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Introduction to Alethea In Heart Ministries

The Millenium

From The Oberlin Evangelist Vol. III. No. 4 Feb. 17. 1841.

By Rev. Henry Cowles
Professor of Church History and Prophesy at Oberlin College, and Main Editor of
The Oberlin Evangelist (responsible for giving us most of Finney's sermons).



The Millenium.



The state of the world during the Millenium.

What the Millenium will be?

1. Respecting the political and social state of the world, and

2. Respecting its religious state during the Millenium.

1. In respect to the political state of the world, it is quite certain that there will then be no mighty conquerors.

2. Of course there shall be no more war.

3. There shall be no more oppressive rule.

4. There will be no more slavery.

Will there be in that period any civil government at all?

The religious state of the world during the Millenium.

1. The right knowledge of God will be exceedingly prevalent.

2. God will manifest his presence most remarkably and gloriously among his people.

3. The Spirit will then be given in glorious and immense effusions.

4. There will be a high degree of holiness and a flourishing state of piety.

5. The great mass of the people on earth will be Christians.

6. There will then be no hypocrites in the church.

7. Dissension and division shall utterly cease.

Miscellaneous Questions.

1. Will the human race then be by nature depraved?

2. Will children then need conversion to God?

3. Will saints be tempted then?

4. Will the Christian life then be a warfare?

5. What may we expect in regard to the prevalence of entire consecration to God?

6. What principles will prevail in regard to dress, equipage, diet, regimen, &c?

When will it commence?

Time of its commencement.

Its Precursors.

Preparations need and made.

Its Precursors.

Destruction of the Wicked.

Restoration of the Jews.

Length of the Period.

Results of the Millenium.



The age in which we live is an era of expectation. It is such in the political and social world—it is such pre-eminently to Zion. Passing events are pregnant with omens of promise, and a thousand eyes are striving to pierce the destinies of the future. The burden of present evils has always thrown a class of minds strongly upon the future in hope of better days; but the present state of expectation has been at least promoted by other agencies than this.

There has seemed to be a heaving in the elements of the moral and social world, portentous of no common change, and not unlike the deep heavings, intermingled with periods of awful stillness, which foretoken the crash of the earthquake. We have heard the noiseless but onward tread of the might Genius of Reform. We have seen his issuing forth "conquering and to conquer." There have been withal "the times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord," identifying the period of "the restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets." No wonder then that anticipation of momentous change and that hope of dawning mercies should swell the bosom of the friends of Zion.

Consequently the present is, or at least is becoming, an age of the study of prophesy. Few subjects in the field of religious inquiry are awakening deeper interest than this. There is a rational demand for it in the exigencies of our times. And God doubtless intended that as the day of fulfillment should draw near, the page of prophecy should be outspread, and searched afresh, and compared with that other great volume of God's will—the developments of his providence.

The deepest gratitude is due to God for giving his Church the light of prophecy. Happy for us that we are not left to the despondency into which the darkness of present prospects would often throw us. How kind it was in God to hang out over the archway of the future the bow of promise, sitting enthroned on every dark cloud as his harbinger of mercy. Reader, has it not often revived thy hope and thy faith, and renerved thin arm for labor in thy Master's vineyard? So it should.

But prophecy has been often misread and grievously abused. Probably no portion of God's word has suffered so much from misinterpretation. No part has been so often interpreted at random and without any proper regard to just principles of explaining language. A deep conviction of this truth warns me to tread softly and with care. I would not scandalize afresh the subject of prophecy by adding another to those expositions which seem to use conjecture or fancy rather than sound principles of critical interpretation. Of one thing I am well assured: Prophecy has its principles of interpretation which are fixed and ascertainable. Common sense and the common use of figurative language must be their basis. God meant to have prophesy understood. By this assertion, I mean that every thing which He meant to reveal by prophecy, He meant to make intelligible. It is proof enough of this that God had made it our duty to study prophecy that we may understand it before its fulfillment.

And intense desire to know the actual truth has prompted all my inquiries. What else is worth a straw to us except the simple truth? I am aware that my views of certain points do not coincide with those of some great and good men. But I have designed to form no opinions rashly. On some points I shall not speak with confidence. God forbid that on any I should be dogmatical and pugnacious. I shall aim to give reasons, and continually refer the read to the unerring standard. On doubtful and disputed ground, I may often carry the discussion back to the fundamental principles of interpretation. I recognize no other standard of ultimate appeal. The true meaning of what God has said, is for evermore decisive; so that the inquiry, what does the language of prophesy really mean? is always vital.

On the deep questions of prophecy, more perhaps than on any other, does the docile spirit of a child become us. O, we should love to sit at each other's feet, and much more the feet of the Great Teacher, and welcome any and all light that may reveal the glorious truth to our minds. Never let our opinions on such points be like the laws of the Medes and Persions, changeless. Let more light come, if God through any channel shall deign to sent it, or aid us to find it. I will bid welcome every solitary ray.

My plan of discussion includes the following points: what the Millenium will be—when it will commence—the precursors of the Millenium, as existing in the state of the Church, and in the movements of God's providence, in God's disposal of the wicked, and the condition of the Jews—the length of the Millenium—its results—and its lessons for us respecting our responsibilities and duties.

The state of the world during the Millenium.

What the Millenium will be, is the point to which the reader's attention is now invited. And one of our first objects should be to make a broad distinction between what is actually revealed and what we infer from things revealed; between what God has actually said, and what we think much of course follow from God's declarations. A multitude of sentiments respecting the political, civil, and social state of the world, the customs, habits, and modes of life pertaining to the Millenium are drown as inferences from what we suppose to be revealed.—Now let an inference be and inference, and nothing more. Let it not assume to itself or in any wise receive and authority paramount to God's word.

