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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 5

The Early Christians

page 28

The Early Christians.

Testimony of Moshbim.

"The most famous controversies that divided the Christians during this (the third) century were those concerning the Millennium, or reign of a thousand years, the baptism of heretics, and the doctrine of Origen. Long before this period an opinion had prevailed that Christ was to come and reign a thousand years amongst men before the entire and final dissolution of the world. This opinion which had hitherto net with no opposition was differently interpreted by different persons; nor did all promise themselves the same kind of enjoyments in that future and glorious kingdom. But in this century its credit began to decline, principally through the influence and authority of Origen, who opposed it with the greatest warmth because it was incompatible with some of his favourite sentiments, Nepos, an Egyptian bishop, endeavoured to restore this opinion to its former credit, in a book written against the allegorists, for so he called, by way of contempt, the adversaries of the Millenarian system. This work, and the hypothesis it defended, was extremely well received by great numbers in the canton of Arsinoe. But Dionysius of Alexandria, a disciple of Origen, stopped the growing progress of this doctrine by his private discourse, and also by two learned and judicious dissertations concerning the divine promises."—Moshcim's "Ecclesiastical History," vol. L p. 234.

Testimony of Gibbon,

"In treating of the causes which operated the rapid progress of the gospel in the first two hundred years of our era, the historian of the 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,' thus expresses himself with reference to the great subject matter of the Apocalypse. 'The ancient and popular doctrine of the Millennium,' says Gibbon, 'was intimately connected with the second coming of Christ. As the work of creation had been finished in six days, their duration, in their present state, according to a tradition which was attributed to the prophet Elijah, was fixed to six thousand years. By the same analogy it was inferred that this long period of labour and contention, which was now almost elapsed (as they supposed), would be succeeded by a joyful sabbath of a thousand years, and that Christ, with the triumphant band of the saints and the elect who had escaped death, or who had been miraculously revived, would reign upon earth until the time appointed for the last and general resurrection. So pleasing was this hope to the minds of believers that the New Jerusalem, the seat of this blissful kingdom, was quickly page 29 adorned with all the gayest colours of the imagination. A. felicity consisting only of pure and spiritual pleasure would have appeared too refined for its inhabitants, who were still supposed to possess their human nature and senses. A garden, of Eden, with the amusements of pastoral life, was no longer suited to the advanced state of society which prevailed under the Roman Empire. A city was therefore erected of gold and previous stones, and a supernatural plenty of corn and wire was bestowed on the adjacent territory, in the free enjoyment of whose spontaneous productions the happy and benevolent people was never to be restrained by any jealous laws of exclusive property. The assurance of such a millennium was carefully inculcated by a succession of fathers from Justyn Martyr and Irenaeus, who conversed with the immediate disciples of the Apostles, down to Lactantius, who was preceptor to the son of Constantino. Though it might not be universally received, it appears to have been the reigning sentiment e/f the orthodox believers; and it seems so well adapted to the desires and apprehensions of mankind that it must have contributed in a very considerable degree to the progress of the Christian faith. But when the edifice of the church was almost completed, the temporary support was kid aside. The doctrine of Christ's reign upon earth was at first treated as a profound allegory, was considered by degrees as a doubtful and useless opinion, and was at length rejected as the absurd invention of heresy and fantieism. A my sterious prophecy (the Apocalypse) which still forms a part of the sacred canon, but which was thought to favour the exptoded sentiment, has very narrowly escaped the proscription of the Church.'

"This is the impartial testimony of a man who was well acquainted with the literature of the times contemporary with, and immediately succeeding those of the Apostles, and who conceived that the propagators of Christianity were deceived, and of such low morality that they did not hesitate to invent and promulgate lies to gain their ends. This was doubtless the case with the Babel builders of what Gibbon calls `the church,' hut it is a groas calumny when insinuated against those 'servants of God' to whom the Apocalypse was 'Sent.' Gibbon's testimony, however, is important and useful in this—

"1. That it proves that the nearer we approach to the times of the Apostles, the stronger and more universal was the belief of the Apocalyptic teaching concerning the millennium, and reign of Christ and the saints upon earth.

