Objections against the Millennium, answer’d. With some Conjectures concerning the state of things after the Millennium: and what will be the final Consummation of this World.
You see how Nature and Providence have conspir’d, to make the Millennium as happy a state, as any Terrestrial state can be. For, besides health and Plenty: Peace, Truth, and Righteousness will flourish there, and all the evils of this life stand excluded. There will be no ambitious Princes, studying mischief one against another; or contriving methods to bring their own Subjects into slavery. No mercenary Statesmen, to assist and intrigue with them. No oppression from the powerful, no snares or traps laid for the innocent. No treacherous friends, no malicious Enemies. No knaves, cheats, hypocrites; the Vermin of this Earth, that swarm every where. There will be nothing but truth, candor, sincerity, and ingenuity: as in a Society or Commonwealth of Saints and Philosophers. In a word, ’twill be Paradise Restor'd: both as to innocency of temper, and the beauties of Nature.
I believe you will be apt to say, If this be not true, ’tis pity but that it should be true. For ’tis a very desirable state, where all good People would find themselves mightily at ease. What is it that hinders it then? It must be some ill Genius. For Nature tends to such a Renovation, as we suppose: and Scripture speaks loudly of an happy state to be, some time or other, on this side Heaven. And what is there, pray, in this present World, natural or moral, if I may ask with reverence, that could make it worth the while for God to create it, if it never was better, nor ever will be better? Is there not more misery than happiness: Is there not more vice than virtue, in this World? as if it had been made by a
[paragraph continues] Manichean God. The Earth barren, the Heavens inconstant: Men wicked, and God offended. This is the posture of our affairs: such hath our World been hitherto with wars and bloudshed, sickness and diseases, poverty, servitude and perpetual drudgery for the necessaries of a mortal life. We may therefore reasonably hope, from a God infinitely good and powerful, for better times and a better state, before the last period and consummation of all things.
But it will be objected, it may be, that, according to Scripture, the vices and wickedness of men will continue to the end of the World; and so there will be no room for such an happy state, as we hope for. Our Saviour says,Luke 18. 8. When the son of man cometh, shall he find faith upon the Earth? They shall eat and drink and play, as before the destruction of the old World, or of Sodom, (Luk. 17. 26, &c.) and the wickedness of those men, you know, continued to the last. This objection may pinch those that suppose the Millennium to be in the present Earth, and a thousand years before the coming of our Saviour: for his words seem to imply that the World will be in a state of wickedness even till his coming. Accordingly Antichrist or the Man of Sin, is not said to be destroy’d till the coming of our Saviour. 2 Thess. 2. 8. and till he be destroy’d, we cannot hope for a Millennium. Lastly, the Coming of our Saviour is always represented in Scripture as sudden, surprising and unexpected. As Lightning breaking suddenly out of the clouds, (Luk. 17. 24. and ch. 21. 34, 35.) or as a thief in the night, 1 Thess. 5. 2, 3, 4. 2 Pet. 3. 10. Apoc. 16. 15. But if there be such a forerunner of it as the Millennial state, whose bounds we know, according as that expires and draws to an end, men will be certainly advertis’d of the approaching of our Saviour. But this objection, as I told you, does not affect our hypothesis, for we suppose the Millennium will not be till after the coming of our Saviour, and the Conflagration. And also that his coming will be sudden and surprising: and that Antichrist will continue in being, tho’ not in the same degree of power, till that time. So that they that place the Millennium in the present Earth, are chiefly concern’d to answer this first objection.
But you will object, it may be, in the second place, That this Millennium, wheresoever it is, would degenerate, at length, into sensuality, and a Mahometan Paradise. For where there are early pleasures and earthly appetites, they will not be kept always in order, without any excess or luxuriancy: especially as to the senses of touch and taste. I am apt to think this is true, if the Soul have no more power over the body than she hath at present: and our senses, passions, and appetites be as strong as they are now. But according to our explication of the Millennium, we have great reason to hope, that the Soul will have a greater dominion over the Resurrection-body, than she hath over this. And you know we suppose that none will truly inherit the Millennium, but those that rise from the Dead. Nor do we admit any propagation there, nor the trouble or weakness of Infants. But that all rise in a perfect age, and never die: being translated, at the final judgment, to meet our Saviour in the clouds, and to be with him for ever. Thus we easily avoid the force of this objection. But those that place the Millennium in this life, and to be enjoy’d in these Bodies, must find out some new preservatives against vice: otherwise they will be continually subject to degeneracy.
