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The Thousand Years of Christ His Visible Reign Upon Earth, Is Against Scripture (2) - Robert Baillie

In this second part we continue with Robert Baillie's Dissuasive and his refutation of the purported scriptural arguments offered in defence of Millenarianism.

Here Baillie deals with Revelation 20 itself together with thirteen other scriptural proofs offered by Burroughs in his Sermons on Hosea together with those set out in A Glimpse of Sion's Glory (1641), which he attributes to Thomas Goodwin (which would seem to be confirmed when comparing the Glimpse with Goodwin's own Exposition of Revelation).

Editor’s Note: The original work has been edited by the writer and it is hoped that such revisions have not detracted from the intent or meaning.

Revelation 20

For the opposite tenet divers Scriptures are brought; above all, Rev. 20:4, 5, 6:

And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years; but the rest of the dead lived not again till the thousand years were finished; this is the first resurrection.

Hence they do infer Christ's personal reign upon earth for a thousand years; also the resurrection of the martyrs, and of some others a thousand years before the general resurrection: divers such conclusions do they draw from this place.

We Answer,

First, that the resurrection here is mentioned only occasionally; also this place, as the most of this Book, is mystical and allegorical; besides, it is without all controversy, the words cited are among the most obscure and difficult places of the whole Scripture; the most of the places alleged in the former arguments did speak of the resurrection purposely and at large; also in proper terms, without any tropes or figures, and were all clear without obscurity; it is not reasonable to bring an argument from one place where a point is handled only by the way and that in mystical and exceeding obscure terms, against a multitude of places wherein the matter is handled of purpose largely and clearly.

Secondly, they who from this place reason against the common tenet, do differ all of them among themselves in sundry material conclusions, the old Chiliasts from the late, and the late one from another Alstedius, Mede, Archer, Goodwin, Burroughs, Matton; every one of them have their proper conceits wherein they differ from the rest, as will be found by any who compare their writings.

Thirdly, in all this Chapter there is not one syllable to prove Christ's being upon the earth, but that one word of the Saints reigning with Christ. Suppose the text had expressed that they who did reign with Christ, had been upon earth themselves; this would not prove that Christ (because they are said to reign with him) was upon earth with them; for Rom. 8:17. If children, then joint-heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with him that we may be also glorified together. There is here in one verse three parallel phrases with that in hand, heirs with Christ, suffering with Christ, glorified with Christ; and a fourth, Ephes. 1.3. Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ; will it hence follow that Christ's human nature was then upon earth with them who suffered with him, were heirs with him, were blessed in him in heavenly places with all spiritual graces, and were to be glorified with him? if none of these four phrases imply a personal presence of Christ upon earth with men, much less will the place controverted do it; for they speak expressly of men living upon the earth, but it speaks as expressly of the souls of men that were in the heaven; the same that are mentioned, Rev. 6:9. I saw under the Altar the souls of them that were slain for the Word of God. This place then is so far from proving Christ's personal presence upon earth, that it imports the contrary, both because they that are said to reign with him, were not upon the earth, but under the Altar in heaven; and also because in vers. 11 Christ's throne whereupon he judges the quick and the dead, is mentioned after the reign of these thousand years. Now we have proved from many Scriptures that Christ remains in the heavens till he come down in the last day to sit upon that throne.

Fourthly, we deny that there is any thing in this place which imports a bodily resurrection. They can produce no scripture where the first resurrection is ever applied to the body; there be sundry places to prove a spiritual resurrection of the soul, from the death and grave of sin, of errors and corruptions, before the last resurrection of the body, Col. 2:12. You are risen with him through faith: also Col 3:1 If then ye be risen with Christ &c. But a first resurrection of the body no scripture intimates; for so there should be not only a first and second, but a third resurrection, as they tell us of a first, second, and third coming of Christ to the earth. Further, the resurrection here spoken of is attributed to the souls of them that were beheaded; these are not capable of a bodily resurrection, in propriety of speech; and if to these souls, men at their own pleasure without any warrant from scripture, will ascribe a body, they fall into a great inconvenience: for their love to this imagined first resurrection of the body, they overthrow both the heaven and the hell which hitherto have been believed; and make no scruple to create a new heaven and a new hell of their own invention, to the dangerous scandal of all Christians.