Sometimes and perhaps more often the process by which we arrive at our conclusions is this. We think that certain things ought to exist in a perfect state of society, and therefore infer that they will exist in the Millenium. Now our ideas of a perfect state of state of society may be nearly correct, or it may be wide enough from the truth. Deductions as to what the Millenium will be which are made in this way, will be more or less correct according to the justness of the ideal before our mind.

The one chief, and vital point therefore to which we turn our inquiries shall be—what has God said?

1. Respecting the political and social state of the world, and

2. Respecting its religious state during the Millenium.

1. In respect to the political state of the world, it is quite certain that there will then be no mighty conquerors. There will be no such nations as the Chaldean, Medeo-Persian, Grecian, and Roman, whose fundamental principle was conquest and supreme power—which existed only to reign and conquer. That entire system of things will pass away. So Daniel's vision of the great image, chap. 2, abundantly proves. This vision shows that these successive empires shall have their day, and beyond that, there shall be a reign of peace. "The God of Heaven shall set up a kingdom"—supplanting these—"which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people"—shall not pass into other hands as had be so common—"but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kindoms"—of course utterly destroying their warlike spirit and bringing them under new priciples—"and it shall stand forever." Christ's kingdom therefore shall hold the same grand pre-eminence on the face of the world which those great kingdoms successively held. It shall supersede those kingdoms and they shall be no more. The spirit of marital conquest shall give way to the spirit of gospel love. The conquering tyrannous reign of man shall be superseded by the righteous, blissful reign of God.

2. Of course there shall be no more war. The might conflicts of nations against nation and kingdom against kingdom shall forever cease. So prophecy clearly shows. Of a multitude of passages I shall select and cite but two. "And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into plow-shares and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." Isa. 2: 4. "For all war-shoes put on at the noise of battle, and all garments dipped in blood shall be burnt, shall be the food of fire." (Hengstenberg's translation of Is. 9: 5.) "For unto us a child is born unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The might God, The everlasting Father, The Price of Peace."

Would the read fain pause here a moment and drop a tear over the oceans of blood shed of man by his own brother? What has been the history of our race thus far but a history of horrid strife and carnage? The day is coming when it shall be known only in history. The record of ages past may tell the story; the present then shall be a reign of peace, pure, perfect, and enduring. The strife and carnage were man's; the reign of peace is God's. To him will be the glory.

3. There shall be no more oppressive rule. Ps. 72: 2, 4. "He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment. He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy and shall break in pieces the oppressor." So also Isa. 11. 3-5. Long enough has man ruled chiefly to oppress. Long enough has legislation consulted for the rules and not for the ruled. How few are the communities even now on the face of the earth where righteous principles of government are understood and carried out. When are the interests of the great mass of the people really consulted as if these were the prime objects to be secured in all legislation? What omnipotent sway over human hearts has been exerted by the love of power! But these things and all their countless evils shall pass away. The good of men will be the object of all government and of course will be happily secured.

4. There will be no more slavery. This is the purest form of oppression which diabolic ingenuity, ever devised. It wrests from man every thing dear. It does the best it can to sink man into a brute so that he shall no more avail himself of human sympathy for his succor. It summons to its aid a certain prejudice which ousts it victim from the privileges and sympathies of humanity; curses him from having so much resemblance tot he human family; tramples on all his natural affections and inherent rights; and seems vexed with itself that it cannot blot out that human heart and human soul and make for itself a fitter instrument for its avarice and lust. O, the horrid system! What can be more horrid? How does my heart rejoice that God has promised to protect the poor and the needy and "break in pieces the oppressor." I will exult in it that slavery cannot last forever—that there is one long and blessed period for man on earth when its abominations shall be unknown; when its groans, and degradation, and pollution shall be no more.

Thus far the lamp of prophecy sheds a clear and blessed light. The scope of inquire in our age seems to ask of us a discussion of the question, Will there be in that period any civil government at all? The writer shrinks not from showing his opinion—always premising that this is chiefly matter of opinion in which he is happy to have every man enjoy his own.

It seems to be assumed by some that civil government is of course always an enemy to the best interests of human society; that it is not founded on the principles of benevolence, and of course under the reign of such benevolence can have not place. Or at least, it is claimed that exhibitions of human depravity from the only occasion and necessity for civil governments, and therefore that when these shall cease in the Millenium, civil governments will be no longer needed and will cease.

To this I answer, civil government is not a natural enemy but a natural friend to the best interests of human society. It is an expedient to mitigate the evils incident to our present state. Its objects are to impose restraints on certain forms of selfishness; to fence in certain outbreakings of human depravity; to define certain principles of right for the guidance of human conduct. Now I apprehend there may be some selfishness during the Millenium against which civil government may be a requisite protection. I am quit sure that there may be some want of knowledge as to the just principles of right in many things, and of course the principles of law are demanded to settle such questions. Will not men hold property then? And do men by nature understand all the principles of right which have respect to the holding and transfer of property? Are all men tough all these principles by grace? Civil government is beyond question the proper organ for determining, promulgating and sustaining these principles and rules.

Again, the New Testament seems distinctly to recognize civil government as "an ordinance of God' for the good of men. It is "a terror to evil doers and a praise to them that do well." If then there shall be any remaining selfishness in the Millenium, it may sometimes assume that form in which civil government is its appropriate counteraction. God having ordered it for this purpose, why should it be set aside in the Millenium!

The cessation of all human government is sometimes assumed on prophetic grounds. It being a revealed fact that there shall be no more conquering nations, it is inferred that there shall be no more civil government, as if the two things were the same. This latter assumption I conceive to be a mistake. The conquering reigns of Alexander and Caesar were not the same thing as civilized and christianized codes of laws for the protection of human rights. The lion, and the bear, the ram and the he-goat of Daniel may utterly pass away, and Christ's kingdom of peace may come in their stead; and yet there may be left to us a system of civil government for determining and protecting the civil and social rights of men.

