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    SERMON TWO

    THE MILLENNIUM

    TEXT: 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 worshiped 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. Revelation 20:4, 5.OFH1 7.2

    The word millennium signifies a thousand years. And while there is a general agreement in applying the word to the period named in the text, all do not agree as to the character of the millennium. The popular view of this subject is, that the world is to be converted, and that all men will become holy. This happy state of things, it is said, will continue one thousand years, during which time Christ will reign with his people spiritually. And at the close of the millennium, Christ will come the second time, and the judgment will take place.OFH1 7.3

    But the sacred Scriptures do not teach that at any period of time all men will be converted to God. There were but few righteous men from Adam to Moses. And their numbers in the Jewish age, compared with the multitudes of the unbelieving, were very small. Neither does God’s plan in the Christian age embrace the conversion of all men. The gospel must be preached to all nations. Thus God visits “the Gentiles to take out of them a people for his name.” Acts 15:14. Among the finally saved will not be found all of any one generation, or all of any one nation; but some out of every age, and every tongue will join in the song to the Lamb: “Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” Revelation 5:9.OFH1 7.4

    From the very nature of the case, the conversion of the world is an impossibility. God is the same during all time. He deals with men and nations impartially. The devil is the same, excepting that the experience of six thousand years has made him more artful in seducing men and women into sin. The fallen race is the same, only that each succeeding generation degenerates physically, mentally, and morally, till the world becomes fully ripe for her final doom. This is seen in the metallic image of Daniel 2. Here five universal kingdoms are the subject of prophecy. Four of these pertain to the mortal state, one to the immortal. The four earthly monarchies, Babylon, Persia, Grecia, and Rome, are severally represented by gold, silver, brass, and iron. We not only see in the symbol the depreciation of value from gold to silver, to brass and to iron, but the last divided condition of earthly governments, just before the opening glories of the immortal kingdom, is represented by iron mixed with miry clay.OFH1 8.1

    God’s plan to convert sinners, and to save all who would obey him, and believe in Jesus, has been in operation about six thousand years. A crucified and risen Jesus has been preached with the Holy Spirit sent down from Heaven for more than eighteen centuries; yet the world has not been converted. And the prospect of its conversion to Bible holiness never looked darker than at the present time. In the forcible words of another 1Preface to Voice of the Church. we would inquire:OFH1 8.2

    “And what are the present prospects of a church that has set out in all confidence to convert the world? How may those now putting on the harness boast of greater expected success than is warranted by the experience of those who have put it off after having fought the good fight? The prophets could not convert the world; are we mightier than they? The apostles could not convert the world; are we stronger than they? The martyrs could not convert the world; can we do more than they? The church for eighteen hundred years could not convert the world; can we do it? They have preached the gospel of Christ; so can we. They have gone to earth’s remotest bounds; so can we. They have saved ‘some,’ so can we. They have wept as so few believed their report; so can we. They have finished their course with joy, and the ministry they have received to testify of the gospel of the grace of God; we can do the same. Can we reasonably hope to do more? ‘It would take to all eternity to bring the millennium at the rate that modern revivals progress,’ said the venerable Dr. Lyman Beecher, before a ministerial convention, held close by old Plymouth rock. And what hope is there that they will progress more rapidly? Is it in the word of God? Glad would we be to find it there. Sadly we read that ‘evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.’OFH1 9.1

    “Has God a mightier Saviour - a more powerful Spirit? Has he another gospel which will save the world? Where is it? Is there any way to the kingdom other than that which leads through much tribulation? Is there another way to the crown besides the way of crosses? Can we reign with Him unless we first suffer in his cause?OFH1 10.1

