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WHEN John Wesley took for his motto, "The world is my parish," he was impelled by the expectation that the whole world would he evangelized and Christ's kingdom would be completed before his coming to judge the whole human family. But he is claimed by those who insist that Christ's second coming will be to begin his kingdom, and to complete it by his visible reign during a thousand years. This brings us to the question, Was Wesley a premillennialist?

We answer yes, and no. There is a great variety of chiliasts — a term preferable for brevity. Hardly any two agree in their speculations. But one question divides them all into two distinct and antagonistic groups: "Is Christ's kingdom completed before his second advent?" The first group answers, "Yes;" the second says, "No, the kingdom is set up after Christ's descent and is completed by the conversion of the Jews first and the ingathering of hosts of Gentiles through the preaching of Christian Jews. The present dispensation was not designed to disciple all nations, but to preach the gospel for a witness, and to gather Christ's bride, an elect number who are to be associate judges and joint rulers with him a thousand years on the earth. The world is rapidly sinking into moral ruin which the church, even when filled with the Holy Spirit, is unable to save. The spectacular descent and coronation of Christ on David's throne in Jerusalem, a human form encompassed by the splendors of divine majesty, chaining and imprisoning Satan and awing wicked men, is the only hope of the church." The second group includes nearly all the modern chiliasts, who are further characterized by denial of the simultaneous resurrection and the general judgment of mankind, the righteous and the wicked together. Our first group insists that the world is growing better under the spread of the gospel at home and in pagan lands, gradually leavening human, society with the spirit of the pure, meek and holy Christ; and is heroically planning for the conquest of the world through missionary agencies endowed with the Holy Ghost.

To which of these groups did Wesley belong? You can easily classify him by asking the following questions: Did he preach the gospel for a witness merely, or for the conversion of the world of lost sinners? Did he believe in unconditional election, who spent his life on one long battle against the five points of Calvinism, and altered Bishop Ken's doxology and taught his people to sing:

"Praise God, from whom all blessings flow,
Praise him, all creatures here below,
Who would not lose one sinner lost;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost"

Was Wesley a pessimist? Did he despair of the present dispensation? Was Methodism born, of pessimism? Did Wesley believe and teach that one sinner would be forgiven after Jesus ceased his mediatorial intercessions and mounted the judgment throne at his second coming? All persons who have any knowledge of the life and writings of John Wesley will say "No" to every one of these questions.

Let us examine his "Notes on the New Testament," issued in 1754 and revised in 1787, four years before his death. Turn to his note on Acts iii. 21 —
"until the times of restitution of all things." "The apostle here comprises at once the whole course of the times of the New Testament between our Lord's ascension and his coming in glory. The most eminent of these are the apostolic age, and that of the spotless church, which will consist of all the Jews and Gentiles united, after all persecutions and apostasies are at an end. Mark! This is before Christ's "coming in glory." This is in exact accord with the exegesis of Meyer: "Christ's reception into heaven continues until the moral corruption of the people of God is removed." There is no place for pessimism here. If Wesley must be called a chiliast, as Tyerman, his biographer, says, he cannot be classed with the modern premillenarians who insist that the devil is engineering both the church and the world on the down grade with no brake on the wheel and an open drawbridge just ahead, and the only rescue is the visible descent and coronation of Christ.

Turn, now, to Rev. xx., the only millenarian chapter in the Bible, and that, too, in its most symbolic and enigmatic book. Wesley follows Bengel quite closely. The angel descending with the chain is not Christ. "The binding and loosing, the beginning and ending of the thousand" years will not be known to men upon earth; the saints' will reign with Christ a thousand years in heaven" — not on the earth, after Satan has been bound another thousand years. From the invisible binding of Satan to the first visible appearance of Christ on the great white throne is two thousand years plus "a little season." We infer from the dreadful massacres of 100,000 men in Armenia that Satan in the form of organized public hostility to Christ has not up to date been bound and put under lock and key, though the gospel's advance has greatly diminished his power. According to Wesley's exegesis we are living more than two thousand years before the time when Christ will visibly appear on the earth. Why Wesley is called a premillennialist is a conundrum too hard for the student of Wesley's Notes. If his earlier writings, sermons and hymns contain any teaching which would be called chiliasm, it certainly cannot be of the modern sort which regards the present dispensation insufficient for the conquest of the world and extends human probation at least a thousand years after Christ's second coming. Even Tyerman, while calling Wesley "a millenarian," admits in reference to his "Notes on Rev. xx." and his sermons on "The Great Assize," "The General Deliverance," "The General Spread of the Gospel" and "The New Creation," that "there may be found in some of them statements scarcely harmonizing with the millenarian theory."

