WATCHERS FOR THE RETURN
W. E. WOODHAMS DENHAM, D.D.
This same Jesus shall so come. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, blessing God(Luke 24: 52).
The immediate successors of the Apostles gave unerring testimony to this glorious truth, among whom were the following:- Papias of Hierapolis; Phrygia; Hermas; Polycarp; Clement; Ignatius; Justin; Irencus; Tertullian; Lactantius; Justin Martyr; Cyprian; Hippolytus; Apollinarius; Methodius; Nepos; and Melito - whose works have come down to us. There was soon to be a departure from the pure faith in Origen (A.D. 185-253), who was unsafe as a teacher, and, although a man of brilliant talents, unsound as a theologian. "He taught that magic was a true and lawful science and that the Scriptures in their literal sense were worthless."
During the Middle Ages the doctrine was obscured by a corrupt and worldly Church, although the flame of hope was kept alight by the Waldenses and Paulicians. They held the imminency of our Lord’s Return as the primitive Church. At the Reformation the doctrine was revived. Calvin wrote: "Moreover, it must be held as a first principle that, ever since the appearing of Christ, there is nothing left to the faithful, but with wakeful minds to be always ready, intent on His Second Advent." Latimer: "I believe the Lord may come in my day, old as I am." Knox: "We know that He shall return, and that with expedition." Luther: "I ardently hope that amidst these internal dissensions on earth, Jesus Christ will hasten the day of His Coming." Melanethon held the same views.
In the seventeenth century we find such men as Mede, Twiss, Usher, Milton, Taylor, Rutherford, Bunyan, Matthew Henry, holding the same views. In the eighteenth century Sir Isaac Newton, Bengel, Doddridge, Watts, Hall, Fletcher, Toplady, Cowper, Coke and Wesley, who wrote, "Oh, do not set Him a time; expect Him every hour. Now He is nigh, even at the door." George Whitefield, "Let that cry ‘behold the bridegroom cometh’ be continually sounding in your ears, and begin now to live as though you were assured this night you were to go forth to meet Him." He wrote the hymn, "Lo, He comes with clouds descending."
Coming to our own times, among the scholars and spiritual and intellectual giants of Evangelicalism, the following were believers and teachers of the Second Advent :- Baumgarten, Halm, Delitzsch, Hofrnan, Oehler, Kurtz, Auberlen, Ebliarb, Christlieb, Luthardt, Van Osterzee, Godet, Gaussen, Christinini, Volck, Kock, Chalmers, Irving, Begg, Wood, Faussett, Elliott, Alford, Ellicott, Tregelles, Maitlands, Bonar, Spurgeon - and hosts of others down to the testimony of those who proclaim the glorious truth to multitudes all over the world.
Not only is there this volume of personal witness, but the Confessions and Creeds are confirmatory of all that the Scriptures declare on this important theme. The Westminster Confession of Faith affirms it in chapter xxxiii. see. 13. The Savoy Confession of Faith is the same. The Baptist Confession of 1660, and the Book of Common Prayer of the National Church is in harmony with the clear teaching of the Bible
-The Morning Star.
FRED H. LILLARD
Mosheim, with the weight of scholarship, states:- "The prevailing opinion that Christ was to come and reign a thousand years among men before the final dissolution of the world, had met with no opposition previous to the time of Origen." Vol. 1. p. 89.
Dean Alford says:- "Those who lived next to the apostles, and the whole church for three hundred years, understood them [the thousand years] in the plain literal sense ; and it is a strange sight in these days to see expositors who are among the first in reverence of antiquity, complacently casting aside the most cogent instance of unanimity which primitive antiquity presents. As regards the text itself,Rev. 20: 5, no legitimate treatment of it will extort what is known as the spiritual interpretation now in fashion. If, in a passage where two resurrections are mentioned, where certain souls lived at the first, and the rest of the dead lived not until the end of a specified period after that first, if in such a passage, the first resurrection, may be understood to mean spiritual rising with Christ, while the second means literal rising from the grave, then there is an end of all significance of language and Scripture is wiped out as a definite testimony to anything. If the first resurrection is spiritual, then so is the second."
Multitudes of authentic authorities can be quoted to support the assertion of Gibbon that "the ancient and popular doctrine of the Millennium was carefully inculcated by a succession of fathers from Justin Martyr and Ireneus, who conversed with the immediate disciples of the apostles. Down to the beginning of the fourth century, the belief was universal and undisputed."
Tregelles, the dean of reverent collators and textual critics, in translatingDan. 12: 2, follows the unanimity of Jewish commentators - with which agrees Jamieson, Fausset and Brown - in distinguishing between the first and second resurrections. "And many from among the sleepers of the dust of the earth shall awake, these [the former] shall be unto everlasting life ; but those [the latter, who do not arise at the first] shall be unto shame."
- The American Baptist.