    “No doubt the world might be converted if they desired to know the Lord. And so, had all who heard received with gladness the word of God, the world might have been converted within twenty years of the day of Pentecost. If each Christian had brought one single soul to God with each successive year, the calm splendors of the millennial era might have shone upon the declining years of the apostles of Jesus Christ. But instead of this, ages of darkness came on. The world did not repent, but the church apostatized. If the gospel were to convert the world, we should have seen tokens of it ere this. But where are such omens to be found? Shall we look at Judson, who labored ten long years before one sinner yielded to the claims of the gospel? Shall we look to the dense darkness of the heathen world? Shall we look at the formalism of the professed church? Shall we look at the wide extension of infidelity? Shall we look at the abounding of iniquity and the waxing cold of love? Shall we look at a world where eighteen hundred years of toil and tears have not brought one-twentieth part of mankind even to a profession of true Christianity; and where not more than one-fifth claim for themselves the dubious title of Christian nations? Shall we look over a world in which we cannot find one nation of Christians, nor one tribe of Christians, nor one city of Christians, nor one town of Christians, nor one village of Christians, nor one hamlet of Christians, save here and there where a questionable faith has led a few, with hypocrites even then in their midst, to withdraw themselves from the world, and cherish the untried virtues of secluded life? Surely, after eighteen hundred years of experiment with that system which was to convert the world, men might point to some country, to some province, to some nation, and say, Behold the commencement of a converted world.OFH1 10.2

    “But will not the gospel then prove a failure? That depends upon what is to be expected of it. If the gospel was to effect the eternal salvation of all mankind, then failing to accomplish that work is a failure of the gospel. If the gospel was to convert the world, then, if it is not done, it will prove a failure. But if the gospel was preached ‘to take OUT OF the Gentiles a people for His name,’ then it is not a failure. If it was given that God might in infinite mercy and love ‘save SOME,’ then it is not a failure. If it was given that every repentant sinner might have eternal life, and that every good soldier might receive a crown of glory, then it is not a failure. If it was given that an innumerable company might be redeemed OUT OF every nation, and kindred, and tongue under heaven, then it is not a failure. If it was given that the vales and hills of Paradise restored might teem with a holy throng who shall be ‘equal to the angels, and be the children of God, being the children of the resurrection,’ then it is not a failure. If it was given that the elect might be brought into one great family of holy ones, then it is not a failure. And was not this its object, rather than the exaltation of a worldly church to the splendors of earthly prosperity, while beneath the theater of their easy triumph there slumber the ashes of prophets and the dust of the apostles? Are they to hold jubilee a thousand years, while the martyrs’ unceasing cry, ‘How long! O Lord,’ goes up to God? Are they to have their songs of triumph, while the whole creation groaneth for deliverance, and while that longed-for day of the redemption of our body is postponed? Nay, verily, the hope of the one body is one hope. The hope of the church stops not at death, it sweeps beyond earth’s scenes of tempest and of storm, and reposes in the calm beamings of that Sun of Righteousness which shall glow above the bosom of Paradise regained.”OFH1 11.1

    The millennium of Revelation 20 is to open with the revelation of the Son of God from Heaven, the destruction of the living wicked, the resurrection of the just, and the change to immortality of the living righteous. It is a period in which Christ will reign personally with the just of all ages who have suffered with him. 2 Timothy 2:12. This period is bounded at each end with a resurrection. Christ plainly declares that “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 5:28, 29. And Paul testifies “that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” Acts 24:15. But it is left to the Revelator to place these resurrections one thousand years apart, at each end of the millennium.OFH1 12.1

    “And I saw [not a converted world, but] thrones [of judgment] and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them.” Mention is then made of that portion of the martyrs of Jesus who had been beheaded, and also the victors over the beast, his image, and his mark, representing all the righteous; then is added, “They lived [were raised to life] and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead [the wicked] lived not again [were not raised from the dead] until the thousand years were finished.”OFH1 13.1

    The doctrine of the temporal millennium being based upon false interpretations and incorrect quotations of certain portions of the sacred Scriptures, it is proper that we should here notice those texts usually quoted to prove the world’s conversion, and show that they do not mean what they are said to prove.OFH1 13.2

