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And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless fit, and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serfient, which is the devil and satan, and bound him a thousand years. And cast him into the bottomless fit, and shut him up, and set a seal usion him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand Ayears should be fulfilled.
IN a great variety of respects, the Bible is the most remarkable book in the world. In it we have God's moral character clearly exhibited to view, by a history of his conduct, as moral Governor of the world from the beginning: and the nature of fallen man painted to the life by a history of their behaviour for four thousand years. In it we have opened the glorious and astonishing method, that has been eatered upon to disappoint all satan's designs, by the interposition of the Son of God; and are informed of his birth, life, death, resurrec tion, ascension, and exaltation, and of the glorious designs he has in view. And the whole is so contrived as to be admirably suited to all the circumstances and needs of a good man; that, as it were designed to be the good man's book, in a peculiar sense, so it is perfectly suited to his case. It is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works.” (2 Tim. iii. 16, 17.) That sincere concern for the cause of truth and virtue, for the honour of God and interest of true religion, which is peculiar to a good man, whose character it is to love Christ above father and mother, wife and children, houses and lands, yea, better than his own life, must naturally subject him to a peculiar kind of solicitude. Even as a child of a truly filial spirit, is pained when it goes ill with his father's family, to whose interest he is closely attached; and has a whole system of inward sensations, that a stranger intermeddles not with— the BIBLE, the good man's book, is therefore wisely adapted to ease the good man's pained heart, and afford consolation in this interesting and most important point; as it gives the strongest assurances that the cause of virtue shall finally prevail. How insupportable must the grief of the pious Jews have been, sitting on the sides of the rivers of Babylon “There we sat down,” say they, “yea, we wept when we remembered Zion.” And “ on the willows they hung their harps,” nor could anything divert their minds. “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth.” (Psal. cxxxvii.) How insupportable, I say, must their grief have been, while their glorious holy temple, and their holy. city, the place of all their sacred solemnities, were laying desolate, and God’s people in captivity, had it not been for that promise, so often repeated, that after seventy years God would visit them, and cause them to return to their own land. I God knew before-hand the anguish which would be apt to fill their hearts, the sinking discouragements, and all the train of dark and gloomy thoughts, they would be incident to ; and before-hand provided a remedy. Yea, no sooner had he denounced their doom in the 39th chapter of Isaiah, but immediately in the next chapter, and for ten or twenty chapters together, does he provide for their support. “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people; speak comfortably to Jerusalem,” &c.: So, how insupportable would have been the grief of the church of Christ, through the long, dark, cruel reign of mystical Babylon, while they beheld error and wickedness universally prevail, satan getting his will in almost every thing, and to appearance no signs of better times, but all things wearing a dreadful aspect before their eyes: how great their grief; how sinking their discouragements; how almost insuperable, their temptations to apostatize, and forsake a cause that heaven seemed to forsake, had not the day of deliverance been
expressly foretold, and the glory that should follow opened to view, by the spirit of prophecy! But in a firm belief that the cause they were engaged in, and for which they spilt their blood, would finally prevail, and prevail in this world, where they then beheld satan reigning and triumphing, I say, in a firm belief of this, the whole army of martyrs could march on to battle courageously, willing to sacrifice their lives in the cause, not doubting of final victory, although they themselves must fall in the field. - . . . Indeed, were the salvation of his own soul the only thing the good man had in view, he would naturally be quite easy, upon a full assurance that this was secured. So, had Moses cared for nothing but the welfare of himself, and of his posterity, he might have been satisfied, while the whole congregation of Israel were destroyed, if he might become a great nation, and that without any solicitude for the honour of the GREAt NAME of the God of Israel. Yea, although the idolatrous nations round about were fully established in the belief of the divinity of their idols, and brought to look upon the God of the Hebrews with ever so great contempt by the means. But, attached as he was to the honour of the God of Israel, nothing could give him satisfaction, but a prospect that that would be secured. The welfare of himself and of his family was of no importance in his esteem, compared with this. (See Erod. xxxii.) It must, therefore, be remembered, that, as the SoN of God left his Father's bosom, and the realms of light and glory, and expired on the cross in the utmost visible contempt, that he might spoil principalities and powers, bruise the serpent's head, destroy the works of the devil; so his true disciples have imbibed a measure of the same spirit; and, as volunteers enlisted under his banner, have the same thing in view : they long for the destruction of satan's kingdom; and these petitions are the genuine language of their hearts, “Our father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Nor can the salvation of their own souls, although ever so safely secured, satisfy their minds, without a clear view and fair prospect of Christ's
