The doctrine of the Kingdom, as held by the churches established by the Apostles, was perpetuated.
PROPOSITION 75. The doctrine of the Kingdom, as held by the churches established by the Apostles, was perpetuated.
This was done by the Apostolic Fathers, by succeeding Christian Fathers, and by other writers in the church. The same is corroborated by Jewish and Pagan authors, and also by Apocryphal books.[*]
Note. What Buckle (His. Civil., vol. 1, p. 155) says of truth in general is applicable to that pertaining to this Kingdom: “No great truth which has once been found has ever afterward been lost.”
Obs. 1. Our doctrine is traced continuously from the Apostles themselves, seeing that (Prop. 72, Obs. 3, note 1) the first Fathers, who present Millenarian views, saw and conversed either with the Apostles or the Elders following them. So extensively, so generally was Chiliasm perpetuated, that Justin Martyr positively asserts that all the orthodox adopted and upheld it. Justin’s language is explicit (Dial. with Trypho, sec. 2 [Ch. 80]); for after stating the Chiliastic doctrine, he asserts: “it to be thoroughly proved that it will come to pass. But I have also signified unto thee, on the other hand, that many—even those of that race of Christians who follow not godly and pure doctrine—do not acknowledge it. For I have demonstrated to thee, that these are indeed called Christians; but are atheists and impious heretics, because that in all things they teach what is blasphemous, and ungodly, and unsound,” etc. He adds: “But I and whatsoever Christians are orthodox in all things do know that there will be a resurrection of the flesh, and a thousand years in the city of Jerusalem, built, adorned and enlarged, according as Ezekiel, Isaiah, and other prophets have promised. For Isaiah saith of this thousand years (Isa. 65:17) ‘Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind; but be ye glad and rejoice in those which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem to triumph, and my people to rejoice,' etc. Moreover, a certain man among us, whose name is John, being one of the twelve apostles of Christ, in that revelation which was shown to him prophesied, that those who believe in our Christ shall fulfil a thousand years at Jerusalem; and after that the general, and, in a word, the everlasting resurrection, and last judgment of all together. Whereof also our Lord spake when He said, that therein they shall neither marry, nor be given in marriage, but shall be equal with the angels, being made the sons of the resurrection of God.”
Note 1. This is the passage that has been tampered with in some MSS., the “not” being omitted (comp. Prop. 72, Obs. 3, note 2). For the genuineness of the passage, see e.g. Brooks’ El. of Proph. Interp., ch. 3. Semisch (Herzog’s Cyclop.) remarks on it: “Chiliasm constituted in the sec. century so decidedly an article of faith that Justin held it up as a criterion of perfect orthodoxy.” Numerous writers have made the same comment. This has, unfortunately, led some (as Shimeall, the Christadelphians, etc.) to apply it as a measure of orthodoxy at the present day. To avoid a wrong inference, we may add, that the criterion set up by Justin in his day might well answer the purpose at that time, but is inapplicable to the present day. The reason is simple: those who rejected Chiliasm in Justin’s time were also guilty of subverting the essential, fundamental doctrines of religion (and hence the force of his comparison), while this is not true of a large number of our opponents at this day. Such a comparison instituted, continued, and pressed, would be both illiberal and unjust (comp. Prop. 72, Obs. 3, note 2).
Note 2. Justin Martyr’s testimony is so overwhelming that some of our opponents seek to break its force by various shifts, e.g. by disparaging the man, by advocating an interpolation, by silently passing him in the enumeration of Fathers, etc. Prof. Briggs, under the signature of “Westminster,” in the New York Evangelist, professes to give an utterly unfair and unscholarly (as we shall prove again and again) history of Millenarianism. On the strength of Jerome omitting Justin’s name in his list of Chiliasts, the Prof. jumps to the sage conclusion that Justin was no Chiliast! This is opposed by the writings of Justin, by all our standard Church historians, and by a multitude of able critics. It is conceded to us by numerous bitter and unrelenting opposers (such as Shedd, Prof. Stuart, Mosheim, etc.). The omission is readily accounted for by Mede (Works, p. 813), and by the character (Mosheim, vol. 1, p. 250, with which comp. Neander, Kurtz, etc.) of Jerome. To break the force of Justin’s testimony by laying stress on general Eschatological expressions (which we can also cordially adopt), and avoiding the statements of Justin where he particularizes the order or manner of fulfilment, is correspondent with Briggs’ entire series, which for unfairness, perversions, deliberate untruthfulness, and arrogance (in sadness we say it) bears off the palm. We only add: that Justin is far more competent (in view of the time he lived, his scholarship, his pre-eminence as an Apologist, his consistent Christian life sealed by martyrdom for the truth) to tell us what was “the orthodox’ view in his day than “Westminster,” with his heart filled with enmity and prejudice, is to-day. The reader will, we hope, dispassionately look at the evidence we give (much of it from learned and able opposers, who scorned to stoop to such devices), and then compare it with Prof. Briggs’ reply to Dr. West. The latter asserted in “The Proph. Conference” (that met in Dr. Tyng’s church in New York) that “a true Christian Chiliasm was the orthodox faith of the Primitive Church in its purest days” Briggs affirms that this is “unhistorical and false,” and “that it was rejected among the earliest of heresies in its grosser forms and merely tolerated in its finer forms.”
To give the reader a just idea (in vindication of the severity of our strictures) of the bigotry and intelligence of this “heresy-hunter,” and his relish for “bitter herbs,” as well as his charitable assumption of superiority and ecclesiastical authority, we reproduce this choice morsel: after threatening persecution, as against heretics, if Millenarians do not keep those views to themselves and desist in calling it “a vital doctrine,” etc., his authoritative animus bursts forth as follows: “It depends entirely upon themselves what the future is to bring forth. If they will abandon their organization, disband their committee, stop their Bible and Prophetic Conferences, we doubt not that there will soon be a calm again, and they will remain undisturbed in their ecclesiastical relations; but if they are determined to go on in their aggressive movement, they will have only themselves to blame if the storm should become a whirlwind that will constrain them to depart from the orthodox churches, and form another heretical sect.” This is evidence that he, after all, has not much confidence in his one-sided argumentation, for if he trusted in the power of truth, he would not thus lose his temper, and speak of men (leaders) who are pre eminently superior to himself in every qualification relating to scholarship, intelligence, usefulness, devotion to the service of the Master, etc. Suppose we should make such demands, and propose to secure “a calm” by asking them to abandon the publicity of their views, to stop their parade of the Whitbyan theory at missionary meetings, etc., they would justly pronounce it arrogant, claiming that views honestly and sincerely believed to be amply sustained by Scripture and history are not to be got rid of by persecution, but by solid Scriptural and historical reasoning. When argument is weak threats are resorted to in order to prop it up, thus repeating the painful history of the past. Do Post-Millenarians keep their views to themselves, as shown in thousands of books, pulpits, platform addresses, newspapers, Systematic Theologies, etc.? Can they justly ask us to refrain from giving equal prominency to our doctrine, if we deem it advisable, especially when we believe its proclamation to be a God-commanded duty? Would they make us, by threats of force, dishonest to conviction and hypocritical in belief?
Obs. 2. Numerous testimonies of friends might be adduced. A few are given by way of illustration (comp. those given under Props. 72, 73, 74). Judge Jones, under the name “Philo-Basilicus” (Lit., vol. 3, Essays, p. 73), says “that all the Fathers, whose writings have come down to us, previous to Origen, and some who were contemporary and subsequent to him, believed this (Chiliastic) doctrine cannot be disproved.” Bh. Newton (On Proph., vol. 2, p. 352) remarks: “In short the doctrine of the Millennium was generally believed in the three first and purest ages, and this belief, as the learned Dodwell hath justly observed, was one principal cause of the fortitude of the primitive Christians; they even coveted martyrdom, in hopes of being partakers of the privileges and glories of the martyrs in the first resurrection.”
Note 1. Shedd (His. of Ch. Doc.) endeavors to make the unfair impression that some of the Fathers, from whom we have but a few fragments of opinion, were not Chiliastic, saying that “there are no traces of Chiliasm in the writings of Clement of Rome, Ignatius, and Polycarp.” This is uncandid: (1) because their associates and followers were Chiliastic, and the language employed by the latter includes the former; (2) Justin’s test of orthodoxy embraces them; (3) they allege in the fragments nothing against our doctrine, and much less anything favoring the modern (Prof. Shedd’s) view; (4) they employ phraseology and language that can only be justly reconciled with a Chiliastic belief. In reference to their faith, Taylor’s Voice of the Church, Shimeall’s Reply to Shedd, Seiss’ Last Times, Ap. 2, etc., have quoted sufficiently from these writers to show that they were Chiliastic. Clement’s allusion to “preaching the Coming of Christ,” of Christ’s Coming “suddenly” and “quickly,” of “every hour expecting the Kingdom of God in love and righteous, because we know not the day of God’s appearing;” Ignatius’ speaking of “the last times,” of “expecting Him who is above all time;” Polycarp’s reference to “reigning together with Him;” all this, taking into consideration the prevailing usage, indicates what many, even hostile to us, admit, that they were Chiliasts. Shedd’s idea is not only to unfairly represent our doctrine but to imply that the modern view also prevailed, of which there is not the slightest trace. Dr. Lillie, Dr. Brookes, and others, have rebutted his “singularly” (so Lillie) “inadequate, and I say it reluctantly, somewhat unfair chapter on Millenarianism.” Prof. Shedd does not meet the issue, viz.: that it is “conceded that every one of the Apostolic Fathers, who says anything at all on the subject, is a Chiliast,” but in view of the silence of some Fathers on the subject in the very brief writings of theirs in our possession, hastily concludes that this “tenet was not the received faith of the Church, certainly down to the year 150.” The student will allow its “due weight” to such a conclusion, indicative of the fact that our historical position is pressing our opponents sorely, seeing that they can resort to such a method to weaken, if possible, its force (comp. Prop. 74, Obs. 2. note 1).