Another objection may be taken from the personal Reign of Christ upon Earth: which is a thing incongruous, and yet asserted by many modern Millenaries. That Christ should leave that right hand of his Father, to come and pass a thousand years here below: living upon Earth in an heavenly Body: This, I confess, is a thing I never could digest, and therefore I am not concern’d in this objection; not thinking it necessary that Christ should be personally present and resident upon Earth in the Millennium. I am apt to believe that there will be then a celestial presence of Christ, if I may so call it; as the Sun is present to the Earth, yet never leaves its place in the Firmament; so Christ may be visibly conspicuous in his heavenly Throne, as he was to St. Steven:Act. 7. 55, 56. and yet never leave the right hand of his Father. And this would be a more glorious and illustrious presence, than if he should descend, and converse amongst men in a personal shape. But these things not being distinctly reveal’d to us, we ought not to determine any thing concerning them, but with modesty and submission.
We have thus far pretty well escap’d, and kept ourselves out of the reach of the ordinary objections against the Millennium. But there remains one, concerning a double Resurrection, which must fall upon every Hypothesis: and ’tis this. The Scripture, they say, speaks but of one Resurrection: whereas the doctrine of the Millennium supposes two; one at the beginning of the Millennium, for the Martyrs, and those that enjoy that happy state, and the other at the end of it; which is universal and final, in the last day of judgment. ’Tis true, Scripture generally speaks of the Resurrection in gross: without distinguishing first and second; and so it speaks of the Coming of our Saviour, without distinction of first or second; yet it does not follow from that, that there is but one coming of our Saviour: so neither that there is but one Resurrection. And seeing there is one place of Scripture that speaks expresly and distinctly of two Resurrections, namely the 20th chap. of the Apocalypse: that is to us a sufficient warrant for asserting two. As there are some things in one Evangelist that are not in another, yet we think them authentick if they be but in one. There are also some things in Daniel, concerning the Messiah, and concerning the Resurrection, that are not in the rest of the Prophets: yet we look upon his single testimony, as good authority. St. John writ the last of all the Apostles: and as the whole series of his Prophecies is new, reaching through the later times to the Consummation of all things; so we cannot wonder if he had something more particular reveal’d to him concerning the Resurrection; that which was spoken of before in general, being distinguish’d now into First and Second, or particular and universal, in this last Prophet. Some think St. Paul means no less, when he makes an order in the Resurrection:See Mr. Mede. some rising sooner, some later: 1 Cor. 15. 23, 24. 1 Thess. 4. 14, 15, &c. but whether that be so or no, St. John might have a more distinct revelation concerning it, than St. Paul had, or any one before him.
After these Objections, a great many Quæries and difficulties might be propos’d relating to the Millennium. But that's no more than what is found in all other matters, remote from our knowledge. Who can answer all the Quæries that may be made concerning Heaven, or Hell, or Paradise? When we know a thing as to the substance, we are not to let go our hold, tho’ there remain some
difficulties unresolv’d; otherwise we should be eternally Sceptical in most matters of knowledge. Therefore, tho’ we cannot, for example, give a full account of the distinction of habitations and inhabitants in the Future Earth: or, of the order of the first Resurrection; whether it be performed by degrees and successively, or all the Inhabitants of the New Jerusalem rise at once, and continue throughout the whole Millennium. I say, tho’ we cannot give a distinct account of these, or such like particulars, we ought not therefore to deny or doubt whether there will be a New Earth, or a First Resurrection. For the Revelation goes clearly so far: and the obscurity is only in the consequences and dependances of it. Which Providence thought fit, without further light, to leave to our search and disquisition.
Scripture mentions one thing, at the end of the Millennium, which is a common difficulty to all; and every one must contribute their best thoughts and conjectures towards the solution of it. ’Tis the strange doctrine of Gog and Magog;Apoc. 20. 8, 9. which are to rise up in rebellion against the Saints, and besiege the holy City, and the holy Camp. And this is to be upon the expiration of the thousand years, when Satan is loosen’d. For no sooner will his Chains be knock’d off, but he will put himself in the head of this Army of Gyants, or Sons of the Earth, and attack Heaven, and the Saints of the most High. But with ill success, for there will come down fire and lightning from Heaven, and consume them. This, methinks, hath a great affinity with the history of the Gyants, rebelling and assaulting Heaven, and struck down by thunder-bolts. But that of setting mountains upon mountains, or tossing them into the Skie, that's the Poetical part, and we must not expect to find it in the Prophecy. The Poets told their fable, as of a thing past, and so it was a fable; But the Prophets speak of it, as of a thing to come, and so it will be a reality. But how and in what sence it is to be understood and explain’d, every one has the liberty to make the best judgment he can.
