lose it. Remember, the belief of the one has produced the rejection of the other. Remember, too, what first led to the ascription of that doctrine to the Apocalypse—oral Tradition; Tradition, contrary to God's written Word. You justly charge Rome with making the Word of God of none effect by her traditions. (Mark 7:11; Matth. 15:6) Take heed lest you give a triumph to Rome, and bring discredit on yourselves, by preaching this doctrine derived from oral tradition,—tradition, it is true, commended by Papias, Justin, and Irenaus, and exercising a wide and dominant influence; and so teaching the Church, by a memorable example, how unsafe it is, in matters of doctrine, to abandon the solid substance of the Divine Oracles, and to catch at the airy shadows of human memories. [53]

Take heed, also, lest you, who belong to a Protestant Church, and revere the principles of the English Reformation, expose yourselves to a charge of inconsistency, by maintaining a doctrine condemned by the most eminent Reformers, and by the Church of England herself.

Take heed, likewise, lest you give encouragement to the recklessness or supineness of profligate or thoughtless men, by flattering them with a delusive hope that the day of their great account will be prorogued for a thousand years after the coming of Christ.

Pleas of advocates

But the advocate of Millenarian doctrines may perhaps allege that he does not desert the Word of God: that he clings to it: that he believes the Apocalypse to be Scripture; and that he finds the Millennium there. It is no fault of mine (he may proceed to say) if this doctrine displeases some, or leads them to reject the Apocalypse. I believe the doctrine, and I receive the Book; and I love the Book, because it contains the doctrine. I appeal to the Twentieth chapter. There Jesus Christ descends from heaven: He chains Satan for a thousand years; the souls of the just live; this is the first resurrection: they reign with Christ a thousand years on earth in the new Jerusalem; they are set on thrones, and judgment is given them: then Satan is loosed for a little season to deceive the nations, to gather them to battle, to war with the Saints; and then Satan is vanquished and bound for evermore; and the rest of the dead are raised, and the universal judgment ensues: and the righteous ascend to heaven, and the wicked are cast into hell.

Here, he affirms, is the doctrine of the Millennium; "and I hold that doctrine," he says, "because I find it in the Apocalypse, and because I believe the Apocalypse to be the Word of God."

Such is the language of those who maintain a Millennium.

Erroneous notions of the Plan of the Apocalypse

We have spoken already of two causes of the Millenarian error; and now we are led to mention a third. This is to be found in an incorrect view of the plan of the Apocalypse.

The advocates of this doctrine have commonly supposed that the Apocalypse is, if we may so speak, a continuous prophetical history, flowing on in a regular chronological stream from the beginning to the end. [54] This being their theory, they are necessarily led to regard the events of the Twentieth chapter as subsequent to those of the Nineteenth; and since the nineteenth terminates with the destruction of the Beast and the False Prophet, and with the great Victory of Christ in the mystical conflict of Armageddon, they cannot conceive that the Twentieth chapter refers to events of earlier date, or indeed to any thing else than a period posterior to that great triumphant catastrophe.

But this theory is, I am persuaded, very erroneous. The Apocalypse is not a consecutive Prophecy. Rather, it is to be regarded as a synoptical system of co-ordinate Prophecies. And so it was regarded by the Ancient Expositors. They perceived that it consisted of frequent anticipations and frequent recapitulations; [55] that is, they saw that the inspired Writer, borne as it were on the wings of the Spirit, hastened on to future events, which he would again describe more fully hereafter; and that, when he had arrived at the brink of the consummation of all things, he suddenly returned, either to the first age of Christianity, or to some intermediate point; and then, beginning, as it were, from a fresh source, travelled down by a new stream; and that he did this at several successive times.

For example: they did not imagine that the addresses to the Asiatic Churches are to be limited to those seven Churches, but in their opinion, they are to be applied by a figurative expansion to the Christian Churches of every age and country.

Again: the period of the seven Seals, according to them, extends to the end of time; and, with the opening of the seventh, the Evangelist commences again at the initial point from which he had before proceeded; and he declares more fully in the Trumpets, what he had before revealed in the Seals.