Note 2. Others are given for the student. Dr. Burnet (Works, vol. 2, p. 184): “The Millennial Kingdom of Christ was the general doctrine of the Primitive Church from the times of the apostles to the Council of Nice, inclusively.” As the testimony of Millenarians might be regarded as partial or biased, the reader is merely referred to the following: Mede’s Works. Greswell’s Exp. of the Parables, Taylor’s Voice of the Church, Brooks’ El. Proph. Interp., Seiss’ Last Times, Elliott’s Horœ Apoc., Gill’s Com., Sir I. Newton On Proph., Auberlen Proph. Dan., Bonar’s Apostolicity of Chiliasm, Cox’s Millenarian’s Answer, besides many others. The following writers can also be advantageously quoted: Duffleld, Bh. Henshaw, Tyng, Gaussen, Sherwin, Alstedius, Shaeffer, Maitland, Pym, McCaul, Brightman, Anderson, Manford, Bryant, Drummond, Hooper, Ogilvy, Homes, and others. Dr. West delivered a good paper on the “His. of the Pre-Mill. Doctrine” before the Proph. Conference at New York.
Obs. 3. The testimony of opponents (some having already been given. Props. 72, 73, 74) may properly be presented because impartial. We select for this purpose the originator and defender of the generally received view (comp. Prop. 175). Dr. Whitby (Treatise on Tradition) gives us the following often quoted statement: “The doctrine of the Millennium, or the reign of saints on earth for a thousand years, is now rejected by all Roman Catholics, and by the greatest part of Protestants; and yet it passed among the best Christians, for two hundred and fifty years, for a tradition apostolical; and, as such, is delivered by many Fathers of the second and third century, who speak of it as the tradition of our Lord and His apostles, and of all the ancients who lived before them; who tell us the very words in which it was delivered, the Scriptures which were then so interpreted; and say that it was held by all Christians that were exactly orthodox.” “It was received not only in the Eastern parts of the Church, by Papias (in Phrygia), Justin (in Palestine), but by Irenĉus (in Gaul), Nepos (in Egypt), Apollinaris, Methodius (in the West and South), Cyprian, Victorinus (in Germany), by Tertullian (in Africa), Lactantius (in Italy), and Severus, and by the Council of Nice” (about A.D. 323). Even in his Treatise on the Millennium, in which he endeavors to set aside the ancient faith by his substitution of “a new hypothesis,” he acknowledges, according to Justin and Irenĉus, that (ch. 1, p. 61) there were “three sorts of men: (1) The Heretics, denying the resurrection of the flesh and the Millennium. (2) The exactly orthodox, asserting both the resurrection and the Kingdom of Christ on earth. (3) The believers, who consented with the just, and yet endeavored to allegorize and turn into a metaphor all those Scriptures produced for a proper reign of Christ, and who had sentiments rather agreeing with those heretics who denied, than those exactly orthodox who maintained, this reign of Christ on earth.”[*]
Note. Such evidence from Anti-Millenarians is cumulative. The reader may find it interesting to glance over others. Thus e.g. Bh. Taylor (Liberty of Prophesying, sec. 2) remarks (over against concessions made, as Brooks has noticed, in his Sermon on 1 Cor. 15:23): “that the doctrine of the Millenaries was in the best ages esteemed no heresy, but true Catholic doctrine; though since then it hath had justice (?) done it, and hath suffered a just (?) condemnation.” Chillingworth (Works, p. 451), already referred to (Prop. 73, Obs. 1, note 2), says: “It appears manifest out of this book of Irenĉus that the doctrine of the Chiliasts was in his judgment apostolic tradition, as also it was esteemed (for aught appears to the contrary) by all the doctors, and saints, and martyrs of, or about, his time; for all that speak of it, or whose judgments in the point are any way recorded, are for it; and Justin Martyr professeth, that all good and orthodox Christians of his time believed it, and those that did not, he reckons among heretics.” His argument is, briefly, as follows: “That this doctrine (of the Millennium and Christ’s personal reign on earth) was by the church of the next age after the apostles held true and catholic, I prove by these two reasons: first, whatever doctrine is believed and taught by the most eminent fathers of any age of the church, and by none of their contemporaries opposed or condemned, that is to be esteemed the Catholic doctrine of the church of those times; but the doctrine of the Millenaries was believed and taught by the most eminent fathers of the age next after the apostles, and by none of that age opposed or condemned; therefore it was the Catholic doctrine of those times.” Such testimony can be multiplied: for Mosheim (Ch. His.) speaks of it as “the prevailing opinion;” Gieseler (Ch. His.) tells us that it “became the general belief of the time;” Lardner (Cred. of Gosp. His.) informs us that “the Millennium has been the favorite doctrine of some ages and has had the patronage of the learned, as well as the vulgar, among Christians;” Münscher (His. Dog.) testifies: “How widely the doctrine of Millenarianism prevailed in the first centuries of Christianity, appears from this that it was universally received by almost all teachers;” Encyclopĉdia Americana (Art. Mill.) pronounces it “a universal belief among the Christians of the first centuries.” The student desirous of additional references may consult for confirmatory statements Bush (On Mill.), Neander (Ch. His.), Burton (Bampton Lec., 1829), Stuart (Com. Apoc.), Barnes (Com. Rev.), Bh. Russel (Dis. on Mill.), Hagenbach (His. of Doc.), Kitto (Cyclop., Art. Mill.), Baumgarten (His. Apos. Ch.), Lechler (Apos. and Post-Apos. Times), Schlegel (Philos. of His.). Milner (Ch. His.), Jones (Ch. His.), Shaff (Ch. His.), Kurtz (Ch. His.).
The candid admissions of those who are no believers in our doctrine are so interesting that we append several more. Thus e.g. Dodgson (Transl. of Tertullian, vol. 1, p. 121–3) speaks of our belief, according to Irenĉus and Justin, “as belonging to the full soundness of faith,” that “Eusebius states it to have been the prevailing doctrine in the church,” and that “until the early part of the third century; (it was) held by most, questioned by none whose name has been preserved.” Bh. Russell (Dis. on Mill., p. 236) remarks: “so far as we view the question in reference to the sure and certain hope entertained by the Christian world that the Redeemer would appear on the earth, and exercise authority during a thousand years, there is good ground for the assertion of Mede, Dodwell, Burnet, and other writers on the same side, that down to the beginning of the fourth century the belief was universal and undisputed.” Dr. Nast (the Commentator) in an Art. in “The West. Ch. Advocate” (July 30, 1879) remarks: “Hase, distinguished for the accuracy of his statements, calls Chiliasm ‘the great faith-article of the Primitive Church.’ Prof. Volk, in his masterly reply to Dr. Keil, says also, ‘It was fundamental to the Church from the beginning.’ ” Our entire line of argument shows why, of necessity, it was thus “fundamental’ and “the great faith-article” of the early Church.
Obs. 4. The evidence in favor of the general perpetuation of the doctrine is strengthened by the concessions of those who were among the first, and most bitter, opposers. Thus e.g. Jerome (Com. on Jer., 19:10), says: “that he durst not condemn the (Millennial) doctrine, because many ecclesiastical persons and martyrs affirm the same.”[*]
Note. This is quoted by Brooks (El. Proph. Interp., p. 48). Among my notes I find the following reference: See Jerome’s Pref. to Isa., 65, and his Com. on Jer. 19:10, where he admits that “many Christians and martyrs had affirmed the things that he denied; and that a great multitude of Christians agreed in them in his own day; so that though he could not follow them, he could not condemn them.” In another place he says: “a multitude of persons will be offended with me.” Comp. also Brooks’ (p. 49, etc.) statements concerning Eusebius, Augustine, etc. We fully admit in following Propositions that through such men as Jerome, Eusebius, and others—who like Eusebius could flatter the Emperors with the idea that the Millennial glory was already inaugurated under their sway, and that Rome itself was converted into the New Jerusalem—the doctrine declined. We also admit, as in full accord with predictions, that during the dark ages it remained, like many other precious doctrines, under an eclipse. The very opposition and decline here noticed is only an additional reason for retaining the doctrine, because if extensively popular and universally received, and continued thus down to the present, its history would not harmonize with the warnings, cautions, and predictions relating to it, showing that men would turn away from it. On this point it is only necessary to again quote Whitby (Treatise on Tradition, as given p. 86, Proph. Times, vol. 6) himself: “This doctrine (Chiliasm) was owned in the first ages of the church by the greatest number of the Christian clergy, as is confessed by Eusebius; that by the confession of St. Jerome many ecclesiastical men and martyrs had asserted it before their time (H. Eccles. 1, 3, c. 39, in Jer. 19), and that even in his days it was the doctrine which a great multitude of Christians followed (Proem, in lib. 13, Com., in Esa.),” etc.
