SAINTS AND SINNERS AT THE
COMING OF THE LORD
JOHN STRAITON, 65 FOYLE STREET.
C.E. EDMONDSON, FISHER STREET.
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JESUS and the Resurrection ever held the fore ground in Apostolic preaching. With the Moderns it is not so - Jesus remains, but the resurrection is kept in the rear and in many instances almost, if not entirely, forgotten. This results from the ample presence of Jewish and heathen leaven. The "doctrines of demons," adopted from pagan worship, largely obscured the doctrine of Christ, in regard to the resurrection, while Millenarianism, derived from Judaism, has arrayed it in apparel so various and grotesque that sober-minded Christians find reasonable excuse for not keeping its company over much.
Still the grand old truth is in the Book of God. It also lives in the hearts and minds of preachers, who tell it out uncontaminated by the leaven of the Sadducees and free from the errors of premillennialism.
But its old place is its right place, and we cannot thrust it back without loss. Brethren, think of the resurrection! Preach the resurrection! Strive for the better resurrection! Labour, that when saints and sinners come forth at the sound of the last trump your place may be the first rank.
The writer has taken up his pen to supply a brief yet comprehensive treatise on this interesting theme, partly because there seems a special need for something of the sort, and partly as a saving of time to himself, as many submit inquiries which by private correspondence would require as much time to answer as in this way is sufficient to reach thousands.
"PROVE ALL THINGS. HOLD FAST THAT WHICH IS GOOD."
THE RESURRECTION UNIVERSAL.
"All that are in the grave shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." - John v. 23.
So long as these words remain and we accept Jesus and Paul as unerring guides, we must believe in a resurrection of the just and the unjust. "All that are in the graves shall come forth," has, certainly, no boundary which excludes any of the sons of Adam - all saints and all sinners - all infants and all adults - all the people of Gospel lands and all the Heathen - the dead in the sea and the dead in the tombs - all shall hear the voice of the Son of God and come forth. O most dread and blessed certainty!
WITH WHAT BODY DO THEY COME?
"But some will say, How are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come?" 1 Cor. xv. 35.
This is evidently not the language of inquiring believers, lost in wonder and admiration, as the vast theme and wondrous miracle of the resurrection were unfolded by the Great Apostle to the Gentiles! There were those among the Christians in Corinth who said, "There is no resurrection of the dead," and the words cited form part of Paul's masterly refutation of that falsehood. He had reasoned the subject in the foregoing verses and here introduces the objector as returning to the charge - "How are the dead raised up and with what body do they come?" Is not the body dispersed? Have not its constituents contributed to the formation, it may be, of many bodies? How can this body live again? So some men reasoned in Paul's time, and exactly thus do the leading oracles of secularism talk in our day. A priest of that tribe discoursed, in the writer's presence, upon the impossibility of the Christian doctrine of the resurrection, and showed, most conclusively to his own satisfaction, that if it be true, then that old soldier whose arm was left on the field of Waterloo, and whose body rests at Chelsea, must, in the resurrection, be made one again by said arm rushing through the air to fill its wonted place and thus restore the long lost wholeness. But the reply of Paul will do quite as well for the Moderns as for those of Corinth. He begins, "Thou Fool." Not very polite certainly! Still, it is necessary, sometimes, to call a horse a horse. The reasoning continues "That which thou sowest, is not quickened, except it die. And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain it may chance of wheat or of some other grain. But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed His own body. .... So also is the resurrection of the dead." The chapter clearly sets forth that the resurrection body is not that body which died but another given of God. Not only another, but also of another kind, for it is deposited in the earth "a natural body," but it is raised "a spiritual body." Not only is it a body of another kind, but there is no reason to suppose that in any way it arises out of the material of the old body.*
* In a subsequent publication the writer replied to a reviewer in the following words:-
"We therein say, that the resurrection body will not be that body which was deposited in the grave, and, therefore, not necessarily composed of the same material. Reviewer declares this 'utterly subversive of the faith,' and adds - 'No Gnostic, or Swedenborgian, could deny the resurrection of the dead more decidedly than he [we] has done.' Now the Swedenborgian denies that the graves will ever open, that a body of any kind will come forth, and insists that at death we pass into the eternal state, and that there will not be a subsequent resurrection; whereas the question in dispute, and in regard to which Reviewer indulges in denunciatory sentences, relates only to the material of which the resurrection body will be composed. He sets forth that it must consist of the same particles which composed the body when smitten down by death, while we affirm that no such must exists in the case. He says that it must be that body which was sown, and we reply, with Paul, 'Thou sowest NOT THAT BODY WHICH SHALL BE, BUT GOD GIVETH IT A BODY as it hath pleased Him.' Paul said this in answer to the question, 'With what body do they come?' and to indicate that the resurrection body would not be the one deposited in the grave.
"But what are the necessities of the case? It seems to us that the resurrection body must be. - 1. The undecomposed body, as in the case of Lazarus; or - 2. A body developed from a germ of the old body, or - 3. Reconstructed of the particles of the body that died, or - 4. A body given of God, without regard to the matter of the body gone to corruption, and, therefore, another. Reviewer falls upon the first of these four, and insists that it was so in the case of the Saviour - that as He rose so must we, that His body was as solid as ever, consisting of flesh minus the blood, and that He partook of ordinary food. For the information that the blood was absent Reviewer is indebted to that 'second sight' of which he is prone to speak, or to immediate revelation. We know of an intimation that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; but if that is proof that the resurrection body was minus the blood it will exclude the flesh also, whereas the Lord said, 'A spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have.' That He will give us bodies like unto His own glorious body is in evidence, but that the body in which he rose was His body of glory is not. His resurrection body was the body that suffered, and had not seen corruption. It rose with all the indications of nail, spear, and thorn. Was that wounded body 'the pattern' of our glorious body? If so, then shall the saints rise with every wound, and scar, and disfigurement, which have caused them to drag on wearily in this life. Reviewer insists that the 'Resurrection of Christ is both the pledge and pattern of our own.' But he rose as did Lazarus and the widow's son - His body was not decomposed, the fabric was entire, all that was necessary was to restore the life. But at the resurrection of the saints how inconsiderable will be the number of undecomposed bodies? The bodies of the millions will have no existence. In some instances the dust may remain where the body was, but generally the particles will have been dispersed, not to say dissolved into their elemental gases. A resurrection of the same body must, then, imply the gathering again of these dispersed particles and the re-creation of the body, and, therefore, the raising up of a body which has not seen corruption cannot be the pattern of our resurrection. "But, strange to say, after setting forth the resurrection of an undecomposed body as the pattern of ours, Reviewer adds, that the work is done 'by the immediate miraculous power of Almighty God, who is as able to TAKE CARE of the particles, as he is to GATHER, RAISE, and CHANGE them' Thus by his own writing he shows that the assumed pattern was never designed as a pattern. The raised body, according to Reviewer, will not be developed out of some part, germ, or stamen, but must be the veritable body which death smote down. God will 'take care of the particles,' 'gather, raise and change them.' Now, we submit, whether this is not an impossibility? True, we cannot limit God. But He can limit Himself, and what we call the laws of God are but the limits and courses He has pleased to impose upon Himself. Hence there are some things that He cannot do. He cannot lie. He cannot make two mountains without a vale between them, for without the depression the elevation would be one and not two. So no one particle of matter can be in two or more places or bodies at one and the same time; and this last impossibility is involved in Reviewer's theory. Dispersed particles of which bodies were composed at death have again and again, without doubt, existed in other bodies at the moment of their death. Men have been killed and eaten, elements of their bodies have supplied the waste in the bodies of their captors, and have thus been particles of their bodies when they too drew their last breath. Will Reviewer, who knows so many things that others do not, kindly tell us which of these bodies will be minus, not only of blood, but of part of itself, and as the whole is requisite to constitute the same body, how both of them can exist again? But why, then, does Paul use the language of identify? This question we have answered in p. 3, and Reviewer's chief business should have been with that answer. Will the reader please to re-read the first half of that page?