Ezekiel mentions Gog and Magog:ch. 38, & 39. which I take to be onely types and shadows of these which we are now speaking of: and not yet exemplified, no more than his Temple. And seeing this People is to be at the end of the Millennium, and in the same Earth with it, We must, according to our Hypothesis, plant them in the Future Earth; and therefore all former conjectures about the Turks, or Scythians, or other Barbarians, are out of doors with us, seeing the Scene of this action does not lie in the present Earth. They are also represented by the Prophet, as a People distinct and separate from the Saints, not in their manners onely, but also in their seats and habitations;Apoc. 20. 8, 9. For they are said to come up from the four corners of the Earth, upon the breadth of the Earth: and there to besiege the Camp of the Saints and the beloved City: This makes it seem probable to me, that there will be a double race of Mankind in that Future Earth: very different one from another, both as to their temper and disposition, and as to their origine. The one born from Heaven, Sons of God, and of the Resurrection: who are the true Saints and heirs of the Millennium. The others born of the Earth, Sons of the Earth, generated from the slime of the ground, and the heat of the Sun, as brute Creatures were at first. This second Progeny or Generation of Men in the Future Earth, I understand to be signified by the Prophet under these borrowed or feigned names of Gog and Magog. And this Earth-born race, encreasing and
multiplying after the manner of Men, by carnal propagation, after a thousand years, grew numerous, as the Sand by the Sea; and thereupon made an irruption or inundation upon the face of the Earth, and upon the habitations of the Saints; As the barbarous Nations did formerly upon Christendom: Or as the Gyants are said to have made War against the Gods. But they were soon confounded in their impious and sacrilegious design, being struck and consum’d by fire from Heaven.
Some will think, it may be, that there was such a double race of Mankind in the first World also. The Sons of Adam, and the Sons of God: because it is said, Gen. 6. When men began to multiply upon the face of the Earth, that the SONS OF GOD SAW THE DAUGHTERS OF MEN, that they were fair, and they took them Wives of all that they lik’d. And it is added presently, ver. 4. There were Gyants in the Earth in those days; and also after that, when the Sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them: the same became mighty men, which were of old men of renown. Here seem to be two or three orders or races in this Ante-diluvian World. The Sons of God: The Sons and Daughters of Adam: and a third sort arising from the mixture and copulation of these, which are call’d Mighty men of old, or Hero's. Besides, here are Gyants mention’d, and to which they are to be reduc’d, it does not certainly appear.
This mixture of these two Races, whatsoever they were, gave, it seems, so great offence to God, that he destroy’d that World upon it, in a Deluge of Water. It hath been matter of great difficulty to determine, who these Sons of God were, that fell in love with and married the daughters of men. There are two conjectures that prevail most: One, that they were Angels: and another, that they were of the Posterity of Seth, and distinguish’d from the rest, by their Piety, and the worship of the true God: so that it was a great crime for them to mingle with the rest of mankind, who are suppos’d to have been Idolaters. Neither of these opinions is to me satisfactory. For as to Angels; Good Angels neither marry, nor are given in marriage; Matt. 22. 30. and bad Angels are not call’d the Sons of God. Besides, if Angels were capable of those mean pleasures, we ought in reason to suppose, that there are female Angels, as well as male; for surely those capacities are not in vain through a whole Species of Beings. And if there be female Angels, we cannot imagine, but that they must be of a far more charming beauty than the dowdy daughters of men. Then as to the line of Seth, It does not appear that there was any such distinction of Idolaters and true Worshippers before the Flood, or that there was any such thing, as Idolatry, at that time: nor for some Ages after. Besides, it is not said that the Sons of God fell in love with the Daughters of Cain, or of any degenerate race, but with the Daughters of Adam: which may be the Daughters of Seth, as well as of any other. These conjectures therefore seem to be shallow and ill grounded. But what the distinction was of those two orders, remains yet very uncertain.
St. Paul to the Galatians, (chap. 4. 21, 22, &c.) makes a distinction also of a double Progeny: that of Sarah, and that of Hagar. One was born according to the flesh, after a natural manner: and the other by the divine power, or in vertue of the divine promise. This distinction of a natural and supernatural origine, and of a double progeny: the one born to servitude, the other to liberty: represents
very well either the manner of our present birth, and of our future, at the Resurrection: Or that double progeny and double manner of birth, which we suppose in the Future Earth. ’Tis true, St. Paul applies this to the Law and the Gospel; but Typical things, you know, have different aspects and completions: which are not exclusive of one another: and so it may be here. But however this double race of Mankind in the Future Earth, to explain the doctrine of Gog and Magog, is but a conjecture: and does not pretend to be otherwise consider’d.
