The Third Proposition laid down, concerning the time and place of the Millennium. Several Arguments us’d to prove that it cannot be till after the Conflagration: and that the New Heavens and the New Earth are the true Seat of the blessed Millennium.
WE come now to the Third and last head of our Discourse: To determine the Time and Place of the Millennium. And seeing it is indifferent whether the proofs lead or follow the Conclusion, we will lay down the Conclusion in the first place, that our business may be more in view; and back it with proofs in the following part of the Chapter. Propos. 3.Our Third and last Proposition therefore is this, That the Blessed Millennium, (properly so called) according as it is describ’d in Scripture, cannot obtain in the present Earth, nor under the present constitution of Nature and Providence; but is to be celebrated in the New Heavens and New Earth,
after the Conflagration. This Proposition, it may be, will seem a Paradox or singularity to many, even of those that believe a Millennium; We will therefore make it the business of this Chapter, to state it, and prove it; by such Arguments as are manifestly founded in Scripture and in Reason.
And to prevent mistakes, we must premise this in the first place; That, tho’ the Blessed Millennium will not be in this Earth, yet we allow that the state of the Church here, will grow much better than it is at present. There will be a full Resurrection of the Witnesses, and an Ascension into power, and the tenth part of the City will fall; which things imply ease from Persecution, The Con-version of some part of the Christian World to the reformed Faith, and a considerable diminution of the power of Antichrist. But this still comes far short of the happiness and glory wherein the future Kingdom of Christ is represented. Which cannot come to pass till the Man of Sin be destroy’d, with a total destruction. After the Resurrection of the Witnesses, there is a Third WOE yet to come: and how long that will last, does not appear. If it bear proportion with the preceding WOES, it may last some hundreds of years. And we cannot imagine the Millennium to begin till that WOE be finish’d. As neither till the Vials be poured out, in the 15th chap. which cannot be all pour’d out till after the Resurrection of the Witnesses; those Vials being the last plagues that compleat the destruction of Antichrist. Wherefore allowing that the Church, upon the Resurrection and Ascension of the Witnesses, will be advanc’d into a better condition, yet that condition cannot be the Millennial state; where the Beast is utterly destroy’d, and Satan bound, and cast into the bottomless pit.
This being premis’d, let us now examine what grounds there are for the Translation of that blessed state into the New Heavens and New Earth: seeing that thought, it may be, to many persons, will appear new and extraordinary. In the first place, We suppose it out of dispute, that there will be New Heavens and a New Earth after the Conflagration. This was our first Proposition, and we depend upon it, as sufficiently prov’d both from Scripture and Antiquity. This being admitted, How will you stock this New Earth? What use will you put it to? ’Twill be a much nobler Earth, and better built than the present: and ’tis pity it should only float about, empty and useless, in the wild Air. If you will not make it the seat and habitation of the Just in the blessed Millennium, what will you make it? How will it turn to account? what hath Providence design’d it for? We must not suppose New Worlds made without counsel or design. And as, on the one hand, you cannot tell what to do with this New Creation, if it be not thus employ'd: so, on the other hand, it is every way fitted and suited to be an happy and Paradisiacal habitation, and answers all the natural Characters of the Millennial state; which is a great presumption that it is design’d for it.
But to argue this more closely upon Scripture-grounds. St. Peter says, the Righteous shall inhabit the new Heavens and the new Earth: 2 Pet. 3. 13. Nevertheless, according to his promise, we look for new Heavens and new Earth, WHEREIN DWELLETH RIGHTEOUSNESS: that is, a Righteous people, as we have shewn before. But who are these righteous People? that's the great question. If you compare St. Peter's new Heavens and new Earth with St. John's, Apoc. 21.
[paragraph continues] 1, 2. it will go far towards the resolution of this question: For St. John seems plainly to make the Inhabitants of the New Jerusalem to be in this New Earth. I saw, says he, new Heavens and a new Earth: and the New Jerusalem descending from God out of Heaven; therefore descending into this new Earth, which he had mention’d immediately before. And there the Tabernacle of God was with men, ver. 3. and there He that sate upon the Throne, said, Behold I make all things new. Referring still to this new Heavens and new Earth, as the Theater where all these things are acted, or all these Scenes exhibited: from the first Verse to the eighth. Now the New Jerusalem state being the same with the Millennial, if the one be in the new Heavens and new Earth, the other is there also. And this interpretation of St. John's words is confirm'd and fully assur’d to us by the Prophet Isaiah; who also placeth the joy and rejoycing of the new Jerusalem in the new Heavens and new Earth: Chap. 65. 17, 18. For behold I create new Heavens and a new Earth: and the former shall not be remembred: but be you glad and rejoyce for ever in that which I create: for behold I create Jerusalem a rejoycing and her people a joy. Namely in that new Heavens and new Earth. Which answers to St. John's Vision of the new Jerusalem being let down upon the new Earth.
