A Fruitful Meditation,
Containing a Plaine
and Easie Exposition,
or laying open of the VII VIII. IX. and X. Verses
of the 20. Chapter of the Revelation,
in forme and manner of a Sermon.
keywords: King James I, Revelation 20, meditation, King James VI & I
Editor's Note: (1) All underline is for emphasis and is not found in original document. (2) Original spellings are in tact (e.g., "shall" is "shal", "go" is "goe", etc.) (3) for ease of reading typographical changes are reflected. For instance "i" becomes "j", so "iudge" is rendered "judge". Again, "u" becomes "v" so "deuill" is "devill", etc. (4) Marginal notes found in the original document, are now indicated between brackets [   ] and placed where each seems most appropriate--sometimes as a subtitle, sometimes next to the applicable text. Whatever the case, they are found in brackets [   ] . (4) spelling was not completely standardized so Antichrist may also be Antechrist, etc.
T H E     T E X T.7. And when the thousand yeers are expired, or ended, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison.
8. And shall goe out to deceive the people, which are in the foure quarters of the earth, even Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battaile, whose number are as the sand of the sea.
9. And they went up to the plaine of the earth, which compased the tents of the Saints about, and the beloved Citie: but fire came downe from God out of the heaven, and devoured them.
10. And the divel that deceived them, was cast into a lake of fire and brimstone, where that beast and that false prophet are, and shalbe tormented even day and night for evermore.
T H E     M E D T I A T I O N.
[The necessitie of the knowledge of the Revelation. The summe of the 20. Chapter of the Revelation.]
As of all Bookes the holy Scripture is most necessary for the instruciton of a Christian, and of all the Scriptures, the Booke of the R E V E L A T I O N is the most meete for this our last aage, as a Prophesie of the latter times: so have I selected or chosen out this place thereof, as most proper for the action we have in hand presently. For after the Apostle John had prophesied of the latter, in the ninetheenth Chapter afore-going, he now in this twentieth Chapter gathered up a summe of the whole, wherein are expressed three heads or principall points.
- First, the happie estate of the Church, from Christs dayes, to the dayes of the defection or falling away of the Antichrist, in the first sixe verses of this 20. Chapter.
- Next, the defection or falling away it selfe, in this place that I have in hand, to wit, the seventh, eight, ninth, and tenth verses.
- Thirdly, the generall punishment of the wicked in the great day of Judgement, from the tenth verse unto the end of the Chapter.
[The meaning of this present text.]
The Apostle his meaning in this place then is this, That after that Satan then had bene bound a thousand yeeres, which did appeare by his discourse afore-going, of the Saints triumphing in the earth, hee shall at last breake forth againe loose, and for a space rage in the earth more then ever before: but yet shall in the end be overcome and confounded for ever.
[The order observed in handling this text.]
It resteth now, knowing the summe, that we come to the exposition or meaning of the Verses; and first expound or lay open by way of a Paraphrase the hardness of the words, next declare the meaning of them, and thirdly note what we should learne of all.
T H E     F I R S T     P A R T.
As touching the wordes in them for order sake, wee may note: (1) First Satan his loosing: (2) next his doing, after he is loosed: (3) and last his unhappie successe.
[Satan in his instruments is loosed to trouble the Church.]
[The thousand yeeres.]
Then for the first, by Satan is meant not onely the Dragon, enemie to Christ and his Church, but also with him all the instruments in whom he ruleth, and by whom he ruleth, and by whom he uttereth his cruell and crafty intentions, specially the Antichrist and his Clergie, joyned with the Dragon before in the 16. Chap. verse 17. and called the beast, and the false prophet. For as Christ and his Church are called after one Name, Christ, by reason of their most strait and neere vision, and heavenly effects flowing therefrom, I. Cor. 12.12. So Satan and his sinagogue are here rightly called Satan, by reason of their union, and cursed effects flowing therefrom. These thousand yeeres, are but a number certaine for an uncertaine, which phrase or maner of speaking, is often used by the Spirit of God in the Scriptures, meaning a great number of yeeres.
[The prison whereout Satan is loosed.]
Moreover, the prison whereout he is loosed, is the hels, which by the Spirit of God are called his prison, for two causes: (1) One, because during the time of this world, at times appointed by God, he is debarred from walking on the earth [2 Pet. 2.4. Jud. ver. 6], and sent thither, greatly to his torment, as was testified or witnessed by the miracle at Genezareth among the Gadarens, Matthe. 8.28. (2) Next, because that after the consummation or end of the world, he shall be perpetually or for ever imprisoned therein, as is written in the same Chapter, ver. 10.
