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Jurieu and the Kingdom of Christ and the Church

November 25, 2011

In his third category of Arguments to support the idea of a future thousand year reign, Pierre Jurieu considered the prophecies of a glorious kingdom that remain to be fulfilled; they have not been fulfilled to the Jews, nor to the Church, any time in the past, and  so must refer to some future time.

Jurieu did not deny that these prophecies involve something of a spiritual nature; he believed they describe the thousand year reign, when the promises made to the Jews will come to pass.

However, the thousand year reign corresponds to the binding of Satan, and his confinement to a bottomless pit. This is a spiritual concept, and of course it is not possible to confine a spirit in a literal pit. John said the saints who were beheaded reign with Christ, which also should be understood spiritually. The beheading that John refers to is a metaphor; Paul said, “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:” [Colossians 3:4-6] The saints who reign with Christ are not disobedient, but are led by the Spirit of God; “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” [Romans 8:14]

Many of the earth and environmental changes that Isaiah and Ezekiel and other prophets describe, when the wilderness blossoms like a rose, and rivers flow from Jerusalem, mountains drop wine, hills flow with milk, the lion eats straw like the ox, etc., all are best  understood in a spiritual way. The mountains are symbols of the promises of God; Jesus referred to rivers of living water, and he identified them with the holy Spirit. [John 7:38] The prophecies about rivers flowing from Jerusalem and from the temple are fulfilled by the Gospel going forth into the world from the Church.

Hebrews 11:16 indicates that the land promised to the patriarchs in the Old Testament is a shadow and a type of a “better country,” one which is heavenly or spiritual in nature. I suggests it represents the spiritual things promised to the saints. Jerusalem and mount Zion were raised up, figuratively, when Jesus ascended to heaven, and since then, the prophecies referring to Jerusalem apply to the heavenly city, the Church, rather than the earthly city.

Below is Jurieu’s third spring of arguments for a millennial kingdom. From: Pierre Jurieu. The accomplishment of the Scripture prophecies, or, The approaching deliverance of the church. London. 1687. pp. 212-321.

CHAP. XVIII.

The third Head of Arguments for the future Kingdom of Christ and the Church. So many Prophecies which concern the compleat Victories of Jesus Christ, the Holiness of the Church, and its perfect prosperity, have never yet been accomplisht.

My third Head of Arguments, to follow, that we are to expect a Kingdom of Christ upon Earth, are the Prophecies not yet accomplisht, and which cannot be fulfilled, unless such a Kingdom do come. This would be a large subject, and yield matter for several books, and those good ones too, whereby the World might be informed of several things they know not. But this Book, is larger already then I would have had it. I shall therefore content my self briefly to show, and endeavour to perswade, that there must be a Time which we have not yet seen, for the fulfilling of several Prophecies, which were delivered on purpose to describe the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus, and give us the Characters of it. The most ancient and most remarkable of all the sacred Oracles is that, which God himself pronounc’t to Adam, The feed of the Woman shall bruise the Serpents head; and the shall bruise his heel. ‘Tis agreed that the Head signifies Empire and Power. So that Prophecy imports the victory of Christ and his Children over the Kingdom of the Devil, and that they shall destroy it. Now this is a promise not yet accomplisht in the History of the the Church; we have no age wherein it could be said, that the Kingdom of Christ prevailed over that of Satan. It is an observation we cannot mind too much, that we must carefully distinguish here between Life, and Kingdom or Reign. Life signifies existence; but Reign imports actual Domination and Rule, Jesus Christ, ‘is true, in every age hath had a party subsisting in the World, and in that respect; hath been victorious over all the attempts of Satan, whose end was to destroy him: and ’tis some kind of victory over an Adversary, to prevent him from attaining his end; but this can never be called a full and compleat Victory. It is necessary to that, to be the predominant prevailing Party, whereas that of Jesus Christ hath alway been opprest, either by Paganism, or by Mahometanism, or by Antichristianism. Such a time therefore is to be expected, wherein the party of true Christianity shall prevail over and utterly extinguish the Empire and Kingdom of the Devil.

The second Prophecy is that which was given to Abraham, In thy seed shall all the Nations of the Earth be blest: which signifies, that the righteousness of Christ, shall spread it self over all Nations; to the same sense is that other Prophecy, Shiloh shall Christ, come, and to him shall the gathering of the People belong. ‘Tis true, almost all Nations have been invited to the knowledge of God: many have been actually brought to it; but many have not yet been called, much less converted. And among those Nations,which have been converted, the Bad hath so far exceeded the good, that it cannot be truly said, that the multitude of the People belong to Christ. Nevertheless, I am confident that shall come to pass, and that the number of the  Good shall one day as much exceed that of the wicked, as now the number of the wicked doth that of the Good.

