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“ With the Lord's advent begins the real reign of God upon earth, a kingdom of righteousness, holiness, and peace, consisting of mortals, but with exemption from the Evil One and his enticements, and under a mighty influence of celestial power. It is called the reign of a thousand years, although it may endure more than a thousand years. Modern times have again paid attention to this near approach, thus coinciding with the ancient Fathers. It is resounding, as it were, a new call,—The Lord cometh! Among believers this doctrine, far removed from carnal conceptions, should no more be considered an error." -J. F. Meyer. (German.)
“ Perhaps many readers will feel astonishment at the views we have already set forth respecting the last times ; and put the question, if it be possible now to put forth such antiquated notions. What the Bible teaches never can become antiquated, notwithstanding all the doubts which may have been raised, and misconceptions respecting it. It may become, as it were, covered with dust, but cannot be considered antiquated. The truth only requires to be set forth in its biblical purity; it shines forth in its original clearness, and meets an accordance in every susceptible heart. On no subject of Christianity, perhaps, is this more the case than on that respecting the reign of a thousand years. It needs only to be considered in its true light; its inward light bursts forth, and on the ground of Christianity, it seems natural and necessary, as when contemplated by cultivated reason, it appears fair and elevated.”—Gess. (German.)
“ Cavendum est ne istiusmodi vaticinationes quae de prospero Ecclesiae visibilis statu in terris agunt, conemur spiritualiter explicare, quasi verba improprie sumenda sint, et, praeter gratiam Dei in Christo et spem vitae aeternae mentisque ad virtutem renovationem, nihil promissum sit; sed regnum Christi (ut vulgo dicitur), sit crucis regnum taleque per omnium seculorum decursum aeque manere, necesse sit."-Crusii hypomnemata ad Theologiam Propheticam. 1764.
Few words will suffice to introduce this volume. Amid many anxieties and misgivings our first year's labours have been brought to a comfortable and successful close. For this we give all praise and thanks to a gracious God, who, notwithstanding the feebleness and foolishness of the instrument, has not only borne with us, and suffered us to go forward, but has helped and prospered and blessed us beyond our thought.
It was not for the sake of controversy that this Journal was projected; and we trust that it has not been carried on in the spirit of controversy, or in a manner fitted to exasperate or divide or distract. With disputed points, indeed, it has had, to a large extent, to deal. Nor could this be avoided. But controversy, in the usual import of the word, we have, as far as in us lay, sought constantly to shun. The things wherein we differ, we desire to make matters, not of controversy, but of conference,—not of contention, but of friendly inquiry ; brother helping brother in their understanding of things to come, according to the measure of their light.
It was not to theorize, either on doctrine or on Scripture, that we undertook this work. Mere speculation we have sought to discountenance,-setting aside not only what is disproved, but what is unproved. It is, perhaps, in the field of unproved speculation that the largest licence has been taken, and the seeds of error sown most plentifully. For some prophetic theorists have occasionally ventured upon a bolder range, when feeling themselves standing midway between the proved and the disproved. Of certain of their opinions, they themselves will not affirm that they are proved. On the other hand, we cannot say that they are disproved. They stand simply among the unproved,--and
thus give range to a fertile fancy. But surely a verdict of unproved is enough to hold speculation in check, in all those who desire to think simply as God thinks, and to know only as much of the future as He has seen good to reveal.
An objection has been taken to our Journal on the ground of its being necessarily a book of one subject, or, at least, one line of thought, and thereby fitted to injure or mislead by the prominence given to that one idea, or line of ideas. Our answer is twofold. (1.) This is done in every other department of knowledge, and done most successfully. We have a journal of agriculture, or a journal of chemistry, or a journal of the fine arts ;-these, of course, restrict themselves to one department of knowledge, and their doing so is reckoned a benefit to science, and is acknowledged to be the true way of advancing the special study to which they are devoted. Why should men blame in the pursuit of prophetic truth what they praise in the prosecution of science? (2.) Our field is the whole revealed future, and that is a wide and varied one. With it before us we are not likely to be injured by devoting our Journal to the exclusive consideration of one class of inquiries, when that class is so large and comprehensive.
