Page images
PDF
EPUB

at or before the final conversion and restoration of the Jews, and the commencement of the consequent glorious predicted times of blessedness.

After all which agreeing evidence, it seems to me that we shall probably not err in looking confidently for the coincident occurrence of the two grand events following: viz. Ist, the homeward return of the Jews from captivity, in fulness and strength like as when the mighty Euphratean stream of their conquerors is forced backward by the mightier influence of the tide of the Southern Ocean ;? 2. the gathering into, and the destruction in Judæa, of the Papal Antichrist, and perhaps too of the Mahommedan Turk.

CHAPTER V.

THE MILLENNIUM.

“And I saw an angel coming down ? from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit,' and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years; and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled : and after that he must be loosed a

| Psalm cxxvi. 4: “Turn our captivity, O Lord, as the rirers in the south.-Surely what I have hinted above is the meaning of this beautiful figure. The idea of streams dried up in the southern desert flowing again (of course in their old channels) on the rains commencing, -an idea suggested by Lowth, Horne, and other commentators in explanation,-ill suits the main point that the figure is evidently meant to illustrate, viz. the turning back again of the Jewish captivity. On the other hand, that which I suggest is a figure perfectly correspondent with the thing; and one which to the captive Jews in Babylon must have occurred as a figure equally appropriate and grand. For the force of the tide on the river, coming up as it did as far as Bussorah, must have been familiar to their minds : and appeared to them fully as striking as it did to the Macedonian soldiers of Alexander ; when first brought from the tideless coast of the Mediterranean, to see the ocean tides of the Persian Gulf, or of the Indian Sea. 2 καταβαινοντα.

ons aßuros* the same word that was used before in Apoc. ix. 1, xi. 7, xvii. 8. See my Vol. i. p. 414.

τα εθνη. .

3

little season.

And I saw thrones ;' and they sate upon them ; and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and the word of God, and whosoever had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands : and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection : on such the second death hath no power : but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison : and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle ;* the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.

And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and encompassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are ;and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sate upon it; from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away, and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God:6 and the books were opened : and another book was opened, which is the book of life : and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it. And death and hades gave up the dead which were in them : and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

So the Greek; Opoves, without the article. 2 OITIVES. either those whosoever; those being the accusative after I saw; or, of those whosoever ; of those being the genitive after yuxas.

3 This is according to the reading ave noay. The reading of Griesbach, Scholz, and Tregelles, is ešnoar. the same word as in verse 4. In Apoc. ii. 8 this latter word is used of Christ's resurrection; “Os eyeveto verpos kui eg noe.

EIS AONepov, to war. Scholz and Tregelles read EIS TOV Toleuov. Griesbach, in common with the received version, omits the tov.

5 This verb is not in the original. 6 €8. But Griesbach, Scholz, and Tregelles read evwmiOV 18 Opove, before the throne.

" And I saw a new heaven and a new earth : for the first beaven and the first earth had past away; and there was no more sea.”—Apoc. xx. 1--xxi. 1.

We now enter on the great subject of the MILLENNIUM. In the Apocalyptic revelations, the vision of the Beast and False Prophet being cast into the lake of fire was followed by that of the binding of the Dragon, now again explained to be the old Serpent, the Devil, and Satan, (the same that from the beginning even to the end had been the Spirit ruling in the hearts and the polities of the children of disobedience,) by an Angel that descended from heaven, and shut and sealed him up in the bottomless pit, or abyss, for 1000 years; so as that he might during that time have no more power to deceive the nations :—it being added, however, that he would afterwards be loosed for a little season. On the other hand thrones of judgment and royalty appeared set in the vision, whereon Christ and his saints were seen to take their sitting : it being the privilege of these latter to live and reign with Him the thousand years. * St. John specifies particularly, as if conspicuous among them, the

1 Scholz and Tregelles read more fully thus ; έτος και θανατος και δευτερος εστιν ή Alurn T8 Tupos. Griesbach and Mill omit the last four words.

Tapnadov. Griesbach, Scholz, and Tregelles read annalov had departed, passed away. In either case the aorist form of the verb is adopted; but in the sense of the pluperfect," had past away.” So anni dov, verse 4.

* See Vol. iii. p. 13, Note, on the same phrase, as used in Apoc. xii. 9.

4 That is, plainly, the same thousand years. The article prefixed four times to that phrase, (viz. in verses 3, 4, 5, and 7,) after its first mention as the term of Satan's binding in verse 2, identifies the period. So Pareus justly observes; in answer to Brightman's theory of the saints' millennium of reigning being one that would follow after Satan's millennium of incarceration.

• It seems to me that the souls of them that were beheaded, &c, were seen not as the only persons that took seat on the thrones, but only among them. This is a point important to note, as a contrary view of the intent of the phrase has by some been supposed and argued from.

souls of them that had been beheaded for the word of God and the witnessing of Jesus ; evidently the same individuals that he had beheld gathered under the altar, in a symbolic vision long antecedent, the victims of the persecutions of Rome Pagan;' and others also, whoso. ever had not worshipped, and did not at the time of the judgment worship, the Beast or his Image. --- In order thus to reign with Christ they rose to life again : whereas “ the rest of the dead lived not again till the thousand years were finished.” This was the first resurrection. “Blessed and holy,” it was said, " is he that hath part in the first resurrection : on such the second death hath no power: but they shall be priests of God and of Christ; and shall reign with him a thousand years.