[The loosing of Satan.]
Finally, he is loosed by interruption or hindering, and for the most part, to the judgement of men, abolition or overthrow of the sincere preaching of the Gospel, the true use of the Sacraments, which are seales and pledges of the promises contained therein, and lawfull exercise of Christian discipline, whereby both Word and Sacraments are maintained in purity, called in the first verse the great chaine, where the divell is bound and signified by the white horse, goverened by the Lambe. Chapt 6. verse 2. So the meaning of all this 7 verse is this: The divel, having bene bound, and his power in his instruments having bene restrained for a long space, by the preaching of the Gospel, at the last he is loosed out of hell by the raising up of so many new ereors and notable evil instruments, especially the Antichrist and his Clergie, who not onely infect the earth a new, but rule also over the whole, through the decrease of trew doctrine, and the number of the faithful following it, and the dayly increase of errours, and nations following them, and beleeving lies hating the trewth, and taking pleasure in unrighteousness, 2 Thess. 2.11, 12. And thus farre for Satan his loosing.
[Satan first deceaveth, then allures to follow him,
and in the end maketh all his to take armour against the Church.]
Now to the next, his doing after he is loosed. First he goeth out to seduce or beguile the nations that are into the foure corners of the earth, and they become his, though in certaine degrees his tyrannie and travaile appeareth, and bursteth out in some more then in others: For as all that doe good, are inspired of God thereto, and doe utter the same in certaine degrees, according unto the measure of grace granted unto them: so all that doe evill, are inspired by Satan, and doe utter the same in divers degrees, according as that unclean spirit taketh possession in them, and by divers objects and meanes, allureth them to doe his will, some by ambition, some by envie, some by malice, and some by feare, and so forth: and this is the first worke.
[Gog and Magog.]
Secondly, he gathereth God and Magog to battell, in number like the sand of the Sea, and so he and his inclined to battell and bloodshed, have mightie armies, and in number many, inflamed with crueltie. The special heads and ruler of their armies, or rather rankes of their confederats, to goe to battel and to fight, are twaine, here named Gog and Magog; Gog in Hebrew is called Hid, and Magog Revealed, to signifies that in two sorts of men chiefly Satan shall untter himselfe, to wit, hypocrites, adn avowed or open enemies to God: It is said then that Satan shall in the latter times rule a new over the world, who shall stirre up the nations under the banners of these two enemies to God, the hypocriticall and open to spread themselves in great multitudes upon the earth.
Thirdly, they shall ascend upon the plaine of the earth, presumptuously and proudly, bragging of their number and force, and thinking none shall be able to resist their rage: They shall compasse and besiege the campes of the Saints, and beloved Citie, that is, the handfull of the faithfull beloved of the Lord, against whome, trusting in their untellable number, like the sand of the sea, they shall make a cruell and uncessable warre.
[The Elect are the Saints and beloved Citie of God.]
The elect are called Saints and beloved, becasue they arein the love God selected adn severed out, and by grace engraffed in Christ, in whom they are counted and found justified, sanctified, worthy of love and endless glorie: Their faithfull fellowship is compared to Tents, and to a Citie beloved, to signifie their continuall warfare in the earth against Satan and sinne, with all his instrudments: their mutual amitie, and friendly conjunction in love among themselves, and joyning together to maintaine the good cause that their God hath clad them with: but chiefly to signifie the mightie and al-sufficient protection or defence in prosperity and adversity, flowing from God for their just aide against all powers that can pursue, whereby they also become faire as the Moone, pure as the Sunne, terrible as an armie with banner, Cant. 1.6.9. Yea as a defenced Citie, and iron pillar and wals of Brasse against the whole earth, Jerem. 1.18.
[The summe of Satan his doing after he is loosed.]
The summe then of Satan his doing after he is loosed, is this: hee shall deceive the nations: he shall gather an infinite number of hypocrites and open enemies together, inflamed with crueltie, and these shall in pridefull presumption fiercely bend themselves against the chosen of God, and his trewth professed by them.
[The unhappy successe of Satan.]