"2. That it was well adapted to the desires and apprehensions of mankind.

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"3. That so long as it continued the reigning sentiment the faith rapidly progressed.

"4. That when the edifice erecting by the sons of Balaam and Jezebel was almost completed, the doctrine of Christ's reign began to be abandoned.

"5. That when, they had completed the Apostasy the doctrine was repudiated as heresy and fanaticism, and"

"6. That the Apocalypse itself had a narrow escape of being expelled from the canon of inspiration.

"But here we beg leave to remark that the doctrine of Messiah's reign with the saints on earth for a long stason did not originale with the Apocalypse. It is the burden of all the prophets from Moses to Malachi. Moses teaches Chat the seed of Abraham shall be a great nation; that nation with Abraham and his seed, the prophet like to him, shall possess the Holy Land for ever; that all nations shall he blessed in them, and that the whole earth shall be full of Jehovah's glory. This is the future state which Moses preached as the gospel to Israel, nor was the preaching confined to him. The pioclamation was amplified in all the prophets. The songs of Jehovah are full of it. Isaiah announced it in glowing terms., and tells us in vision that he saw the King upon his throne, who is to reign in righteousness on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem in the presence of his ancients or saints, whose death shall be swallowed up in victory.—Isaiah vi. 1–5; xxxii. 1; xxiv. 23; xxv. 8. Jeremiah testifies to the same effect, telling us that Jehovah will raise up to David a righteous branch, that this man shall be King of Israel, reigning and prospering and executing judgment and justice in the earth; that In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel and Jerusalem shall dwell safely; that He shall be for the righteousness of the nation; that then Jerusalem shall be called the throne of Jehovah; that all nations shall be concentred to it as the throne of empire, and that they shall all be enlightened and blessed in their king, who shall be called the God of the whole Earth.—Jerem. iii. 17; xxiii. 5, 6; xxxiii. 15. Isaiah liv. 5."—"Eureka," by Dr John Thomas. Vol. i. pp. 41, 42, 43.

Testimony of Justin Martyr.

"For if you have conversed with some that are indeed called Christians, and do not maintain these opinions, but even dare to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God oi Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and say that there is no resurrection of the dead, but that the souls, as soon as they leave the body, are received up into heaven, lake care that you do not look upon these page 31 as Christians, as no one that rightly considers would say that the Sadducees or the like sects of Genists, and Merists, and Galileans, and Hellenians, and Pharisees, and Baptists, are Jews, bul that they only seem to be Jews, and the children of Abraham, and to `confess God with their lips,' as God himself hath said, `but their heart is far from him.' Isaiah xxix, 13. But I and all those Christians that are really arthodox in every respect, do know that there will he a resurrection of the body and a thousand yeacrs in Jerusalem, when it is built again, and adorned, and enlarged, as Ezekiel and Esuias and the rest of the prophets declare."—Justin Martyr's Dialogue with Trypho, the Jew, Section Ixxx.

Modern Christians.

The Battists in 1669.

The following confession of faith, signed by John Bunyan and forty other elders, deaeons, and brethren, and approved by more than 20,000 others, was presented to King Charles II., in London, 1660. They declared, "We are not only resolved to suffer persecution to the loss of our goods, but also life itself, rather than decline from the same." Where are the Baptists of 1660?

Art, 22. " We believe that the same Lord Jesus who showed himself alive after his passion, by many infallible proofs (Acts i. 3), which was taken up into heaven (Luke xxiv. 51), shall so come in like manner as he was seen go into heaven (Acts i. 9–11)– 'And when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, we also shall appear with him in glory,' (Col. iii. 4.) `For the kingdom is his, and be is the governor among the nations,' Psalms xxii. 2s, and 'king over all the earth,' Zech. xiv. 9, 'and we shall reign wilh him on the earth.'—Rev. v. 10. 'The kingdoms of this world' (which men so mightily strive after here to enjoy) `shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ.'—Rev. xi. 10.' For all is yours' (ye that overcome this world),' for ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's. '—1 Cor. iii. 22, 23. 'For unto the saints shall be given the kingdom, and the greatness of the kingdom, under the whole heaven.'—Dan. vii. 27. "Though, alas! how many men be scaree content that the saints should have so much as a being among them, but when Christ shall appear, then shall be their day, then shall be given unto them power over the nations, to rule them with a rod of iron.—Rev. ii. 26, 27. Then shall they receive a crown of life, which no man shall take from, them, nor they by any means turned or overtimed from; for page 32 the oppressor shall be broken in pieces (Psalms lxxii. 4,) and their vain rejoicings be turned into mourning and lamentations, as it is written.—Job. xx. 5, 7.

