by George Gifford.
Richard Field and Felix Kinston, 1599.
Set forth by George Giffard, Preacher of the Word at Mauldin in Essex.
[Spelling has been modified]
7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
8 And shall go out to deceive the people which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: whose number is as the sand of the sea.
9 And they went up on the plain of the earth, and compassed the tents of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet shall be tormented day and night for evermore.
In the former part of this chapter we had the binding of Satan for a thousand years. We had also set forth the flourishing state of the Church for that time. And now we come to the loosing of Satan out of his prison. He delighteth wholly in mischief, his great desire is for to do all the harm that may be: and therefore it was an exceeding grief unto him, when he was by the clear light and power of the Gospel tied up and restrained from seducing the nations, in so whole and general a manner as he had done. And now that he is let loose again, it is very joyful unto him, and he goeth very roundly to work.
And when the thousand years (saith John) are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison. I noted before, that the reckoning of this thousand years is not for certain in what year they began. Whether from the time that our Saviour first preached (for then Satan began to come down) or from the time that the holy Apostles, after the holy Ghost was sent down upon them, with great power published the Gospel, seeing that did more restrain him: or from the time that those blessed Apostles had spread the light of it among the Gentiles, and had founded great Churches in many kingdoms. If it be the purpose of the holy Ghost to lead us to nearly unto a time, I suppose this last should be it: although we cannot stand upon any one year, as to say this or that year after the birth of our saviour: but the more the Gospel prevailed, the more Satan was chained up. And we may note, that as Satan was by degrees bound up, so by degrees, he cometh to be loosed. And as the holy Ghost beginneth the thousand years from the fullest binding of him up, so he saith, they be expired at his fullest loosing. The holy Apostles were not long taken out of the world, but he got some scope to seduce, and raised up foul monsters, to sow most horrible and abominable heresies, by which many were seduced, but what was this, so long as many thousand thousands in all lands, stood constant and sincere in the faith of Christ, and could not be driven from it by any torments? Within four or five hundred years after Christ, besides the heresies that he had raised up, he also had brought unto the Church sundry superstitious devices, which many of the faithful and true servants of God were blemished withall. So that he was now somewhat more loosed. When eight or nine hundred years were expired, the sincerity of the truth & the purity of God's worship was much more dimmed, so that before the thousand years were expired, great corruptions did overspread almost all Churches, but yet so as the grounds of the holy faith remained. Things were very dim in comparison of ancient purity. The Bishop of Rome was aloft, usurped with great tyranny, and spread much evil over many nations, so that Satan had gotten much scope in comparison of that which he had in former times. But as yet he was not fully loosed, the Gospel even in the midst of many trumperies, yet took place in many. Come then down a little lower, about the year of our Lord 998. Sylvester the second came to be Pope, who was in league with the devil. The histories do shew, that at his death he called for the Cardinals, and confessed all how he had familiarity with the devil, and how he had given himself unto him, so that he might come to that Papal dignity. What shall we think now, when such an one was esteemed to be the head of the Church, Christ's Vicar that could not err, and to have full power over the souls of men? How much did Satan get loose now? What was it that he would not now seek to broach? About the year of our Lord, 1074, rose up Hildebrand a most horrible and wicked Pope, who had also familiarity with the devil, & wrought exceeding much mischief. Now the truth was oppressed, good men were hated and persecuted, idolatry and all devilish inventions were maintained. Satan had now his full scope to seduce the nations with his lying signs and wonders. Now began Antichrist to be in his prime: and many worthy men in those times cried out against the Romish Clergy, for their horrible impieties, affirming Rome to be Babel, even the seat of the great Antichrist.