But what at last shall the successe be? Surely most unhappy: for fire shall come downe from heaven and devoure them, and the divell that deceived them, and all his instruments, chiefly the Beast and the false Prophet shall be cast in a lake of fire and brimstone, and shall be tormented day and night incessantly for ever and ever: that is, how greatly soever their brags be, how neere soever they shall appeare to be to obtaine their purpose, God from heaven, as the pallace and throne, whereform hee giveth proofe of his mercie towards his owne, and of his justice toward his enemies, shall send plagues and destruction, as well ordinary, as extraordinarie upon them: Ordinarie, by revealing their wickednesse by the thundring mouthes of trew pastors, which is oft called fire in the Scriptures: Extraordinarie, by all corporall plagues to their utter destruction, and untellable torment for ever in the hels. Thus farre for the exposition or paraphrase of the words.
T H E     S E C O N D     P A R T.
[The puritie of the Gospel induring, stayeth the Antechrist his rising.]
Now followeth the interpretation of the sentence according ot the order used in the first part. And first we must know what time these thousand or many yeres was in, and when, and how soon Satan was loosed. This time is to be found in the sixt Chapter, in the opening of the first three seales of the secret booke of God his providence by the Lambe, to wit, the time when the white, red, and blacke horses had their course in the world: And to speake more plainely, the Divell his power did lurke, which is called his binding, and the Gospel did flourish in a reasonable puritie many hundreth yeeres after Christ, as the Ecclesiasticall histories beare witnesse: For in great puritie the Gospel did continue long, which is signified by the course of the white horse, albeit the professors were under the crosse signified by the red horse, and troubled wonderfully by heretickes, signfied by the black horse, by wormewood that fell in the Fountaines of waters in the third trumpet, and by waters that the dragon spewed out of his mouth, in the vision of the Dragon and the woman, chapt. 12. This time did endure from Christ a space after Augustine his dayes, when the bloodie Sword of persecution ceasing, the whole Church began to be defiled with divers heresies, which comming unto a mature and ripe heape, did produce or bring foorth the Antechrist, signified by the pale horse in the fourth seale, by the king of the Locusts in the fift trumpet, by Babylon in the 11. and 18. Chapter, by the second Beast rising out of the sea in the 13. Chapter, and by the woman clad with scarlet in the 17. Chapter. The arisings of the heresies, and the Antichrist breeding of their smoake, is in this place called the loosing of Satan.
[The Gospel being hid, the Antichrist beginneth to breed & tend to his height.]
Now followeth after this his loosing, what he doeth: He deceiveth the nations universally: he gathereth Gog and Magog with untellable armies to fight, he climeth upon the plaine of the earth, he compasseth the tents of the Saints, and the beloved Citie about: Thse are his doings.
Now because these actions are most lively declared in other places of the same booke, I will shortly alleadge them to make the matter cleere by conference of places, expounding every one another. It is said in the ninth chapter, that the Antichrist shall send out his locusts or Ecclesiasticall orders, by faire allurements to entice the world, to yeeld to his and their abominable heresies, and shall prevaile over the most part. It is said in the 11. chapter, that he shall persecute the Saints, kill the two witnesses, and shall rejoyce with the kings of the earth, for their killing, as having beene the onely lets to his full glory. It is said in the 13. chatper, that he shall blaspheme God in usurping his power, that by the advice and assistance of the false Prophet, or false Church, hee shall send out his Images or Embassadours through the world, persecuting and destroying them that will not obey him and them, and acknowledge his supremacie; yea, none shall be suffered to buy or sell, or use civill societie, that acknowledgeth not his supreme power and dignity. It is said in the 16. chapter, that God plaguing him for these foresaid abuses, he shall be so farre from repentance, as by the contrarie he shall finde out a new sort of vermin, that is, a new Ecclesiasticall order, which are called their frogges, who shall moove and entice the Princes of the earth to joyne with him, and make warre against the faithful, pressing untterly to destroy them: and of that battell, and the end thereof doeth this place make mention.
Now shortly joyne all these together, and so obtaine the meaning. There shall arise an Antichrist and enemie to God and his Church: hee shall bee head of a false and hypocriticall Church: hee shall claime a supreme power in earth: he shall usurpe the power of God: he shall deceive men with abusing locusts, he shall persecute the faithfull: none shall be found that dare openly resist him: In the end, feeling his kingdome decay, and the trew Church beginning to prosper, he shall by a new sort of deceiving spirits, gather together the Kings of the earth in great multitudes like the sands of the Sea, and by joyning or at least suffering of that other great open enemy, he shall with these numbers compasse the campes of the faithfull, besiege the beloved Citie, make warre against the Saints: but victorie shal he not have, and shame and confusion shall be his, and all his partakers in the end.
