Attention!
For 10¢ a day you can enjoy StudyLight.org ads
free while helping to build churches and support pastors in Uganda.
Click here to learn more!

Bible Commentaries

Seiss' Lectures on Leviticus and Revelation

Revelation 20

Verses 1-3

Lecture 44

(Revelation 20:1-3)

THE BINDING OF SATAN--HIS FOUR NAMES--THE ANGEL WHO APPREHENDS HIM--A LITERAL TRANSACTION--THE ECONOMY OF THE UNDERWORLD--THE WORD "HELL," SHEOL, HADES-CHRIST'S DESCENT INTO HELL--HADES NO LONGER THE ABODE OF THE DEPARTED SAINTS--"ABADDON," THE ABYSS-TARTARUS-GEHENNA-THE BEAST AND FALSE PROPHET IN GEHENNA-SATAN IMPRISONED IN THE ABYSS--OBJECT OF HIS IMPRISONMENT--SATAN NOT BOUND AT THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE CHRISTIAN ERA, NOR AT THE CONVERSION OF CONSTANTINE, IS LOOSE NOW.

Revelation 20:1-3. (Revised Text.) And I saw an angel coming down out of the heaven, having the key of the abyss, and a great chain in [or resting upon] his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, the old serpent, which is the devil, and satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the abyss, and locked and sealed [it] upon him, that he should not lead astray the nations any more until the thousand years be accomplished: after these he must be loosed a little time.


The issue of the battle of the Great Day goes beyond the disaster to those found in arms against the Sitter on the white horse. There is another and still greater power back of those armies, by whose instigation this war was undertaken, by whose influence these kings and mighty ones with their troops were deceived into the fatal idea of conquering the King of kings and Lord of lords, and by whose malignant cunning they were marched into the winepress of the wrath of God. The judgment, therefore, proceeds to deal with this chief culprit.

He is called by four names, the same that were given him in Revelation 12:9. The Sitter on the white horse also had four names; and as in his case, so here, the names describe the being who wears them. He is called "the Dragon." This is his designation with particular reference to his connection with earthly sovereignties and his administrations through the political world-powers, which, up to this great day, are continually contemplated in the Scriptures as the Dragon powers. But when these kings and their armies fall, the Dragon power ceases. Though the same evil spirit comes up again after the thousand years, he comes with only two of his four names, and not as "the Dragon;" for he never again gets possession of the sovereignty of the earth. Christ and his saints reign on the earth from this time forth forever; so that whoever those may be whom Satan then deceives and brings into rebellion, they are not the governors, kings, and rulers of the earth. They are from its distant corners, not its great central administrations. He is the Dragon now, as he ever has been since the days of Nimrod, and as he ever will be till the confederated kings of the earth meet their final fall at Harmageddon; and he is "the Dragon" with particular reference to the relation which he holds to this world's political powers.


He is further called "the Old Serpent;"--"old" in allusion to the fact that he has been in existence since the beginning of human history; and "the Serpent" in allusion to his subtlety, his crooked and deceiving ways, his subtle poisons, and his deadly malignity. It was as the serpent that he beguiled our first parents and seduced them into sin and death. It is as the serpent that he deceives souls, insinuates false doctrine, unbelief, and presumption into the human heart, corrupts the purity of the Church, and deludes men with a false and perverted wisdom. It refers, particularly, to his subtle temptations of the good. Since the days of Adam's innocence in Eden, and on to the glorious Epiphany of his great Conqueror, he fulfils this particular designation; but it does not appear that he ever comes up again in that precise capacity. The good are thenceforward beyond the power of temptation, and the deception by which he finally brings Gog and Magog against the citadel of the saints does not seem to be of the sort which he how practises as "the old Serpent." He is still the same evil spirit as to his individuality, but bis particular serpentine manifestation seems to cease with the present order of things, the same as his Draconic manifestation. Only as "the Devil and Satan" does he reappear at the end of the thousand years.


The word Devil means a slanderer, a calumniator, a malignant liar; and this has been one of this evil spirit's chief characteristics from the beginning. His first suggestions to Eve were full of base aspersions cast upon God, and burdened with all manner of ruinous falsehood. Hence the Saviour says:


"He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth; when he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it." (John 8:44.) This is his essential character, the same everywhere and always. And as a murderous liar, calumniator, slanderer, and author of malignant untruth, he comes up again subsequent to the thousand years. The lie is his deepest nature, and it is that which makes him in bad preeminence "the Devil."

Satan means an adversary, an accuser. It is a Hebrew word simply transferred. It is mostly used as a proper name of some great spirit of evil. It is used in this sense about forty times in the Scriptures. It denotes one who lies in wait to entrap, to oppose, to disable, to bring under condemnation or into disaster. And such the evil one has ever shown himself. So he accused and opposed God at the beginning. So he accused Job and sought to destroy his peace. So he assailed Christ, questioning his divine Sonship and power, if not proven to him as he chose to dictate. And so he is the adversary of all the children of God, and still stands as their accuser before God, even when the time comes for their birth to immortal glory. In this character be also reappears after the thousand years, stirs up enmity to God's holy people, and instigates an attack upon their citadel.


It is in all these particular aspects that this great spirit of evil was concerned in bringing about this war against the Sitter on the white horse and his army. It was first and principally as "the Dragon," operating with and through the political powers; for he gave the Beast his power, throne, and great authority, and sent the lying spirits to influence the kings of the earth in this fatal business. It was next as "the Old Serpent," beguiling, deceiving, and leading into the wickedest unbelief and false faith. It was furthermore as "the Devil," calumniating and blaspheming God and Christ, all true worship, and all rightful divine authority. And it was finally as "Satan," the malignant adversary and opponent of God and all good, disputing his right to reign, and bent on defeating his becoming the King of the earth. And as this great spirit was thus the life and soul of all this tremendous rebellion against the Son of God, the anointed All-Ruler, it was impossible that he should be permitted to escape, or to remain at liberty, when the Warrior King and Judge comes forth to enforce his royal rights.

We accordingly read of an Angel from heaven advancing to dispose of this old, malignant, and subtle Deceiver. Who this Angel is, we are not told. The particulars would seem to indicate, as many able commentators have concluded, that he is the Lord Jesus Christ himself. It was Christ who, in the first vision, claimed to have "the Keys of Hades and of Death," which would most naturally seem to include "the Key of the Abyss," which this Angel possesses. The whole achievement of this victory is also so emphatically ascribed to the Saviour himself, that it would seem incongruous, if not conflicting, to make the arrest of the chief of all this dreadful antagonism the work of a created Angel. The mere fact of the angelic appearance argues nothing against its being Christ himself, for we have seen him appearing several times already in the character of an Angel. (Comp. Revelation 10:1-7; Revelation 14:18-19; Revelation 18:1.) When he comes to vanquish and destroy armies, it is fitting that he should appear as a mighty Warrior; but when he appears for the seizure and binding of a fallen angel, it is equally fitting that he should appear as an Angel. His appearances continually vary according to the work to be done, and all things considered, we would most naturally expect that this particular act would be done in the character of an Angel. The point is of no great consequence either way; for it is still the act of Christ, and part of his victory, whether done by himself or by a created angel. It was Michael the Archangel who fought Satan in the battle in heaven (Revelation 12:7), but that was rather a forensic contest. This is a different work, the grasping of the Devil's person, the chaining of him, and the casting of him into prison. This Angel possesses the Key of the Abyss, and carries a great chain. He lays hold on the Dragon, the Old Serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, binds him with the chain, casts him into the Abyss, and locks and seals him in, that he may no more delude the nations for a thousand years.

Is this a literal transaction? Certainly it is. The battle is literal; the taking of the Beast and the False Prophet is literal; the slaying of the kings and their armies is literal; Satan is literal; and his binding must be equally literal. It will not resolve itself into anything else, and fit to the connections or the terms. Some have asked, with an air of triumph, How can a chain of iron or brass bind a spirit, and that spirit an archangel? But the record does not say that it is a chain of iron, or brass, or steel, or any other material of earthly chains. It is a chain of divine make, as the sword that proceeds from the mouth of the Son of God. It is a spirit-chain, as the horses of the celestial army are spirit-horses. It is a chain of a character that can bind spirit and fetter angels. Jude tells of such chains, actually holding now (Jude 1:6), and which not even the angels can break. What they are made of, and how they serve to bind the freedom of spiritual natures, it is not for us to know or show; but they are not therefore any less real and literal chains. Figures, tropes, and shadows cannot bind anybody, unless it be some commentators, who seem to be hopelessly entangled in them. The abyss is a reality, and the chain is also a reality, or it is not what inspiration says it is. It is called "a great chain;" and "great" it must be to hold and confine the great Red Dragon. But it is adequate to its purpose. Heaven makes no miscalculations. It is fastened on the limbs of the old monster. He cannot resist it, nor shake it off. Archangel as he is, he is compelled to submit, bound as a helpless prisoner, and violently cast into his dungeon, there to lie in his fetters for a decade of centuries.

The place into which Satan is cast is called ἄβυσσος, the Abyss. This is a different place from that into which the Beast and the False Prophet are cast. They were thrown into "the lake of fire which burneth with brimstone." The Devil, after the thousand years, is also cast into that same burning lake (Revelation 19:20); but here he is cast into "the Abyss," whence the Beast came (Revelation 17:8), and also the terrible plague of the spirit-locusts. (Revelation 9:1-3.)


The question thus arises, What is the difference between "the Abyss" and "the lake of fire?" I might answer truly, that "the lake of fire" is the final Hell, the place of the eternal punishment of the damned; whilst "the Abyss" is a sort of fore-hell, a prison in which evil spirits are detained prior to their final judgment. The relation between the two is much like that of the county gaol in which accused criminals are detained prior to their sentence, and the state penitentiary to which they are assigned for final punishment. But, as the question calls up the whole economy of the underworld, about which the Scriptures tell us more than is generally suspected or understood, it may be proper and desirable to look a little deeper into the matter.

In general, people have very dim, confused and inadequate ideas with regard to the whole unseen world. This is owing in part to the reserve of the Scriptures on the subject, but more particularly to the obscuration of what is revealed by the faulty manner in which our English translators, though generally so correct, have dealt with the words and phrases of the sacred writers referring to this particular subject, begetting erroneous impressions, which reappear in our theological systems. Thus the word Hell, which in the Saxon vocabulary means simply the covered or unseen place, is used as the equivalent of words of very different signification, whilst those for which it is properly the equivalent are frequently rendered by other words which carry the mind quite aside from the real meaning. And so again, in popular language, the word Hell is carried away from its etymological signification, and made to stand for the place of final punishment, with which all other terms referring to the hidden abodes of wicked spirits are again confounded, whilst some of the original terms for which it is made to stand do not refer to the place of final punishment at all. The whole matter has thus become most sadly confused, involving in that confusion the article of the Creed respecting Christ's descent into Hell, and urgently needing to be unravelled and set right according to the true ideas of Revelation and of the early Church.


There is a word used sixty-five times in the original Hebrew of the Old Testament, which our English translators in thirty-one instances render Hell, in thirty-one instances Grave, and in three instances the pit. That word is Sheol, uniformly rendered Hades in the Greek of the Old Testament, and wherever the New Testament quotes the passages in which it occurs. By common consent the Greek word Hades is the exact equivalent of the Hebrew Sheol. It occurs eleven times in the New Testament, and always in the same sense as the Old Testament Sheol. To all intents and purposes, therefore, Sheol and Hades denote one and the same thing. But Sheol or Hades is never used to denote the Hell of final punishment. Neither is it ever used to denote the mere receptacle of the body after death, the grave. Nor yet is it ever used to denote the mere state of being dead as to the body; and still less to denote the pit or Abyss as such. A careful inventory of all the passages conclusively proves that Sheol or Hades is the name of a place in the unseen world, altogether distinct from the Hell of final punishment or the Heaven of final glory. Its true and only meaning is "the place of departed spirits,"--the receptacle of souls which have left the body.[147] To this place all departed spirits, good and bad, up to the time of the resurrection of Christ, went. In it there was a department for the good, called Paradise by the Saviour on the cross, and another department for the bad. Thus both the rich man and Lazarus went to Hades when they died; for the word is, "in Hades he lifted up his eyes, and seeth Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom." Lazarus was then in Hades too, as well as Abraham; and the only difference between them and Dives was, that the good were separated from the bad by an impassable gulf, and that Lazarus was comforted and Dives tormented.[149] So the dying Saviour told the penitent malefactor that they would yet that day be together in Paradise; that is, in the more favourable part of Hades. There they were neither in Heaven proper, nor in Hell proper; but simply in Hades. To this Hades all departed spirits went, the good with the good, and the bad with the bad. There was comfort there for the pious, and privation and torment for the wicked; and they of the one part could not pass over to the other part; but still they could see and converse with each other, and none of them were yet in their final happiness or misery. Even at the best, it was not a place to be coveted. With all the blessed release which it brought to pious sufferers, and the good promise it bespoke of something better for them at the resurrection, the Scriptures everywhere describe it as a sombre world,--a place of detention and waiting even for the best. There is nothing ever said about going up to it, or of full compensation there for works of piety and deeds of love. The ancient saints drew satisfaction from the thought of being gathered to their fathers, and of resting there with the holy dead; but never as enjoying there the bright presence of God and the society of angels. All the higher and better recompenses to which they looked, they invariably connected with the resurrection, and located quite beyond the Hadean world. It is to the Paradise side of this Hades that the Saviour and the penitent thief went when they died, as all the pious dead up to that time.

[147] "Translating the word Hades, according to its etymology and its use among the Greeks, it is rendered an invisible place, which was all that Homer intended when he said the souls of his brave heroes were hurried, by the Trojan war, into Hades, where he exhibits them celebrating the Elysian games. The fathers, therefore, condemn the language of our translation (of the New Testament), and in the article of what is called the Apostles' Creed, which says Christ descended into Hell, misleading the vulgar by an English word, which now conveys an idea not contained in the original. This is so well known as to require no argument; but so little regarded as to demand repeated protest."--Bennett's Theology of the Early Christian Church, pp. 323, 324.


"I cannot give a better periphrasis of it (the word Hades) than by translating it, that invisible place where the souls that leave their bodies live, whether it be a place of bliss or torment. In this sense it is taken in Scripture, the Apocrypha, Fathers, yea, and in heathenish authors too. And as for the Latin inferi, it is often taken in the same sense, and mostly used to express Hades."--Beveridge on the XXXIX Arts., pp. 115, 116.


[149] "Lazarus in Hades obtained comfort in Abraham's bosom; the rich man, on the other hand, the torment of flame."--Tertullian, De Idol. 13.

But this going of Christ into the place of departed spirits with the penitent thief was not the descent into Hades of which the Creed speaks. By virtue of having died, Christ thus became an inmate of Hades, just as all other good men who had died before him; whilst the descent into Hades, of which the Creed speaks, was part of his active redemption work, and the beginning of his exaltation as the successful Redeemer, which wrought a great change in Hades itself, and in the whole condition of the pious dead from that time on. His dead body having been requickened and glorified by his divine power, recalling his departed soul to it, even before he reappeared on earth, he went to Hades, not as a subject of death, but as the Conqueror of death, heralding his victory to the spirits therein detained (1 Peter 3:18-19), and actually bringing out with him all faithful souls, even resurrecting many of them. (Matthew 27:52-53; Psalms 68:18.) It is with special reference to this, that he announced himself to John, in the first vision, as having "the Keys of Death and of Hades." Paradise now is no longer in Hades, but above, in the heavens, where its inmates enjoy a far more blessed portion than was ever enjoyed in Hades. Christ "led captivity captive" when he made his triumphant descent into Hades of which the Creed speaks, and no true believer now ever goes to Hades. Christ said of his Church, that the gates of Hades should never prevail against it; that is, it should never close on any true members of his Church. Paul, in triumphant exultation over the portion of believers now, exclaims: "O Death where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory?"


