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monies should in any way impede the progress of the gospel; or-finally, at the accession of Constantine as emperor, which opinion is the most common, at which period the free exercise of religion was granted to Christians; and the consequence was, that Satan was no longer openly permitted to seduce the nations or persecute them through the furious cruelty of heathen emperors: wherever, 1 say, this binding begin, it is clear that the time is long since past, and is no more to be expected in future. But though in some intervals Satan was not so bound, but that he still brought various evils on the church; yet that prediction does not fail of its accoinplishment, because the binding was not to be absolute, but limited."*
P. Mastricht, an eminent Professor of Theology at Utrecht, has expressed himself in similar language.
“The thousand years may be understood to have elapsed some time since, whether they be reckoned from the incar
* “ Ut ligatio Satanæ per mille annos coincidit annis, quibus Martyri eum Christo regnatori sunt; si constet millennarium ligationis Satanæ jam lapsum esse, eo patebit regnum mille annorum jam præterisse, nec amplius esse expectandum. Undequaque autem ista ligatio Satanæ inchoetur; vel a Servatoris incarnatione, ut quibusdam placet, quo tempore fortis a fortiori ligatus est, et ei erepta sunt vasa, et e tenebris in regnum lucis translata, Matt. 12: 29; vel ab ejus passione et morte, ut aliis visum, in quá ligatus est Satan per Christum, erepto ei chirographo quod nobis contrarium erat, et contrito ejus capite, et triumpho de illo acto, Col. 2: 14, 15; Heb. 2: 14 ; vel in excidio Hierosolymitano, cum aliis, ne legalium obsoleta reverentia evangelii cursum quovis modo impediret; vel denique in Constantini M. imperio, ut pluribus probatur, quo tempore liberam Christianis concessuin est religionis exercitium, effectumque, ut Satanæ non amplius liceret aperte et impune gentes seducere, et per grassantem imperatorum gentilium sævitiam persequi. Undecunque, inquam, ista ligatio inchoatur, liquet tempus hoc jamdudum præteriisse, nec in posterum esse amplius expec. tandum. Licet autem in istis intervallis non ita ligatus fuerit Satan, quin varia ad huc mala ecclesiæ intulerit; non desinit tamen oraculum istud complementum suum sortiri; quia ligatio ista non debuit esse absoluta sed limitata,-F. Turretini Institut. Theol. p. 650. 1701.
nation or death of our Saviour, or from the destruction of Jerusalem, or from the death of Constantine the Great. If from the incarnation, the thousand years would cease under Sylvester II. ; if from the crucifixion, under Benedict IX.; if from the commencement of Constantine's reign, under Boniface VIII., at the rise of the Ottoman power, and when the dreadful persecutions of the Waldenses were raging about the thirteenth century. So that the sense of the whole passage may be thus given : Satan, either from the incarnation of Christ, or rather from the reign of Constantine, was bound so far that he should not any more seduce whole nations to idolatry, or cause such bloody persecutions of Christians, until the time of Boniface VIII. in the year 1300; then for a short time, that is, till the period of the Reformation, he was let loose to seduce whole nations, partly by Antichrist, then prevailing greatly in the West, and partly by the Mohammedan power then extending its conquests."*
J. Marck, a distinguished divine of Leyden, thus states his opinion :
“We believe that a space perhaps about a thousand years is intended : which began with the birth of Christ, or with his personal ministry, or at his resurrection, or even with the
* Mille illi anni, dudum præterlapsi intelligi possunt, sive supputentur ab incarnatione, aut passione Servatoris; sive ab excidio Hierosolymitano; sive ab imperio Constantini Magni. Si ab incarnatione, desinent mille anni in Sylvestro secundo; si a passione, in Benedicto nono; si ab excidio Hierosolymitano, in Gregorio septimo; si ab initio Constantini M. in abortu Bonifacii octavi, et in ortu familiæ Ottomanicæ, et Waldensium funestis persecutionibus, circa seculum decimum tertium. Ut sensus loci universi emergat, Satanamn, sui ab incarnatione Christi, seu potius ab imperio Constantini M. ligalum fuisse, eatenus, ut non amplius seduceret integras gentes ad idololatriam, aut persecutiones Christianorum tam cruentas, usque ad Bonifacium octayum, anno MCCC tum ad breve tempus, scil. usque ad reformationis tempus, solutum fuisse, ut seduceret integras nationes, partim per Antichristum, maxime tum invalescentem in Occidenti; partim per Mahummedanum, tum exoriens.- Mastricht, Theol. vol. i. p. 483. 1698.
reign of Constantine, or at every one of these in succession, and flowed on till it broke forth into Antichristian and Mohammedan impiety, spreading more and still more. Satan was then bound by Christ more closely than before, by being impeded in seducing the nations ; martyrs and other believers, as it respects their souls, living and reigning with Christ on his celestial throne, and forward to all eternity; while the other dead lived not again in a similar way at death, nor before it in a saving conversion on this earth.”*
These extracts will, it is presumed, take off the odium of novelty from the interpretation now proposed, although they may fail to establish its justness to the mind of the reader. Indeed they are not adduced for that purpose. For this we rely exclusively upon the foregoing train of annotation upon the chapters which have come under review, and in which we now proceed.