Then it followeth, that he shall go out to deceive the people, which are in the four quarters of the earth. In this we have three things to consider: the first is the industry of Satan, or his readiness to do mischief so soon as ever he getteth loose. The holy Ghost sheweth, that he goeth out to seduce presently: For the devils do burn with such hatred against God, and such malice against the felicity of man, that they be restless in seeking by all means to dishonour his most holy name, and to draw men to perdition. We must prepare our souls to look for none other thing at Satan's hands. Then the second thing is, that the evil men are seduced and misled by him. They are deceived, supposing that they be in a good way, when he hath blinded them, and led them away into the way of destruction. Which thing is to be well observed: for it sheweth that all the rabblements that worship the beast, or that do cleave to the great Antichrist, think they go right, and that all are awry that join not with them: how else are they seduced by Satan? In the popery, even from the highest to the lowest, blindness is cast upon them, and they dote upon the doctrines of devils. True it is, that the prelates and clergymen seduced the people, being themselves first seduced by Satan. As Saint Paul prophecies of them, saying, But the evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived, 2 Tim. 3:13. Doth not this mitigate the offence of the great Antichrist and his subjects, that poor foolish men are seduced by subtle devils as having an intent to do well (as we see how they boast of their good intents in the popery) and are beguiled? I answer, that it doth little mitigate their offence, seeing the cause of this seduction is in themselves. Which S. Paul sheweth, dealing about this same matter, and shewing how Antichrist should come by the effectual power of Satan, 2 Thes. 2. He also rendereth this cause why God would send this heavy judgment upon the world, namely, that men received not the love of the truth. God sent the glad tidings of the Gospel to give light, and to bring men unto eternal happiness: and they loved darkness more than light, they loved falsehood, uncleanness and lies: and therefore Satan in the just judgment of God is let loose, even to fill them with such things as they loved and were worthy of.
Then there is the third point, which sheweth that Satan being let loose, he seduceth not some few kingdoms, but all nations upon the four quarters of the earth. A matter worthy of noting, because the papists do boast and brag so much of their multitudes. They do despise and condemn the true professors of the Gospel because that for the space of these five hundred years, until now of late, they have been very few, and in all that time also by an universal consent condemned and reputed but as heretics. Can so many nations sware, and so long time, and a few others only hold the truth? Look upon this place, Satan goeth forth to seduce the people which are in the four quarters of the earth. Here is an universality, here is a catholic consent in apostasy and departing from the truth. And if any shall say, he went forth being let loose after the thousand years expired, for to deceive the people so generally which are in the four quarters of the earth: but did he therefore prevail so generally? Might it not be that he attempted so general a matter, but yet was restrained from his purpose? I answer, that the next words do evidently shew, that he failed not of his purpose, but seduced generally the nations of the earth: for otherwise how should it be said, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea?
And they went up into the plain of the earth, and compassed the tents of the Saints about, and the beloved city. These words do manifestly declare, an innumerable multitude which the devil seduceth and gathereth together unto battle as his soldiers, against the Church of Christ. We see then that Satan is gotten loose out of his prison, and his chain is off: the light of the Gospel shineth not, but there is palpable darkness, so that he may now persuede almost what he will: and therefore now the multitudes are great which he leadeth away. Here be many things offered to our consideration in this description of the armies of Gog and Magog: as first it is to be considered whether this loosing of Satan to seduce, be the same that is spoken of before, chap. 13 where the beast with two horns by his signs & wonders which he wrought, deceiveth the inhabitants of the earth. I answer, that it is out of controversy that the second beast which cometh with signs and wonders to seduce is the great Antichrist. Then further, Antichrist's coming is by the effectual power of Satan, with lying signs and wonders, 2 Thess. 