The "grave" holds the victory now just as it ever has done, but Hades does not; and the victory of which the Apostle speaks and gives thanks is a victory over Hades, not over the "grave" as our translators have put it. Hence our Confession says, "Christ descended into Hades, and abolished it for all believers." (Formula of Con.)[150] Hades now is, therefore, the receptacle of only such departed spirits as have no share in Christ's redemption,--a mere prison of bad and unbelieving souls, who there pine over their crimes, awaiting the day of judgment, when all in Hades, and Hades itself, shall be cast into the Hell of final punishment. (Revelation 20:14.) Sheol or Hades then is not Hell, except in the old and now obsolete sense of the covered place, the hidden temporary receptacle of departed spirits, into which all departed souls formerly went at death, but since Christ's resurrection only the bad and unbelieving go.[151]

[150] Speaking of the several opinions concerning the descent of Christ into Hades, and the efficacy of it, Bishop Pearson makes this observation: "Of those who did believe the name of Hades to belong to that general place which comprehended all the souls of men, as well those who died in the favour of God as those who departed in their sins, some of them thought that Christ descended to that place of Hades, where the souls of all the faithful, from the death of the righteous Abel to the death of Christ, were detained; and there dissolving all the power by which they were detained below, translated them into a far more glorious place, and estated them in a condition far more happy in the heavens above." Pearson did not himself accept this view, which is so evidently that of the Scriptures, still he adds this testimony concerning it: "This is the opinion generally received in the schools, and delivered as the sense of the Church of God in all ages; but though it were not so general as the schoolmen would persuade us, yet it is certain that many of the fathers did so understand it." He then quotes Eusebius, Cyril, Ambrose, and Jerome in evidence of this fact.

The same author quotes Justin Martyr, Irenæus, Tertullian, Hillary, Gregory of Nyssa, and others, as holding and teaching that the souls of believers do not enter heaven immediately upon their death, but go into the bosom of Abraham, into Paradise, where the patriarchs and prophets are, where they all remain till the time of the resurrection, when first they get their crowns, and enter upon the fulness of their blessedness. But the place where departed saints now are, or go at their death, is plainly no longer in Hades; for when Paul in vision was taken to behold that place, the action or motion which took him to it from the earth is described as an ascent,--"he was caught up to Paradise" (2 Corinthians 12:4),--whereas the action or motion describing the entrance into Hades, even for the saints, is everywhere represented as a descent. Not only is it declared that Korah and his company "went down alive into Hades," or Sheol, but Jacob said, "I will go down into Hades unto my son." (Genesis 37:35.) So also Samuel, after his death, and in his rest, said, "Why hast thou disquieted me to bring me up?" (1 Samuel 28:15.) And so of Jesus, when he went to that place, it is said he "descended into the lower parts of the earth." (Ephesians 4:9.) Paradise then was below in Hades; now, since the resurrection of Christ, it is above, in the heavenly regions, and no longer in Hades. Thus Basil, Cyprian, and Ambrose speak of Paradise now as a place of rest in heaven, in which the pious are, but still not in heaven, in the same way as they shall be after the resurrection.


[151] From these representations of the economy of the underworld, which are the result of a more matured study of the whole subject, some obvious modifications are required to the statements made previously, which were written some fourteen years prior to the writing of this Lecture. I then believed that all departed souls went to Hades, whereas, it is now plain to me that, since the resurrection of Christ, none of the souls of the saints ever go there, as they did previously. When a man has learned better, it is due that he should be allowed to correct himself.


The Old Testament speaks of another place in the underworld, called in Hebrew Abaddon (Greek Apoleia, which our English Bible renders destruction. Thus we read "Hades is naked before him, and Abaddon hath no covering." (Job 26:6.) "Abaddon and death say, We have heard the fame thereof." (Job 28:22.) "It is a fire that consumeth to Abaddon." (Job 31:12.) "Shall thy loving kindness be declared in the grave, or thy faithfulness in Abaddon?" (Psalms 88:12.) "Hades and Abaddon are ever before the Lord." (Proverbs 15:11.) "Hades and Abaddon are never full." (Proverbs 27:20.) Abaddon thus connects with Sheol or Hades, but is a deeper, darker, and a more wretched place. "The pit of the Abyss," referred to in Revelation 9:1-3, and from which came the plague of spirit-locusts, seems to identify with this Hebrew Abaddon; for the angel of this pit, and the King over these locusts, has a name "which in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon." Nine times do we read of this Abyss in the New Testament. The demons, whom Christ cast out of the wretched man of Gadara, besought the Saviour not to command them into the Abyss. (Luke 8:26-31.)


Paul says that our faith needs not to inquire "Who shall descend into the Abyss, that is, to bring Christ up again from among the dead" (Romans 10:7), as if he were only one of the more powerful of these demons. Thus also the great Beast, the Antichrist, cometh up out of the Abyss (Revelation 11:7; Revelation 17:8.) Abaddon and the Abyss would therefore seem to be the abode of demons, a sort of deeper pit beneath Hades, where the wickeder and baser spirits of dead men, and other foul spirits of the lower orders, are for the most part held as melancholy prisoners till the day of final judgment. It is a place intermediate between Hades and the final Hell, as Paradise is now a sort of intermediate place between Hades and the final Heaven. It is a remove below Hades, as Paradise is now a remove above Hades.

It does not appear that fallen angels now have their place in Hades. The Lucifer of whom Isaiah 14:15 speaks as having been "brought down to Hades" is explained (Isaiah 14:4) to be the king of Babylon, and so a bad man, and not an angel. Fallen angels are never said to be in Hades. The place of their present detention is described by quite another name. Thus Peter tells us that "God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to Tartarus, and delivered them into chains of darkness to be reserved unto judgment." (2 Peter 2:4.) Our translators also call Tartarus Hell, as if Tartarus, Hades, the Abyss, and the final lake of fire were all one and the same thing. The truth is, that they are each distinct and separate, though all departments of the underworld.

The burning lake is the only true Apoleia, perdition, destruction, second death, or the final Hell. It too has its own proper name. It is called Tophet in the Old Testament. (Isaiah 30:33; Jeremiah 7:31-32.) In the New it is twelve times called Gehenna, which, in the Greek, is the same as Tophet in Hebrew. From denoting a place of horrible burning on earth, it came to be used to denote the place of final punishment. Our translators have uniformly translated Gehenna by the word Hell. But Gehenna is altogether a different Hell from Sheol, Hades, the Abyss, or Tartarus. Thus the Saviour says, that whosoever indulges malignant and devilish spite towards his brother "shall be in danger of Gehenna fire" (Matthew 5:22); that it is much better to sacrifice a right eye or a right hand in this world than that "the whole body should be cast into Gehenna" (Matthew 5:29-30); that we are not to fear them which kill the body, but rather to fear him "who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna (Matthew 10:28); and that "it is better to enter into life with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into Gehenna fire." (Matthew 18:9.) Thus also he denounces the hypocritical Pharisees as the candidates for "the greater damnation," the "children of Gehenna" (Matthew 23:14-15), and asks them, "How can ye escape the damnation of Gehenna?" (Matthew 23:33) This Tophet or Gehenna, as will be seen at once, is something different from Hades, Tartarus, or the Abyss. It is manifestly the same which John here calls "the lake of fire which burneth with brimstone," and into which the Beast, the False Prophet, Satan, Death, Hades, and whosoever is not found written in the book of life, are finally cast, and swallowed up forever; that is, it is the ultimate Hell of full punishment.

Into this final Hell no one has yet ever entered. It is "prepared for the Devil and his angels;" but none of them is there now. The first persons that ever go into this place are the Beast and the False Prophet, at the time of the battle of the great day of God Almighty. (Revelation 19:20.) The next to get into it is Satan himself, more than a thousand years afterwards (Revelation 20:10), where the Beast and the False Prophet are represented as still alive and suffering at the time when he is cast in with them. And then follows the casting of all the wicked, along with Death and Hades. (Revelation 20:14-15.)


It is not a little surprising that things should come out so clearly from the original Scriptures, and that there should be such confusion on the subject in the popular mind, and even in our theologies. But in the light of what I have thus briefly indicated, any one can readily see the consistency and propriety of all these terms and references touching the underworld, and what is meant by the different places from which or to which these infernal actors either come or go. The Beast is from the Abyss, the under-pit of Hades, as twice distinctly stated. The False Prophet, his companion and prime minister, is doubtless from the same place. Under the fifth Trumpet, "the Key of the Abyss" was given to the fallen star, which is none other than Satan, and he unlocks the Abyss for the bringing up of the spirit-locusts, and then for the bringing forth in Satanic resurrection from thence these two great instruments of his malice and deception, the Beast and the False Prophet. It is not in the Devil's power thus to resurrect any one from the Abyss now; but in the ongoing of the judgment, and for the greater punishment of the unbelieving, the power is given him to do it, and he does it. He is allowed to have "the Key," and he uses it, unlocks the Abyss, and brings forth again into the activities of life the two ablest of his particular servants. They go through with their blasphemous and dreadful work in judgment upon the world for its unbelief. And when the end comes, they are at once cast into the final Hell, the very first that ever try those awful fires, which they so richly deserve. The kings and armies whom they deceive into this presumptuous war are mortal men, who are simply "slain,"--killed,--and so turned into Hades, there, with the wicked dead, to await the judgment at the end of the thousand years, when they all shall be brought forth together, and assigned their place in the same final Hell of the burning lake. The old Serpent, the Devil, who has been at the back of it all, is arrested and imprisoned. But there is still a reason in the divine purposes why he should not yet be finally disposed of; therefore he is not yet cast into the burning lake of ultimate perdition. Nevertheless, he is chained as to his power, and locked and sealed up as to his place, in that under-pit of Hades, where only the foulest and basest of spirits are,--in the Abyss whence he brought up the two Beasts and their demon helpers,-there to writhe in his helplessness till the thousand years are fulfilled.


The particular object of this binding and imprisonment of Satan is not so much for his due punishment, as for the temporary restraint and prevention of his deceptions of men. It is specially stated to be, "that he should not lead astray the nations any more until the thousand years be accomplished." Ruinous deception is the Devil's trade and all false ones and deceivers are his apprentices and children. The truth is ever against him; therefore falsehood is his particular recourse and instrument. But naked falsehood is only repulsive. What we know to be a lie cannot command our respect. "In vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird." There is in the very framework of the soul an impossibility of feeling toward known falsehood the same as if it were truth. The structure of our being revolts against it. Untruth can only gain credence and acceptance by being so disguised as to appear to be the truth. Falsehood can have no power over us until we are led to believe and conclude that it is the truth. And this deluding of men, getting them to accept and follow lies and false hopes, under the persuasion that they are accepting and following truth, is the great work and business of Satan in every age. From this work and business he never rests so long as he has the liberty to act. In this work and business he has been engaged from the beginning. And in this work and business he is engaged now; for his binding and imprisonment do not occur until after "the Battle of the great Day of God Almighty," and that battle has not yet come off.


Some assume and teach that this binding and imprisonment of Satan occurred at the opening of the Christian dispensation, and point to the miracles wrought by the Apostles and early Christians, the silencing of the Pagan oracles, and the onward march of the Church to political victory over Paganism, as the evidence of it. But then the inspired Peter was all wrong; for he sent out a general Epistle to all Christians, in which he wrote: "Your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." (1 Peter 5:8.)


Others assume and teach that this binding and imprisonment of Satan occurred at the conversion of Constantine and the consequent triumph of Christianity over Pagan Rome. But that event was followed by a millennium of corruption and apostasy for the Church, and of darkness and barbarism for the world, far worse than had occurred during the thousand years before; whilst the termination of the thousand years after Constantine brought a period the brightest in evangelic purity and activity, and the most triumphant for truth and constitutional liberty, that has ever been since Constantine occupied the imperial throne.

Still others assume and teach that, to whatever date we are to refer this binding and imprisonment of Satan, he is bound now, because imperialism in government has been wellnigh banished from the earth, and hierarchism in the Church is quite disabled from its old dominion, and general intelligence and freedom are becoming the common possession of the race. I wonder that there should be sane men who can come to such a conclusion. If ever there was a time when the Devil was loose, active and potent in human affairs, that time is now, in the days in which we live. The Devil's dominion is the enthronement of error, falsehood, deception, lies, and moral rottenness; and when was this dominion ever more patent than in these years of the existing generation? The Devil bound! And yet the people who claim to be most enlightened, and occupy the very top waves of modern progress, do not hesitate to give out that it is with them a matter of serious doubt whether there is a God, a Providence, a soul to live after this life, anything eternal but matter, any Lord but Nature, any retribution but what natural laws administer in this world, any principles of morality but expediency, and scout all idea of a personal incarnation of Diety, of atonement by divine sacrifice, of justification by faith in the merits of a substitute, of any coming again of Christ as King to judge the world and reign in righteousness. We look abroad upon society in general, and what do we see? Reverence, that great balance-wheel in the economies of life, scarcely exists any more; oaths are nothing; good faith is scarce as grapes after the vintage; and all moral bonds are trampled down without compunction under the heels of greed, and lust, and deified selfishness. Falsities and treacheries confront us unblushingly at every point. People not only make falsehoods, speak falsehoods, print falsehoods, and believe falsehoods; but they eat them, and drink them, and wear them, and act them, and live them, and make them one of the great elements of their being. One-half, at least, of all that the eye can see, or the ear hear, or the hands touch, or the tongue taste, is bogus, counterfeit, pinchbeck, shoddy, or some hash or other of untruth. A man cannot move, or open his eyes, without encountering falsehood and lies. In business, in politics, in social life, in professions, and even in what passes for religion, such untruthfulness reigns, that he who would be true scarcely knows any more whom to trust, what to believe, how to move, or by what means to keep his footing, amid the ever-increasing flood of unreality and deception. And yet the Devil is bound! Do I colour the picture too deeply? Look, consider, and see for yourselves. Is not the world full of people, many of them your neighbours and personal acquaintances, some of them under your own roofs, in your own homes,-people with their apostles, male and female, on the rostrum everywhere with applauding crowds around them,-people to whom the Church is a lie; the ministers of the Gospel, a fraud; the sacraments, absurdity; prayer, a weak delusion; the Bible, a dull record of superannuated beliefs; special providence, an impossibility; a personal God or Devil, a superstitious conceit; moral accountability to a future judgment, a thing to be laughed at; society, marriage, and the body of our laws, mere faulty conventionalities; government a mere device of the ambitious and self-seeking; immortality, a mere fiction; and even life itself something of an impertinent imposition, or a mere freak of mother Nature! And with such ideas afloat, and swaying the hearts and minds of the multitude as the new Gospel of advanced thought and human progress, what is truth? Where is it? On what are we to rest? How find a foundation to build on for anything? To such a philosophy, what is not a lie, a perversion, a delusion, a superstition, a cheat? And, on the other hand, if our Gospel be true; if what the Bible says of God, and Christ, and the nature and destiny of man, is indeed reality; was there ever a more subtle, more specious, more potent, more Satanic deception and misleading of the race, than that which the wiseacres and savants of our time would thus palm upon our world? And yet the Devil is bound! By what eccentricity of the human intellect, or freak of human intelligence, or stultification of man's common-sense, could such all-revolutionizing and infernal falsehood find place on earth, and pass current for the true and higher wisdom, but for the living presence and effective operations of that old Deceiver who cheated our first parents out of Paradise, beguiled the early world to its destruction in Noah's flood, and is now engaged preparing the way for his favourite son to captivate all the great powers of the earth to their inevitable damnation!