“And set a seal upon him.” The abyss, as we have before remarked, is represented by the prophet under the image of a great pit or den, such as slaves and prisoners were anciently confined in, as the prisons of the oriental nations are usually, like their graves, under ground, in which respect they differ from similar receptacles among the Europeans. Thus Is. 24: 22, 'And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison.' It is owing to this fact that graves are frequently compared to prisons, and prisons
* Credimus innui circiter forte mille annorum spatium, quod vel a nativitate, vel a predicatione, vel a resurrectione Christi, vel a Spiritus effusione, vel a vastatione Jerosoly mæa, vel etiam a Constanzini imperio, vel ab his omnibus per gradus successivos, Antichristianam et Mahummedicain impietatem, ligato tum a Christo Satanâ magis quam antea, per impeditam gentium seductionem; viventibus et regnantibus martyribus ac reliquis fidelibus respectu animarum cum Christo in cælesti throno, et in omnem porro æternitatem, dum non reviviscebant similiter in ipsa morte, nec salutari conversione ante cum his in terris, reliqui mortui.—Comp. Theol. p. 651. tert. ed. Amstelod. 1722.
to graves, the latter being nothing else than subterranean excavations, vaulted and walled with stone, or cut out of the solid rock, and having a large stone to cover the aperture. From this circumstance arose the application of the terms 'shutting' and 'sealing' to cells or caverns of this kind, of which the following instances afford a pertinent illustration: Dan. 6: 17, 'And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den ; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords ; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.' Mat. 27: 59, 60, 66, ' And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock : and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. So they went and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.' As therefore in these two passages it is said that a seal was added for greater security, so the angel is here said not only to have 'shut up' the Dragon, but also to have set a seal' upon him. It is observable also that wells were anciently closed in like manner,
as is evident from the incident related Gen. 29: 2, 3, ' And a great stone was upon the well's mouth. And thither were all the flocks gathered; and they rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again upon the well's mouth, in his place.' Thus Cant. 4: 12, the Bride is compared to a 'well shut up' to preserve its water pure from defilement, and to a “fountain sealed' -anyi topgayiquévn. The Hebrew enn hatham, signifies
* This was the custom of the ancient Egyptians; and, as we learn from Homer, of the Phrygians loo. Αίψα δ' άρ' ές κοίλην κάπετον θέσαν αυτάρ ύπερθε Πυκνοίσιν λάεσσι κατεστόρεσαν μεγάλοισι.-Iliad, ω. ν. 797. Last o'er the urn the sacred earth they spread, And raised the tomb, meinorial of the dead.-Pope.
both to 'shut' and to seal ;' and Hesychius defines opašuuevos having sealed, by nhélas having shut. So the poet Aristophanes, whose plays abound with allegories, introduces Peace as having been before thrown into a dungeon, the entrance of which was blocked up with stones, to denote the difficulty of securing its presence among men. Indeed, anything that is said to be sealed' is supposed to be out of use and unknown till it is re-opened. Accordingly the effectual restraint laid upon Paganism during the period in question, answers, with great exactness, to the drift of the symbols employed, where the gradations in the process of the Dragon's seizure and confinement are very clearly marked: he is taken-bound—cast into the abyssshut up—and sealed, and thus fully secured in what is afterward, ver. 7, expressly termed his prison.'
“ That he should deceive the nations no more. The Ovn, nations, here spoken of are the nations occupying the territories of the Roman empire or the people of Christendom, in contradistinction from the nations of the abyss,' or the idolatrous tribes lying without the limits of the imperial jurisdiction. These converted 'nations,' during the period specified, although they were to be subjected to the Beast, and brought under the baleful influence of a corrupt Christianity, yet they were to be exempted from that peculiar form of deception,' or delusion, which consist in the open embracing of the abominations of Paganism. There was much indeed of the spirit of Paganism in the corrupt doctrines and practices of the Romish church, for the ecclesiastical Beast is said to have 'spoke as the dragon,' but still it is not called in the prophecy by that name.
The same body of men are nowhere said to be, at the same time, under the governance both of the Dragon and the Beast. They are the symbolical represensatives of two distinct communities, the one nominally Christian, the other positively Pagan. They embrace,