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by the pit; now, a like opening or development takes place to show the further important truth, that when the mixed economy is destroyed, and the reign of self has ceased, and the false construction of revelation is set aside, the power of Satan must be manifestly confined to the position created by this baseless system. The triumph of the Word of God over the powers of the earth, as just now represented, may itself afford the key, figuratively spoken of as that of an angel or divine messenger.
And a great chain in his hand.'-As the angel represents a revelation or messenger, we suppose this great chain to be the figure of a powerful concatenation of gospel truths-a chain of scriptural arguments-important elements of doctrine indissolubly connected; showing in what manner the power of the accuser is bound, or restricted in the nature of the case, by the elements of divine sovereignty peculiar to the economy of grace. As when the apostle Paul sets forth his position, that there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, (Rom. viii. 1,) by a chain of deductions from the helpless, hopeless state of man by nature, (as a sinner under the law,) to the fulfilment of that law by Christ himself, in behalf of those justified in him. In like manner, the angel's chain may show it to be only those out of Christ, and consequently in the bottomless pit, who are subject to the power of the accuser.
As in the science of architecture, the chain is said to have been the origin of the arch, the arrangement of principles constituting the plan of redemption, elsewhere represented as an arch, of which grace is the top or keystone, (Zech. iv. 7,) may be here spoken of as a chain ;-the structure supporting the way of salvation, and exhibiting the triumph of the Redeemer, being equally mighty in restraining or binding the power of legal accusation.
444. And he laid hold on the dragon,' &c.-The variety of appellations given to this one object, cannot be without meaning. They are all of them, no doubt, intended to recall ideas respectively associated with each, besides identifying the personage here spoken of with that of which so much was related in the twelfth chapter of the book:-the great fiery-red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads, whose tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven; who stood ready to devour the man-child-the antagonist of Michael and his angels, the persecutor of the woman and of her offspring, (§ 269–291 ;) the same dragon that gave his power, and throne, and great authority to the beast, after having been driven from heaven to earth, (§ 297 ;)—one of the parties to the league, by which the kings of the earth were summoned to the battle of Armageddon, and the only one of those parties not yet disposed of; not having himself appeared personally in the field, but aiming rather to compass his ends through the beast and false prophet.
As the old serpent, we are again reminded by this dragon of the delusive spirit bringing our first parents into the position of condemnation, under the pretext of making them as gods-a delusion to which Paul adverts in a passage of his Epistles, in which he aims particularly at cautioning those whom he addresses against glorying otherwise than in the Lord: "But I fear," he says, "lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve, through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ;" the tendency of this arch-deceiver's efforts from the beginning being that of prompting man to go about to establish his own righteousness, by fulfilling the law for himself, that he may have "wherewith to glory."
The appellation the devil (the accuser) we have perhaps already sufficiently enlarged upon, (§ 282;) but it is important for us to bear in mind that this agent of the law, although a false accuser of the elements of the economy of grace, (the brethren,) is not a false accuser of man, in charging him with sin. Here the accusations of the devil are but too well founded; and it is for this reason that his power is to be dreaded by the disciple, so long as the latter feels himself out of Christ. Neither are we to look upon the devil merely as a tempter, leading man to the commission of moral evil, for "every man is tempted," it is said, (Jas. i. 14,) " when he is drawn away of his own lusts and enticed;" a trial, as experience teaches us, continuing through life. We have no occasion to go out of ourselves to find a tempter. The scriptural view of the functions of the devil (diáßolos) we apprehend to consist especially in bringing the sinner to condemnation after the temptation has been yielded to.
