The Official Eschatology
Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland,
As it was stated in her
Public Testimony, 1865.
TrueCovenanter.com Editor’s Introduction.
The following summary of Reformed Presbyterian Eschatology, insofar as there are several points which have been recognized as the eschatological beliefs officially received by Reformed Presbyterians or Covenanters, is taken from the Testimony of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland which was first published in 1841, and again published in 1866 according to resolution of the Committee of Synod in the previous year. These statements were originally published in a draft of a new Testimony, 1821, except for paragraph number 4, and the second paragraph of the conclusion, which were added later.
A revision of this statement was adopted by the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland in 1900, and published as part of its Testimony in the years which followed.
OF SCRIPTURE PROPHECY, AS AFFECTING THE CHURCH’S TESTIMONY AND PRACTICE.
1. BESIDES the light which the Scripture throws upon every subject of morals and religion, and upon the grand designs of Providence, it comprehends in it a scheme of Prophecy—a prospective outline of the whole duration of time, in relation to the kingdom of Christ. It has pleased Him, who declares the end from the beginning, to give a prophetical view of the kingdom of Christ, from its commencement, to the consummation of all things. Besides what is scattered through the sacred volume at large, the Book of Daniel and the Revelation of John exhibit a regularly digested scheme of divine prediction. In the latter particularly, the scheme of prophecy, as relating to the kingdom of Christ in the last days, is carried forward through its several stages, to the end of the world; with the design of affording increasing evidence of the truth of divine revelation, light and comfort to the saints in the study of divine providence, special direction in duty, and, by strengthening the faith, hope, patience, and zeal of the saints, to give particular preparation for the events foretold. These prophecies, besides announcing future events relating to the kingdom of Christ, embody in them moral and Christian principles, to direct the faith and practice of the saints.
Isa. 46.10. Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure. Amos 3.7. Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. 2 Pet. 1.19. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed: as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts. Mat. 24.25. Behold, I have told you before. John 14.29. And now I have told you before,—that when it is come to pass, ye might believe. Rev 1.19. Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter. Rev. 13.10. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. Rev 19.10. The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
2. It is the duty of every Christian, and of the Christian church, to study the prophecies—comparing them with other parts of the divine word—carefully observing the movements of providence—and in dependence upon the Holy Spirit, endeavouring to derive from them confirmation to faith, direction in prayer and duty, and patience and comfort under the most trying aspects of the divine dispensations. Rash dogmatical explanations, fanciful and illiterate interpretations, premature and sanguine expectations, and partial and political expositions, form no just objection, or ground of prejudice against the study of the inspired predictions. The moral principles and Christian doctrines implied in them, equally with the other parts of Scripture, are profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. And although it is not for us to know the times and the seasons with perfect chronological precision, it never having been intended that the prophecies should be perfectly understood before the events, yet so much of their meaning may be learned by the humble inquirer, as is sufficient to give him present direction in maintaining a testimony for the truth, and to inspire him with patience and hope, while waiting for the events.
Rev. 1.3. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that keep the words of this prophecy, and keep those things that are written therein: for the time is at hand. Dan. 12.10. But the wise shall understand. 12. Blessed is he that waiteth and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.
3. At this advanced period of the history of the world, we are sufficiently assured, by comparing the predictions with the events, that the apostasy described by Paul, in his second epistle to the Thessalonians, and in his first epistle to Timothy, is that gross corruption of Christian doctrines and institutions, and abuse of ecclesiastical and civil power, which have so long existed in the Romish church. And there is ample evidence to prove that the same corruption is represented in the Book of Daniel, and in the Revelation of John, under various striking symbols. There is no reason to surrender the position that was assumed by the faithful Waldenses, and afterwards by the whole succession of Protestants: “That the church of Rome is the Babylon described in the book of the Revelation.” These prophetical books ought to be employed, in connection with other parts of Scripture, in confirming the Protestant cause, and in giving authority to a faithful testimony against the perversions of Christian doctrine and institutions by the church of Rome. They are valuable, not merely for an ultimate confirmation of the truth of Christianity by their fulfilment in the events, but for present direction and comfort in the Christian testimony and practice, till the Lord shall consume that Wicked with the spirit of his mouth, and destroy him with the brightness of his coming.
