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THE COMING OF THE LORD.-No. I.
Book of books, book of ages, book of wonders, book of life, book of God! Thy moral wonders, like those of Nature, have never yet been told. No man has ever seen them all. The antiquities of Nature and the futurities of things, the origin of man, his sublime nature, his marvellous relations, his infinite obligations and glorious destiny, are thy favorite and delightful themes. Immeasurably thou transcendest all the metes and boundaries of human knowledge. Thou coverest the whole area that divides eternity, and penetratest far into an infinity that is past, and an infinity to come. Thy first page has inscribed upon it the generation of heaven and earth, and thy last page foretells the creation of new heavens and a new earth. The spreading out of these heavens date thy first chapter, and after folding them up the expansion of new heavens, new worlds, and new creations, date thy last. Between these the history of man, in all his incomparable fortunes, good and bad, is faithfully and infallibly written. God himself, the source of universal being-the father of eternity-the spring of all life, and the fountain of all bliss, is revealed upon thy
ges in full and perfect adaptation to the capacity, conditions, and circumstances of fallen humanity. Thy first lesson to fallen man intimates a coming of the Lord in human flesh for man's redemption, and thy last assures him of his coming in divine glory, as the final arbiter of the immutable doom of angels and of men. If the universe be the work of an almighty hand, assuredly thou art the work of an Almighty Mind! O Lord, inspire our hearts with the admiration and love of thee!
History and prophecy, in a most felicitous alternation, travel hand in hand through all the leaves of the book of human destiny. No other volume presumes to foretell the future-none dares to narrate the
VOL. V.-N. S.
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things that shall be hereafter but the Book of Inspiration. This is an attribute of the Bible, to which the Korans, the Zendavestas, the mythologies of Grecian and Roman superstition dare not so much as to pretend. The Book of all Ages, fearless of all scrutiny, challenging the chronicles of all nations, attempts the disclosure of all human destiny by giving us the faithful records of the past and the certain visions of the future. The times to come are written out with the unerring certainty of an Omniscient Eye, to which the past, the present, and the future are equally evident and certain. But it is more difficult to read the future than the past; and to comprehend the things that shall be, than to understand those that have been. The believer of the Bible has, however, an immense horizon. The sceptic is but the occupant of an atom of the universe for the term of a moment compared with the Christian, that native of heaven, and pilgrim of time, whose mental peregrinations far transcend the beginnings and the endings of all that is finite, and launch into systems of nature and of grace commensurate with the perfections of God, and enduring as eternity itself.
History terminates with the grave, while prophecy animates us with the radiant hopes of a bright and boundless future. The three words, "and he died," complete the last sentence in the biography of the most venerable antediluvian as they do that of the infant of a day; while the life-inspiring words, "the dead shall revive," is the prefatory oracle of new and more magnificent creations which the last chapter of earth's history announces to the world. As the telescope not only augments and brightens the visible constellations, but introduces us to suns and their systems invisible to the naked eye, so prophecy opens to our mental vision systems and operations of wisdom and power, of justice and grace, of such transcendant brightness and glory as to eclipse the most brilliant scenes that time has spread upon its canvass. But the immense field must be surveyed piece by piece; and, at present, on prophetic object superlatively claims our attention. That prediction which, if not the signs of the times, certainly the voice of
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triumphs of these antagonizing spirits fill up the grand outlines of the prophetic drama. If they are not discussed and exhibited in this order, and under these titles, they are in other and various forms: for these, in fact, engross all human nature, human character, and human destiny.
Much of the prophecy of the Old Testament constitutes the history of the New; and all civil and ecclesiastic history are but the developments of Jewish and Christian predictions. One of the difficulties, and indeed a chief difficulty in the path of all interpreters, is the separation of the fulfilled from the unfulfilled portions of the prophetic intimations. We shall not in the commencement attempt to draw these lines. What is clearly and by almost universal consent unfulfilled, will first command our attention. That the two great impostures of the East and of the West have arisen-that Mahomet and the Pope have been born, needs not to be proved: consequently those prophecies which concern the rise of the pretended Prophet of God, and the infallible Vicar of Christ, have been fulfilled. But the fortunes of the Koran, and of the oral traditions-the downfall of the Eastern and the Western impostures, or the triumphs of the gospel over its four grand rivals, Mahometism, Papalism, Paganism, and Atheism, occupy a large space in the yet unfulfilled visions of Daniel and of John. Public attention is, therefore, specially directed to five great events: -The downfall of Mahometanism, the demolition of the Papacy, the conversion of the Jews, the end of Paganism, the abolition of Atheism, or the Millennium, and, as connected with them, the coming of the Lord. Of these the last is now the first in importance; because as we contemplate it, so must we understand the others. For if the Lord is to destroy Mahometanism, Papacy, Judaism, Paganism, Atheism, by the brightness of his coming-by his personal and literal return then indeed we settle the whole matter the moment we settle the question in the affirmative, Will the Lord in person come before, or after, the Millennium? Two points, then, almost equally press upon our attention-the Millennium and the coming of the Lord. They mutually explain each other. If the Lord come in person before the Millennium,
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whether in person or in spirit, before the Millennium, is the cardinal point in the whole subject of prophecy. We shall therefore give the precedence to this question, When will the Lord personally return— before or after the Millennium? Still we shall pioneer the way by presenting a synopsis of the more prominent and popular theories of the Millennium.
