« НазадПродовжити »
Much of the supposed difficulty with respect to the nature of this Resurrection and Reign probably arises from a too frequent neglect of the light which it receives from other parts of Scripture, and
the entire oversight even of the preceding context, predicting the coming of Christ and the destruction of his enemies, to which we have adverted. The numerous prophetic annunciations of Messiah's future abode on earth-the evidence already adduced of this being the period of his Personal Return—and the declarations, yet to be noticed, of the resurrection of the dead saints and change of those alive at his coming—these not only constrain us to believe, but to wonder it should ever have been denied, that this resurrection is literal and the reign personal, and that those who live and reign with Christ are his arisen and glorified saints, redeemed out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation ; part of whose heavenly song, in prospect of this honour, being, “We shall reign upon the earth." Rev. v. 9, 10. Indeed, having already so fully proved the Return of Christ before the Millennium, farther examination of this passage to ascertain its meaning may be deemed superfluous. Still, however, it may add confirmation to the faith of some who already believe, enable the doubtful to decide, and convince others who have hitherto been prejudiced against this glorious truth, to attend for a little to some of the reasons adduced for understanding it spiritually, and to examine what farther light may be derived from other scriptures concerning the First Resurrection; for, happily, on this important and interesting doctrine, we have “ line upon line, precept on
It is sometimes said, by those who deny a personal the continuance of Christ's Millennial reign on earth, as “ for ever,” and, in some cases, as for ever and ever,” we are constrained to think such expressions too strong to be used in reference to a period of a thousand literal years. This objection appears still more forcible, when it is remembered, that, in some instances, the "for ever” is put in contrast with the time of Israel's dispersion, as if that were comparatively but a little while. The only additional circumstance here ascertained then is, that this reign is for a limited time—the exact duration of which will not perhaps in this state be known till the event declare.
reign, that the book of the Revelation being figurative, it is improper to suppose that this is to be literally understood. "But the adoption of such a principle of interpretation is not more subversive of a literal than of a spiritual resurrection and reign. For, if the figurative nature of the book, or to speak more correctly its symbolical nature, form an objection to our understanding them in one sense, it niay be made equally to exclude them in any other. Nor is this the whole of the evil such a mode of interpretation would occasion. We should, besides, be led not only to reject the literal resurrection of the rest of the dead," small and great," after the Millennium, but also to deny the literal destruction of Antichrist-the binding of Satan--his future release, and the re-extension of his power--his ultimate punishment--and the final judgment. Not only are all these contained in this symbolical book, but symbols are used in the account of them; as in the description of the beast, and the marking of his followers—the angel's key--the chaining of Satan and setting a seal upon him--and the opening of books for the purpose of judgment. But the use of these symbols does not in the least affect the reality of the events to which they refer; and still less, therefore, will the symbolical charac, ter of the book change the nature of real events, in the account of which symbols are not used.*
* On this vision seen by John, Dr. Wardlaw remarks, as formerly noticed :-"Did the words occur in a historical or epistolary composition, it would justly be pronounced unnatural, (unless we were specially warned of the writer's purposed deviation from his ordinary style,) to explain them symbolically. Now in a professedly symbolical book, there is the very same force of objection against their being interpreted literally. The interpretation is not in harmony with the avowed and universally admitted style of the writer, and the principle on which his entire work is constructed.” He therefore asks, Why are we, in the text, (Rev. xx. 4.) to understand literal thrones of earthly dominion, and a literal corporeal resurrection of men to sit upon those thrones, when all around is symbolical and figu. rative ?" (p. 498.) We have already proved the pre.millennial Ře. turn of Christ from both “ historical” and “ epistolary" compositions, and might, therefore, without reference to this “ symbolical book," require the Doctor's assent to its truth. But we have farther to re. mark on his principle of interpretation, that the book of Revelation is not so completely' symbolical as to demand that all its statements be so interpreted ; neither does the Doctor always think they do. In
But again, it has been objected, that it is not the saints themselves, but their souls that are here said to live. This objection has more speciousness than force. For it is to be observed, that a change of condition is here evidently implied—a change from death unto life. The souls, however, had not died, and therefore it could not be said of them that they "lived" again. This is further evident from the contrast between those who
lived and reigned with Christ," and the rest of the dead, who “ lived not again till the thousand years were finished.” As in the case of the latter their living not “again,” till the close of this period, implies that they had lived at some former period, but were now dead, and as this cannot be understood of their souls, so when it is said of those who are made partakers of the First Resurrection that they “ lived,” these must have been brought, by the resurrection of their bodies, from that state of death in which the rest of the dead still continue. Indeed, had not unusual pains been taken to put a strained interpretation on this passage, any process of reasoning for the removal of such an objection must have been altogether unnecessary. The word 'soul,' (psyche,) is in scripture, as well as in common language, frequently used to denote the person; and when thus used by the inspired penmen, we no more experience difficulty in determining its meaning, than we apprehend danger of being misunderstood when, in common con
