Edwards on the Millennium

In 17, Edwards looked forward to the coming of the millennium by the year 2000. He described a scenario that could make that happen, and hoped that it "will begin in a little time."

The Preface 

The ruin of Satan's miserable kingdom, and the advancement of the universal and happy reign of Christ on the earth, were included and hinted in the sentence denounced on the serpent, that "the seed of the woman should bruise his head" [Genesis 3:15]. What was a terrible threatening to Satan, in the surprised ears of our first guilty parents, implied a joyful prophecy, to keep them from despair, and enliven their hopes for themselves and their descendants, of obtaining by this Seed of hers an eternal triumph over him who had so sadly foiled them. And 'tis likely, their hope and faith immediately arose, laid hold on the reviving prophecy, earnestly desired its happy accomplishment, and transmitted it to their posterity.

But though this prophecy was at first only delivered in the form of a threatening to Satan; it was afterwards directly given in the form of a promise to Abraham, though still in general terms, that "in his seed should all the nations of the earth be blessed" [Genesis 12:3]. Yet this general promise was more clearly by degrees explained in the following ages, to mean a divine king, no other than the Son of God assuming human nature of the seed of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David; that should be born of a virgin in Bethlehem of Judah; and at first despised, abused, rejected and put to death; but should rise to immortal life, ascend to heaven, and thence extend his blessed kingdom over all nations; not by outward force, but inward overcoming influence, by his Word and Spirit making them "his willing people in the day of his power" [Psalms 110:3]; and reigning in glorious light and holiness and love and peace forever: and the advancement of this universal and happy reign has been the earnest desire and prayer of the saints in all ages to the present day. ...

Part III: Objections Answered 


[Quoting Rev. 20:3] This is the sabbatism of the world; when all shall be in a holy rest, when the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and there shall be nothing to hurt or offend, and there shall be abundance of peace, and "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the seas" [Isaiah 11:9], and God's people shall dwell in quiet resting places. There is not the least reason to think, that all this will be brought to pass as it were at one stroke, or that from the present lamentable state of things, there should be brought about and completed … the entire extirpation of all infidelity, heresies, superstitions and schisms, through all Christendom [and other faiths]… through the whole earth, on every side of the globe, and from the north to the south pole, and the full settlement of all in the pure Christian faith and order, all as it were in the issue of one battle, and by means of the victory of the church in one great conflict with her enemies. This would contradict many things in Scripture, which represent this great event to be brought to pass by a gradual progress of religion; as leaven that gradually spreads, till it has diffused itself through the whole lump; and a plant of

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mustard, which from a very small seed, gradually becomes a great tree (Matthew 13:31–33); "and like seed which a man casts into the ground, that springs and grows up, night and day; and first brings forth the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear" [Mark 4:26–28]. And especially would this contradict the prophetical representation in Ezekiel 47, where the progress of religion is represented by the gradual increase of the waters of the sanctuary; being first a small spring issuing out from under the threshold of the temple; and then, after they had run a thousand cubits, being up to the ankles; and at the end of another thousand cubits, up to the knees; and at the end of another thousand, up to the loins; and afterwards a great river, that could not be passed over; and being finally brought into the sea, and healing the waters even of the vast ocean.

If the Spirit of God should be immediately poured out, and that great work of God's power and grace should now begin, which in its progress and issue should complete this glorious effect; there must be an amazing and unparalleled progress of the work and manifestation of divine power to bring so much to pass, by the year two thousand [2000]...

I have thus distinguished what belongs to a bringing of the world from its present state, to the happy state of the millennium, the better to give a view of the greatness of the work; and not, that I pretend so much as to conjecture, that things will be accomplished just in this order. The whole work is not the less great and wonderful, to be accomplished in such a space of time, in whatever order the different parts of it succeed each other. They that think that what has been mentioned would not be swift progress, yea amazingly swift, don't consider how great the work is, and the vast and innumerable obstacles that are in the way.

There are, as I apprehend, good reasons to hope, that that work of God's Spirit will begin in a little time, which in the progress of it will overthrow the kingdom of Antichrist, and in its issue destroy Satan's visible kingdom on earth.


Also in the 1808 edition, Volume 3, starting at p. 355. Kindle at 25205