So, again, after the sounding of the sixth Trumpet, he receives the open Book, (Rev. 10:8) and reverts to an earlier period, whence he advances forward; and after the sounding of the seventh Trumpet he returns to the first origin of the Church, (Rev. 12) and traces its history, with reference to a particular power—that of the Beast—even to the end. He then returns to speak of the seven Vials, (Rev. 15:1) to be poured on the Empire of the Beast; then he reverts to describe more fully the judgment of the Harlot seated on the Beast: (Rev. 17:1) and thence he proceeds to the eve of the end. This is the close of the nineteenth chapter.

And what now is the subject of the Twentieth Chapter?

The Seals being all opened, the Trumpets having all sounded, the Vials being all poured out, he reascends once more, and once for all, [56] in order to declare what Christ had done for His Church, even from His incarnation; how He had bound Satan; how He had preserved His faithful servants in every age; [57] how He had done His part, and would do so unto the end, that all men should be saved: how He had offered heavenly glories to all who are true to Him: how even out of the mouths of babes and sucklings He has ordained strength; (Ps. 8:2) and thus He showed that the failings and miseries of men, which had been described in such vivid colours in the preceding visions of this book, were due to themselves alone; and that all God's acts toward man were done in equity and love.

This twentieth chapter, then, is the summing up of the whole Revelation. [58]

Viewed in this light, it is in perfect harmony with the whole. It is the moral epilogue of this sublime drama. And when so regarded, it gives no countenance to Millenarian notions.

How Scripture is to be interpreted

Let us now return to examine the reasons above pleaded in behalf of these opinions.

On these allegations I would first observe, that the greatest caution is to be used how we attempt to build any doctrine on an isolated passage of Scripture. A doctrine which is based on one text of Scripture will generally be found to rest on no text at all. Scripture is not so poor as to have only a few syllables to bestow on an article of Faith. We are specially and solemnly warned in Scripture that prophecy is of no private interpretation. (2 Pet. 1:20) We are commanded to compare spiritual things with spiritual; (1 Cor. 2:13) and to interpret Scripture, not from one passage, but according to the proportion of faith (Rom. 12:6)—that is, according to the symmetry of the whole—and not to mar that proportion by an interpretation at variance with it.

Now, to repeat the words of our own Church, it cannot, I think, be denied that the doctrine of the Millennium is "repugnant to Scripture."

Scripture teaches us that Christ, Who has appeared once on earth for our salvation, has ascended into Heaven, there to prepare a place (John 14:2) for His faithful people: that the many mansions promised to them (John 14:2) are not in an earthly city, but in His Father's house: that the Saints, when raised from the dead, will be equal to the Angels, (Luke 20:36) and will therefore be citizens of Heaven; that being lifted up on high, (John 12:32) He draws all men to Him; that He Who has been taken up into Heaven will remain in Heaven till the restitution of all things: (Acts 3:21) that as He ascended into Heaven, so He will come, in like manner, (Acts 1:11) with His Holy Angels, once again, and only once, not to reign on earth, but to awaken, not the Saints only, but all men from their graves, and to judge the world. That day, in which the Saints will arise from the dead, is called by Christ Himself the last day. This is the Father's will, (says He,) that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. (John 6:39) And observe, He calls the day of judgment also the last day. He that rejecteth Me hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. (John 12:48) Therefore, there will be no Millennial interval between the Resurrection of the Saints and the Universal Judgment: no; they will take place on one and the same day—the last day. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, (1 Cor. 15:52) the Lord shall descend with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and the trump of God: (1 Thess. 4:16) and the dead shall be raised. (1 Cor. 15:52) The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty Angels. (2 Thess. 1:7) The hour is coming (as He Himself says) in which, not the righteous only, but All that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:28, 29) It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this (not a Millennium, but) the Judgment. (Heb. 9:27) The Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father with His Angels, and then He shall reward Every man according to his works; (Matt. 26:27) and Whosoever shall have been ashamed of Him and of His works, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed when He shall come in His glory. (Luke 9:26) The Lord Jesus shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing. (2 Tim. 4:1) When the Son of Man shall come in His glory, and all the Holy Angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory, and before Him shall be gathered All nations; and He shall separate them one from another. (Matt. 25:31, 32)