One object we keep in view is to awaken inquiry. In this we have not been unsuccessful. The circle of inquirers is widening every day,-interest is rising, prejudices are breaking down, and even the unwilling are compelled to listen. We do not mean to say that all this has been through us; but still our testimony has not been unblest. The increase of inquirers, especially in Scotland, during the last five years, is most cheering. Into every part of the land the tidings of the coming kingdom are making their way. Men are beginning to put anxious questions as to the Advent—its nearness, its suddenness, and its issues. They feel that these are matters which concern them most profoundly, and they are asking, “Is it possible that I can watch for an event, if I am assured it is not to take place for at least a thousand years?"
Another object kept in view by us has been to help forward inquiry. There is a large class to whom these subjects are not new. They have been searching for years. We seek to help them; and while we would unsparingly discourage crudities and rash imaginations, we would as earnestly endeavour to assist the inquiries and researches of those whose delight it is to meditate upon the law of their God, and upon whose consciences this question often presses itself, “ Is it right for me to refuse to know anything that God has revealed ? or can I expect to advance in meetness for the kingdom so long as I shrink from learning the details which God has laid before us concerning the nature and conditions of that kingdom ?”.
Another object has been to press home the proof of the pre-millennial Advent of the Lord, and to remove objections to this. These two things we mean to keep stedfastly in view, for the key to all prophecy is here, and many who are studying “ things hoped for,” are by no means firmly established in this point. It is strange to find many clinging to solitary objections, and because of these refusing to admit evidence however strong. In other matters we don't find it so. “The last thing (it has been remarked) a man would think of doing would be, to neglect the preponderant evidence on account of the residuum of insoluble objections; he does not allow his ignorance to control his knowledge, nor the evidence he has not got to destroy what he has, and the less so, that experience has taught him that in many cases such apparent difficulties have been cleared up in the course of time and by the progress of knowledge, and proved to be contradictions in appearances only; ... it is much more easy to insist on individual objections, which no man can effectually answer, than it is to appreciate at once the total effect of many lines of argument and many sources of evidence all bearing on one point.”*
* “ It is easy to show,” (says Butler, Anal., Part 2, ch. 7,) “ in a short and lively manner, that such and such things are liable to objection, but impossible to show in like manner the united force of the whole argument in one view."
By dwelling on this proof in all its various forms and answering objections, we hope to show how impregnable is our main position; on what safe ground we stand ; how direct and positive, as well as how overwhelming is our evidence; how indirect and negative, as well as how inconclusive is the reasoning of our opposers. Again and again have we adduced direct statements of the prophetic word which place the Advent before the kingdom ; again and again have we asked our brethren to bring us one direct proof-text which places the kingdom before the Advent. We have received none. And thus the matter stands. It is of some importance that our readers should keep this in view.
In so far as the doctrine of the pre-millennial Advent is concerned, the matter cannot rest until the Church has been brought to see that the appearing must of necessity precede the kingdom ; that it is not the kingdom that introduces the King, but the King that introduces the kingdom. With many this is a point so settled, that they are perhaps impatient that it should be ever treated as still needing argument and proof. But let them remember that by large sections of the Church, this subject has either never been heard of, or if heard of, keenly opposed and strongly condemned. In many places the question is only beginning to be stirred. But that it will be, ere long, awakened everywhere,—that it will force itself upon the attention of the saints of God throughout the world, we doubt not. It is doing so already. It will do so more widely. It will rouse the Churches. Events are compelling men to consider it however reluctantly. Nor will it rest till ended by the arrival of the King himself.
“ Lord ! open men's eyes to see and their ears to hear, that thy arrival may not overtake them unprepared, nor overwhelm them with shame and confusion of face; but that with eager hearts they may welcome Thee, and enter into thy joy!"