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Bible Myths and their Parallels in other Religions Being a Comparison of the Old and New Testament Myths and Miracles with those of the Heathen Nations of Antiquity Considering also their Origin and Meaning

Page: 136

During the civil and religious wars in France and England, when great excitement prevailed, it was also prominent. The "Fifth Monarchy Men" of Cromwell's time were millenarians of the most exaggerated and dangerous sort. Their peculiar tenet was that the millennium had come, and that they were the saints who were to inherit the earth. The excesses of the French Roman Catholic Mystics and Quietists terminated in chiliastic[242:1] views. Among the Protestants it was during the "Thirty Years' War" that the most enthusiastic and learned chiliasts flourished. The awful suffering and wide-spread desolation of that time led pious hearts to solace themselves with the hope of a peaceful and glorious future. Since then the penchant which has sprung up for expounding the prophetical books of the Bible, and particularly the Apocalypse, with a view to present events, has given the doctrine a faint semi-theological life, very different, however, from the earnest faith of the first Christians.

Among the foremost chiliastic teachers of modern centuries are to be mentioned Ezechiel Meth, Paul Felgenhauer, Bishop Comenius, Professor Jurien, Seraris, Poiret, J. Mede; while Thomas Burnet and William Whiston endeavored to give chiliasm a geological foundation, but without finding much favor. Latterly, especially since the rise and extension of missionary enterprise, the opinion has obtained a wide currency, that after the conversion of the whole world to Christianity, a blissful and glorious era will ensue; but not much stress—except by extreme literalists—is now laid on the nature or duration of this far-off felicity.

Great eagerness, and not a little ingenuity have been exhibited by many persons in fixing a date for the commencement of the millennium. The celebrated theologian, Johann Albrecht Bengel, who, in the eighteenth century, revived an earnest interest in the subject amongst orthodox Protestants, asserted from a study of the prophecies that the millennium would begin in 1836. This date was long popular. Swedenborg held that the last judgment took place in 1757, and that the new church, or "Church of the New Jerusalem," as his followers designate themselves—in other words, the millennial era—then began.

[Pg 243]

In America, considerable agitation was excited by the preaching of one William Miller, who fixed the second advent of Christ Jesus about 1843. Of late years, the most noted English millenarian was Dr. John Cumming, who placed the end of the present dispensation in 1866 or 1867; but as that time passed without any millennial symptoms, he modified his original views considerably, before he died, and conjectured that the beginning of the millennium would not differ so much after all from the years immediately preceding it, as people commonly suppose.


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