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profess I see none, that can so much as raise, much less settle my belief.
Supposing, then, as we well may, that this place of Rev. XI. stands alone; let us enquire, whether the sense of it be so clear, as that we may, with good assurance, build upon it, for the certainty of our resolution, concerning the state of the whole world, and par. ticularly of all God's Saints, for the space of a whole thousand years, lost hitherto in the vulgar account of all Christian Divines. Surely, there can be but one truth; and, whatever falls beside it, is but vain opinion: as, when two points are fixed, there can be but one direct line drawn betwixt them: all other bewray a manifest variation and obliquity. The stars, because they keep a regular course, yield most certain observations of their scite and motions: but the clouds, which are raised out by vapours and carried by winds, how far they are from affording a true judgment, let every almanack witness. Now whether this conceit be a star or a cloud, shall appear by that which followeth.
The Divers SOME expositors then, and those neither few nor mean, Constructions have taken the Thousand Years of Satan's shutting up, of the Thou- to be the same thousand wherein the Saints shall reign, sand Years of Others, not fewer, make the Saints' Reign to follow Satan's shutling up.
this binding of Satan, for many hundreds of Years.
And, for the time of this chaining up of Satan, some take the Thousand Years for a long time, but indefinite: so Fulke * and Deodati t. Others construe literally, of that determinate number of years specified. Some define it to be the whole time, since the first publishing of the Gospel to the end of the world: so Nicholaus Zegerus, Emmanuel Sa, and Estius I. Some deterinine it to be the whole time of the Gospel published, until the days of their Antichrist; which should be three years and a half before the judgment: so Ribera ş, out of Augustin : so Haymo 1, and Joannes Gagnæus a Divine of Paris.
Some define this number of the Thousand Years to begin the Thirty-sixth year, or thereabouts, after our Saviour's death ; when, the Jewish Church being overthrown, Satan rushed impetuously upon the Church Christian, and was restrained till the days of Hil. debrand : so Junius.
Some define it to begin from the time of Constantine (whom Mr. Brightman conceives to be that angel, which, coming down from heaven, and having the keys of the bottomless pit, laid hold on the Dragon, and bound him in chains) till the Thousand Years expired; which ended in the one thousand three hundredth year of Christ, in the days of Boniface the Eighth, and the Ottoman empire: 'so Napier, and Brightman, and Mr. Fox.
* Fulke in loc.
Ribera in loc.
+ Deodat. in loc. # Zegerus, Sa, Estius, in loc. || Haymo I. vii. in Apoc.
Some reckon it from first preaching of the Gospel by Christ and his Apostles, until the time of Gregory the Seventh, otherwise called Hildebrand; and the time of Satan's loosing to be four hundred or five hundred years : so Dent.
Others, ending the time of Satan's shutting up, in the year 1300, make the time of his rage to be an hour, a day, a month, and a year; that is, about three hundred and ninety years after : so Brightman.
Some others make the loosing of Satan to be, when Mahomet and the Pope grew so great; which was at the end of the thousand years after Christ; in all which time the sincere doctrine was taught; till Antichrist came in with the doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass, and the doctrine of Merits, Satisfactions, &c: so Fulke.
Some place the beginning of Satan's binding up on the year 1517, when the Witnesses were raised; for that, from that time all people have not generally drunk any new poison of heresy, which might weaken or overthrow their faith: go Matthæus Cotterius.
Some others imagine the beginning of this chaining up of Satan to be after the taking of Rome by the Goths, and after Augustulus, who was the last Emperor of the West; affirming, though upon fickle grounds, that, after the fall of the Roman Empire, yea after Mahomet, there was peace in the Church for one thousand years ; so as Satan was bound, and shut up in the bottomless pit, till this last age now passed : so Mariana.
Others hold that this Thousand Years of Satan's binding up is not yet begun, but shall be in this age, wherein the Saints' Reign shall enter about the year 1694: so Alstedius and his followers.