I admit most joyfully that in the Millenium man's depravity and selfishness will be in a great measure subdued. Yet laws may be need then, (1.) On account of human ignorance to determine what right in many departments of social action, (2.) On account of remaining selfishness and depravity which may sometimes need to be repressed by precisely these intrumentalities.

The religious state of the world during the Millenium.

1. The right knowledge of God will be exceedingly prevalent. This is most explicitly taught in prophecy. As a reason why men shall not hurt nor destroy in all the holy mountain, this is assigned, viz: "For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." Is. 11:9. "And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord." Is. 54: 13. "I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts: and they shall teach no more every many his neighbor, saying, know the Lord; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them." Jer. 31: 33, 34.

There is also another mode of teaching the same truth. "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped." Is. 35: 5. "I will give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles, to open the blind eyes," &c. Is. 42: 6,7. It is here assumed, and with the utmost justice, that God has always been developing his character before men, but they have shut their eyes and would not see. "They regard not the works of the Lord, neither consider the operations of his hands." This has been their deep guilt. But in the later day Christ Shall open those eyes and unstop those ears. God will be known.—Let us look a moment at this great and precious truth. All shall know God rightly. The right knowledge of God is that which fills Heaven with joy and holiness. This it is which pours fourth tides of blessedness over all holy beings in the universe. O, how happy are they to know God. That the Maker of the universe is such a Being, so great, so worthy, so ineffably and immensely good—this is the joy and the peace of their souls forever. This knowledge of God puts forth the only influence which can make rational beings happy. Their destinies for weal or wo are of necessity dependent upon the character of God. If now that character were something else than what it is, their happiness would be of necessity impaired. If it were evil and not good they would be perfectly wretched: If it were doubtful, their bliss must be in the same degree precarious. The present everlasting well spring of their bliss would be annihilated.

So also is the right knowledge of God the only influence that can reclaim the fallen and restore him to purity and God again. O how does it melt the rebel's heart to see God manifest in the flesh to die for himself, a sinner.

This is the doctrine of the Bible both in the Old Testament and in the New. "Acquaint now thyself with Him and be at peace; thereby good shall come unto thee." Job 22: 21. "This is life eternal; that they may know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou has sent." John 17: 3.

Consider also how little God has yet been known on earth. How much error has been mixed with the little true knowledge of God which men have ever had, and how grievously this error has counteracted the influence of the truth. This ignorance has served to quiet the conscience of the wicked in his sins and has helped him to live as if there were no God. This error in the church has palsied her energies, seared her conscience, rendered confidence in God almost a sin and love almost impossible. How hateful its influence!

But in that later day the knowledge of God shall abound exceedingly. And it shall be the true knowledge of the true God. Then men will study God's word as they never yet have done. And his works too will be objects of rational and most intense investigation. Little else will men then care to know except what relates to God and their relations to Him and to the whole circle of duty. Education will then be as it should, the training of mind to know God. The great central science will be Theology. The grand result of these pursuits will be human well-begin.

2. God will manifest his presence most remarkably and gloriously among his people. He will be with them as He never has been in former times.

Thus Christ is represented as being their Shepherd and their Prince. "I will set up a Shepherd over them and he shall feed them, even my servant David. I, the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them. Thus shall they know that I, the Lord their God, am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are my people." Ezek. 34: 23, 24, 30. "And David my servant shall be king over them—for I will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore." "My tabernacle also shall be in the midst of them: yes, I will be their God and they shall be my people." Ezek. 37: 24-27. "Unto you that fear my name shall the Sun or Righteousness arise with healing in his wings." Mal. 4: 2.

The illustrations used by Ezekiel are altogether Jewish in their character, yet are they pregnant with precious meaning. God's sanctuary with them—God's Son, their King and Shepherd—God Himself with them, so that they shall know it, and shall feel themselves his people—these are the blessed facts revealed concerning the latter day of Zion's glory.

But Isaiah (ch. 60,) has touched this point, and it stands forth in the glow of seraphic fire. To Zion he says, "Arise, shine, for they light is come; the glory of the Lord is reason upon thee." Long enough has thou been shrouded in darkness and content that they light should be under a bushel and the world in the shadow of death. Now "arise and shine," for Christ is come. "Darkness shall cover the earth and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee." The heathen nations shall lie in darkness like that of Egypt, but thou shalt have light in all thy dwellings. On them no sun shall shine; but the Lord shall arise in his sun-light of glory upon thee—now therefore, reflect that light and cause it to break forth and beam upon the world around thee. Then "shall Gentiles come to thy light and kings to the brightness of thy rising."

Intense and glorious shall be the light then poured on Zion. Mark the thrilling imagery: "The sun shall be no more thy light by day"—as if even meridian sun-light were too feeble to illustrate those later splendors of Jehovah's light: "Neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee, but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory." God will be the Sun in their Heaven, more radiant with moral light than ever his natural sun has been with his beams. "Thy sun shall no more go down"—ah, no setting of that sun to leave the world again in darkness even for a transient night; "neither shall thy moon withdraw itself"—no waning and passing away of the moonlight of Zion in that long day of glory; "for the Lord shall be thy everlasting light and the days of thy mourning shall be ended." No doubt the days of Zion's mourning will then be over. Who could mourn with such a God revealing his ineffable glory and pouring forth the sun-light of his truth and the sun-beams of his love with noontide radiance? Who could mourn, when the people shall be all righteous? O come, that happy day!

3. The Spirit will then be given in glorious and immense effusions. Ezekiel describes its subduing and transforming effect. "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you. . . . I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes." See 36: 25-27. By no other means than experience can the value of this blessing be ever fully appreciated. Reader, have you toiled and fought against your corruptions and thirsted for purity of heart with unutterable longings until at length by grace you cast yourself at full length, as it were, prostrate upon some promise of the Spirit lik this, and felt your soul to be with God, ineffably near, and sweetly trusting, yea, trusting without fear, for all the grace you can need? Then you felt yourself dead to the world, and alive and awake to "walk in his statutes and to keep his judgments to do them." It would be in vain to attempt any desciption of the value you then put upon this promise. Think now of the state of the world when this blessing shall be common—ah, more than common, almost universal, all-pervading. For let us look at other prophecies which show how extensively this blessing shall then be given.