Obs. 5. The reception and interpretation of the Apoc., also indicates the extent of Millenarian doctrine. It being held to contain the hopes of a Kingdom to come, as we have shown, it was confidently appealed to in our behalf, and was universally received by the orthodox believers. This continued until some Anti-Chiliasts endeavored,—seeing no escape from its teaching,—to bring it into discredit; which opposition only ceased when it was found that its plain announcements might be spiritualized. Dr. Smith (N. Test. His., p. 723, On Rev.) remarks: “The interval between the Apostolic age and that of Constantine has been called the Chiliastic period of Apocalyptic interpretation.”[*]
Note. Gibbon (His. Decline, etc., vol. 1, p. 563) sarcastically alludes to this, saying: “A mysterious prophecy, which still forms a part of the sacred canon, but which was thought to favor the exploded sentiment, has very narrowly escaped the proscription of the church.” He refers to the complaint that Sulp. Severus made respecting its neglect; for as Reuss and others have stated, the Greek Fathers, under the influence of the Alexandrian theology, from the time of the third century manifested an antipathy to the book, although previously it was held as the great and important Revelation from Christ. It is supposed by some that Caius (about A.D. 210) first started the opposition to the Apocalypse;[*] this was strengthened by the position of Dionysius (about A.D. 248), although he is forced, over against his doubting its genuineness, to say: “But, for my part, I dare not reject the book, since many of the brethren have it in high esteem,” etc. (comp. Stuart’s, Hug’s, Michaelis’, Barnes’, and other Introductions for a detailed account). Gibbon refers to its omittal by the Council of Laodicea (A.D. 363). The contest over the book resulted from its supposed Chiliastic teaching (so Barnes, etc.), and Hug (Introd., p. 654) says: “It was amid the disputes concerning the Millennium that the first explicit and well-authenticated denial of the Apoc. occurred.” Bh. Russel (On Mill.) states: “It is worthy of remark that so long as the prophecies regarding the Millennium were interpreted literally the Apocalypse was received as an inspired production, and as the work of the apostle John; but no sooner did theologians find themselves compelled to view its annunciations through the medium of allegory and metaphorical description, than they ventured to call in question its heavenly origin, its genuineness, and its authority.” Art. Apoc. (by Prof. Schem) Appleton’s Cyclop., says “The rejection of the canonical and apostolical character of the book was chiefly prompted by opposition to Chiliasm; and when the interest in the Chiliastic controversies declined, the church generally received the Apoc. as the work of the apostle John.” Hence Mede (Woks, p. 602) said: “I have demonstrated that the 1000 follow the times when the beast and the false prophet, and consequently the times of Antichrist, which those who oppose the Chiliasts have found so necessary” (i.e. assume existing) “as to force them to deny the Apocalypse to be Scripture; nor was it ever admitted until they had found some commodious interpretation of the 1000 years.“ We append Horne’s (Introd., vol. 2, p. 379) statement: “It is a remarkable circumstance that the authenticity of this book was very generally, if not universally, acknowledged during the first two centuries, and yet in the third century it began to be questioned. This seems to have been occasioned by some absurd notions concerning the Millennium, which a few well-meaning but fanciful expositors grounded on this book; which notions their opponents injudiciously and presumptuously endeavored to discredit, by denying the authority of the book itself.” (He quotes Sir Isaac Newton and Dr. Priestly as regarding it one of the best attested books of the New Test., which is the uniform opinion of the best critics, destructive and orthodox.) The student will find numerous similar testimonies in the Introductions to the Apocalypse (as e.g. Barnes, Lange, Alford, Lücke, etc.), so that (so Lange Rev., p. 64) in summing up “the Pre Constantinian Period” of Apoc. interpretation, it is thus given: “Fundamental Thought: The Millennial Kingdom is to come; according to the Chiliastic view, its coming is imminent.” M Clintock & Strong’s Cyclop., Art. “Revelation,” remarks: “The interval between the apostolic age and that of Constantine has been called the Chiliastic period of Apocalyptic interpretation. The visions of John were chiefly regarded as representations of general Christian truths, scarcely yet embodied in actual facts, for the most part to be exemplified or fulfilled in the reign of Antichrist, the Coming of Christ, the Millennium, and the day of judgment. The fresh hopes of the early Christians, and the severe persecutions they endured taught them to live in those future events with intense satisfaction and comfort.” Compare the statements of Herzog’s Encyclop., Appleton’s Cyclop., and others; especially the Introd. by Dr. Elliott in his Horœ Apoc. Pressense (The Early Days of Christianity, p. 501, Ap., note L), advocating the authenticity of the Apoc., remarks: “The first doubts on this subject were expressed by the sect of the Alogi. who denied the divinity of Jesus Christ. These doubts were carried further by Caius, and finally by Dionysius of Alexandria (Eusebius 7:25), and more or less confirmed by Eusebius. But it is needful to study the grounds taken by Dionysius, in order to be convinced that he reasons entirely from a priori arguments, and that it is fear of the Chiliasts or Millenarians which leads him to throw doubt upon the book of Revelation.”
[Note. The student is referred to a contradiction—those who assert that Caius rejected the Apoc., ground such a rejection on the supposition that he esteemed Cerinthus the author of it—now, the Benedictines (Buckle, Mis., vol. 3, p. 211) allege, that when the Apoc. was violently attacked by Cerinthus and other heretics, the early Fathers, as Justin, Irenĉus, Theophilus, etc., believed it to be written by John. However this may be, two things are certain: (1) that if the doctrines of Cerinthus are correctly reported he could not be the author of the book, seeing it contains much opposed to the same; (2) John being the author and the opponent of Cerinthus, would not adopt views endorsing, more or less, those of Cerinthus.]
Obs. 6. The extent to which the doctrine prevailed is also apparent from the Apocryphal books. The counterfeit is based upon the genuine.[*]
Note. Thus e.g. Gieseler (Ch. His., vol. 1, p. 100), after saying that “in the character of the spurious writings of this period (the Sec. Century) we can trace the peculiar features of the age; their purpose being either to encourage the persecuted, or to convince the unbelieving, and not unfrequently to give the sanction of antiquity to the tenets of a particular sect. In this way the old spurious writings of the Jews were interpolated by the Christians, as the Book of Enoch and the Book of Ezra; and others were new manufactured as the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, the Ascension of Isaiah, and the Shepherd of Hermas. Of a different character were the books of Hystaspes, and the Sibylline Prophecies, which, as well as the Acts of Pilate, seem to have been chiefly intended for the heathen.” “In all these works the belief in the Millennium is so evident that no one can hesitate to consider it as universal in an age, when certainly such motives as it offered were not unnecessary to animate men to suffer for Christianity. This belief rested mainly on the book of Revelation. The Mill. was represented as the great Sabbath which was very soon to begin, and to be ushered in by the resurrection of the dead.” Prof. Stuart (Com. Apoc., vol. 1, Introd., etc.) largely quotes from them, and shows their Chiliastic tendency. See also Greswell (On the Parables, vol. 5, Part 2) and numerous writers, such as Lawrence (who translated several), Corrodi, Lücke, Wieseler, Bleek, etc. Comp. Art. on The Sibylline Books in Littell’s Liv. Age, Sept. 29th, 1877, taken from the Edinb. Rev., which says that Ewald, Bleek, and others have supposed that this Jewish expectation of a Messianic Kingdom was, more or less, based on Daniel’s predictions. The writer says of these books that “they explicitly propound the idea of a Kingdom of the just upon earth anterior to the final resurrection and general judgment.” We do not receive and vindicate those books as e.g. Whiston (Vindic. of the Sibylline Books), and we do not decry them as e.g. Justin (Rem. Eccl. His.), but simply receive them as indicative and corroborative of views largely held at an early period, preceding, at, and after the First Advent.
Obs. 7. This feature, in order to weaken the force of our Proposition, is asserted by some, viz.: that our doctrine was confined to the Jewish churches. Thus e.g. Shedd (His. Ch. Doc., p. 291) declares: “it is not surprising to find that Millenarianism was a peculiarity of the Jewish Christian, as distinguished from the Gentile Christian church, at the close of the first century.” The facts as given by history, and attested to by Neander, Mosheim, Lightfoot, Lardner, Whitby, and a host of others, flatly contradict this declaration. The Gentile Christian churches down to the third century (until Caius, Origen, and Dionysius), received it just as freely and entertained it just as heartily as the Jewish Christian. Prof. Shedd gives no historical proof to sustain his position. The contrary is clearly seen (1) by the Gentile churches which adopted it, as e.g. Thessalonica, Vienna, Lyons, Carthage, etc.; (2) by the Gentile Fathers, and their converts, which adopted it, of whom we have more than of Jews; (3) by the generality of view entertained, there being no recorded attack by any writer until the time of Caius, Origen. and Dionysius; (4) by both the Greek and Latin Fathers, the East and West, adopting it.[*]
Note. Such a concealment of facts, admitted too by many of our opponents, is evidence of weakness and unfairness. The simple truth is, that both in the East and the West, both in the Pauline and the other apostolic churches, both in minds previously imbued by the Jewish or the Hellenic culture, this doctrine of the Kingdom, still future, was cordially entertained. Dr. Neander (vol. 1, p. 364) makes some judicious remarks on this point, when he clears Justin of Ebionism. The drift of such assertions is very apparent, viz.: to make our doctrine odious under the impression that it is exclusively “Jewish”—overlooking what we have already said on this subject, and that the Chiliastic Fathers were themselves the opposers of the fanatical Jewish opinions and prejudices based on a servile observance of the Mosaic law. Even in the Pauline churches much was retained essentially Jewish in doctrine, but the candid student will discriminate between this and what was regarded as non-essential. The extreme Jewish idea of the continued obligatory observance of the Mosaic ceremonial law was combated by the early Chiliasts, as e.g. evinced in their opposition to the Ebionists, but this was done without discarding doctrines founded on covenant and prophecy, and remaining untouched by the abrogation of the Judaic ritual. The critic will candidly distinguish; the one-sided disputant will mingle together things that essentially differ. The plainest facts have no force with the latter, as e.g. the testimony of Justin (as given by Neander, vol. 1, p. 364) that Chiliasts were found among the converted Pagans. The student will not fail to observe how, in their eagerness to find some leverage against us, our opponents present directly hostile theories to account for the historical origin of our doctrine; thus e.g. Pressense, as we have previously quoted, ascribes its commencement to the Gentile Thessalonians, and Shedd to the Jewish churches.