final victory over all his enemies. “But if our great Gen EY OL. I. 63
RAL, who has sacrificed his life in the cause, may but at last obtain a complete victory, notwithstanding all the present dark appearances; this is enough,” says the Christian soldier: “I am willing to risk all in his service, and die in the battle too. But if satan were always to carry the day, Oh who could live under the thought !” - This having been the temper of good men, more or less, even from the early ages of the world, and through all successive generations to this day, they have evidently wanted a peculiar support, which the rest of mankind stood in no need of, to carry them comfortably through such a long scene of darkness; wickedness prevailing, God dishonoured, satan triumphing, the world perishing, the true church of God more generally in sackcloth. And accordingly, the final victory of the cause of truth and virtue was intimated in the very first promise made to fallen man. And from time to time God repeated this comfortable prediction to his church and people; and finally, made it the chief subject of the last book of holy scripture he ordered to be wrote for the use of his church. Now let us take a brief view of the whole series of these divine predictions, from the beginning of the world, even down to this in our text, contained in one of the last chapters in the bible; that we may see what full evidence there is of this truth ; and so what abundant cause for consolation to all the people of God. I. Immediately after the fall, when the serpent, even that old serpent the devil, had just seduced mankind to revolt from God, and had, to all appearance, laid this whole world in perpetual ruin, even in the depths of this midnight-darkness, a ray of light shone down from heaven. The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head. (Gen. iii. 15.) As if God had said, “I see the scheme that satan has laid to ruin the world, and establish his impious, malicious, cause: I see it, and I am determined to defeat it. The feebler woman he has over-matched, but her almighty seed shall conquer him, and as effectually subdue him, and prevent all future mischief by him, as a serpent is subdued and incapacitated for further mischief, when his head is crushed to pieces under the indignant heel of one determined on his death.” This was a complete doom indeed denounced against satan, at the head of the kingdom of darkness. And it fully implied, that the cause of light, truth, and righteousness, should finally obtain a complete victory. II. After this gracious and glorious promise had been the chief foundation of all the hopes of God's people for two thousand years, God was pleased to point out the particular family from whence this mighty deliverer should spring, and to intimate what a universal blessing he should be to all the nations of the earth. And in thy seed shall All the families of the earth be blessed, said God to Abraham. (Gen. xii. 3.) Which again plainly supposed, that the cause of truth and righteousness, notwithstanding the dark state the world then was in, all sinking fast into idolatry, and would for many ages be in, buried in heathenish darkness, should yet in due time universally prevail over the whole earth. For in thy seed shall ALL the families of the earth be blessed. This same promise was repeated again and again to Abraham, and afterwards to Isaac and to Jacob. III. Hitherto God had supported his people's hopes chiefly with promises, with verbal predictions; but from the days of Moses to the days of Solomon, king of Israel, to assist his people's faith, God did, besides repeated promises of the same thing, by a great variety of wonderful works, shadow forth the glorious day: and at the same time show, that he had sufficient wisdom and power to accomplish the greatest designs. That his people might be convinced, that he could easily bring to pass, for the good of his church, whatsoever seemed good in his sight. Israel, in the Egyptian bondage, were a designed type of a fallen world under the dominion and tyranny of satan. Nor was Pharaoh more loath to let Israel go, than satan is to have his subjects desert him, and his kingdom go to ruin. But notwithstanding all the seeming impossibilities in the way of Israel's deliverance, infinite wisdom knew how to accomplish the divine designs. God could even cause a member of Pharaoh's family to educate one to be an instrument of this designed deliverance. And in due time, behold, all the