The last thing that remains to be consider’d and accounted for, is the upshot and conclusion of all: namely, what will become of the Earth after the thousand years expir’d? Or after the Day of Judgment past, and the Saints translated into Heaven, what will be the face of things here below? There being nothing expresly reveal’d concerning this, we must not expect a positive resolution of it. And the difficulty is not peculiar to our hypothesis: for though the Millennium, and the final Judgment were concluded in the present Earth, the Quære would still remain, What would become of this Earth after the Last Day. So that all parties are equally concern’d, and equally free, to give their opinion, What will be the last state and Consummation of this Earth. Scripture, I told you, hath not defin’d this point: and the Philosophers say very little concerning it. The Stoicks indeed speak of the final resolution of all things into Fire, or into Æther: which is the purest and subtlest sort of fire. So that the whole Globe or Mass of the Earth, and all particular bodies, will, according to them, be at last dissolv’d into a liquid flame. Neither was this doctrine first invented by the Stoicks: Heraclitus taught it long before them: and I take it to be as ancient as Orpheus himself: who was the first Philosopher amongst the Greeks. And he deriving his notions from the Barbarick Philosophers, or the Sages of the East, that School of wisdom may be look’d upon as the true seminary of this doctrine: as it was of most other natural knowledge.
But this dissolution of the Earth into Fire, may be understood two ways; either that it will be dissolv’d into a loose flame, and so dissipated and lost as Lightning in the Air, and vanish into nothing; or that it will be dissolv’d into a fixt flame, such as the Sun is, or a fixt Star. And I am of opinion, that the Earth after the last Day of Judgment, will be chang’d into the nature of a Sun, or of a fixt Star: and shine like them in the Firmament. Being all melted down into a mass of 'Ethereal matter, and enlightning a Sphere or Orb round about it. I have no direct and demonstrative proof of this, I confess; But if Planets were once fixt Stars, as I believe they were; their revolution to the same state again, in a great circle of Time, seems to be according to the methods of Providence; which loves to recover what was lost or decay’d, after certain periods: and what Rom. 8. 21. was originally good and happy, to make it so again; All Nature, at last, being transform’d into a like glory with the Sons of God.
I will not tell you what foundation there is in Nature, for this change or trans-formation; from the interiour constitution of the Earth, and the instances we have seen of new Stars appearing in the Heavens. I should lead the English Reader too far out of his way, to discourse of these things. But if there be any passages or expressions in Scripture, that countenance such a state of things after
the day of judgment, it will not be improper to take notice of them. That radiant and illustrious Jerusalem, describ’d by St. John Apoc. 21. ver. 10, 12, &c. compos’d all of Gemms and bright materials, clear and sparkling, as a Star in the Firmament: Who can give an account what that is? Its foundations, walls, gates, streets, all the Body of it, resplendent as light or fire. What is there in Nature, or in this Universe, that bears any resemblance with such a Phænomenon as this, unless it be a Sun or a fixt Star? Especially if we add and consider what follows, That the City had no need of the Sun, nor of the Moon, to shine in it. And that there was no night there. ver. 23.
ver. 25. This can be no Terrestrial Body; it must be a substance luminous in it self, and a fountain of light, as a fixt Star. And upon such a change of the Earth, or transformation, as this, would be brought to pass the saying that is written, DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY. Which indeed St. Paul seems to apply to our Bodies in particular, 1 Cor. 15. 54. But in the Eighth Chap. to the Romans He extends it to all Nature. ver. 21.The Creation it self also shall be deliver’d from the bondage of Corruption, into the glorious liberty of the Sons of God. And accordingly St. John speaking of the same time with St. Paul in that place to the Corinthians, namely of the general Resurrection and day of Judgment, says, Death and Hades, which we render Hell, were cast into the lake of fire. Apoc. 20. 14.This is their being swallowed up in victory, which St. Paul speaks of; when Death and Hades, that is, all the Region of mortality: The Earth and all its dependances: are absorpt into a mass of Fire; and converted, by a glorious Victory over the power of darkness, into a Luminous Body and a region of Light.
This great Issue and Period of the Earth, and of all humane affairs, tho’ it seem to be founded in nature, and supported by several expressions of Scripture; yet we cannot, for want of full instruction, propose it otherwise than as a fair Conjecture. The Heavens and the Earth shall flie away at the day of Judgment, says the Text: Apoc. 20. 11. And their place shall not be found. This must be understood of our Heavens and our Earth. And their flying away must be their removing to some other part of the Universe; so as their place or residence shall not be found any more here below. This is the easie and natural sence of the Words; and this translation of the Earth will not be without some change preceding, that makes it leave its place, and, with a lofty flight, take its seat amongst the Stars. . . . . . There we leave it; Having conducted it for the space of Seven Thousand Years, through various changes from a dark Chaos to a bright Star.