Obs. 8. Various methods, lacking candor and fairness, are resorted to in order to avoid giving our doctrine its pre-eminent historical status. Some of these have been referred to (see Props: 72, 73, 74), others will follow.[*]
Note. 1. Some writers, seeing the preponderance on our side, purposely lower Patristic learning (Prop. 72). Hamilton, Shedd, etc., only lower the quite early Fathers (Chiliastic), and give their decided preference to the later ones (with all their monkish, popish tendencies), on the plea that “their learning and talents far surpassed any in the first centuries of the church.” Just as if Scriptural doctrine depended on human learning and talent, and not on divine declarations. The student will notice, that when the Reformation restored the right of private interpretation and judgment, it also resulted in depreciating Patristic works. The Reformers attacked Origen, Jerome, and others; criticism assailed the enthroned later Patristic Theology, pointing out its palpable contradictions and errors. The result was, that for a time all—without discrimination—fell into neglect, the scathing rebukes of the Reformers and the searching tests destroying their reputation and authority. But after a while a reaction set in; their works were again read and quoted, and found to be valuable, if not in imparting authority, at least in giving the history of doctrines and of the church. The republication of them in various forms, the desire that every writer has to have them sustain a discussion of doctrine, the numerous quotations found in able works, the exhaustive researches in early history through their aid, fully indicate the esteem in which they are held. After repeated disputes concerning their merit, it is finally conceded by the best critics that while all may be, more or less, defective in some points, the nearer the Fathers are to the apostles the purer the doctrine promulgated (i.e. less of error is imparted), and, provided a unity exists, the greater weight it should possess. In depreciating the earlier Fathers, as some do, we lower, in a measure, Christianity itself—i.e. it can only be legitimately traced in its continuity through such disparaged Fathers. The Fathers are only worthy of reception in so far as their writings correspond with the Scriptures, and are valuable in giving us an idea how the Scriptures were interpreted and understood. To uphold them as infallible, or to decry them as unworthy of attention is to entertain an extreme; to treat them as Stuart, and others, is to give force to the sarcasm of Chillingworth, that divines “account them as Fathers when they are for them, and children when they are against them.” On the Fathers, compare “The Ante-Nicene Library,” Daillé “On the right use of the Fathers” (Hallam’s Introd. Lit. of Europe, vol. 2, p. 404), Riddle’s Manual Ch. Antiq., Wake’s Epis. Apost. Fathers, Whiston’s Prim. Christians, Middleton’s Free Inquiry, and Eccl. His. in general.
2. Cyclopĉdias in articles written by persons, either hostile to our doctrine or unacquainted with its history, give a very one-sided description of it. In addition to the instance presented under Prop. 73, others can readily be given. Thus e.g. Appleton’s Amer. Cyclop. appears reluctantly to say: “It is admitted on all sides that Millenarian views were, if not general, at least very common in the ancient church,” and while correctly giving the Fathers who supported them, it artfully associates with them Montanism, etc. It perverts the language of Justin (comp. Prop. 72), saying that he “knew many orthodox Christians who were not” Millenarian, when the exact reverse is true (comp. Brooks El. Proph. Interp., Seiss’ “A Question in Eschatology,” p. 17, footnote, who refers to Daillé, Münscher, Münter, Schwegler, etc.). Forgetting the distinctive teaching of Millenarianism, viz.: that of the personal Advent followed by the Kingdom of the Theocratic King here on earth introducing the promised Mill. glory, the article introduces the belief in the end of the world at the tenth century and afterward, Millerism, Swedenborgianism, etc.—all of which rejected the Chiliastic teaching on the subject of the Kingdom. While interesting and candid facts are given, it is apparent that the writer had no distinct idea of Millenarianism doctrinally, or else he certainly would not have attempted to identify with it those (1) who had only one single point of union with it, viz.: in the belief of a personal Advent, and (2) who had no sympathy with it even in a single point, viz.: spiritualizing, even the Advent as the Swedenborgians and Shakers. In the Millenarian doctrine the personal Sec. Advent is only the grand means for introducing the glorious Kingdom and reign here on earth; in the theories thus engrafted upon us it is either spiritualized away as something of the past, or it is supposed to end all sublunary things by a general judgment and destruction. Such works being specially designed for reference, lead, unintentionally, many to be prejudiced against our doctrine. Take Buck’s Theol. Dic., Art. “Mill.,” [pp. 370, 371, 372] and as introductory—prejudging the matter and prejudicing the reader—our faith is represented “according to an ancient tradition in the Church, grounded on some doubtful texts in the Apoc. and other Scriptures.” Then to neutralize its historical force, its extensiveness is thus underrated: “Though there has been no age of the Church in which the Millennium was not admitted by individual divines of the first eminence, it is yet evident, from the writings of Eusebius, Irenĉus (?), Origen, and others, among the ancients, as well as from the histories of Dupin, Mosheim, and all the moderns, that it was never adopted by the whole Church, or made an article of the established creed in any nation.” (But admit this, and if it forms a valid reason for rejecting the doctrine, how then, tried by this test, would Buck’s modern Whitbyan theory fare? Our opponents are exceedingly careful not to make a trial of this test of orthodoxy.) After giving some Mill. tenets, as mainly founded on Rev. 20:1–6, he says: “This passage all the ancient Millenarians took in a sense grossly literal, and taught, that, during the Millennium, the saints on earth were to enjoy every bodily delight.” With this utterly unfair, disrespectful, and erroneous representation, our doctrine is contemptuously dismissed, and the spiritual view given. We abundantly refute his statements in the quotations given (even from opponents), and show by direct citations from the Fathers that they founded the Messianic Kingdom, which they expected, on the covenants and prophecies, and that they carefully discriminated between the glorified saints and the nations in the flesh, and in their holding to inestimable spiritual and heavenly-derived blessings connected with the Millennium. Such unpardonable, professed historical representations, making our belief ridiculous at the expense of scholarship or honesty, can be multiplied. We append an illustration, to show how Chiliastic Fathers are treated. In the Art. “Irenĉus,” M’Clintock & Strong’s Cyclop. [p. 651], the writer (Prof. J. H Worman), after highly eulogizing Irenĉus, and in evidence of his deserving the same giving his doctrines held, passes to his Millenarian views, saying: “The peculiar Millennial views of Irenĉus, which stamp him, by his close adherence to Papias, as a Chiliast, we hardly care to touch; they are certainly the weak spot in our author, but deserve to be passed not only without comment, but even unnoticed.” Alas! what prejudice will effect.
3. Editors in critical notes appended to works, frequently give unhistorical statements, which practically degrades the belief of the early church. Thus, to illustrate: Gibbon (Decline and Fall, etc., vol. 1, p. 561) remarks: “It was universally believed that the end of the world” (Gibbon ought to have said, to be correct, “end of the age”) “and the kingdom of heaven were at hand,” etc. The Editor, Milman, remarks in a note: “this was, in fact, an integral part of the Jewish notion of the Messiah, from which the minds of the Apostles themselves were but gradually detached. See Berthold, Christologia Judĉorum, concluding chapters.” Here, without the least proof being assigned, and with a reference to the Jewish view which must have highly colored the previous preaching of the apostles, Milman takes an important supposed change for granted (which, if true, places the apostles during their discipleship in the position of ignorant preachers of the Kingdom), and one too, which, if it really occurred, places the believers of the first centuries in a false attitude, of direct antagonism to the apostles. The remark does not help, in the least, to invalidate Gibbon’s statement, but only makes it the more formidable, seeing that the prevailing belief under apostolic supervision is left unaccounted for and unexplained. Such loose criticisms, with just such lack of proof, abound in numerous works, and are received, without examination, by many solely on the reputation of the critic, and the result is that our doctrine suffers.