No, no, my friends; the Devil, that old Serpent, is not bound. He is loose. He ranges at large, with his ten thousand emissaries, all the more active and earnest in his Satanic schemes as he seeth that his time is short. He has his nests and conventicles in every city, town, and hamlet all over the world, labelled with all sorts of attractive and misleading names. Clubs, institutes, circles, societies, conventions, lyceums, and a thousand private coteries, under show of investigating science, improving knowledge, inquiring into truth, and cultivating the mind, free from the disturbing influences of sect, religion, tradition, and old fogy notions,--these are among the common machinery through which he instils his deceits and subtle poisons. A broader philosophy, a more compliant church, a more active humanity disdaining dogmas and positive creeds, a larger liberality to take every one for a child of God who refrains from denouncing the devilish atheisms and heresies of the times,-these are the flags he hangs out for the rallying of his unsuspecting dupes.

And see how he induces men and women to usurp ministerial functions without ministerial responsibilities, and gives them power on the plea of breaking down denominationalism and making better saints without any church at all; how he prostitutes the pulpits to entertaining sensationalisms, defying all sense and sacred decency, or narrows them down to sweet platitudes which serve to bury the true Gospel from those whom it was meant to save,-and how he stirs up Christian ministers of place and influence to say and make believe that all this attention to sacred prophecy is nothing but a stupid craze, that the holy writers never meant just what they said, and that all these ill-bodings touching the destiny of this present world are but the croakings of birds that love to fly in storms! And yet he is bound! O, ye people, on your way to the nearing judgment of the great Day, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked." You may be sincere, but that is not enough. Eye thought she was innocent and safe when she took the Devil's recommendation of the forbidden fruit; but her trustful confidence did not excuse her. No delusion can serve to justify before God. No tricks or disguises can impose on him. He will be true though that truth should make every man a liar. His old and everlasting Word must stand till every jot and tittle of it be fulfilled. The existence of a Devil is not a myth, but an awful reality, and to his doings and destiny we have other relations than that of mere spectators. His dread power over those who will not have Christ as their Saviour is not a nightmare fancy, or the dream of a disordered mental digestion, but a thing of living fact. And these solemn and momentous Revelations are Jehovah's finger boards, set up in mercy along the path of human life, to point out the places of danger and the way of safety. To despise, neglect, or disregard them is not a characteristic of wisdom. To refuse to note and heed them, is to try the insane experiment of seeing how near you can graze the brink of perdition, and yet win the credit of not tumbling in. Can you be wiser than God who made you? Then mark the signals he has given, and follow them implicitly.

Verses 4-5

Lecture 45

(Revelation 20:4-5)

VISION OF THE ENTHRONED SAINTS--ITS CONNECTION WITH PRECEDING CHAPTER--THE SHEPHERDIZING OF THE NATIONS-THE SHEPHERDIZERS--THEIR THRONES--THEIR JUDGING POWER AND REIGN--SPECIAL NOTICE OF THE MARTYRS--THE WORD "SOULS"--A CORPOREAL RESURRECTION NECESSARILY IMPLIED.

Revelation 20:4-5. (Revised Text.) And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment [the power of judging] was given to them.

And (I saw) the souls of them who had been beheaded on account of the testimony of Jesus, and on account of the word of God, and [of those] who did not worship the beast nor yet his image, and did not receive the mark on [their] forehead and on their hand; and they lived (= lived again) and reigned with the Christ a thousand years.

The rest of the dead ones lived not (again) until the thousand years be completed; this [being] the resurrection the first.


A rich and magnificent revelation here comes before us. Beautiful and blessed contemplations would it also afford were it not for the noise and dust of controversy which surrounds it. Unfortunately it has become a battleground of opposing schemes, not only of the interpretation of the Apocalypse, but of the whole outcome of God's promises and man's redemption. A war of the theologians has hung upon it for centuries. Hence it is seldom treated otherwise than polemically, or with partisan bias. Nor is it possible to touch it at all without entering in some degree into the deep and far-reaching controversy which here comes to its intensest and final tug. It is a great pity that it is so. The effect is disastrous in many directions. It turns multitudes from looking at the subject. It creates suspicions of any doctrines that seem to depend on the passage in question. It induces numbers to accept the unwarranted conclusion that the whole thing is so mysterious, incomprehensible, and dark, that no light or spiritual edification is to be gained from it. It has led disputants into inventions, assertions, and ways of dealing with the Divine Word, which, if consistently followed out, would undermine every distinctive doctrine of Inspiration. Nor is there, perhaps, another section of holy Scripture the consideration of which so much needs the aid and guidance of the Holy Ghost to keep the inquirer in balance and temper, to look and see with unprejudiced eyes, and to form conclusions with sound and conscientious regard to what has been written for our learning. God help us in our handling of the subject that we may rightly conceive, embrace, and rest on his own everlasting truth!

I.

The first point to which I direct attention, and one too much overlooked, is the connection of these presentations with the scenes and statements of the preceding chapter. We there saw the heaven opened, and the Lord of lords and King of kings, with his risen and glorified saints, coming forth to meet the Beast and his confederated kings and their armies in dreadful battle. The result was the taking and casting of the Beast and the False Prophet alive into the final Hell, the slaying of the rest with the sword, and the chaining and locking up of Satan in the prison of the Abyss. But, in connection with these administrations, it was said of the Sitter on the white horse, as it was said of the Manchild in Revelation 12:5, "And he shall rule or shepherdize the nations with a rod of iron." (Revelation 19:15.) The repetition of this declaration renders it particularly significant, and calls for our special attention. The numerous references to it in the Scriptures assign to it every element of a special dispensation.


That it does not refer only, if at all, to the calamities inflicted on the Beast and his armies is clearly evident from the record. The instrument of that infliction was not a rod, but is twice stated to be the sharp sword, proceeding from the mouth of the Sitter upon the white horse. The effect in that instance was slaughter and death; but shepherdizing, with whatever severity of judgment and invincible force, is not the taking of life. The word ποιμαινω occurs often in the New Testament, but always in the sense of feeding, tending, directing, and helping, with a view to preservation, not destruction. Thus Christ was foreannounced by the Father, as "a Governor that shall shepherdize (margin, feed) my people Israel." (Matthew 2:6.) So Christ speaks of one "having a servant ploughing or feeding cattle," literally, shepherdizing. (Luke 17:17.) So his command to Peter was, "Feed (shepherdize) my sheep." (John 21:16.) And so Paul said to the Elders at Miletum, "Feed (shepherdize) the Church of God." (Acts 20:28; also 1 Peter 5:2.) In all these instances the word is used to express a gracious and merciful proceeding, the very contrary of slaughter and destruction. And when it is here said of the King of kings that he (ποιμανεῖ) shall shepherdize the nations, even though it be "with an iron rod," we would do great violence to the word to interpret it of the slaying of the armies of the Antichrist.


Besides, this shepherdizing is a dealing with "the nations" as such; whilst the subjects of the destruction at Harmageddon are not "the nations" as such but "the kings of the earth and their armies." Kings may fall, and armies in the field of battle be destroyed, and the nations, or peoples to which they belong, still continue to exist. The defeat and capture of Napoleon at Sedan did not extinguish the French people, or even the French nationality. Had he and every French soldier perished on that field, France would still have remained; though the conqueror might have followed up the victory, and given to the French quite other laws and institutions, and organized them under a new rule for an entirely new life. In that case he would have done to and for the French something of what is implied in these terms as done to all nations by the Conqueror of the Beast and his armies. The kings fall, and their armies are clean swept away, making an utter end of the Dragon dominion upon the earth; but then comes the rod of iron in the hands of the Conqueror, to shepherdize, provide for, and put into new and better order, the home-peoples out from among whom these armies went into the disastrous field. The battle of the Great Day of God Almighty is one thing; the shepherdizing with the rod is another. The two are closely connected. They are both judgment administrations. The one is the sequel to the other. But they are wholly different in their immediate subjects, character, and results. The one is temporary, the other is continuous. The sword comes first, and strikes down the enemy in the field; and then follows the shepherdizing with the rod of discipline and new rule over the peoples whose kings and armies are no more. The two together fulfil what is stated in Psalms 2:5-12, Isaiah 11:1-16, and Matthew 25:31-46, where the same rod power and shepherdizing are further described.


The Shepherdizer is the same who conquers in the battle with the Beast and his confederate kings. He is the All-Ruler, and it is his power and dominion which are thus enforced with justice and with judgment. But his army of glorified saints accompanies him. They follow him in his victorious treading down of his armed enemies. They ride through the blood of his foes up to the horses' bridles. They pursue the triumph with him. And particularly in this shepherdizing with the rod of iron, the Scriptures everywhere assign to them a conspicuous share. Hence the Psalmist sung; "Let the saints be joyful in glory; let them sing aloud upon their beds (resting-places). Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints." (Psalms 149:1-9.)


The same as also very pointedly declared by the Saviour himself. To his twelve Apostles he said, that when he should sit in the throne of his glory, they also should "sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (Matthew 19:28.) In the address to the Church at Thyatira, he said: "He that overcometh, and he that keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give authority over the nations, and he shall shepherdize them with a rod of iron; as a vessel of earthenware shall they be broken to shivers as I also received of my Father." (Revelation 2:26-27.) If there were not another passage on the subject, this alone would be decisive of the point, that this shepherdizing of the nations is shared in by the saints in resurrection glory. But there are other passages. (See Daniel 7:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:2-3; Revelation 3:21.) One particularly to the point is that in which it is said of the Manchild, born into immortality, and caught away to God and his throne, that he shall "shepherdize all the nations with a rod of iron." (Revelation 12:5.) We have seen that this Manchild is a figure or symbol of the true Church, with Christ at its head, and that the birth and catching away to God is the resurrection and glorification of the saints with their Lord.[152] No other consistent interpretation of that marvellous "sign" is at all possible. And yet, to that Manchild, after its removal to glory, is assigned this very shepherdizing of the nations.

[152] See comments on Revelation 12:1-2 and Revelation 12:5.


It is therefore scripturally certain that this ruling or shepherdizing with the rod of iron, which follows up the destruction of the armies of the Antichrist, is a thing in which the glorified saints have a very conspicuous part.

Where, then, in the apocalyptic chart do we find this very particular administration but in the grand vision now before us? As I have been led to view things, we have here the picture of the victorious Christ, with his enthroned and glorified saints, in the rule or shepherdizing of all the nations with a rod of iron, the same which is celebrated by the Psalmist, promised by Christ, and so distinctly affirmed in the description of the Manchild, as well as in the account of the coming forth of the Sitter on the white horse.

II.


With this view of the connection and scope of this vision, we pass to the more direct consideration of its presentations, every item of which goes to prove that this is the natural, true, and necessary conception of the whole matter.


John saw "thrones." Judicial or regal administrations imply seats of authority. The Sitter on the white horse came crowned. His shepherdizing of the nations is in his character as conquering King. It is therefore, in its very nature, an administration of sovereign authority. The saints share with him in it, as we have seen. Hence the need for thrones, or royal seats, for these sovereign shepherdizers. Daniel speaks of these same thrones. He saw them set, and the going forth of authority from them, which is further described as the authority of one like a Son of man, to whom was given "dominion, glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him." (Daniel 7:9-14.) They are the same of which the Saviour spoke to his twelve Apostles, and concerning which he has promised, "To him that overcometh will I give to sit with me on my throne, as I also overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne." (Revelation 3:21.)


These are not empty seats. John says: "They sat upon them." Who "they" are, seems to have troubled commentators to determine. Some say "they" are the martyrs; some say "they" are the spirits or disembodied souls of the martyrs; some say "they" are the principles of the martyrs; some say "they" are the men of that generation quickened from the death of sin and raised up to eminent zeal, saintship, and influence while yet living in mortal flesh; some say "they" simply represent a more potent dominion of Christianity, the sway of the Gospel over the nations; and some are entirely at a loss to say who "they" are. But there must be something fundamentally wrong in men's theories of the Apocalypse as a whole, or they could not here be in such straits of uncertainty.


Surely the sitters on these thrones are those to whom this implied judicio-regal authority is everywhere promised. Nor are the passages few in which those promises are given. In the text itself it is expressly said that these sitters upon these thrones are "priests of God and of Christ, and reign with him,"--"reign with Christ." But what attentive reader of the Bible does not know that God's chosen and anointed kings and priests are none other than his true and faithful people? In the opening of this Book, John spoke of himself and fellow-Christians,-all who are freed from sin by Christ's blood,--as those whom God hath made kings and priests. (Revelation 1:5-6.) The Living Ones and the Elders gave glory to the Lamb for making them "kings and priests of God," destined to "reign on the earth." Who are they but glorified men, redeemed unto God by the blood of the Lamb "out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation?" (Revelation 5:9-10.) These king-priests must therefore be God's ransomed people; Peter pronounces his fellow-Christians "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood," who, "when the chief Shepherd shall appear," for this shepherdizing of the nations, "shall receive a glorious crown." (1 Peter 2:9; 1 Peter 5:4.)


To what did he thus refer but these very dignities, and to the true people of God as the inheritors of them? Daniel, in vision, saw the judgment sit, and the dominion of the Beast taken away by the mighty power of God, and declares that then "the Kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the Kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High." (Daniel 7:26-27.) What did he mean but the very thing here beheld by John, and that the sitters on these thrones are the saints of God? Paul wrote of "a crown," for which he strove, which is to be the possession of all "good soldiers of Jesus Christ," and which the Lord, the righteous judge, would give him "at that day," and "unto all them that love his appearing." (2 Timothy 2:3-5; 2 Timothy 4:7-8.) And so the Saviour himself exhorts his "little flock" not to fear, as it is the Father's good pleasure to give them the kingdom (Luke 12:32), enjoins upon his disciples to hold fast that no one take their crown (Revelation 3:11), and promises every faithful and good servant to "make him ruler over all his goods" (Matthew 24:46-47). Is it also an inevitable principle, that the conquerors take the dominion? The Sitter on the white horse conquers in the Battle of the Great Day, and by virtue of that triumph he becomes the Supreme King. But with him through all the mighty engagement were his glorified saints, in white apparel, on white horses, indicative of their character of associate governors and judges. (Judges 5:10.) With him in the fight, they are with him in the victory, and share the sovereignty which that victory secures. He conquers, and therefore reigns; they conquer with him, and therefore they "reign with him." Thus the sitters on these thrones are none other than Christ's saints whom John saw following their Lord when he came forth to make an end of the antichristian domination, and inaugurate his own shepherdizing of the nations.


Their sitting upon these thrones is not an empty show. As Christ's taking of the sovereignty of the earth is a sublime reality, so must that of his victorious people's participation in it also be. Nor are we left to gather this by mere inference. John says expressly that "judgment was given to them,"--κρῖμα,--the act or power of judging, including the forming of sentences and the execution of the same, as in Matthew 7:1-29; Matthew 2:1-23; Matthew 19:28; John 9:39; Romans 2:2-3; 1 Corinthians 6:7. That is, as Alford remarks, "they were constituted judges." The work of shepherdizing the nations with a rod of iron necessarily involves intrustment with discretionary power to act; and this is the office and power here said to be given to these sitters on these thrones.[153] The "judgment" which they thus receive is otherwise expressed when it is said of them that they "reign." The possession of the judging power is most intimately conjoined with sovereignty, or the office of reigning. Thus "David reigned over all Israel; and David executed judgment and justice unto all the people." (2 Samuel 8:15.) Thus the Queen of Sheba said to Solomon: "The Lord made thee king, to do judgment and justice." (1 Kings 10:9.) They are enthroned kings and priests, and they are thus endowed with the prerogatives of the regal office. They are to reign. They are to exercise the royal functions. Therefore they get the power of judging and of executing judgment and justice, which is the very office of the shepherdizing promised to the victorious children of God, and so emphatically set forth in what was said of the particular destiny of the Manchild. Up to this time it is a matter of promise and hope, but here it is made a matter of possession and actual fact,-a thing finally reached and realized.