And here the famous question opens, In what way are we to understand this vision and prophecy of the Millennium ? What the first resurrection spoken of, literal or figurative ? Who the persons who partake of it? What the nature of the devil's synchronous binding and

1

Assuredly there is nothing in the text to negative my idea. For 1st, it is not unusual either in common or in prophetic narrative, to specify but part only of objects that may have been seen; so as, for example, in John xx. 18. Mary Magdalene only mentions having seen Jesus, though she had actually seen two angels also, and again in this Chapter Apoc. xx. 12, the dead only are mentioned as those seen by St. John before the judgment-seat, though we know that all the living at the time are also then to receive judgment: indeed in the very verse under consideration Christ is not specified as seen enthroned ; though we know he must have been there; as (verses 4, 6) it was with him that the risen saints reigned. And 2ndly, we know from abundance of other Scriptures, as Dan. vii. 22, Apoc. iii. 21, v. 10, &c, that the saints generally are to be admitted to a participation in Christ's throne and reign.

HETENEKLOUEVWv' a verb derived from Telekus, an axe; which, together with the fasces, was conspicuous in the insignia of the consuls and other officers of the Roman Government, and signified their having authority to punish with death. Hence the passive verb came to signify being put to death by sentence of him to whom the power of the axe belonged, whatever the mode of execution ; and not the mere particular death of decapitation. So Vitringa.—Under the emperors, as I have elsewhere observed, the sword came to be the ensign of this judicial power, in place of the axe, (See my Vol. i. p. 145 ;) though not indeed to the supercession of the are. For this was still used as an instrument of punishment at Rome; for those I presume that were condemned by the consular and other inferior courts, distinctively from the imperial. So we read in Dion Cassius that Caracalla found fault with the executioner of Papinian, οτι αξινη αυτον και εξιφει διεχρησατο. .

και διτινες ου προσεκύνησαν. Mark here the use of the first aorist ; and its possible comprehensive significancy of time past, as reaching continuously to time present, so as expressed by me in the text. So εβασανισαν is used in Αpoc. . xi. 10.

incarceration? What the state of things on earth corresponding? What the chronological position and duration of the Millennium ? What the sequel of events, on the devil's being loosed again at its termination ? Finally, what the relation of this millennary period and its blessedness to the New Jerusalem, afterwards exhibited in the Apocalypse ; and what also to the paradisiacal state predicted in the Old Testament prophecies, as to be introduced on the Jews' conversion and restoration ?-1 purpose in the present chapter to discuss and answer the general question, What the first resurrection, with which the Millennium is to open : then in the next, to consider more in detail, upon the principle of interpretation thus previously established, the probable order of events introductory to its establishment, and state of things during the Millennium, and after it.

With regard then to our present subject,—viz. THE MILLENNIAL FIRST RESURRECTION,-it is to be observed that there have been four principal solutions offered of it; in brief as follows.

The first,—which was that of Papias, Justin Martyr, renæus, Tertullian, and others of the earlier Christian Fathers, supposed this resurrection to be literally that of departed saints and martyrs, then at length resuscitated in the body from death and the grave :-its time (agreeably with the order of the vision in the Apocalyptic narrative) to synchronize with, or follow instantly

| Let me cite Justyn Martyr and Tertullian as fittest exponents of this class of patristic expositors. 1. Justin Martyr. Εγω δε, και ει τινες ορθογνωμονες κατα παντα Χριστιανοι, και σαρκος αναστασιν γενήσεσθαι επισταμεθα, και χιλιά ετη εν Ιερουσαλημ οικοδομηθειση και κοσμηθειση και πλατυνθειση, ώς οι προφηται Ιεζηκιηχ kai 'Hoaias kai oi atrol duonoyovoi. So in the Dial. cum Tryph. (Ed. Colon. p. 307. And again, ib. p. 309. Ανηρ τις ώ ονομα Ιωαννης, είς των αποστολων του Χριστου, εν Αποκαλυψει γενομενη αυτή, χιλια ετη ποιησειν εν Ιερουσαλημ τους τα ημετερφ Χριστη πιστευσαντας προεφητευσε και μεσα ταυτα την καθολικην και, , συνελoντι φαναι, αιωνιαν ομοθυμαδον αμα παντων αναστασιν γενησεσθαι και κρισιν. And he speaks of this as the maliyyevedia of those that expect Christ in Jerusalem.—2. Tertullian, " Post mille annos, intrà quam ætatem includitur sanctorum resurrectio, pro meritis maturius vel tardius resurgentium : tunc, demutati in atomo in angelicam substantiam, transferemur in cæleste regnum.” Adv. Marcion, iii. 24. This latter passage is a little abbreviated.

? As Hippolytus, Cyprian, Victorinus, Methodius, Lactantius. &c. VOL. IV.

N

« PreviousContinue »