"As then, we speak of our present body as having been engaged in the activities of twenty years ago, knowing well that every particle has been again and again changed, and that, as to substance, it is not the same body at all, so with regard to the resurrection body - the language of identify is used, because it is the body of the same conscious self. It was no doubt enlightening on the part of the Reviewer to tell us of the germ, or stamen, which in the buried seed never dies; and then to inform us that in the case of the buried body there is nothing of the sort, as was also the information that corn seed will never germinate into a field of barley. But he is not well up in the seed business, for the body of corn yielded in the harvest is not that body which was sown, nor is it composed of the particles thereof. It is in substance another body, as the resurrection body will be, with this difference that it is the same in kind, while that of the resurrection will differ in kind and substance. Reviewer can settle the rest with Paul, whose language we repeat, and against which he writes 'deadly error!'"
"God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him." But one objects, that "In this view it is not the same body at all, whereas Paul; keeps up the identify throughout - It is sown in Corruption; It is raised in Incorruption." True. But he distinctly denies the oneness. Yet there is a sense in which he can, and does, use the language of identify. The body which I now have is not that body which I had twenty years ago. Every particle has been removed and its place supplied more than once in the intervening time. Still to me it has been the same all through, for though not, to any extent, the same material, yet it contains the same conscious self, and is, in all its changes and complete renewal, my body. It was glowing with youth and it may become decrepit with age. I speak of it as the same, and yet that earlier body never became old, and that which now is cannot, for in some seven years it will have entirely passed away, yielding its place and office to its successor. By this natural process I have a body given to me every few years, and though changed and another yet I conceive of it as the same. In the resurrection that which now results from a process will be accomplished in a moment, and, though a creation, seem rather a transformation - He shall "Change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His own glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able to subdue all things unto Himself." Phil. iii. 21. As the natural body was made from the dust of the ground so will its successor - the body of glory and of beauty - be brought from the earth, and hence the "uprising" or resurrection, as it comes from that domain to which the body of humiliation is consigned.
"So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. .. For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed." - 1 Cor. xv. 42-53.
It is not possible for either God or man so to state a truth that men, set upon defending an opposite theory, cannot, while professing to venerate the authority, deny and fritter it away. That the natural body, sown in corruption, dishonour, and weakness, shall be raised in incorruption, in power, and in glory - a spiritual body - could not be stated in clearer terms. Yet a half-infidel sect declare the opposite - that the resurrection body will be mortal. Their scheme of a millennium, characterised by carnage, requires years of mortality for the saints, subsequent to the resurrection, and therefore, these self-called Christadelphians claim that the resurrection comprehends four processes - Rebuilding, Awakening, Judgment, and Change to Immortality - occupying a period not defined, but, according to their chronology, not less than forty years. But let it suffice us to know that "It is sown a natural body - It is raised a spiritual body," and that "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump," "For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first [that is first, before the living saints are taken from the earth], then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we be ever with the Lord."
THE FIRST RESURRECTION AND THE REMNANT.
"And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years. And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection." - Rev. xx. 1-6.
The phrase "The first resurrection" is not found in the whole Bible, save in this passage. Those who believe in two resurrections - one of the righteous at the coming of the Lord and the other a thousand years later - claim this text as the stronghold of their belief. If the doctrine is true there can be no doubt but that it is here taught, and, most certainly, if it be not taught in these verses, it is not true. One cannot but marvel at the amount and character of the proof offered by those who so zealously demand faith in a pre-millennial resurrection. One direct intimation, and only one, is claimed, and that one in the most figurative portion of the entire Bible. This estimate comes from themselves. Mr. Birks, a leading Millenarian, wrote - "But the first resurrection offers a still severer trial to the faith of the Christian. We cannot here appeal to innumerable texts where it is plainly revealed. The analogy of Scripture, however decisive in its favour, appears at first sight obscure and ambiguous. In maintaining this doctrine, therefore, we have to rest only upon the word of God, and chiefly on this one prophecy (Rev. xx.). Why then should a doctrine, inappearance so disputable and beset with such difficulties, be now pressed upon the attention of the Church? The answer is very plain. Grant for one moment that the doctrine is true, and you must feel that it is of deep interest to ourselves." But so to grant is exactly what, to the writer, seems impossible, in view of the character and amount of evidence pleaded in its favour. One has well said, "We do not find such grand and delightful - such stirring and influential truths (as this is said to be) wrapt up in mystic folds, reserved for apocalyptic disclosures, apparently negatived by all those passages which we might expect to be the very seat of those truths, and only peeping (by their own account) 'obscurely and ambiguously' through a few passages and expressions. And we say that this constitutes a presumption, of the strongest nature, against the doctrine of a 'first resurrection,' literally understood.
Nor is it insignificant as a protest against the literal theory, that John does not say, "And I saw them that were beheaded," but "And I saw the SOULS OF THEM that were beheaded." Not that the writer considers that the other side would be at all enabled to sustain its plea were it granted that souls, in this instance, stand for entire persons, as when we say, "Eight souls were saved in the ark." Still it is right to insist upon what may be deemed incontrovertible - that "souls of THEM" never can stand for persons as a whole. True, the word soul is often used as equivalent to the word man, as, "There were added unto them about three thousand souls," meaning, of course that number of persons. But while the word soul, alone, is used to denote the whole Man, "the soul of" such a person or character, or "the souls of them," alluding to more than one, never can be used to represent other than the soul, or souls, of the person, or persons, indicated, as distinct from the other parts of their personality. Millenarian writers are now constrained to admit this. One of them, in a tract (The First Resurrection), now circulating, has - "The true expositor must never willingly conceal a difficulty. The difficulty is not in the word soul but souls of them, and it behoves to be faithfully treated, for souls of them must mean disembodied souls in Rev. xx." Certainly, and it never would have been so put had a literal resurrection been intended! True, the Tract-writer says, that "The Man of God (John) saw the clothing likewise." But as John does not tell us that, the information must be declined till our informant is authenticated as John was. But enough on this point, because it matters not to those who understand the import of the narrative, whether souls only or the whole persons are contemplated as seen by John. This is an advantage to those who see with the writer of these pages, because the fact that souls only were seen, puts the theory of the other side out of court.