But that these Oracles are not accomplisht, we shall be fully convinc’t, if we proceed to those Prophets who were sent on purpose to Characterize the Kingdom of J. Christ. Among whom the Prophet Isaiah shines as a Sun among the Stars. It would be necessary to make a just Commentary on all his Book; to make it plain, that what he fore-told is not come to pass: For most of his Prophecies have for their object: this glorious and blessed state of the Church, in its last Period. But to be as short as may be, I shall reduce all that he hath said of the Church under the Messiah, to these two Articles. 1. Its righteousness and Holiness. 2. Its Peace and Prosperity; and shall make it evident, that neither the one or the other have been fulfilled to that degree which they ought to be fulfilled, according to those Prophecies.

For the Righteousness and Holiness of the Church, the Prophet Isaiah faith, That the woolf shall feed with the Lamb, & the Leopard lie down with the Kid; the Calf‘, and the young Lion, and the Fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The Cow and the Bear shall feed , their young ones shall lie down together; and the Lion shall eat straw like the Ox; And the sucking Child shall play on the hole of the Asp; and the weaned Child shall put his hand on the Cockatrice den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy Mountain: for the Earth shall be full of the Knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the Sea. Behold the most ravishing and fair description of it that can be seen. It amounts to a return of the State of Innocence. ‘Tis plain the Prophet borrowed his Characters of it from that Happy state of the first Man, wherein he was filled with the knowledge of God and his Righteousness. And during which the brute Animals were innocent, kind, and gentle, as himself. ‘Tis also undeniable, that this Prophecy respects the days of the Messiah.

But I would fain be told sincerely, whether this oracle hath ever yet been accomplisht? In what time, in what place, in what age or generation of the world? It will doubtless be answered, that it was in the Apostolical Church, and in the time of the Apostles; for only in that new-born Church, could it be said, that there was none to hurt or destroy, that Wolves, and Lions, and Bears became Lambs. Yet even in that new-born Church Wolves and Lions might be found. But it cannot be of that Church which the Prophet there speaks, because he speaks of a time, when the  knowledge of the Lord should fill the Earth, which then it did not. For this great Holiness, this admirable union is represented to us only in the Church of Jerusalem. Moreover, we see not that this lasted for any considerable time. There is a great deal of difference between the Church, in the first Chapters of the Acts, when Believers had but one heart and one soul and the Church we read of towards the end, of the same Book, where were false zealots who opposed St. Paul for having preached to the Gentiles. Besides, Isaiah speaks not of the Holiness of some particular persons, but of a general Sanctification. That a time shall come, when Righteousness shall universally cover the societies of men, as the waters cover the bottom of the Sea. I know well enough that the Prophets do oftentimes make use of the figure called Hyperbole. But in truth, the Hyperbole here would be forc’t, and carried too far, and would not be intelligible, if the Holy Spirit should so describe the Church of the first Ages, where were some Incestuous, some Adulterers, some Heretiques, Schismaticks, Apostates, and all sorts of crimes. We need but read the writings of St. Cyprian, to be assured, that in the good days of the Church, there were already things very horrid and abominable. Every one may think as he shall please, but for my own part, I expect from this prophecy, such an age wherein Holiness shall as much exceed vice, as vice now doth exceed and overtop vertue.

We read also in the fame Prophet, that the Spirit shall be poured from on high upon us, and the wilderness be a fruitfull field, and. the fruitfull field a forrest. Judgement shall dwell in the wilderness, and Righteousness remain in the fruitfull field. The work of Righteousness shall be Peace, and the effect of Righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever. An high way shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of Holiness, the unclean shall not past over it, but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. No Lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there. All thy Children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the Peace of thy Children, thou shalt be establisht in Righteousness. This is the Covenant I will make with you, saith the Lord, my Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which 1 have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, or out of the mouth of thy seed, nor of thy seeds seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever. And they shall  call them, the Holy People, the redeemed of the Lord; and thou shalt be called, sought out, a City not forsaken. Add to this the Prophecy of Jeremy This shall be the Covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; I will put my Law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my People, and they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his Brother, saying, know the Lord, for they shall all know me from the least of them unto the greatest, saith, the Lord. These Prophecies speak four things; 1. They paint out the State of the Church under the Messiah. 2. They describe it by a more then ordinary Holiness, that shall every where be poured out. 3. By a persevering Holiness to which no return to vice, or no apostacy shall succeed, For ’tis said, the Spirit of God shall not depart from them, or their seed, or seeds seed. 4. Lastly, This is a Holiness, whereof the Jewish Nation is to have the chiefest part. For ’tis to that  People, and concerning them that God speaks.

