Bible Exposition Fellowship

The Bible Exposition Fellowship was founded in 1965 by John Wesley Walker of Strood, Kent, in association with Charles D. Alexander of Liverpool. The Fellowship is committed entirely to the doctrines reasserted at the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century and the upholding of the historic creeds of the Christian Church, known as THE APOSTLES', THE NICENE, and THE ATHANASIAN. None of the articles contained herein may be reproduced without the prior consent of the Bible Exposition Fellowship.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

THE MILLENIAL MYTH

A Reply to Mr. Toplady & Others

By Chas. D. Alexander

The confused thinking which exists on the subject of the so called Millennium – the Thousand Golden Years of peace and plenty which are supposed to be coming upon the earth at the end of the present age (whenever that may be), is very well illustrated in an article in a British prophetical magazine “Watching & Waiting” (May - June 1968). The editor, like his magazine, is enthusiastically committed to the idea of a Thousand Years of personal reign of Christ on the earth in the midst of His resurrected people, and in pursuance of this vision and expectation of the Latter Day Glory has reprinted an article from the pen of the excellent Augustus M. Toplady (author of the hymn, “Rock of Ages”) who lived more than two centuries ago - an article in which Mr. Toplady describes the splendours and privileges of the coming great Millennium, with burning eloquence.

The statement is based, of course, on the passage in Revelation 20, the only passage in the Bible in which the term “a thousand years” (that is, a millennium of years) is given to the age which many expect to mark the close of the history of this planet. At the end of that period the planet, and indeed the entire universe will, despite the age of gold, be given up to the flames. According to Mr. Toplady, and many more Millenarians, this will actually be the second time the planet will be consumed by fire, as we shall presently see.

Unhappily, like most Millenarians, Mr. Toplady in this article makes no mention of that most unpleasant part of chapter 20 of Revelation, which describes the frightful apostasy foreshadowed at the END of this Millennium - an apostasy known as The Little Season, or the time of the Loosing of Satan. Or has the editor carefully suppressed this disturbing fact? Or has he not noticed the inconsistency of Mr. Toplady’s interpretation - namely, that despite the fact (according to the author) that the world. as we now know it has been consumed in a general conflagration in which presumably all the wicked inhabitants of the globe have perished, and. the world is purified and exalted. in its physical state to accommodate during the ensuing Millennium the RESURRECTED AMD IMORTALISED SAINTS OF ALL AGES - despite this charming situation, somehow there are vast hordes of potential ungodly concealed somewhere during Christ’s personal reign, ready at a notice to spring to arms as soon as their master the devil gives the signal?

This awful and embarrassing apostasy is not so much as mentioned in Mr. Toplady’s article. It is passed over in silence — an ominous silence — as well it might, for after his glowing description of the Golden Millenary Years when (according to him) the only inhabitants of the earth will be the immortalised saints, it would be highly embarrassing even to hint at the possibility that as soon as Satan was granted the liberty he could fill the earth in a moment with bloodthirsty nations, panting for the destruction of immortals who anyway cannot die, seeing they have already died once and been resurrected!

He would have to tell us where these nations come from seeing the world has been already burned up once (“the preceding general conflagration’ – Toplady), been renovated and cleansed (“this terraqueous globe and its circumambient atmosphere will be so purified s.... as to be totally changed in their qualities and entirely divested of. everything noxious or that can cause disgust or pain), and been re-peopled with the righteous dead specially come down from their rest in paradise, to be joined with those other immortalised saints who have survived (by being caught up into the clouds) the destruction of the old world.

Mr. Toplady would also have to tell us (provided ho came to terms with the sudden emergence of the multitudes of Gog and Magog at the end of the Thousand Years) what the said Gogians and Magogians expect to do with swords and spears, or even nuclear weapons, against immortals who, like the angels, can never die or suffer pain or hurt.

More important still, he would have to explain the failure of Christ’s personal reign upon the earth, seeing that after a Thousand Years of visible reigning in glory and power the entire chapter should be dissolved in so vast and hideous and universal a revolt. And what kind of a Christ is this who is said to be reigning visibly on the earth, seeing that even the ineffable glory of His Godhead inspires no fear and smiths no-one dead? Or does He, despite the Millennial Glory, look just like an ordinary mortal man?