But let us move on to the teaching of the passage. It must not be forgotten that there are those who, seeing that souls only are in view, contend that the living and reigning with Christ refer, not to a party on the earth, but to souls in heaven, who share the Saviour's joy and triumph in beholding His enemies subjected. Now though the writer does not accept this view, he is free to say that he has not yet seen a successful attempt on the part of those who plead for two resurrections to refute it. This admission is due to its advocates.
But the reader will please turn to Rev. xii., for there must we go for the commencement of the series of visions of which the passage under consideration is an important part.
"And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars." Here we behold the Church, clothed with Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, standing, as it were, upon the former dispensation (which, as the moon in compare with the sun, is of less glory), her crown of twelve stars denoting her apostolic princes, or rulers. "And she being with child, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered." This scene is understood to be laid in the time of Constantine. The "Mystery of Iniquity" had already begun to work in the days of Paul, and here the Man-Child, who in His maturity is the "Man of Sin," is about to be born. But "There appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads ... and the dragon stood before the woman, which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child, as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron, and her child was caught up to God and to His throne." It would be agreeable to the writer to carry on the exposition and follow the male child to his maturity in the Papal Institution, where most certainly he has ruled the nations with an iron rod, but his few pages afford not the required space. The dragon is further described, in the same chapter, as "That old serpent, called the Devil and Satan," and also as The Accuser of the Brethren.
But who or what does the dragon denote? Is this not answered by the words "That old Serpent, called the Devil and Satan?" Not exactly, for though the devil may be contemplated as the great mover in the Dragon camp, yet he does not appear in propria persona. The devil, as such, is not seen either in chap. xii. or xx. Accordingly, though we read "the devil and Satan," Young and others render the clause, "The old serpent who is Devil and the Adversary." But while the term here translated "devil" does, without doubt, apply to the arch enemy of God, of Christ, and of the Church, yet it is not exclusively so applied. As Satan means adversary, and may be applied to one who is not the Satan, so devil means a slanderer or false accuser, and is applied to other than the devil, as in 1 Tim. iii. 11, 2 Tim. iii. 3, Tit. ii. 3, where the same word is translated slanderers, false accusers, and applied to men. The great red dragon, the old serpent, the false accuser, the adversary of the Church at the time referred to, was Pagan Rome. That Rome was thus represented by the dragon is generally admitted, as also, that the crowns on the heads indicated Rome before its division into the ten kingdoms represented by the horns, upon which in a subsequent chapter the crowns are seen. That Pagan Rome did persecute to the death the Christians is well known, and that, too, in connection with accusations most false and foul. Consequently Rome is represented as the adversary and false accuser of the Church, and so has it been from the beginning. Now whatever serpent, devil and Satan are referred to in chap. xii. the same are dealt with in chap. xx. Throughout the eight chapters the contest is between the dragon-party and power and the Church. Not that it is professedly pagan power throughout, for the dragon is cast out and the beast with seven heads and ten horns becomes supreme, but the dragon-power is merely transferred to a new name and semblance. So, as we begin with the dragon-party in its antagonism to Christ and the Church, we end with its overthrow and consignment to the pit during the thousand years of Church prosperity and power.
Our friends are clearly wrong in rushing to Rev. xx. as though it were the commencement instead of the end of an allegory. The several chapters bring before us two great opposing parties - the one, the Church - the other, the Anti-Christian party, including the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. The Church is represented by witnesses who testify through many centuries. The witnesses are not the same persons throughout, but they form the same party, and, therefore, may be spoken of as sleeping or waking, depressed or rising, as the party may be supine or active, crushed down or resuscitated. Passing then, for the sake of brevity, to chap. xix., let us look for the literalism which our friends demand.
Here are the two parties - "These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them." Now he appears for the conflict. Heaven opens - and behold a white horse and he who sits upon him! His eyes are as a flame of fire, and on his head are many crowns. His vesture is dyed in blood, and his name is called the Word of God. Armies from heaven follow him on white horses, and out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword to smite the nations. There is an angel standing in the sun, calling the fowls of heaven to feed upon the flesh of kings, captains, and mighty men. Is this literal?
The conflict wages. The Beast and the False Prophet are cast into a lake of fire, and the remnant are slain with the sword that went out of the mouth of him that sat upon the horse. The Dragon, too, is now consigned to the bottomless pit, and bound with a great chain. Is this literal? Literal Sword "out of the mouth?" Literal Beast and Dragon? Literal Pit and Chain? What a context for the one and only text which names a first and literal resurrection!!!
But what follows? The prosperity and supremacy of the Church. And how well expressed! The foes all defeated. The conqueror and his friends have the ascendancy. "And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them, and I saw the souls of those who were beheaded ... and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years."
Thus, then, it is of no moment whether the souls are taken to mean souls only, or men in their entirety. It would make nothing against the true exposition if it were written, "I saw the men who were beheaded," for unquestionably the reigning party are living men and their reign is upon the earth, for as the dragon-power and party reign in the apostacy, so will the party of Christ really reign as those of the apostacy have done, and thus they (the Christian party) whose previous depression is set forth as a death, will revive, and thus be said to live and reign with Christ, He controlling the nations through them while still sitting at the right hand of God.
"The rest of the dead lived not again till the thousand years were finished." It is said that "This statement alone should have been sufficient to settle the question [in favour of a literal resurrection]. Every sound thinker must see the power of the reason which demands unity in the exposition. One rule of interpretation must dominate throughout. As it is granted on all sides that 'the rest of the dead' are persons coming from land and sea - from death and hell - it follows by logical consequence that the first resurrection was likewise composed of persons. To have a legion of principles or attributes raised first and 'the rest of the dead' composed of persons, would be simply monstrous."
Now the above is unsound thinking, from first to last, notwithstanding that the writer undertakes to tell us what every sound thinker must see. In the first place, no one dreams of a resurrection of principles or attributes, excepting as those principles manifest themselves in living men. The chosen representatives of the Church, in this its time of ascendancy, are those who were beheaded for their attachment to Christ, in the period of the Church's depression, when the witnesses were slain. The elevation of the cause and party of Christ is most strikingly and appropriately shown by their elevation - the slain ones live again in the triumph of their cause and party and in the persons of their successors. In the next place this alleged "logical consequence" is only a result of defective thinking - it has no existence. It is simply inaccurate to imply, that if the second resurrection be of persons from the grave that the first must be, likewise, a resurrection of bodies. It is an assumption against facts to insist, that where two deaths, or resurrections, are thus coupled, they must be of the same kind. There are the Saviour's words, "Whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it." Here the man gives up bodily life and finds eternal life at the resurrection. The life lost and the life found are not the same. Also "Let the dead bury their dead." Here the persons to be buried were literally dead, certainly those who were to bury them were not so. Again, "He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live, and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die." Can any dream that the death spoken of is the same in both cases? But enough - those who talk thus simply repeat the error of Nicodemus, who thought that the new birth, as the natural birth was evidently glanced at, must be of the same kind, but, like our friends, he was mistaken.
