Walter Scott On the Millennium (1826)


C H R I S T I A N   B A P T I S T.


      Style no man on earth your Father; for he alone is your Father who is in heaven: and all ye are brethren. Assume not the title of Rabbi; for ye have only One Teacher; neither assume the title of Leader; for ye have only One Leader--The Messiah.

On the Millennium.--No. I.

      MANKIND are certainly moving in the horizon of some great and eventful change, into the centre of which all society must inevitably and speedily be carried. The world is in strange commotion; expectation is all aroused--anticipation of something good, splendid, and unknown, is become undoubting and impatient, even to painfulness; and the time is at hand when a plenteous harvest of toil and talent must be reaped from all orders of society, that many run; to and fro, and knowledge be increased.

      The time is certainly arrived, when the great political establishments, the powers and principalities of the world, which have created and [250] fostered those warlike feelings, and mercantile and rival interests, so hostile to the spirit of the gospels and which have led men so far away from nature, must speedily be dissolved; and when the economy of God, which shall be more in unison with the religion of his Son and with nature, shall suddenly make its appearance.

      The object of this paper in to show that God has designs of high favor towards man, and will vouchsafe him an age of happiness, in which the entire sum of physical, moral and intellectual good, which can be enjoyed on earth, will be granted.

      The subject is one of immense depth and extent. It involves the whole series of scripture history, and prophecy and is as protracted as the duration of the world itself. Accordingly the reader will not expect the author of this paper to go into a detail of the subordinate parts of a subject of such plenitude and sublimity; but if the two extremes of the providential chain, with a few of the more illustrious links by which they are connected, shall be clearly pointed out, so as to furnish christians with an elementary clue to this grand topic, it is presumed the reader will be sufficiently remunerated for his trouble in reading this essay.

      All men exist under a threefold order of relations; first to the natural world; secondly, to one another; and thirdly, to God; and the history of the world demonstrates that, to mankind in the aggregate, as to each individual, the knowledge of these relations is slow and progressive; that it is not incident to the infant child alone, but also to the infant family of mankind, to stop at these immediate and more obvious relations which subsist between us and matter; that mankind in the aggregate, as well as each individual, have their physical pursuits; and that, therefore, the antediluvian period, characterized by the absence of all governmental arrangements, may, with propriety, be called the physical age of the species.

      Secondly, the middle period of the world's history is pre-eminently distinguished for a high regard to that more remote order of relations, which subsists in great and populous empires, as the Babylonian, Persian, (Grecian and Roman; during which long epocha personal liberty and personal security leave been better established; and happiness, which is the cold of our existence, less fluctuating and uncertain than it was during the merely physical age, which passed before the flood. This may be styled the secular age of our species, concerning which the prophet says, "I beheld until the thrones" i. e. of those empires "were cast down." But,

      Thirdly, Mankind having nearly exhausted the limits allotted to them for pursuits purely physical and political, and having, by dint of long experiences learnt the inefficiency of commerce and war to secure happiness, are now deeply inspired with a premonition of some great and incomprehensible change, the present nature of which time alone can fully clear up. This is the millennial or evangelical age of the world; during, which the human race will enjoy great happiness, and that third order of relations which have been revealed as subsisting between men and their Creator and Redeemer, shall be fully investigated, developed, and enjoyed.

      Let it not be supposed, however, that these observations are made merely to arrive at the trite conclusion that man is a physical, moral, and intellectual being; but for tile important purposes of showing the chain of high and holy providences, by which the God of all mercy and grace, has long been conducting the human family to an age of virtue and happiness; also that he has done it by a course of physical and politico-moral experience, perfectly adapted to human nature, without which mankind would never, for any length of time, have remained either virtuous or happy; and this division of the world into physical, secular, and evangelical ages, is neither arbitrary nor fanciful, but is founded in matter of fact, and abundantly supported by divine declaration. The first age being marked out by a judgment not less notable than the flood; the second issuing in the judgment and total overthrow of the anti-christian governments; and the evangelical age terminating in the final judgment itself. And let no one say that in order to induct the human family into the evangelical age, God has too much protracted the physical and secular ages. Such language would be improper, even if we had made all of past experience which we ought to have made of it. But what improvements have we made of past experience? Do not facts the most numerous, obvious and striking, demonstrate that we have not advanced one step in the art of applying the liberty and security so richly enjoyed in America to the promotion of our happiness, which is the grand and glorious end of all the present, past, and future dispensations of providence in regard to us. For of what value is personal liberty, and personal security, so long as they are prostrated to ambition, speculation, and war; for granting, that the intervention of science, and the milder influence of the gospel has quenched the spirit of war in these states, yet mark the rival interests and intense passions excited by the commercial spirit that is abroad. If the spirit of war is hushed, the fact resembles the case where ono unclean spirit makes room for seven others still more abominable than himself; for, at this moment, the United States, the noblest nation in the world, is on the verge of becoming a race of speculators; while their boundless territories, the nation's real estate, lies comparatively unappropriated to their real happiness.