Ezekiel 40—48: contains a most remarkable description of Zion's latter glory. The costume is wholly Jewish. The building up of the spiritual Zion is predicted under the image of the rebuilding of the temple. The temple is at length built, but it has one thing about it entirely peculiar—unlike any thing in the temple of old. Waters issue from under the house and flow forth, at first a little rivulet, but anon rising and swelling till they become a might torrent, "waters to swim in, a river that cannot be passed over." Trees of life are blooming on either side of it; its waters flow into the dead sea and heal its poison; they bear life on their bosom wherever they go. These beyond doubt are the streams of salvation for dying men, and more especially the effusions of the Spirit. What is now given in scattering drops and sometimes showers of precious baptism will then be mighty flood, pouring its streams of life and health over the earth. God's word and ordinances, attended then with such effusions of his Spirit, will be mighty in efficacy, and rich beyond thought in blessings to mankind.

4. There will be a high degree of holiness and a flourishing state of piety. To this point the records of prophecy are exceedingly full. Its illustrations are vivid, graphic and precious. "A highway shall be there, called the way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it, but it shall be for those." The reader will recollect that broad way which has lead to destruction for so many thousand years—but now we have a highway cast up—"a way of holiness." Blessed change! Now Zion is summoned to awake and put on her beautiful garments, "a holy city"—because "henceforth there shall no more come unto thee the uncircumcised and the unclean." "Shake thyself," says God by the prophet, "from the dust: arise and sit down" as a queen in her glory; "loose thyself from the bands of thy neck," and be no more the slave of sin and Satan. Ah yes, Zion is to be emancipated from this thraldom, and made free with blessed liberty. Then moreover God "will give mourners in Zion beauty for ashes, the garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness, and they shall be trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that he may be glorified." Think how sad has been the common tale of christian experience—how scanty the fruits of righteousness borne to the glory of God—and mark the change which prophecy foretells. So great will this change be that "all who see them shall acknowledge them that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed." Is. 61: 3, 9. "Then the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations" just as the earth bringeth forth her bud, as if it were spontaneous. So greatly will piety prevail that it shall seem spontaneous like nature's vegetation—61: 11. "Thou shalt be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God." Well' it is a consolation to think that the church shall not always dishonor her blessed Lord as she has done. O, shall she ever be as it were worn for his diadem and crown of glory? No more is she to be forsaken or desolate. "Men shall call them the holy people, the redeemed of the Lord." Is. 62; 3, 4, 12.

Let us hear also Ezekiel 37; 23-28: "Neither shall they defile themselves any more with idols nor with any of their transgressions ... But I will cleanse them; so they shall be my people and I will be their God.".... "David my servant shall be king over them; . . . They shall also walk in my judgments and observe my statutes and do them," &c.

We must not multiply quotations. The prophets give us on this point whole chapters. We can afford however to read another sketch from Zech. 14: 20, 21. "In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD: and the pots in the Lord's house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holiness unto the Lord." Such will be the consecration of that day. This looks like real consecration. Every thing, whether ornaments or the most menial utensils shall be holiness to the Lord. How sweet will be such service done for God! Reader, do you know any thing of this entire and universal consecration? Are both the elegancies of your equipage and the necessaries of your household all holiness to God—really so—by daily and conscious consecration of them all to his service and glory?

5. The great mass of the people on earth will be Christians. In the general terms of prophesy all—"all nations shall serve Him." "Men shall be blessed in Him; all nations shall call Him blessed." "Let the whole earth be filled with His glory." Ps. 72: 11, 17, 19. "It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved of Israel; I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation to the ends of the earth." "Kings shall be thy nursing fathers," &c. Is. 49: 6, 8, 18-23. "The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God." Is. 52: 10. Zion is directed to "enlarge the place of her tent"—is assured that she shall "break forth on the right hand and on the left and her seed shall inherit the Gentiles," &c. Is. 54: 1-3. Then, as if astonished to see the gathering multitudes, she cries out—"Who are these that fly as a cloud and doves to their windows?" 60: 8. Her God assures her that "her people shall be all righteous" (60: 21,) and "that from one new moon to another and from one Sabbath to another all flesh shall come to worship before Him." Is. 66: 23. The reader will here and indeed continually mark the Jewish costume—the worship being rendered at Jerusalem on the new moons and solemn festivals. A Jewish mind had no other images by which to express the fact that all the people were devoted to the worship of God. When the Jews had revivals of religion, the fact was manifested by the general concourse of devout worshippers to Zion on her great festivals. So it was, for instance, in the times of Hezekiah and Josiah. Of course, this is the language by which they must of necessity express the extension of the gospel and the conversion of men to God.

The representations of prophesy respecting the conversion of men in these latter days are chiefly of two kinds.

(1.) That the Jews shall all be restored, converted, and immensely increased in number.

(2.) That numerous throngs of Gentiles shall be proselyted, and untied to her.—Of the latter kind see Isaiah 49, 54 and 60. Of the former see Jeremiah 31-33 chapters, and Ezekiel 36, 37, and 39: 25-29. The Jews shall be restored "until none of them are left any more there"—"they shall be increased with men like a flock, as the flock of Jerusalem, at her solemn feasts, so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men; and they shall know that I am the Lord." The reader may conceive of the throngs in Jerusalem at her great festivals—often not less than two millions of people gathered into that city. Such shall be the thronging of men in the later day to God's spiritual Zion.