4. While some Eccles. Historians candidly give a tolerable fair statement of the early view, its generality and the names of the Fathers who held it, etc., there are others who grudgingly and in the briefest manner adhere to it. Thus e.g. a student not posted in the history of the doctrine could not possibly infer from the brief account of Kurtz (Ch. His.) the extent and perpetuation of our faith. Others, again, mention it but with words of disrespect and condemnation, even when expressing no personal opinion on other alleged errors. Others, refusing to consider the important influence that it exerted in the early church, almost entirely (some entirely as Jones’ Ch. His.) ignore it, until they come to the history of the Anabaptists. Such authors are read by many incapable of discriminating, and thus necessarily prejudice other minds against us. Even Mosheim (whom we largely quote) is rebuked by Gibbon (Decl. and Fall, vol. 1, p. 563, note 66) as a “learned divine not altogether candid,” for the manner in which he presents this matter. But Mosheim makes far greater admissions in Com. de Rebus Chris., and does justice to the prevalence of the doctrine. The reader must consider, what was said under Prop. 73, viz: that the early belief is a tender subject to many, seeing that they cannot reconcile its existence and prevalence with their modern notions. Hence, with the best of motives, they hastily pass over it in order that the contrast between the early and the later faith may remain, as much as possible, in the background. Others, however, exhibit the unfriendliness felt, by carefully mentioning Chiliasm in connection with enthusiasts and fanatics, but not the slightest reference is allowed when the names of eminent scholars and divines, who held it, are mentioned. The concessions, seemingly forced by historical necessity, are reluctantly given, and as tersely as possible. Thus to illustrate: Hase, His. Ch. Church, omits a proper detailed (such as the subject demands) mention of Primitive Chiliasm, and thus violates his affirmation in the Pref., p. 12. For, when explaining what might safely be omitted in a Church History, he remarks: “No particular event connected with theological science ever needs to be noticed, except when it becomes important as a prominent circumstance belonging to the age, and may properly be regarded as characteristic of the times.” He slightly notices Chiliasm, and then in connection with Cerinthus, Montanus, Irenĉus, and Tertullian. Large space can be given to heresies, to inferior doctrines and events, while the briefest allusions are penned respecting this doctrine once so prominent, belonging to an age, and characteristic of the times.”
5. Professed writers on Chiliasm are recommended, although admitted to be very unfair in their statements. Thus e.g. H. Corrodi’s His. of Chiliasm, which one of our opponents (Prof. Stuart, Com. on Apoc., latter part) characterizes as a book that must be read with caution, being uncandid and unreliable, is extolled by others. Such works, with their sweeping assertions, and their efforts to link with our doctrine opinions and parties in nowise related thereto, practically degrade the belief of the first churches, giving force to the sarcasms of unbelievers. Corrodi (whose views Dorner, Person of Christ, v. 1, p. 240, rejects, as too blindly followed by others) has merely given a caricature of our doctrine, allying with it many (as we shall show hereafter) whose opinions are utterly antagonistic to Chiliasm, and far more in accord and sympathy with his own doctrinal position than ours. He lays great stress on the vagaries incorporated by some fanatics, just as if his own doctrine, as well as all others, had not in like manner been perverted. The professed histories of Prof. Briggs in the N. Y. Evangelist (1879), of Dr. Macdill in The Chicago Instructor, are of a similar nature, corresponding with the brief mention of Prof. Stuart (Apoc.) and others. The simple fact that the histories of Millenarianism in such works, cyclopĉdias, reviews, etc., are one-sided and unjust led Appleton’s Amer. Cyclop. to assert that a His. of Chiliasm was still a desideratum, saying: “A good history of Millenarianism in the Christian Church is still a desideratum, as the works published do not exhaust the subject” (it is to be hoped that a scholar, properly qualified, and able to discriminate between our doctrine and that of others, will yet supply this acknowledged want). We are indebted on our side to compressed statement as given by Mede, Brookes, Bickersteth, Greswell, Seiss, Shimeall, West, Moorehead, and others.
6. Writers on the His. of Ch. Doctrine, Dogmatical Theology, Eschatology, Sys. Divinity, etc., have given rather a caricature of the history of this doctrine than a correct account of the facts as they existed, although a few concede largely in our favor. Having given some specimens already, we only refer to a recent illustration. Prof. Shedd, in his His. of Ch. Doc. (an admirable work in many respects), unquestionably misstates a number of things in reference to our belief. This is clearly seen from the evidence that we have thus far produced. The reader is referred to Shimeall’s Reply to Shedd for strictures on some of his statements. This mode of procedure necessarily injures our view in the estimation of persons to whom the historical facts are unknown.
7. Writers against our doctrine, seeing the historical force that it sustains in its relationship to the first centuries, carefully avoid all allusion to it. Thus e.g. Brown (Christ’s Sec. Coming) makes no reference to the church history of the doctrine; and many, ignorant of the real facts, are deceived in supposing that it was confined, as an error, to comparatively a few persons. In addition, it may be remarked, that if Brown’s reasoning is correct, viz.: that Chiliasm is unscriptural, then it only increases the difficulty of reconciling the prevailing Primitive Church view with the apostolic supervision and the purity of transmitted doctrine. It is evident acknowledgment of weakness, when a work specifically directed against us passes by this Primitive belief without, at least, attempting to explain the same. But this is true of numerous works.
8. Some authors, with all their candid concessions, attempt (as e.g. Bush, On Mill., p. 12, etc.) to make the impression that the very early Fathers were divided into two parties, one holding to a literal, the other to a spiritual, interpretation of the Kingdom. But, unfortunately for themselves, in the enumeration they are not able to present on the side of the latter a single one of the earliest Fathers. To illustrate: we give the Fathers cited by Bush himself as follows: on the literal side Barnabas, Justin, Irenĉus, Cyprian, Tertullian, Lactantius, with Bh. Bull, and Lardner as apologists for them;—on the spiritual side, Origen, Epiphanius, Genadius, Augustine, Jerome, and Dionysius. The ordinary reader not conversant with dates is apt to be deceived, regarding these as contemporary, when the truth is, that the Spiritualists only arose in the third and following centuries.
9. Other writers present this in a still more offensive form in order to delude the unwary. Thus e.g. Hamilton in his work against Millenarians (p. 308) boldly remarks: “that its (Chiliastic) principles were opposed and rejected by almost every Father of the church, with the exception of Barnabas, Clement, Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenĉus, Nepos, Apollinarius, Lactantius, and Tertullian.” This, of course, cannot deceive the scholar, who well knows that Hamilton cannot produce a single Father before the third century in opposition to us, but it is eminently calculated to deceive and prejudice the unlearned.
10. Some, who are evidently afraid of the antiquity of our doctrine, proceed to even greater length, entirely ignoring the earlier Fathers. Thus e.g. Jones (“Lec. on the Apoc.,” p. 11, Pref.), speaking of the same, says: “we will concede to you that these opinions are not novelties; we can trace them as far back as the beginning of the third century.” This unscholarly procedure, in the face of abounding testimony to the contrary, merits a severe rebuke.
11. Another favorite method to disparage our views is the giving, in a professed account of the early belief, an exceedingly weak and one-sided exhibition of the Scriptural basis upon which it rests. Thus e.g. Lindsay (Ency. Brit., Art. Mill.) entirely omits the covenants and prophecies as quoted by the Fathers (which we reproduce in this work), and confines himself almost exclusively to Rev. 20, just as if that really was the foundation of our system of belief, forgetting that Chiliasm, based on covenant and prophecy, existed before the Revelation was given. Even an opponent like Bh. Russell (Dis. on the Mill., pp. 39, 40) pointedly says, that there is “no room for doubt that the notion of a Millennium preceded by several centuries the introduction of the Christian faith” (comp. Shimeall’s Eschatology, or a Reply to Prof. Shedd, p. 59, etc.).
12. Various other methods are resorted to in order to diminish the force of our doctrinal position in the early faith of the church, and as these have already been referred to, the briefest enumeration must suffice. (1) Our doctrine is dismissed as Judaic or Jewish (Props. 69, 70, 71, 72, 73), just as if that settled the whole question; (2) that good and great men did not receive it, just as if doctrine, Scriptural, depended upon man’s reception of it; (3) that fanatics and enthusiasts held to it, thus overlooking the fact that this is true of almost every doctrine, and that this is no test of the truth of any doctrine; (4) the Fathers are made out as credulous, superstitious (Prop. 72, Obs. 1, note 4), while the greater defects of Anti-Chiliastic Fathers are ignored; (5) they are made to say what they never wrote (Prop. 73, Obs. 1, note 4), so that even Prof. Stuart (Com. Apoc.) refers to it as a fact that sentences indorsing Millenarianism have been altered, omitted, or others substituted (as e.g. Victorinus spiritualized by Jerome); (6) the Fathers are made out to be the followers of Cerinthus (Prop. 72, Obs. 3, note 2) or of Papias, or the advocates of Montanism (when some of them lived long before Montanus arose), or else they are simply discarded as errorists, unworthy to be followed; (7) they conceal the actual views held by the Fathers who opposed, because such opinions are likewise antagonistic to their Whitbyan notion; (8) they, without positively saying so, leave the impression, by the artful opposition presented, that the modern notions respecting the Millennium were then also entertained in the Apostolic and Primitive Church, although unable to quote any one favoring the same.
13. Still another method is to make Millenarianism responsible for the vagaries of every writer (forgetting to apply the same rule to the still greater absurdities of our opponents). One of the editors of The Proph. Times (vol. 5, No. 6, p. 90) has well said, “that on the basis of this method of reasoning, Bossuet’s Histoire des Variations is conclusive against Protestantism.”