THEORIES OF THE MILLENNIUM.
Mr. Begg's Theory.-Israel shall return to their own land. Jerusalem will be rebuilt. The Lord will descend from heaven and dwell in Jerusalem-"Then the moon shall be confounded and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously." He will continue his personal presence on earth certainly 1000, and probably 365,000 years. The nations will go to see him, and to worship in Jerusalem, and keep the annual feasts. The Man of Sin shall be destroyed by the Lord in person or by the brightness of his coming; and the race of evil doers shall generally be cut off. A resurrection of the saints and martyred witnesses of Christ precede the millennial reign. This is the first resurrection, and shall precede the second from 1000 to 365000 years. The earth and the atmosphere will be changed. A more genial climate and a more fruitful soil will reward the labors of the husband. man. Still the earth's identity and its present localities shall continue; and "although it will be a period of unprecedented holiness and happiness, neither sin nor death will be wholly excluded." "The child shall die a hundred years old; and the sinner being a hundred years old, shall be accursed." And, therefore, during the millennial dispensation this world will be the abode of men in the flesh, who will have intercourse with the immortal men who are reigning with Christ. But of the nature of the employment of the reigning saints, and of their intercourse with mortal men, he has no knowledge.*
A short apostacy will succeed the Millennium. Satan will be set free from his captivity, but will ultimately be destroyed. Then comes
the general resurrection of all that died during the Millennium, and
and new earth." The wicked, their counsels and works, will all be destroyed at the coming of the Lord. The thousand years of millennial glory and bliss will transpire "between the two resurrections"that of the righteous and of the wicked; the latter having been slain at the commencement of the Millennium, and all the living saints changed. There will be neither birth nor death, conversion nor apostacy during one thousand years. Gog and Magog can be found only in the wicked spirits who lived and died before the Millennium, and who, when reanimated at its close, will lay siege to the New Jerusalem; but will be judged, and cast down to hell by fire from heaven falling upon them in the very act of their rebellion. The Millennium will commence, or rather this world will come to an end, in the year 1843, or 1847 at farthest. The day of judgment will then commence, and will continue for the whole thousand years; at the end of which the wicked shall be raised and sentenced to everlasting ruin.
The Protestant Theory.-The Millennium, so far as the triumphs of Christianity is concerned, will be a state of greatly enlarged and continuous prosperity, in which the Lord will be exalted and his divine spirit enjoyed in an unprecedented measure. All the conditions of society will be vastly improved; wars shall cease, and peace and good will among men will generally abound. The Jews will be converted, and the fulness of the Gentiles will be brought into the kingdom of the Messiah. Genuine Christianity will be diffused through all nations; crimes and punishments will cease; governments will recognize human rights, and will rest on just and benevolent principles. Conversions will not only be genuine, but early and general. Large measures of divine influence will be vouchsafed. One extended and protracted series of revivals will keep pace with the exigencies ofsociety. The seasons will become more mild; climates more salubri ous, health more vigorous, labor less, lands more fertile, and the animal creation more prolific: for the knowledge of the glory of God st all cover the whole earth as the waters cover the channel of the sea. The Millennium is to precede the coming of the Lord, the general conflagration, and the creation of new heavens and earth.
Such are the chief attributes of the Millennium according to the more prominent theories of the present day. There are others different in some of their accidents; but in the main we have their essential features in those three. That which at present most agitates this community is the theory of Mr. Miller. It is more definite, bold, and positive than the others; and being so nigh at hand, cannot fail to awaken considerable interest Of all theories that have come under my consideration, it promises least of blessing to the human race.—