2 Thes. 2.3-12. 1 Tim. 4.1-3. Dan. 11.36-38. Rev. 12, 13, 14, &c. &c. Rev. 18.4. Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. 11.3. They shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. [Verse] 10. These two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.
4. We believe that a period approaches, in which the kingdom of Christ shall triumph over all opposition, and have a universal diffusion, influence, and prosperity. The Romish antichrist shall be destroyed, and shall cease not only to exert a malignant influence of any kind, on the ecclesiastical and social institutions of those countries where it has prevailed, but to have an organized existence on the face of the earth. The Jews shall be converted to Christianity, and added to the church. The greater fulness of the Gentiles shall be brought in. Mohammedan and Pagan nations shall embrace the religion of Jesus, and all mankind shall possess the knowledge of revealed truth. There is reason to believe, that the truth shall be felt in its illuminating, regenerating, and sanctifying efficacy, by the greater number of those who profess it. Knowledge, love, holiness, and peace shall extensively prevail, under the copious effusions of the Holy Spirit. Arts, sciences, literature, and wealth shall be consecrated to the service of Christ. The social institutions of men shall be erected and administered under the influence of scriptural principle. Oppression and tyranny shall terminate; wars shall cease from the earth, and the nations be united in peace. The inhabitants of the world shall be exceedingly multiplied, and pure and undefiled religion shall exert supreme dominion over the hearts and lives of men, and diffuse universal felicity. This happy period shall be of long duration. It will be succeeded by a general defection from truth and holiness, and the prevalence of irreligion and crime, which will immediately precede the second coming of the Son of man from heaven.
: Dan. 7.14. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion. 27. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. Psalm 72; Isa. 60, throughout. : Dan. 7.11. I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. 26. But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. 2 Thes. 2.8. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth and destroy with the brightness of his coming. Rev. 3.15. The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ: and He shall reign for ever and ever. 19.20. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him.—These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. 18.2. Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen. : Rom. 9.27. For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. : Rom. 11.15. For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? 25. Until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. : Isa. 2.4. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. Isa. 11.6-9. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, &c. Zech. 14.9. And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: In that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one. : Rev. 20.4. And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. [Verses] 7, 8. And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations. [Verse] 11. And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away.—[Larger] Cat[echism, Question] 191.
Embracing these views of the nature and design of Scripture prophecy, we testify against;—those who neglect to read and study the inspired predictions, as if nothing certain or profitable could be learned from them;—those who refuse to admit the canonical authority of the book of Revelation; those professing Christians who do not point their testimony against the errors of the Romish Antichrist.— We also testify against the introduction of the corruptions of Popery into either civil or ecclesiastical constitutions; and particularly against the usurpation of a supremacy over the church by the civil magistrate—against the legal establishment, or authoritative toleration of Popery—against all contributions and alliances for its support and establishment—and against the omission of prayer for its final overthrow.
We would not be confident, or dogmatical, in the interpretation of unfulfilled prediction. At the same time, we condemn all interpretations of the prophecies of the Old Testament, which are inconsistent with the exposition given of them in the New, and all interpretations of Scripture prophecy which are inconsistent with the established doctrines of revelation. We testify against those who interpret the predictions of the future glory of the kingdom of Christ on earth, in the sense of a temporal kingdom, which Jesus Christ is to descend to earth to possess and administer along with his saints, to be raised from the dead for this end: views incompatible with the nature of the kingdom of Christ, and with the doctrines of the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment, as set forth in the Scriptures—to say nothing of the errors and extravagance, which have usually attended these sentiments in every age, in which they have, under some temporary excitement, been revived.