14. Others prominently present the disagreements between Millenarian writers in details, etc., and from thence illogically draw the conclusion that the whole is erroneous, forgetting that the same reasoning would destroy the credibility of any or all of the great doctrines of the Bible (as the Atonement, Lord’s Supper, etc.). Brookes (Maranatha, p. 19) shows that there is far more agreement between Pre-Millenarians than between Post-Millenarians, and that Pre-Millenarians are in agreement on the grand outlines although belonging to all the various differing denominations. These outlines in which they agree are the Pre-Mill. Personal Advent, the first resurrection Pre-Millennial, the Messianic Kingdom Millennial, the future Millennial reign of the saints, the restitution, etc. Our opponents differ among themselves as to the Sec. Advent, the location of the Millennium, etc., so that they are divided into various parties with antagonistic theories, and no bond of union—saving hostility to Chiliasm—to unite them. (Those differences will be shown by us hereafter.)
Obs. 9. Although the doctrine was opposed in the third and following centuries, yet it continued for some time to have many who held to it. The custom of Christians, as Tertullian informs us, to pray “that they might have part in the first resurrection,” was not easily rooted out, for, as Cyprian (about A.D. 220) tells us, the thirst for martyrdom was increased by the hope that suffering for Christ would entail a more distinguished lot in His coming Kingdom. Nepos, Lactantius, Methodius, Paulinus, Gregory of Nyssa, Victorinus, Apollinaris, taught the Millenarian doctrine.[*] Seiss (Ap. Ch. 2, to Last Times) gives additional, Hippolytus, Commodian (of whom Clarke, Sacred Lit., p. 194, says: “he received the doctrine of the Millennium, which was the common belief of his time”), Cyprian, the Council of Nice, and Sulpicius Severus. Shimeall (Eschatology) adds to these, Melito (one of the earlier Fathers, contemporary with Justin, Bishop of Sardis, whom Jerome and Gennadius affirm to be Millenarian), and Coracion. It makes, however, no material difference how many names may be added as writers in the third and fourth centuries, since (1) it has been shown to have been the prevailing belief previously, and (2) a falling away from the faith—the early faith—is predicted, and believers are warned (e.g. 2 Tim. 4:3, 4, etc.) against it.
Note. Undoubtedly many others could be added, if we possessed their writings. Brooks (El. Proph. Interp.) gives these, and thus alludes to Epiphanius (about A.D. 365) as mentioning “the doctrine being held by many in his time, and speaks favorably of it himself. Quoting the words of Paulinus, bishop of Antioch, concerning one Vitalis, whom he highly commends for his piety, orthodoxy, and learning, he says: ‘Moreover, others have affirmed that the venerable man should say, that in the first resurrection we shall accomplish a certain millenary of years,’ etc., on which Epiphanius observes, ‘And that indeed this millenary term is written of, in the Apocalypse of John, and is received of very many of them that are godly, is manifest.’ ” Lib. 3:2. It is in view of such testimony that Appleton’s Cyclop., Art. Mill., remarks: “The old view continued to find advocates during the third century, among whom Tertullian, Nepos, bishop of Arsinoë, and Methodius, bishop of Tyre, were prominent. In the fourth century, though it had still many adherents among the people, it found no longer any advocate of note among the Christian writers, yet Jerome, who did not believe in it himself, did not dare to condemn it.” An indirect argument is employed to denote the continued prevalence of the doctrine by Millenarian writers (as Brookes, Bickersteth, Greswell, and others) in the course adopted by the Nicene council. Although the council was busy settling disputed questions, yet nothing was said against our view, which implies (1) that many among the council must have held the doctrine, or (2) that they regarded it as so far based on Scripture and the tradition of the church that those who held it were orthodox brethren, or (3) that it was so extensively held outside of the council among Christians that prudence dictated no utterance against it.
Obs. 10. The apologies that those make who admit the prevailing early belief and yet regard it as erroneous, are derogatory to the truth,—to Christianity itself. Having alluded to this (see and compare Prop. 72, Obs. 4, and note), it is sufficient to say, that it will not answer, in order to get rid of this early church view, to do as Grotius (whom Gibbon, Decl. and Fall, vol. 1, p. 533, approvingly quotes) does, who “ventures to insinuate that for wise purposes, the pious deception was permitted to take place,” or as a later writer (Bush, On Mill., p. 21), who thinks that owing to “special trials” and “uncultivated minds,” the error was winked at because “the error in itself was an innocent one.” Such apologies are worse than none, recoiling back with fearful force (as infidels exultingly see and enforce) upon the founders of the Christian church, under whose direct auspices it was extended. The reason for all this unnecessary apologetics springs from a supposed better belief substituted in place of the earlier.[*]
Note. In reference to so important a matter as the Kingdom, we unhesitatingly adopt the language of Eaton (Perm. of Chris., p. 46), “we cannot, however, accept, we can only repudiate and challenge all asserted improvements, whether by substitution or omission, in the subject matter of Christianity itself, effected by alleged advances in knowledge and civilization.” The doctrine of the Kingdom, related as it is to the true conception of the title “the Christ,” is a vital part of “the subject matter of Christianity,” and, properly considered (as will be shown), cannot be set aside by such dishonoring reasoning. Hence we must reject as a pitiful exculpation, Prof. Briggs’ idea that in the early Church the Millenarian error was probably needed to advocate a principle against Gnosticism, and, therefore, in Irenĉus, and some more, it may be overlooked and forgiven. From this it appears that error and falsehood may be profitably employed to advance the interests of Christianity; this is not the first time that the notion was entertained.
Obs. 11. It has been observed by some that this doctrine of the early church, if true, should have been continuously presented in a prominent orthodox form (i.e., confessionally), and because not so held, it cannot be true. But this entirely overlooks the predicted defection from the truth (as e.g. 2 Thess. 2:2; Tim. 4:3, 4, etc.), and the warnings given to us to return to the truth as previously imparted; it elevates the mere deductions and confessional position of the church above that of the Scriptures in its covenants and prophecies; it forgets that the probationary attitude of man and the exercise of his will has an important bearing, making a rejection of truth possible; and it ignores the fact, that precisely the same line of argument which applies to a foretold apostatizing from truth, and to the propriety (necessity) and good results of a revival of doctrine by the Reformation, can, with equal force, be used in the defence of this single doctrine.[*]
Note. The student will observe that the very persons who urge this objection are very careful to conceal from the ordinary reader two important facts connected with this matter, viz.: (1) that the earliest creeds were so worded, by simply taking Scriptural phraseology, and without entering into the order or manner of fulfilment, that all, Millenarian or Anil-Millenarian, could subscribe to them; and (2) that the modern notion of the Millennium is not found in any of the ancient or more recent confessions (see Prop. 78). If the objection has propriety it certainly must include their own doctrine. Hence the reasoning of Prof. Briggs, demanding a confessional standard in the Primitive Church has not a particle of force, but is positively condemnatory of his own doctrine, seeing that neither his doctrine nor ours is confessionally presented, but that both of us can accept e.g. the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed, which only deal in generalities. He keenly feels this, and, therefore, lays stress on later developments.
On this point it is eminently proper to present the misleading statements of eminent historians who, opposed to Chiliasm, seek to apologize for its existence by way of belittling its extent of belief. Neander (Genl. Ch. His., vol. 2, p. 397), with all his concessions and his defence of Chiliasts, is unfair in this: “What we have just said, however, is not to be understood as if Chiliasm had ever formed a part of the general creed of the Church. Our sources of information from the different branches of the Church in these early times are too scanty to enable us to make any positive assertion on this point. Wherever we meet Chiliasm, as in Papias, Irenĉus, Justin Martyr—everything seems to indicate that it was diffused from one country and from a single fountain head.” Now this is uncandid and unhistorical for the following reasons: (1) there was no general creed of the Church published in those early times with which Chiliasm can possibly be compared; (2) he mentally forms a creed of his own development (a later one) with which he institutes such a comparison; (3) he presumes on an Anti-Chiliastic tendency which he himself (as we shall hereafter fully quote) admits broke out later, but which he here presumes, against history, to have previously existed; (4) his sarcastic reference to the one country and one source (Phrygia) is abundantly rebutted by his own statements respecting its Jewish origin and the Scriptures quoted; (5) he makes a positive statement with not a single historical fact adduced to sustain him in his assertion; (6) on the other hand, his declaration is most positively contradicted by Justin, Irenĉus, and Tertullian—now which are we to credit, Neander’s assumption at so late a day or the Fathers’ statements who then lived? The Art. “Mill.” in M’Clintock & Strong’s Cyclop. admits that Chiliasm was “early adopted,” and was especially held by “Jewish Christians;” that it “spread extensively among the Gentiles,” as shown by the Fathers quoted in the Art. But, after these statements, it is added: “Notwithstanding the extensive spreading of the Millenarian tenet, it would be a rash inference to assume that it was universal, or accepted as the creed of the Church.” To this Art. written by Prof. Fisher (a Post-Mill.), the strictures above apply, because we have no evidence that other than Gnostics opposed us in the early Church, and that the belief of every Father who, in detail, referred to Eschatology, shows plain enough what was the accepted faith of the Church. Such pleadings are a begging of the question, and only proclaim the weakness of others. It is therefore with amazement that one reads Macdill (Instructor, May, 1879), who speaks of the Chiliasm of the Primitive Church as “monstrous and absurd,” and to sustain such assertions quotes the prejudiced and bitter taunts of opponents (who desire by any means to rid themselves of Chiliasm), and of a Pre-Millenarian, Kelly (who endeavors to sustain a certain scheme of his own by depreciating others), avoiding the temperate judgment, concessions, etc., of scholars, critics, and others. In his partisanship, he thus coolly bestows the following advice: “We think that modern Pre-Millenarians would lose nothing, and that the cause of Christ would gain something, if our Pre-Mill. brethren would along with Origen, and Augustine, and Lardner, and Neander, and Kelly believe that ancient Chiliasm was a reproach to Christianity, and admit that many Christians were all along opposed to it.” Thus, we are to allow opponents to judge and mould history, for us, so as to accommodate their respective theories. Thus, to get rid of a man by suicide, we are to urge him to the same, and then tender him the rope by which he is to hang himself. Who were these “many Christians,” and what history or document gives us the slightest clue to them in the first and second centuries? Even if it could be regarded as gain (?) to Pre-Mills. to confess this “reproach” (?), it would be a serious loss to Christianity to make the very men—confessors, martyrs, apologists, and writers—through whom Dr. Macdill can alone trace the orthodox Ch. Church, so contemptible as to embrace “a scheme, so unscriptural and repulsive, so absurd and shocking.” What a difference there is between the spirit of this man and many of our scholarly opposers whom we also liberally quote and criticise; the one, under prejudices and passion distorts historical facts—the other, impelled by love of truth, presents them however adverse they may prove to his own belief.