Such are the words of our future Judge Himself: from them it appears, that, when He comes again, they that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Dan. 12:2) [59]

Still further: It is clear also from Scripture that the present mixed state of things will continue, as it now is, to the Day of Judgment, and will be immediately succeeded by that day. The tares and the wheat will grow together in the field of the world, even unto the Harvest, which is the end of the world (Matt. 13:30-39)—the Last, the Great Day. The Lord of the Harvest will then send forth the Reapers, who are the Angels, to gather up the tares, and to bind them in bundles, to burn them, and to store the wheat in His Barn. So, again, the chaff will remain mixed with the grain on the threshing-floor of this world till the Judge comes, with the fan in His hand, to purge His floor, (Matt. 3:12) and to winnow the one from the other. The good and bad fish will remain together in the net of the Church, till it is drawn to shore, and then the good will be gathered into vessels, and the bad be cast away. (Matt. 13:48) The bad and good guests will remain at table together till the King comes to see them, (Matt. 12:10) and to cast the man without the wedding garment into outer darkness. The wise and foolish virgins slumber and sleep, till at midnight a cry is made, and the Bridegroom comes: and they that are ready go into the marriage, and the door is shut. (Matt. 25:1-12) These Parables show that the present mixed state of things will continue till Christ comes; and that then a full and final separation will take place: and they teach us plainly the solemn truth, that there is no Millennial gulf betwixt Time and Eternity.

Again: what was the language of the Apostles? When the Thessalonians were expecting the immediate 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. The Man of Sin would then be revealed, the Son of Perdition; and in due time, the Day of the Lord will come—come suddenly—not after a fixed period—but like a thief in the night. (2 Thess. 2:1-8) [60] 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; (2 Pet. 3:7) and then the Saints of God, as St. Paul (1 Thess. 4:17) 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, of the dead to be judged; and that thou shouldest give reward unto Thy servants the Prophets, and to the Saints. (Rev. 9:18) 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—come as a thief in the night; that, behold, He cometh in the clouds, and that Every eye will see Him, they also who pierced Him. (Rev. 1:7)

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.

The Millenarian doctrine "repugnant"

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 divinely appointed 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 found; on the other hand, it is contradicted by the Creeds received in the Universal Church; and if it were a true doctrine, then Christ's promises to His Church (John 16:13; 14:26) would have failed.

Some persons in the Church, we allow, did once hold this doctrine. But they were not the Church. [61] We should do wrong to them and ourselves, if we permitted them to have dominion over our faith. (2 Cor. 1:2) 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 certain of the early writers of the Church, for instance Justin Martyr, and Tertullian, and Irenaeus, and Lactantius, believed a Millennium, and that therefore it is true. But let it be shown in Scripture. Let it be shown to have ever 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 brother of our Lord, were brought before the Emperor Domitian, in the very age in which the Apocalypse was written, [62] (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 Caesar. 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 Irenaeus 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.

We must pause here for the present. What the true interpretation is of the twentieth chapter of the Apocalypse remains to be seen; and this will be considered in the next Lecture.

Notes and References

1. It is ***, as it is called by S. Gregory Nyssen, tom. iii. p. 601, de Ephraemo, Lampe Prolog, ad Joann. i. cap. 5, 13, p. 80. Ames Theolog. i. c. 34, 35. Canonem V. T. constituerunt Prophetae et Christus Ipse suo testimonio approbavit. Canonem N. T. obsignavit Apostolus Joannes divina auctoritate instructus Apoc. xxii. 18, 19. Vetustiores Apocalypsin pro Sigillo universae Scripturae habuerunt. Anon. ap. Allatiuin de libris Eccles. Graecorum, p. 48. ***.