The second coming of Christ, the general resurrection, the general judgment and the conflagration of the world are all so closely connected that it is impossible to wedge in the personal reign of Christ during a millennium. Hence even our first group have insuperable difficulties in harmonizing their theory with the Bible; while the second, in teaching the salvation of sinners after the coming of Christ to judge the quick and the dead, maintain the following paradoxes: Repentance, without the chief motive, the appointed day of future judgment, and repentance unto salvation after the intercession of Christ, the giver of repentance, has ceased; conviction of sin after the Divine Reprover has withdrawn from the world; the new birth after "the ascent of the Holy Ghost" (Dr. A. J. Gordon); assurance of sonship to God without the Spirit of adoption; public committal to Christ without water baptism and the teaching of his commands, both of which terminate at his second coming; growth in grace without its chief appointed means, the holy Eucharist "showing forth the Lord's death
till he come,"' Christian maturity attainable by the study of an outgrown and exhausted Bible whose incentives to purity, hope, fidelity, watchfulness and patience are all in view of "the coming of the Lord;" and, finally, salvation by sight, not by faith.

It will be impossible to prove that Wesley ever endorsed such a jumble of contradictions. We do not hesitate to say that were he living today he would earnestly oppose the distracting theories of the modern premillenarians, fitly represented by Dr. A. B. Simpson — in a recent sermon: "Millions are giving and working today to get the world converted instead of working intelligently with Christ to gather out a people for his name, and to hasten his return and the inauguration of that day which will accomplish more for the conversion of the world than all the centuries of our ignorance and failure." The inference is natural that Congregationalists should cease to support the American Board in its divinely inspired purpose "to get the world converted," that the Baptists should cease to prosecute the work begun by Dr. Judson, and that Methodists should abandon the glorious missionary scheme inspired by Wesley and initiated by Dr. Coke, and all quit their "ignorance and failure" to disciple all nations because of following these blind leaders, and should begin "to work intelligently" under the guidance of modern millennialism "to gather out a people for his name, to hasten Christ's return to accomplish more" by one stroke of his omnipotence for the conversion of the world than all the prayers, team, toils and sacrifices of all the preceding centuries!

When speculative vagaries are entertained as theories only, they may do little damage, but when they are put in practice they become ruinous. It is time that all our periodicals and all our pulpits should rebuke this spreading practical error.

The intensely evangelistic career of Wesley and his faith in the gospel of Christ as sufficient for the conquest of the whole world in the Pentecostal dispensation have impressed his followers with an optimistic hopefulness. Hence Methodism opposes pessimism.