These are some of those varieties of constructions (for, if I listed to look after them, it were easy to cloy the reader with many more: these tendered themselves to me suddenly, and as it were unsought) which have passed concerning the Thousand Years? Captivity of Satan, whereby it pleased the Spirit of God to make way to the Thousand Years' Reign of the Saints. In the determination where of there is no less multiplicity of judgment amongst learned and Christian interpreters; some few whereof I shall lay forth before
AND, first, concerning the times of this reign. The Divers
“A thousand," saith Haymo *, “is a perfect num- Constructions, ber; and, therefore, by a thousand years, we under- of the l'houstand the present life and the future: now the Saints sand Years'. reign by faith; and, in the Day of Judgment, their Reign of the reign shall not be terminated, but receive a glorious augmentation,” So he.
• Haymo in Apoc. I. vä.
To the same purpose, saith Colladon*, “ The Thousand Years are the whole series of time here in this world, in which there shall be always a Church of Christ. As the faithful have lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years, that is in the whole space of this life, so they shall reign with Christ a thousand years in the whole duration of the world to come.”
And, if this seem too large, surely these men do not shoot further over than Joannes Brocardus shooteth short; who contracteth the Thousand Years after the establishment of the Gospel, into a thousand days here on earth : as, contrarily, Jonas's forty days were stretched out into forty years.
Of those, that hold not fit to divide the time betwixt the present and future life, some understand the Thousand Years' Reign to be understood of the flourishing estate of the Church Militant, during the time of Satan's captivity: “ For all the faithful," say they,“ do, in a sort, live and reign with Christ here on earth, when they overcome the world by faith :" so Mr. Dent. Some, again, take it of the whole time, between the First Coming of Christ and the Second: so Oecolampadius, in Daniele. Others, waving the present life, define it to be meant of that glorious kingdom, which the souls of the Saints enjoy in heaven until the Day of Judgment : so Mariana : so Estius: and Fulke, to the same purpose, thus :-"These Martyrs, being delivered from the calamities of this miserable life by the first death, and being taken up into heavenly joys, they live and reign still with Christ, through the whole Thousand Years, so long as Satan shall remain in bonds: not, that, after that Thousand Years, they shall die; but to express how great a benefit it was to the godly, to be all that while in happiness" thus he sit without any supposition of a preceding resurrection. Joannes Piscator, as going yet further, even half the Millenary way, so constraes it, as that it is to be understood of the raised Martyrs and their ensuing glorifi. cation: “ This,” saith he, " is the singalar happiness of the Mar: tyrs of Christ, who, before these Thousand Years, endured perse. cution; even their resurrection, which shall be before the General Resurrection; and their reign in heaven with Christ for a thousand years, before the resurrection of the rest.
Of those, which take this Thousand Years' Reign, to be in this life below, there is no small variety of construction. Hlyricus + takes it to be an invertion of sense, the predicate being set before the subject, the relative before the antecedent : so as the order of the sense should be thus ; “I saw the souls of those, that worshipped not the beast &c. and that died for Christ, to live and reign with him, and to sit on their thrones, and judge the wicked; reigning with Christ spiritually, in suffering bodily; as those, who, by their martyrdom for Christ, shall reign and triumph, all the tinie of Satan's repression, over him and his wicked instruments." Aretius, thus: “They lived again, and reigned with Christ: that is, their cause was found just before him; and they were openly accounted and pronounced Saints.” “The Thousand Years' Reign," saith Ribera, " is not to be referred to those, which worshipped not the beast; for he speaks not of them as dead: but is to be referred to the souls of those, which had been martyred for the testimony of Jesus; that is, to those, who, when he wrote this, had suffered death for Christ:" so he. But others take it for a later reckoning “This Reign of a Thousand Years,” saith Brightman *, “was to begin where the former period ended; that is, in the year 1300: wherein the continuance of the truth is promised to be for a thousand years, after the restitution of it in these parts of Europe, whose is the First Resurrection : we only have seen three whole hundreds of it past, since the First Resurrection:" thus he. “ Not so," saith Nr. Cotton t, “but, after the destruction of Antichrist, the Saints shall enjoy that liberty a thousand years together: not any one of them, but men of the same spirit shall reign with Christ á thousand years in the government of the Church upon earth : reign with him, that is, execute not their own government, but the government of Christ.”. “Nay,” saith Alstede, Mede, and Archer, " that sense falls too short: but the bodies of the Martyrs and Saints shall rise again in the beginning of those thousand years, before the universal and last Resurrection; and shall reign here with Christ upon earth, as being appointed governors of the Church with Christ.” “No, they shall not rise in their bodies," saith Mr. Cotton; " but there shall rise men of the same spirit; who shall have the judicature and government of the Church, together with these Angels, or Messengers, and Ministers of God: those that were branded before for heretics, they shall be the only men to be fit to have crowns on their heads, and INDEPENDENT government committed to them :" thus he.