For this, Reader, is the problem posed by Mr. Toplady’s Millennium as his own words indicate:

“He will occupy the Millennial Throne as head of all
principality and power.”

Mr. Toplady proceeds to describe the inhabitants of the Millennial earth in the exalted language of Isaiah 35:

“No, lion shall be there, no unregenerate person, none who is a stranger to the meekness and gentleness of Christ: no man in his natural state, no avaricious harpies, or sensualised worldlings... shall participate in the first resurrection.... but the redeemed shall walk there.’

Mr. Toplady is not here to answer our questions, but we still have to ‘reckon with those who, at the end of the Twentieth Century, publish his views on this mythical millennium and who evidently see no inconsistency or confusion about this extraordinary reappearance on the earth of non-existing nations, dead and forgotten for a Thousand Years, ready and equipped for war, and on their bloody march to destroy a camp of indestructible and immortalised saints.

It is, of course, typical of the theory of an earthly Millennium that there are as many varying descriptions and adjustable arrangements propounded about it as there are preachers and writers who discourse upon it. It is virtually impossible to pin down any particular writer, for as soon as any inconsistency is indicated the theory under examination is promptly discarded or otherwise adjusted so as to meet the difficulty, even though ten fresh contradictions spring up in place of one.
Some hold that the earth is not renovated at all to prepare for the Millennium; that at Christ’s Second Coming the heaven and the earth do not flee away. That is an event reserved for the end of the Millennium following the public and ghastly failure of the Thousand Golden Years of righteous rule. The ungodly are there all the time, held down by Christ’s iron rule. According to this theory, during the Thousand Years, Missionaries (chiefly the Jews) are said to go out from Jerusalem to the farthest extent of the globe and convert myriads of people through whatever gospel it is that they are supposed to preach.

The Millennial converts however do not appear to be any more stable than the converts of the modern high-powered American evangelistic crusades. The fallout rate must be appallingly high. After a thousand years of a world swept by continuous revival under the personal reign of Christ Himself on a visible throne in Jerusalem; at one flick of Satan’s eyelids the earthly multitudes throw off all allegiance to Christ and somehow find weapons to hand (a thousand years after all swords have been beaten into ploughshares and all spears into pruning hooks neither shall they learn war any more). With one worldwide, concentred conspiracy they emerge and come from. North, South, East and West, like the sands of the sea for multitude, to besiege in Jerusalem (or wherever) the few immortalised saints who are all that are left from thousands of years of human history, and who, in any event, are not subject to death (see Revelation 20 verses 7—9).

In fleeing from Toplady, therefore, our modern Millenarians run into even more hopeless contradictions.

Yet somehow the doctrine of a future Millennium holds its own, and those who challenge it are subject to obloquy and contempt, as cranks and fools, if not as heretics and unbelievers.

The confusion into which the excellent Toplady plunges in his reckless quest for an earthly Millennium is really incredible when one considers how sound a mind he had when it came to expounding the evangelical doctrines of grace. Readers will scarcely believe that he actually takes the opening verses of Rev. 21 (the chapter succeeding the description of the ending of the Millennium at the Final Judgment) as anticipating the Millennium:

“The next chapter (21) opens with acquainting us that prior to the commencement of the Millennium, a new heaven and a new earth shall be prepared for the residence of
Christ and the elect.”

Evidently the editor of the Magazine from which we are quoting did not detect this, for he says nothing about it — unless indeed he approve of these methods of interpretation.

Readers may wonder why we should spend time on exposing these theories. Is it not much more important to get on with the preaching of the Word in these evil times in which we live? We are in much sympathy with this view but would point out that not we, but our Millennial friends are the persons who are obtruding the Millennium upon us and forcing us to make a plea for consistent Bible interpretation. We have not sought the battle, but we are prepared to contend for every yard of ground if in the issue, what is at stake is not just a prophetical theory, but an entire system of interpretation which removes from us vast areas of the Bible and forbids us to present therefrom the doctrine of the true gospel Kingdom of Christ.

In Mr. Toplady’s time, they could afford the luxury of these inconsistent and embarrassing prophetical views. This is no longer the case. In earlier times the Millennial theory, and prophecy generally, were not great issues. With glorious inconsistency preachers and expositors could talk of some kind of restoration of earthly Israel as a regathered people, fully rehabilitated into their old special and privileged position among the nations, yet at the same time, they could use the scriptures which appear to teach this theory, in a totally different sense, namely, as describing the setting up of the gospel Kingdom of Christ.