The meaning of the Hebrew appellation Satan, or, as it might be rendered, the Satan, (ó caravãs,) confirms our view of this individual's character. The term is not a proper name, as we are apt to suppose it; it is a common⚫ noun, a title, and should be used with the article. It is applied in the Old Testament to human as well as to superhuman beings; its signification, an adversary, or the adversary, may be spoken of an enemy in the field, or of an adversary in a court of justice-an enemy in a spiritual or in a natural sense as Solomon had political adversaries, to whom this appellation is applied, (1 Kings xi. 14, 23, 25,) while David employs the term to designate his spiritual enemies-the adversaries of his soul -the powers opposed to his justification in the sight of God. Trommius gives several interpretations, both of the noun and verb, in his Heb. and Chald. Index, but the idea of temptation cannot be associated with either of them. The verb whence the noun (Satan) is derived, signifies primarily to resist, (oppose ;) employed judicially, it applies to the action of counsel for the prosecution, as, amongst other meanings, that of criminor (to accuse) is given to it by the author above quoted. "Blessed," (says David,) “is the man to whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity." The
coming of this blessedness, we suppose to be just the object of Satan's resistance. We should, accordingly, render the expression under consideration here in English as follows: "And he laid hold of the dragon, the old serpent, which is the accuser and the adversary."
§ 445. And bound him a thousand years.'-We are now, it is to be recollected, contemplating the manifestation of the work of redemption, not the work itself. The present binding of Satan is a result of the conflict between the powers (errors) of the earth and the revealed Word of God, as distinguished from the contest between the Lamb and the dragon, (the accuser.) This last terminated once for all, when Christ once offered himself to bear the sins of many, (Heb. ix. 28.) Here there can be no change; the counsels of God are immutable. The blood of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world has always been, and must always be triumphant. In respect to the exhibition of this truth, however, or to its influence upon any earthly scheme of doctrine, there may be said to be times when the Word of God prevails; and other seasons when error, such as is represented by the beast, may appear to predominate.
It would not be difficult to imagine a period of a thousand years of such a manifestation of truth, as to show, in sight of all mankind, the power of the adversary (Satan) to be necessarily confined to a system figuratively spoken of as a bottomless pit. But when all the other parts of a passage in this book are to be taken in a spiritual or figurative sense, we see no reason for making the expression a thousand years an exception to the general rule. There is no reason why the term thousand, or that of years, should not be as figurative as the terms chain, key, pit, &c. In addition to this, we are to take into consideration the declaration of the mighty angel, (Rev. x. 7:) "There shall be time no longer;" and we have as good reason for applying this declaration to the term of one thousand years here, as we have had for applying it to the twelve hundred and sixty days. We have no warrant for maintaining the distinction, that the years are literal, but the days are figurative. So, on the other hand, if we were to consider the twelve hundred and sixty days, or forty-two months, as days of years, and months of thirty years each, by the same rule we should consider the period now under consideration as one of three hundred and sixty thousand years, instead of one thousand.
This is the only passage in the Apocalypse in which the term year or years occurs, except Rev. ix. 15, where we have assigned reasons for supposing the expression, hour, day, month, and year, to signify a time when, and not a period of duration. We are told, Ps. xc. 4, that a thousand years in the sight of God are but as yesterday; and 2 Peter iii. 8, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. We have some warrant, therefore, for supposing a thousand years, in
mystic language, to be an interchangeable term for a day; that is, time in a literal sense is not to be taken into consideration. The period here mentioned, is to be considered as the figure of a state of things resulting from a certain manifestation of truth; a stage in the progress of revelation, beyond which there is yet some further development to be made: as when we speak of the day of the Lord, we associate with this term the idea of a state of things of an indefinite duration, or a change in a state of things, and not merely the short period of twenty-four hours. This construction appears the more probable, as this period of a thousand years, whatever it may be. is supposed to have elapsed before the conclusion of the present chapter; and the events taking place subsequent to its termination are related in the past tense, (vs. 9 and 10,) as if they were supposed to occur almost contemporaneously with those related in the first part of the chapter.