2. See below, Lecture III.

3. Cateches. iv. xxxvi. p. 66, ed. Bened.

4. The original words of these authorities will be found in the Appendix to " Lectures on the Canon."

5. It has been asserted, by some modern learned writers on the Apocalypse, that it is never quoted by St. Chrysostom. This is a mistake: there is an evident allusion to it in his first homily on St. Matthew; and Suidas, in voce ***.

6. Lightfoot, i. p. 209, ed. 1684. Hottinger. Hist. Eccl. i. p. lo2. Incunabula Chiliasmi in Talmude sunt quaerenda. Buxtorf. de Synag. Judaic, c. xxxvi. *** numerus mysticus apud Judaeos: "Messiae dies sunt mille anni," say the Rabbis; see the authorities cited by Mede, Works, book v. chap. iii. p. 892; by Wetstein, Nov. Test. ii. p. 886, in Apoc. xx. 2. Sex annorum millibus durabit hic mundus; veniet Messias tempore matutino millenarii sexti. Dies septimus respondet millenario vii quod totum Sabbatum est.

7. Euseb. iii. 28 (quoting Caius), ***. See Isidorus Orig. viii., Cerinthiani, a Cerintho nuncupati, mille annos post resurrectionem in voluptate carnis futuro3 prsedicant, unde et Grsece Chiliastse; and S. Augustine De Hseres. viii. p. 40, ed. Bened. Paris, 1837. Audiendi non sunt (says S. Jerome, in his recension of Victorinus in Apocalyps. Bibl. Patr. Max. iii. p. 421) qui mille annorum regnum terrenum confirmant, qui cum Cerintho hseretico sapiunt. See also Nicephor. H. E. iii. 14, concerning Cerinthus, the promoter of Chiliasm.

8. Euseb. iii. 28.

9. Gieseler, Eccl. History, 46, observes that Phrygia was the cradle of Montanism and Millenarianism, which, he adds, was taught in spurious writings. (Cf. 50.)

10. Euseb. iii. 39. ***.

11. Euseb. iii. 39. ***.

12. Euseb. iii. 39. ***.

13. Euseb. iii. 39. ***.

14. Hottinger. Hist. Eccl. i. p. 154, Hanov. 1655. Hujus sententiae (Chiliastica:) auctor traditur Papias, scriptor quidem vetustissimus, sed, teste Eusebio (iii. 39), exigui judicii homo, qui neglectis Scriptis Apostolicis diligenter sectabatur traditiones seniorum: et ita hunc errorem allegoricis loquendi modis Prophetis et Joanni cumprimis in Apocalypsi usitatis deceptus, imbibit.

15. See Rosenmiiller, Hist. Interp. iii. 41—52, and Bp. Marsh on the Interpretation of the Bible, Lect. vi. and ix.

16. Very excellent are the observations of the learned Dr. Solomon Glasse on this subject, and very necessary to be considered in the present times:—Philol. Sacr. Amst. 1711, Praef. p. 23. Si tropicus sermo proprie fuit intellectus, absurdissimarum opinionum monstra peperit. In ipsa Christi schola ruditatem discipulorum ejus, et praeconceptam de regno terreno opinionem inter alia ortum ex eo sumpsisse certum est, quod vaticinia Prophetarum quibus illi regnum Messiae magnifice admodum describunt, et ad illustrandam ejus amplitudinem spiritualem metaphoris utuntur, ut proprie dicta cum vulgo Judaeorum intellexerunt. Eandem originem Chiliastarum error obtinet, in ipsis statim Ecclesiae incunabulis, et sequentibus, qnem et nostro hoc aevo a nonnullis Christi de nomine gloriantibus revocatum novimus: dum scilicet ea quae a Prophetis de Ecclesiae gloria et pace verbis a rebis terrenis desumptis sunt praedicta, prorrie accipiuntur, atque ex iis, per suave somnium, Ecclesiae status formatur ejusmodi, ut triumphos meros agat, et pace temporali sine afflictionum obturbantium nube fruatur, atque ita iter ad regnum coelorum afflictionibus consecratum praecluditur, alia aperta via quam neque Christus instituit neque suos docuit.