But that any well read Millenarian could allow himself to intimate that it is granted on all sides, that "the rest of the dead" are persons literally brought from the grave, is somewhat surprising. The writer, with many others, denies most confidently that "the rest of the dead" who lived not again until "the thousand years were finished" are the wicked dead, brought up for the final judgment, or that people raised from the dead literally are in view at all. As the first resurrection is figurative so is this, so-called, second resurrection. As the first resurrection is the elevation of the party of Christ, consequent upon the suppression of the anti-Christian party, the living again of the rest of the dead is the re-elevation, for the little season, of the party of the adversary. This, though clearly discernible in the Common Translation, is rendered somewhat more striking when it is known that the word translated "rest" is rendered "remnant" in the last verse of the preceding chapter. [See the revised version]. In the one case we read that "the remnant" were slain," - that the anti-Christian party were, after the Beast and the False Prophet had been consigned to the lake of fire, as a party put to death, the party of the beheaded ones taking the supremacy for a thousand years, which is the first resurrection. But this same party, or remnant, comes again into power after the thousand years, when the serpent-adversary is loosed for a little season, and this is the living again of the remnant of the dead, or the so-called, second resurrection. The literal resurrection of saints and sinners is described near the end of the book, when "the dead, small and great, stand before God," and "whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." This is the one resurrection at the coming of the Lord, and clearly of both classes, as some are written in the book of life and some not.
But is the idea of a metaphorical resurrection peculiar to this chapter and is it introduced to sustain a theory? It is not peculiar to the chapter and is not introduced, but is found there, and being there, is in harmony with the entire context, while the Millenarian view is evidently forced into the chapter most unnaturally and because the cause cannot stand without it. In conclusion a few lines, from one who has well written, will show that this interpretation is sustained by the usage of inspired men.
"The identity of these early confessors with the martyrs who appear in the Millennial picture is complete. John then saw 'the souls of them that were slain,' under the altar in a state of depression (chap. vi.). He now sees 'the souls of them that were slain' exalted to the occupation of thrones and their enemies in the dust (chap. xx.). The martyrs of the sixth chapter 'were slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held.' The martyrs of the twentieth chapter are those 'that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God.' The witnesses of the thirteenth chapter - the 'fellow-servants and brethren' of the early sufferers - are characterised as those who 'would not worship the image of the beast.' The witnesses of the twentieth chapter are described as those 'which had not worshipped the beast nor his image.' The sufferers of the sixth and thirteenth chapters were promised redress together; and the gathering of the twentieth chapter comprises both descriptions. They had not worshipped the beast, neither his image. Compare with thirteenth chapter. They were slain for the Word of God. Compare sixth chapter. 'This,' says the seer, 'is the first resurrection.' That is, the witnesses appear not as depressed but exalted; not as crying from under the altar for avengement, but as occupying thrones; not as slain by tyrannical power, but as living and reigning with their conquering Lord. No figure within the reach and comprehension of man could more strikingly illustrate the rise and vigour of the Christian party than that of a resurrection. It had, too, been appropriated before by an inspired writer for a similar purpose; and the figures of the Apocalypse are to a considerable extent conformed to the facts and figures of earlier times. Sighing under their bondage in a land far off from their beloved Jerusalem, the Jews of the Babylonish captivity despondingly said, 'Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost; we are cut off for our parts.' 'Therefore, prophesy,' said Jehovah unto the prophet, 'and say unto them, Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel' (Ezek. xxxvii. 11, 12). The resurrection of this promise was not literal, but figurative; not a resurrection of individuals, but of a community; the resurrection of a people from a state of captivity and depression to one of nationality and prosperity.
Paul endorses this idea of a figurative resurrection. Abraham bound his son Isaac a victim for sacrifice, and yielded him up to death. In his purpose he was already slain. But 'he accounted that God was able to raise him up even from the dead; from whence,' says the Apostle, 'he received him in a figure' (Heb. xi. 19). He received him back from the altar of sacrifice as if he had been restored from the dead. In the history of Isaac it was a sort of resurrection. A new term was appointed him; he lived again. Abraham might have anticipated the language of the Prodigal's Father, 'This my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'
Again, speaking of the Jews, the same Apostle asks, 'If the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead' (Rom. xi. 15). He refers to a fact that will no doubt be an element of power in the Millennial resurrection. The conversion of the Jews, which will give a powerful impulse to the Christian cause, belongs to that time.
Nor is this figure confined to inspired writers; other minds than theirs have adopted it as a forcible illustration. That celebrated victim of the Papacy, John Huss, who was burnt at the stake about a century before the appearance of Luther, seemed to discern from the distance the coming Reformation. Conversing with a friend, in his dungeon, on the opposition which the Gospel had to encounter, with a remarkable mixture of faith and sagacity he exclaimed: 'I maintain this for certain, that the image of Christ will never be effaced. They have wished to destroy it, but it shall be painted afresh in all hearts by much better preachers than myself. The nation that loves Christ will rejoice at this; and I, awaking among the dead, and rising, so to speak, from my grave, shall leap with great joy.' There was a sense in which he did awake from the dead and arise from his grave. Luther and his companions rose up to fill the places of the earlier champions in the labours and conflicts of the Gospel, and carried on its successes more largely than they. They appeared on the stage in the power and spirit of the fallen martyrs, as the Baptist came in the power and spirit of Elias. The accomplishment of this prediction received a remarkable confirmation from an unlikely quarter. In his letter to the Diet of Nuremberg Pope Adrian says, 'The heretics Huss and Jerome are alive again in the person of Martin Luther.' As the revival of the Gospel party in the time of Luther was the resurrection of earlier witnesses - as the deliverance of Isaac from a death sentence was a life from the dead - as the recovery of the Jews from slavery to a condition of national life was a bringing them up from their graves - so the ascendancy of the Christian party, after long depression, will be a resurrection."
The two resurrections, then, stand thus:-
FIRST RESURRECTION - Rise of Christ's party after a long time of depression.
SECOND RESURRECTION - Rise of Satan's party who were slain with the sword proceeding out of the Conqueror's mouth, after a depression of a thousand years, during which Satan was bound.
THE RESURRECTION of saints and sinners at the appearing of the Lord.
There are a few texts adduced as indicating a resurrection which is not general, but special and distinctive - eclectic, being founded upon worthiness. But the writer is compelled to deny that any such complete separation, in point of time, as Millenarians claim, is indicated in any one of these texts:-
"When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, nor thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours, lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind; and thou shalt be blessed, for they cannot recompense thee; for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just." - Luke xiv. 12-14.
Upon this text it is asked, "Why add the words 'of the just' if the resurrection referred to be that of all men without discrimination of character? Does not the form of expression clearly intimate that this will be a separate act, including the righteous only?"