* Colladon in Apoc. xx.
of Flac. Illyric. Gloss. in Apoc.
But I may not tire the reader too much, with the enumeration of these differences.
Some take this Thousand Years' Reign to take beginning af ter the Second Resurrection: whom Mr. Brightman absolutely rejects.
Others, in the other extreme, imagine themselves now already reigning with Christ; their Resurrection or change to be already passed; and themselves glorified, and possessed of the New Jerusalem descended from heaven: who, if they do find in themselves these bigh workings of the Spirit, which they profess; and be so far transported with these raptures, as to think themselves already in their new heaven; I should not be more apt to wonder at their ecstasies, than to pity their glory.
Mr. Mede makes the Thousand Years' Reign to be the day of a more visible and apparent judgment; circumscribed with two conspicuous Resurrections, as two limited terms. “It shall be,” saith he 1, " begun, first, with the particular and timely judgment of An
• Brightman Apocal. + Cotton. Resurrection of Churches.
Mede, Commentarium Apoc. cap. part 2.
tichrist, and other enemies of the Church then remaining alive, with the glorious appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ, in flames of fire: and, at length, after the Kingdom of a Thousand Years granted to his holy Spouse, the New Jerusalem, here on earth, and others that shall afterward be born, this great day, now drawing to an end, shall be finished, after the letting loose of Satan and utter destruction of the Church's enemies, with the General Resurrection and Judgment of all the Dead; which being performed, the wicked shall be thrust down to hell to be tormented everlastingly, and the Saints translated into beaven to reign eternally with Christ.” So he.
Shortly, some hold this Reign of Christ with his Saints for the Thousand Years shall be personal and visible: so Mede and Archer. Others, that, this while, Christ shall reign visibly in heaven, invisibly upon earth : so Alstedius. Others leave it in medio, whether personal or otherwise: so Mr. Burroughs *
And, lastly, whereas this Kingdom of the Thousand Years relates to the Resurrection; some hold the First Resurrection spiritually to be understood, of rising from siu by a spiritual regeneration: so Fulke and Aretius. Others take it of a bodily resurrection of some elect persons, before the general: as Alstede and Mede. Others take it of a resurrection of Churches, when recovered from their apostatical and dead estate in idolatry: so Mr. Cotton f. Others, lastly, make the first Resurrection to be the glorification of the souls of the elect; and the Second, at the general day, the arising to their perfect blessedness, both in souls and bodies : so Gagnæus. Some appropriate this First Resurrection and Reign to Martyrs only: others enlarge it to all the Saints.
Now, Lord, where are we? What reader doth not find himself lost in this wilderness of opinions ? Or what living man can, in such diversities of probable judgments, say, this, not the other, is the sense of the Holy Ghost ? It was a wise and true word of that Father, Melius est dubitare de occultis, quàm litigare de incertis : “It is better to doubt of things hidden, than to quarrel about things uncertain.”
And, to the same purpose, is that discreet and moderate counsel of Deodati : “ In all this prophecy,” saith he, “it is better and more sure to expect and stay for the explication of the event, than to give it without any certain ground: which seasonable advice, if it had been accordingly followed by many of our zealous compatriots, had saved me the labour of this not over-pleasing discourse.
Burroughs in Hos. Lect, 7.
+ Cotton. Resurrection of Churches.