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p280 Dearest W Kelly, - I trust you will have found blessing at the meeting; I have no doubt the Lord's hand was most abundantly in it. Of course it can be only so far as our hearts really humble themselves, each one for his own evil, before God, that we shall find real and permanent blessing. At the meeting at Bristol, I declared that I had withdrawn my original circular as to Bethesda. This took a stumbling-block out of the way of others, and left the ground entirely on its own merits, putting me entirely out of the question. I was questioned on it and cross-questioned: I only resumed all my liberty, that is, position of duty to Christ for my future path; so that Bethesda stands on its own merits, and the discussion on it and its relationship with brethren I am totally free from, as that is the only act I ever had to say to. This I felt its effect, I withdrew it as taking away a difficulty from others, only taking care I should be bound to nothing as to my course by it. It was asked; I have acceded. I did not see any great sense (feeling, I did) in asking the withdrawal of it; but if it met that feeling I was content, provided I was free to do what was right unconditionally in whatever I have to do, that is, that it was understood I preserved this liberty intact.

Now as to the millennium, Mr. Browne's reasonings are null, because at the beginning, the Fathers did expect the Lord as a present thing; during the 1260 years they thought very little about it, and at the end it did not hinder the present expectation.

As regards the word "hour" (John 5:25, 28), I know of no one who has spoken of an unbroken resurrection hour. Ὥρα has nothing to do with the continuity of other facts which may occur in it, but of the unity of the epoch, so as to make one time or season of it. Thus it is used for a year because it is one epoch; yet spring, summer, and winter, seed-time and harvest, very opposite and not continuous facts, are found within it. The hour is not the hour of resurrection, but resurrection takes place in it. This indeed is evident upon the face of the passage. If the hour derive its character from the resurrection, the whole argument is certainly unfounded; for there are two resurrections distinct in character, and no continuity derived from them. If it does not derive its character from the resurrection, then the fact of having two resurrections in it, a thousand years apart, does not destroy its continuity. Two periods were in the first "hour" (ver. 25) characterised by Christ's presence and Christ's absence: the ὥρα derives its unity, not its continuity, from something else. There was an epoch when souls should rise at the voice of the Son, another (ver. 28) when bodies should. What gave unity to that epoch is another question; of the answer to it I have little doubt - the presence of the Lord in glory, and the kingdom in that power in which He rose from the dead. They were not to marvel if He quickened souls, for, at another epoch, He would be in such manifestation of power that He would raise the dead.

I know nothing of a voice in 1 Corinthians 15:51. There is a trump (but the wicked have clearly no part in the statements here); there is the archangel's voice in 1 Thessalonians 4:16: so that I do not exactly know what is meant about a voice, twice citing these passages. But a common resurrection is totally unscriptural, and the argument goes much further than the millennium. All scripture shews a distinct act of resurrection, if there be only a minute between; them that are Christ's are not confounded with the others, whatever the interval. There is nothing whatever said of a trumpet sound with the wicked; they are carefully excluded in the two passages where the trumpet is spoken of.

The argument as to 2 Peter 3 has, with equal confidence, been used for burning the earth at the beginning of the millennium. But I do not admit the day of the Lord to be a day, but a period; in that period, were it a million years, the heavens will pass away. In the passage itself twice the apostle declares to us its importance with God. I do not see anything very new or very wise in this settlement of the matter - very reasonable to put it out as his way of thinking; but the mass of testimony, of direct instruction which it controverts, makes the nice casuistry it is founded upon of no comparative weight. But it is all very well it should be discussed.

Affectionately yours.