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development of truth, and consequent general destruction of false doctrine, taking place in the Christian world at a certain period yet to come; but whether this be so or not, every Christian disciple—and the revelation is addressed particularly to such—in examining his own views, and calling to mind his own doctrinal experience, as he has advanced in the knowledge of the gospel, must perceive himself to have within his own mind a kingdom like that of the beast; a certain principle or disposition within his heart ever ready to claim the merit of his own salvation—to urge his dependence upon his own strength or works; and in doing so to appeal to the continued requisitions of the law.
Every such disciple must perceive, too, that while there is in man a natural disposition to vainglory and self-dependence, a certain misconstruction of the language of the sacred Scripture may strengthen him in this delusion; in which respect he may be said also to be influenced by the false prophet within him. How far this influence has extended every one may judge by comparing the state of his own mind in matters of faith with the effect said to be produced by the intervention of the ten-horned beast. Does he regard himself as, in effect, the source to which he is to be indebted for his own eternal happiness ? Does he create in his own mind an image of his own goodness, or holiness, or righteousness? Does he look to this as to the efficient cause of his future well-being? Are the actions of his life, or the sentiments of his heart characterized by the mark of selfishness ?
What is the chief motive of his conduct ? Is it his own glory that he has in view, or the glory of his God? Is he actuated by a regard for his own interest in his religious conduct, or is gratitude (love) to God in return for his great salvation the moving principle of his actions ? According to the result of this examination he may ascertain whether the kingdom of the beast, or the kingdom of God, be within him—whether his views are influenced by the false prophet, or by the sharp sword proceeding from the mouth of divine wisdom.
Vs. 1-3. And I saw an angel come Και είδον άγγελον καταβαίνοντα εκ του down from heaven, having the key of the ουρανού, έχοντα την κλεϊν της αβύσσου και bottomless pit and a great chain in his αλυσιν μεγάλης επί την χείρα αυτού. Και haud. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and expurnos tóv Spuxovta, tòv oquv vór úgSatan, and bound him a thousand years, zuiov, öz xori Su Bolos xai outuvas, vai And cast him into tlie bottomless pit, and έδησιν αυτόν χίλια έτη, και έβαλεν αυτόν shut him up, and set a seal upon him, εις την άβυσσον, και έκλεισε και εσφράγιthat he should deceive the nations no
σεν επάνω αυτού, να μη πλανήση έτι τα more, till the thousand years should be fulfiled: and afier that lie must be loosed έθνη, άχρι τελεσθή τα χίλια έτη και μετά a little season.
ταύτα δεί αυτόν λιθήναι μικρόν χρόνον. $ 443. “And I saw,' &c.-Setting aside the division of chapters, we are here to imagine the apostle witnessing the termination of the great battle, in which the KING OF Kings is so signally victorious; the enemies of the WORD, (the beast and false prophet, with all their forces,) having been entirely overthrown. There is no pause in the narrative. The succession of events is as rapid as thought, or rather, the incidents themselves are contemporaneous; one event being involved in or growing out of another. The destruction of the mercenary or mixed system, the overthrow of the kingdom of self, the exhibition of the fallacies of scriptural misconstruction, all contribute to manifest the fate attending the accuser, as it is now about to be described.
The scene is unchanged-heaven is still opened—the smoking ruins of Babylon, and the devastation of the battle-field are still in view ; while a further development of truth (another angel) exhibits another result of the recent contest.
Having the key of the bottomless pit.'—As the keys of the kingdom of heaven are the means of unlocking or developing the mysteries of that kingdom, ($ 37,) so the key of the bottomless pit, as before suggested, ($ 207,) are the means of developing or opening the mystery of the abyss. On a former occasion, Rev. ix. 1, this key was used for the purpose of exhibiting the destructive principles emanating from the system represented
by the pit; now, a like opening or development takes place to show the further important truth, that when the mixed economy is destroyed, and the reign of self has ceased, and the false construction of revelation is set aside, the power of Satan must be manifestly confined to the position created by this baseless system. The triumph of the Word of God over the powers
of the earth, as just now represented, may itself afford the key, figuratively spoken of as that of an angel or divine messenger.
· And a great chain in his hand.'—As the angel represents a revelation or messenger, we suppose this great chain to be the figure of a powerful concatenation of gospel truths—a chain of scriptural arguments—important elements of doctrine indissolubly connected ; showing in what manner the power of the accuser is bound, or restricted in the nature of the case, by the elements of divine sovereignty peculiar to the economy of grace.
As when the apostle Paul sets forth his position, that there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, (Rom. viii. 1,) by a chain of deductions from the helpless, hopeless state of man by nature, (as a sinner under the law,) to the fulfilment of that law by Christ himself, in behalf of those justified in him. In like manner, the angel's chain may show it to be only those out of Christ, and consequently in the bottomless pit, who are subject to the power of the accuser.
As in the science of architecture, the chain is said to have been the origin of the arch, the arrangement of principles constituting the plan of redemption, elsewhere represented as an arch, of which grace is the top or keystone, (Zech. iv. 7,) may be here spoken of as a chain ;—the structure supporting the way of salvation, and exhibiting the triumph of the Redeemer, being equally mighty in restraining or binding the power of legal accusation.