Master Archer seeing well the absurdity to bring a soul from heaven back again to an earthly condition, tells us plainly that no soul at all went ever to that which we call heaven; that the soul of Christ at his death, and of the good thief went only to an elementary paradise, a place below the moon, in the region of the air, or at highest in the element of the fire; that Enoch and Elias are gone no higher; that no soul of any of the Saints goes to the third heavens where Christ is, unto the last day. As for hell, he tells us that all Christians but the Independent his followers, have been in an error about it; he teaches that the hell where the wicked now goes, is not that fire prepared for the Devil and his angels, whether at the Last Judgement they shall be sent; but only a place of prison in the low region of the air, or in some part of the sea, where the souls of the wicked are kept till the Day of Judgement; but at the Day of Judgement, he tells us of a second hell, very large, and far higher then the present heaven of the Saints, the whole body of the four elements, all the heavens of the planets and fixed stars, and what ever else is below the third heavens the habitation of God; he turns it all into the first Chaos, and makes all that confused body without any distinction, to be hell. In all this, the man is so confident, as if there were nothing in these strange novelties to be called in question.

Fifthly, we deny that in this place there is one syllable for any earthly Kingdom. They shall reign with Christ, therefore they shall reign with him upon earth: this is an addition to the text. For, suppose the words did import a reigning upon earth, yet this would not infer an earthly reign, for the Kingdom of Christ is spiritual; like his Priesthood, and these two are here conjoined, ver. 6. They shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him. Christians on earth are priests, but not to offer bodily sacrifice; and while they are upon earth they are kings, but not to rule men's outward estates: for if so, then there should be all these thousand years many more kings than subjects. Master Archer and Goodwin tells us confidently without any scruple, that not the martyrs alone, and some few privileged Saints, but that all the godly without any exception, shall rise and be kings to rule and judge the Saints, who shall be born in the thousand years, suppose it should be no disparagement for all these who then shall be born, to be excluded, while they live from all places of authority and power: yet would it not be some piece of disorder to have more kings to command than subjects to obey, for I suppose that the godly of all by-gone ages arising together will be many more then the Saints in any one age of these thousand years.

Sixthly, we deny that a thousand years in any propriety of speech, can be applied to Christ's personal reign; for if we speak of his reign either in his nature or person, it is eternal, and not to be measured by any years or time; and if we speak of his regal office as Mediator, it must be much longer than a thousand years; for although we should cut off from his Monarchy all the years that are past since his birth to this day, which were much against the current of Scripture, since all this while he has been sitting upon the Throne of his father David, and ruling his Church as King and Monarch thereof; yet it were uncomely to confine the time of his reign to come to a thousand years; this were too small an endurance for his Monarchy. Many human Principalities, sundry States and Empires which have been and this day are in the world, might contend for a longer continuance, for this cause it seems to be that Master Archer the most resolute Doctor in this question that I have met with, makes the thousand years we debate of, to be only the evening of Christ's personal reign; but to the morning thereof wherein at leisure all the processes of the Last Judgement are gone through, he ascribes a great many more years, readily another thousand; and why not two or three or more thousands? It is good to be wise to sobriety; arrogant curiosity and presumptuous wantonness of wit is detestable, though in the best men.

Seventhly, the place makes Satan to be bound up only from seducing the nations, that he should not be able as before the coming of Christ he was, to mislead the nations of the whole world to idolatry, a free door then being opened to the Gospel in every nation, for their conversion to the truth; but our new Doctors extend the place much further; they will have Satan bound up for a 1000 years, not only from seducing nations to idolatry, but from tempting any person to any sin; this is contrary to these Scriptures which makes every Saint in all ages, to fight not only with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers: which makes Satan always to go about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour; and that so boldly that in the very presence of Christ, he does seek to winnow the best of his disciples: yea, the place in hand gives to Satan in the very time of the thousand years, so great power upon multitudes of men who never were sanctified, but ever his vassals, led by him at his will, that he makes them compass the Holy City, and the camp of the Saints to fight against God, till fire from heaven did destroy them.

Daniel 12

Apart from Revelation 20 this is the chief scripture brought in defence of their tenet. Master Burroughs in his treatise upon Hosea 1 builds much upon Daniel Chapter 12, as if it did prove the resurrection of some of the godly to an earthly glory a thousand years before the Last Judgement; he borrows from Goodwin's Glimpse of Sion four arguments, word by word; there is a fifth also in the Glimpse, which the most of that party do much insist upon.

First Argument from Daniel 12 - Verse 2

The first is taken from the second verse of that 12h Chapter. At the last Judgement say they, all shall rise; but, in that place, many do rise, not all.

We answer,

We prove that the prophet speaks here of the last resurrection, by two grounds which our Brethren will not deny.

First, the resurrection unto life eternal is only at the Last Day; but the resurrection whereof Daniel speaks, is expressly to life eternal; not that prior resurrection which our Brethren aim at, to a temporal kingdom of a thousand years.

Secondly, the resurrection of the wicked to eternal shame, is only at the last day; for according to our Brethren's doctrine, the wicked have no part of the first resurrection, and rise not till the thousand years be ended; now, the resurrection whereof Daniel speakes in verse 2. is expressly of the wicked to shame and death, as well as of the godly to life and glory.