Some of the above representations say in general that "all shall know the Lord"—that "the people shall be all righteous," &c., while others only represent that the number shall be immensely great, or that "all nations," meaning perhaps many out of every nation shall embrace the service of Jehovah. Undoubtedly then the vast majority will be God's spiritual children. It does not seem by any means that absolutely all the inhabitants of the earth at that time shall be real Christians. Consulting on this point Zechariah 14: 17-19, we are told that whosoever of all the families of the earth will not come up to Jerusalem to worship, &c., upon them shall be no rain, &c., implying that there may be, and probably will be such families—yet that God will scourge them sorely for their sins. Yet God will be greatly glorified. "The fullness of the Gentiles will come in and all Israel be saved."

6. There will then be no hypocrites in the church. This precious fact seems to be clearly asserted in Is. 4: 3, 4: "He that is left in Zion and he that remaineth in Jerusalem shall be called holy"—that is, in the idiom of Isaiah, shall be holy, "even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem"—i. e., all who are alive in Jerusalem—the church of God. Allusion is here made to the Jewish practice of keeping a register of all the living—a record in which each name at birth was inserted, and at the individual's death erased. All those whose names would stand on such a record in the spiritual Zion should be holy men. This the prophet says shall be "when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst of her by the spirit of burning;" language which beyond question refers either to the purifying of professed Christians from their sins, or of the church from hypocrites; and in either case no hypocrites will remain to pollute the fair beauty of Zion. The spirit that judges and burns—that searches out iniquity and then consumes it, purifying it by judgments, either corrective or penal—is to pass through the church and effectually cleanse away all its abominations.

The same general fact is elsewhere asserted. In Isaiah 52: 1, Zion is summoned to put on her beautiful garments, because that "from henceforth there shall no more come unto her the uncircumcised and the unclean." So says Zechariah 14: 21: "In that day there shall be no more Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts."

Now who will not rejoice in anticipation of this blessed fact? Shall the time indeed come when no hypocrite shall pollute the church? When all the professed shall be the real children of Jesus? Then, 'tis well. Religion will then stand for what it is. Its real character can then be known. And then, too, the progress of the church in revivals and in holiness will not be hindered by the dead weight of a mass which have no religion. O how have ungodly men within the church cursed her very existence, belied her character, controlled her measures, corrupted her doctrines, and debased her spirit! It is well that this shall not be forever. God is too wise to attempt to carry the church into and through the Millenium with such a living mass of death adhering to her very vitals. We may confidently expect that the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning will wash away the filth and purge the blood of the daughters of Zion before the pure glories of that better day will break forth on the world.

7. Dissension and division shall utterly cease. This fact is also stated clearly and under a great variety of images. It is involved in the fact that the Prince of Peace shall then reign over Zion. Is. 9: 6, 7. It is implied in those beautiful figures which present to us "the wolf dwelling with the lamb, the leopard with the kid," &c., &c., and which assure us thus that "nothing shall hurt or destroy in all God's holy mountain." Is. 11: 6-9 and 65: 25. So also when we are told that "the envy of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off; Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim." Is. 11: 13. The reader will recollect the breach between Judah and Ephraim which began with Rehoboam and ingulphed the nation in a whirlpool of calamities, civil wars, commotions, envy, hatred and jealousy—most fit emblem of the countless, endless mischiefs which accrue the church from her intestine divisions. But these shall cease. The latter day of Zion's blessedness shall be embittered by no such envy—no such baleful mischiefs. I do not wonder that this feature of the Millenium stood forth before the pious hearts of the prophets with great prominence and intense interests. The reader will be please to see how Ezekiel dwells upon it, ch. 37: 15-23, 24. Two sticks representing the two nations were joined together in his hand, and absolutely became one. So, says God, will "I make them one nation, and one king shall be king to them all; they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all." So shall it be to the church of God. This very language relates prophetically to the state, not of the restored Jews merely, but of restored Zion in the later day. We must not lose sight of the fact that our writer is a Jew and his first readers were also Jews, so that of necessity his images are of Jewish character. We need not err in applying them to the true church of God in her promised days of peace and holiness. Then, says her God, "will I extend peace to her like a river." So let it come; and while we rejoice is the bright anticipation, let us ascribe the glory to its great Author— "Not unto us, not unto us, but to thy name, O Lord, is glory due" for this, now, henceforth and forever.

We have already exhibited the principal facts on this point which are fully taught in the sacred oracles. Yet there are not a few questions often raised respecting the state of things in the Millenium, sometimes more curious than wise; but perhaps a few of them may properly receive a passing notice.

1. Will the human race then be by nature depraved? By this question I mean only and precisely this: Will there exist then as now such social and constitutional laws of our being as, (grace not preventing,) will be the occasion of sin as soon as moral agency commences? To this question I answer, yes. The same laws of connection between parents and children, between Adam and ourselves, which have been the occasion of actual sinning in all moral agents thus far, will continue to exist and continue to produce the same effects, until divine grace shall counteract them. This is my belief. I know of no reason in support of any opposite opinion. The Bible gives no intimation that the great laws of our social and constitutional being are to undergo any change whatever in the Millenium. The peculiar thing in that day will be, the manifestation of divine agency enough to counteract all the agencies and influences which have for ages involved the race in sin and ruin. It will be the reign of truth and love over the minds of fee moral agents.

2. Will children then need conversion to God? Doubtless. Why not? If the views just advanced are correct, then it follows of course, not that children will be, by unavoidable necessity, sinners—nor that they will be born sinners, or made sinners by any act of God, before their own moral agency; but this will follow, namely, that they will come upon the scenes of moral action under such influences as will in fact seduce them into sin as soon as they commence moral action, unless precisely at that point God's grace should meet them and convert them. In this case they are converted. If they pass on a day, a month, or a year in sin, of course they will need conversion.