Now I demand, whether any one can show me that age of the Church, wherein such an Holiness, which answers the Idea given us by these Prophecies, can be found, where we shall meet with a persevering Holiness? If the Church for any time hath been pure, that hath not continued from one Generation to another; yea, let such an Age be named, wherein the Israelitish Nation did partake of this Evangelical Holiness. Hath not that People been always obstinate, unbelieving, Enemies to Christ, without faith in respect of men,as well as in reference to God? we must than open our eyes, and confess, that there shall be a Kingdom of Holiness, such a one as shall all Nations, and not subject to those unhappy Revolutions, that by corruption have changed the face of the Church from year to year. Thus far Righteousness and Holiness.

Next we are to consider the Peace and Prosperity of the Church, whereof the Prophets speak more largely, and in an higher strain, because under the Images of Temporal Prosperity, they set forth that Spiritual Prosperity, which we have spoken of under the names of Holiness and Righteousness. Concerning Peace, the Prophet Isaiah saith, that they shall beat their swords into Plough-shares, and their Spears into pruning-hooks: that Nation shall not rise against Nation; neither shall they learn war any more. Concerning its future Prosperity, he saith, The eyes of the blind shall he opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstop’t, the lame shall leap as the hart, and the tongue of the Dumb shall sing for joy. I will open Rivers in high places, and Mountains in the midst of Valleys. I will make the wilderness a Pool of water, and the dry Land springs of water. I will plant in the wilderness the Cedar, the Pine, the Myrtle, and the Olive-tree; and I will set in the desert the Fir-tree , the Pine, and the Box tree together. They shall not hunger, nor thirst, neither shall the heat or Sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.  I will make all my Mountains a way; and my high ways shall be exalted; ye shall go out with joy , and be led forth with peace. The Mountains and the Hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the Trees of the Field shall clap their hands. Instead of the Thorn, shall come up the Firr-tree; and instead of the Bryer, shall come up the Myrtle-tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a Name, and for an everlasting Sign, that shall not be cut off. The Sun shall be no more thy Light by day, neither for brightness shall the moon give Light unto thee; but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting Light, and thy God thy Glory. The Sun shall no more go down, neither shall thy Moon withdraw it self: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting Light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended. This shall be as the waters of Noah unto me; for as I have sworn; that the waters of Noah shall no more go over the Earth, so have I sworn that 1 would not be wrath with thee, nor rebuke thee: for the Mountains shall depart , and the Hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the Covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord, that hath mercy on thee. 

All these and the like Expressions, which we what it read in the Prophets do import. 1. A profound Peace, which shall never be interrupted by war. 2. Plenty and Abundance of all sorts of Goods. 3. An Exemption from all Evils. 4. Such a Prosperity, where are Riches, and plenty, and Joy. 5. A Felicity that is not to be interrupted by the return of Calamities. This must be fixt, that all these Prophecies respect the State of the Church under the Messiah: for as to those who endeavour to turn them to another sense, and apply them to the Temporal blessings of the Jews, I cannot consider them as Christians, but reckon them enemies to Christianity.

We must therefore search for the accomplishment of these Prophecies in the History of the Church: that no such thing can be found there, the Antimillenaries themselves confess. For they constantly tell us, that these thousand years of Rest are altogether inconsistent with the orders of Divine Providence, and the condition of the Church, which is appointed to be always calamitous and afflicted upon Earth; that Sorrow and Suffering, Persecution and the Cross, do inseparably belong to it; that we must judge of what is to come by the History of what is past. ‘Tis true, in the three first Ages, the Church was under the Cross of the Pagans, in the fourth under that of the Arrians, in the fifth she began to sink into superstition, and hath remain’d overwhelm’d with it during the whole reign of Antichrist. Where then shall we place those happy days the Prophets promise? ‘Tis trifling to apply those promises of Peace and Tranquillity to certain little intervals of Quiet, which from time to time the Church hath had in some places; for it would be a very ill use of Rhetorick, and a strange force put upon figures, to represent so imperfect a calm, by such terms as give us an Idea of the greatest and most perfect Prosperity imaginable. Moreover, the Prophets speaking of an endless Peace, to which no affliction shall succeed, it must be such a one as is like the waters of Noah , which shall never return to cover the Earth, it must be a peace so firm, that though the Mountains be overthrown, shall never be changed.

We may not say, that all this hath respect only to spiritual Graces, the stability of God’s Covenant, and the Joy of the Faithfull. I will not deny but the Spirit may have some reference thereto, but it is false, that those spiritual favours (in that weak degree wherein we see them at this day) can comprehend the full signification of such great Expressions, which clearly import a peace in reference to Earth, as well as Heaven. Add to this, that though these Promises should not be applied, but to Spiritual Blessings, there must yet be a new Kingdom and a new Age for the fulfilling of them; for we have never yet seen any, wherein spiritual Peace and invisible Graces have been so abundantly poured out, to satisfy in any measure the greatness of such Expressions.

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