[The Pope is Antichrist, and Poperie the loosing of Satan, from whom proceedeth false doctrine & crueltie to subvert the kingdom of Christ.]
Now whether the Pope beareth these markes or not, let any indifferent man judge; I thinke surely it expounds it selfe: Doeth he not usurpe Christ his office, calling himselfe universall Bishop and head of the Church? Playeth he not the part of Apollyon, and Abbadon the king of the Locusts and destroyer, or sonne of perdition, in chopping and changing of soules betwixt heaven, hell, and his fantasticke or imagined purgatorie at his pleasure? Blasphemeth he not, in denying us to be saved by the imputation of Christ his righteousness? Moreover, hath he not sent forth and abused the world with innumerable orders of luctst and shavelings? Hath hee not so fully ruled over the world these many hundreth yeeres, as to the fire went hee, whosoever he was, that durst deny any part of his usurped supremacie?
[The Jesuites pernicous vermine.]
And hath he not of late dayes, seeing his kingdome going to decay, sent out the Jesuites, his last and most pernicous vermin, to stirre up the Princes of the earth his slaves, to gather and league themselves together for his defence, and rooting out all them that professe Christ truely? And whereas the open enemie of God, the Turke was under bloody warres with him ever before, is there not of late a truce among them, that the faithful may be the more easily rooted out? And are not the armies presently assembled, yea upon the very point of their exectuion in France against the Saints there? In Flanders for the like; and in Germanie, by whom alread the Bishop of Collein is displaced? And what is prepared and come forward against this Ile? Doe we not daily heare, and by all appearance and likelihood shall shortly see? Now may we judge if this be not the time, whereof this place that I have made choice doeth meane, and so the due time for the revealing of this Prophecie. Thus farre for the interpretation of the sentence or meaning.
T H E     T H I R D     P A R T.
Now I come to the last part, what we may learne of this place, which I will shortly touch in a few poionts, and so make an end.
And first of the devill his loosing by the rising of Antichrist, for the just punishment of the unthankefull world hating the trewth, and delighting in lies, and manifesting of this owne chosen that stucke to the trewth; we have two things to note: One for instruciton, that the justice of God in respect of man his falling wilfully fro the trewth, (as Paul saith) justly did send to the world the great abuser with efficacie of lies; as well to tyrannize spiritually over the conscience by heresie, as corporally over their bodies by the civill sword. And therefore we must feare to fall from the trewth revealed and professed by us, that we may be free from the like punishment.
[Backe-sliders shall perish: constant christians shall be crowned.
The other for our comfort, that this tyrannie of the Antichrist, sifting out the chaffe from the corne, as our Master sayeth, shall tend to the double condemnation of the fallers backe, and to the double crowne of glory, to the perseverers or standers out to the end. Blessed therefore are they that persevere or stand out to the end, for they shall be saved.
[2. The defection or falling away under Antichrist, shall be universall.]
Next, the number of nations in the foure quarters of the earth deceived, and companies gathered together to fight like the sand of the sea, Wee are taught, that the defection or falling away under the Antichrist, was generall, and so no visible Church was there: where two things doe follow: One, the Church may be corrupted and erre: another, the Church may lurke and be unknowen for a certaine space.
[3. Satan and his children both deceive, and persecute.]
Thirdly, of that that Satan is not content onely to deceive, except hee also gather to the battell his instruments; we are informed of the implacable or unappeaseable malice, borne by Satan and his instruments against God in his members, who never ceaseth like a roaring Lyon (as Peter sayth) to goe about assailing to devoure. This his malice is notably laid foorth in the 12. and 13. Chapt. of this Booke: For it is said, that when he had spewed out great rivers of waters, that is, infinite heresies and lies to swallow up the woman, and notwithstanding shee was delivered therefro, yet againe hee raised up a beast out of the sea, the bloody Romane Empire by the sword, to devoure her, and her seed; and that being wounded deadly, yet hee raiseth another beast foorth of the earth, which is the Antichrist, by heresie and sword joyned together* to serve his turne: So the devill, seeing that no mist of heresies can obscure or darken the Gospel in the hearts of the faithfull, and that the cruell sword of persecutors cannot stay the prosperous successe of Christ his kingdome, hee raiseth up the Antichrist with both his swords, to the effect that as one of them sath, That which Peter his keyes could not, Paul his sword should: And so hath he done at this time; for seeing the true Church will not be abused with the absurd heresies, for last refuge, now rooted out must they be by the civill Sword. *Editor's note: the pope claims both temporal and spiritual sovereignty over the nations of the earth.