2. Whereupon it must needs be granted, that this seducing by Satan here spoken of, is the same with that which is there set forth, chapter 13, only this excepted, that this of Gog and Magog is more general. We read there how all nations, kindreds and tongues were made to worship the image of the beast, and to receive his mark, but that is to be extended no further then to those kingdoms which were subject to the popery. An here by these armies of Gog and Magog, are understood all the chief enemies of the Church in these last times, since the loosing of Satan. Here are besides the swarms of papists, the huge armies of the Turks: for howsoever the Papists are set against the Turks, and the Turks against the Papists: yet both against the holy Gospel, and against the true church: as the Pharisees and Sadduces could not endure each other, but yet were both against Christ. Then we are to consider about the names Gog and Magog, what should be meant by them. Some do take it that these names do signify covered, and uncovered, and are used for to note the two special sorts of enemies of the Church, the Papists and the Turks. For the Pope he committeth all power into his hands, and so he is a covered enemy, he is Gog: for under that covering he hath brought in and set up all his abominations. And the Turk, he openly denieth and impugneth Christ, and so is uncovered, that is Magog. Moreover, they do take it, that these names, Gog and Magog, are to note of what countries the chief enemies should spring: because in Ezekiel chap. 38 and 39 in which the prophecy is set forth against Gog and Magog, they are called the prince and head of Meshech and Tubal. Now Meshech is Arabia, which gave original to the Scythians. Mahomet was of Arabia, and the Turks of Scythia. And Tubal dwelt in Italy, where the Pople hath risen up. I do not see how these things can be gainsaid: but for a full exposition of this matter, we are to look upon that prophecy of the prophet Ezekiel against Gog and Magog. Thus it is, the Lord by his servant Ezekiel having promised two things, that is, the bringing of his people out of the captivity of Babel into their own land, and their instauration by Christ, chap. 37. Lest the Jews should take it that these two should come together, or as it were at one instant: that is to say, that so soon as they were returned home from Babel, he would send the Messiah: this prophecy of Gog and Magog is to prevent that error, and to teach them, that after their return out of Babylon, they should suffer grievous calamaties by many cruel enemies, before the coming of the Messiah: and withall, there is set forth what horrible vengeance God would execute upon those enemies. Those enemies were collected of diverse nations, but served chiefly under the princes of Asia the lesser, of Syria, and of Scythia, in which was the city of Gog, and the land of Magog, or the city called the city of Magog. Gog and Magog then are put for the princes of those countries, which were the chief captains in gathering great and mighty armies unto battle against the children of Israel, after they were come out of the captivity of Babel. The Lord doth there in one sum, under the armies of Gog and Magog, comprehend all the enemies that fought against them from time to time after the captivity, unto the coming of Christ. And now for the application of this unto the enemies of the Church under the Gospel: we must first note, that through this book, as it is evident, the speeches and figures of matters are taken out of the law and the Prophets. Now when the Lord would set forth in one sum, all the enemies of the Church, which Satan mustereth after the time of his loosing out of prison, before the coming of Christ to judgment, there is no one place more fit to set forth all these armies, then those armies of Gog and Magog: and therefore the names, even Gog and Magog, are here brought in, to set forth these huge armies of the Pope and of the Turk, and of all such enemies. Moreover ye are to note, that the overthrow and destruction of all those enemies is so set forth in that prophecy of Ezekiel, that it doth serve also most fitly to declare the vengeance of God almighty against these. Then we see why they be called the armies of Gog and Magog, namely, because those were the great armies of enemies which fought against the church in old time, and which the Lord in his vengeance did destroy.
Let us in the next place observe, that he saith they be gathered together unto battle. It appeareth in the words that follow, against whom they are assembled for to fight, even against the Saints. Here is the horrible cruelty of Satan, that he is not content to seduce the nations, and to lead them into error, and from the way of life unto the way of destruction: but also even for to double their condemnation, he setteth them on work to fight against God, against his truth, and against his Church. It is an heavy judgment of God, that men are led from the truth to believe lies, and from the true worship of God, unto the worship of devils: but this is more grievous that they do not stay there, but cruelly fight against all that will not forsake the truth, and join with them. Satan herein doth exceedingly blind them, and set them in a rage. You know how it is, and how it hath been with the papists, that they fight and war most bitterly against all that will not worship the beast, condemning them to be heretics, and men not worthy to live upon the earth.
