« הקודםהמשך »
tan, an intelligent agent, is the symbol of paganism, a mere system of doctrines and agencies, between which there is no analogy. It is equally against analogy, to interpret disembodied souls as symbols of men on earth. The mode of existence, the scene, the relations to God and to fellow men, and the law of duty, are wholly dissimilar. It is against analogy also, to interpret their being disembodied, as denoting that those whom they represent were to be disembodied by martyrdom ; actions alone being symbols of actions, and events of events. Mere agents are never representatives of actions, sufferings, or changes in the mode of existence. There is no suitableness in the one to indicate the other. The souls are, moreover, expressly represented as the souls of those who had already been beheaded, not of those who were to suffer martyrdom during the thousand years. In like manner, those who were not worshippers of the wild beast, were such as had not in a previous existence worshipped it, not such as in a future existence were to refuse submission to that antichristian power. The only agency affirmed of them during the thousand years, is, that they reigned with Christ during that period. That ihe thousand years are not cotemporaneous with the reign of the wild beast and included in that period, is indisputable from the excess of the former over the latter. The triumph of the wild beast is limited to twelve hundred and sixty years, but the reign of Christ and the saints is to extend through three hundred and sixty thousand.
CHAPTER XX. 7-10.
THE RELEASE OF SATAN,
And when the thousand years should be finished, Satan shall be loosed from his prison, and shall go forth to seduce the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them to battle, the number of whom [is] as the sand of the sea. And they went up on to the breadth of the earth, and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire descended from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil who seduces them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where also the wild beast and false prophet [had been cast,) and they shall be tormented day and night, forever and ever.
Satan is here doubtless, as in the vision of his binding, a symbol of the whole body of the fallen angels, and his emergence from prison, of their release universally and return to the seduction of men on earth. Gog and Magog are regarded by interpreters generally as the nations of northern Asia, and are expressly represented by Ezekiel, chapter xxxix. 2, as to come from the north. The beloved city is the new Jerusalem, which is the symbol, as will be shown in the exposition of the next chapter, of the glorified saints in their relations to unglorified men, of priests and kings, as great Babylon is the symbol of the priests and rulers of the apostate hierarchies. The camp of the saints, probably denotes the subordinate unglorified rulers of the obedient nations. Satan's enticing Gog and Magog to gather together to battle, denotes accordingly his enticing them to resist and endeavor to subvert the rule both of the glorified and the unglorified saints, and to elevate themselves into their place. That it is by his influence that they are to be excited to war, indicates that they had before been universally obedient. That they ascended on to the breadth of the earth, denotes that they advanced from the north towards the equator, and indicates that the visionary earth exhibited to the apostle, corresponded to the real one as a globe. That is implied also in the next vision, in which he beheld the motions of the earth and the planets, as well as their forms. The descent of fire from heaven on the revolters, denotes that they are to be destroyed like the wild beast and false prophet, not by ordinary instruments, but immediately by the hand of the almighty Redeemer; and the dejection of Satan into the lake of fire to be forever tormented, that he and his legions are thereafter to be precluded from the earth and all other obedient orbs, and consigned to the chains and darkness of the abyss.
This prophecy, then, foreshows that after the risen saints have reigned with Christ the three hundred and sixty thousand years, Satan and his legions are to be allowed again to return to the earth and tempt men; that seduced by them, remote nations are to revolt from the sway of the saints which Christ has established over them, and attempt to exalt themselves to supreme authority; and that they are to be destroyed by a direct interposition of the eternal Word, and the tempting angels thereafter consigned to perpetual imprisonment in hell.
This release of Salan is referred by Grotius, and those who follow him, in the exposition of other parts of the prophecy, to the fourteenth century, when the Ottoman Turks, whom he regarded as symbolized by Gog and Magog, invaded the eastern and western empire. But the wild beast had not emerged from the sea, nor the false prophet from the land, at the elevation of Constantine, from which he dates the thousand years : Satan was not then bound, nor did three hundred and sixty thousand years intervene between the fourth and the fourteenth centuries.
CHAPTER XX. 11-15.
THE RESURRECTION AND JUDGMENT OF THE UNHOLY DEAD.
And I saw a great white throne, and him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heavens fled, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before the throne, and books were opened, and another book was opened, which is of life. And the dead were judged from the things written in the books according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it; and death and the grave gave up the dead who were in them. And every one was judged according to their works. And death and the grave were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And as any one was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.
