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mystic language, to be an interchangeable term for a day ; that is, time in a literal sense is not to be taken into consideration. The period here mentioned, is to be considered as the figure of a state of things resulting from a certain manifestation of truth ; a stage in the progress of revelation, beyond which there is yet some further development to be made : as when we speak of the day of the Lord, we associate with this term the idea of a state of things of an indefinite duration, or a change in a state of things, and not merely the short period of twenty-four hours. This construction appears the more probable, as this period of a thousand years, whatever it may be, is supposed to have elapsed before the conclusion of the present chapter ; and the events taking place subsequent to its termination are related in the past tense, (vs. 9 and 10,) as if they were supposed to occur almost contemporaneously with those related in the first part of the chapter.
The revelation showing Satan (the legal accuser) to be bound, exhibits a state of things, in which the law is no longer in operation, in a pena! sense ; an arrangement of principles, placing the disciple in a position in which there is no room for his labouring to effect his own justification by works of the law. This position is one of rest—a rest from servile labour ; not a state of inactivity, but an entire suspension of action from mercenary motives. Such a state resulting from the disciple's position in Christ, we suppose to be represented, as already intimated, (5 338,) by the Levitical Sabbath. A position, in which the believer is not only relieved from labour, but in which it is even unlawful for him to labour, in the servile sense of the term; that is, a position in which it would be entirely inconsistent for him to act from a servile, mercenary, or selfish motive. As this position of rest has been typically represented from the beginning by the seventh day of the week, so it appears to correspond with what is commonly called the millennium—the seventh day of a thousand years in the history of the world ;—the period supposed to be alluded to by the thousand years specified in this passage.*
$ 446. “And cast him into the bottomless pil, and shut him up;' or, locked him up.—The key is still the instrument of confinement, as the word translated shut implies ; not that the concealing of a mystery is part of the use of the key, but that this instrument, by opening the mystery, exhibits the condition of the individual confined. The angel (message or revelation)
* Our world, according to the common chropology, has been created nearly sis thousand years, (5943.) Another millennial period, after the completion of the current sixth, would correspond with the seventh day of the week. We do not say that the occurrence of a thousand years of literal peace and quietness on this earth is necessarily to be expected; but we say, If such a season should occur, it would be like the Sabbath, a typical representation of that more important state of rest and peace which results from the disciple's position in Christ, and from the binding of Satan, in our spiritual sense of the term.
with his chain and key, manifests the restriction of the power of the accuser to a certain position ; showing it to be only by those, who are in the bottomless pit with the adversary, that his accusations are to be dreaded.
And set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till,' &c.—The design of sealing places of confinement (Dan. vi. 17) was, no doubt, to prevent their being opened illegally; for, although a door may be locked by one key, it may be opened by another, (a false key.) In such case, if sealed, the fraud would be discovered. This seems to have been a contrivance of early in vention, being probably more necessary when the art of the locksmith was less perfected than it is at present. Here the seal appears intended to show the true character of the adversary. His power is not only manifestly confined to a certain position, but a seal is set over him in this position, that his influence may not be exercised under false pretences; the sealing, as we apprehend, being especially with reference to the prevention of this influence.