17. See the passages in Cornel, a Lapide, Wetstein, and Vitringa, in Apoc. xx.; and the recent observations of Abbe Gaume, in his Preface to his Histoire de la Societe, pp. 132—137. The remark of St. Augustine, that the other six days (Gen. i.) are said to have consisted of a morning and evening, but that evening is not mentioned in the case of the seventh day (De Civ. Dei, xx. c. 7), ought to suggest a more spiritual application of the history.

18. Epiphan. haeres. 28. Philastr. haeres. 36. Damascen. haeres. 28. Verisimile est (says Gerhard, 1. c. xxxii.), hoc suum Millennia dogma ex Synagogae mammillis suxisse.

19. Euseb. iii. 39. Cf. Gennad. (flor. 480) de Eccl. Dogm. c. 25, ap. S. August, tom. viii. p. 1699. Appendix, ed. Paris, 1837. The following is from Fleury Hist. Eccl. Liv. iii. c. 15:—"Papias enseignoit qu'apres la resurrection des morts, J. C. regneroit corporellement sur la terre pendant mille ans. Ce qui venoit de quelques traditions qu'il avoit mal entendues, ayant pris au pied de la lettre des expressions figurees. Car il avoit l'esprit fort petit. Cependant son antiquite et son amour pour la tradition lui ont acquis une telle autorite que de grands hommes l'ont suivi dans cette erreur des Millenaires."

20. See Tertullian c. Marcion, 24, where he appeals to "apud fidem none prophetiae Sermo."

21. Plato de Rep. x. p. 761, E. Phaedr. p. 1223, D. Virgil. AEn. vi. 748.

22. Inst. vii. 24 and 26; vide Betul. ad loc. Cf. Casaubon Exerc. Baron, i. n. xviii.

23. Iren. v. xxxiii. ***.
What is stated above in these Lectures seems to me to be a sufficient answer to the argument drawn from the authority of Irenaeus and Papias. But, if some should think it improbable that any persons living near the age of St. John, and associates of his scholars, should not understand correctly a passage in the Apocalypse; and that later expositors should interpret it more accurately, let them be desired to observe,
1. That St. John's office in the Apocalypse was that of a Prophet, and not of an Interpreter: and that as Daniel did not understand the meaning of his own visions (Dan. xii. 8. viii. 27), so St. John himself was called to see and to write, but not to explain, except so far as the Angel enabled him to do so.
2. It may seem strange to some, but it is certain that even in some matters of fact, St. John was better understood by the fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries than by his own scholars and their associates. Irenceus himself says (Lib. ii. c. 39), that our Blessed Lord's ministry, which commenced in his thirtieth year, extended to the fiftieth year of his age; and he adds, " that all his own predecessors who had associated with St. John in Asia, bear witness that St. John himself delivered this tradition to them." Could he say more than this on this point? does he say so much concerning the Millennium t If now we turn to the writers of the fourth and fifth centuries, we find Eusebius (H. E. i. 10) rightly affirming that the duration of our Lord's ministry was not four years; and Theodoret (ad Dan. ix. tom. ii. p. 1250, ed. Hal. 1770) asserts, that it was three years and a half; which he justly argues from the four passovers in St. John's own gospel.
This is another striking proof, may we not call it a providential one—of the necessity of searching the Scriptures; and of the insufficiency of oral tradition.
If Irenaeus did not correctly interpret St. John's Gospel, in an historical matter, and if he appeals to his predecessors for a wrong interpretation of it, he might surely be in error as to a mysterious point of doctrine in the Apocalypse: and as it is due to him to believe, that, if he had lived after Eusebius and Theodoret, instead of before them, he would have sided with them in the former matter, and, if he had lived after Origen, Dionysius, St. Jerome, and St. Augustine, he would have been of their mind, and of that of the whole Church, in the latter.

24. Papias received it as inspired (see Andr. Proleg. in Apoc.). Iremeus, who cites Papias, calls it the work of St. John, iv. 20. v. 26. v. 30.