The resurrection is one resurrection, but not at all the rising of a promiscuous mob. "Every man in his own rank" is the inspired description of it. "Those who are Christ's, at His coming," will evidently form the first rank, but all that the language necessarily implies is succession and not interval - as in a procession of troops or of schools we have every man or every child in his own rank, regiment, or school, each distinctly marked, and each passing after the other, yet no interval of sufficient length to break the one procession into two or more. We are striving, then, for a better resurrection than many will attain - a resurrection in the first rank. The word rank is here used because it is the better rendering of 1 Cor. xv. 23 - "Every man in his own order." The resurrection of the saints, then, is eclectic, special, distinctive, founded on worthiness, but nevertheless part of, and contained in, the one general resurrection. The text under notice has, "Thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just," which is more suggestive of time than the Greek, which has "in" in place of "at." The recompense is not set forth as at the time of the resurrection, but rather as being the resurrection itself - "Thou shalt be recompensed in the resurrection of the just."
"They that shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; neither can they die any more; for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection." Luke xx. 35, 36.
It is said that the translation in this text is unfavourable to the two-resurrection theory - "From the dead" is considered defective - "î î " (ek nekron) must be "Out from the dead," which, it is said, implies "that other dead ones are left in the graves, and that, therefore, the reference cannot be to a general resurrection, for where all rise it cannot be called a resurrection out from among the dead, as no dead ones will have been left." In like manner Acts iv. 2 is rendered - "That resurrection which is out from among the dead," and Phil. iii. 11 - "If by any means I might attain to that resurrection which is out from among the dead." It is said "that the common translation of these texts leaves one-half of the direct evidence of the pre-millenial resurrection of the saints hidden by defective translation." It has, however, been said in reply "that anastasis (translated resurrection) is not in the Greek the specific term that the word resurrection is to us, as whenever we hear this word we think only of resurrection from the dead, whereas it was not so with the Jew and the Greek, anastasis being as general as our word rising, so that, when used in any special sense, added words were required to indicate that sense, the word itself not determining whether the rising named was from a seat, a bed, a grave, or indicative of any other rising to a higher or upstanding attitude.*
* e.g. Luke ii. 34 - "This child is set for the falling and rising up (anastasis) of many in Israel."
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ This being the case, the words "î î " (ek nekron), or similar terms, were absolutely necessary to indicate that the rising referred to had any relation to death, and as such would indicate, not necessarily a rising out from among other dead ones, but an uprising from the place or state of the dead, so that the phrase 'from the dead' sufficiently expresses the significance of the words used by Paul."
Be this as it may, it is significant that not the Common Version only, but versions generally, old and new, keep to "from the dead." The writer has just restored to his shelves nearly a dozen versions, including the Bible Union, H.T. Anderson, R. Young, Dr. Giles, Macknight, and others, not one of which renders "î î " (ek nekron) as demanded by our Millenarian friends, each being satisfied with "from the dead."
But grant that the many versions are all decidedly in error, and that we are bound to read "out of" in place of "from," what then have our friends gained? Exactly nothing! What they need is proof that the saints shall rise a thousand years before the wicked. Will the rendering of î by out of instead of from indicate anything of the sort? Certainly not! No trace of an age intervening between the resurrection of the righteous and that of the wicked can be seen. If we were to grant that the phrase indicates, in regard to time, two distinct resurrections - that of the righteous first and afterwards that of the wicked - still nothing would be gained; for even then no more would be implied than that the one is followed by the other; succession only, not interval, would be indicated.
The writer is not at all unwilling to speak of the resurrection of the saints as the "resurrection out from among the dead," either in these words or with as many more added as any Millenarian may consider tending to indicate the out-come of the saints from the wicked in the rising from the dead, and yet he pleads that there is but one resurrection of the just and of the unjust, and that at the Coming of the Lord after the millennial prosperity. "Out from the dead, leaving others in their graves." Certainly it must be so, if the Church rise in the first rank and the wicked in subsequent ranks. And 1 Cor. xv. indicates that the resurrection is thus ordered. There may be not only two ranks, but several. Between the first rank (those who as the Church are Christ's) and those who rise to shame and contempt, there may be several ranks of saved ones. But whether several ranks of the saved or all the righteous in one rank, being before the wicked, it will be a rising out from the dead, and equally so, whether those who remain in the graves at the moment of the resurrection of the saints come forth a few minutes later, or remain ten thousand years. The language, then upon which our friends rest their cause does not in the slightest degree tend to indicate their theory.
But there is yet another sense in which the resurrection of the saints is "an out-resurrection from among the dead." "The dead!" O solemn designation! But who are the dead? "Whosoever believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live, and whoso liveth and believeth in me shall never die." Yet many of these believers have died. Is it nothing that they are counted but as asleep in Jesus? But the wicked! They are the dead - when they come forth from their graves still will they be THE DEAD - they wake but to die again - they are still THE DEAD - the Saints are raised immortal, but they to suffer the second death. Even if all came up in one moment and in perfect commingling, a resurrection to eternal lifeon the part of the Saints while the wicked were left as the subjects of death, who for ever will prey upon them, would be, to all intents and purposes, a rising out from the dead, consummated or followed by a further rising with the Changed Saints into the air, prior to the fiery destruction.
It is then concluded, that the rising of the righteous in the first rank will constitute a resurrection out from the dead, because the wicked will not rise at the same moment, but follow after in their own rank. But it is insisted that there is nowhere an intimation of any lengthened interval, or of the resurrection being chronologically two - that there shall be one resurrection of the just and the unjust, yet so arranged in ranks that the righteous shall rise out from the wicked, to life eternal, while those who follow after shall rise to shame and contempt. All this parade of Greek and translation, then, falls to the ground as worthless.
EVERY MAN IN HIS OWN RANK, AT THE COMING OF THE LORD.
"But every man in his own order; Christ the first-fruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power, for he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." - 1 Cor. xv. 23-26.
The Apostle wrote these words immediately after showing that the resurrection of the dead came by Christ, as death had come by Adam, and that, as all in Adam die, so in Christ all shall be made alive. The resurrection and glorification of the saints forms his great theme. They are brought into view in connection with Christ as the "first-fruits," and their resurrection to glory, honour, and immortality, is declared to be "at His coming." They are distinguished from the wicked, not by any declared or implied period between the rising of the two parties, but solely by an intimation that each will come forth in his own order or rank, and by the omission of all mention of the latter class, the topic in hand not requiring its introduction. The previous chapter shows that whether we view the "all which are in the graves" as divided simply into two ranks, or more minutely classified into several, or many, that such division implies no more than successive ranks in one resurrection and has no necessary connection with any such interval as that claimed by Millenarians, nor, indeed, with any interval at all.
The great truth proclaimed in the text is, that they that are Christ's shall rise at His coming, which truth is alike admitted on both sides. What comes next? The words of Paul are "They that are Christ's at His coming. THEN THE END, when he shall have delivered up the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign, till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." "Very good," say we, "that is exactly as we understand it - Christ comes, His saints rise (here no mention is made of the wicked, who rise in immediate succession) and THEN the end, when the kingdom is given up to the Father." Our Millenarian friends, however, will neither agree with us nor with Paul. They say "O dear, NO!" The end is not then. It only cometh [as in fact it has been doing ever since the days of Adam, only of course it is a good deal nearer], but before it come there must intervene the reign of Christ on earth for a thousand years, then the season of subsequent revolt, God's final overthrow of Satan, the resurrection of the wicked, the judgment, and then - why then "THE END, when He shall have delivered up the Kingdom." Well, if it be so, it is perfectly clear that Paul did not understand the subject.