      Meanwhile, let the reader bear in mind that history, and especially the holy scriptures, show us that the march of man towards virtue and happiness has been slow and progressive; they show us also that God is exceedingly opposed to, and displeased with, aristocratic and oppressive governments; while, at the same time, the fatal destruction of the antediluvians, clearly evinces the impracticability of existing in any way but under some general government, to secure us at once against foreign force and domestic broils. That, in the approaching age, political authority will be confined to the regulation of its proper concerns, and while all enjoy the sum of physical, moral, and intellectual good--the word of the Lord will have free course and be glorified in the salvation of thousands. So much, at present, for the physical, secular, and evangelical ages, by which the scripture, history, and age of prophecy, are seen to harmonize so admirably with the course of human improvement.


[CB 250-251]


C H R I S T I A N   B A P T I S T.


      Style no man on earth your Father; for he alone is your Father who is in heaven: and all ye are brethren. Assume not the title of Rabbi; for ye have only One Teacher; neither assume the title of Leader; for ye have only One Leader--The Messiah.

On the Millennium.--No. II.

      THE division of the history of our world into the physical, secular and millennial ages, besides spreading before the mind the beginning and end of things, has also this great and desirable advantage, that the inquirer after truth, having once ascertained the distinguishing characteristics of each age, it enables him to distribute the prophecies accordingly, and to acquire a correct general knowledge, not only of his own age, but also of that which has preceded or may follow it.

      To understand the course of human events as glanced at in the rapid sketches of the prophets, and to know the relation which our own times and labors bear to what has actually gone before or may be reasonably and scripturally hoped to follow after, is, of all things, the best calculated to inspire the christian with resignation, and to endow him with those qualities of reasonableness and sobriety which his high profession so imperiously demands.

      To hear the servant in the house of Christ confounding all times and events, and ignorantly setting forth the secular church and authorities, in the terms of the splendid but unaccomplished prophecies which relate to the millennial church and authorities, is very unbecoming, and it may be highly criminal and dangerous--criminal, because it flatters secular and opposing institutions, which God has largely condemned; and dangerous, because it tends to mislead the public mind, and consequently to retard general improvement.

      It is a crime, however, of which the ecclesiastical dignitaries are exceedingly guilty. Where a complimentary sermon is to be delivered, I speak of the European world, the preacher seldom fails to select a text which affords him a fair opportunity of flattering the prince; the scriptures which relate to the millennium are generally resorted to, and the prince whom God has set forth in the scriptures as a wild beast, or the horn, which is the very instrument of terror or rage in a wild beast, is thus painted by the preacher as an inimitable diadem in the hand of Jehovah and a nursing father in the church. The prince is flattered. The priest is rewarded--and so the way of thus confounding things proves a chief art by which the abettors of bad government and false religion mutually encourage and deceive one another.

      We ourselves are not behind in the practice of this art, and were we not kept humble by the manifest prevalence of the secular plagues, debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults, we should seldom fail to flatter ourselves that among us, and among us alone, Christ was enthroned in his Millennial glory. But alas! the thrones are not yet cast down, the secular age has not yet expired, war, commerce and ambition, with the rival passions created by them, pride, envy and emulation every where prevail.

      It has been observed, in a former paper, that the physical, secular and millennial ages are marked out on the face of scripture by three attendant judgments--the Flood, the extinction of immoral government, and the resurrection of the dead. The remainder of this paper I devote to remarks rather on these judgments than the ages to which they severally belong.

      The flood, an amazing catastrophe drawn from the resources of the material world, constituted the judgment of the first age. The gratification [265] of the sexual and other appetites formed the chief guilt with which the age was chargeable, "until Noah entered the ark," says the Redeemer, "they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage," &c. it was with great propriety, therefore, that God swept away the animal crimes of a race so sensual by the judgment of the flood.

      The corruption of the secular or middle age being of a higher and more refined nature i. e. of those political and social relations which subsist in large communities, the judgment which shall wipe it away, the scriptures describe to us as being of a more artificial and complex nature. It consists in the extinction of immoral government and false religion, by means of war, conducted under the united aid and upheld by the united lights of revelation and general science.

      Still more extraordinary, however, will be the final judgment, the resurrection of the dead, sudden, general, end conclusive, it will be effected by an immediate effort of the strong hand of Jehovah--when all the men of all the ages physical, secular, and millennial, shall stand before the judgment seat of Jesus Christ and give to him an account of the deeds done in this body, whether they be good or evil.

      The first judgment then was effected by natural means--the second will be by artificial means--and the third and last by super-natural means, when the human family, which has so apostatized from God, shall be judged and the material world shall be dissolved.


[CB 265-266]


      Walter Scott's two-part essay "On the Millennium" was first published in The Christian Baptist, Vol. III, No. 12, July 6, 1826; Vol. IV, No. 2, September 7, 1826. The electronic version of the essay has been transcribed from the College Press (1983) reprint of The Christian Baptist, ed. Alexander Campbell (Cincinnati: D. S. Burnet, 1835), pp. 250-251, 265-266. In both parts of the essay the author is identified as "Philip," a pseudonym of Walter Scott (Burnet, p. ix).

      Pagination has been represented by placing the page number in brackets following the last complete word on the printed page. I have let stand variations and inconsistencies of the author's (or editor's) use of italics, capitalization, punctuation, and spelling in the essay.

      Addenda and corrigenda are earnestly solicited.

Ernie Stefanik
373 Wilson Street
Derry, PA 15627-9770

Created 14 September 1997.

Walter Scott On the Millennium (1826)

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