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What could have been done more to His vineyard, that He has not done * in itt?
The corruptions of Popish times and countries are no proof that Christ did not bind Satan in order that he should not deceive men; but they show that men have despised what Christ has done for them, and have loosed their Enemy, who was bound by Christ, and have revolted from Christ to be the slaves of Satan. And yet, notwithstanding all this, Christ has maintained His Church in the world, and does maintain it, and will maintain it even to the end. Thus He has bound Satan, in order that he should not deceive the World.
On the whole, then, we see this wonderful fact: Christ, Who was prefigured by the Serpent of brass, is lifted up on the cross. He appears to be lifeless : He expires: He is taken down from the cross: buried, a captive, it would seem, of Satan; chained by death ; laid in the lowest pit, in a place of darkness and in the deep t, and so fast in prison that, it
* The note of Aquinas here is worthy of attention. Nonne modo Diabolus seducit ? Sic (i. e. yes); eos qui nolunt bene uti armis sibi a Christo datis, vel quæ darentur, si vellent. Ante passionem autem non habebant homines tanta adjutoria, quia tunc non erat tanta gratia, nec tam efficacia sacramenta, nec exemplum Christi, nec passio sua; modo aperta est Janua, unde modo ligatus est, respectu temporis quod præcesserit Christi adventum et passionem : and it may be added, respectu temporis quod succedet, sæviente Antichristo. | Isa. v. 4.
#Ps. Ixxxviii. 5.
might be thought, He could not get forth *. A seal is set upon the stone on the pit's mouth t, and a guard is stationed to keep Him. In a word, Christ appears to be in the very state in which Satan is described in our text. And what then? He looses the pains of death, because it is not possible that He should be holden of itt. He breaks the gates of brass, and smites the bars of iron asunder Ø. He raises Himself from the dead. And through His death, which the Devil had devised for his own aggrandizement, Christ destroys him who had the power of death, the Devil ||. He plucks out its sting, and swallows up death in victory ** Thus He Who was typified by the Serpent of brass, being lifted up on the cross by the malice of Satan, nails Satan himself to the cross; and having been lifted up in the wilderness of this world, He heals the deadly wounds inflicted by the old serpent of fire, and restores the wandering nations to life and health and joy.
And I saw Thrones, and they sat upon them, and Judgment was given unto them. And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands ; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand
years. But the rest of the dead lived not again * Ps. Ixxxviii. 8.
† Matth. xxvü. 66. # Acts ii. 24.
§ Ps. cvii. 16. || Heb. ii. 14.
** Isa. xxv. 8. 1 Cor. xv. 54.
until the thousand years were finished. This is the first Resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first Resurrection : on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand
Let us now consider these words.
First, let us observe, that they are not spoken of the bodies of the saints, but of their souls. I saw the souls of them who had been beheaded for the witness of Jesus. This must be carefully borne in mind, because the error of the Millenarians is mainly due to neglect of this distinction. They have imagined a bodily f resurrection, whereas St. John is speaking of a spiritual one f.
* Rev. xx. 4-6. + Compare Lightfoot, Harmony of New Test. and Rev.
“Here is a Resurrection, but not of bodies, but of souls. The souls of those that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus lived and reigned ; and this is called the first Resurrection.” He observes that there is some figurative language in Ezekiel xxxvii.; the latter part of which book resembles the latter part of the Apocalypse. There is a spiritual resurrection ; Gog and Magog; and a new Jerusalem in both. Many of the Jews erroneously understood Ezekiel's Vision of the Dry Bones literally, as many Christians interpret the first Resurrection in a like sense.
It may be added, that the second death is a phrase used by the Jews. Onkelos renders Deut. xxxiii. 6, thus : "Let Reuben live, and not die ; i. e. the second death."
See Lightfoot in Rev. xx.
# S. Aug. in C. D. xx. 7. De duabus resurrectionibus Joannes Evangelista in Apocalypsi eo modo locutus est, ut
Secondly. It is not said that these souls lived again, but simply that they lived *, and reigned with Christ.
It is clear, then, that what is here said, is spoken not of a corporeal, but of a spiritual Resurrection.
Thirdly. Let us recollect, that such is the nearness and dearness of all faithful Christians to Christ, that His exaltation is represented in Scripture as theirs. Christ said to Saul, when persecuting the members of His Church, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Met? And He says to us, Inasmuch as ye do it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye do it unto Met. And as Christ suffers with His members on earth, so are they glorified with Him in heaven. He is persecuted in them; and they reign with Him.
And what now, my brethren, is the spiritual Resurrection of the Christian? Our natural condition is one of Death Ø. By nature we are spiritually dead: but Christ, Who is the Prince of Life ||, hath quickened us who were dead in trespasses and sins ** He giveth Life unto the world ft. He that hath the Son, hath life #1. Therefore our first or spiritual Resurrection is our “death unto sin, and new birth unto righteousness;" it is our engrafting into the true Vine * -our incorporation into the body of Christ. By one spirit we are all baptized into one body, the body of Christ, which is His Church t. Buried with Him in baptism, (says St. Paul,) we are raised with Him through the faith of the operation of God, Who hath raised Him from the dead t. And again: We are buried with Him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His Death, we shall be also in the likeness of His Resurrection. If one (Christ) died for all, then all dieds ; and He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him Who died for them and rose again. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature ||. I am the Resurrection and the Life (says our Lord). He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live ; and whosoever
earum prima a quibusdam nostris non intellecta insuper etiam in quasdam ridiculas fabulas verteretur.
* και έζησαν, Rev. ΧΧ. 5. + Acts ix. 4. # Matt. xxv. 40. $ The work vekpol is specially used by St. John in a spiritual
See the remarks of Mr. Grinfield, Schol. Hellenist. Apoc. iii. p. 795. || Acts ii. 15.
** Eph. ii. 1. ft John vi. 51. i. 4. v. 26. vi. 39. #1 1 John v. 12.
* John xv. 1. † 1 Cor. xii. 13. Eph. i. 22. Col. i. 24. Col. ii. 12.—Cassiodorus in Apoc. p. 239.
Primam resurrectionem dicit in fide, quâ renascimur ex aquá et Spiritu Sancto, in quâ secunda mors non habet locum. Permanet autem generaliter fidelium in Christo sacerdotium, donec constituti temporis quantitas impleatur.—Bede, p. 429. Resurrectio prima, utique quâ resurgimus per baptismum. Sicut prima mors est per peccata, sic prima resurrectio per remissionem peccatorum. και οι πάντες απέθανον.
|| 2 Cor. v. 11-17.