"We believe that there will be an order in the resurrection; Christ is the firstfruits, and then next, or after, they that are Ohrist'a at his coming; then, or afterwards, eometh the end. Concerning the kingdom and reign of our Lord Jesus Christ, as we do believe that he is now in heaven at his Father's right hand, so we do believe that, at the time appointed by the Father, he shall come again in power and great glory; and that at, or after his coming the second time, he will not only raise the dead, and judge and restore the world, but will also take to himself his kingdom, and will, according to the Scriptures, reign on the throne of his father David, on Mount Zion, la Jerusalem, for ever.

"We believe that the kingdom of our Lord will he a universal kingdom, and that in this kingdom thr Lord Jesus Christ himself will be alone, visible, supreme king of the whole earth.

"We believe as this kingdom will he universal, so it will he also an everlasting kingdom that shall have no end, nor cannot be shaken; in which kingdom the saints and faithful in Christ Jesus shall receive the end of their faith, even the salvation of their souls; where the Lord is they shall be also.

"We believe that the New Jerusalem that shall come down from God out of heaven, when the tabernacle of God shall be with them, and he will dwell among them, will be the metropolitan city of this kingdom, and will be the glorious place of residence of both Christ and his saints for ever, and will be so situate as that the kingly palace will be on Mount Zion, the holy hill of David, where his throne was."—Crosby's "History of Baptism" vol. ii., App. 58.

Let Baptists, and other professors of religion, read the above noble and scriptural confession of faith, and comnare the same with the Creeds and Confessions of Faith of the present day. Header, who is right? The Baptist of 1660, or the professors of the present day? The Scriptures are the same now as then. Search and see if these things are so.

French Jansenists.

"A new monthly periodical, called 'The Watchman, chiefly devoted to the subject of prophecy, has appeared at Paris. Speaking of a society of pious women still existing there, who are followers of the Jansenista, well known to hold sentiments which approximate to evangelical Protestantism, page 33 the editor says—'But what is very remarkable in the history of this little body, consisting of about a hundred persons, is, that they have received and cherished from their ancestors an indubitable persuasion of Christ's second coming to establish his personal reign upon the earth. And so evidently do they hold this doctrine to be revealed in the Scriptures, that when they heard of the gospel being preached by a valuable and faithful Swiss minister, now in Paris, they declined to hear him preach, because they were informed he did not believe in the visible and personal reign of Christ upon the earth. The argument was that if he knew the Gospel at all he should not have been left in ignorance of that great truth so clearly revealed in it.'"—The "Investigator," vol. i. 1831, p. 114.

Particulars of the Kingdom of God.

That the kingdom of God will be established upon the Earth (a), and bo Age-lasting in its duration (b); that the once crucified Jesus of Nazareth, the Lord of life, now exalted at the Father's right hand, is the Anointed King (c); that the glorified saints, washed from their sins in the blood of the Lamb, will be its princes and subordinate sovereigns (d); that the Jews who own their supremacy will be the immediate subjects to be gathered out of every nation for this purpose (e); that the government will be absolute and Divine, and not left to the will of any people (/); that Jerusalem will be its capital, and the Holy Land its immediate locality (g); that the Bevil and Satan, or the Constitution of Sin, embodied in the government of the world, ecclesiastical and civil, will be destroyed (h); and that all the nations of the earth will serve and obey him who is their appointed governor, and participate in that glorious righteousness, peace, and prosperity, which shall characterise his reign (i), are Truths which illuminate every page of the Bible, and constitute the promises made to Adam (J), Abraham (k), David (l), and all the ancients (m) and the gospel proclaimed by Jesus (n), Peter (o), Paul (p), Stephen (q), and Philip (r), the gospel to be believed for Righteousness and Salvation.