To these reasons, and deductions from Scripture, we might add the testimony of several of the Fathers; I mean of those that were Millenaries. For we are speaking now to such as believe the Millennium, but place it in the present Earth before the Renovation whereas the ancient Millenaries suppos’d the regeneration and renovation of the World before the kingdom of Christ came. As you may see in 1Irenæus, a Justin Martyr, b Tertullian, c Lactantius, and d the Author ad Orthodoxos. And the neglect of this, I look upon as one reason, as we noted before, that brought that doctrine into discredit and decay. For when they plac’d the kingdom of the Saints upon this Earth, it became more capable of being abus’d, by fanatical spirits, to the disturbance of the World, and the invasion of the rights of the Magistrates, Civil or Ecclesiastical, under that notion of Saints. And made them also dream of sensual pleasures, such as they see in this life: Or at least gave an occasion and opportunity to those, that had a mind to make the doctrine odious, of charging it with these consequences. All these abuses are cut off, and these scandals prevented, by placing the Millennium aright. Namely, not in this present life, or on this present Earth, but in the new Creation, where peace and righteousness will dwell. And this is our first argument why we place the Millennium in the new Heavens and new Earth: And ’tis taken partly, you see, from the reason of the thing it self, the difficulty of assigning any other use of the New Earth, and its fitness for this; and partly from Scripture-evidence, and partly from Antiquity.
The second argument for our opinion, is this; The present constitution of Nature will not bear that happiness, that is promis’d in the Millennium, or is not consistent with it. The diseases of our Bodies, the disorders of our passions, the incommodiousness of external Nature; Indigency, servility, and the unpeaceableness of the World; These are things inconsistent with the happiness that is promis’d in the kingdom of Christ. But these are constant attendants upon this life,
and inseparable from the present state of Nature. Suppose the Millennium was to begin Nine or Ten Years hence, as some pretend it will. How shall this World, all on a sudden, be metamorphos’d into that happy state? Apoc. 21. 4.No more sorrow, nor crying, nor pain, nor death, says St. John: All former things are past away. But how past away? Shall we not have the same Bodies: and the same external Nature: and the same corruptions of the Air: and the same excesses and in-temperature of Seasons? Will there not be the same barrenness of the ground: the same number of People to be fed: and must they not get their living by the sweat of their brows, with servile labour and drudgery? How then are all former evils past away? And as to publick affairs, while there are the same necessities of humane life, and a distinction of Nations, those Nations sometimes will have contrary interests, will clash and interfere one with another: whence differences, and contests, and Wars will arise, and the Thousand Years Truce, I am afraid, will be often broken. We might add also, that if our Bodies be not chang’d, we shall be subject to the same appetites, and the same passions: and upon those, vices will grow: as bad fruit upon a bad Tree. To conclude, so long as our Bodies are the same: external Nature the same: The necessities of humane life the same: which things are the roots of evil; you may call it a Millennium, or what you please, but there will be still diseases, vices, Wars, tears and cries, pain and sorrow in this Millennium; And if so, ’tis a Millennium of your own making; for that which the Prophets describe is quite another thing.
Furthermore, if you suppose the Millennium will be upon this Earth, and begin, it may be, ten or twenty years hence, How will it be introduc'd: how shall we know when we are in it, or when we enter upon it? If we continue the same, and all Nature continue the same, we shall not discern when we slip into the Millennium. And as to the Moral state of it, shall we all, on a sudden, become Kings and Priests to God? wherein will that change consist, and how will it be wrought? St. John makes the First Resurrection introduce the Millennium; and that's a conspicuous mark and boundary. But as to the modern or vulgar Millennium, I know not how ’tis usher’d in. Whether they suppose a visible resurrection of the Martyrs, and a visible Ascension: and that to be a Signal to all the World that the Jubilee is beginning: or whether ’tis gradual and creeps upon us in-sensibly: or the fall of the Beast marks it. These things need both explication and proof; for to me they seem either arbitrary, or unintelligible.
