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It was declared by our Saviour, notwithstanding the powerful means of conviction afforded by himself, in the miracles which he wrought, that “the kingdom of God cometh not with observation " that is, not with notices of its approach so palpable and nearly allied to demonstration, that the evidences of its presence would be absolutely irresistible. And we see they were resisted by the Jews, are still resisted by the Antichristians, and will be rejected by many in the age of the Millennium. So neither will the evidence of any other prophetic event of an inferior consequence, be so abundant and undeniable, that there shall be no room for dissent. In all such cases God appeals to that reason and judgment with which he has endued mankind, (158) and affords to the candid sufficient grounds of credibility whereon, rejecting only the monstrous fictions of superstition and fanaticism, they may rationally and piously too “build up themselves in their most holy faith.” (159)
(158) Luke xii. 57. (159) Jude. xx.
The wisdom and uniformity of the divine oeconomy.— In every dispensation unchanged.—-Affords a strong presumption that the first resurrection will not be literal —The divine power sparingly exerted in reversing the established orde of nature.—The difficulty of assigning a reasonable cause for a first resurrection, -and of providing an earthly happiness suitable to the nature of immortal and glorified saints.-Scripture testimony unfavorable to that doctrine.—The reconciliation of the jews, an event of principal importance in the prophets.-The divine call to converting Irael in Psalm 50.—represented as a judicial arbitration"—in which Christ is judge as jehovah, the God of Israel.
The propriety of a conduct such as has been described, in the government of Christ's church and kingdom, seems to be entirely evident in itself; and it is moreover additionally confirmed by its uniformity with his former dealings with his rational creatures from the beginning of the world. It is therefore to be presumed, that in this respect the age of the millennium will not differ from all former periods of the world, in which generation has succeeded to generation only according to the established course of nature; and that mankind will be still in a state of probation, the very same as heretofore. They will not be governed by the impulse of irresistible impressions, but amenable to a future judgment for the voluntary good or evil of their actions: yielding to God the grateful obedience of their faith, as well as of their moral virtue; or, as the apostle expresses it, “walking by faith and not by right.” In a word, that the secrets of the invisible world will not be openly divulged to mankind in a state of mortality, or “the invisible things of God be clearly seen by the things which do appear,” (160) otherwise than as they are at
*See also Section 53. WOL. III. C C
(160) Romans i. 20. That text 1 John i. 1, 2, refers to a miraculous reversing of the laws of nature, but only in a single ins ance, the manifestation of Christ, in proof of the
present, from our natural reflections upon the wisdom and power of God, apparent in the ordinary laws and oeconomy of nature.
It is upon the strength of my convictions of this kind, that, with reluctance, I feel an obligation to dissent from the opinion of Mr. Sharp, upon the subject of the first resurrection, or kingdom of the saints in the millennium; and cannot help still considering the prophetical representation of these things in the Revelation of St. John, as wholly figurative, and designed to be applied to objects very different from those which the literal sense of the words suggest.
It is of the nature of prophecy in general, to wrap up the revelation intended to be conveyed, in a figurative covering; a remark which is more peculiarly applicable to the Revelation of St. John; for it is the only book in the whole canon of scripture which mentions a double resurrection, or where it is even distantly alluded to, otherwise than as a figure of the restoration of the Jews, the great and ever-recurring subject of the ancient prophecies.
world; redemption. The manifestation of the raised saints would prove nothing. - C C 2
That St. John, in Revelations xx. 4, has also that object in view, is made very highly probable, by the important remark of Brightman:—that the last of the prophets cannot be supposed to have omitted altogether the great and glorious subject of the restoration of the Jews, on which the other prophets, actuated by the same holy Spirit, delight to dwell; but may reasonably be imagined to have dedicated his two chapters upon the NEw JERUs ALEM, to the illustration of preceding prophecy upon the restoration of that city and people of David ; as in the first resurrection he has applied to it the vision in Ezekiel, of the dry bones restored to life. The exultation of joy and hope expressed by St. Paul, in the prophetic prospect of the certain, though distant, expectation of the redemption of his lamented countrymen; not obscurely and individually one by one, but nationally, even “all Israel;” tends strongly to prove the same