David Brown: The Blessed Hope 4
David Brown’s discussion of flaws in premillennialism continues below.
THE BLESSED HOPE.—IV.
BY REV. DAVID BROWN, D.D.
From The Christian, 1 Dec. 1870.
One more characteristic of the Second Advent will complete what I have to say on this head.
3. In the New Testament the Second Coming of Christ is held forth everywhere as the point of transition from Salvation to Judgment, from Faith to Sight, from Grace to Glory, from Probation to Decision, from the Temporal to the Eternal.
This proposition, I am convinced, has but to be read to command immediate, entire, and general consent; nor would it be doubted, I think, but for the theory with which it conflicts. Can a single passage be named which does not represent the Second Coming of Christ as future to those whom it addresses—whether sinners, to warn them of “the wrath to come,” or saints, whose whole attitude is summed up in “looking for that blessed hope”? Can one passage be named which unmistakeably speaks either of sinners or of saints living on the earth in mortal bodies after Christ’s Coming—the one to be urged to flee to Christ for salvation, the other to be stimulated to live by faith and in the hope of some yet future glory? Every one knows that there is no such passage, but that its whole strain is this:—”Ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven;” “We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord we persuade men;” “Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come;” “It is a righteous thing to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you, and to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven;” “To them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation;” “Who shall give account to Him hat is ready to judge the quick and the dead;” “The day of the Lord will come as a thief;” “Looking for and hastening unto the coming of the day of God” “Abide in Him, that when He shall appear we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming;” “We know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is;” “The crown of righteousness which the Lord shall give me at that day, and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing” “Behold He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see Him;” “Behold I come quickly even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
All true, it will be said; but these and fifty more passages, being addressed to those who live on, this side of the Second Advent could speak of that great event only as future. But the New Testament knows of no other sinners, and no other saints, than those living on this side of the Second Advent, and so has not a word to say either to them or of them. Its whole language of warning or encouragement, of fear or hope, points forward—never once backward.
But let us now suppose that it were otherwise, and that a whole human race will be found to have survived in the flesh and on the earth, the Second Coming of Christ and the world-wide Conflagration—what then? Here we get into a confusion, out of which I, at least, cannot find my way, by the help of all the books that have been written to expound it. This mortal race have, it seems, to be converted and brought to Christ in the ordinary way—that is, after two such events as the Lord Jesus descending from heaven in the glory of His Father and of the holy angels, and their coming through a blazing world. Then, they either see—or do not see—the Lord descend. “Behold, He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see Him,” we are told. But somehow it seems to be thought that this only means every eye in Christendom—or rather European Christendom—and that the vast human race outside of that pale will be totally ignorant of the fact, and require to be informed of it by preachers sent to them. Well, let us suppose even that. But are the preachers to make use of the New Testament as their book of instruction, warning, encouragement, direction? Will it do for that purpose? It may tell them of His first coming to “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself;” but will it tell them that “to them that look for Him He will appear the second time unto salvation”? It will not and cannot. Will it tell any who seem disposed to reject their message of that “day of the Lord which is to come as a thief in the night”? It will not and cannot. Will it cheer believers with the assurance that “when He shall appear they shall be like Him, for they shall see Him as He is?” It will not and cannot. ‘What is to become of us?’ will believers then ask, but they will oak in vain. ‘Are we to undergo a resurrection, either individually or collectively, to eternal and heavenly glory?’ On that the New Testament will give them no light; for every passage that speaks of the resurrection of the saints refers, according to this theory, to premillennial saints, and will have been exhausted upon them. ‘Or are we individually to disappear, we know not whither, but to be as a race destined to populate the earth in the ordinary way for ever and ever in the flesh—”continuing (as one of the most esteemed writers on this subject expresses it) a seed to serve God in successive generations of the eternal state!”  Surely the force of a theory can no further go in the direction of all that is harsh—might I add without offence, revolting.
But there are other incongruities that meet us as we try to find footing on this theory of the millennial reign. Those who live during the thousand years seem to be in a state which is neither faith nor sight, but such a mixture of both as the New Testament knows nothing whatever of. Nay, its whole strain and phraseology so contrast the period of faith and that of sight, the period of salvation and that of judgment, the period of grace and that of glory, that after the coming of Christ is past—which in the New Testament separates them—one sees not how a race preached to after that event can adjust their own position to almost any part of it. Baptism—the gate of visible entrance to the Church now—is at an end; for in the very institution of it our Lord says, “Lo, I am with you (in the discharge of all parts of the ministerial commission) oven unto the end of the world”—which all parties understand to mean only until His Second Coming. The Lord’s Supper is at an end; for “as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup ye do show the Lord’s death till He come”— which shows that its observance was contemplated as exclusively on this side of the Advent. I mention these things, however, only as exemplifications of the entire New Testament point of view; and I close what I have to state upon this feature of the case by saying, that as I read the New Testament, it not only never contemplates a race of men in flesh and blood on the other side of the Second Advent, and makes no provision for such, but in its deepest features and most current phraseology is unsuited to the use of such a race.
In my next paper I will inquire into the scriptural view of the millennial state.
Notes and References
1. Mr. Bickerstith.