The flight of the earth from the presence of the Judge, indicates that the scene of the judgment was at a distance from its orbit. In the other visions in which it had been exhibited, it appears to have been represented as stationary, and necessarily, in order that the symbolic agents might exert their agency in the apostle's sight. But as the subjects of this vision were on their resurrection withdrawn from the earth, no such reason remained for its continued presence, and its flight accordingly, and that of the planets, was that doubtless of their real motion around their orbits. That no place was found for them, denotes simply therefore that they continued in motion.
The dead, small and great, who stood before the throne, had been raised from death, manifestly from the sca's giving up the dead that were in it, and death and the grave the dead that were in them; as they are the bodies of the dead only, not their souls which descend into the sea and the grave, or remain unburied in the realms of death.
The books are symbols of the perfect knowledge of the Al
mighty of all the actions of those who are judged, and their being opened denotes his manifestation to them of that knowledge, and demonstration to their consciousness that his judgment of them is according to their works.
Death is exhibited, not as an agent, but as the place of the unburied dead; obviously from the representation that the dead were in it. It gave up the dead that were in it, as the sea and the grave gave up the dead that were in them; and as they contain all the buried dead, those who were not in their domains, but the realms of death, must be the unburied dead. If death were exhibited, not as a realm, but as an agent, no reason could exist for representing the dead in the sea and the grave as not under its dominion, as much as the unburied. All would indisputably be equally its captives. Death, moreover, cannot be a living agent, like the form on the pale horse under the fourth seal, inasmuch as it would then necessarily, by the law of symbols, represent living agents who had been causes to men of spiritual death, and its giving them up would indicate their restoration to spiritual life. But no such agents can be supposed to have
such manner as the grave contains those which are buried in it; nor are those who are given up restored to spiritual life. There are no such agents besides Satan and his legions, and the impenitent dead themselves, neither of whom can be supposed to be symbolized in that relation in this vision. The fallen angels had already been consigned to the abyss of punishment; and the apostate teachers who are symbolized by the shape on the pale horse, and all others who go to the grave anterior to the advent of Christ, are to be among the dead who are to stand before the throne, and cannot therefore be supposed to be represented again by a separate symbol. And finally, this construction is confirmed by the symbolization of the second death by a place, not by an agent. This is the second death, the lake of fire. The lake of fire is everywhere exhibited as the symbol of the place to which fallen angels and impenitent men are everlastingly consigned, and their dejection into that lake, their precipitation to that place. The dejection of death and the grave into that lake, denotes that no place of the dead is any more to exist on earth.
All the impenitent dead of all ages are to be the subjects of this resurrection and judgment. Whoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. And they only are to be its subjects, manifesily from the representation in the vision of the souls of the saints, that all the holy who die an
terior to the millennium, are to be raised at its commencement, and reign with Christ throughout that period ; and the representation in the next vision, that none are during that period to suffer the infliction of death. That none but such as are written in the book of life are saved, indicates that none turn from revolt and embrace the redemption through Christ, but those who were chosen by him to salvation from before the foundation of the world, and are converted and upheld in obedience by his sovereign grace.
Mr. Bush interprets this spectacle, not as a representation of a real corporeal resurrection, and public and general judgment of the impenitent dead, but as a mere figurative indication that each individual is judged on his entering the invisible world. But that is wholly to deny it its proper character as a symbol, and thence to divest it of all its peculiar meaning. If, as he assumes, the throne is a mere figure, and the being who sat on it, then for the same reason must they also who stood before him, and his act of judging them, be mere figures. But that is to convert the whole scene into an unmeaning shadow. There is neither a judge, subjects of judgment, nor a judicial act; for if the agent be discarded, no action can remain ; and if neither judge, nor judicial sentence, no subjects on whom a sentence is pronounced. But if we may assume that this vision has no symbolic meaning, if it forms no representation that Christ is visibly to manifest himself enthroned as the judge of men, that all who remain dead at the end of the thousand years, and die during the revolt which Satan is subsequently to excite, are then to be raised, visibly assembled before him, and receive a public judgment according to their deeds, why may we not equally assume that none of the other agents or agencies exhibited in the visions have a symbolic character? What proof is there that the wild beast and false prophet are representatives of real agents that were to appear on the earth, and exert an agency analogous to that which is ascribed to those symbols ? What proofs that the symbols of the seals, the trumpets, and the vials, are representative of real agents and agencies? There is clearly no medium between admitting the law that each symbolic agent is representative of a real agent, and each act of a symbolic agent representative of a real act, and the rejection of the book as without any intelligible significance.