25. See Euseb. v. 8.

26. Flor. a.d. 210. Cave, i. p. 100. Routh. Rel. Sacr. ii. 3.

27. S. Hieron Vir. 111. Caius dicit Epistolam ad Hebraeos Pauli non esse: Cf. Mill. Proleg. in Apocalyps. p. 595. Ita res habet. Sub annum Christi 210 (neque enim ante de Libri hujus auctoritate controversiam moverat quisquam, quod sciam, praeter Marcionem), Caius Ecclesiae Romanae Presbyter, ubi dogma de Millennio cominendatum videret Apocalypseos testimonio in disputatione contra Proclum, librum ilium non Evangelistae Joannis esse dixit sed Cerinthi. For similar reasons, the Epistle to the Hebrews was not read in the Church of Rome. See the passage, Philast., in Appendix A. of "Lectures on the Canon," No. xvi.; and Sulpicius Severus, cap. xxxi., says of the Apocalypse, "A plerisque aut stulte aut impie non recipitur."

28. Euseb. iii. 28. vii. 25. In both which passages the punctuation ought to have been amended, and then no occasion would have existed for the difficulty imagined by Lardner (i. p. 641, ed. Lond. 4to, 1815), and Moses Stuart ( 17, p. 286, Edinb. 1847), and others. The true punctuation of the latter passage is, ***, which will correct also Euseb. iii. 28.

29. Cornel, a Lapide ad Apoc. xx. I. c. Millenarios in suum errorem induxit hic locus Apocalypseos, quocirea alii ex diametro his adversi, ut hunc errorem convellerent, respuebant Apocalypsim.

30. On the Canon, Lect. IX.

31. Euseb. vi. 25. Orig. de Princ. ii. c. xi. Tom. i. p. 104, ed. Paris, 1733. "Judaico sensu Scripturas divinas intelligunt solius literae discipuli," "fingentes sibi Jerusalem terrenam urbem raedificandam,' he says of the Millenarian interpreters of the Apocalypse. And in Philocal. cap. xxvi., and Proleg. in Cantica, iii. p. 28, he says that the doctrine of the Millennium was held secretly by some of the weaker brethren among Christians. See Huet. Origen. ii. 22, who adds, that Millenarianism was condemned by Damasus in the case of Apollinarius.

32. Cave, Hist. Lit. i. 124. He died a.d. 265.

33. Euseb. vii. 24, 25. Haec Dionysii narratio (says the learned Gerhard, L. C. xxxii. p. 325) utiliter monere potest, quae fuerit origo erroris Chiliastici, contemptus scilicet Scripturarum, et amor incertarum traditionum. See above, pp. 11, 12, note.

34. Ad Dardanum Ep. 129. Tom. ii. p. 607. Nos utramque suscipimus (sc. Apocalypsim et Epistolam ad Hebraeos) veterum Scriptorum auctoritatem sequentes. See also his Catal. Vir. 111. c. ix.

35. Ep. 1. ad Paulin. iv. p. 574. Apocalypsis Joannis tot habet sacramenta quot verba. Parum dixi pro merito voluminis; laus omnis inferior est.

36. See S. Jerome, vol. iii. ed. 1704, p. 262, in Isaiam xxx. Apocalypsim non intelligentes, &c. In Is. liv. p. 398. Nequaquam secundum Hebraeos et nostros semi-Judaeos in terra sed in coelis urbem Dei quaerentes. Tom. iii. p. 966, in Ezek. xxxviii.

37. Prolog, in lib. xviii. Is. cap. lxv. p. 478: "Si Apocalypsim Joannis juxta literam accipimus, Judaizandum est.''

38. Hieron. in Jerem. cap. xix. p. 620; and in Ezek. cap. xxxviii. p. 966. In Isaiam, cap. lxv.

39. De C. D. xx. 7, cp. Serm. 250, vol. v. p. 1548, ed. Paris, 1837, and cp. De Civ. D. xxii. 30.

40. De Civ. Dei, xx. 7. De his duabus resurrectionibus Joannes Evangelista in libro qui dicitiir Apocalypsis eo modo locutus est, ut earum prima a quibusdam nostris non intellecta in quasdam ridiculas fabulas verteretur.