Hence the scorn which the modern Millenarian pours upon his older brethren for having seen ‘the Church’ in Old Testament scriptures where only the Jew is in view.

Today we are not allowed that luxury of holding the dual interpretation of the prophecies. Prophetical theory has been so elaborated during the last 150 years that we now have the Word of God being carved up into water-tight divisions. And woe be unto the preacher who ventures into these forbidden parts to expound the glory of Christ in His spiritual reign with His saints during all gospel times. ‘Trespassers will be prosecuted’ is the sign erected before many a chapter and many a book, to deter the hapless expositor who thinks in his innocence that Christ is there in the power of the gospel, whereas it is the preserve of a future race of Jewish farmers. We must not take from the landed gentry of Israel what belongs peculiarly to them, even though what is left of the Old Testament prophetical books scarcely affords material for a six-month's supply Of sermons.

It is to no purpose that we point out that the Old Testament was the only Bible which Christ and the apostles and the New Testament Church had; that the theories of earthly glory held by the Sadducees and Pharisees were consistently and methodically destroyed by the apostles; that the interview of Christ with Nicodemus was specially arranged in the wisdom of God to indicate that the only passport to the Kingdom of God which Christ came to establish was not a Jewish birth certificate but regeneration by the Spirit; and that they only had the right to be called the sons of God who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

The interpretations of the scribes and pharisees cling like limpets to the minds of our modern evangelical expositors, and the Church of Christ is hunted and hounded out of the Law, the Writings and the Prophets with the same diligence shown by Saul of Tarsus in his unconverted days when he harried and destroyed the Church of God.

Our battle is not just to establish or refute a Millenary theory but to defend the Church and preserve for her a whole Bible, to every part of which she may have the freest access. We refuse to be driven out of our inheritance by the merciless theories of the Sadducees or the proud boasting of the Pharisees, who said (and still say) that the Kingdom of Christ is an earthly thing and belongs to the earthly Jew as being the only rightful heir of Abraham - as though Paul had never lived and fought that battle at Galatia, Ephesus and Rome, as witness his epistles to those places.

On the contrary we say, “We (that is, all believing Jews and gentiles) are the Israel of God; they who are of faith - and these alone are blessed with faithful Abraham; we are the adoption who have received the spirit of adoption; we are the heirs of promise and of the covenant made with Abraham. For “if ye are Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed and heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3: 29).

As for Israel after the flesh (that is, the natural descendants of Abraham), these are not the children of the promise at all, as Paul says (Romans 9:8): “They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted for the seed”.

Again, “They are not all Israel which are of Israel” (Romans 9:6) then Paul says in Romans 11:26, “And so all Israel shall be saved” this is what ho means by ‘all Israel’ - the Israel of God in all ages, whether Jew or gentile — the spiritual Israel who are become Sons of God through Faith in Christ.

The Kingdom of God as foretold in the prophets is not an earthly, Jewish or Millennial thing. Against all the national theories of the Jews of His day, Christ declares, “The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation (that is, it is not a visible kingdom) neither shall they say, Lo here, or Lo there; for the Kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20—2l)

Let us not therefore, brethren, be deceived or mesmerised by the prospect of a kingdom of God on earth - a visible Throne at Jerusalem on which a visible Christ reigns, or another visible Temple (which He died to abolish), or a visible sacrificing priesthood re-established to insult the one sufficient priesthood and sacrifice of Himself — that sacrifice which was once for all, and that priesthood which is eternal and abolishes all priests and their service, which went before Him.

It is an essential part of most Millennial theories that a Temple must be erected again at Jerusalem, and blood sacrifices of beasts be offered in the very presence and with the approval, of the One who died to put away all this, and who, when the Temple veil was rent in twain at the moment of His atoning death, abolished Temple, Priesthood and Law in principle, as He did in historical and literal fact one generation later when the Roman Legions carried out the divine decree against a sinful nation and a seed of evil-doers.

Let us, my brethren, have no further mockery of Christ and His Word by these doctrines of the Sadducees. Because Christ presented Himself as the Son of God, the Messiah, yet did not bring with Him the expected earthly glory for Israel, they rejected and crucified Him - and to this day the Jewish nation ratifies the deed by refusing to recognise the One, who did not confer upon thorn the national glory and privilege they lusted after.

