« הקודםהמשך »
principle of Christianity. Scripture, as interpreted by the Universal Church, would cease to be your Rule of Faith ; and when this foundation is gone, the whole fabric falls.
Bearing in mind these necessary cautions, let us now proceed to examine the twentieth chapter of the Apocalypse.
I saw an Angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set his seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled : and after that he must be loosed a little season.
This Angel, it is confessed by all, is no other than Jesus Christ, the Angel of God's Presence *,—the Angel of the Covenant t. He has the key of the bottomless pit. He Himself says, I am He that liveth, and was dead ; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen ; and I have the keys of Hell and of Death t. Of Him it was prophesied that He, the Seed of the woman, should bruise the Serpent's head §. He has a great chain in His hand, and with it He binds Satan. Such Christ appeared to the eye of faith when He came down from heaven. For this
* Isa. Ixiii. 9. I Rev. i. 18.
† Mal. iii. 1.
purpose (says St. John) the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the Devil *. Christ began His conquest over Satan at the Temptation. Then He vanquished him who had vanquished Adam and all his race. After the conflict, the Devil departed from Him; and, behold, angels came and ministered unto Him t. He then shed abroad the light of His glorious Gospel on those who sat in darkness and the shadow of death ; to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God t. He went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the Devil; for God was with Him &. He cast out Devils with the finger of God ||. The Devils owned His power: Art thou come to torment us before the time **? On one occasion He suffered not the Devils to speak tt. On another, they besought Him to suffer them to enter into the swine ft. And not only did He thus exercise dominion over Satan in His own person, but He gave it to others, His Apostles and Disciples. He them power and authority over all Devils : He thus put the chain into their hands, and empowered them to bind Satan 89. The seventy returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the Devils are subject to us through Thy Name II. And therefore
1 John iii. 18.
|| Luke xi. 21.
+ Matth. iv, 11.
Christ exclaimed, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven * Now is the judgment of this world : now shall the Prince of this world be cast out f.
Further, let us remember that Christ Himself supplies us with this interpretation of the passage before us. He employs the same figure of speech : He speaks of binding Satan. Thus we recognise the chain in His hand. How can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house f. Christ came upon Satan, and overcame him, and took from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divided his spoils . He delivered Satan and his angels to chains of darkness ||. By His death upon the cross Christ destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the Devil **. He spoiled principalities and powers, and made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it tt. He delivered us who were captives and bondsmen of the prince of the power of the air, and chained our enemy in his dark prisonhouse ft. And, when He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men §§ ; enabling them also to wrestle against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places |:||; and He bruised
* Luke x. 18.
|| 2 Pet. ï. 4.
† John xii. 31.
§ Luke xi. 22. ** Heb. ii. 14. #1 Eph. ii. 2. III Eph. vi. 12.
Satan under their feet*. Thus Christ bound Satan, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set his seal upon him, in order that he should deceive the nations no more.
Such was Christ's act and deed. And if Satan still has power in the world, (as doubtless he has,) this, let us remember, is due to man, and not to God. It is because men sleep, when God bids them to watch; therefore the Enemy comes t. But the Devil is chained to all who do not loose him by their own sin. Put on the whole armour of God; and
ye will be able to stand against the wiles, and to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one t. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you g. I give unto you eternal life, and ye shall never perish, neither shall any pluck you out of My hand ||. He that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not **. They in whom the word of God abideth, are strong, and have overcome the wicked one tt. The Gates of Hell (says Christ) shall never prevail against His Church. Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world f1.
Let us remember, also, that in other signal ways Christ at His coming chained Satan who had chained the nations. Bel boweth down, and Nebo stoopeth $8,
* Rom. xvi. 20.
|| John x. 29. tt i John ii, 13. $$ Isa. xlvi. 1.
† Matth. xiii. 25. 39.
1 John v. 18.
before whom myriads had lain prostrate. The Idols whose altars had reeked with human blood were cast to the moles and to the bats * The Oracles are dumb. Pagan Temples become Christian Churches. Basilicas are now Cathedrals. The Cross, once the scandal of the world, floats on the banners of armies, and is set on the diadems of kings f.
It is indeed argued by some, that it is not true that Satan was or is bound during the Papal sway. But this objection arises from a misunderstanding of our text.
It is not said that Christ rendered it impossible for the Devil to deceive; but that He did His part, in order that he should not deceive t. It is true, Christ does not destroy man's free will, and force him to be saved; but no one who considers what Christ has done, and never ceases to do, for the World, by His Sufferings, His Example, His Word, His Sacraments, and His Church, will say that He has omitted any thing for the deliverance and protection of men, whose state in this world is one of probation, from the power and wiles of the Devil.
* Isa. ii. 20.
+ Compare Lightfoot's Sermons, vol. i. p. 1056, p. 1171, and p. 1233; three sermons all very strong against modern Millenarian notions.
I Rev. xx. 3, "INA un Tavhop, precisely as in Rev. vi. 2, εξήλθε νικών, και "ΊΝΑ νικήση. Surely it will not be alleged here also, that Christ's purpose was frustrated, and that He did not conquer, in Popish times.