The present age has witnessed the uprising of a numerous company of prophets of despair. They go about teaching the dismal doctrine that the world is growing worse and worse, that it is like a ship so badly wrecked that there is no hope of saving her under the management of her present captain and crew, and the best thing to be done is to rescue as many passengers as possible before she goes entirely to pieces. This is Mr. Moody's favorite illustration. In fact it is openly declared that the efforts of our Missionary Boards to save the world are a waste of time and treasure which might be spent more profitably in "preaching the gospel to all nations for a witness" and thus hasten the end of this ineffective dispensation of the Holy Spirit, and the inauguration of the personal reign of Christ on David's throne in Jerusalem. Then Jews and Gentiles will be converted in a wholesale way, and the gospel will speedily dominate the whole world. Nearly all modern millenarians are pessimists. Many millenarians of former times were not of this type, but rather thorough believers in the possibility of the conquest of the world by the church vitalized and energized by the Divine Paraclete. The difference between these two types of religious teachers arises from the fact that the one believes that the kingdom of Christ will begin after he comes, and the other that it will be completed before he comes. The latter will naturally bend all their energies to the glorious work of converting the world, believing that no sinners will be saved after Christ descends on his throne of judgment. Both John Wesley and John Fletcher had sympathy with this view. It presents nothing specially repugnant to Methodism, nothing to discourage, to paralyze and to cut the sinews of effort. It does not dishonor the Holy Spirit and discredit the church, as the other view is constantly doing. From the very beginning Methodism has magnified the Holy Ghost in his various offices. It is his immediate contact with the soul of the penitent believer which is the distinguishing doctrine of Wesley. It is "the spirit of adoption" crying in the heart, "Abba, Father," which is the key-note of Methodism. Her doctrine of entire sanctification magnifies the Pentecostal dispensation. The universality of the atonement demands the parallel doctrine of the universal effusion of the Spirit in the conviction and conditional regeneration of the world of mankind. Wesley would set no limits to the work of the Spirit. Were he living now his voice would be loud and vehement against the teaching that the mission of the Spirit was not designed to reach and conditionally save all men, but only a very few to constitute Christ's elect bride, and that after the failure of the Spirit to sway the mass of men Christward, he would, himself awe them into submission by the majesty of his visible presence. No true followers of Wesley can have patience with such an utterance as gospel truth. These are some of our reflections as we read these disheartening words of a celebrated living evangelist, "that one reason for discouragement in missions was that we were sometimes working on the basis of an expectation of converting the world in this dispensation, whereas the true Biblical hope authorized in the Word is only an outgathering from all nations of a people for God. If we expect the conversion of the world under this dispensation we have no authority for it in the Word, and the facts after 1900 years are utterly disappointing, whereas if we accept the other basis it is not only scriptural, but historical, for the facts bear us out, for that is exactly what God is doing." This means that he is not trying to save the whole world at present, but only a few to enjoy his favor as his bride, or to constitute his kingly cabinet, when his visible kingdom shall be established by his coronation at Jerusalem. If there is no authority in the Word for the conversion of the world now, it is remarkable that scores of missionary societies in Europe and America, after a diligent study of the Bible, should undertake this impossible enterprise on the basis of the command in the great commission, "Go ye and disciple all nations," and the promise, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world," or till I come again at the end of "the age" (R. V., margin).

If this great charter on which all our missionary enterprises are based teaches anything, it teaches the possibility of making disciples of all nations and it pledges the presence of Christ from that hour. That presence has been an invisible spiritual presence during nearly two thousand years. The inference is natural that Christ will remain invisible until the conquest of the world shall have been accomplished. This tallies exactly with Acts iii. 21, thus translated and annotated by Meyer, the celebrated exegete, "Whom the heaven must receive until such times have come, in which all things will be restored. Before such times set in, Christ comes not from heaven, such times as shall precede the Parousia (presence)." In Rom. xi. 25 Paul teaches that "when the totality of the Gentiles shall be converted, then the conversion of the Jews in their totality will also ensue. All this, therefore, before the Parousia, not by means of it" (Meyer). The parable of the leaven "hidden in three measures of meal till the whole was leavened" has always been understood as an assurance of the ultimate conquest of all nations by the assimilating power of the gospel through the agency of the church vitalized and energized by the Holy Spirit. Who can endure the interpretation that "this parable teaches the progress of corruption and deterioration" in Christ's visible church before the millennium? Yet some people outside of the insane asylum are thus interpreting this parable in the interest of pessimism. Such teachers of error are successful in gathering a large following in the evangelical churches, because of a widely prevailing desire to hear "the last things" preached in the modern pulpit. Since the topic of the second advent was woefully discredited in 1843 by William Miller's false midnight cry, "Behold the Bridegroom cometh," there has been a silence almost universal on this subject in American pulpits. The result is an unrest on the part of the laity and a neglect of prophetic studies by the clergy so long continued as to disqualify them for the clear statement and defense of this line of truth. Their thoughts are chaotic, "without form and void, and darkness is upon the face of the deep." The Apocalypse is usually skipped in our schools of theology on the ground that nobody understands it. But a brighter day is dawning. Progressive men like Prof. Moses Stuart of Andover and Prof. Cowles of Oberlin blazed the path which younger men like Dr. Harper are widening and grading. The principle underlying this method is the application of the prophecy to the condition of the people to whom they were spoken, with an occasional forward glance, by way of encouragement, to the coming Messiah. All the imagery of Daniel applies to events before Christ instead of the pope and Martin Luther, etc., many centuries distant. Prof. Cowles and Prof. Stuart show that the first eighteen chapters of the Revelation were designed for the encouragement of the seven churches in view of the bloody persecutions during the ten years, preceding the destruction of Jerusalem. The study of these modern exegetes, and especially of Dr. David Brown's masterly book, "The Second Advent" will bring order out of chaos and prepare the preacher to proclaim "the whole counsel of God."