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One difficulty in the way of assenting to these views of Mr. S. is, that this period is so excessively long, that during the reign of peace, and temperance, and holiness, and the absence of many causes of human destruction for 514,000 years, this little globe must be overstocked with human beings. This objection does not lie so strongly to the interpretation which regards each year as expressing 360 years, as one day denotes 360 days, for on this construction we have the exact number 360,000 years, instead of the number 514,000 years. There is here a difference of the no small sum of 154,000 years in favor of taking the definite number, as we have it in John, supposing each year to stand for 360 years. Such in fact is the construction of some eminent men, who have written on the millennium; and their construction seems preferable to that, which, regarding the number as indefinite, yet maintains, that its lowest import is 514,000 years, while it may mean a much larger number.
15. But why need we suppose the “ thousand years” of the reign of Christ to mean any thing more, than a thousand literal years? Is it because the phrase "a thousand" is often used in Scripture tropically and indefinitely, as in these instances," the cattle on a thousand hills;-a day in thy courts is better than a thousand ?" It is true, that there are instances of the use of the phrase thus indefinitely ; but it is also true on the other hand, that there are many instances, in which the phrase is to be understood literally, as “ of every tribe a thousand send to war,” Numb. 31. 4. “Na. bal had a thousand goats,” i Sam. 2 : 52. Also in the fol. lowing places, Gen. 20:16, Numb. 35:4, Judg. 9:49, 1 Sam. 18: 13, 2 Sam. 19: 17, 2 Kings 15: 19, 1 Chron. 19: 6, Job 42: 12, Ezek. 47: 3.
It is so also with the phrase "ten thousand." It is sometimes used indefinitely, as "ten thousand shall fall at thy right hand,” and often definitely or literally, as “they slew of Moab ten thousand men,” Judg. 3: 29., "he carried away even ten thousand captives,” 2 Kings, 24:14, etc.
There is nothing, therefore, in the customary use of the phrase, “a thousand,” in other places, which will determine its import in the book of Revelation. The probability of its being used there indefinitely or definitely must be determined by examining the place itself, and from the nature of the case. If we suppose a year to mean 360 years, then the.
probability is in favor of 360,000 years rather than 514,000, because the less number is definite, and is attended with less difficulty in regard to the overstocked population of the globe.
But why is it necessary to understand the "years" to mean any thing but literal years ? Excepting in Rev. 20, the word years is not used in the book of Revelation, and almost without exception the word is used literally in other parts of the New Testament. The phrase “3 1-2 years," is not in the Apocalypse. Because the word day is used to denote a year, it does not follow, that the word year must mean 360 years, for the same prophetical writing may have periods both symbolical and literal. Indeed, if one period is symbolical of another, it would seem, that the last must be a literal period,- an exact, intelligible period. Thus the use of days as symbolical of years implies, that years is used in its common meaning.
16. It ought not to be overlooked, that the great body of commentators on the book of Revelation from the first century have understood the 1000 years to be literal years, how. ever much they have differed in the assignment of those years in the course of time. Vitringa asks, “Quin imo, si Regno Christi Jesu in hisce terris danda sint feliciora aliqua et tranquilliora tempora, quam Ecclesia hactenus vidit; an proba. bile est, minore illa circumscripta fore spatio, quam mille annorum ? Esse autem meliora tempora danda Regno Christi in his terris, clamant Prophetarum oracula ; suadet ratio, et hoc fere tempore concedunt omnes, qui ad res divinas intelligendas animum suum admoverunt.”
Circumstances may show which sense of the term years is employed; or the sense may be intentionally left doubtful in the wisdom of God, until thefulfilment clears up the mystery. Whether “years” be used literally, or symbolically for 360 years, is of no consequence in regard to the beginning of the millennium, which is the only matter of present interest to the church. But that a precise period, of the duration of the millennium, either exactly “1000 years," or exactly “360,000 years," is intended, seems to be indicated by the declaration, that after the end of the period, during which be is bound, Satan “must be loosed a little season ;" by the 5th verse, “ the rest of the dead lived not, until the 1000 years were finished;" by the 6th verse, “they shall be priests of
God and Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years," at the end of which Satan should be loosed out of prison, and should go out to deceive the nations.
It is sometimes thought, that if the exact year for the triumph of the cross was defined, the effect would be adverse to Christian effort. “Of what avail, then," it is asked, “would all efforts be, that might be made before the predicted period ? This is an interpretation, which settles down the church upon her lees, until the destined year be ushered in." Bib. Repos. Vol. V. p. 82.
To this it may be replied, that as the beginning of the 1260 years is somewhat uncertain, so the time of its ending is also. doubtful ;-it may be as early as. 1866; or it may be as late as 1925. But whether it be distant 30 years only, or 85 years, or more, to the beginning of the millennium, surely the comparatively small church, in seeing three quarters of the world, that is, 400 or 500 millions of men, still under the dominion of Satan, will find occasion enough for all possible effort in order to accomplish the conversion of the world even within one or two centuries. To this effort the greatest encouragement is, that the time is near, when the gospel shall triumph, and that God will assuredly attend the effort with his divine blessing.