But to return more closely to our Subject. That which gives me the greatest scandal in this doctrine of the vulgar Millennium, is, their joyning things together that are really inconsistent; a natural World of one colour, and a moral World of another. They will make us happy in spight of Nature: as the Stoicks would make a man happy in Phalaris his Bull; so must the Saints be in full bliss in the Millennium, tho’ they be under a fit of the Gout or of the Stone. For my part, I could never reconcile pain to happiness: It seems to me to destroy and drown all pleasure, as a loud noise does a still voice. It affects the Nerves with violence, and over-bears all other motions. But if, according to this modern supposition, they have the same Bodies, and breath the same air, in the Millennium, as we do now, there will be both private and Epidemical distempers, in the same
manner as now; Suppose then a Plague comes and sweeps away half an hundred thousand Saints in the Millennium, is this no prejudice or dishonour to the State? Or a War makes a Nation desolate: or, in single Persons, a lingring disease makes life a burthen: or a burning Fever, or a violent Colick tortures them to death. Where such evils as these reign, christen the thing what you will, it can be no better than a Mock-Millennium. Nor shall I ever be perswaded that such a state as our present life, where an akeing Tooth, or an akeing Head, does so discompose the Soul, as to make her unfit for business, study, devotion, or any useful employment: And that all the powers of the mind, all its vertue, and all its wisdom, are not able to stop these little motions, or to support them with tranquility: I can never perswade my self, I say, that such a state was designed by God or Nature, for a state of happiness.
Our third argument is this; The future kingdom of Christ will not take place, till the kingdom of Antichrist be wholly destroy’d. But that will not be wholly destroy’d till the end of the World, and the appearing of our Saviour. Therefore the Millennium will not be till then. Christ and Antichrist cannot reign upon Earth together: their kingdoms are opposite, as Light to darkness. Besides, the kingdom of Christ is universal, extends to all the Nations, and leaves no room for other kingdoms at that time. Thus it is describ’d in Daniel, in the place mention’d before, Chap. 7. 13, 14. I saw in the Night visions, and behold, one like the Son of man, came with the Clouds of Heaven, and came to the Ancient of days; And there was given him dominion and glory, and a kingdom; that all People, Nations, and Languages, should serve him. And again, ver. 27. 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. Psal. 2. &
Isa. 2. 2.The same character of universality is given to the kingdom of Christ by David, Isaiah, and other Prophets. But the most direct proof of this, is from the Apocalypse: where the Beast and false Prophet are thrown into the Lake of Fire and Brimstone, (Chap. 19. 20) before the Millennium comes on: ch. 20. This, being cast into a Lake of fire burning with brimstone, must needs signifie utter destruction. Not a diminution of power onely, but a total perdition and consumption. And that this was before the Millennium, both the order of the narration shows, and its place in the Prophecy; And also because notice is taken, at the end of the Millennium, of the Beast and false Prophet's being in the Lake of fire, as of a thing past, and formerly transacted. For when Satan, at length, is thrown into the same Lake, ’tis said, He is thrown into the Lake of fire and brimstone, where the Beast and false Prophet are: Apoc. 20. 10. They were there before, it seems; namely, at the beginning of the Millennium; and now at the conclusion of it, the Devil is thrown in to them. Besides, the Ligation of Satan proves this point effectually. For so long as Antichrist reigns, Satan cannot be said to be bound; but he is bound at the beginning of the Millennium, therefore Antichrist's reign was then totally expir’d. Lastly, the destruction of Babylon, and the destruction of Antichrist go together: but you see Babylon utterly and finally destroy’d, (Apoc. 18. and 19.) before the Millennium comes on. I say utterly and finally destroy’d. For she is
not onely said to be made an utter desolation, but to be consum’d by fire: and absorpt as a Milstone thrown into the Sea: and that she shall be found no more at all, Chap. 18. 21. Nothing can express a total and universal destruction more effectually, or more emphatically. And this is before the Millennium begins; as you may see both by the order of the Prophecies, and particularly, in that upon this destruction, the Hallelujah's are sung, Chap. 19. and concluded thus, (ver. 6, 7.) Hallelujah, for the God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoyce and give honour to him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made her self ready. This, I suppose, every one allows to be the Millennial state, which now approaches, and is making ready, upon the destruction of Babylon.