As for their Argument from the word "Many", it proves not that all did not rise, but only that these that did rise, were many and a great multitude. Therefore Deodate translates the words well according to the sense of the original, The multitude of these that sleep in the dust. The collectives, omnes & multi, are sometimes synonyms, according to the matter in hand; as omnes must sometimes be taken for multi; so multi must sometimes be taken for omnes.

Second Argument from Daniel 12 - Verse 3

Secondly, they reason from the third verse, that in the last resurrection the bodies of all the Saints shall shine as the Sun: But, in the resurrection whereof the prophet speaks, no body shines as the Sun, but some as the stars, others as the firmament.

We Answer:

The preceding verse evinces unanswerably, that the prophet here is speaking of the last resurrection to life everlasting; as for the argument, it does not follow that they who here are said to have so much glory, may not elsewhere be said to have more; for that which here the prophet intends to express is not the absolute but the comparative glory of the Saints; however the least disciple should shine as the Sun, yet if ye compare his glory with the greater light of an other, you may express the glory of both in the similitude of lightsome bodies less glorious than the Sun, if so these bodies differ one from another in degrees of glory; for all that the prophet here aims at, is only this difference of glory.

Christ in the Gospel makes all the Saints to shine as the Sun, yet the Apostle in 1 Cor. 15:45 distinguishing the different degrees of glory that is among the Saints, scruples not to express the glory of the most of them in the similitude of bodies less glorious than the sun; There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, another of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory; so a∣so is the resurrection from the dead. Further, will our Brethren affirm that the bodies of the Saints on Earth during the time of those thousand years, shall be so far changed, as to shine like the stars, and yet to eat, drink, and sleep? so much glory can hardly stand with so much baseness.

Third Argument from Daniel 12 -Verse 4

Thirdly, they reason from the fourth verse; the last resurrection is no mystery nor any secret to be sealed up to the end of the vision. But, the resurrection here spoken of, is such a mystery as must be sealed up.

We Answer,

First, according to Mr. Burroughs's express profession in the same place, the argument may be inverted; for the first resurrection to the thousand years of glory, he makes a doctrine very well known and much insisted upon by all the prophets before Christ; but the general resurrection and life everlasting he makes to be a hid and secret doctrine which the prophets in the Old Testament do scarcely touch.

Secondly, life eternal and death eternal, heaven and hell, are to this day very great mysteries to the most of the world; and Scriptures concerning these, are hid and closed above any other.

Thirdly, the words speak not only of the resurrection, but of the whole preceding prophecy, especially of the people's deliverance by Michael the Prince from the oppression of Antiochus, which was not much to be understood till it came to pass.

Fourth Argument from Daniel 12 - Verse 13

Fourthly, they reason from the last verse; life eternal is common to all the Saints, and no singular priviledge of Daniel's. But, the resurrection here spoken of, is promised to Daniel as a singular favour.

We Answer,

Mr. Archer who is deepest learned in these mysteries, affirms that all the godly as well as Daniel, had their part in the first resurrection; and indeed, if once you begin to distinguish, it will be hard to find satisfactory grounds to give this glory to Daniel, and to deny it to David, to Moses, to Abraham and many others.

Secondly, We may well say that life eternal albeit common to all the Saints, yet is so divine, so rare and singular a mercy to every one that gets it, that it may be propounded to Daniel and every Saint as a sovereign comfort against the bitterness of all their troubles.

Thirdly, The place according to the best interpreters, speaks nothing at all of any resurrection; only it imports a promise to Daniel to live in peace all his days, that notwithstanding all the troubles of the Church which he saw in these visions (as Diodate translates it) yet so far as concerned himself he should go on to his end, and rest, stand, or continue in his present honours and prosperous condition to his death and end of his days.

Fifth Argument from Daniel 12 -Verses 11&12

Fifthly, from the 11th and 12th verse they conclude peremptorily the beginning of these thousand years to be in the year 1650; or at furthest 1695 for they make the 1290 days to be so many years, and the 1335 days to be 45 years more; these they make to begin in the reign of Julian the Apostate who after Constantine's death, did re-establish Paganism in the Empire, and encouraged the Jews to build the Temple of Jerusalem, till God hindered them by an earthquake which did cast up the foundation-stones of the old Temple. Beginning their account at this time, the end of their first number falls on the year 1650, and of the second on the year 1695. This is Archer's calculation, which Thomas Godwin and others follow precisely.