41. a.d. 430, an. aet. 76, the 35th of his Episcopate.

42. Chapters vi, vii, viii, ix.

43. Philastrius de Haeres. xii. (al. lix.) Bibl. Patr. Max. v. p. 708. Haresis est Chilionetitarum id est Millenariorum quse docet ita, cum venerit Christus de coelo, mille anni erunt iterum nobis ad carnaliter vivendum, &c. Ibid. xiii. Post hos sunt Haeretici qui Apocalypsin Joannis Apostoli non accipiunt et non intelligunt virtutem Scripturae, ut etiam Cerinthi illius haecretici dicere audeant esse Apocalypsim. Cf. Epiphan. Haeres. lxxvii. Gennad. de Eccl. Dogm. ap. Augustin. iii. c. 55, ed. Lovan. App. viii. cap. 25, ed. Bened.

44. Ecclesiae sensus (says Cornelius a Lapide ad Apoc. xx.) Millenariorum sententiam reprobant; unde jam evanuisse videtur. Cf. Baron. Annal. ad An. 303, n. 127. " Je ne scay point (says Tillemont, Hist. Eccl. art. Papias, ii. p. 140) qu'on trouve qu'il y ait eu des Millenaires depuis S. Jerome et S. Augustin, de sorte que si quelques uns en ont conserve les sentiments, cela n'a fait aucun eclat considerable." And our great English divine, Dr. Isaac Barrow (Sermon xxviii. vol. v. p. 27, ed. Oxf. 1818) classes the doctrine of the Millennium among "notions not certain or not true, in which they who entertained them followed some conceits once passable among divers, but not built on any sure foundation, and which were anciently in great vogue, but are now discarded." So also Hammond ad Rev. xx. 7. "Though some were otherwise minded, yet was this doctrine of the Chiliasts condemned by the Church, and since that time all are accounted heretics who maintained it."

45. By Augustinus Weber and the Westphalian Anabaptists (see Sleidan. Comment, x.) of Munster (see their work entitled "Restitutio totius mundi"), and by Joannes Erasmi, the Arian, and Nathanael AElianus, David Georgius, and others. See Jansenii Conc. Evang. c. 123. Gerhardi Loci Communes, xxxii. 74, tom. ix. p. 329, ed. Genev. 1639.

46. The language of Andreas, Bishop of Cappadocia, in the sixth century, concerning the doctrine of the Millennium, is very emphatic. Bibl. Patrum Max. Tom. v. pag. 627. Primam ex mortuis Resurrectionem solis Sanctis propriam futuram dixerunt; quo nimirum in hac crassa et caliginosa terra in qui illustria fortitudinis et patientiae specimina ediderant Mille annis gloria et honore potiantur; post hoc autem tempus elapsum universalem omnium, hoc est non justorum tantum, verum etiam peccatorum, Resurrectionem fore. Sed Ecclesia neutrum horum recipit: ***, says Arethas, p. 816.

47. Melanchthon (de furoribus et deliriis Anabaptistarum), Tom. i. Anahaptistae affirmant oportere ante novissimum diem in terris regnum Christi tale existere in quo pii dominentur.

48. Confess. August. Pars i. Art. xvii. p. 14, ed. Hase. Lips. 1837. The original words are, "Damnant alios, qui nunc spargunt Judaicas opiniones, quod ante resurrectionem mortuorum, pii regnum mundi occupaturi sint."

49. The two most learned Lutherans, Martin Chemnitius and John Gerhard, speak in similar terms of Millenarianism. See Chemnitz de Lect. Patrum, Loc. Com. ed. 1690, p. 2, where he calls "opinio Chiliastica" an "error in fundamento." The words of Gerhard will be quoted below. Chiliasm was also confuted by Osiander contra Puccium, Tubing. 1598, and by Cramer de regno Christi, p. ii. c. 4.

