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great concern for them, though there was no other appearance of his interposing in their affairs. Yet we cannot suppose that he, or that Enoch, Moses, or Elijah, are in a perfectly inactive state. If, therefore, these men are now alive, and in a state of action and enjoyment upon earth, the greatest
for any thing that we know, exist in the same manner, at the same time that the affairs of mortal men shall proceed in all respects as they do now.
There is no small difficulty in reconciling the different accounts of the second coming of Christ, which is expressly said (Ads i. 11) to be in the very same manner in which he ascended. But whenever he thus comes, it will be to enter upon his
proper kingdom. Then will commence his reign upon earth, commonly called the Millenium; and this, we cannot doubt, will be coincident with the flourishing state of the Jews after their return to their own country, and their peaceable and final settlement in it. And yet in this state of things there is to be a succession of princes of the family of David, and they will have children (Ez. xlvi. 16)
as in former times. Consequently, in this reign of Christ these princes must be considered as acting under him, as his vice-gerents; and the affairs of the world will bably be directed by him, not in a visible, but in some unknown manner. Whether he will always continue visible to men, we cannot tell. In the future state, he said, that we shall be " as the angels of God in heaven," perhaps in the property of being sometimes visible and sometimes invisible, as they are, as well as with respect to the abolition of all distinction of sex.
Admitting these speculations to be nothing more than random conjectures, I do not see any harm in our indulging them. The apprehension of Jesus, as well as of Enoch, Moses, and Elijah, being often present with us, though they give no sensible tokens of their presence, cannot do us any harm. It will certainly be no motive to any bad action ; and all speculations of this kind tend to draw off our attention from the world, and the transitory but seducing things of it, to which we are naturally too much attached.
Though Though all the dead are to rise, it appears in some measure from the apostle Paul, but more clearly from the book of Revelation, that there will be an interval between that of the righteous and that of the wicked. “ The dead in Christ,” Paul says, in the passage quoted above, “ shall rise first;" but this respects only the other disciples of Christ, who shall then be living, and on whom an advantageous change of constitution will immediately take place. As he says nothing of the resurrection of the wicked at that time, it may be at a future period. And this is clearly expressed in the Revelation, and said " not to take place but after a period of a thousand years." Rev. xx. 4, “ And I saw thrones, and them that fat on them, and judgment was given unto them. And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and who had not worshipped the beast, neither bis image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again till the thou
sand years were finished. This is the first
That the earth will be destroyed by fire, though supposed by the apostle Peter, is not, I think, certain; since neither
of the prophets, nor our Saviour, nor the apostle Paul, nor John in the Revelation, make any mention of it, though they mention circumstances which must be coincident with it. And as Peter does not say that he had any particular revelation on the subject, he might have taken the idea from some tradition, of no sufficient authority, such as appears to have found its way into the heathen world, as we find in the writings of Ovid, and others. The knowledge that we now have of the constitution of the earth makes the supposition of its ever being consumed by fire exceedingly improbable, as a very inconsiderable proportion of its parts is combustible.
The only thing of great importance that is absolutely certain, with respect to a future state, is, that it will be a state of retribution, in which every person will receive according to his works, whether they be good or whether they be evil; when, as our Saviour says, John v. 29, “ they who have done good shall have a resurrection to eternal life, and they who have done evil, shall rise to condemnation;" and as Paul says, Gal. vi. 8,
they who have sown to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; and they who have sown to the spirit, shall
reap lasting." Believing this, let us, my bretren, as the same apostle exhorts, 1 Cor. xv. 58, “ continue steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that our labour will not be in vain in the Lord.”