444. “And he laid hold on the dragon,' &c.—The variety of appellations given to this one object, cannot be without meaning. They are all of them, no doubt, intended to recali ideas respectively associated with each, besides identifying the personage here spoken of with that of which so much was related in the twelfth chapter of the book :—the great fiery-red. dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads, whose tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven ; who stood ready to devour the man-child ;—the antagonist of Michael and his angels, the persecutor of the woman and of her offspring, ($ 269–291 ;) the same dragon that gave his power, and throne, and great authority to the beast, after having been driven from heaven to earth, ($ 297 ;)—one of the parties to the league, by which the kings of the earth were summoned to the battle of Armageddon, and the only one of those parties not yet disposed of ; not having himself appeared personally in the field, but aiming rather to compass his ends through the beast and false prophet.
As the old serpent, we are again reminded by this dragon of the delusive spirit bringing our first parents into the position of condemnation, under the pretext of making thein as gods—a delusion to which Paul adverts in a passage of his Epistles, in which he aiins particularly at cautioning those whom he addresses against glorying otherwise than in the Lord : " But I fear,” he says, “ lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve, through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ;" the tendency of this arch-deceiver's efforts from the beginning being that of prompting man to go about to establish his own righteousness, by fulfilling the law for himself, that he may have " wherewith to glory.”
The appellation the devil (the accuser) we have perhaps already sufficiently enlarged upon, ($ 282 ;) but it is important for us to bear in mind that this agent of the law, although a false accuser of the elements of the economy of grace, (the brethren,) is not a false accuser of man, in charging him with sin. Here the accusations of the devil are but too well founded; and it is for this reason that his power is to be dreaded by the disciple, so long as the latter feels himself out of Christ. Neither are we to look upon the devil merely as a tempter, leading man to the commission of moral evil, for
every man is tempted,” it is said, (Jas. i. 14,) “ when he is drawn away of his own lusts and enticed ;" a trial, as experience teaches us, continuing through life. We have no occasion to go out of ourselves to find a tempter. The scriptural view of the functions of the devil (Siáßolos) we apprehend to consist especially in bringing the sinner to condemnation after the temptation has been yielded to.
The meaning of the Hebrew appellation Satan, or, as it might be rendered, the Satan, (ó oatavās,) confirms our view of this individual's character. The term is not a proper name, as we are apt to suppose it; it is a cominon noun, a title, and should be used with the article. It is applied in the Old Testament to human as well as to superhuman beings; its signification, an adversary, or the adversary, may be spoken of an enemy in the field, or of an adversary in a court of justice—an enemy in a spiritual or in a natural sense: as Solomon bad political adversaries, to whom this appellation is applied, (1 Kings xi. 14, 23, 25,) while David employs the term to designate his spiritual enemies—the adversaries of his soul -the powers opposed to his justification in the sight of God. Trommius gives several interpretations, both of the noun and verb, in bis Heb. and Chald. Index, but the idea of temptation cannot be associated with either of them. The verb 736 whence the noun topeng (Satan) is derived, signifies primarily to resist, (oppose ;) employed judicially, it applies to the action of counsel for the prosecution, as, amongst other meanings, that of criminor (to accuse) is given to it by the author above quoted. « Blessed,” says David,) " is the man to whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity.” The coming of this blessedness, we suppose to be just the object of Satan's resistance. We should, accordingly, render the expression under consideration here in English as follows: “ And he laid hold of the dragon, the old serpent, which is the accuser and the adversary.”
§ 445. “And bound him a thousand years.'—We are now, it is to be recollected, contemplating the manifestation of the work of redemption, not the work itself. The present binding of Satan is a result of the conflict between the powers (errors) of the earth and the revealed Word of God, as distinguished from the contest between the Lamb and the dragon, (the accuser.) This last terminated once for all, when Christ once offered himself to bear the sins of many, (Heb. ix. 28.) Here there can be no change ; the counsels of God are immutable. The blood of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world has always been, and must always be triumphant. In respect to the exhibition of this truth, however, or to its influence upon any earthly scheme of doctrine, there may be said to be times when the Word of God prevails ; and other seasons when error, such as is represented by the beast, may appear to predominate.
It would not be difficult to imagine a period of a thousand years of such a manifestation of truth, as to show, in sight of all mankind, the power of the adversary (Satan) to be necessarily confined to a system figuratively spoken of as a bottomless pit. But when all the other parts of a passage in this book are to be taken in a spiritual or figurative sense, we see no reason for making the expression a thousand years an exception to the general rule. There is no reason why the term thousand, or that of years, should not be as figurative as the terms chain, key, pit, &c. In addition to this, we are to take into consideration the declaration of the mighty angel, (Rev. x. 7:) “ There shall be time no longer ;” and we have as good reason for applying this declaration to the term of one thousand years here, as we have had for applying it to the twelve hundred and sixty days. We have no warrant for maintaining the distinction, that the years are literal, but the days are figurative. So, on the other hand, if we were to consider the twelve hundred and sixty days, or forty-two months, as days of , months of thirty years each, by the same rule we should consider the period now under consideration as one of three hundred and sixty thousand years, instead of one thousand.
This is the only passage in the Apocalypse in which the term year or years occurs, except Rev. ix. 15, where we have assigned reasons for supposing the expression, hour, day, month, and year, to signify a time when, and not a period of duration. We are told, Ps. xc. 4, that a thousand years
in the sight of God are but as yesterday ; and 2 Peter iii. 8, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. We have some warrant, therefore, for supposing a thousand years, in