Let us not repeat their mistake. Let us hold fast to a whole, complete and undivided Bible in which from beginning to end there are only two peoples — the people of God and the children of the devil; two covenants — that which is unto life and that which is unto death; two dispensations — that of Grace and that of Law: and that these are not chronologically in sequence, but contemporaneous, from the beginning to the end of time.

Let us hold fast to the Bible doctrine that the people of God are one end the same in Old Testament and in New, be they Jew or gentile, bond or free, Greek or Barbarian. Those who are outside the fold of natural Israel by birth are in the fold of the spiritual Israel if they are true believers in Christ; those who are of natural Israel and boast of having Abraham to their father are nonetheless children of their father the devil unless they repent and believe the gospel (John 8:44).

There are no promises to Israel save those made to faith. Israel as a nation, even in her most favoured times, was never a nation of believers. At all times the words of Isaiah applied, “Except the. Lord had left us a very small remnant we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah” (Isa. 1:9). In every generation they slew the prophets and murdered the messengers of God, and finally said (when Christ appeared) “This is the heir, come, let us kill him and the inheritance shall be ours” (Mark 12:7).

WHAT THEN IS THE TRUTH ABOUT THE MILLENIUM?

It is just this, that the Thousand Years of Rev. 20 are none other than the time of the reign of the saints of Christ with Him in heaven (verse 4) while the gospel is preached on the earth to all the nations, adding in each generation its quota of martyrs and faithful witnesses to join the ransomed host mustering in glory. In other words, we believe in a spiritual, gospel Millennium, not a future, material and earthly one.

WHAT THEN IS THE BINDING OF SATAN FOR A THOUSAND YEARS?

The binding is the restriction of Satan’s power over the nations, in order that the elect in every clime and nation, language and people, in every age, should be delivered - for so is the word of Christ in Matt. 12:29 - “Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house and spoil his goods except he first bind the strong man and then he will spoil his house.” The context shows that it is Satan who is in view, and who was 'bound' at the beginning of the gospel era.

A needless mystery is made over the capacity of Satan to tempt and destroy despite the fact that he is ‘bound.’ As John Owen so well puts it (Hebrews, vol. 2, page 52):

"Christ has made a conquest over the evil powers, prevailing absolutely against them, and they are put in subjection to Him for ever. They are subjected to Him as to their present actings and future condition. He now rules them and will hereafter finally judge them. And insofar as in His holiness and wisdom He suffers them to act in temptations, seductions and persecutions, He bounds and limits their rage, malice and actings; He orders and disposes these events to His own Holy and righteous ends, and keeps them under chains for the judgment of the last day.”

See also Jude 6. Evil angels are already ‘in chains’ though they are never so active as now.

Ebrard suggests no locality is intended by the ‘bottomless pit’ but the words are a cymbal of the limits assigned by God to Satan’s power from the date of his fall to the last judgment. Satan is now permitted to wield his full influence on men, but only to the extent that the hand that binds him also looses him for the purposes of God’s providential rule.

Augustine: “The Bottomless Pit is the innumerable multitude of the wicked.”

For four thousand years Satan claimed the nations of the world as his territory while purposes were engaged in the preservation of the godly seed in the family of Abraham. Now in one shattering blow at the Cross his dominion over the nations was broken and his area of rule was confined to those limits which God prescribed until Christ should have finished His work in the gathering out of His elect from every nation and language.

Satan’s dragon power (Rev. 20, verse 2) as usurping the crowns of the nations, was smitten and bound by Christ’s victory over sin and death, so that he was not able to hinder the calling out of Christ’s predestined and eternally elected flock. He can menace and threaten and tempt, and even destroy the body, but cannot touch the soul of the elect, or prevent the effectual calling of those whom the Father has given to the Son (John 17).

WHAT THEN IS THE LOOSING OF SATAN?

This takes place at the end of gospel times, and is for a “Little Season” immediately prior to the Second Coming of Christ and the end of the world. For a comparatively short time (though it could last a century or more) Satan is permitted his ancient liberty to mobilise the nations and lead them against God and truth.

Gog and Magog reappear from Genesis 10, verse 2, and the 38th and 59th chapters of Ezekiel. ‘Gog and Magog’ are symbolic terms gathered from the pages of history to represent the limits of heathen power in Satan’s ancient empire.

