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6 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.
Ver. 4. And I saw thrones, &c.] In Daniel vii. 22, 26, “ the judgment sits ;' judgment is given to the saints ;--they possess the kingdom.” To this passage, St. Paul seems to allude in 1 Cor. vi. 2, 3, as well as does our Lord's promise in Matt. xix. 28; Luke xxii. 30, giving thrones of judgment to his disciples. These prophecies, dark in themselves, until the event and completion shall illustrate them, are here repeated, with some additional information; for, it is affirmed, that this reign of the saints shall continue" a thousand years.” Who the saints
a are, is at first expressed in very general terms, as also is the prophecy of Daniel. They sate; judgment was given unto them.” But among those who sit upon these thrones, are afterwards expressly enumerated they, who during the long conflict with the beast and false prophet, have kept the faith, even unto death, and refused the idolatrous worship to which they were tempted or forced by the worldly powers. These faithful sons and champions of the Church, are described as living and reigning with the Anointed, or Christ, the thousand years. And this early or first resurrection appears to be their exclusive privilege, and not to belong to the rest of the dead, who, it is said, shall not live, until the thousand years shall be completed.
Much has been written upon this promised Millennium, or reign of the saints; yet little that can afford satisfaction to the judicious. The meaning of a
1 Augustine, in Civ. Dei, lib. xx.c. 7, commenting on this chapter, says, that the doctrine of a Millennium, in which the saints were to enjoy a corporeal resurrection in this world, was founded on a notion that, after six thousand years of trouble, the saints should enjoy one thousand years of sabbath, or rest. But the doctrine was
prophecy of this kind can only be made manifest by the event which is to fulfil it. Before that time shall arrive, it is unsafe to conjecture after what method it shall be fulfilled; whether, as some prophecies, literally, or as others, typically; whether the departed saints and martyrs shall actually be raised again in their own persons, to effect so glorious a change in religion and morals, or whether, like Elijah, in the person of John Baptist, and David, in that of Christ, they shall live again in the persons of other saints, who shall fulfil their characters and offices, no man may presume to determine. It is best, therefore, after the example of the wise father Irenæus, respecting another prophecy, to “ wait the completion of the prediction."1" Yet, if we are not permitted to descend to a special interpretation, we may receive advantage from a general view. We may confidently indulge a well-grounded expectation, that happy times, of long duration, are yet destined for the Christian Church, even here upon earth. For the days will come, and seem at no very great distance, when, the beast and false prophet being removed, and Babylon sunk for ever, the devil, that ancient foe, shall be deprived of his wonted influence, and the prophecies, which in the Old Testament, as well as in the book of
founded on this passage of the revelation. The notion of the time only, in which the prophecy will be fulfilled, was taken from this tradition of the Church. From Papias, a good man, but weak and credulous, seem to have been derived those earthly notions of a Millennium, branded with the name of Chiliasm, which were adopted by some eminent writers of the ancient Church; by Irenæus, Apollinaris, Tertullian, Victorinus, Lactantius, &c. But there was another, and much more debasing, notion of a Millennium, entertained in those early times, in which gross, sensual, corrupting delights were supposed to make the felicity of the saints. This seems to have been derived from Cerinthus, and thence to have passed on to other heretics. Euseb. Hist. Eccl. lib. iii. c. 28.
1 Iren. lib. v. 30.
Revelation, promise happy times, shall be ac
Satan loosed, deceiveth the Nations, and is cast
into the burning Lake.
CHAP. XX. ver. 7-10. 7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
8 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.
1 An abstracted view of the sentiments of the ancients on this difficult, and as yet obscure subject, may be seen in Bishop Newton's Dissertations, vol. ii. 329-343, 8vo.; and of the moderns, in Lowman's Paraphrase and notes on Rev. p. 242—248. Some ingenious and useful hints are suggested in Mr. Kett's last volume on Prophecy. And a comprehensive, learned, and very judicious view of the whole subject may be read in Mr. Gray's (now Lord Bishop of Bristol) Discourse on Rev. xx.4–6. It is remarkable, that Dr. Whitby, who had declined to comment on the Apocalypse, assigning as his motive, that he felt himself unqualified for such a
, work, has ventured to explain this particular prediction of the Millennium; which being, as all agree, a prophecy yet unfulfilled, is of all others the most difficult. Yet, his Treatise on the true Millennium, may be perused with advantage. But, as it plainly appears that no one who lived before the completion of the prophecies of the Seals, the Trumpets, or the Harlot of Babylon, however learned and sagacious, was able to penetrate through the veil of these mysteries, nor was any progress made in assorting these prophecies, until the historical events fulfilling them appeared ; so, to the events alone are we to look with confidence for the complete illustration of these predictions. We can at present collect from them with safety, only general notions and assurances. Such, however, are sufficient to support our faith, if not to gratify our curiosity.
9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
10 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.
After the grand period of the Millennium, so favourable to the Christian cause, shall have come to its end, another apostasy shall unhappily take place. This is expressed figuratively, by Satan being again loosed, to deceive the nations. This new rebellion against the laws of God, and against the easy yoke of the Redeemer, is of formidable extent. The four corners of the earth, (that is, the nations of the whole earth, ') are engaged in it. It is an apostasy of a new kind; different at least from the former, in which the beast and false prophet were Satan's instruments of mischief. Beyond this we have little ground of conjecture. The enemies of the Christian Church, numerous as the sands upon the seashore, surround the camp of the saints, which is represented as in a state of siege. But the extinction of these enemies shall be sudden, miraculous, and complete. They shall be destroyed by fire, by fire from heaven, that is, miraculously and utterly.
This description is conformable to other ancient prophecies, still remaining to be fulfilled, or which have received only a partial and typical completion. Such are Isaiah Ixiii. lxvi.; Joel iii.; Ezek. xxxviii. and xxxix. ; which is the last prophecy in the book, and is said expressly to be of the latter days.
Gog and Magog will be found to signify the nations; those
1 See note, ch. iv. 6.
3 Excepting the exhibition of the temple, which being a subject entire of itself, was reckoned by the Jews as an additional book. See Joseph. Ant. Jud. lib. x. c. 6.
which were most distant, and yet hostile to the Church.' On all these prophecies, evidently not yet fulfilled, little can be conjectured with safety. They are to be handed down to the Church of the latter days, even as those prophecies, which we have seen fulfilled have been delivered to us; and with this consolation, that this “ overflowing of iniquity,” whenever it arrives, shall be miraculously and completely terminated. (Ezek. xxxix. 6; Isa. xlvii. 13, 14; xxxiii. 14.) And this is the last successful effort of Satan against the Church. He is then consigned to his eternal prison.
CHAP. xx. ver. 11 to the end. 11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; 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.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
The Christian Church being now triumphant over its enemies, and the instigator of all mischief being
1 See Mede's Works, p. 280; Abp. Newcome on Ezekiel xxxviii. 2; also Lowth on the same passage.