Parents, then, and the Church, will have work to do in those days. Their children must be taught, prayed for, and with most earnest efforts, through grace plucked from eternal ruin. Why should we ask for a Millenium with no work to be done for God in it, and nothing in it to draw forth our hearts to Him in prayer, and unite our sympathies with those of our Master in the salvation of sinners?

3. Will saints be tempted then? I answer—less than now by Satan, if I rightly understand what is said of "binding him that he should deceive the nations no more." [Rev. 20: 3] Perhaps his temptations will be entirely suspended. But other sources of temptation will remain much as now. The world and the flesh will still exist. Man's physical constitution will still be capable of enjoying good; so that its call for personal, selfish enjoyment, will come up, and the moral agent will have the question to decide—shall I subjugate these propensities to God's will, or gratify them in opposition to that will? Now this precisely is temptation to sin. I see not why we shall be any more free from it than Eve was in Paradise—perhaps even not so much. Our temptations may be more numerous, more acute, more seducing than her's.

4. Will the Christian life then be a warfare? This question is already answered. Resisting temptation is the Christian's warfare. It will cost a moral effort even in the Millenium to do invariably the will of God. It will need the present influence of truth—the present grace and apprehended character of Jesus, to give the soul its victory of the world and the flesh. The grand difference between Christian experience, then and now, stands thus: now, unbelief—then, faith; now, a little effort without expectation of success—then, much effort, invigorated by rational expectation: now of course much defeat—then, much and glorious victory.

5. What may we expect in regard to the prevalence of entire consecration to God? Doubtless it will be the common experience of the Church. So prophecy seems clearly to assert. Men shall be holy. Every thing shall be "HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD." This point has been exhibited.

6. What principles will prevail in regard to dress, equipage, diet, regimen, &c? It is not difficult to answer this question, though it may be impossible to say what men will eat or wear. Beyond all doubt men will do all those things for the glory of God. They will have taste and good taste, not perverted by sin; not controlled by lust or pride; not regulated by the wicked, but following the innate principles of our being and the example of our Maker. The mind and the heart will be held practically as of more worth than the body, and of course will be more adorned, more cultivated, and with more expense of time and money. Men will be willing to know and do what is right, and what, in all these things God would have them do. The opposition made by prejudice, and selfish passions have subsided, it will not be difficult to arrive at the truth. Of one thing I am quite sure, benevolence, good-willing, and good doing towards our fellow beings, will be the grand law of social action.

In concluding this extended topic the reader will allow me to remark,

1. We should be most grateful to God both that He has promised the world such a state as the Millenium—and that he has revealed so much, and just such things concerning this state. For this state itself we can never be grateful enough. It will be salvation to the family of man. It will augment beyond all conception the entire mass of human happiness enjoyed by our whole race. Alas, how little solid happiness has yet been tasted! How bitterly and widely has this little been marred by sin! But the Millenium will show what God can do by his grace to relieve human suffering and repair the mischiefs of sin.

We thank God too, for revealing so much concerning these latter times. We have it for our consolation and for our encouragement. It throws new light upon the purposes, and hence upon the character of God. Yes, we see God in a new light here; for if there were no Millenium we should be left to conclude that God is content to leave the gospel blessings in a great measure untasted—its glorious resources unapplied to bless our race. We know no that God's love to our race secures the reception of these blessings by "a multitude that no man can number, out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation." Who does not see in this a new fact in the character and works of God, for his creatures to contemplate with praise and adoration?

2. It is wise in God and well for us that the chief things revealed concerning the state of the world then, are, that the knowledge of God shall abound and men be holy. For, this is such a Millenium as the world needs. It is such as we ought to desire. What if God had predicted a Mahometan Paradise, or even something approximating towards one? How energetic and terrible would have been its influence to quicken human lust! But now God has set before us the right things to desire. It is a golden age; yet vastly unlike the golden age which the poet has dreamed of, and the artist painted.

3. We have another proof that the religion of the Bible is not fanatical. It cherishes only right sentiments and feelings. All here is impulse in the right direction towards benevolent action. We are taught that to know and love God and to love mankind is the whole duty of man. Surely this is a blessed religion—a perfect Bible.

When will it commence? We now approach a point about which a restless curiosity has existed for ages. It has been discussed or rather theorized and calculated upon almost indefinitely, and with no ordinary degree of interest. Nor is this interest itself blame-worthy. If God has definitely revealed the time, why should we not know it? Who is not so desirous to know that he would cheerfully devote to an examination prospectively successful, any possible amount of effort and prayer?

But if God has given us only general views of this point with no definite designations of the precise time, then let us be satisfied. And let no man assume, without proof, that God has revealed the time definitely. Above, all, let it not be assumed that God ought to have done this because it seems to us so very desirable to know it. Perhaps He saw it wiser not to reveal the time precisely. We have scarcely wisdom enough to judge for God, whether it is best for Him to reveal such a point fully to free agents whose action is to be influenced by such a revelation.

Most clearly, we are bound to come without pre-judgment to the question, What are the facts? What has God actually taught us in respect to the precise time when the Millenium shall commence? Possibly He may have given precise intimations, and possibly He has not: what are the facts?

In answer I submit the following remarks.

1. All the prophets who have spoken of the Millenium, except two, have adopted one uniform style of representation in regard to time. Their designations are entirely indefinite. It shall come to pass "in the last days," "in the latter days," in the last time," &c. Often they see it in the distant future, somewhere beyond the advent of Christ; perhaps presented in vision without any intervening points to show how far beyond it shall be. And sometimes the facts are exhibited without the least intimation respecting time, except that it is far in the distant future. Thus indefinite in regard to the time of this latter day, are Moses, David, and all the prophetic writers of the Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Micah, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

Now let it be here observed, (1.) That by far the greatest part of all that is revealed concerning the Millenium is in these prophets. (2.) These prophecies are far less highly symbolical, and are therefore more clear and unquestionable in their meaning than in the case with the remaining prophets. (3.) The facts in regard to definite time, in these prophets corresponds most accurately with what Peter says of their views of these things: 1 Peter, 1: 10, 11: "Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently . . . searching what, or what manner of time the spirit of Christ which was in them did signify," (that is, did intend by the signs and visions presented to them,) "when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow." The reader will mark the last clause, "the glory that should follow," and if he has carefully studied the prophecies respecting Christ's coming and the subsequent glory of the church, and the manner in which these two great events stand connected together, he will see that Peter alludes here, beyond all question, to their prophecies of the Millenium. In regard to this point then, as well as to the advent of Christ they searched very diligently to understand what time and what kind of a time that should be, in which these events should occur, manifestly without arriving at much definiteness or certainty except that it was not to be in their own day, but somewhere in the yet distant future.