Obs. 12. It has been alleged by others, that, taking the church as a whole, and considering the vast multitude since the days of the apostles that have rejected the doctrine, but comparatively a small number have held to this view of the Kingdom;—and, hence, it ought to be rejected. We reply, that as numbers are no test of religions; as truth is not established by majorities; as doctrine is to be found in its purity in Scripture and not in the voice of the multitude; as Christ Himself has confined the reception of His words to “a few,” “a small flock,” even to “babes,” and not to the “many as the warnings of a widespread defection are plainly imparted, we are not concerned either in defending our numbers, or in admitting our minority. Historical facts, abundantly verifying predictions, are sufficient to satisfy us. It is to be admitted, however, that—to escape the notion of a novelty or a later substitution,—it is a source of gratification to find so many advocates of the truth pertaining to this subject, and especially to find them in the very period of the church’s history, where, reasonably, they ought to appear as witnesses.[*]
Note. Many of our opponents strenuously protest against our making Chiliasm universal in the Apostolic and Primitive Church. Now, in this, as our quotations show, we only follow the declarations of scholars who, without any doctrinal bias, give their decided opinion respecting its extent. For the reason assigned in the Obs. we are not concerned in pressing this universality or insisting upon it as a decided fact, although stated as such by Justin and Tertullian. 1. We are satisfied with its being the common, prevalent faith of the orthodox Churches, East and West, North and South, as the evidence conclusively shows. 2. We have, no doubt, that Gnostics, and errorists, and probably some Christians (more or less leavened) opposed the doctrine from the beginning (for doctrine of every kind finds its opposers or perverters in every age), for such antagonism we must reasonably expect. 3. The universality is only apparent in this: that while the early Fathers advocated it, not one of the early Fathers—contemporary—opposed it; such opposition proceeding from later Fathers. 4. This earnest protest against the universality by our present opponents, holding to the Whitbyan theory, does not help their cause in any respect, seeing that the alleged hostility to our doctrine did not spring from a regular, systematic defence of the Whitbyan doctrine; for every opponent (as we shall show) arising from the third century advocated a Millennial theory which they (the Whitbyans) do not receive. It follows, therefore, that the men who first set themselves against our doctrine were likewise in error (although they must be profusely eulogized, as done by Prof. Briggs—because they opposed alleged error with error). 5. The result of this contest over the universality of our doctrine, as thus developed, shows, if we are to credit our antagonists, that the Universal Church was in decided and grievous error—a portraiture certainly not very complimentary to a Church founded and just perpetuated by inspired men and elders consecrated by apostolic hands. Our position takes a higher view of the doctrinal position of the Church, and gives it that dignity and honor which belong to it; that of our opponents simply belittles and degrades it. The abundant quotations presented by us confirm this statement.
Obs. 13. Since many of our opponents, in order to make an erroneous impression on those unacquainted with Eccles. History, purposely mingle the later Fathers with the earlier (as if they were contemporary), it will be proper to give the Fathers in chronological order, so that the ordinary reader can see for himself when they lived, and form his own judgment respecting their position in history. This decides the question of priority, and also that of the later introduction of opposing influences. We will, therefore, mention those that are expressly named by both ancients and moderns.
1. Pre-Mill. Advocates of the 1st Century
a 1. (1) Andrew, (2) Peter, (3) Philip, (4) Thomas, (5) James, (6) John, (7) Matthew, (8) Aristio, (9) John the Presbyter—these all lived between A.D. 1–100; John, it is supposed—so Mosheim, etc.—died about A.D. 100. (All these are cited by Papias, who, according to Irenĉus, was one of John’s hearers, and intimate with Polycarp. John is also expressly mentioned by Justin. Now this reference to the apostles agrees with the facts that we have proven: (a) that the disciples of Jesus did hold the Jewish views of the Messianic reign in the first part of this century, and (b) that, instead of discarding them, they linked them with the Sec. Advent.) Next (10) Clement of Rome (Phil. 4:3), who existed about A.D. 40–100. (His Chiliasm, in the small remains left, is apparent from three particulars: (a) “preaching the Coming of Christ;” (b) rebuking scoffers at the alleged delay of that Coming, and expressing the hope “that He shall come quickly and not tarry;” (c) and occupying the Chiliastic posture of “every hour expecting the Kingdom of God.” Such sentiments only accord with the then prevailing Millenarian views; if opposed to it, as some too eagerly affirm because no detailed expression of eschatological opinions have reached us, how could he, when Jewish views were all around, thus employ language pre-eminently adapted to confirm Chiliasm, unless in sympathy with it.) (11) Barnabas, about A.D. 40–100. (Whether the Epistle is that of Barnabas who was with Paul, or of some other one, makes no material difference, seeing that all concede him to us, and admit that it was written quite early, and must be indicative of the views then held.) (12) Hermas, from A.D. 40 to 150. (We give this lengthy date to accommodate the dispute respecting the Hermas who is the author of the Pastor. Some who do not receive Chiliasm make him the earlier mentioned Rom. 16:14; others, a later Hermas, who wrote about A.D. 150. All agree that he is a Chiliast, and his location as to time is, probably, decided by our doctrinal preferences.) (13) Ignatius, Bh. of Antioch, died under Trajan, about A.D. 50–115 (some date his death A.D. 107). (His references, in the brief fragments, to “the last times” and the exhortation in those times to “expect Him,” is in correspondence with our doctrine.) (14) Polycarp, Bh. of Smyrna, a disciple of the Apostle John, who lived about A.D. 70–167. (In view of his association with Chiliasts, and, in the few lines from him, locating the reigning of the saints after the Coming of Jesus and the resurrection of the saints, has led Dr. Bennet and others to declare him a Millenarian.) (15) Papias, Bh. of Hierapolis, lived between A.D. 80–163. (His writings come chiefly through an enemy—Eusebius—but all concede him to be a Chiliast, and declare that he was the disciple and pupil of St. John, and the companion of Polycarp.) This is the record of names in favor of Millenarianism,—names that are held in honorable esteem because of their faith and works in the Christ, extending to death.2. Pre-Mill. Advocates of the 2d Cent.
b 1. Now on the other side, not a single name can be presented, which (1) can be quoted as positively against us, or (2) which can be cited as teaching, in any shape or sense, the doctrine of our opponents.[*]
a. (1) Pothinus, a martyr, died aged 99 years (A.D. 177, Mosheim, vol. 1, p. 120), hence A.D. 87–177. (His Chiliasm is evident from the churches of Lyons and Vienne, over which he presided, being Chiliastic, from his associate Irenĉus being his successor, who describes the uniformity of faith, Adv. Hĉres, 50, 1. 10.) (2) Justin Martyr, about A.D. 100–168 (although others, as Shimeall, give A.D. 89–165). (He needs no reference, as we largely quote him. Comp. Semisch’s Art. on him in Herzog’s Real Encyclop.) (3) Melito, Bh. of Sardis, about A.D. 100–170, a few fragments alone preserved. (Shimeall, in his Reply, says, “Jerome and Genadius both affirm that he was a decided Millenarian.”) (4) Hegisippus, between A.D. 130–190. (Neander, Genl. Ch. His., vol. 2, pp. 430, 432, designates him “a church teacher of Jewish origin and strong Jewish prepossessions,” and an advocate of “sensual Chiliasm.”) (5) Tatian, between A.D. 130–190. (He was converted under Justin, and is designated by Neander as “his disciple.”) (6) Irenĉus, a martyr (being, Mosheim, Ch. His., vol. 1, Amer. Ed., note, p. 120, “born and educated in Asia Minor, under Polycarp and Papias, must therefore be), about A.D. 140–202. (We frequently and largely quote from him.) (7) The Churches of Vienne and Lyons, in a letter A.D. 177 (which some attribute to Irenĉus and others to a Lyonese Christian—author unknown) has distinctive traces of Chiliasm in the allusion to a prior or first resurrection. (8) Tertullian, about A.D. 150–220. (We frequently give his views.) (9) Hippolytus, between A.D. 160–240. (He was a disciple of Irenĉus, and—according to Photius—he largely adopted Irenĉus in his work against Heresies, and in his Com. on Dan., fixed the end of the dispensation five centuries after the birth of Jesus.) (10) Apollinaris, Bh. of Hierapolis, between A.D. 150–200. (He is claimed by us, and conceded by e.g. Hagenbach, His. of Doc., Sec. 139.) Nearly every witness is a martyr.3. Pre-Mill. Advocates of the 3d Cent.