The reader is most likely aware that the word "cometh" is not in the original text, which has but the one word "eita" (then). The translators, however, deemed it well to mend the text by inserting a word. Other translators have done the same, but have preferred to add "is." Young and others read "Then is the end." We prefer the unamended form - "Then the end." The recent tract (The First Resurrection), deals with the text thus - "When our translators inserted the word 'cometh,' they evidently felt that the word rendered then signified and pointed out progression - the steps of a series. Then cometh the end - the 'Telos' - really the end; a different thing from the 'sunteleia tou aionos,' or the end of the age. After appearing, He has to reign in person until all hostile power is effectually put down and the last enemy destroyed. That does not occur till the thousand years of Sabbatism and the little season of rebellion and anarchy have both deployed - until the wicked have been raised and judged, and death and hell are cast into the lake of fire. The Man of God intimates the truth to us by employing not 'tote' 'but 'eita,' the first word generally pointing out something which immediately follows; whereas the second generally points to a distinct interval longer or shorter. 'Adam was first formed then (eita) Eve.' 'Christ was seen of Cephas then of the twelve. After that he was seen of James then of all the apostles.' In like manner, 'eita', then, cometh the end. An interval is pointed out in all these cases of longer or shorter duration." Now this statement is considered exceedingly misleading. One truth, however, the tract brings into view - i.e. that "telos" is really the end, and carries us to the general judgment and final purgation of our earth. Paul then couples the resurrection of the saints and that "telos" together. So far our tract-writer is upon solid ground. The next assertion is as unauthorised as this is sound. "After appearing, He has to reign in person until all hostile power is put down and the last enemy destroyed." This the chapter does not say, nor does any other, but, on the contrary, the chapter does indicate that He will not appear till all His enemies are put under His feet. Next, we are told that Paul used "eita" and not "tote" because generally it points to a "distinct interval," whereas "tote" generally indicates something that "immediately follows." Now if this were strictly correct it would not support out friend, because a word which points only to an interval "longer or shorter" is no more favourable to his conclusion than to that of the writer. That these two words (generally translated then) have a distinctive point of signification, which renders the use of one, in certain cases, preferable to the other, may not be doubted, but that that distinctive feature is exhibited in the foregoing quotation is not admitted. Nor is there in the entire New Testament a single instance of "eita" referring to a distant period or remote sequence. Schrevelius gives - "Eita, afterwards, then, thereupon, in the next place, yet and so, indeed." Liddell and Scott - "Eita, to denote the sequence of one act or state upon another - of mere sequence without any notion of - cause, then, next, &c." In Mark viii. 25 we read "After that - (eita) He put His hands again upon his eyes and made him look and he was restored." That is Jesus had touched the eyes of the blind man and asked him if he saw aught, and he, looking up, said, I see men as trees, walking. Then He put His hands again upon his eyes and his sight was completely restored. Can there be any doubt whether the second touching did not follow immediately? So in John xiii. 5 - "After that (eita) He poureth water into a basin and began to wash His disciples' feet." After what? After rising from supper, putting aside His garments, girding Himself and taking a towel. How long would He wait, towel in hand, before pouring out the water? All must see that a process of several acts, in immediate succession, is described. Take another instance, John xx. 27, "Then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then (eita) says He to Thomas, reach hither thy finger and behold my hands," &c. When did He so address Thomas? At that same interview, at that time, and next to His salutation of peace. Once more, "Let these also first be proved: then (eita) let them use the office of a deacon," 1 Tim. iii. 10. When were they to use the office? Immediately after the successful proving. The only thought in the text is that of succession - proving followed by using the office. Interval is not in view at all.*
* Not, of course, that one thing could follow the other without an interval, but that its being the next thing is succession was expressed without regard to the time which must necessarily intervene.
This thin plastering of Greek, put forth in the interest of Millenarianism, will not cover the break nor prevent the inquirer from seeing, that the events sought to be connected by the eita are a thousand years, or two dispensations, too far apart. It must stand, if you please - "THEY THAT ARE CHRIST'S AT HIS COMING. THEN THE END."
Not only does not Cor. xv. lend countenance to the premillennial scheme, but it seems to us to render it completely impossible. There are the coming of Christ and the resurrection and next in order the end. What the specified end is cannot be doubted, as the kingdom shall have been given up to the Father, and, therefore, the resurrection of the Saints immediately precedes that presentation of the Kingdom by the Messiah, and is, consequently, part of the one general resurrection in order to the whole race standing before the judgment seat of Christ, and not a rising at the beginning of a Millennial period, a thousand years earlier. This is also clearly seen by comparing the text with Psalm cx., "The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies." Thus have we the address of Jehovah to the Lord Jesus on His triumphal entry into heaven. From then till now he has occupied the throne in the heavens, ruling, or reigning, over a willing people in the midst of his enemies. The rod, or sceptre, of His strength went out of Zion when the Gospel went forth on the day of Pentecost and brought down, in one day, three thousand repentant sinners, as free-will offerings to Him. How long is He to exercise His kingly rule from the throne of heavenly Majesty? The time is stated by Jehovah himself - "Till I make thine enemies thy footstool." Now what in the Psalm is designated by the word "rule" Paul, in the text under consideration, expresses by the word "reign." "Then the end, when He shall have delivered up the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and authority and power. For he must reign till he hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." The tract-writer informed us, that "After appearing He has to reign in person until all hostile power is effectually put down and the last enemy destroyed." But, long ago, we had the word of Jehovah, that Jesus should sit at His own right hand until the complete subjection of His enemies, agreeing with Paul to the Hebrews, "This man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God, from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made his footstool." The throne from which He exercises His rule is the throne of the FATHER in respect to its source and character, and the throne of the Messiah as respects possession and administration. The Father announces the Son as Judge and King, declaring all authority, legislative and executive, committed to Him as head of the universe and judge of the living and the dead. What can be plainer? His session at the right of the Father continues till all His enemies are made His footstool. He, therefore, does not come to commence His reign and then to subdue his enemies, but He comes to raise the dead and "then the end," when the last enemy, death, shall have been destroyed. But will He not reign for ever? Yes - for the delivering up the Kingdom is not a termination of His authority but merely a due indication of the accomplishment of one stage of the great work committed to Him.
Thus has the ground generally trodden by the Millenarian advocate, been gone carefully over without finding the slightest support for his doctrine. Each text has been clearly, and without straining, interpreted in harmony with the conclusions of those who admit but one resurrection from the dead.