To participate in the honour and glory of this kingdom, it is necessary to be adopted into the family of Abraham, by believing the things which concern the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus the Christ, and Immersion into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (s) which is the doctrinal name of the Lord Jesus, because he was "God manifest in the flesh" through the operation of the Holy Spirit.

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The obvious and grammatical sense of the Holy Scriptures, demonstrates the above truths. Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them. "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the City." (l)

Testimony of Moses and the Prophets. Testimony of Jesus and the Apostles.
(a) Psalm it. 8; lxxii. 8–11;
Jercin. xxiii. 5, 8; Exek. xxxvii. 20–28; Dan. ii. 35, 44; vii. 14, 27; Joel iii. 16, 17, 21; Mic. iv. 7, 8; Zeeh. xiv. 9, 16, 19; Obadiah 21.
(a) Luke i. 32. 33; Rev. xi. 15; ii. 26,27: v. 8–10.
(b) Psalm lxxxiv. 29; Isa. ix. 6, 7: Dan. ii. 44: vii. 14. 27; Mic. iv 7. (b) Luke i. 33: Heb. xii 28, 2 Peter i. 11; Rev. xi. 15.
(c) Psalm ii. 1–3; Isa. ix. 6, 7: liii. 10–12; Jer. xxxiii. 5–7; Ezek. xxxvii. 24, 25; Dan. vii. 13, 14. (c) Lukci 33; Acts ii. 30, 31; xvii. 31. Hcb. i. 8; Jno. i. 49: Rev xvii. 14.
(d) Daniel vii. 13, 27. (d) Matt. xix. 28; 1 Cor. vi. 2, 3, Rom. viii. 17; 2 Tim. ii. 12; Rev. ii. 26. 27; iii. 21; v. 10; xx. 4.
(e) Jercm. xxxiii. 5–9; xxxi.; Exek. xxxvii. 20–28; Mic. iv. 8. (e) Luke i. 33, 68–75.
(f) Isa. xi. 2–5; Psalm ii. 9; lxxii. 2–4: Dan. vii. 13–27; ii 44 (f) Matt, xxviii. 18; John xvii. 2; 1 Cor. sv. 27; Rev. xx. 4: Heb. ii. 8; Epu. i. 22.
(g) Gen. xiii. 15; xvii. 8; lsa. ii. 3; xxiv. 23; Mic. iv. 4, 7, 8; Joel iii. 17, 20, 21. (g) Matt. v. 35.
(h) Gen.iii. 15; Psalm ii. 9; lxxii. 4, 9; cxlix. 6–9 Isa. Ix. 12; Dun. ii. 35; vii. 9–27. (h) 2 Thess. ii. 7, 8; Rev. xvii 10–14; xviii,: xix. 17, 21; xx. 1–3
(i) Gen. xii. 3; xxii. 18: Psalm lxxii. Isa.ii. 2–4: xi. 1–10; Mic. iv. 1–5. (i) Luke ii. 14: Gal. iii. S.
(j) Genesis iii. 15.
(k) Geness xii. 3; xxii. 18. (k) Gal. iii. S; Hcb. xi. 10.
(l) 2 Sam. vii. 9–19. (l) Acts ii. 30.
(m) Heb. iv. 2; xi.; Judo 14.
(n) Mark i. 14, 15; Luke iv. 45. ix. 2.
(o) Acts ii. 30: iii. 19–20; x. 37; 2Peter i. 11.
(p) Acts xxvi. 6, 7; xxviii. 23, 31.
(q) Acts vii. 1–53.
(r) Acts viii. 5, 12, 35.
(s) Mark xvi. 15, 16; Acts ii. 20. 39; viii. 12; Gal. iii. 25, 27.
(t) Rev. xxii. 14.