    1. “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” Psalm 2:8. As sufficient evidence that this text does not prove the conversion of the world, we quote the verse following it: “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”OFH1 13.3

    2. The stone cut out of the mountain without hands, shall roll until it becomes a great mountain, and fills the whole earth. All the proof for the world’s conversion, found in the above, is in quoting the text wrong. Here is the text as it reads: “Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.” Daniel 2:34, 35.OFH1 13.4

    In this remarkable portion of prophecy, the following points are worthy of notice: (1) The stone smote the image upon his feet, and brake the iron, clay, brass, silver, and gold to pieces together. Here is destruction, not conversion. (2) They became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors, and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them. Here is illustrated the removal of all earthly governments. (3) Then the stone became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. In this prophecy the stone has nothing in common with the image. The image, a symbol of earthly governments and all wicked men, is first removed, and then the stone fills the whole earth.OFH1 14.1

    But if it be said that the dashing of the heathen, (Psalm 2:9,) and the breaking of the image (Daniel 2:34), mean the conversion of the world, then Paul’s words, “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly,” mean the conversion of Satan.OFH1 14.2

    3. A nation shall be born in a day. Here is another incorrect quotation. Isaiah 66:8, reads: “Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.” This text has no allusion to the conversion of sinners; but evidently refers to the resurrection of the just.OFH1 14.3

    4. “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.” But let it be borne in mind that this is under the third woe, when it is also said, “And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.” Revelation 11:15, 18.OFH1 14.4

    5. “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come.” Matthew 24:14.OFH1 15.1

    Those who teach the world’s conversion would have the gospel preached to all nations, every individual hear it, believe it, obey it, and all become holy by it. What then? the end? No; not until the world has enjoyed a sinless period of one thousand years. Some hold that the one thousand years of Revelation 20 are prophetic, each day in the year representing a year, making three hundred and sixty-five thousand years. But the text does not say that every individual will even hear this gospel of the kingdom. It does not state that any one will be converted and made holy by it. And we find it far from intimating that a world would be converted, and remain so one thousand years, or three hundred and sixty-five thousand years. The text simply states,OFH1 15.2

    (1) “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world,“OFH1 15.3

    (2) “For a witness unto all nations,“OFH1 15.4

    (3) “And then [not one thousand years later, nor three hundred and sixty-five thousand; but THEN] shall the end come.”OFH1 15.5

    6. “They shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” Micah 4:3. See also Isaiah 2:4.OFH1 15.6

    Please notice that Micah 4:1, speaks of the exalted state of the professed church of Christ in the last days. Mountains mean earthly governments. The church, here represented by “the mountain of the Lord’s house,” was to be exalted above the hills. It was to be established in the tops of the mountains.OFH1 16.1

    Verses 2-5 is a statement, not of what the Lord declares would take place in the last days, but what the multitudes of popular professors, who are looking for the conversion of the world, would say. The statement commences thus: “And many nations shall come and say.” Verse 2. It is man, not God, that says, “And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” Verse 3.OFH1 16.2

    But the Lord speaks in verses 6 and 7, as follows: “In that day, saith the Lord, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted.” “In that day” when “many nations” are prophesying of peace and safety, the Lord’s remnant people are driven out and afflicted.OFH1 16.3

    But we have more and very decisive testimony in regard to the state of the nations in the last days. The Lord speaks by his prophet thus: “Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles: Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near. Let them come up. Beat your ploughshares into swords, and your pruning-hooks into spears. Joel 3:9, 10. Instead of the nations’ no more lifting up the sword against each other, in the last days, “evil shall go forth from nation to nation,” and “the sword of the Lord shall devour from the one end of the land even to the other end of the land: no flesh shall have peace.” Jeremiah 12:12; 25:32.OFH1 16.4

    This subject may appear still more clear and forcible by arranging what many nations say, and what the Lord says, side by side as follows:OFH1 17.1

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