[153] The word κρῖμα in this clause may be interpreted as applying to the supervision or making of statutes, ordinances, arrangements, etc., by those who are in a superior station. This seems to many to be the most easy and natural construction."--Stuart, in loc.


Once it was the fate of believers to be judged by the ungodly world-powers. Jesus told his followers that they should be brought before councils, governors, and kings, and that time would come when men would think it a holy thing to adjudge them worthy of stripes, imprisonment, and death. So Paul stood before the courts of earth, saying: "I stand and am judged." But man's day has a limit, and then comes another order, when, as Mary sung, God "shall put down the mighty from their seats," and "exalt them of low degree,"-when the Pauls shall be the royal judges, and the Felixes, and Festuses, and Agrippas, and Caesars, then in place, shall be obliged to accept the sentences of heavenly justice from God's immortal potentates, who once stood helpless at earth's tribunals; for so it is written, "the saints shall judge the world" (1 Corinthians 6:2), and "shall take the Kingdom, and possess the Kingdom forever, even forever and ever" (Daniel 7:18); and Christ, the victorious All-Ruler, according to his promise, will "give them authority over the nations, to shepherdize them with a rod of iron" (Revelation 2:26-27), invincibly and effectually.


Among those who suffer the greatest penalties and privations for their faith are the holy martyrs and those who hold out faithful under the dreadful Antichrist. When a man lays down his life for his Lord, he surrenders all that he can surrender, and lets go what all the instincts of humanity lead one to cling to to the last. Human law knows no heavier penalty than the taking of a man's life; and when this is accepted, rather than deny the Saviour or his Word, the common world, as well as Christianity, takes it as the sublimest testimony a man can give of his devotion. And when people consent to suffer nakedness, banishment, and death, rather than make themselves guilty of an act of homage to the Antichrist, it is a demonstration of steadfastness as great as it is possible to furnish. Hence there is a somewhat special vision vouchsafed to the Apocalyptic seer to indicate the rewards of such fidelities. Not only does he behold the sitters on the thrones in general, and the giving of judicial and royal authority to the body of the saints as a whole, but he is particularly shown that the martyrs, and those who worship not the Beast, are surely among them. Thus he tells us:

"And (I saw) the souls of them who had been beheaded on account of the testimony of Jesus, and on account of the word of God, and [of those] who did not worship the beast nor yet his image, and did not receive the mark on [their] forehead and on their hand; and they lived (= lived again) and reigned with the Christ."

Whilst the body of the saints in general participate in these rewards, it is thus shown that the martyrs in particular, together with the faithful ones of the last evil time, are specially included. The martyrs and the faithful ones under the Beast are not different parties from the sitters on the thrones, but special classes specifically included. A somewhat parallel presentation occurs in Revelation 1:7, where it is said of the Saviour at his great Epiphany, that "every eye shall see him, and they which pierced him." The meaning is not that "they which pierced him" form a separate class apart from "every eye," but that even those who slew Christ shall also be among those denoted by "every eye," and that they too shall look upon him. It deserved to be thus noted specially that the murderers of Christ will have to confront him, as well as men in general; and so here it deserved to be noted specially that the holy martyrs, and the faithful ones under the Antichrist, have their part and place with the sitters upon the thrones, and that they particularly are among those who reign with Christ.

Special notice of the martyrs in their disembodied state was taken in Revelation 6:9. They were not enthroned then, but in depression, anxious for their final vindication. The record says: "When he opened the fifth seal, I saw beneath the altar the souls of those that had been slain on account of the Word of God, and on account of the testimony which they held fast: and they cried with a great voice, saying, Until when, thou Master, the holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood from them that dwell on the earth. And there was given to each of them a white robe, and it was said to them that they should rest yet a little time, until their fellow-servants also, and their brethren, shall have been completed, who are about to be slain as also they themselves had been." The very parties there spoken of are here specified as among the sitters upon the thrones; to wit, the martyrs then under the altar, their fellow-servants who were subsequently to fall because of their refusal to worship the Beast. A necessity was thus begotten for some subsequent notice of them in connection with the final outcome for which they were told to wait. That notice we have in the text, which notice takes its special character from the previous allusion to these particular parties, and the implied promise given them, not as over against the sitters on the thrones, or as the only sitters there, but as specially included among them. It is a gracious note of testimony from heaven to the greatest sufferers for Christ that, when it comes to the inheritance of the Kingdom and the reigning of the saints with their Lord, they are to be specially considered. Having laid down their lives for their faith, or having held out faithfully against the horrible deceptions and persecutions of the Antichrist, the assurance is, that they particularly shall be among these priests of God and of Christ, to share in his sublime dominion. Though in the ashes before, they are to live again for this very purpose.


Some stumble at the word souls (ψυχὰς), by which these martyrs are denoted, as if that introduced a peculiarity determinative of the whole character and interpretation of the vision. But it is nothing but a metaphysical quibble, by which to obscure and get rid of a plain doctrine of the Word of God which some do not like. It is a sufficient answer to say, that one of the common uses of this word in the New Testament is to denote individual beings, and persons in the body, rather than spirits of men out of the body. So the converts on the day of Pentecost are called "about three thousand souls;" and Jacob and his kindred who went down into Egypt are spoken of as "threescore and fifteen souls;" and those sailing with Paul in the ship were "two hundred threescore and sixteen souls;" and in the ark with Noah "eight souls were saved." In such passages disembodied souls are out of the question. Indeed, one of the rarest uses of the word by the sacred writers, if ever so used, is that which confines its meaning to the designation of that part of man capable of existence apart from the body. More commonly, it means corporeal life as distinguished from corporeal death. And as respects principles, or a mere moral influence, there is no instance in all the Word of God of its use in that sense. That the word souls, in John's vision of the martyrs beneath the altar, means persons dead as to their bodies, is very evident, not, however, from the meaning of the word, but from the accompanying statement that the souls he saw were people slain on account of their faith. He sees the same people, persons, souls, here; but this time ἔξησαν--"they lived again."[154] As mere souls separate from the body, they never were dead. John saw them, and heard them speaking, and beheld them invested in white robes, and recognized them as still living and waiting, though dead as to their bodies. The living again in which he now sees them, must therefore be a living in that in which they were dead when he first saw them, that is, corporeally dead. There is a resurrection of the bodies of dead men, but there is no such thing as the resurrection of the spirits of dead men. For living men there may be a spiritual resurrection from the death-state of sin, but there is no such spiritual resurrection for dead men. John had seen these "souls" under death as to their bodies, but here as "living again;" of course, living now in that in which they were dead then; that is, in corporeal resurrection, for as to their spirit life they had not been dead.[155]

[154] "I argue from the Greek text that the souls must in this instance be a synecdoche for the persons, and that the living again must signify the union of body and soul. For first in the passage 'which, or who, had not worshipped the Beast,' the word which (οιτινες) is in the masculine gender, whereas souls, which is the antecedent to it, is feminine. So also, 'the rest of the dead' (οἱ λοιποι) is in the masculine, in antithetical opposition to those that were beheaded, των πεπελεκισμενων."--Dr. N. Holmes's Resurrection Revealed, p. 58.

[155] "How can we avoid coming to the conclusion that ἔζησαν here must mean reviving or rising from the dead? The use of ζἁω elsewhere in the Apocalypse shows very plainly that it may mean revived, lived again, in reference to the body which had been dead. Thus the Saviour speaks of himself, in Revelation 2:8, as being he who had been dead, καὶ ἔζησε, and had revived, lived again, after the death of the body. Thus, too, it is said of the Beast (Revelation 13:14) which had the deadly wound of the sword, that ἔζησε, it revived. Thus also it is said, the rest of the dead οὐκ ἔζησε, lived not again. Surely the writer does not mean that Christians of lower rank, or the wicked, have no existence at all after the death of the body."--Stuart in loc.


"It does not mean that they lived spiritually, for so they did before, and whilst they bore their testimony to Christ and against Antichrist previous to their death; nor in their successors, for it would not be just and reasonable that they should be beheaded for their witness of Christ and his word, and others should live and reign with Christ in their room and stead. Nor is this to be understood of their living in their souls, for so they live in their separate state; the soul never dies; God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. But the sense is, that they lived again, as in Revelation 13:5; they lived corporeally; their souls lived in their bodies, their bodies being raised again, and reunited to their souls; their whole persons lived, or the souls of them that were beheaded lived; that is, their bodies lived again, the soul being sometimes put for their body; and this is called the first resurrection in the next verse."--Dr. John Gill in loc.


So far, then, from this word souls introducing an element requiring the exclusion of any thought of literal corporeal resurrection, it the rather proves that we cannot possibly understand any other sort of resurrection. That of which their martyrdom deprived them, their living again restores to them; hence, necessarily, corporeal resurrection,--the only resurrection of which martyrs are capable. Spiritual resurrection is out of the question, for they were spiritually resurrected before they became martyrs, and could not be holy martyrs without it. Mere influential resurrection is equally out of the question, for their living again is to possess the rewards of martyrdom, which would be a mere farce in any case not involving a literal personal resurrection. What reward is it to a man under the altar who has lost his head for his fidelity, that somebody else after him shows the same fidelity! What compensation was it to Paul for his execution at Rome, that Constantine some centuries after sat on the throne of the Caesars, and inscribed the sign of the Cross upon his banners! Such a result was indeed worth sacrifice to achieve; but that achievement was nothing of a personal reward to Paul. The souls under the altar knew there were men of their own faith and spirit on the earth, who should be as true to God as they had been; but that was no compensation to them, and did not keep them from crying with a great voice: "Until when, thou Master, the holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our Blood! "Besides, the Scriptures everywhere place the recompenses of the sacrifices and devotions of the saints "at the resurrection of the just." (Luke 14:14.) Neither, martyrs nor saints get their rewards till then. (2 Timothy 4:8; 1 Peter 1:7-8; 1 Peter 5:4.) The compensations of the saints must therefore wait till "the resurrection of the just." But here we have the rewards of God's faithful witnesses; therefore the resurrection spoken of can be none other than a literal and real resurrection, the same which is set forth in all the Scriptures as the great hope of all saints.


So likewise the antithesis between the living again of these "souls" and the non-living again of "the rest of the dead till the thousand years be completed," evidences that the resurrection spoken of is a literal resurrection. The deadness of this "remainder of the dead" certainly is a bodily deadness; otherwise there are to be no conversions on earth for full a thousand years. Their living again at the completion of the thousand years is a bodily resurrection; for they come up out of the sea, out of death, out of Hades, where they could not have been without being corporeally dead. John says expressly that they are "the dead, the great and the small," and that they thus live again, in a state of recovery from death and Hades, for the purpose of receiving their final doom. If this does not signify a literal resurrection of them at the end of the thousand years, there is no way of proving that there ever will be a literal resurrection for anybody. But if their living again at the termination of the thousand years is a literal resurrection, then their non-living again during those thousand years must be a state of literal corporeal deadness. And if their non-living again till the thousand years are accomplished is a continuation in a state of corporeal death, then the living again of those to whom they stand correlated as "the remainder of the dead" must be a literal corporeal resurrection also.[156] There is no escape from this argument. As Alford well says, "If in a passage where two resurrections are mentioned, where certain 'souls' live again at the first, and 'the rest of the dead 'live again only at the end of a specified period after the first,-if in such a passage the first resurrection may be understood to mean spiritual rising with Christ, while the second means literal rising from the grave; then there is an end of all significance in language, and Scripture is wiped out as a definite testimony to anything. If the first resurrection is spiritual, then so is the second; but if the second is literal, then so is the first, which, in common with the whole primitive Church and many of the best modern expositors, I do maintain, and receive as an article of faith and hope." (Gr. Test. in loc.)

[156] "In the phrases first resurrection, and second, a discrepancy as to time is implied. Any great change from a degraded and wretched condition, temporal or spiritual, may indeed be figuratively called a resurrection, a restoration to life, i.e., to happiness; but it would be out of the question to name it 9. first resurrection. This implies of necessity a comparison with a second, in which the first must be like the second in kind."--Stuart in loc.


Furthermore, it is inwoven and implied in every particular in the presentation concerning these sitters on these thrones, that the scene to them is a post-resurrection scene.

In Revelation 11:18, it was adoringly said by the holy Elders, that the time of the sounding of the seventh trumpet is the time or season for judging the dead, to give reward to the servants of God, the prophets, the saints, and them that fear his name, the small and the great. The description before us belongs to the season of the sounding of the seventh trumpet, which terminates at this point a thousand years before another resurrection of any sort occurs. Either then this sets forth the reward given to the servants, prophets, and saints of God, inclusive of their resurrection, or these holy Elders were altogether mistaken and misinformed, and John was in error in recording what they said as true.


Paul says, that when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall his people appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4.) But here Christ has appeared. The heaven has opened, and he has come forth as triumphant King of kings and Lord of lords, crowned with all his many diadems, consigning the Beast and the False Prophet to final perdition, striking their assembled armies dead, and locking up the Devil in the Abyss. Where, then, are his people who are to be revealed with him in resurrection glory when these things come to pass, if these sitters upon these thrones be not they?


These enthroned ones have had their judgment and obtained reward; otherwise they could not be thus enthroned, for enthronement is reward. But the time of such reward of the saints is the time of their resurrection, and not before; therefore, these enthroned ones must here be in their resurrected and glorified estate.

They occupy thrones, and they reign; therefore they must have received their crowns; but the saints are not crowned till the chief Shepherd appears, and they have been recalled from their graves (2 Timothy 4:8; 1 Peter 5:4); therefore, again, these crowned ones must here be in their resurrected condition.

They are kings and priests, they reign, they are. enthroned as royal judges and potentates, they share with Christ in his judging and shepherdizing of the nations: but it is only to those who have overcome, and been crowned by the great Judge of all as victors,-to the Manchild born into immortality and caught up to God and his throne,-that this power over the nations thus to rule or shepherdize is given. (Revelation 2:26-27; Revelation 12:5.) How, then, can these enthroned and reigning ones be any other than resurrected saints, in possession of post-resurrection rewards and glory? I wonder at the strange obtuseness of candid and sensible men, that they should have the slightest question on the subject. Either human theorizings are more authoritative than God's positive revelations, or those are all wrong who refuse to take these sitters on these thrones as the resurrected and glorified saints.


And still the evidence is not exhausted. There is a word in the record which makes the matter doubly sure. This whole presentation concerning the lifting and placing of these enthroned ones in their royal seats to live and reign with Christ for a thousand years, John pronounces "The Resurrection"--"The Resurrection the First." The word Resurrection (ἀνάστασις) is never once used in the New Testament, except to denote the coming up again of the fallen body from the grave. It occurs more than forty times, and always in this one, uniform, and exclusive sense. Yet the emplacement of these people in these sublime seats is called their ἀνάστασις--their Resurrection. Nay, more, the Holy Ghost calls it ἡ αναστασις, emphatically the Resurrection, partly in its relation to a second, and partly with reference to its own transcendent preeminence, as the particular object of our highest Christian hopes. How men, who profess loyalty to the Scriptures, and hold themselves in conscience bound to the Word of God, can get over such facts, and reduce the whole picture of this glorious enthronement of the saints, to what they call "special respect to their principles, their memory, and their character" rendered by mortal men, or to a mere revival of the martyr spirit and faith in times of glory for the Church on earth when there is no more room for martyrs, is utterly beyond my comprehension. It upturns all acknowledged principles of interpretation from their very foundations. It opens the door for the explaining away of every distinctive feature of the Christian faith. And it turns all the great promises of God and hopes of his Church into mist, dimness, and dreamy nothing. If these thrones, this royal judgeship, this reigning with Christ, this thousand years' dominion and rulership, this lifting of the holy martyrs including prophets and apostles into seats of sovereignty and shepherdizing of the nations, do not belong to the awards which only the Resurrection can bring, it is simply impossible to find any solid basis in God's Word for any special doctrine of our faith which we claim to derive from that source.