b. Now on the other side, not a single writer can be presented, not even a single name can be mentioned of any one cited, who opposed Chiliasm in this century, unless we except Clemens Alexandrinus (see 3); much less of any one who taught the Whitbyan view. Now let the student reflect: here are two centuries (unless we make the exception stated at the close of the 2d), in which positively no direct opposition whatever arises against our doctrine, but it is held by the very men, leading and most eminent, through whom we trace the Church. What must we conclude? (1) That the common faith of the Church was Chiliastic, and (2) that such a generality and unity of belief could only have been introduced—as our argument shows by logical steps—by the founders of the Ch. Church and the Elders appointed by them.
a. (1) Cyprian, about A.D. 200–258. (He greatly admired and imitated Tertullian. We quote him on the nearness of the Advent, the Sabbatism, etc. Shedd, in his His. of Doc., vol. 2, p. 394, says that “Cyprian maintains the Millenarian theory with his usual candor and moderation.”) (2) Commodian, between A.D. 200–270. (Was a decided Millenarian. Comp. e.g. Clarke’s Sac. Lit. Neander, Genl. Ch. His., vol. 2, p. 448—censures him as follows: “The Christian spirit, however, in these admonitions, which otherwise evince so lively a zeal for good morals, is disturbed by a sensuous Jewish element, a gross Chiliasm; as for example, when it is affirmed that the lordly masters of the world should in the Millennium do menial service for the saints.” Neander overlooks how early childlike piety might contemplate Ps. 149:5–9; Isa. 60:6–10: Mic. 7:16, 17, and kindred passages.) (3) Nepos, Bh. of Arsinoe, about A.D. 230–280. (Jerome, Whitby, Shedd, etc., make him a pronounced Chiliast.) (4) Coracion, about A.D. 230–280. (He is always united with Nepos by various writers, comp. Hagenbach’s His. of Doc.) (5) Victorinus, about A.D. 240–303. (He is expressly called a favorer of Nepos and the Chiliasts by Jerome, de Viris Ill., c. 74.) (6) Methodius, Bh. of Olympus, about A.D. 250–311. (Of whom Neander—Genl. Ch. His., vol. 2, p. 496—says, he had “a decided leaning to Chiliasm.” Conceded to us by Whitby, Hagenbach, and others.) (7) Lactantius (although his works were chiefly composed in the next cent., yet being contemporary with Chiliasts so long in this century, we include him), between A.D. 240–330. (We quote from him, although Jerome ridicules his Millenarianism. Prof. Stuart calls him, “a zealous Chiliast.”) Others, whom we strongly incline to regard as Millenarians, owing to their constant association with Chiliasts, etc., we omit, because the remains and the statements that we have are so meagre as to make it impossible to give a decided expression of opinion.
b. In this century we for the first time, unless we except Clemens Alexandrinus, come to opposers of our doctrine. Every writer, from the earliest period down to the present, who has entered the lists against us, has been able only to find these antagonists, and we present them in their chronological order, when they revealed themselves as adversaries. They number four, but three of them were powerful for mischief, and speedily gained adherents (comp. Prop. 76). The first in order is (1) Caius (or Gaius), who is supposed, by Kurtz (Ch. His.), to have written about A.D. 210, or as Shedd (His. Doc.), in the beginning of the 3d cent. (Much that he is alleged to have said comes to us through bitter Anti-Chiliastic sources, and must be correspondingly received with some allowance.) (2) Clemens Alexandrinus, who succeeded Pantĉnus (died A.D. 202, so Kurtz), as preceptor in the Catechetical School of Alexandria, and exerted a powerful influence (on Origen and others) as a teacher from A.D. 193–220. (He became a Christian under Pantĉnus, after having devoted himself to Pagan philosophy, and only during the latter part of his life made the disciples, who so largely moulded the subsequent interpretation of the Church.)2 (3) Origen, about A.D. 185–254. (We shall refer to him under the next Prop.) (4) Dionysius, about A.D. 190–265. (See next Prop.) There is no doubt but others were largely led to accept of Anti-Chiliastic teaching (seeing what an opposition sprung up in the 4th cent.), but these are the champions mentioned as directly hostile to Chiliasm. Now let the student carefully weigh this historical record, and he will see that the Church history indubitably seals our faith as the general, prevailing belief, for the most that can possibly be said respecting the opposition is, that in the closing years of the 2d century men arose who started an antagonism distinctively presented and urged in the 3d cent., and which culminated in the 4th and succeeding centuries. Hence, our Prop. is abundantly confirmed by the doctrinal status of the early Church; indeed, it is—if our line of argument respecting the apostolic belief remaining unchanged concerning the Kingdom is conclusive—the very position that the Church in its introduction must occupy. How illogical and unscriptural, therefore, for men to strive to weaken the testimony of those Fathers, and to apologize in their behalf, by making them ignorant, superstitious, sensual, etc., thus tracing the Church, established by inspired men and their selected successors, though ignorant, superstitious, and sensual believers, until the learned, enlightened, and spiritual Clemens, Caius, Origen, and Dionysius arose and brought light which “the consciousness of the Church” appreciated.
Note. Prof. Shedd (His. Ch. Doc.) endeavors to take from us Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp, on the ground of silence. To this Shimeall in his Reply has well answered, showing the traces of Chiliasm by quoting, and laying stress on their associating familiarly with Chiliasts. Indeed, the express manner in which Irenĉus and Justin speak of the unity of faith includes them, or else, in respect to persons so eminent exception would have been made. Prof. Briggs (N. Y. Evangelist, 1879) is not satisfied with Shedd’s seizure, but also claims, on the same ground, Hermas. But all this does not help the doctrinal status of either Shedd or Briggs. If simple silence, in the briefest, fragmentary writings, is a test of opposition or of Whitbyism, we have yet to learn this rule and the reasons upon which it is supported. In reference to Polycarp, it may be added, that he is so referred to by Irenĉus in a letter to Florinus (Euseb., v. 1, c. 20), who professes to receive the same doctrines held by him, that many class the master and disciple together. Prof. Briggs is unfortunate in his efforts to take adherents from us, such as Cyprian, Apollinaris, Melito, Methodius, Victorinus, and others, because the most unrelenting opponents concede them to us, fully admitting their Chiliastic teaching. But such efforts should not surprise us, when against the uniform testimony of ancients and moderns, as well as the writings open to all, he even attempts to take Justin Martyr from us! A faith must badly need propping when it calls for such desperate and suicidal efforts. Let the reader ponder this fact, that neither Shedd nor Briggs can quote the direct language of any writer of this period, and later, who advocates their modernized ideas of the Millennium. This fact they artfully conceal.
Obs. 14. When surveying the historical ground, which so accurately corresponds with the Scriptural, we are forced to the conclusion that those writers—both friends and foes—who insist upon the great extent of Chiliasm in the Apostolic and Primitive Church are most certainly correct. We, therefore, cordially indorse those who express themselves as Müncher (Ch. His., vol. 2, p. 415), that “it (Chiliasm) was universally received by almost all teachers,” and (pp. 450, 452) refers it, with Justin, to “the whole orthodox community,” summing up with this decided conclusion: “With these observations, the result of criticism is manifest, that in the Catholic Church the doctrine of the 1000 years’ Kingdom was the dominant doctrine, and the rejection of it was regarded as an approach to Gnosticism. That the defenders of Chiliasm were fewer than Justin has represented—as Schroeckh asserts—is a position which cannot be historically maintained.” With this statement every unbiassed, unprejudiced mind must coincide when regarding the historical facts which support it.[*]
Note. It is worthy of notice, that men, who, like Newman, Pusey, etc., make much of tradition, elevating it to a Romish position, are very careful—following thus the Romish Church—to reject the earliest tradition pertaining to the Kingdom. Chiliasm, being so hostile to their exclusive Church-Kingdom view, which forms the foundation of their system, is particularly unwelcome and offensive. This is true of all who are inclined to a mystical. Romish belief of Church authority and salvation. But here is an evident and palpable inconsistency, taking their own doctrinal position for granted, because they forsake the earlier tradition for the later, and deny that to be orthodox which once was promulgated as a test of orthodoxy. This only indicates that for the sake of some system of belief, sincerely held, and filling the mind with prejudice, not only the plainest Scriptures but the most evident historical facts will be ignored or set aside. They even in their ardor for the later tradition pronounce Chiliasm a “heresy,” when it is noteworthy, as Chilling-worth, Lardner, Greswell, Neander, and many others have observed that these very Chiliastic Fathers were the bulwark of the Church against all kinds of error, especially Gnosticism in all its forms, several having specially written against heresies then prevailing.