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federacy is plainly impossible : for, as he teaches us, Christ, in this day of his literal second advent, will let loose upon the wicked a deluge of fire, which will burn up and clean dissolve the whole collective continents of Europe and Asia and Africa.
(4.) As, however, we cannot concede to Mr. Mede his untenable expedient of an arbitrary limitation of that universal mundane conflagration, which St. Peter associates with the literal second advent of the Lord : we must prepare ourselves to encounter yet another contradiction, which inevitably flows from his most infelicitous speculation.
By the concurrent voice of prophecy, the general conversion of the Gentiles to the faith of Christ is placed after the restoration of Judah and after the confessedly synchronical overthrow of the antichristian faction. Accordingly, Mr. Mede himself most justly remarks, that, until the calling of the Jews (which Daniel and our Lord definitely fix to the end of the three times and a half or to the end of the times of the Gentiles), the general conversion of the Gentiles is not to be expected : for the receiving of Israel shall be the riches of the world ; in that, by their restitution, the whole world shall come unto Christ !
But, if the literal second advent of the Lord, and consequently the universal mundane conflagration, occur at the precise time, when, immediately before the commencement of the Millennium,
Mede's Works, book v. chap. 2. p. 892.
Judah is restored, and the Roman faction is overthrown: it is manifestly impossible, that any subsequent conversion of the now unbelieving Gentiles can be accomplished.
An ardent follower of Mr. Mede may perhaps remind us, that he limits St. Peter's mundane conflagrațion to the old continents; and may thence send us to the unscathed continents of America and Australia for the predicted future conversion of the Gentiles. But, even to say nothing of the fact that America is already evangelised and that the Terra Australis still remains an unknown land, Mr. Mede's arbitrary limitation of what St. Peter makes strictly universal has been shewn to be altogether untenable.
(5.). One difficulty yet remains, of so very peculiar a nature, that it must by no means be silently pretermitted.
St. John tells us, that, when Satan is liberated at the close of the Millennium, he will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, that he will gather them together to battle in number as the sand of the sea, that they themselves will come up on the breadth of the earth, that they will compass the parembolè of the saints and the beloved city, and that fire from God out of heaven will at length devour them '.
Now, on the system adopted by Mr. Mede and his followers, where shall we find materials for the construction of this formidable ultimate confederacy, which the Apostle collectively denominates Gog and Magog ?
i Rev, xx. 7-9.
The venerable hierophant himself, whose ingenuity never fails him, would, in strict conformity with the prophet's own express language', bring up the conspirators from the lower hemisphere of America and the Terra Australis Incognita'.
This, however, is impracticable: for the mundane conflagration, which St. Peter associates with the literal second advent, is clearly universal.
Dr. Thomas Burnet, who admits, what cannot be reasonably denied, the universality of St. Peter's mundane conflagration, resorts to yet another expedient. According to this learned writer, the innumerable hosts of Gog and Magog, in all the four quarters of the earth, will be generated, like the classical Python, by the productive heat of the sun, from the teeming slime of the renovated earth.
The speculation is sufficiently ingenious : but I apprehend, that few systematisers of the present day would have nerves strong enough to adopt it in good sober controversial earnest. Again, then, we are constrained to ask the
perplexing question: Where, on the system adopted by the literalists, shall we discover materials, out of which we may consistently fabricate the innumerable hosts of the final daring apostasy?
Gr. åvéßnoay, they went up or ascended. ? Med. de Gog. et Magog. conject. Oper. lib. iii. p. 575. · Burn. Theor. lib. iv. c. 10. p. 119.
Truly, on this most extraordinary system, our sole materials are, the holy martyrs who were raised from the dead in the day of the first resurrection, and the holy living individuals who were corporeally changed at the time of Christ's literal second adrent immediately before the commencement of the Millennium : for such will be the only inhabitants of the earth, when it shall have been first dissolved and then renovated by the grand universal mundane conflagration.
6. The system, however, is not only thus hampered with invincible difficulties : it is likewise, as a system, directly contradicted by most express testimony of Holy Scripture.
Repent ye, and be converted, said the Apostle Peter to the assembled Israelites in the portico which bore the name of Solomon, that your sins may be blotted out ; to the end that the times of refreshment may come from the face of the Lord, and that he may send Jesus Christ who was before preached unto you : whom heaven must receire, until the times of the accomplishment of all the things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began'.
(1.) In this important passage, our English
' Μετανοήσατε ούν και επιστρέψασθε, εις το εξαλειφθήναι έμων τας αμαρτίας όπως αν έλθωσι καιροί άναψύξεως από προσόπον του Κυρίου, και αποστείλη τον προκεκηρυγμένον υμίν Ιησούν Χριστών· δν δει ουρανυν μεν δέξασθαι, άχρι χρόνων αποκαταστάσε ας παντων ων ελάλησεν ο θεός δια στόματος πάντων των αγίων Kto to mourwr araigros. Act. iii. 19-21.
translators have ill rendered the leading clause in manner following : Whom the heaven must receive, until the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets.
Now, doubtless, all the things which God hath spoken by the prophets may be ACCOMPLISHED: but it is hard to comprehend, how all the things which God hath spoken by the prophets can be RESTORED, A RESTITUTION of the whole materia prophetica is, so far as I can see, altogether unintelligible : an ACCOMPLISHMENT of the whole materia prophetica is what we plainly must expect, if we believe the divine inspiration of the holy prophets.
Such, accordingly, in the present clause, is doubtless the right translation of the Greek word Apocatastasis : and such, therefore, was the mode, in which it was understood by the well-judging ancients. They constantly so interpret it, as to express the idea of accomplishment or exhibition or disposition or final settlement. Thus the clause, in which it occurs, is rendered by the Syriac; Until the fulness of the time of all things : by the Arabic; Until the times in which all the things shall be perfected or finished: by Irenèus; Until the times of the disposition of all the things which God hath spoken by his holy prophets : by Tertullian ; Until the times of the exhibition of all the things which God hath spoken by the mouth of the holy prophets : and by Ecumenius ; Until the time that all the things come to an end.