Thus much for the first part of our argument, that the kingdom of Christ will not take place, till the kingdom of Antichrist be wholly destroyed. We are now to prove the second part: That the kingdom of Antichrist will not be wholly destroy’d till the end of the World, and the coming of our Saviour. This, one would think, is sufficiently prov’d from St. Paul's words alone, 2 Thess. 2. 8. The Lord shall consume the man of sin, who is suppos’d the same with Antichrist, with the Spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy him with the brightness of his coming. He will not then be destroy’d before the coming of our Saviour: and that will not be till the end of the World. For St. Peter says, Act. 3. 21. The Heaven must receive him, speaking of Christ, until the times of restitution of all things: that is, the renovation of the World. And if we consider that our Saviour's coming will be in flames of fire, as the same Apostle St. Paul tells us, 2 Thess. 1. 7, 8. ’tis plain that his coming will not be till the Conflagration: in which last flames Antichrist, will be universally destroy’d. This manner of destruction agrees also with the Apocalypse, and with Daniel, and the Prophets of the old Testament. As to the Apocalypse, Babylon, the seat of Antichrist, is represented there as destroy’d by Fire, chap. 18. 8, 18. ch. 14. 11. ch. 19. 3, 20. And in Daniel, when the Beast is destroy’d, ch. 7. 11. His body was given to the burning flame. Then as to the other Prophets, they do not, you know, speak of Antichrist or the Beast in terms: but under the Types of Babylon, Tyre, and such like; and these places or Princes are represented by them as to be destroy’d by fire, Isa. 13. 19. Jer. 51. 25. Ezek. 28. 18.
So much for this third Argument. The fourth Argument is this: The Future Kingdom of Christ will not be till the day of Judgment and the Resurrection. But that will not be till the end of the World. Therefore neither the kingdom of Christ. By the day of Judgment here I do not mean the final and universal Judgment: Nor by the Resurrection, the final and universal Resurrection: for these will not be till after the Millennium. But we understand here the first day of Judgment and the first Resurrection, which will be at the end of this present World; according as St. John does distinguish them, in the 20th chap. of the Apocalypse. Now that the Millennium will not be till the day of Judgment in this sence, we have both the testimonies of Daniel and of St. John. Daniel in the 7th chap.ver. 9, &c.
ver. 26, &c. supposes the Beast to rule till judgment shall sit, and then they shall take away his dominion, and it shall be given to the people of the Saints of the most High. St. John makes an explicit declaration of both these, in this 20th chap.
of the Apocalypse, which is the great Directory in this point of the Millennium; He says there were Thrones set, as for a judicature.ver. 4 Then there was a Resurrection from the Dead: and those that rise, reigned with Christ a Thousand years. Here's a Judicial Session, a Resurrection, and the reign of Christ joyned together. There is also another passage in St. John, that joyns the judgment of the Dead with the Kingdom of Christ. ’Tis in the 11th chap. under the seventh Trumpet. The words are these, ver. 15. And the seventh Angel sounded, and there were great voices in heaven, saying, the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ: and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty Elders, &c. And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the Dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldst give reward unto thy servants the Prophets, and to the Saints, and them that fear thy name. Here are two things plainly express’d and link’d together, The judging of the Dead, and the Kingdom of Christ; wherein the Prophets and Saints are rewarded. Now as the judging of the Dead is not in this life, so neither is the reward of the Prophets and Saints in this life: as we are taught sufficiently in the Gospel and by the Apostles, (Matt. 19. 28. 1 Thess. 1. 7. 2 Tim. 4. 8. 1 Pet. I. 7. and ch. 5. 4.) Therefore the Reign and Kingdom of Christ which is joyned with these two, cannot be in this life, or before the end of the world. And as a further testimony and confirmation of this, we may observe that St. Paul to Timothy, hath joyn’d together these three things; The appearance of Christ, the Reign of Christ, and the judging of the Dead. I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead, at his appearing, and his kingdom, 2 Tim. 4. 1.
This might also be prov’d from the order, extent, and progress, of the Prophecies of the Apocalypse; whereof some are such as reach to the end of the World, and yet must be accomplish’d before the Millennium begin: as the Vials. Others are so far already advanc’d towards the end of the World, as to leave no room for a thousand years reign; as the Trumpets. But because every one hath his own interpretation of these Prophecies, and it would be tedious here to prove any single Hypothesis in contradistinction to all the rest, we will therefore leave this remark, to have more or less effect, according to the minds it falls upon. And proceed to our fifth Argument.