[4. The wicked in number over passe the godly.]
Fourthly, of their great numbers, able to compasse about the tents of the Saints, and to besiege the holy Cities, we are enformed that the wicked are ever the greatest part of the world: And therefore our Master sayth, Many are called, few chosen? And againe, Wide is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many enter thereat - but narrow is the way that leadeth to life, and few enter thereat. Also hee calleth them the world, and the Devill the prince of the same.
[5. The wicked at variance among themselves, can wel agree in one against Christ.]
Fiftly, the agreeance of Gog and Magog, the Turke the open enemy, and the Pope the covered enemie, to this persecution, declareth the rooted hatred of the wicked against the faithfull: who though they be otherwise in enmitie among themselves, yet agree in this respect, in odium terty, as did Herod and Pilate.
[6. The false Church ever persecuteth.]
Sixtly, the comapssing of the Saints, and the besieging of the beloved City, declareth unto us a certaine note of a false Church, to be persecution: for they come to seeke the faithfull; the faithfull are those that are sought: The wicked are the besiegers; the faithful the besieged.
[7. Scripture by Scripture should be expounded.]
Seventhly, in the forme of language, and phrase or maner of speaking, of fire comming downe from heaven here used, and taken out of the Booke of the Kings, where, at Elias his prayers, with fire from heaven were destroyed Achazias his souldiers: as the greatest part of all the words, verses, and sentences of this booke are taken and borrowed of other parts of the Scripture, we are taught to use onely Scripture for interpretation of Scripture, if we would be sure, and never swarve from the analogie of faith in exounding, seeing it repeateth so oft the owne phrases, and thereby expoundeth them.
Eightly, of the last part of the confusion of the wicked, even at the top of their height and wheele, we have two things to note: One that God although he suffereth the wicked to run on while their cup be full, yet in the end he striketh them, first in this world, and next in the world to come; to the deliverance of his Church in this world, and the perpetuall glory of the same in the world to come: The other note is, that after the great persecution and the destruction of the pursuers, shall the day of Judgement follow: For so declareth the 11. verse of this same Chapter; but in how short space it shall follow, that is onely knowne unto God; Onely this farre are we certaine, that in the last estate, without any moe generall mutations, the world shall remaine till the consummation and end of the same.
To conclude then with exhortation: It is al our duties in this Isle at this time, to do two things: One, to consider our estate: An other to conforme our actions according thereunto: Our estate is, we are threefold besieged: First, spiritually by the heresies of the antichrist: Secondly, corporally & generally, as member of that Church, the which in the whole they persecute:
[All men should be lawfull armed spiritually and bodily*
to fight against the Antichrist, and his upholders.]
Thirdly, corporally and particularly by this present armie. Our actions then conformed to our estate are these: First, to call for helpe at God his hands: next, to assure us of the same, seeing we have a sufficient warrant, his constant promise expressed in his word. Thirdly, since with good conscience we may, being in the tents of the Saints, & beloved CIty, stand in our defence, encourage one another to use lawful resistance, and concurre or joyne one with another as warriors in one Campe, and citizens of one beloved City, for maintenance of the good cause God hath clad us with, and in defence of our liberites, nature countrey, and lives: For since we see God hath promised not only in the world to come, but also in this world, to give us victory over them, let us in assurance hereof strongly trust in our God, cease to mistrust his promise, and fall through incredulitie or unbelief: For then are we worthy of double punishment: For the stronger they waxe, and the neerer they come to their light, the faster approacheth their wracke, and the day of our delivery: For kind, and loving, true, and constant, carefull, and watchfull, mighty, and revenging is he that promiseth it: To whom be praise and glory for ever.
A M E N.
*As a Christian monarch, King James I was an important force in restraining the authority of the Popes. In the dark ages Roman Catholicism dominated and killed monarchs with its reign of terror. Many criticise His Majestie for proponing the Divine Right, yet that strong belief made it possible for the Protestant Reformation in England to take place, mature AND SPREAD to the rest of the globe. Popery was still burning Christians at the stake in the 1500s. King James was born in 1566 and was well acquainted with the Great Whore and her workings.
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