If it be asked, Whether it is certain that this conclusion is the right one, the answer is, Quite certain, for the testimony of Scripture must be harmonious, and if a few chosen texts are made to teach two resurrections, at periods distinct from each other, then they are clearly opposed by other parts of the apostolic testimony, whereas if interpreted upon the foregoing principle the whole of the New Testament utterance upon the subject is seen to be in complete agreement. This being the case it remains only to be shewn, that other texts plainly affirm the resurrection of the just and the unjust to be one resurrection. This is seen in the passages following.
ALL IN ONE HOUR.
"Marvel not at this: For the Hour is coming, in the which ALL that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." - John v. 28, 29.
That Jesus and the Apostles have taught but one resurrection from the dead appears to the writer among the very plain things of Scripture. That one sound of the trumpet will call from the regions of the dead all who sleep in the dust of the earth and that, therefore, the resurrection of the just and the unjust will be one resurrection, and not divided by a dispensation of at least a thousand years, appears to be set forth so clearly that no one can fail to find it whose search is not marred by dogmatic interpretation.
In the words under notice the Saviour places the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked as taking place in ONE HOUR. A division is, however, intimated - "They that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." The stated difference is that of destination without a glance at time or order. Even in the Common Version this holds good, but the reader of the Greek is perhaps more immediately struck by the fact. It is not "The resurrection of life" and "The resurrection of damnation," but rather "Those who have done the good, unto resurrection of life, but those who have done the evil, unto resurrection of condemnation." The entire structure of the saying is so expressive of ALL coming forth in one resurrection that were we told that such is its meaning and that the Lord required us to express that meaning in more forcible terms we should not be able to supply sentences more decided in tone or universal in scope. "All." Not only the Saints, or Martyrs, (the people of the so-called "first resurrection)," but "All that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth." "His Voice!" Evidently referring to one summons. The period also is One. "The HOUR is coming." How easy would it have been, had the Lord intended to set forth two resurrections with more than a thousand years intervening, to have expressed it in unmistakable terms. But we have only a clear intimation of one common resurrection, in one hour, in answer to one summons, but into widely different conditions, corresponding to the two parties who hear the call and come forth.
Millenarians have been sorely troubled with these words of the Master, but to get rid of their plain import is essential to the maintenance of their system. The usual method is to weaken the force of the text in part by urging that the term "hour" is used figuratively, denoting a lengthened period, and that in this case it stands for the Millennial age, and that, consequently, the righteous will rise in the first part of the hour and the wicked in the last section of it, or a thousand years afterward. But this does not agree with their own exposition of Rev. xx., for there it is seen that "the rest of the dead" (which they understand to be those described in John v. as "They that have done evil") live not again till the thousand years are finished - that is, not in the last part of the thousand years - not within the Millennial age, season or hour, but subsequently, and not necessarily immediately after the thousand years, but within, or at the close of another period or hour, designated "a little season," which season, according to the use of the term elsewhere, may extend over a period by no means inconsiderable, although a short time when measured by the Millennial age. Thus it is seen, that when the word "hour" is made to cover the whole of the thousand years of the Millennium it still falls short of the period to which they are compelled to assign the resurrection of the wicked.
But were it not so their plea would fail, because it cannot be allowed that the word "hour" is ever used as they thus seek to apply it. Granting that in verse 25 the same word denotes the entire Gospel age (which is by no means certain, as it may express no more than the first hour of that dispensation) the admission will not meet the case. There can be no doubt but that the term hour, or day, is used for a long period. The Gospel dispensation may be thus called a day, because it is one continuous period appropriated to Gospel work, and the Millennial period might be called the Millennial day, because it is Millennial from first to last, but that cannot be called a resurrection hour in which resurrection is neither continuous nor possible, which knows nothing of resurrection save once at the beginning and again after the lapse of a thousand years. It is not said that the word "hour" is never used to denote a long period, but that in every such instance the word is used not to mark the length of time, but the uniting of period and action. The time may be long or short, but it must be characterised throughout by that of which it is said to be the hour. An hour of bliss, of glory, or of sorrow, if it stand for an age, must have something more than a commencement and ending in bliss, glory or sorrow, with the whole period intervening without the presence thereof. Never is the word "hour" used to denote a long period of diverse and broken transactions such as Millenarians place between what is called the First Resurrection and the Final Judgment. In looking over the entire New Testament use of the à - ora (hour), amounting to, perhaps, a hundred instances, continuity appears in its every occurrence, and hence the hour when all that are in the graves shall come forth is one unbroken resurrection period.
THE RIGHTEOUS RAISED AT THE LAST DAY.
"And this is the Father's will, which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at THE LAST DAY. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at THE LAST DAY." - John vi. 39, 40.
These words certainly imply that those who are Christ's shall rise at the last day. But some say that the saints will rise a thousand years before then. This, however, the Saviour did not say. Without doubt His words refer to the saints, and most surely if their resurrection be at the last day there cannot be another resurrection a thousand years later.
From the subsequent words of Martha we learn how the disciples understood the Great Teacher. Jesus said to her, "Thy brother shall rise again." Martha said to him, "I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day." What a fine opportunity to correct the anti-millenarian notion. How appropriate, if that notion were not according to truth, would have been the answer - "Not at the last day, Martha. By no means shall your brother rise then, for at that time the resurrection of the unjust will take place, but the resurrection of the just will be a thousand years earlier!" But no! His own words and hers are the same. Bishop Hall remarks upon this conversation - "Alas, good Martha, thou wert much deceived when thou said'st concerning thy brother Lazarus, 'I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.' Why, woman, the resurrection of that Saint shall be a thousand years sooner than thou thoughtest of." Thus did the Bishop rebuke the Millenarian. Nor is the case of Martha exceptional - the language is that commonly used by our Lord - "Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day." Millenarians write whole chapters insisting upon the most literal interpretations of Scripture, yet here is a plain unfigurative statement made again and again, by the Lord Himself, in which he says that the resurrection of the Saints shall be at the last day, yet will they not believe it, but insist that it must take place at the beginning of the Millennium and be followed by a thousand years of righteous reign and by a subsequent season of restored evil, and that then will come the final resurrection and judgment. But if words ever express a specific idea those used by the Saviour and Martha declare the rising again of the saints to belong to the last day of the world and to the resurrection immediately preceding the judgment and final conflagration. On the last day then the Saints will rise, and so will the unjust - all that are in the graves will hear His voice. They come forth in that "one hour" at the shrill blast of the trumpet. Paul describes the event, "The Lord shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God." 1 Thes. iv. 16. And this trumpet call which wakes the righteous dead is expressly, by the same apostle, called "the last trump." "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." 1 Cor. xv. 52. But Paul's statement cannot be true if the wicked rise a thousand years afterwards, as in that case the last trump would be a whole Millennium and a subsequent season too late." But Paul's statement is as true as that of the Lord's, and both declare Millenarians mistaken in regard to the resurrection.
"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. - 1 Thes. iv. 13-17.
