« EdellinenJatka »
therefore, in reality the two grand divisions of mankind, the Christian and the Heathen, and in the respective fates of each we are instructed in the final destiny of those portions of these two great bodies which persist in rejecting the everlasting gospel preached by the angel flying through the midst of heaven, and in pertinaciously adhering to their fatal delusions.
But in what sense was the Dragon to be restrained from deceiving the nations ? The character of the power by which the ' deceit' is to be practised, will doubtless go far to determine the nature of the deceit' itself, and this we have already settled in our preceding explanations. The Dragon is Paganism; his deceiving' the nations, therefore, is his seducing them into idolatry; and the consequence of his being bound is a happy immunity from his diabolical arts enjoyed by those who were formerly his victims. This interpretation, however, of the original term i havnon, should deceive, it will be proper to confirm by adducing the usage of the sacred writers, and showing that it has unequivocally the sense of doctrinal imposture, or of enticing men to the adoption of a false religion. As the style of the Apocalypse is essentially Hebraic in its character, its only adequate illustration is to be drawn from the language of the O. T. Scriptures as rendered in the Septuagint version. The pertinency of the following citations will be too obvious to escape the most casual eye. Deut. 4: 19, “And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun and the moon and the stars, even all the host of heaven πλανηθείς προσκυνήσης αυτοίςbeing deceived wouldst worship them.' Here is obviously enticement to idolatry. Again, Deut. 30: 17, ‘But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but theνηθείς προσκυνήσης θεοίς ετέροις-being deceived shalt worship other gods.' Deut. 11:28, 'And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but
thavnInte ånó tñs ósoū—are deceived, or err, out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods which ye have not known.' Deut. 13: 5, ' And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death, because he hath spoken πλανήσαι σε από κυρίου του θεού σου —to deceive thee from (following) the Lord thy God.' 2 Kings 21:9, ‘And Manasseh trhávnosv ů vious, seduced them to do more evil than did the nations whom the Lord destroyed.' The nature of this 'seduction' is fully explained in the preceding verses, where Manasseh is said to have “reared altars for Baal'—' made a grove'—'worshipped all the host of heaven'—' made his sons pass through the fire'-'set up a graven image in the house of the Lord,' etc. implying the complete institution of idolatrous worship. Jer. 23: 13, ' And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria ; they prophesied in Baal, xai érhárnoay tòv laóv uov—and caused my people to err;'i. e. by teaching them false doctrines. Thus also in the New Testament, Mat. 24: 11, ' And many false prophets shall rise, and alavoovoi toldóvs-shall deceive many;' i. e. by misleading them from the truth. Mat. 24: 24, ‘Insomnuch, that if it were possible they should thovsodi—deceive the the very elect.' John 7: 12, 'Some said, He is a good man: others said, Nay, ahova töv özhov—he deceiveth the people ;' i. e. he instils error into their minds. The word occurs in the same sense of perverse religious teaching in several instances in the compass of the Revelation. Thus Rev. 2: 20, “ Thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and lovãogui tous ¿uous Sotlovs—to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.' Rev. 13: 14, * And alavă deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by means of those miracles which he had power to do,' i. e. inveigles into idolatrous worship.