50. Calvin, Inst. iii. xxv. 5, p. 177, ed. Tholuck. 1835. "Chiliastarum commentum puerilius est quam ut refutatione vel indigeat vel dignum sit. Nec illis suffragatur Apocalypsis (xx. 1) ex qua errori suo colorem induxisse certum est." I do not however charge the modern Chiliasts with some of the errors which Calvin ascribes to their predecessors: but call attention to his view of the twenty Chapters of the Apocalypse.

51. See it in Cardwell's Synodalia, i. p. 17, and p. 33.

52. Cp. Bishop Andrewes (Serm. xvi. on the Resurrection). "Christ riseth with ascendo in His mouth: no sooner risen but He makes ready for His ascending straight. This, if there were nothing but this, were of itself enough to make the idle dream of the old and new Chiliasts to vanish quite, who fancy to themselves I wot not what earthly kingdom here on earth somewhat like Mahomet's Paradise, and will not hear of ascendo after they have risen till a thousand years at least. This is none of Christ's rising, I am sure. So let it be none of ours."

53. Gerhard Loci Theol. ix. p. 822, speaking of the Millennium, Sic memorabili Papiae exemplo Deus Ecclesiam monere voluit, quam periculosum sit incertas traditiones praetermissis Scripturis sequi. See above, p. 11, and p. 17, note.

54. See more on this subject below, Lecture VI.

55. Thus, e. g. Bede Prolog, in Apoc. Juxta consuetudinem libri istius usque ad sextum numerum ordinem custodit, et praetermisso septimo recapitulat. Sed et ipsa recapitulatio pro locis intelligenda est. Aliquando enim ab origine Passionis (sc. Christi), aliquando a medio tempore, aliquando de sola novissima pressura, aut non multo ante, dicturus recapitulat. Illud tamen fixum servat, ut a sexto recapitulet.

56. Bede ad loc. Recapitulans ab origine plenius exponit quomodo supra dixerit. Haymo ad loc. Revertitur ad superiora, id est ad ea quae ante adventum Christi facta sunt. In hac enim prophetia non servatur ordo Historiae. Angelus hic est Dominus Jesus Christus qui de coelo descendit, quia homo factus fortem alligavit et eos qui fuerunt vasa irae fecit vasa miscricordiae. Clavis abyssi discretio significatur qua Deus aliquando reprobos saevire permittit contra Ecclesiam: et sicut clavi aperietur ostium et iterum clauditur, sic Diabolus et ejus membra modo saevire permittuntur, modo exire prohibentur. Per catenam vero Dei potestas significatur quae omnia cingit, omnia complectitur, quam habet in manu, id est in potestate Verbi, " per Quod omnia facta sunt."

57. Idem, 1. c. Millenarius numerus in Scriptura pro perfectione rei ponitur. Decies enim deni centum fiunt, quae jam figura plana est: decies autem centum Mille, qui numerus in altitudinem surgens solidam figuram reddit, et omne significat tempus a Domini passione ad finem saeculi.

58. Bede in loc. Recapitulans ab origine plenius exponit quod supra dixerat. Lightfoot, on Rev. xx., well says: "This chapter containeth a brief view of all the times from the rising of the Gospel to the end of the world."

59. See the conclusions of S. Hippolytus, writing in the third century, B. P. M. p. 257. "After that the abomination of desolation has been revealed, and the world hastens to its close, what then remains but the coming of our Lord and Saviour from heaven to execute just judgment on all who do not believe on Him? Then the trumpet will sound, and every nation and language and tribe will arise in the twinkling of an eye, to stand before the just and terrible Judge And  the King of kings shall be revealed; and all flesh, bad and good, shall see Him."

60. It appears probable that St. Paul, in his Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, (2 Thess. 2:2) alludes to Millenarian notions, propagated by Judaizers in Thessalonica, (Acts 17:5, 13; 1 Thess. 2:14) 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.

61. Neander Eccl. Hist. ii. 324. (Rose's Translation.) "We are not to understand that Chiliasm (or Millenarianism) ever belonged to the universal doctrines of the Church."

62. Euseb. iii. 20.