Look at it, my friends. The Bible tells us unmistakably that the illustrious apostles do not get their thrones till "the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit upon the throne of his glory" (Matthew 19:28); and yet men would teach us that some of their disciples in the flesh shall sit on exactly such thrones, and reign with Christ as his kings and priests for a thousand years, "as if they were apostles raised from the dead," whilst yet those apostles themselves are all the while still sleeping unrewarded in their graves! The holy martyrs we know do not get their recompense till "the resurrection of the just;" and yet we are to accept it as the revelation of God, that mortal men, who are not martyrs at all, and have no chance of becoming martyrs, ascend martyr thrones, and sit and reign with Christ as kings for ten centuries, "as if they were martyrs raised from the dead," whilst the martyrs themselves are meanwhile left in the ashes beneath the altar, crying, How long, O Lord, how long! Apart from all the linguistic and exegetical arguments which stand out against such notions, as a continent against the sea, the very absurdity of the implications ought to be enough to satisfy every one that such anomalies certainly cannot belong to the administrations of a just and holy God.


But I cannot go further into the subject tonight. Believing that I have contributed something toward a right understanding of this much-abused passage of the divine revelation, I close with the single remark: How sublime and glorious is the portion which remains for God's true people! Here are thrones to last a thousand years, and forever, and they are to occupy them. Here is sovereignty and judicial rule over the nations, and they are to exercise and wield it along with their victorious Redeemer and King. Here are a thousand years of glorious life over against a thousand years in the sombre abodes of Hades,-a life which they are to possess and enjoy forever free from all fear or power of "the second death." What is beyond will appear as we come to the concluding chapters; but this alone presents a prospect and honour for the saints well worth a life of suffering and trial, and for which life itself is not too dear a price.


Verse 6

Lecture 46

(Revelation 20:6)

THE FIRST RESURRECTION-A RESURRECTION OF SAINTS ONLY--TAKES PLACE IN SUCCESSIVE STAGES--NOT DESCRIBED IN ANY ONE VISION--INTRODUCES A WONDERFUL CHANGE IN THE EARTH'S HISTORY--PROMOTES ITS SUBJECTS TO A TRANSCENDENT DIGNITY AND GLORY.

Revelation 20:6. (Revised Text.) Blessed and holy he that hath part in the resurrection the first! Over these the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of the God and of the Christ, and reign with him a thousand years.

My conviction is clear and positive that the resurrection here spoken of is the resurrection of the saints from their graves, in the sense of the Nicene Creed, where it is confessed: "I look for the Resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come." With the distinguished Dean of Canterbury, Dr. Alford, to whose critical labours the Christian world is much indebted, "I cannot consent to distort words from their plain sense and chronological place in the prophecy, on account of any considerations of difficulty, or any rise of abuses which this doctrine may bring with it." With Paul, "I can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth." (2 Corinthians 13:8.) The word here rendered Resurrection is more than forty times used in the New Testament and four times in the Apocrypha, and always in the one only sense of a rising again of the body after it has fallen under the power of death. The emphasizing of it as The Resurrection cannot, with any degree of propriety, be understood of any mere metaphorical or symbolic rising. The placing of it as the first in a category of two resurrections, the second of which is specifically stated to be the literal rising again of such as were not raised in the first, fixes the sense to be a literal resurrection. What it describes is located in the time of the judging of the dead and the giving of reward to the saints, for which recovery from their graves is a prerequisite. It exalts to an office of judging, shepherdizing, and reigning, the same which is elsewhere dependent upon the final victory and the complete redemption of the whole man. All the rewards, dignities, and honours promised to saints at and after the resurrection, are necessarily included in what is assigned to those who share in this resurrection. All the connections and surroundings, antecedent and consequent, and the impossibility of consistently adjusting it to the rest of the Apocalypse or the Scriptures in general on any other supposition, combine to show that the reference is and must be to persons in resurrection life and glory. I am also perfectly sure, that any candid critic, set to work to make out an honest list of the men of the first three centuries of the Church who believed in a literal resurrection of saints a thousand years before the resurrection of the wicked, would find in this chapter the most ample and cogent reasons for placing the Apostle John among them. I cannot, therefore, but take it as the true meaning and intent of the Holy Ghost, that we should here understand a real and literal resurrection of saints and martyrs from their graves.


Who partake in it? is the question suggested and answered in the text now before us, concerning which I remark:

1. It is a resurrection of saints only. They that have part in it are "blessed and holy." Whether the reference be to the qualifications for it, or to what it brings, or to both, the result is the same, that none but true members of Christ are in this resurrection; for none but such are "blessed and holy." Neither in this life, nor in that which is to come, can an unbeliever, a wicked or profane person, be reckoned with the "blessed and holy;" but every one that hath part in this resurrection is "blessed and holy."

Many have the idea that there is but one resurrection for all men, good and bad alike. It is also true that "as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." (1 Corinthians 15:22.) But it is immediately added, "every man in his own order." It is not a summary thing, all at once, and the same in all cases. The resurrection of the wicked is in no respect identical with that of the saints, except that it will be a recall to some sort of corporeal life. There is a "resurrection of life," and there is a "resurrection of damnation" (John 5:29); and it is impossible that these should be one and the same. There is a "resurrection of the just,"--"a better resurrection,"--a resurrection out from among the dead (εξανάστασις εκ νεκρων), for which great zeal and devotion are requisite (Luke 14:14; Hebrews 11:35; Philippians 3:10-11),-which is everywhere emphasized and distinguished from another, more general, and less desirable. As it is "the resurrection of the just," the unjust have no share in it. As it is a resurrection from among the dead ones, it is necessarily eclectic, raising some, and leaving others, and so interposing a difference as to time, which distinguishes the resurrection of some as in advance of the resurrection of the rest. Hence the Scriptures continually draw a line of distinction between the resurrection of the good and the resurrection of the bad; and when the two are mentioned together, the resurrection of the good is always mentioned first. Hence, in the celebration of the standing up again of the congregation of the righteous, the Psalmist is particular to say that sinners shall not stand up with them. (Psalms 1:5.) Thus Paul also assured the Thessalonians that "the dead in Christ shall rise first." (1 Thessalonians 4:16.) If we understand this "first" as over against the translation of living saints, as some take it, or as over against the resurrection of the dead not in Christ, as Professor Stuart claims the meaning to be, it is all the same. The declaration is that only "the dead in Christ" are partakers of this resurrection; and if there is this difference in time between "the resurrection of the dead in Christ" and the translation of the living "in Christ," all the more surely will there be a still wider difference in time between the rising of "the dead in Christ" and the rising of the dead not in Christ, who are altogether excluded from those who are said to rise first. It is not true, therefore, that we go contrary to the analogy of Scripture when we construe "the first resurrection," in which only the blessed and holy have part, as a literal resurrection of the saints, occurring long before and apart from the resurrection of the non-blessed.[157]

[157] "There is a general impression that the belief in the First Resurrection at a different time from that of the general resurrection rests solely on this passage. (Revelation 20:6.) But this is a great mistake. Omitting the passages from the Old Testament Scriptures, sustained by the promises of which the ancient worthies suffered and served God in hope of 'a better resurrection' (Hebrews 11:35), our Lord makes a distinction between the resurrection which some shall be accounted worthy to obtain, and some not. (Luke 20:3; Luke 20:5.) St. Paul says there is a resurrection 'out from among the dead' (ἑξαυαστασιϛ), to attain which he strove with all his might as the prize to be gained. (Philippians 3:11.) He also expressly tells us, that while as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive; yet it shall not be all at once. (1 Corinthians 15:22-24.) It is to be remarked, that wherever the resurrection of Christ, or his people, is spoken of in Scripture, it is a 'resurrection from, or from among, the dead;' and wherever the general resurrection is spoken of, it is the 'resurrection of the dead.' This distinction, though preserved in many instances in the English translation, is too frequently omitted; but in the Greek the one is always coupled with the preposition, ἐκ out of or from among, and the other is without the preposition; and in the Vulgate it is rendered by à mortuis; or ex mortuis, as distinct from resurrectio mortuorum. In Romans 8:11, 'the spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead,' it is ἐκ νεκρῶν, à mortuis. So in Romans 10:7; Ephesians 1:20; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 1:3; 1 Peter 1:21. So Lazarus was raised ἐκ νεκρῶν. (John 12:1; John 12:9.) Our Lord, in his reply to the Sadducees, made the distinction between the general resurrection of the dead and the resurrection which some should be accounted worthy to obtain. (Luke 20:34-35.) St. Paul, when he spoke of a resurrection to which he strove and agonized to attain (Philippians 3:8; Philippians 3:11), as if one preposition was not enough to indicate or emphasize his meaning, uses it doubled, την ἐξαναστασις, ad resurrectionem, qua est ex mortuis--the special or eclectic resurrection, that one from among the dead."--Consult M. Stuart on the Apocalypse, vol. ii, pp. 474-490.

2. It is a resurrection which takes place in different stages, and not all at one and the same time. Paul tells us expressly that there is an "order" in it, which brings up some at one time, and others at other times. It starts with "Christ the first fruits;" afterwards they that are Christ's at his coming; then (still later) the end, "completion, or last." (1 Corinthians 15:23-24.) Christ's resurrection was also attended with the resurrection of others. The Gospel says: "The graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city." (Matthew 27:52-53.) This, Selnecker, one of the authors of the Formula Concordia, says "places and parcels out the resurrection of those who are raised to eternal life before the general resurrection at the last day; and the meaning properly is, that not only those of whom the Evangelist is writing become alive again, but also others, as Luther and Ambrose have written, and that such resurrections occur at various times throughout the whole period or dispensation of the New Testament, even up to the final day." These various particular resurrections he also calls "The First Resurrection, to which," he says, "belongs everything raised up again to eternal life before the final day."[158]


[158] Exp. of Rev. and Daniel, Gena, 1567. See also Danhauer. Kromayer's Elenckticus in Aug. Conf., 561-2, and Lange's Ap. Licht, u. Recht. 179.

This statement agrees also with what we have found in the course of our exposition of this Book. In chapter 4, immediately following the sentences to the Churches, John saw a door open in the heaven, through which he was called to come up. That door and ascension indicate a resurrection and rapture of saints (answering to 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17); for John immediately beheld Living Ones and Elders in glory. They were saints from earth, for they sing of being redeemed by Christ's blood "out of every kindred, and tongue, and tribe, and people." They are in resurrection life, for they are enthroned and crowned; and no saints are crowned till "the resurrection of the just." They correspond to "the Eagles" gathered together where the body they live on is, who are thus sheltered in the heavenly pavilion from the sorrows of the great tribulation. (Matthew 24:27-28; Luke 17:34-37; Luke 21:34-36; Revelation 3:10.) They are already in heaven, before ever a seal is broken, a trumpet sounded, or a bowl of wrath emptied.

Further on, in Revelation 7:1-17, under the sixth seal, a great multitude was seen, also in heaven, clothed with white robes, and bearing palms of victory. John beheld them with the Living Ones and Elders, but distinct from them, and then just arrived. Whence they came, is asked and explained. They come "out of the great tribulation,"-a tribulation from which the Elders or seniors in heaven were saved altogether, being "accounted worthy to escape all these things." They answer to the wise virgins, who were not ready when the watchful and far-sighted Eagles were "taken," but who, in sorrow and mortification, had now repented out of their misbeliefs, taken up the lamps of a better confession, and gone out in true advent faith to meet the Bridegroom, thus washing their robes and making them white in the blood of the Lamb, securing a heavenly portion indeed, but with certain losses, and at a period subsequent to the taking up of the Elders and Living Ones.


So at a still later period, even after the revelation of the blasphemous Beast, two great Witnesses appear, whom he finally slays. Three days and a half their bodies lie unburied. But, at the end of that time they come to life again, stand on their feet, and ascend to heaven in sight of their enemies. Whether any of their disciples are taken up with them, as might reasonably be inferred, or whether they alone are raised at this time, here is certainly another special or particular resurrection which goes to make up the company of the "blessed and holy."

Yet further on, in Revelation 14:1-20, still another special company appears, quite distinct from any thus far named, consisting of 144,000, "redeemed from the earth" and "from among men," singing a new song of their own, and joined with the Lamb to follow him whithersoever he goeth. They certainly belong to "the children of the resurrection," to the congregation of God's glorified saints; but the season of their inbringing is not the same as that of the others referred to.

So, in connection with the gathering of the kings and their armies at Harmageddon, there is a note of indication that other saints were then on the eve of being taken (Revelation 16:15); whilst here in the vision of the whole body finally made up, some are described as having lived in the very last days of the Antichrist, yet did not worship him or receive his mark; indicating that the first resurrection is not finally complete until the very last period of of the Man of sin.


It is thus clear and manifest, even to the extent of demonstration itself, that the First Resurrection is not one summary event, but is made up of various resurrections and translations at different times, beginning with the resurrection of Christ, who is the head and front of "the resurrection of the just," and receiving its last additions somewhere about the final overthrow of the Beast and his armies.

3. It is a Resurrection which as a whole is nowhere pictorially described. As it does not occur all at once, it is not fully given in any one vision, as in the case of "the rest of the dead." The nearest to such a scenic presentation is that given in Revelation 12:1-17, in the picture of the birth of the Manchild, which is immediately caught up to God and to his throne. That birth and ascension is the pictorial "sign" of the bringing forth of all "the Church of the firstborn" into eternal life and resurrection glory, which began in the resurrection and ascension of Christ himself, and which reaches its completion when the last martyr under the Beast attains his final blessedness. But even there, no circumstantial details appear, except the malignant and murderous attempt of the Dragon to prevent it. It is quite too varied and diverse in its several sections, and in the different parts which the blessed and holy have in it, for any one picture adequately to represent it. Hence there is no such picture. What John here sees and describes is not so much the scene of its occurrence as the body of its subjects, the estate to which it brings them, the blessedness and honour with which it clothes and endows them. He beholds who and what they are that have part in it; but when, how, or in connection with what times, formalities, and surroundings they are made to live again, he does not here see or state, as in the case of those who live not again till the thousand years are ended. The reason is, that the subject is not capable of it, because so parcelled out in various particular scenes, relating to different classes and times, and with very diverse circumstances and attendant facts.


It is not so with "the rest of the dead." As none of them share in the First Resurrection, so none of them belong to "the blessed and holy." They are all of the one general class of the non-saved. The reading in the Codex Sinaiticus is, that they are all κατεκρὶθησαν--condemned.