On they come, lured by the Prince of Hell, for the last conflict with truth and light. God will exhibit the fact that Satan has power to act only as divine Sovereignty permits and ordains - a wholesome doctrine to which most of our shallow evangelicalism today is a stranger. What Satan has not been able to do for the entire Christian era he is now permitted to do, for God will demonstrate thereby, in preparation for the Last Judgment, that the heart of man does not change, but is ever ready to fill up the measure of iniquity as soon as restraints are off.

In vain do the nations march. They march to their own destruction. They think to devour the people of God and banish the name of God from the earth - but in fact they march only to the Judgment Seat. The fire of God’s wrath falls from heaven and. devours them.

“This quick and great apostasy proves that the Millennium is no triumphant and universal, reign of righteousness, and it disproves the supposition that during its course Christ is reigning visibly on the earth.” J. Agar Beet.

ARE THERE ANY SIGNS THAT THIS TIME IN WHICH WE LIVE, AT THE END OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY, IS SUCH A TIME AS SATAN’S UNLOOSING - THE TIME OF HIS LITTLE SEASON?

Indeed there are signs, which might be so interpreted.

We see these signs in the casting off by the nations of the world, of all semblance of restraint and the fear of God. An American prospective presidential candidate, Governor Romney, spoke in 1968 of America’s moral decay. Who needs to speak about Great Britain’s moral decay?

Five years have seen in Britain the placing on the Statute Book of enactments for the legalising of unnatural vice, the loosing of the great gambling avalanche, easier divorce, the Great Birth Pill (founded on the atheistic and materialistic notion that the increase of the human family is an evolutionary evil which God - if there is a God - ought to have foreseen but didn’t), the abolition of capital punishment, the raising of the restraints on crime, the restriction of the activities of the police, the raising of the censorship so that James Joyce’s vile, unexpurgated 'Ulysees' in all its moral rottenness and filth, and the equally vile book by D. H. Lawrence, ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ might be put out to debauch the minds of youth and reopen the doors of ancient dirt to the aged; the licensing of a film which portrays the most unmentionable type of female turpitude; the abolition of the Lord Chamberlain’s censorship over the live stage so that London might immediately have performance a of the unspeakable Broadway musical, 'Hair' with Hippy free-love in portrayal, naked men and women exhibiting themselves in public, and four-letter songs in which the only word heard is one of the vilest in the language.

Here is the rending of the veil to make sin familiar and easy, and rob it of its horror so that men and women will no longer feel shame as they abandon themselves to the last excesses of those sins which brought about the doom of Sodom.

THE PRIMEVAL ANARCHY TAKING OVER

God has been banished from science. The god of Evolution is up and the God of the Bible is out. The world made itself (says the devil) and all men believe the lie, and much more the corollary of the falsehood, that there can be no morality, no law, no absolute standards of behaviour. No longer can there be law or decency, right or wrong. Expediency is the only rule. The primeval anarchy is taking over. Gog and Magog have pranced out from their ancient fastnesses, Art and music have become heathen and godless. Church leaders make their peace with false and antichristian dictatorships masquerading as the Christian Church. The Reformation liquidates itself. Protestantism abdicates in favour of the Bishop of Rome. Even evangelical religion goes over to high-power salesmanship or to song and dance, pops and films, fast music and tom-toms, gowned choirs, flickering lights, trumpets and guitars, while the sermon becomes a story-telling, flimsy, superficial nausea.

The spirit of heathenism is moving in before our eyes — at immense speed — crushing everything in its path. If God did not shorten the days the very elect would be deceived. Even the new Calvinism, the Reformed Movement, the healthiest sign on the evangelical horizon for a century, is sinking into scholasticism and intellectualism, and dreamy, unrealistic speculation about 'Latter Day Glory' - the name fondly given to the idea that the world is really going too get better and better until all are converted and Christ’s Kingdom will be REALLY begun.
Bible criticism which destroyed Protestantism is now being studied as a 'must' in most British Bible Colleges (evangelical) as the only means of getting Government-recognised ‘degrees.’ The old poison bottles have been brought out of the academic cupboard to paralyse what is left of the evangelical testimony after dollar evangelism has done its worst.

It was Bible criticism which made way for Nordic Neo-Paganism and the rise of Hitler’s Germany. It has now cleared the decks for the last Satanism in Church, State, Society and Culture.