2. A large portion of the prophets above mentioned speak of the Millenium only in terms and images which relate to the restoration of the Jews, or rather, which are borrowed from that event. That is, they describe a glorious restoration of the Jews; a return from captivity; a conversion to God, and great subsequent peace and blessedness; and this is all. I have no doubt that very many of these prophecies relate to the future Millenium. Now, let the reader mark especially a certain conversation which occurred between Christ and his disciples—Acts 1: 6, 7, they ask him, "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" He replied, "It is not for you to know the times and the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power." The prophecies which had raised their expectations and to which they allude as foretelling the restoring again of the kingdom to Israel are, with high probability, those which pertain to the Millenium. And Christ's answer at least seems to say—The Father has not chosen to reveal the time precisely, and therefore you cannot know it. I see no objection to this view, both of their question and of his answer, except it be on the ground that their notions respecting the meaning of those prophecies were far too sensual and worldly. That they were so is admitted. Yet still they did virtually ask Him if those prophecies were to be fulfilled immediately? And Christ answered them, not by saying that they did not understand the spiritual reference of the prophecies, but by saying that the Father had not revealed the time. If this exposition is correct, its bearing on the point before us is at least highly important, if not decisive. Moreover, be the precise reference what it may, the general principle involved is certainly relevant to the great object of our inquiry.

3. The only prophets who have been even supposed to give us definite dates are Daniel and John. Daniel also often employs the same indefinite methods of designating time. Compare Dan. 2: 44, and 7: 9, 11, 12, 18, 22. But he has also in a few instances employed designations of time which are supposed by some to be definite. They occur 7: 25, and 8: 14, and 12: 7, 11, 12. There are also certain similar passages found in the apocalypse of John.

So far as I know, the question whether we have even here definite notations of time respecting the commencement of the Millenium turns wholly on another previous question; namely, Do these prophets use the word day for a year? or rather, in more precise form: Are their designations of time to be taken for three hundred and sixty times more than their numerical value? The question does not turn precisely upon a supposed symbolic use of the term day, for the same extended usage is applied to the forty-two months, and to the "time, times and half a time," or three and a half years. It perhaps deserves remark that the celebrated period of one thousand two hundred and sixty days, occurs but twice in this form, and both of these instances are in the apocalypse. Three times we have the parallel expression, time times and half, or the dividing of time"—namely twice in Daniel, and once in John; and twice we have the period of forty-two months, both in John, and both referring to the time of the triumphing of the wicked. We come then to the great question, Are the designations of time in Daniel and John to be taken for three hundred and sixty times more than their numerical value? The examination of this point will be in our next topic.


The opinion has been extensively held and maintained that Daniel, and John, really mean three hundred and sixty times as long a period in their notations of time as they express. For brevity's sake, I will call this the theory of a day for a year. It is a theory which no man has a right to assume as true without proof. The question, Is the theory true? is therefore open for discussion. I advance my views of it with diffidence, well aware that I differ from many great and good men, and that I may be mistaken. I shall always be happy to learn more and better; meantime, let us examine with a prayerful, docile, spirit.

1. The theory ought to have substantial evidence for its support before it is embraced, for the conclusions drawn from it are of immense magnitude. A vast amount of interest is pending. Again, the presumption, the prima facie evidence is wholly against the theory. This I will endeavor to show presently.

2. Vitally important in the outset is the inquiry, what sort of evidence is admissible and valid in the case? How shall it be proved that the theory is, or is not true? Two different sources of proof are resorted to; (1.) From the fulfillment, (2.) From the usage of language, the principles of prophetic interpretation. Now in my opinion the latter is, certainly at present, the only legitimate sources of testimony. The question is itself one of interpretation. It is simply this: How do the prophets in the question use language? What do they mean by a day, a month, and a year? Now why should not this question be settled by the same laws which are always and most justly applied to determine all similar questions?

Against resorting to the fulfillment for testimony there are surely most valid objections. For, (1.) By the advocates of the theory that a day means a year, it is not even claimed that a single instance of fulfillment on this theory has yet occurred. (The seventy weeks of Daniel is with some and exception. More of this anon.) The ground then to build such a theory upon, would seem as yet to be scanty. (2.) If it be said that the literal construction of these notations of time is difficult or impossible, and therefore we are authorized to adopt the extended one of a day for a year, I answer, (2.) We want some authority of a different sort from this to authorize so arbitrary a system of interpretation. We want some proof from the usage of language. Else we have as good a right under the pressure of our difficulties to assume that a day means a month or a century as that it means just a year. (b.) The advocate of the natural and common construction of the language is not bound to show positively what the precise interpretation of the prophecy is. Suppose the fulfillment on his theory is indeed past; it is sufficient if he can show that his interpretation is possible. Historical data may be to scanty to show the exact fulfillment. (c.) The same difficulty in showing the precise fulfillment may very probably attend the theory of a day for a year. It is therefore both unfair and unwise to reject the common laws of interpreting notation of time on the ground of some difficulty, and embrace another notation of which the difficulties are yet future, but may be no less real and formidable. The utmost which a sober mind could say under the strongest pressure of such difficulties would be, that possibly, since the literal construction seems to admit of no solution, there may be some other system of notation employed. We will examine the usage of prophecy and see if there be any support for another system. (3.) If the fulfillment affords the only proof in support of this usage then the prophecies must of course be unintelligible until they are fulfilled. Yet God gave them as a revelation; i. e. He meant to reveal something by these designations of time; or in other words, He meant to have them understood. It is essential then to the design and the very nature of prophecy that it should be intelligible before its fulfillment. Else it is obnoxious to the charge brought so justly against most Pagan prophecies; namely, that they are designedly vague to any event. The reader will not forget that God commands us to study and understand his prophecies before their fulfillment, and is too good to task us with impossibilities.