The term nations we take here, as elsewhere in the Apocalypse, to represent elements of doctrine—powers of the earthly system—subject to perversion, from a misuse of the accusatory character of the law; the word translated here deceive, and elsewhere seduce, signifying a turning from the right way, (ravdw, a recto itinere abduco—in errorem impello, Suiceri. Lex.) Satan is spoken of as deceiving the whole world, Rev. xii. 9, where he is said also to be cast out into the earth. Subsequently to this, those that dwell on the earth are said to be deceived (led astray) by the false prophet, (Rev. xiii. 14 ; xix. 20 ;) and again, to have been seduced (led astray) by the sorceries of Babylon, (Rev. xviij. 23.) We presume these two last deceivers to be agents of Satan, the adversary acting upon the earth—deluding, deceiving—through their instrumentality. As their influence is now at an end, it is necessary only to arrest that of the accuser himself, acting in his own person, but when it suits his purposes transforming himself into an "angel of light”-in appearance a messenger of righteousness. In this character, if not chained, locked up, and sealed, he might now appearusing the law unlawfully, manifesting great zeal for its fulfilment, but in reality so misrepresenting the divine purposes of grace, as to undermine the faith of the disciple, and to deprive the Saviour of his glory. To prevent , this a seal is set over him, showing his true character and his true position. So long as these are manifested, the opposite position of rest in Christ is also manifested, and a millennium, in a spiritual sense, exists in the doctrinal systems of those who enjoy this view of the privileges and blessings of the kingdom of Christ ; such, for example, as are depicted in the seventy-second Psalm, and in the eleventh chapter of Isaiah. This stage in the manifestation of gospel truth, we suppose to be figuratively here spoken of as a thousand years.
And after that he must be loosed for a little season.'— Aster the expiration, the ending of the thousand years, the adversary is to be released from his confinement for a little time. That is, time figuratively speakingduration of time in a literal sense not being the subject of consideration, whether the space spoken of be long or short ; the same rule of construction applying to “ a little time” as to a thousand years, or to twelve hundred and sixty days. The seventh king was to “continue a short space,” (Rev. xvii. 10,) and there may be some correspondence between these two short reigns—different figures, perhaps, symbolizing the same truth. may
understand the nature of this liberation better when we come to examine the effect of it, as set forth in the great battle detailed in a subsequent part of this chapter, (vs. 7–10.) We notice here only that this confinement to the bottomless pit is represented to be something of a temporary character—something distinct from a final destruction, or a going into perdition ; the pit representing a system apparently identic with hades, which itself is a subject of destruction, (v. 14.) Satan is first cast from heaven to earth ; secondly, from earth into the pit; and finally, (thirdly,) into the lake of fire.
Vs. 4, 5. And I saw thrones, and they Και είδον θρόνους και εκάθισαν επ' sat upon them, and judgment was given αυτούς, και κρίμα εδόθη αυτοίς· και τας that were belheaded for the witness οι ψυχές των πεπελεκισμένων δια την μαρτυJesus, and for the word of God, and which piav 'Irooù xui diù tóv luyov toj Isoč, had not worshipped lie beast, neither this και οίτινες οι προσεκύνησαν το θηρίον οίδε image, neither had received (his) mark iiv xixóra uvroù xai ovx škoßov to zúquyupon their foreheads, or in their hands και μα επί το μέτωπον και επί την χείρα αυτών, and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead rai ëgy gav zai puoihevoov mere roũ Xplolived not again until the thousand years του τα χίλια έτη. Οι δε λοιποί των νεκρών were finished. This (is) the first resur- ουκ έζησαν άχρι τελεσθή τα χίλια έτη: rection.
αύτη η ανάστασις η πρώτη. $ 447. “And I saw thrones,' &c.; or, I saw seats, &c., that is, certain tribunals of judgment.—We have just had an account of a great battle; we have had the particulars of the loss suffered by the vanquished; their killed, and the prisoners taken ; the manner in which these prisoners were treated ; and, finally, the manner in which the instigator of the war is bound hand and foot and cast into prison. Throughout this narration, the process common in ancient times in the conduct of battles of extraordinary importance is supposed to be adopted. As a marriage feast is one mode of illustrating certain mysterious truths, a battle is another means of representing other mysteries. In both cases the customs of the times are to be taken into consideration.
Pursuing the analogy, the account being completed of the punishment to which the defeated rebels and their leaders have been subjected, we come next to a relation of the honours and rewards allotted to the victors. For the distribution of these rewards we may expect to see something like a tribunal of judgment. The figure, however, is Asiatic, rather than Greek or Roman. With republics, or with aristocracies, and even with mixed monarchies, the seat of government is at home. A Grecian general would have submitted an account of his proceedings to an assembly of the people, and the meed of praise or blame would have depended upon the public voice. A Roman consul, or dictator, and even a Roman emperor, would have depended upon the action of a senate for a decree of triumph. But with the pure inonarchies of the east, wherever the sovereign is to be found, there is also the seat of government. If a warlike sovereign takes the field himself, the tribunal of supreme judgment, as well as the legislative and executive power,
supposed to follow the commander-in-chief even on the battle ground.