If it be asked, “Why should Christians be made to believe, that before 1840, or 1847, or 1866, or 1875, or at any other definite period, no efforts will avail to bring in the Jews with the fulness of the Gentiles into the church of God ?" And if it should be said, “ They should not so believe. The millennium will come, when all the followers of Jesus will do their duty. This is the true Christian faith, which believes this and puts the principle in practice.” p. 83. Perhaps a reply may be made in the following manner.
Whether or not a definite period for the beginning of the millennium be mentioned in Scripture, and revealed io man; yet doubtless in the mind and purpose of God a definite time is fixed. The thousand years' reign of Christ will not com. mence before the time which God has determined. In the view of Omniscience there can be no uncertainty as to this period, as there is no uncertainty in regard to any event whatever. The infallible promise is made to Christ, that he shall reign over all the earth; and the precise methods, by which his kingdom will be extended and established, are
SECOND SERIES, VOL. IV. NO. I.
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ordained, and disclosed to us. If the time is fixed, why should not Christians believe this? God also has fixed the period of each man's death ; no man will die before that time ;-but can it be inferred, that the care of health and life is idle? Does not the same infinite wisdom, which contemplates the end, contemplate also the means ?
The true way of stating the case may be this: The command of God binds Christians to the most strenuous efforts, and the most fervent, importunate prayer for the universal establishment of the kingdom of Christ in this world. This is their duty, whatever may be the time for the commence.ment of the millennium. Such was the obligation, resting on the primitive believers 1800 years ago. Such is the obliga. tion which now rests upon believers.
But, although the duty be the same at all periods, yet the encouragement, the animating motive to Christians is greater, if they see the signs of the near overthrow of the enemies of the church, and of the near triumph of Christ's kingdom. And as the immense work of communicating the gospel to three quarters of the inhabitants of the world is a prerequisite to the reign of Christ,—is the indispensable means to this end ;-and as the work must be accomplished by human agency and not by the agency of angels ;-what believer, who is persuaded that the millennium is nigh, will not be roused to energetic toil and importunate prayer ? It is now the crisis of the battle. The blow may now be struck; the enemy overthrown and put to fight. Who shall prove himself the traitor? Who shall shrink away from the contest? Who shall not go on with the great army, under Him, who goes forth “conquering and to conquer ?” Who would not join the most certain shout of triumph?
There are some who regard it as an idle employment to attempt a true explanation of the numbers, given in the prophecies. But surely it was not an idle employment for the ancient Jews to endeavor to understand the meaning of the “ 70 weeks" of Daniel, beginning with the command to rebuild Jerusalein, and ending with the coming of the Messialı, Dan. 9, 25. By this prophecy the Jewish people were induced to expect the Messiah at about the time when he appeared.
Even God recommends or commands a diligent inquiry on this subject. “Here is wisdom. Let him, that hath us.
derstanding, count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred, threescore and six." Rev. 13: 18.
If it should be admitted, that the explanation of Irenæus, who found the number 666 in the Greek word, SATELVOS denoting the Latin or Roman Antichrist, is erroneous, and, that the nümber has not been counted to the satisfaction of reason; yet it may be counted hereafter, so as to exclude all doubt. On the supposition, that a clear, unquestioned explanation should be given, and that the precise period of the rise of Antichrist, generally believed to be at some point between the year 600 and 752,-should be found ; then by the addi. tion of 1260 years the precise time for the overthrow of Antichrist will be known. If there is a strong probability, that the origin of the persecuting power of the beast is to be dated somewhere from 600 to 752; then in the near approach of the millennium we should find cause of effort and grounds of hope. Even if no certainty on this subject should be obtained until the actual overthrow of Antichrist ; yet, if then the mystery should be cleared up, and the light of certainty should strike every mind, all believers would thus be led to adore the infinite wisdom of God, who “declares the end from the beginning," and whose purposes are accomplished throughout all the earth.
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In conclusion, the following schemes are proposed for the consideration of the reader:
First, we may date the rise of Antichrist in the year A. D. 606, when Phocas, then on the throne at Constantinople, constituted Boniface the third, (the bishop of Rome,) the universal bishop and supreme head of the church.
Or we may fix this date at A. D. 610, about which time Boniface IV. received from Phocas the Pantheon, at Rome, and converted it into a church; retaining, however, the pagan idolatry. “Here Cybele was succeeded by the virgin Mary, and the pagan deities, by Christian martyrs. Idolatry still subsisted, but the objects of it were changed.” This, too, was about the period of the rise of Mohammedanism.
If we add to these dates the period of 1260 years, then the overthrow of Antichrist will be A. D. 1866, or 1870.
Next, we may date the rise of Antichrist in the year A.