The revelation showing Satan (the legal accuser) to be bound, exhibits a state of things, in which the law is no longer in operation, in a penal sense; an arrangement of principles, placing the disciple in a position in which there is no room for his labouring to effect his own justification by works of the law. This position is one of rest-a rest from servile labour: not a state of inactivity, but an entire suspension of action from mercenary motives. Such a state resulting from the disciple's position in Christ, we suppose to be represented, as already intimated, (§ 338,) by the Levitical Sabbath. A position, in which the believer is not only relieved from labour, but in which it is even unlawful for him to labour, in the servile sense of the term; that is, a position in which it would be entirely inconsistent for him to act from a servile, mercenary, or selfish motive. As this position of rest has been typically represented from the beginning by the seventh day of the week, so it appears to correspond with what is commonly called the millennium-the seventh day of a thousand in years the history of the world;-the period supposed to be alluded to by the thousand years specified in this passage.*
$446. And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up; or, locked him up. The key is still the instrument of confinement, as the word translated shut implies; not that the concealing of a mystery is part of the use of the key, but that this instrument, by opening the mystery, exhibits the condition of the individual confined. The angel (message or revelation)
*Our world, according to the common chronology, has been created nearly six thousand years, (5843.) Another millennial period, after the completion of the current sixth, would correspond with the seventh day of the week. We do not say that the occurrence of a thousand years of literal peace and quietness on this earth is necessarily to be expected; but we say, If such a season should occur, it would be like the Sabbath, a typical representation of that more important state of rest and peace which results from the disciple's position in Christ, and from the binding of Satan. in our spiritual sense of the term.
with his chain and key, manifests the restriction of the power of the accuser to a certain position; showing it to be only by those, who are in the bottomless pit with the adversary, that his accusations are to be dreaded.
'And set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till,' &c.-The design of sealing places of confinement (Dan. vi. 17) was, no doubt, to prevent their being opened illegally; for, although a door may be locked by one key, it may be opened by another, (a false key.) In such case, if sealed, the fraud would be discovered. This seems to have been a contrivance of early invention, being probably more necessary when the art of the locksmith was less perfected than it is at present. Here the seal appears intended to show the true character of the adversary. His power is not only manifestly confined to a certain position, but a seal is set over him in this position, that his influence may not be exercised under false pretences; the sealing, as we apprehend, being especially with reference to the prevention of this influence.
The term nations we take here, as elsewhere in the Apocalypse, to represent elements of doctrine-powers of the earthly system-subject to perversion, from a misuse of the accusatory character of the law; the word translated here deceive, and elsewhere seduce, signifying a turning from the right way, (nhavάw, a recto itinere abduco-in errorem impello, Suiceri. Lex.) Satan is spoken of as deceiving the whole world, Rev. xii. 9, where he is said also to be cast out into the earth. Subsequently to this, those that dwell on the earth are said to be deceived (led astray) by the false prophet, (Rev. xiii. 14; xix. 20 ;) and again, to have been seduced (led astray) by the sorceries of Babylon, (Rev. xviii. 23.) We presume these two last deceivers to be agents of Satan, the adversary acting upon the earth-deluding, deceiving through their instrumentality. As their influence is now at an end, it is necessary only to arrest that of the accuser himself, acting in his own person, but when it suits his purposes transforming himself into an "angel of light"-in appearance a messenger of righteousness. In this character, if not chained, locked up, and sealed, he might now appearusing the law unlawfully, manifesting great zeal for its fulfilment, but in reality so misrepresenting the divine purposes of grace, as to undermine the faith of the disciple, and to deprive the Saviour of his glory. To prevent this a seal is set over him, showing his true character and his true position. So long as these are manifested, the opposite position of rest in Christ is also manifested, and a millennium, in a spiritual sense, exists in the doctrinal systems of those who enjoy this view of the privileges and blessings of the kingdom of Christ; such, for example, as are depicted in the seventy-second Psalm, and in the eleventh chapter of Isaiah. This stage in the manifestation of gospel truth, we suppose to be figuratively here spoken of as a thousand years.