Daubuz, after adverting to the opinion of Lactantius
and Augustin that there would still be idolaters remaining on earth during the entire lapse of the Millennial age, intimates that in his own judgment, “These nations shall be, during the imprisonment of Satan, 'in so small a number, and so remote from the Holy City, and subject to the converted nations-being perhaps such as lie now in the utmost boundaries of the inhabitable world and so barbarous and inaccessible to the rest of mankind, and at the same time so feeble in comparison of the true Christians, that they shall neither dare nor be able to disturb the peace of Christ's kingdom during all the time of the Millenniuin.' But if such were to be the state of things during the long period of Satan's restraint, it may be thought that a melancholy contrast is presented in the fact, that after its termination he was again to be let loose from his prison, to go forth in all the potency of his infernal machinations, to reëstablish his dominion over the infatuated minds of men, and to act over again the same sad scenes of despotic cruelty and idolatrous delusion which marked his ancient ascendancy. But the prophetic oracles afford no ground for such a sombre vein of anticipation. It is obvious that it was but to a very limited extent that Satan, subsequent to his liberation from the Abyss, should be permitted to renew his diabolical arts. It is said, indeed, that he should be‘loosed,' yet it was to be only for a little season,' nor are we anywhere given to understand, that the church of Christ should be again effectually overcome by her old enemy. She doubtless was to continue triumphant to the end of the world. The event announced points rather to an enlargement of territory than to an increase of subjects on the part of Paganism. Numerous hordes of barbarians might indeed issue forth from the regions of the 'Abyss,' and plant their heathen ensigns all around the precincts of
* Perpet. Comment. p. 924,
Christendom, overrunning perhaps her fairest provinces, but it would be an invasion, not a mission, a project for making captives, rather than proselytes; and though the people of God might in consequence be compelled within narrower limits, yet there is no intimation that they were to prove apostate. If they fell under the jurisdiction of the liberated Dragon, it was to be as the sheep fall under the power of the prowling wolf. All the advantages which Paganism should gain over Christianity, were to be attained by conquest and not by conversion. But this is anticipating our ensuing expositions.
“ Till the thousand years should be fulfilled.” The question has been often agitated among commentators whether this period was to be understood in its most literal acceptation, as designating the term of precisely one thousand solar or civil years, or whether it denoted a period of one thousand prophetic years, a lapse of time equivalent to 360,000 civil years. It has been deemed repugnant to our conceptions of the wisdom and goodness of the Most High to suppose that he would allow so much longer a term for the reign of sin on earth than for the reign of righteousness; and conceiving the Millennium to point to a period yet future, they have been anxious to find some warrant for prolonging the term to a far greater extent than is implied in its literal designation. And since a less period of time is in several instances in the Apocalypse employed as the symbol of a greater, as a 'day' for a 'year,' a *month' or 30 days for 30 years,' etc. so the term 'years' is here interpreted on the same principle, and evolved into the long duration mentioned above. But the idiom of symbolic language, if we mistake not, forbids this construction, and ties down the expression to the sense of a thousand literal or civil years. In the prophetic style a 'day,' which is the complete revolution of the earth round its own axis, is the symbol for a year, which is the complete revo
lution of the earth in its orbit round the sun. The lesser revolution in this case is the symbol of the greater revolution of the same kind. But in those early ages of society in which the symbolical language was first adopted, the state of astronomical knowledge did not lead men to perceive any greater revolutions of the earth by which time is measured ; and for which a year, as the lesser revolution, might have been the proper symbolical character. Accordingly, in fact, the original word (ërn), which expresses the civil year, and is the word exclusively used in this passage, does not appear to be employed as a symbol by any of the prophets, either in the Old or New Testament.*
If they predicted a very long period of time, for which a year might be a more convenient symbol than a day, they always take another word than a year to signify 360 prophetic days, as many civil years. Thus Daniel, ch. 7: 25, employs the expression a time, times, and the dividing of time;' and John, Rev. 12: 14,' a time, times, and half a time.'
It may be observed, moreover, that even on the ground of the common theory of the Millennium, which considers it as answering antitypically to the seventh day of the Creation, it entirely destroys the analogy to assign to the seyenth Millennary a longer term of years than to either of the six preceding. If the six thousand years destined to elapse prior to the seventh, the great sabbatism of the world, are to be understood literally, why not the seventh thousand also ? Is not the Sabbath composed of the same number of hours as the rest of the days of the week ?
But our interpretation of this whole subject encounters no difficulty whatever from this scurce. As we consider the Millennium as long since past-taking the term of course in its literal acceptation—we know of nothing to
* The word occurring Rev. 9: 15, is not froç, but ériavtor, signifying indefinitely a revolution, or that which returns into itself.