We Answer,

We marvel at the rashness of men who by the example of many before them, will not learn greater wisdom; if they needs must determine peremptorily of times and seasons, that they do not extend their period beyond their own days, that they be not, as some before them, laughed at before their own eyes, when they have lived to set the vanity of their too confident predictions; however, in this calculation, there seems nothing to be sound; neither the beginning, nor the middle, nor the later end. If the thousand years begin in the 1650 year, if Christ then come in person to the earth, what will keep him from perfecting his Kingdom to the 1695 year thereafter; will he spend whole 45 years in wars against the nations, before they be subdued to his sceptre?

Secondly, what warrant have they to begin their account with the Empire of Julian? Did he set up any abomination at all in the Church of God? He opened again in the territories of his Empire the Pagan Temples, which by Constantine had been closed; by counsel and example he allured men to idolatry; but he troubled not any Christians in the liberty of their profession, he did not set up idolatry in any Christian congregation; The Lord did quickly kill him and so prevented his intended persecution of Christians. But although it could be verified of him, that he did set up the abomination of desolation in the Temple; yet how made he the daily sacrifice to cease? he was so far from this, that to the uttermost of his power he laboured to set up again the daily sacrifice which some hundred years ceased. Scripture speaks only of two times wherein the solemn sacrifice was made to cease, and the abomination of desolation was set up. First, by Antiochus Epiphanes, and then by Titus Vespasian; but of Julian his making the sacrifice to cease, Scripture speaks nothing. That story of the earthquake whereupon Mr Archer builds, albeit reported by some of the Ancients, seems to be a great fable; Certainly, the application of it to Christ's prophesy of the Gospel, A stone shall not be left upon a stone, as if this had not been fulfilled till that earthquake had cast up all the foundation-stones of the ancient Temple, is very temerarious. As the beginning and end of their calculation is groundless, so also the midst and the whole body of it is frivolous. What necessity is there to expound days by years especially in that place, where years are divided into days? In the very preceding words, verse 7 the days here mentioned, are expressed by a time, times, and half a time: can they show in any place of Scripture that ever a day is put for a year, where years, and days are conjoined, and a few years are extended in the enumeration of all the days that are in these years?

The words of the prophet Daniel are clear, if they be taken as they lie; but if they be strained to a mystical sense, they become inexplicable. The Lord is comforting the prophet and the whole Church by the short endurance of the desolations which Antiochus was to bring upon them; for from the time of his scattering of the Jews, and discharging of the solemn sacrifice, unto the breaking of the yoke of his tyranny, it should be but three years and a half with a few more days: yea, unto that happy time when the plague of God should fall on his person, it should be but 45 days more. The History of Josephus and the Maccabees, makes the event accord with this prediction. Why then should we strain the text any further to a new sense which neither agrees with the event nor with the words?

Psalm 102:16

Another place alleged by Mr. Burroughs, is Psalm 102.16. When the Lord shall build up Sion, he shall appear in his glory; As if this did import both the building again of Sion and also Christ's glorious appearance upon the earth.

We Answer,

This place speaks of no such things; the ordinary exposition of late and old interpreters, agrees so well with the contexture of the whole Psalm, that to drive it farther, were needless, the place speaks of the Babylonish Captivity, and of the earnest desire of the godly at that time to have Jerusalem and Sion then in the dust, again restored. This desire of the Saints is granted, and a promise is made to them that Sion should be again builded, and that the Lord by this act of mercy should get great glory. But for any third building of Sion after the days of the Messiah, or for any personal reign of Christ upon earth, no syllable in this place does appear.

Romans 11:12

His next place is Rom. 11:12 If the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them be the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness?

We Answer,

There is nothing here for the point in hand: we grant willingly that the nation of the Jews shall be converted to the faith of Christ; and that the fullness of the Gentiles is to come in with them to the Christian Church; also that the quickening of that dead and rotten member, shall be a matter of exceeding joy to the whole Church. But that the converted Jews shall return to Canaan to build Jerusalem; that Christ shall come from the heaven to reign among them for a thousand years, there is no such thing intimated in the scriptures in hand.

Acts 3:20,21

Master Burroughs's fifth place, is Acts 3.20, 21. He shall send Jesus Christ whom the heavens must receive unto the times of the restitution of all things.

We Answer,

That these words are to be understood of Christ's coming to the Last Judgement, and not of his coming to any temporal kingdom on earth, we did before prove.

2 Peter 3:10,13

His sixth place, is 2 Pet. 3:10,13.But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in the which the heavens shall passe away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth also and the works that are therein, shall be burnt up: nevertheless we according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.

We Answer,

First it would be remembred that our Brethren do add among many other things, this also unto the tenet of the old Chiliasts, that before their golden age the earth and all things therein must be destroyed; that the earth wherein they are to reign, that the beas