Fifthly, The New Jerusalem-state is the same with the Millennial state: But the New Jerusalem-state will not be till the end of the World, or till after the Conflagration: Therefore neither the Millennium. That the New Jerusalem-state is the same with the Millennium, is agreed upon, I think, by all Millenaries, Ancient and Modern. Justin Martyr, Irenæus, and Tertullian, speak of it in that sence; and so do the later Authors, so far as I have observ’d. And St. John seems to give them good authority for it. In the 10th chap. of the Apocalypse, he says, the Camp of the Saints and the Beloved City were besieg’d by Satan and his Gigantick crew at the end of the Millennium. That Beloved City is the New Jerusalem, and you see it is the same with the Camp of the Saints, or, at least, contemporary with it. Besides, the marriage of the Lamb was in the New Jerusalem, for that was the Spouse of the Lamb, Apoc. 21. 2. Now this Spouse was ready, and this marriage was said to be come, at the destruction of Babylon:
which was the beginning of the Millennium, ch. 18. 7. Therefore the New Jerusalem run all along with the Millennium, and was indeed the same thing under another name. Lastly, What is this New Jerusalem if it be not the same with the Millennial state? It is promis’d as a reward to the sufferers for Christ, Apoc. 3. 12. and you see its wonderful priviledges, ch. 21. 3, 4. and yet it is not heaven and eternal Life; for it is said to come down from God out of Heaven, ch. 21. 2. and ch. 3. 12. it can therefore be nothing but the glorious kingdom of Christ upon Earth, where the Saints shall reign with him a Thousand Years.
Now as to the second part of our Argument, that the New Jerusalem will not come down from Heaven till the end of the World: of this St. John seems to give us a plain proof or demonstration; for he places the New Jerusalem in the New Heavens and New Earth, which cannot be till after the Conflagration. Let us hear his words, Apoc. 21. 1, 2. And I saw a New Heaven and a New Earth, for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away, and there was no more sea. And I John saw the Holy City, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven: prepared as a Bride adorned for her husband. When the New Earth was made, he sees the New Jerusalem coming down upon it; and this renovation of the Earth not being till the Conflagration. The New Jerusalem could not be till then, neither. The Prophet Isaiah had long before said the same thing, though not in terms so express; He first says, Isa. 65. 17, 18. Behold I create new heavens and a new earth, wherein you shall rejoyce. Then subjoyns immediately, Behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoycing. This rejoycing is still in the same place; in the New Heavens and New Earth, or in the New Jerusalem. And St. John in a like method first, sets down the New Earth, then the New Jerusalem; and expresses the mind of the Prophet Isaiah more distinctly.
This leads me to a Sixth Argument to confirm our Conclusion. The time of the Restitution or Restauration of all things, spoken of by St. Peter and the Prophets, is the same with the Millennium: But that Restauration will not be till the coming of Christ, and the end of the World: Therefore neither the Millennium. That this Restitution of all things will not be till the coming of our Saviour, St. Peter declares in his Sermon, Act. 3. 21. and that the coming of our Saviour will not be till the end of the World, or till the Conflagration, both St. Paul and St. Peter signifie to us, 1 Thess. 1. 7, 8. 2 Pet. 3. 10. Therefore it remains only to prove, that this Restitution of all things spoken of here by the Apostle, is the same with the Millennium. I know that which it does directly and immediately signifie, is the Renovation of the World: but it must include the Moral World as well as the Natural: otherwise it cannot be truly said, as St. Peter does there, that all the Prophets have spoken of it. And what is the Renovation of the Natural and Moral World, but the New Jerusalem or the Millennium.
These Arguments, taken together, have, to me, an irresistible evidence for the proof of our Conclusion: That the Blessed Millennium cannot obtain in the present Earth, or before the Conflagration; But when Nature is renew’d, and the Saints and Martyrs rais’d from the Dead, then they shall reign together with Christ, in the New Heavens and New Earth, or in the New Jerusalem; Satan being bound for a thousand years.
358:1 li. 5, ch. 32, &c.
358:a Dial. cum Tryph.
358:b Contra Marc.
358:c Li. 7.
358:d Quæst. & respon. 93.