How good evangelical people can still endure the Millennial Myth and talk of future earthly glory while all the stark signs are round about, of the sinking of civilisation and the imminent crash upon us of Satanic hostility and open persecution, baffles and disturbs. Pulpit and pew should be reaching for its Bible with a new sense of urgency, and crowding into preaching service and prayer meeting to hear what God the Lord will speak in the hour of crisis new upon us. Alas for the most part we no longer have prophets. We see not our signs, neither is there any among us that can tell us, How long? (Psalm 74).

“Lift up thy feet unto the perpetual desolations even all that the enemy hath done wickedly in the sanctuary. Thine enemies roar in the midst of thy congregations; they have set up their ensigns for signs. A man was famous according as he had lifted up axes upon the thick trees (for the building of the Temple). But now they break down the carved work thereof (sound doctrine and true worship) with axes and hammers…” (see Psalm 74).

BRITAIN & U.S.A

What intelligent Christian acquainted with the true situation can now believe there can be any return to the old Christian civilisation of the West? Great Britain has committed suicide as a nation, and our American counterpart (with whom, for weal or woe, we must live together or hang together) has been busy for years past doing the same. The bloody fields of Vietnam have drained her lifeblood in a ruinous war which she could win and dared not lose; could not win, because despite the greatest army the world has ever seen, equipped with the most scientific means of destruction ever fabricated by human ingenuity, America has already lost the war at home against the powers of hell, which are systematically destroying home, religion, decency and law. And what is thorn left to fight for when these already lie dead on the battlefield as the first casualties?

Rome and atheism are dividing the world between them in the mutual respect which power has for power. The old order in Church and State, the legacy of the glorious Reformation, has been overwhelmed totally by the forces of atheism and superstition.

Nothing like this crash of the nations, institutions, culture, law and decency has been seen in the world since the gospel came in — or, for that matter, since the days before the Flood. The gathering speed of this movement to violence and moral anarchy is colossal. The purpose is obvious - to crush out the name of God from the earth. The only protesters left will be the believing remnant of the Lord’s elect, against whom Satan's spite is principally directed. We evangelical believers will survive the conflict because we only have the answer - the Bible and the God of the Bible. Only to us do the Name of God and His Sovereign rights and prerogatives mean a thing.

AND NOW THE DEVIL’S BIBLE

Another enormity to emerge is one of the most terrifying of all - THE DEVIL’S BIBLE. This is not the name given to it but this is what it is. It is a pictorialised edition of the Bible (with apocrypha) illustrated by modern “artists” who have illuminated the pages of Holy Writ with disgusting, pornographic drawings. At the time of writing, the thing has been out only a week, and the Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr. Michael Ramsey) at a pre-view thereof, has described the blasphemy as ‘quite exciting.’ We happen to know that most of the ‘artists’ are atheists.

THE ELECTION OF GRACE

If we ever had any doubt about the doctrine of the Election of Grace, let us now perceive after 2,000 years of gospel mercy what man will do if left to himself. So far from the world seeking conversion, it taking the bit between its teeth and racing on to its own destruction.

We are surely living in the days of the last repudiation of the gospel, of the Word of God, and of Christ.

Though dare not finally assert, we may have every justification to point to the signs, and say, “This is the time, Brethren; here is the Loosing of Satan. The Judge is at the gate. Let us look up, for our redemption draweth nigh.”

“Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels…” (Malachi 3: 16—17)

“O, Blessed Saviour, what strange variety of conceits do I find concerning thy thousand years reign? What riddles there are in that prophecy which no human tongue can read. Where to fix the beginning of that marvellous Millenary, and where the end, and what manner of reign it shall be — whether temporal or spiritual, on earth or in heaven - undergoes as many constrictions as there are pens that have undertaken it; and yet when all is done I see thine apostle speaks only of the souls of the martyrs reigning so long with thee, not of thy reigning so long on earth with those martyrs. How busy are the tongues of men - how are their brains taken up with the indeterminable construction of this enigmatical truth, when in the meantime the care of thy spiritual reign in their hearts is neglected. O my Saviour, while others weary themselves with the disquisition of Thy personal reign here on earth for a thousand years, let it be the whole bent end study of my soul the make sure of my personal reign with thee in heaven to all eternity.” Bishop Joseph Hall (1574 - 1656,).

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