addition to the instances cited above, we may yet add other statements contained in this symbolical book which he himself does not scruple to quote as to have a literal accomplishment. Besides the fact of his understanding and interpreting literally (p. 510,) the account of the general resurrection in this very chapter, does he not “understand literal thrones of earthly dominion,” when he quotes, Rev. xi. 15, as proof that at the period of the Millennium, “the kingdoms of this world shall become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ ?” (p. 477.). "The kingdoms of this world” do not in the least lose their significancy nor change their meaning because contained in this symbolical book; neither does Dr. Wardlaw think they necessarily should. But if this is not to be understood symbolically, the supposed “ force of objection” against the literal interpretation of all other passages
is destroyed. And if we may believe, on the statement of this “symbolical book," that the kingdoms of this world shall become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ; we may also be allowed to believe, in the same sense, the apostle's additional statement in the same verse, " and he shall reign for ever and ever,” (Rev, xi. 15,)
versation, we speak of the number of souls a city contains. Although we had no other information as to what is meant when the apostle Peter speaks of the "few, that is, eight souls," who were saved in the ark, (1 Pet. iii. 20,) who would exclude the bodies of Noah and his family from the salvation referred to? When we are informed of the large accession of members made to the church on the day of Pentecost, it is in these words : " and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." Acts ïi: 41. And Paul says of those in the ship with him when cast upon Melita, “ And we were in all in the ship, two hundred threescore and sixteen souls.” Acts xxvii. 37. In these, and similar instances, the very word used by John is introduced, when the person, rather than the separate spirit is spoken of. It was when the Lord had breathed the breath of life into its clay tenement, that “man became a living soul." Gen. ii. 7. Indeed " soul” is used in Scripture not only for the person but sometimes for the body merely; as in Ps. xlix. 15. “But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave."* We are therefore fully warranted in believing the apostle's vision to have been of the literal resurrection of those who had suffered for the cause of Christ, and of those who submitted not to Antichristian authority—“ which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands."
But it is farther objected, that the Apostle's description of these saints who live and reign with Christ, includes at most only those who have obtained the Mar.
* The Examinator in the Instructor, grants (p. 485) that “ the word souls' ('psychai,') is frequently used in the Sacred Writings for per
But Dr. Hamilton, who has often loaded Millenarians with a profusion of abuse, substituting sounding epithets for solid arguments, in this instance carries hís censure much higher, and would seem to question the wisdom of Him who dictated the passages cited above. * The Greek,” says he, (p. 204,)“ is not such a scanty language as to be unable to furnish a separate term for each of the ideas conveyed by the words person, soul, and body.” We have no design of attributing such a sentence to wilful captiousness with the language of Inspíra. tion, but would more charitably ascribe it to that over-hasty zeal against the supposed alarming heresy, which deprived him of the power of cool reflection and due investigation, adding it to the multitude of instances which equally prove how untenable is the theory the Doctor maintains, and his anxiety for its support.
tyr's crown, and those who have resisted the abominations of the Man of sin. Some have even endeavoured to restrict the apostle's language to the souls or persons of the Martyrs only. This is however an unwarrantable restriction ; for although the language of our English Translation may suggest the idea that those “which had not worshipped the beast,” are the same class who
beheaded for the witness of Jesus," it is otherwise in the Original. On the authority even of Whitby, (who has furnished his successors with nearly all the arguments we have yet seen adduced against the premillennial advent and personal reign of Christ,) the passage ought to be read, “ And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the word of God, and of them which had not worshipped the beast,” &c., thus clearly marking, what many are ready to deny,—the distinct specification of two classes, first the martyrs, and secondly the whole number of testimony-bearers against the corruptions of the Romish church.
Still, however, it is to be observed that these two classes refer only to the times of Antichristian idolatry. But this omission of all the prophets and saints of previous ages, appears to have been designed, in order to preserve the unity of the vision. The preceding part being occupied with a prediction concerning the Man of Sin, and of the sins and the sufferings he should occasion in the church, the apostle's attention at his overthrow was principally confined to the fate of those who were engaged in the transactions to which the vision more immediately relates. In the interval between the period of Antichrist's rise, and that of his destruction at the coming of the Lord, the fidelity of the church has been, and will be, continually put to the test, either by the wiles or the cruelty of that insidious and destructive foe. To the faithful, therefore, who had steadfastly maintained the truth as it is in Jesus amid the terrors of death, or when surrounded by more dangerous temptations to compliance with his devilish devices, the limitation in the passage seems peculiarly appropriate. All who had not been seduced from their allegiance to