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Millennium

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MILLENNIUM (Lat. mile, 1,000, and Fluids, a year), a period of 1,000 years. Hence it is a term applied to the period during which, according to some, Jesus Christ will return to reign on earth before the end of the world. This premillennial appearance of Christ will be signalized by a first or particular resurrection of the just, who are to reign with Him on earth, and by the destruction of Antichrist. Those who hold such views are called millena rians or chiliasts, and their tenet chiliasm (Gr. xiXtot., 1,000). It is admitted on all sides that these views were, if not general, at least very common in the ancient church. The belief was generally founded on Psalms xc, 4, according to which 1,000 years are before the Lord as one day, compared with the account of the creation as given by Moses. The six days of creation are taken as designating 6,000 years of toil, and the subsequent sabbath as designating 1,000 years of rest and happiness. The millennium was to be the sabbath rest of the new creation of mankind in Christ. Besides these passages, Rev. xxi, 1-6, is especially quoted by chiliasts in support of their views. Chiliasm prevailed chiefly among the Jewish Christians, who re tained after their conversion the hope that they would rule over all other nations under a royal Messiah (q.v.). The Ehionites, the Nazarenes and Cerinthians all advocated it and Montanus, and the sect which was called after him, re garded it as a fundamental doctrine of the Christian religion. Some early fathers of the Church also declared themselves generally in favor of the doctrine; Papias, Irenaus and Tertullian were chiliasts; and Papias appealed in support of his view to apostolic traditions. On the other hand, however, the epistles of Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch are silent about it. Justin Martyr who wrote in the 2d century was a believer in the millennium. °I and all Christians whose belief is in every respect correct ° he says, °know that there will be both a resurrection of the flesh and a thou sand years in Jerusalem, which will then be re built, adorned and enlarged, as the prophets Ezekiel, Isaiah and others declare.* This view was opposed by the whole Alexandrian school. especially by Origen, who believed in a spiritual supramundane interpretation of Revelations. Still it continued to find advocates during the 3d century, among whom Tertullian, Nepos, bishop of Arsinoe, and Methodius, bishop of Tyre, were prominent. In the 4th century, Jerome, who did not believe in it himself, did not dare to condemn it, in consideration of the many pious and learned advocates it had found in former centuries. Soon after it began to die out; it was temporarily revived toward the close of the 10th century, by the popular belief in the approaching end of the world, but it never regained great strength. The reforma tion of the 16th century gave a new impulse to chiliasm. Fanatical opinion identified the Pope with Antichrist, and regarded the anticipated downfall of the Roman Catholic Church as foreshadowing the approach of the millennium. But when the Anabaptists undertook in 1534 to erect the new Zion, both the Lutheran and Re formed churches declared themselves against this reversion of the old doctrine. Yet it was preached by many sectarians and theologians of the 16th and 17th centuries, among whom were Weigel and the Moravian bishop Comenius in Germany, Jurieu in France, the Labadists in the Netherlands and Joseph Mede and Jane Lead (d. 1704) in England. A third period in the history of chiliasm may be commenced with the writings of the esteemed exegete and New Tes tament commentator, Johann Albrecht Bengel.

He practically reintroduced it into Protestant theology, where it has ever since been advo cated by a number of prominent theologians. The ingenious prelate Oetinger (cL 1782) brought it into connection with his favorite the osophic views. Hahn (the founder of a pietis tic sect in Wiirtemberg), Stilling, Lavater and Hass gave it a wide circulation among the lower classes of the people in Germany and Switzerland. In opposition to the °spiritual ism° of modern exegesis, it was advocated, with exegetical arguments, by Hoffmann, De litzsch, Kurtz, Hebart and others; while Thiersch, Nitzsch, P. Lange and Ebrard sup ported it from a dogmatical as well as an exe getical standpoint. Swedenborg taught that the last judgment took place in 1757, and that the New Church or church of the New Jerusa lem had actually been formed both in heaven and on earth. After Germany, England and America have been the chief fields of modern chiliasm. The "Catholic Apostolic Church,° organized by Edward Irving, laid great stress on the belief that the kingdom of glory was very near. Chiliasm lies at the foundation of Mormonism, whose adherents call themselves "Latter Day Saints° in reference to the near approach of the last day. In the United States great excitement was caused by the preaching of William Miller (q.v.) who sought to •prove from the Scriptures that the second advent of Christ would take place about 1843. He not only met with numerous chiliasts in most de nominations, hut he also founded the sect of Adventists (q.v.). Chiliasm has been seriously taken in declarations of doctrine formulated by several churches. The Augsburg Confession implicitly repudiates it, speaking of °the last days foreshown in Holy Scripture, in which the world is to become ever more and more degen erate and mankind more sinful and weak.* The Council of Trent declares that ethe Scrip tures also inform us that the General Judgment shall be preceded by the preaching of the Gospel throughout the world, a defection from the faith and the coming of Antichrist." There is a sort of millennium also looked forward to by those who disbelieve in religion as the reno vator of the world. According to these teach ers there is a material millenniumquite within the range of future possibilities. They teach that the race must look to its renewal and im provement by the non-propagation of disease and impotency of every nature, and to the per sistent and joyous multiplication of the best ele ments of our race, in a continual progress toward the Hierarchy of Life. The millen nium, according to this newly invented philoso phy, will come by natural and not supernatural means. See ESCHATOLOGY; RESURRECTION; Jews AND JUDAISM - ZIONISM.

Bibliography.— Beet, J. A., Things' (London 1897) ; Briggs, C. A., (The Messiah of the Apostles' (New York 1895) • Bonar, H., 'Prophetical Landmarks' (London 1866) ; Charles, R. H., (Critical History of the Doc trine of the Future Life) (London 1899) ; Davidson, S., of Last Things' (Lon don 1900) • Drummond, J. (Jewish Messiah' (London 1877); Elliott B., Horse Apocalyp (London 1862); MacCulloch, (Early Christian Visions of the Other World' (Edin burgh 1912) • Newton, I. (Dissertations on the Prophecies' (London 1755); Salmond, S. D. F., (Christian Doctrine of Immortality,' 3d ed. •(Edinburgh 1897); Seis, J. A., (The Last Times' (2d ed., Philadelphia 1878) ; Stanton, V. H. (The Jewish and Christian Messiah' (Edinburgh 1886) ; Terry, M. S., (Biblical Apocalyptics' (New York 1898).