In keeping with this view of Asiatic customs, we have no occasion to imagine a pause in the succession of the scenes here presented. It is as if immediately after a great military contest, in which the sovereign had commanded in person, seats of judgment were erected on the field bearing evidences of the recent triumph, for the allotment of rewards to those who had distinguished themselves, by judges appointed for the purpose.
The apostle does not say how many seats or thrones he saw—perhaps this is not material ; whatever the number, we suppose these tribunals to represent something of the same character as that ascribed to the thrones of the twenty-four elders, ($ 121.) The law and the testimony are here, as elsewhere, the criterion of judgment: the testimony itself comprehending the whole evidence of divine revelation, whatever is judged must be judged by this standard; corresponding with the language of the prophet, Is. viii. 20, already quoted.
$448. 'And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded,' &c.—The word translated beheaded is from the verb gelexiča, to strike with an axe. The kind of axe with which the blow is struck, must be gathered from the circumstances of the case. The noun πέλεκυς may signify a common axe, a battle-axe, or the axes borne by the lictors amongst the Romans before their consuls, (Donnegan.) The term occurs nowhere else in the New Testament ; in the Septuagint it is applied to the instruments of stonecutters and carpenters, or their uses. The custom of bearing axes by the lictors, probably arose from the previous very general use of the pole-axe in the field of battle. Taking into consideration the peculiarity that the assembly now described is supposed to be called together immediately after a great military conflict, we think that the allusion here is to the use of the battle-are. Our translators liave employed the term beheaded apparently from associating with the Greek word the idea of the use of the axe by order of the civil magistrate only.
If it had been said, I saw the souls of them that were slain, or of them that were killed by the sword, the reference would have carried us back to the followers of the beast slain by the sword out of the mouth of the Word of God. To avoid this misconstruction, the figure of a different weapon is employed for designating the wounded or killed on the side of the King of kings. The sword is peculiarly the weapon of the Holy Spirit. The poleaxe is the human instrument of warfare ; the more appropriately so in this case, from having been first employed as an instrument of labour in the works of men, afterwards as a military equipment, and finally as a symbol of the
power of the magistrate in carrying into effect the sentence of the law. In witnessing the late battle, the apostle saw the remnant of the beast-party (all except the two chiefs) slain by the sword. He now sees the souls of those on the other side that were slain by the axe, (bipennis, securis bellica.)*
The term soul or souls is very frequently employed in Scripture, by way of periphrasis, for the being itself. Perhaps it would be sufficient to consider it so intended here,—“I saw those that were slain or killed. That is, I saw them restored to life—a restoration implied in the subsequent declaration, that this is the first resurrection ; although the having been struck with an axe does not necessarily imply death. These souls might be taken as combatants on the side of truth, severely wounded in the cause, but not killed. Where the term soul is employed in contradistinction to that of body, we suppose it expresses the immortal part of the being; where it is employed in contradistinction to the term spirit, we take it to apply 10 something in a natural or physical sense, as distinguished from the same thing in a spiritual sense. There is nothing here, however, indicating either of these con
If we consider the killing or beheading of these beings equivalent to a separation of the natural from the spiritual sense, their resurrection would be a reunion of these two senses; but perhaps such a supposition at present would be premature.
For the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God.'-From this designation of the cause, on account of which these souls had suffered, we pre
* We have the authority of a Roman poet for considering the battle-ase, so common a weapon in ancient warfare, (that is, soon after the siege of Troy,) as to have been wielded even by seinale combatants.
At medias inter cædes exultat Amazon,
At circùm lectæ comites. Larinaque virgo,
Æ. xi. 648-657.