3. The evidence from the general usage of language seems wholly against this theory. For who does not know that a day means a day, and a year a year? The Hebrews had terms enough in their language to designate any desired period of time, and they know how to use them.

4. The usage of prophetic language is, on the whole decidedly and clearly against this theory. By this I mean that in prophecy generally, the word day, most certainly means a day, and the word year, means a year. See 6: 3 and 15: 13; Jer. 25: 11, Is, 16: 14, Ezek. 29:11, 12; Jonah 3: 4. Here we have the one hundred and twenty years predicted before the flood, the four hundred years of Egypt, and the forty days of Nineveh, all by universal admission literal designations of time, and enough in number and variety, it would seem, to form prophetic usage.

The seventy weeks of Daniel 9: 24, are deemed by some an exception, a decided case of the usage of a day for a year. On this passage I remark that the word in the original is not properly rendered weeks but means sevens or better heptads; and therefore just as naturally means sevens of years as sevens of days. Supposing it to mean heptatds of years the language may be taken literally. Seventy heptatds of years or seventy periods of seven years each, is four hundred and ninety years, the same result which we obtain by supposing them weeks of days and each day taken for a year. That heptads of years and not of days is the true sense, is rendered probable, (1) By the fact that the Jews had both periods of time in their sacred reckoning, and might, therefore naturally enough imply distinct terms to express them. (2.) By the preceding context, the seventy years of captivity are before his mind and on his heart. The angel says, "be comforted, for seventy sevens will bring in the Messiah." Seventy sevens of what? Years, is the word to be naturally supplied. (3.) By the subsequent context, ch. 10: 2. Daniel says he mourned three sevens of days, intimating by this expression that he had been using the word sevens in another sense, and therefore now adds the word days, to show that he means ordinary weeks, mere heptads of days.

5. These designations of time in Daniel, supposed by some to be a day for a year, all occur in explanations given of the meaning of the vision. Daniel asks to know when the things shall be? The angel-interpreter replies with the text in question. Now, may we not under these circumstances, expect plain literal language? Shall an answer given professedly in explanation, be itself unintelligible, couched in terms used entirely apart from their common meaning?

6. The testimony in favor of this theory, drawn from the laws of interpretation seems to be exceedingly small. 2 Pet. 3: 8, is appealed to, "One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." I answer (1.) that the passage has no reference whatever to the usage of meaning of words in prophecy. It merely asserts that the lapse of time does not at all affect this divine veracity and faithfulness. (2.) If in point, it would prove that a day means not a year but a thousand years. (3.) It would just as much prove that the thousand years of the expected Millenium be just one day.

Ezek. 4: 4-6 is also appealed to. The reader will consult the passage. It does indeed direct Ezekiel to lie on his left side three hundred and ninety days, to indicated that Israel should be punished three hundred and ninety years; and then on his right side forty days to denote in the same way the punishment of Judah forty years, each day for a year. But, let the reader observe here that the extension of time turns not upon the usage of the word day, at all; but wholly upon the declared meaning of the symbolical act of lying on his side. When God used the word day, he means day and not year. When He hold Ezekiel to lie so many days in a given position, He meant so many days and not so many years. He did indeed tell him that the symbolical act should denote that the people should suffer so many years. But what has this to do with the usage of the language employed? The passage proves only that a symbolical act, prolonged during a certain number of days may be used to denote the continuance of some event for so many years. This is all. In order to be in point the passage must be explained thus, God says to Ezekiel, "lie on thy right side forty days." Then by some means it must appear that he really means not forty days but forty years and the real command is that Ezekiel must lie so many years in the required position. This would b using the word day for a year. Of the same nature precisely, is Num. 14: 33, 34. It is urged also that the Hebrew word for days in the plural is used to denote a year. In a few instance it is. Judg. 17: 10: 1 Sam. 2: 19; Ex. 13: 10, &c. But here the term days means one year and not years, and who does not know that days enough make one year? From days to days, from one period of days to another, may very naturally mean from one year to another. Such is the usage. But this is exceedingly far from using one day for one year, or any given number of days for the same number of years.

7. No good reason is apparent why language should be employed in this mysterious unusual way. I can hardly persuade myself that the object can be to make prophecy obscure; for this seems at variance with the very object of prophecy, namely, to reveal something, to make some future event known before it occurs. Besides, if, as is claimed, we have sufficient proof to sustain the theory of a day for a year, then the whole obscurity ceases at once, and of course designated obscurity ceases to be a reason for this singular mode of using language. To me it seems a most valid law of Biblical interpretation that God uses language as men do, and this for the very good reason that He means to be understood.

8. I close with remarking only that the theory of a day for a year, being at best but very feebly maintained, the inferences drawn from it and built upon it, are of course exceedingly uncertain. If there be adequate evidence in support of the theory here examined, I have failed to find it. Of course I must withhold assent from all deductions drawn from it.


1 [Ed. note: For a later and more extensive treatment of this subject by Cowles see him, On the Theory that "Day" in Prophesy, means "Year." ]

Preface | Introduction | I | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII | VIII | IX | X | XI | XII | XIII | XIV | XV | XVI | XVII | XVIII | XIX | XX | XXI | XXII
"Day" = year?