The book of life is opened and searched from end to end, but there is no account of any name of any one of them being found there. Leaving out the Beast and the False Prophet, who are then already in the lake of fire, they are all resurrected together. They all have their judgment at one and the same time, and all meet the same fate. One picture can readily give the whole scene, with all the circumstances and particulars. And so it is given, in connection with the great white throne. But, in the nature of the case, thus it could not be with "the resurrection of the just." Nor does Christ ever mount a throne of judgment toward his Church and people. They are his familiar servants, friends, and brethren. Leaving the world, he leaves them to occupy for him, and in his name. The Kingdom he gets is not against them, but for them, that they may share it with him. They are of the King's party and household. When he comes, he comes, according to the Parables, first to one, and then to another, and so in succession, advancing each band of faithful and good servants to their reward one after another, "every man in his own order." He meets and rewards the best first, and so descends from class to class, as from time to time, till the whole body of his redeemed ones is made up ill all its variety of orders and degrees, according to fidelity to his word and service.

4. The completion of this Resurrection introduces a wonderful change in the earth's history. It is the breaking through of an immortal power;--a power which sweeps away, as chaff before the wind, the whole economy of mortal and Dragon rule, and thrusts to death and Hades every one found rising up or stiffening himself against it;--a power which shears the Old Serpent of his strength, binds him with a great chain, locks and seals him up in the Abyss, pulls down all his works, tears off and clears away all his hoary falsehoods, which have been oppressing, deceiving, misleading, and swaying the world to its destruction for so many ages;--a power which gives to the nations new, just, and righteous laws, in the administration of immortal rulers, whose good and holy commands men must obey or die;--a power which cuts at once the cords of life for every dissembling Ananias and Sapphira, blasts every Nadab and Abihu that ventures to offer strange fire before the Lord, consigns to death and burning every Achan that covets the Babylonish garment or wedge of gold which God hath pronounced accursed, and causeth the earth to open her mouth and swallow up on the spot every Korah, Dathan, and Abiram that dares to open his mouth against the authority of the holy princes whom Jehovah hath ordained;--a power which grasps hold of the plethoric fortunes accumulated in meanness and oppression and held in greedy avarice for the pampering of lust and pride, hewing them down in righteousness and scattering them in restitutions to those out of whom they have been so uncharitably and dishonestly ground and wrung;--a power which goes forth in vindication of the worthy poor, the oppressed, the weak, the friendless, and the downtrodden, the righting of their cause, the maintenance of their just claims, and the enforcement of truth and brotherhood between man and man;-a power which lifts the mask from deceit, pretence, and false show, puts each one in his true place according to what he really is, gives credit only where credit is due, stamps an effectual condemnation on all false weights and measures, and tries everything and everybody in the balances of a strict and invincible justice. I think of the coming in of that power,--of the havoc it must needs make in the whole order of things,--of the confusion it will cause in the depraved cabinets, and courts, and legislatures of the world,-of the revolution it must work in business customs, in corporation managements, in political manipulations, in mercantile and manufacturing frauds, in the lies and hollownesses which pervade social life,--of the changes it must bring into churches, into pulpits, into pews, into worship, into schools, into the newspapers, into book-making and book-reading, into thinking and philosophy, and into all the schemes, enterprises, judgments, pursuits, and doings of men,--of how it will affect literature, art, science, architecture, eating, drinking, sleeping, working, recreating,--of what it must do concerning playhouses, and rmmshops, and gambling hells, and the unhallowed gains by which great masses of people have their living and keep themselves up in the world. And as I thus begin to realize in imagination what the irresistible enforcement of a true and righteous administration in all these directions and relations necessarily implies, I can see why the Book of God describes it as a shepherdizing with a rod of iron, and calls it a breaking like the dashing to pieces of an article of pottery. Think of the sudden collapse of all the haunts of sin, the rooting out of the nests and nurseries of iniquity, the clearing away of the marshes and bogs of crime, where every style of damning pestilence is bred, and the changes that must hence come;--think of the summary abolition of all infamous cliques, combinations, and rings,--political rings, whisky rings, municipal rings, state rings, railroad rings, mercantile rings, communistic rings, oath-bound society rings, and a thousand kinds of other rings,--all the children of wickedness, hindering just law, suppressing moral right, crippling honest industry, subsidizing legislation, corrupting the Press, robbing the public treasuries, eating up the gains of honourable occupation, perverting public sentiment, spotting and exorcising men who cannot be made the tools of party, transmuting selfish greed and expediency into principle, razeeing the dominion of virtue and intelligence, subordinating the common weal to individual aggrandisement, and setting all righteous administration at defiance;-think of the universal and invincible dragging forth to divine justice of every blatant infidel, perjurer, liar, profane swearer, drunkard, drunkard-maker, whoremonger, hypocrite, slanderer, trickster, cheat, thief, murderer, trader in uncleanness, truce-breaker, traitor, miser, oppressor of the poor, bribe-taking legislator, timeserving preacher, mal-practitioner, babe-destroyer, friend-robber, office-usurper, peace-disturber, and life-embitterer;--think of the instantaneous going forth into all the world of a divine and unerring force, which cannot be turned or avoided, but which hews down every fruitless tree, purges away all chaff from every floor, negatives all unrighteous laws, overwhelms all unrighteous traffic, destroys all unrighteous coalitions, burns up every nest of infamy and sin, ferrets out all concealed wickedness, exposes and punishes all empty pretence, makes an end of all unholy business, and puts an effectual stop to all base fashions, all silly conceits, all questionable customs, and all the hollow shams and corrupt show and fastidiousness of what calls itself society, transferring the dominion of the almighty dollar to Almighty Right, and reducing everything in human life, pursuits, manners, and professions to the standard of rigid truth and justice;-think of the tremendous revolution, in all that the eye can see, the ear hear, the hand touch, the heart feel, or earthly being realize, that must needs attend the putting into living practical force of such an administration,--the high it must make low, the famous it must make infamous, the rich it must make poor, the mighty it must make powerless, the loud it must sink to oblivion, the admired and worshipped it must turn to disgrace and abhorrence, and the despised and contemned poor it must lift into place and respectability,-the different impulse under which every wheel must then turn, every shuttle move, every hammer strike, every foot step, every mind calculate, and every heart beat;--the change that must come over the houses we enter, over the streets we walk, over the people we meet, over the words we pronounce, over the food we eat, over the air we breathe, over the sunlight of the day, over the repose of night, over the spirit of our waking hours and the very dreams of our slumbers, and over all the elements, relations, activities, and experiences which go to make up what we call life;--think, I say, of all this tremendous revolution, and conceive it going into invincible effect, unchangeably, without compromise, at once, and forever; and you may begin to have some idea of the alteration which The First Resurrection is to introduce into the history of our earth. For this, and nothing less than this, is the meaning of this sitting upon thrones, receiving power of judgment, shepherdizing the nations, and reigning on the earth, on the part of these blessed and holy immortals.


And a good thing it will be for the nations when that day comes. There can be nothing better than God's law. There can be nothing more just, more reasonable, more thoroughly or wisely adapted to all the well-being of man and the highest wholesomeness of human society. All the blessedness in the universe is built upon it. All that is needed for the establishment of a holy and happy order is for men to obey that law, for it to be put in living force, for it to be incarnated in the feelings, actions and lives of men. And this is what is to be effected when "the children of the resurrection" get their crowns, and go into power, with Christ the All-Ruler at their head. They are to shepherdize, and deal with the nations, and with all that make up the nations, as unerring and immortal kings and priests, to direct, instruct, and feed them with all the loving care of angels, but with "a rod of iron" in their hands to enforce docility, obedience, and unreserved surrender to all the laws and requirements of the Lord God Almighty. And under this reign shall be fulfilled what the prophets have prophesied, and sung in golden numbers, about the peace and blessedness which is in reserve for this sin-hurt and long downtrodden inheritance of man. You may call it Judaism, if you like; you may sneer at it as fantastical conceit; you may denounce it as a carnal dream; you may brand it as heresy; but it is nevertheless the truth of God, to which you, and I, and all men, are inexorably bound; and which has every prospect of becoming experimental fact before the century approaching has passed away. I hail its coming, and I bid it welcome, as the great hope and regeneration of our depraved and misgoverned world.

5. The completion of this Resurrection promotes the subjects of it to a transcendent glory. Saintship means honour. It is not so in this present world. The greatest of the Apostles, with all his great achievements and sublime experiences, was compelled to say, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most miserable." (1 Corinthians 15:19.) The great Master of all told his disciples from the beginning, "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." (John 15:19.) The unregenerate heart does not like the Gospel philosophy and the Gospel requirements; and whilst it continues unregenerate, it has no favours for those who defend and live it, and insist on its acceptance as the only hope for man. Hence the history of the Church, wherever it has been truest, purest, and most itself, is a Book of Martyrs. But "the resurrection of the just" brings the people of God their compensation. "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the Resurrection the First! Over these the Second Death has no power, but they shall be priests of the God and of the Christ, and reign with him a thousand years." Analyse a little the exultant statement.


First of all, they are partakers of resurrection, the first resurrection, the blessed resurrection. Not all of them actually suffer death. Such of them as are alive, and remaining, and ready, when the time comes, are "caught up," translated, carried off into the resurrection life, without dying at all. But the translation in those instances is the equivalent of the resurrection. It is the same change to incorruption and immortality, not from the grave indeed, but from mortal life, and so is included in the one term, which means, that, to all of them alike, a power is vouchsafed which strikes from every one of them forever every vestige of the old slavery to corruption, death, or mortal disability. Mere living again, great and wonderful as that is, is the smallest part of the matter. By the prophets, by Christ, and by the apostles, some were recalled to life, resuscitated, made to live again after they were dead, and yet died again as men ordinarily die, the same as if they had never been recalled from death. The living again in this case involves a far "better resurrection," even the renewal of the whole corporeal being, refashioned to a heavenly model, with heavenly qualities, and to a vastly sublimer life than ever was enjoyed before;-a resurrection, in which corruption puts on incorruption, dishonour puts on glory, weakness puts on power, and the earthy body becomes a spirit body, lifted quite out of the sphere of the earthly life, and over which neither the first death nor the second has any further power. Having been "accounted worthy to attain that world," they "neither marry nor are given in marriage; neither can they die any more; for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection." (Luke 20:35-36.)


They are holy. They were holy in their lives and aims while they lived in the flesh. They had "the testimony of Jesus" and "the word of God," and confessed it over against a gainsaying world, and held it fast against persecution and death, and willingly suffered the loss of all things, counting them but refuse and offal, rather than let go their confession and hope in Christ Jesus. They were the salt of the earth and the light of the world, the golden candlesticks of eternal truth in the realm of abounding sin and darkness, yet never content with that to which they had attained, but ever reaching forth unto still higher and better things, and, like the Olympian racers, pressed toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God. Reviled, persecuted, evil spoken of, and accounted the very offscourings of the world, because of their faith, devotion, and self-sacrifice for their Saviour and his cause, they resented not, but counted it all joy, and were exceeding glad, sure that it was working for them a far more exceeding and an eternal weight of glory. Many of them were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain the better resurrection; and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, of bonds and imprisonments, were stoned, sawn asunder, tempted, slain with the sword, wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented, of whom the world was not worthy. But consecrated and set apart to God as his servants and lightbearers in their earthly lifetime, they are a hundredfold holier now. Released forever from the deathworking law in their fleshly members, their whole being has come under the power of a complete and untemptable sanctification, which sets them apart and consecrates them to a sublime and unapproachable holiness, to which dwellers in the flesh must stand in greater awe than ever was called for in the sublimest of earthly kings or the most sacred of Jewish high-priests;-a holiness which inspires while it awes, which attracts while it reproves and condemns, and which lifts and assures those whom it strikes with humiliation and dread. When Isaiah saw the Lord sitting upon his Almighty throne, and the seraphim with covered faces round about him saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God of Sabaoth, he fell down and cried, "Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and dwell among a people of unclean lips." (Isaiah 6:1-5.) And something of this same awful holiness is then to appear in the immortal king-priests of this resurrection, before which men and angels will veil their eyes in reverence; for in them and through them God will set his glory among the nations, and all the earth shall be filled with it. (Ezekiel 29:21; Isaiah 6:3.) There is a great and awful majesty of consecration in a true child of God even while living and walking here in the flesh. To the outward eye and carnal view there is but little that is special. The thoughtful brow, the sober mien, the dignified behaviour, the reserved and careful utterance, the keeping aloof from the world's wild pleasures and gaieties, and the solemn regard for holy names and holy things, along with a calm and firm confession of the truth as it is in Jesus, is about all that can be externally noticed. But his name is in the books of heaven. He is there enrolled as a celestial citizen and prince. The angels are ministers and servants to him. He is allied by regeneration to the blood-royal of eternity. He is marked with the name and sacrament of the King eternal, immortal, and invisible. He has upon him an unction from the Holy One, consecrating him for transfiguration to supernal principality. He is brother and joint-heir with Him who sits enthroned at the right hand of eternal Majesty, and who is presently to be revealed as the King of kings and Lord of lords. The very ground on which he treads takes on sacredness from his presence. The Holy Ghost dwells in his body, breathes in his breath, walks in his steps, and speaks in his words. Through that Saviour in whom he trusts, he is already in a measure a divine man, partaker of the divine nature. All of which shall be made complete, manifest, and visible when he comes forth in the sublime sanctity of the First Resurrection; for "blessed and holy is he that hath part in the Resurrection the First."


Further, they have very exalted place and occupation. John saw them seated on thrones. He beheld them endowed with judgeship. He pronounces them kings and priests. They share in the administrations of government. They reign with Christ. Their business is to shepherdize nations. These things all tell of official relations and prerogatives. They are not mere names and empty titles. The saints know no sinecures. No meaningless ceremonials or hollow designations find place in heaven. Nothing is there but substantial realities. The children of the resurrection are no sham kings, and no mock judges, but everything which these high titles and offices imply. They are not coregents and co-shepherdizers with Christ, without being and doing what such words import and express. The dignity is transcendently exalted, but it is all real; and the reality of the offices necessitates the reality of the activities which pertain to them. I said that saintship means honour; but saint honour means duty, activity, work, not idleness, not quiescence. There is no heaven for laziness; much less is heaven made up of it. Not for parade badges, but for corresponding services, do the children of this resurrection get their dignities. As kings, they are to fill the places and do the work of kings. As judges, they are to judge and administer justice. As priest-regents, they are charged with the cares and duties of royal priesthood. They not only have the name and place of sovereigns, but they reign, as truly and really as ever Saul, or David, or Solomon reigned. The end of their salvation is not to sit on clouds and sing psalms, or to luxuriate in the idle bliss of an eternal languor or ecstasy. They are redeemed and glorified for sublime offices and the work pertaining to those offices. The life of Christ in heaven is an intensely busy life. He is administering the Kingdom of the universe. When the present dispensation ends he will deliver up that Kingdom to the Father, and enter upon a new and particular administration of bis own, in which the children of the resurrection are to be joined with him, as angels are now associated with him in the administration of the Kingdom of the Father, yea, in a still closer union. The work to be done is the shepherdizing of the nations with a rod of iron,-the following up of the victory of the great day of God Almighty, putting in force the rule of eternal right and justice where the blasting rule of the Dragon has so perverted things and held disastrous sway for so many ages. For this they have their thrones. For this judgment is put into their hands. For this they are lifted high above all the infirmities of mortal life. For this they are perfected in holiness and invested with such divine and awful consecration. And in this they have their honour and their blessedness. Through their completed redemption in Christ Jesus they come into such full harmony with the mind and will of God, and into such living consociation with their Redeemer, as to know no higher dignity or joy than to fill out the great administration of reducing the mortal survivors of the awful day to divine order, and to employ their immortal energies in tutoring the race from which they have sprung, till returned to that Paradise from which it has been in exile for 6,000 years.


