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M I L L E N N I U M.
SHOWING FROM SCRIPTURE PROPHECY
THAT IT IS YET TO COME; WHEN IT WILL COME; IN WHAT IT WILL CONSIST; AND THE EVENTS WHICH ARE FIRST
TO TAKE PLACE, INTRODUCTORY TO IT.
SAMUEL HOPKINS, D.D.,
LATB PASTOR OF THE FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH IN NEWPORT, R. I.
“This shall be writton for the generation to come; and the people which shall be created shall praise the Lord.” – Psalm cii. 18.
TO THE PEOPLE WHO SHALL LIVE IN THE DAYS OF THE
Hail, ye happy People, highly favored of the Lord !
To you the following treatise on the Millennium is dedicated, as you will live in that happy era, and enjoy the good of it in a much higher degree than it can be now enjoyed in the prospect of it; and that you may know, if this book shall be conveyed down to your time, what is now thought of you, and of the happy day in which you will come on the stage of life. You will be able to see the mistakes which are now made on this head; and how far what is advanced here is agreeable to that which is noted in the Scripture of truth, and a true and proper description of the events which are to take place, and to rectify every mistake. All is therefore humbly submitted to your better judgment.
When you shall learn what a variety of errors, in doctrine and practice, have been, and are now, imbibed and propagated, and in what an imperfect and defective manner they are opposed and confuted, and the truth explained and defended, and observe how many defects and mistakes there are in those writings which contain most truth, and come nearest to the standard of all religious truth, the Holy Scripture, you will be ready to wonder how all this could be, where divine revelation is enjoyed. But your benevolence and candor will make all proper allowances for all the prejudices and darkness which take place in these days, and pity us; while your piety will lead you to ascribe the greater light and advantages which you will enjoy, and your better discerning and judgment, not unto yourselves, but to the distinguishing, sovereign grace of God.
Though you have yet no existence, nevertheless, the faith of the Christians in this and in former ages beholds you “at hand to come;" and realizing your future existence and character, you are greatly esteemed and loved; and the pious have great joy in you, while they are constantly, and with great earnestness, praying for you. They who make mention of the Lord will not keep silence, nor give him any rest, till he establish and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth. For you they are praying and laboring, and to you they are ministering ; and without you they cannot be made perfect. And you will enter into their labors, and reap the happy fruit of their prayers, toils, and sufferings.
They will be in heaven, with the holy angels, and the spirits of the just made perfect, when you will come upon the stage in this world ; and they will rejoice in you, in your knowledge, benevolence, piety, righteousness, and happiness. And all their past prayers for you will be turned into joy and praise. And you will, in due time, be gathered together with them unto the Lord Jesus Christ, in his eternal kingdom, and join in seeing and praising him forever, ascribing blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, unto the only true God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. AMEN.
A PARTICULAR history of the church of Christ, from the days of the apostles to this time; of the various changes through which it has passed; of the doctrines which have been taught and maintained; of the discipline, worship, and manners which have taken place; of the grand apostasy in the church of Rome, and of the reformation, etc., might be properly subjoined to the foregoing system, were it not that this has been done by a number of writers already; so that all who are disposed to acquaint themselves with ecclesiastical history, may obtain this information by books already extant; which, at the same time, serve to confirm the truth and divine original of Christianity, by discovering in how many instances the state of the church, and the events which have had a particular respect to it, have been foretold and have taken place according to the predictions. This subject has been particularly illustrated by Mr. Lowman, in his “ Paraphrase and Notes on the Revelation of St. John;" and since, more largely, by Bishop Newton, in his “ Dissertation on the Prophecies, which have been remarkably fulfilled, and at this time are fulfilling in the world."
A Treatise on the Millennium, however, and of the future state of the church of Christ, from this time to the end of the world, as it is predicted and described in divine revelation, is thought proper and important, not only as it has been more than once referred to in the preceding work, but as it appears not to be believed by many, and not to be well understood by more, or attended to by most, as an important event, full of instruction, suited to support, comfort, and encourage Christians in the present dark appearance of things, respecting the interest of Christ and his church, and to animate them to faith, patience, and perseverance in obedience to Christ, putting on the hope of salvation for a helmet; and to excite them more earnestly to pray for the advancement and coming of the kingdom of Christ, of which kingdom, as it is to take place in this world, or of Chris. tianity itself, there cannot be so clear, full, and pleasing an idea, if the Scripture doctrine of the Millennium be kept out of view.
In the first three centuries after the apostles, the doctrine of the Millennium was believed and taught; but so many unworthy and absurd things were by some advanced concerning it, that it afterwards fell into discredit, and was opposed, or passed over in silence, by most, until the reformation from Popery; and then a number of enthusiasts advanced so many unscriptural and ridiculous notions concerning it, and made such a bad improvement of it, that many, if not most of the orthodox, in opposing them, were led to disbelieve and oppose the doctrine in general, or to say little or nothing în favor of the doctrine, in any sense or view of it.
But few of the most noted writers of the last century in Britain, or in other parts of the Protestant world, have said any thing to establish or explain this doctrine; and they who have mentioned it do appear, at least the most of them, not to have well understood it. In the present century, there has
, been more attention to it; and the Scriptures which relate to it have been more carefully considered and explained by a number of writers, and it has been set in a more rational, scriptural, and important light than before. Dr. Whitby has written a Treatise on the Millennium; and Mr. Robertson and Mr. Lowman have asserted and explained it, in some measure, in their exposition of the Book of the Revelation by the apostle John, especially the beginning of the twentieth chapter of that book; and the late President Edwards attended much to this subject, and wrote upon it more than any other divine in this century. In the year 1747, he published a book, entitled “An humble attempt to promote explicit agreement, and visible union of God's people, in extraordinary prayer for the revival of religion, and the advancement of Christ's kingdom on earth, pursuant to Scripture promises and prophecies concerning the last time;" in which he produces the evidence from Scripture that such a day is yet to come. And in a posthumous publication of his, entitled “ A History of the Work of Redemption,” this subject is brought into view, and particularly considered. There is also extant a sermon on the Millennium, by the late Dr. Bellamy; and other writers have occasionally mentioned it; and this subject appears to be brought more particularly into view in the public prayers and preaching, and in conversation, in this age, than in former times, and the doctrine of the Millennium is more generally believed and better understood.
This is rather an encouragement to attempt further to explain and illustrate this important, pleasing, useful subject, in which every Christian is so much interested, than a reason why nothing more should be said upon it. The subject is far from being exhausted; and as the church advances nearer to the millennial state, we have reason to think the predictions in divine revelation respecting it will be better understood, and the minds of Christians will be more excited to great attention to this subject, and strong desires to look into those things, and to earnest longings and prayers for the coming of the kingdom of Christ, as it will take place in that day; and all this is to be effected by means and proper attempts and exertions. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased."
The prophecies of events which are yet to take place cannot be so fully understood before these events come to pass as they will be when they are fulfilled, and there is great danger of making mistakes about them; and it is certain that many have made mistakes, since they have made very different and opposite constructions of the same predictions, and, therefore, all cannot be right. So far as the prophecies which respect the Millennium, of which there are many, can be understood, and the real meaning of them be made