Here we learn that when the Lord comes there will be faith on the earth - living saints waiting His appearing. These will be taken from the earth to meet Him in the air, but not alone, for them that sleep in Jesus will God bring from the grave, that together they may be caught up in the clouds. "The dead in Christ shall rise first," is not here said in view of a subsequent resurrection of the wicked, but first, or before the living saints are taken away. So too in 1 Cor. xv. "Behold, I show you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible and we (the living saints) shall be changed." There is then, the sounding of the last trumpet at the coming of the Lord and the double response - the dead raised and the living Saints changed. Though only the righteous dead are characterized in the two places, yet the dead generally rise in the same resurrection, for the trump is the last and, therefore, there will not be another a thousand years later. What follows? The next words are - "Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air." No allusion to a thousand years' reign with the Saviour upon the earth, and no reason for it. The Lord descends from heaven with a shout and with the trump of God. As He comes down the dead come up, every one in his own rank - as the dead rise the living saints are changed and, with those of the first rank, caught up to meet the Lord, and then the fiery destruction of the wicked. 2 Thes. i. 7 gives the dark side of the picture, "You who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power: when He shall come to be glorified in His saints." Here then His coming to glorify His saints and His revelation in flaming fire to the destruction of his enemies are placed at one and the same time, and thus is the pre-millennial scheme shut out. One well writes - "The Scriptures explicitly affirm that the righteous and the wicked shall be judged together. All the coaxing and torture, to which a hostile theory has subjected them, have failed to alter their testimony. Paul says - 'The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on those who know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ,' and that this shall be 'when he shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe.' To inflict vengeance will be one of His first acts; for He will be revealed, taking vengeance. And He will take vengeance when He comes to be glorified in His saints. Nor will this vengeance be one of those partial providential visitations, which have been distinguished from the final reckoning; for He will take vengeance on all that know not God and obey not the Gospel."
"There shall be a resurrection of the dead; but of the just and the unjust." - Acts xxiv. 15.
Language could not express more clearly and concisely the rising of the two classes in one resurrection than do the above words. Why should Paul have proclaimed the resurrection of the two classes as one resurrection if he knew they were not only distinctly two, but that the one would be distant from the other at least a thousand years? Thus did Paul address himself to the Jews. Speaking to the Epicurean philosophers and to the Stoics his language was perfectly in harmony. He proclaimed "Jesus and THE resurrection." Not a word about resurrections. And why not? Because he had in view a general resurrection and knew nothing of a first and second, the one centuries after the other.
It has now been seen, that so long as we receive the testimony of Jesus and Paul we must believe in a resurrection of all the human family - that all who are in the graves shall come forth, and that the non-resurrection of infants and heathen is directly contradicted by the Word of Truth. We have seen that the infidel plea from the supposed impossibility of bringing together the mingled remains and dispersed elements of innumerable bodies is of no force against the doctrine of the Apostles as therein is taught, not the resurrection of the same elements, but that God gives to each a body according to His good pleasure. Thus the folly of the infidel, as that also of those who make the resurrection to be that of the mortal body in order to a forty-year process to immortality, is manifest. A careful examination has brought out the fact that Rev. xx. sets forth two metaphorical resurrections before the final and general rising of saints and sinners - the one denoting the elevation of the Christian party to supremacy and the consequent predominance of that devotion and constancy which characterized the servants of God who sealed their testimony with their blood - the other a subsequent revival of the party of Satan, for a little season, prior to the final judgment. Consequently this supposed seat of the pre-millennial resurrection of saints affords no support whatever to that doctrine. The alleged Eclectic Resurrection has been taken out of the hands of those who have endeavoured to strain it so as to indicate two resurrections, more than a thousand years apart, whereas it is seen that the separation does not involve such an interval as would constitute two resurrections remote from each other, but only such as is compatible with one resurrection in ranks, the first rank being to privilege, honour and immortality, and the last to shame and contempt. The Psalmist and Paul have combined to show that Jesus will remain at the right hand of God till all His enemies are put under His feet, and that when He comes to raise His saints He will deliver up the Kingdom to the Father, and not that He will come to receive it and to reign here a thousand years prior to the final judgment. Ample testimony has been produced to render it certain that the resurrection from the dead, including all classes, must be in "one hour" - that is, in one unbroken period of resurrection, and that the righteous shall be raised at the last day and not more than a thousand years before that day, and that the revelation of Jesus to be glorified in His saints shall be when He is revealed from heaven taking vengeance on those who know not God and obey not the Gospel.
The writer has not sought to enter upon the pre-millennial advent of the Lord further than compelled by its necessary connection with the resurrection. Much remains to be said on that larger question for which no place could be found in these pages. Yet it was not possible wholly to exclude it. Being compelled to bring it into view it may be observed in concluding, that the great cause of erroneous conclusion is found in the absurd attempt to interpret the Apostles by the prophets, whereas the former are the inspired exponents of the latter. "A short and easy method," with the "Reign by Personal Presence Theory," is to bring together for review those events which are concomitant with that advent of the Lord, which is the hope of the Church, and then to ascertain whether those events are compatible with a subsequent millennium - remembering, that if they appear to be compatible, it will not prove that such millennium must follow, while if they are incompatible, it is logically demonstrated that a subsequent millennium is only as the baseless fabric of a vision which, grasped at, fades away.
In applying this test at least five events stand out as associated immediately with the Coming of the Lord.
1. The Resurrection of those who sleep in Jesus. - "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the first-fruits; afterward they that are Christ's AT HIS COMING." (1 Cor. xv. 22, 23.)
2. The transformation of the living Saints. - "Behold I show you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." (1 Cor. xv. 51, 52.)
3. The Removal of both from the Earth. - "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air." (1 Thes. iv. 16, 17.)
4. The Destruction of the Unbelieving and Disobedient. - "And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power: when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day." (2 Thes. i. 7-10).
5. The heavens pass away, and the earth burned up - "Where is the promise of his coming? ... But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night: in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?" (2 Peter iii. 10-12).
Thus there are among the great and precious promises for which the church is now waiting -
The resurrection of those who are Christ's AT HIS COMING.
The changing of the living saints when the dead are raised incorruptible, that is, AT HIS COMING.
When the Lord descends from heaven and those who sleep in Him are raised and the living saints changed, then together they will be caught up in the clouds. In other words they will be taken from the earth AT HIS COMING.
"When He comes" thus to be glorified in his saints, the wicked shall be punished with everlasting destruction - which is equal to saying, AT HIS COMING.
"The heavens being on fire shall be dissolved." The earth and works thereon shall be consumed, AT HIS COMING.
What will follow? Certainly not the conversion of the Jews, the re-building of Jerusalem, the setting up of David's throne in the old city, nor the one thousand years of prosperity. None of these can take place after the resurrection and removal of the saints, the destruction of the unbelieving and disobedient, and the burning of the earth. Then will appear the "new heaven and the new earth," in which will dwell righteousness for ever, where sin, sorrow, pain, and death, shall never enter. Then will the New Jerusalem, the Bride, the Lamb's wife, come down out of heaven, and the throne of God and the Lamb will be there.
For the present the writer lays down his pen, earnestly hoping that those who study his pages will see to it that they have their part in the "better resurrection."