These are quite different ideas from those usually entertained about heaven. People spiritualize and explain away the great things of God's Revelation until the whole matter evaporates in their hands, and the true Christian hope vanishes into insipidity and nothingness. They make ado about getting to heaven, but have lost all understanding of what it means. All the singing, and longing, and fond anticipation on the subject really amounts to very little more than a going to see Jesus, to meet some departed friends, and to make the acquaintance of some distinguished people who once lived. Crowns are sometimes alluded to, but they are only fancy crowns, glittering shadows, empty dreams, badges without corresponding dignities, administrations without subjects, thrones to which nobody is amenable. They talk of rest; but rest is not heaven, any more than sleep is life. And the impossibility of finding realities with which to fill up the scriptural images and descriptions of the final portion of the redeemed, on the part of those who spiritualize the First Resurrection, is ample evidence of their tremendous mistake. They, in effect, abolish everything that makes heaven heaven, and all their pictures of futurity are simply the taking of God's ransomed kings into a world of shadows, to find their eternal bliss and ever-growing greatness in the languor of songs, or the dreamy joys of an endless spiritual intoxication, all as impossible as it is uninviting to rational natures, or to beings invested with immortal powers. No, the joys and honours of the children of the resurrection are, that they are made kings and priests unto God and Christ, installed and endowed as immortal benefactors of the nations upon the earth, the unerring lords, rulers, and invincible shepherds, of a renewing and renewed world, the everlasting guides, judges, and potentates of a redeemed race. So the word before us is; and to this outcome all the promises in the Book of God are fitted.

Verses 7-15

Lecture 47

(Revelation 20:7-15)

THE MILLENNIUM--A FALSE THEORY--A PERIOD OF A THOUSAND YEARS ANOTHER DISPENSATION--CONDITION OF THINGS THEN--ITS BLESSEDNESS DOES NOT END WITH THE THOUSAND YEARS--THE LOOSING OF SATAN--THE REBELLION OF GOG AND MAGOG--THE DESTRUCTION OF THE REBELS--CASTING OF SATAN INTO GEHENNA--THE GREAT WHITE THRONE-ITS OCCUPANT--THE FINAL RESURRECTION AND JUDGMENT--THE BOOKS OPENED-GRADES OF PUNISHMENT--THE LAKE OF FIRE.

Revelation 20:7-15. (Revised Text.) And when the thousand years are completed, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to lead astray the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together into war, of whom the number (of them) as the sand of the sea.


And they went up on the breadth of the earth [or land], and encompassed the citadel of the saints and the beloved city. And there came down fire out of the heaven, and devoured them. And the Devil, who leadeth them astray, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where also the Beast and the False Prophet [are], and shall be tormented day and night to the ages of the ages.


And I saw a great white throne, and the one sitting upon it, from the face of whom fled the earth and the heaven, and place was not found for them.

And I saw the dead ones the great and the small standing in the presence of the throne, and books [or rolls] were opened, and another book [or roll] which is [that] of the life; and the dead ones were judged out of the things written in the books according to the works of them.


And the sea gave the dead ones in it, and Death and Hades gave the dead ones in them, and they were judged [Codex Sin. were condemned] every one according to their works.


And Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the death the second, the lake of fire.

And if anyone was not found written in the book [or roll] of the life, he was cast into the lake of fire.


The reign of Christ and his glorified saints is a reign on or over the earth. It is a shepherdizing of "the nations," and "nations" belong to the race of man in the flesh. The Living Ones and Elders sung of being made kings and priests unto God, and proclaimed themselves thus ordained to "reign on the earth." (Revelation 5:10.)


This reign is to last a thousand years, a millennium, a chiliad. Any thousand years is a millennium; but because of the peculiarities and preeminence of this particular thousand years, it has come to be called The Millennium, about which there is much unfounded oratory and empty song.


The prevailing modern doctrine is, that the world is to progress, and is progressing, toward a golden age of wisdom, righteousness, liberty, and peace, when error, false worship, vice, wickedness, oppression, and all anti-christianism, will be effectually eradicated, and all nations and peoples brought under the sway of a purified and all-governing Christianity; that this is to be accomplished by the gradual advancement of civilization, science, reforms, political revolutions, the spread of liberality, beneficence, and Christian principles, and the revival of the churches in devotion and missionary zeal, helped by increased measures of the Spirit of God and such providential directions of human affairs as may augment the efficiency of the appliances we now have; and that this is the consummation for which all Christians are to look, labour, and pray, as the glorious outcome of this world's history. This men call The Millennium, and about this they dream, and sing, and preach. You will find it in nearly all the popular teachings of our times, just as I have stated it. That it involves some dim elements of truth, may be admitted; but they are so sadly disfigured and overlaid as to make out of them a system of very faulty philosophy, manipulated into an article of faith, wholly unknown to the Church in the first thousand years of its existence, and as much an invention of man as the Romish dogmas of the immaculate conception and the Pope's infallibility. It is certainly not taught in any respectable creed in Christendom. It is not to be found in any of the Church's books of devotion, liturgies, hymnals, or accepted songs, for the first fifteen centuries, including the period of its greatest purity and faithfulness. All the great confessions, either by implication or direct specification, are adverse to it, and unconstruable with it. The old theologians, such as Luther, Melanchthon, Calvin, Knox, Hutter, Hunnins, Quenstedt, and even the Wesleys, are against it. Daniel Whitby, who died in 1726, by whom mainly it was brought into vogue, offered it to the consideration of the learned as only an hypothesis, which he considered new in his day. And the Scriptures everywhere, on every principle of just interpretation, negative and contradict it. The Church, in its very name and divine designation, is an Ecclesia, a body called out from the rest of mankind, with the majority ever outside of itself. By every saying and foreshowing of the Saviour, it lies under the cross for the whole period of its earthly career, and from that state is never lifted this side of the resurrection. The tares and the wheat occupy the same field, and both grow together till the harvest, which is the end of the age, the termination of the present dispensation. Everywhere the last days are painted as the worst days, and men as waxing worse and worse till the end comes. And all the precepts and admonitions divinely given to the Church with reference to the coming again of the Lord Jesus, are such as to render it impossible for them to be kept by any people of any generation believing that a thousand years would have to pass before that coming could take place. I therefore arraign all such teaching as full of chiliastic error, and as one of those subtle, plausible, but delusive insinuations of the great deceiver, by which God's people are beguiled from the truth to his ruinous lies.

I. Notice then the Scriptural teachings with regard to what is called the Millennium.

1. It is a period of "a thousand years," dating from the overthrow of the Beast and his confederates, in the battle of the great day of God Almighty, the casting of him and the False Prophet into the lake of fire, and the binding and locking up of Satan in the Abyss. I understand these to be literal years, the same as all other dates given in this Book. The year-day interpreters, to be consistent with themselves, must needs lengthen out this period to at least three hundred and sixty thousand years, which is a most astonishing elongation of the "little while" and the "quickly" in which Christ promised that he would come again.

2. These thousand years begin only after this present world, αιων, age or, dispensation is closed. The intent of the Church period is stated to be the gathering together of an elect, the taking out of a people for the name of the Lord, the development and qualification of a particular number of the human family to be Christ's immortal king-priests. That object being attained, all the present arrangements terminate. There is not a command to preach, make disciples, baptize, observe the Eucharistic supper, or anything else peculiar to the Church, which is not limited in its own specific terms to the coming again of Christ to avenge his people, and judge his enemies. Such a coming was shown us before the introduction of these thousand years; but no such coming is shown us at their termination. A fiery judgment is there, and a great white throne of terrific adjudication upon the unholy dead, but not a word about any coming of Christ either for or with his people, any gathering together of his elect, any taking of the eagle watchers to where he is, any coming as he was seen going up from Mount Olivet, or any coming whatever. The fact that the saints appear on thrones, in the blessedness and holiness of resurrection life and glory, at the beginning of this period, and that they reign through it, demonstrated that Christ's coming to raise his saints to glory, give them their rewards, and thus end this dispensation, has then already taken place. This Millennium, therefore, lies altogether on the further side of that occurrence; and the present Church, so far from finding earthly blooming time in it, does not get into it at all, except in the immortal kinghoods and priesthoods of the children of the resurrection.

3. The so-called Millennium brings with it an altogether different dispensation from that under which we now live. During the whole course of the present order of things, Satan is loose and active in his work of leading astray; but he is bound, locked up in the Abyss, and not allowed to enter the world at all, either personally, or with any of his agents, for all this thousand years. The great work and office of the Church now is to preach the Gospel to every creature, and to witness for Christ to an adverse and gainsaying world; but there is not one word said about any such office in mortal hands during all that long period. In its stead, however, there is to be a shepherdizing of the nations with a rod of iron, an authoritative and invincible administration of right and justice on the part of immortal king-priests, and a potent disciplining of men and nations far beyond anything which the mere preaching of the Gospel ever has wrought or ever was intended to do for earthly society. Now the sovereignty of the earth is in the hands of the Dragon, moulded by his influence, and not at all under the command of saints; but then it is to be exclusively in the hands of the Lord of lords and his immortal king-priests. Now we can only beseech men in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God; then they will be compelled to take the instructions given them, to serve with fear and rejoice with trembling, to kiss, give the required adoration to the Son, or perish from the way. (Psalms 2:10-12.) Now it is left to men's option to serve God or not, with nothing to interfere with their choice but the judgment to come; then they will be obliged to accept and obey his laws, or be smitten and blasted on the spot.

The present is the period of God's mercy and long-suffering; that will be the period of prompt and rigid administration, when sentence against an evil work will be executed speedily. Now the dutiful and obedient are obliged to suffer, to endure manifold wrongs, and to wait for their reward till the resurrection of the just; but "then shall the righteous flourish" in proportion to their righteousness, and they "shall go forth and grow up as calves of the stall," "and the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever." (Isaiah 32:17.) Now it is a hard and self-sacrificing thing to be a saint, justly made hard because of the transcendent dignity and glory to be gained; but then the difficulty and hardship will be on the other side, so that people can scarcely help being what they ought to be, and sin will be embarrassed with greater disadvantages than a life of faith has ever been. Thus, in every particular, the dispensation of things will then be wholly changed from what it is now.

4. The general condition of the earth, and man upon it, will then also be vastly improved. We cannot speak with definiteness; but all the intimations show that this whole terrestrial economy will then be far on in the process of that "regeneration" and renewal of which the Saviour speaks (Matthew 19:28), and in which "the creation"-"the whole creation"-"shall be delivered from the bandage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God." (Romans 8:21-22.) Great and mighty changes in the configuration of the earth were shown in the visions of the judgment-time preceding this thousand years,-changes in the relations of sea and land,-changes in the mountains, hills, and islands,-changes in the atmospheric heavens,-changes in the sun, moon, and stars,-changes which must needs alter the whole climate, fruitfulness, and habitability of the earth. As it is the time when "God shall judge the people righteously and govern [shepherdize] the nations upon earth," so it is the time when "the earth shall yield her increase," and when the nations shall "be glad and sing for joy." (Psalms 77:1-20.) As it is the time when "the Lord bindeth up the breach of his people," so it is the time when "rivers and streams of waters shall be upon every high mountain and every hill," and "the increase of the earth shall be fat and plenteous," and "the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days." (Isaiah 30:18-26.) The physical condition of man will be greatly ameliorated. "The inhabitant shall not say, I am sick." (Isaiah 33:24.) Life will be wonderfully prolonged. "There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days." One dying at the age of a hundred years will die so young only as a judgment for sin, and will be accounted as having died a child at that great age. The days of a man are to be as the days of a tree, as in the antediluvian world. (See Isaiah 65:20-23.) Indeed we read of no deaths during this thousand years, except those which occur by reason of transgression and disobedience. The population of the world will have been greatly thinned down by the various judgments, removals, and plagues which precede this Millennium; but "instead of the fathers shall be the children, who may be made princes in all the earth" (Psalms 45:16); and a blessed and happy fruitfulness shall be upon the race of humanity, as well as in the whole system of nature, so that by the end of the thousand years, even the remote corners of the world will be able to muster people as multitudinous as the sands of the sea. It will not yet be the eternal state, called "the new earth," in which there is no more sin, nor death, nor curse, nor tears; but it will be a mighty stride toward it, and the stage next to it. The mental, moral, social, and political condition of the people who then live will necessarily be like heaven itself, compared with the order of things which now prevails; for they shall be shepherded by Jesus and his immortal coregents, and the deaf shall hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and darkness; the meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel" (Isaiah 29:18-19); "and wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of the times and the strength of salvations." (Isaiah 33:6.)

5. The ending of this period will not be the ending of the blessedness which it introduces. The years terminate, but what it begins to realize of the new heavens and earth abides. What marks the end of the thousand years, and distinguishes it from the years that succeed, is not a cessation of the heavenly order that has been established. Christ and his saints do not then cease to reign over the nations. Men do not cease to live in the flesh. The kingdom come does not then recede, or cease to be the same enduring and everlasting kingdom. The earth is not disturbed in that wherein it has advanced toward its complete "regeneration." But that which marks the end of the thousand years, and divides it off from the eternal state which follows, is the letting of Satan loose again for a little time, the testing of the loyalty and devotion of the nations which have experienced these high favours, the rebellion of Gog and Magog, the destruction of the rebels by fire from heaven, the casting of Satan into the final hell, the calling up of all the wicked dead to judgment and final doom, and the putting forth of what further touches are requisite to complete "the restitution of all things."

II. Notice then more particularly what immediately follows this thousand years.

1. The Devil is let loose. He who lets him loose is, of course, the same who bound him, and sealed him in the prison of the Abyss. God uses even the wickedest of beings, and overrules the worst depravity, to bis own good and gracious ends. He allows Satan liberty, and denies him liberty, and gives him liberty again, not because the Devil or the Devil's malice is necessary to him, but to show his power to bring good out of evil, to make even the worst of creatures praise him, and to turn their very wickedness to the furtherance of the purposes they would fain defeat.


It seems like a great pity, after the world has rested for a thousand years, that this arch-enemy of its peace should again be let loose upon it. But there seems to be some sort of necessity for it. The statement to John was, that "he must be loosed a little time." (Revelation 20:3.) Some interest of righteousness and moral government renders it proper that he should be allowed this last limited freedom. If for nothing else, it is not unimportant that he should have this opportunity to prove how little an imprisonment of a thousand years had served to change him, or reform his malignity. Even the Devil is granted a final trial to make a better record to himself, if so minded. But neither judgment nor mercy has the least effect. He is, and remains to the last, the same depraved and wicked being, and employs even the little time of freedom before he is cast into perdition in tempting, seducing, and deceiving the happy and peaceful world. Perhaps, too, it was necessary for the millennial nations to be taught that, even after having been so far redeemed as to live a thousand years of holy obedience, they still are unable to stand without the special help and grace of Almighty God. At any rate, this brief period of Satan's last freedom proves, that he is still Satan, and that man is still man, after a thousand years of bonds and imprisonment for the one, and a thousand years' experience of next thing to Paradise for the other; the Devil being just as eager to tempt and deceive, and man liable to be tempted and deceived. Nor can it be of small account to the after ages, or for the generations to whom it is foretold, that the full demonstration of these facts should be made before things are finally settled into the eternal state. Hence Satan is let loose for a little time.

2. He seduces Gog and Magog into rebellion. He does not send forth this time to "the kings of the earth," for there are then no mortal kings to be led astray, but he goes direct to the people, insinuates his malice against the rule under which the King of kings has placed the nations, and seeks to persuade them into an attempt to overthrow it. To those who dwell in the outskirts and darker places of the earth, he wends his sullen way. He made his first attempt in Eden by assailing the weaker and more compliant vessel; and this is his method in his last.

