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NOT NEW, BUT OLD.

*

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"The sentiments we oppose," observes Spalding, "did not generally prevail, especially among the common people, till the present century; even as late as the great earthquake, 1755, many Christians were looking, not for the modern Millennium, but for the second coming of Christ. I have the testimony of elderly Christian people, in several parts of New England, that within their remembrance this doctrine was first advanced, in the places where they lived, and have heard them name the ministers who first preached it in their churches. No doctrines can be more indisputably proved to have been the doctrines of the primitive. church, than those we call Millenarian; and, beyond all dispute, the same were favorite doctrines with the Fathers of New England, with the words of one of whom, writing upon this subject, we shall conclude our observations: "They are not new, but old; they may be new to some men, but I cannot say it is their honor." †

*The eighteenth.

† Spalding's Lectures, p. 254.

CHAPTER X.

CHRISTIANS IN AMERICA-EIGHTEENTH CENTURY.

"For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him."—Heb. 10:37, 38.

PA

ASSING into the eighteenth century, a period marked by the rise and spread of the figurative view of the first resurrection, and by the theory of the post-millennial second coming of Christ, it is known. that New England's Christian writers, to some extent, embraced and advocated the new views. President Jonathan Edwards, who flourished as a preacher and writer between 1722 and 1758, in his "History of Redemption," published, 1774; Joseph Bellamy, D. D., in "Sermons on the Millennium," 1758; Samuel Hopkins, D. D., in "A Treatise on the Millennium," 1793;-these celebrated divines, and others, taught the new Whitbyan views of a temporal millennium, and repudiated the pre-millennial advent, as cherished by the first Christians. Nevertheless, every one of them regarded the millennial kingdom as introduced, not by a soft transition, but by the most terrific outpouring of the judgments of God on the evil world-powers and antichristian organizations and peoples who desolate the earth. Rev. 11:15-18.

First and foremost as a champion of the chiliastic

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view and the doctrine of Christ's personal reign, was Dr. Cotton Mather, who belonged in part to this century, and who, as the author of a score of works on prophecy, constantly gave prominence to the doctrine. of Christ's coming. He lived and died a Chiliast. Tracing the pre-millennial believers throughout the century, we call attention to the strong, earnest testimonies of the Mathers, Prince, Gale, Spalding, and others, and are able to cite Dr. Cotton Mather as recording historically, in 1702, that such conclusions respecting Christ's personal millennial reign, "do now of late years get more ground against the oppositions of the otherwise minded, and find a kinder entertainment among them that search the Scriptures."

Of this class we first notice,

C. MATHER, A. D. 1700.

Cotton Mather, D. D., born, 1663, minister at the North Church, Boston, was a peculiar but remarkable man, the most distinguished and learned clergyman of his day in New England, and the author of no less than three hundred and eighty-two different works, more than a score of which deal with questions of eschatology. A son of Increase Mather, he was eminent as a Chiliast, and we are indebted to him for much of our information respecting the New England pastors, given in his most celebrated work, "Magnalia."

In "The Life of Dr. Mather," written by his son, Samuel Mather, we have given us a summary of the former's prophetical views.† Of the new earth, he thus believed:

"The conflagration described by the oracles of God in strong terms, and which we are warned of by the

* Magnalia, vol. i., book iii., chap. 4.

† Life, etc., 1729, pp. 140-146.

mouth of all the prophets, this conflagration will be at the second coming of the Lord. To make the Petrine conflagration signify no more than the laying of Jeru salem and her daughter in ashes, and to make the new heavens and the new earth signify no more than the church state of the gospel,-these are shameful hallucinations. And as for the new earth, before the arrival of which no man can reasonably expect happy times for the church of God upon earth, it is the greatest absurdity to say that it will take place before the Petrine conflagration; and there is no prospect of arguing to any purpose, with such as can talk so very ridiculously." *

Concerning the Jews, Mather believed as follows:

"Such a conversion of the Israelitish nation, with a return to their ancient seats in Palestine, as many excellent persons in later years (and among the rest himself) have been persuaded of, he now thought inconsistent with the coming of the Lord and the burning of the world at the fall of Antichrist, before which fall nobody imagines that conversion. And indeed, how is it consistent with the deep sleep in which the diluvium ignis (fiery deluge) must, as that of water did, surprise the world? The holy people of the prophecies are found among the Gentiles, the surrogate Israel. The New Testament seems to have done with a carnal Israel; the eleventh chapter to the Romans is greatly misunderstood, where we find all Israel saved by a filling up of the Gentiles, which we mistranslate 'the fullness of the Gentiles.' The prophecies of the Old Testament, that seem to have an aspect on such a nation, are either already accomplished unto that nation in the return from the Chaldæan captivity; or they belong to that holy people whom a succession to

* Life of Mather, p. 141.

C. MATHER-UNPUBLISHED MANUSCRIPTS.

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the piety of the patriarchs will render what our Bible has taught us to call them, the Israel of God. Gal. 6:16. Of what advantage to the kingdom of God can the conversion of the Jewish nation be, any more than the conversion of any other nation, except, we should suppose, to remain upon the Jewish nation after their conversion, something to distinguish them from the rest of the Christian believers? Now to suppose this, would it not be to rebuild a partition wall that our Saviour has demolished and abolished, which a Christian, one would think, would no sooner go to do, than to rebuild the fallen walls of Jericho." *

In another work, Mather describes the last days thus: "For when our Lord shall come, he will find the world almost void of true and lively faith (especially of faith in his coming); and when he shall descend with his heavenly banners and angels, what else will he find, almost, but the whole church, as it were, a dead carcass, miserably putrified with the spirit and manners and endearments of this world?" "They indulge themselves in a vain dream, not to say insane, who think, pray, and hope, contrary to the whole sacred Scripture. and sound reason, that the promised happiness of the church on earth will be before the Lord Jesus shall appear in his kingdom." †

The writer has in his possession a manuscript copy of a strong pre-millennial argument from Mather, in the form of a "Letter," written to Rev. Enoch Noyes, the original being found in the library of the Antiquarian society at Worcester, Mass. There, also, is deposited what was probably intended to be his best prophetical work, now existing in manuscript, and never given to the world. The title is, "Triparadisus: the

* Life of Mather, p. 144.

† From "Student and Preacher."

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