Just who Gog and Magog are we may not be able to tell. A thousand years of uninterrupted peace and prosperity are likely to make great changes in the distribution and locations of peoples. But the allusion to the "corners of the earth" as the regions whence these rebels come, sufficiently indicates that they are among the hindermost of peoples and the least advanced and cultured among the millennial nations. It has taken more than a thousand years to develop the civilization which marks the better portions of the present population of the globe; and a thousand years, even of millennial tutelage, would not avail to bring up the darker and more degraded sections to a very exalted height. And among these ruder peoples Satan finds the pliant materials for a new and last revolt. Jerome and Theodoret identify Gog and Magog with "the Scythian nations, fierce and innumerable, who live beyond the Caucasus and the lake Maeotis, and near the Caspian Sea, and spread out even onward to India." The Koran does the same, and represents them as barbarians of the North, who are somehow restrained until the last period of the world, when they are to swarm forth toward the South in some great predatory irruption, only to be hurled into Gehenna fire. It is doubtful whether we can get beyond this by any ethnic or geographic inquiries in the present state of human knowledge. It is also questionable whether this post-millennial Gog and Magog are the same described by Ezekiel. (Ezekiel 37:1-14.) They may be the same, or the one may be the type of the other; but in either case the reference is to peoples lying outside of the more civilized world, among whom the old Devil influence lingers longest, and hence the most susceptible to these new instigations. At least Satan succeeds in rendering them dissatisfied with the holy rule of God's glorified saints, and induces them to believe that that they can successfully throw it off and crush it out, as the deluded kings under the Antichrist were persuaded a thousand years before. How he does this we are not told; but under him they come forth in swarming myriads, enter the same holy land, and compass about the citadel of the saints and the beloved city, in the vain hope of wresting the dominion from its immortal possessors.

3. A terrible disaster ensues. A madder thing than Gog and Magog's attempt was never undertaken upon earth. It is simply a march into the jaws of death, for no rebellion against the kings who then hold the reins of government can be tolerated. The insane war is quickly terminated. One brief sentence tells the fearful story: "There came down fire out of the heaven and devoured them." When Israel was encamped in the wilderness, a guard of Levites was set about the tabernacle, and the command to them was: "The stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death." (Numbers 1:51.) So a guard of immortal king-priests keep the ways to the throne and temple of Jehovah in that day, and the presumptuous dupes of Satan's last deception who dare to approach with hostile intent, are instantly hurled to a fiery destruction. Not a man of them escapes.

4. Satan meets his final perdition. He was imprisoned in the Abyss before; but he is now "cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where also the Beast and the False Prophet [are]." When the Saviour was on earth, he discoursed to his disciples about an "everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels." (Matthew 25:41.) This is it; and this is the time when he for whom it is prepared first feels those terrific flames.


Thus ends the last rebellion ever seen upon this planet,-the last sin, and the last deaths, that ever occur in this dwelling-place of man.

III. Notice now what happens to "the rest of the dead," who did not have part in the first resurrection.

1. A great white throne appears. A similar throne was beheld by John at the commencement of the great judgments which precede the Millennium. (Revelation 4:2-6.) That was set in the heaven; where this is set we are not told. That had a rainbow over it, to indicate fulfilment of covenant promises; this is naked, for it has no hopes to offer, no covenant of good to fulfil. Out of that proceeded lightnings, thunders, and voices, indicative of revolutionary judgments upon the living world; to this nothing is ascribed but greatness and whiteness, indicative of immeasurable power, and of pure, complete, unmingled, and invincible justice. There is no more probation on the part of those against whom its adjudications issue, and hence no further threatenings of coming judgment, as in lightnings and thunder. Around that first throne were sub-thrones, occupied by associate judges, and with it were conjoined Living Ones, taking part in the administrations, for they are varied and mingled, both as to kinds and subjects, and many find occupation in them; here the throne is one only, for the administration is of but one kind, summary, direct, and having respect to but one class. Seven burning torches, representing the seven Spirits of God, were with that throne, because its adjudications were to be partly gracious and remedial, as well as retributive, toward those with whom it dealt; this is accompanied with nothing gracious, for its dispensations are purely retributive, and only damning to what they strike. That throne had before it a glassy sea, pure and crystalline, like a grand celestial pavement, indicative of a place of blessed heavenly refuge, for it was about to exalt many to glory; here there is no celestial landing-place, no platform of heavenly peace, for it has no salvations to dispense. In connection with the first throne there was singing, joyful exultation, the giving of mighty praises to God and the Lamb, for it was the setting in of an administration which was to bring saints to their consummated redemption and rewards; here there is not a song, not a voice of gladness, not a note of exultation, for it is simply and only the administration of retributive justice, which consigns the unsanctified to their final perdition, and which has nothing whatever of gladness about it.


The presentations in both instances correspond to the proceedings issuing from them, and the one helps to explain the other. Indeed they are counterparts of one another,-the right hand administrations and the left hand administrations, the morning and the evening, of the great Day of Judgment viewed as a whole.

2. This throne has an awful Occupant. Of course it is the same beheld in the first instance. There is no name, no figure, no shape, in either case; but only an awful, mysterious, and composed presence, which can be nothing less than the One, unnamable, indescribable, eternal Godhead. If it were the Lord Jesus Christ, simply as the Godman, he would appear in some definite form, as in every other instance. He is indeed the Judge, to whom all judgment is committed, and he does the judging in this instance; but he does it under and in the presence of the enthroned Godhead of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and not as the absolute and eternal King over all things. In the first instance, the Sitter on the throne had a particular appearance,-an appearance like to a jasper and a sardine stone, a reddish, crystalline brilliancy, like pure and smokeless flames, attractive even in its awfulness; here there is nothing but the naked presence of almightiness, so dreadful that the very earth and heavens seem to flee into nothingness before it. The earth and heaven do not literally fly away and disappear. Similar language was used in Revelation 6:14; but the earth still continued afterwards. And here, in the subsequent verses, the sea is still in its place; and in the next chapters nations are still found inhabiting the earth. (Revelation 21:24; Revelation 22:2.) It is simply the intensification of the description of the awfulness and majesty of the Sitter upon the throne that is thus expressed, signifying that almightiness by which all the creations and changes in the universe are effected, and who here assumes his eternal power to dispose of his enemies forever, and to put the last finishing touches upon the great re-genesis of things. And this infinite, repellent awfulness is a further indication that there is absolutely nothing of hope for those objects on which the adjudication now falls.

3. A resurrection occurs. No trumpet is sounded; for the sounding of the trumpet is for those in covenant with the King, as his armies and friends; but these are not his people nor his friends. There is simply the going forth of eternal power, into the sea, into the graves, into Hades, into all the depositories of the souls and bodies of the unholy dead, and all the vast multitudes in them suddenly stand in the presence of the throne. Not one of them that ever lived and died, from the beginning of the world till then, save and except the Beast and the False Prophet, but is in that unblest congregation. "The great and the small," the big sinners and the little sinners, rulers and subjects, nobles and plebeians, the learned and the ignorant, the refined and the vulgar, the civilized and the barbarous, emperors and beggars, all alike are there. We read of no white robes, no spotless linen, no palms, nothing but naked sinners, before the naked majesty of enthroned Almightiness, awaiting their eternal doom.

4. Books are opened. Heaven keeps record of all the deeds of men, and of all the thoughts and feelings under which they act. Myriads of human beings have lived and died of whom the world knows nothing; but the lives they lived, the deeds they wrought, the thoughts and tempers they indulged, still stand written where the memory of them cannot perish. Not a human being has ever breathed earth's atmosphere whose career is not traced at full length in the books of eternity. Yes, O man! O woman! whoever you may be, your biography is written. An unerring hand has recorded every item, with every secret thing. There is not an ill thought, a mean act, a scene of wrong in all your history, a dirty transaction, a filthiness of speech, or a base feeling that ever found entertainment in your heart, but is there described in bold hand, by its true name, and set down to your account, to be then brought forth for final settlement, if not clean blotted out through faith in Christ's blood before this present life of yours is ended. And if no other books are to be thought of, the book of your own conscience, and the book of God's remembrance, will then and there attest your every misdeed and ill-desert. Think, ye that fear not God, and make nothing of trampling his laws, how your case will stand when those books are opened!


But there is "another book, which is that of the life,"--the roll-book of the regenerate in Christ Jesus,--the register of the washed and sanctified through faith in his redeeming blood. This must needs be opened too; for many there be whose lives are fair and honest, who spend their days in conscientious purity, who live and die in the persuasion that they have fulfilled all the requirements of virtue, but who have never experienced the regenerating power of the new creation, who have never felt the need of atonement by the propitiation of a crucified Saviour, and who have disdained to build on the merit and righteousness of the one only Mediator as the sole hope of diseased and guilty humanity. Exalted as they may have been in their own goodness and morality, they have not believed on the only begotten Son of God, and therefore have not life, and so are not written in the book of life. The records of their own deeds is therefore not enough for the determination of their proper place and standing. Men may appear well in these, and still not be prepared to pass the final inquisition. There is another and still mightier question in the case, and that is whether they have come to a regenerate and spiritual life through faith in Christ Jesus. Therefore the book of life must be opened too, and its testimony brought into the decision. If the name of any one is not on that roll, no matter how virtuously and honestly he may have lived, there is no help for him; for only "he that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life." (John 3:36.)

5. But judgment is given as the works have been. There is just gradation in the sorrows of the lost, as well as in the rewards of the righteous. If there is anything in any case to modify the guilt of sinners, or in any measure to palliate their deficiencies and crimes, the plain intimation is that every just allowance shall be made. Though all the finally condemned go into one place, they do not all alike feel the same pains, or sink to the same depths in those dreadful flames. But the mildest hell is nevertheless hell, and quite too intolerable for any sane being to be content to make experiment of it.


The judgment of these people according to these books is, in each instance, a judgment of condemnation, whether to the lesser or the greater damnation. There is no account of the name of any one of them being found in the book of life; "and if any one was not found written in the book of the life, he was cast into the lake of fire." Not one of them is adjudged place with the "blessed and holy," or his resurrection would not have been deferred till now. And the Codex Sinaiticus, one of the very oldest and best of the ancient manuscripts of the New Testament, here reads: "The sea gave the dead ones in it, and Death and Hades gave the dead ones in them, and they were condemned, every one, according to their deeds."

6. And sentence is followed with immediate execution. When the Beast and the False Prophet were taken, they "were cast alive into the lake of fire which burneth with brimstone." (Revelation 19:20.) A thousand years afterwards, when Satan proved himself the same deceiver he always was, he "was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone." And into that same "lake of fire" all the condemned ones in this judgment are hurled. What that "lake of fire" is I cannot tell, I do not know, and I pray God that I may never find out. That it is a place, everything said about it proves. People in corporeal life, as these condemned ones are, must needs have locality. That it is a place of woe, pain, and dreadful torment, is specifically stated, and is the chief idea in every image of the description. What God adjudges a just punishment for the wickedness of the great head of all evil, for having ruined many of the sublimest creatures in heaven, and for the mischiefs, impieties, and desolations wrought in our world by more than six thousand years' unremitted exertions against the peace of man and the gracious purposes of God, certainly must involve a length, and breadth, and depth, and height of misery at which the universe may well stand aghast. He who understands it best, calls it "a lake of fire and brimstone," and I do not know what mortal man can tell us better. If perchance it be not material fire, or the brimstone which feeds it be not the article which commerce handles, it still is fire of some sort, fed with its proper fuel,--fire which can take hold on body and spirit,--fire which preys on the whole being, whether clothed with corporeity or not,--fire kindled and kept alive by almighty justice, and a great lake of it, commensurate with the infinite holiness of an infinite law. It is called "The Second Death." Hence some think it means extinction of existence, annihilation, a cremation of body and spirit, which leaves no ashes after it. But the Beast and the False Prophet were in that death for more than a thousand years, and at the end of that time the implication seems to be that they are still alive. Concerning those who are compelled to make proof of that death, the specific statement is, "they shall be tormented day and night, to the ages of the ages." This does not look like either annihilation or final restoration. Nor is Death an extinction of all existence. The first death is a killing of the body, a mutilation of the being, but not an extinction of it. If death is the equivalent of annihilation, then these resurrected ones are condemned and punished for the crimes and defects of some other beings than themselves, and are not the people who did what is written in these books. The first death is a terrible mutilation and degradation, especially to a wicked man; though not a blotting out of his being and identity. "The Second Death" must needs be still more terrible and disastrous, for it is a more inward fret; but not therefore a reduction to absolute nothingness. Angels are regarded in all theology as immortal by inherent constitution; yet wicked angels are under the horrors of this Second Death. The children of the better resurrection are "as the angels of God;" so these partakers of the "resurrection of damnation" are as the Devil and his angels. If "the lake of fire" is not annihilation to one, so neither is it to the other. But it is Death, and it is torment; and there is every reason to believe that it is eternal. It is "to the ages of the ages." Confirmed depravity cannot be cured where no means of grace are; neither can those cease to sin whose whole nature has been turned to sin. And if there can be no end of the sinning, how can there be an end of the suffering? Remorse cannot die out of a spirit ever conscious of its self-imposed damnation! Therefore, "their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." (Mark 9:44; Mark 9:48.)


And Death and Hades, here viewed as if they were personal beings, share the same fate. They, of course, cease to be. There is nothing more of temporal death or of the place of departed spirits after this. They are not personal beings, hence their casting into "the lake of fire" is the end of them; but, conceived of as persons, they are consigned to exactly the same eternal punishment with the other wicked. They are the products of sin, and they share the doom of what produced them. And thus, in an ever-burning Hell, from which there is no more deliverance, all the enemies of God and his Christ find themselves at last.

And now, in the presence of these awful verities, what shall I say to those who know it all, yet go deliberately on in ways which can have no outcome but this Second Death? I look at them, and think; and the terribleness of their hallucination paralyses my utterance. I would fain arouse them to their better senses; but when I speak my intensest words seem but ashes in my mouth in comparison with the alarum for which their situation calls.

Ho, ye unbelieving men,--ye dishonest men,--ye profane men,--ye lewd men and women,--ye slaves of lust and appetite,--ye scoffers at the truth of God,--"How can ye escape the damnation of hell?" (Matthew 23:33.) Ye men of business,-ye whose souls are absorbed with the pursuit of gain,--ye people of wealth without riches toward God,--ye passengers on the voyage of life, without prayer, without Church relations, without concern for your immortal good, your God, or the eternity before you,--hear: "Hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure, and your glory, and your multitude, and your pomp, and your rejoicing, shall descend into it!" (Isaiah 5:14.) Ye almost Christians, lingering these many years on the margin of the Kingdom, looking in through the gates, but never quite ready to enter them, intending but never performing, often wishing but still postponing, hoping but without right to hope,--the appeal is to you: "How shall ye escape if ye neglect so great salvation?" (Hebrews 2:2-4.) And ye who call yourselves Christians but have forgotten your covenant promises,--ye Terahs and Lot's wives, who have started out of the place of sin and death but hesitate halfway, and stay to look back,--ye baptized Elymases, and Judases, and Balaams, who, through covetousness and feigned words make merchandise of the grace of God,--see ye not that "your judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and your damnation slumbereth not!" (2 Peter 2:3.) And if there be any one oblivious or indifferent toward these great matters,-asleep amidst the dashing waves of coming retribution,-the message is to you: "What meanest thou, O sleeper? Arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God shall think upon thee, that thou perish not!" (John 1:6.) For if any one be not found written in the Book of Life, he must be swallowed up by the Lake of Fire.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Seiss, Joseph A. "Commentary on Revelation 20". Seiss' Lectures on Leviticus and Revelation. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/sei/revelation-20.html.