The next clause saith, Whose number is as the sand of the sea. This is wonderful, how can this be, when all men that ever lived in the world, put alltogether, are nothing comparable to the sand of some little part of the sea shore, in number: how much less can this army be in number as the sand of the whole sea? We must note that there is a kind of speech which we do call hyperbole, which is an excessive speech, that the holy scripture doth sometime use, when some exceeding quality or quantity is to be expressed. As in this place, because the multitude which Satan hath seduced to fight against the Church, is such as no man is able for to comprehend, or to reach unto the number of them in his mind, the holy Ghost saith, they be in number as the sand of the sea. Here it will be said again: Are the number of the armies of Gog and Magog, that is, of the Papists and Turks, innumerable to the capacity of man? I answer, who can doubt of that? Do but consider in your mind thus: what a multitude of people there be in England, it is enough for a man, if not more than his mind can contain, to see into the number of them in such sort as to comprehened it. Then note that in the popery, almost all the land, were for the Pope, even a few that were scattered being excepted, whom they did execute. Moreover, ye must know that the kingdom of England is but a little corner, in comparison of all the great and large kingdoms which were subject to the Pope. Then what is the number in them all, who is able to come nigh to the numbering thereof? And yet we are not come by many degrees to the top of the matter. For now you must count what multitudes there have been in all these kingdoms, which have stood in the defence of the popish religion, and fought against the Gospel for the space of these five hundred years. Are ye not now come as it were to the sand of the sea? and yet ye are not come nigh the matter. For unto these ye must now add all the multitudes of the Turks for so many hundreds years: for under Gog and Magog are contained all that Satan has seduced in all lands to fight against the truth ever since he was loosed, and all that he shall seduce to the world's end. Do but ponder these things in your mind, and see if there be not cause to say, whose number is as the sand of the sea. What extreme folly is it then tn the papists to make such brags of their multitudes? Doth that prove them to be the true Catholic Church? Nay, if ye look well upon it, ye shall find that it doth evidently declare that they be a great part of these armies of Gog and Magog, whose number is as the sand of the sea.
The next words do also shew the same thing, when he saith, they went up into the plain of the earth. They cover the face of the earth, and not of some one kingdom, but even of the world. And in that he saith, they compassed the tents of the Saints about, and the beloved city, it declareth not only how small a thing the true Church is in comparison of them, even as a few tents, or as some city which they enclose round about: but also that their endeavour is to swallow up and utterly destroy all that profess the holy and pure worship of God. The histories of the latter times do shew, that wheresoever in any country where popery had taken place, there were any that would not worship the beast, how furiously they did compass them about to fight against them. For the tents of the Saints and the beloved city, were in all lands where any did with pure and sincere faith worship the true God, and condemn false worship and enormities of the Romish synagogue. Read what they did to the Waldenses, more than four hundred years past: how did they persecute and scatter them? Read also how they dealt against the Albigenses, more than three hundred years past: where we may see how often they assailed Raymundus the Earl of Tolouse. About those times, and not long after, we may read of diverse excellent men, which cried out of the Romish Antichrist, whom they compassed about, and condemned as heretics. Afterward more than two hundred years past, in the days of Wycliffe and after, here was much stir in England, they compassed the tents of the Saints about. What a stir kept the Popes and their armies against that famous Church of the Bohemians, how did they compass them about? But what followeth? Fire (saith S. John) came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. Now he cometh to set forth the destruction of the armies of Gog and Magog, and of their chief captain also which seduced them. He beginneth with the armies, and sheweth how they are consumed with fire from heaven. It might be said: What shall become of the tents of the Saints? what shall become of the beloved city, when all these innumerable multitudes do compass them about? To answer this, here is shewed that the Lord God from heaven doth miraculously destroy these armies, and deliver his church. For that is meant when he saith, that fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. It will be demanded: when was this? or where was this seen? I answer, that ye must understand, that this is a mystical speech. The truth of God is compared to fire, and so is his wrath a consuming fire: and who seeth not, that by the holy word, & by his vengeance he hath already begun to consume and destroy the popish armies? In the 38 chapter of Ezekiel, the Lord doth threaten a tempest of hail, fire and brimstone upon the armies of Gog. And accordingly he speaketh in this place of fire coming down from God from heaven, which doth devour them. What way soever they be destroyed, it is the fire of God's word, and of his wrath from heaven, and we must acknowledge his miraculous power in preserving his Church. Let not the multitude of the armies of Gog and Magog discourage us: for they were far greater than they be, and as the Lord hath begun, so will he utterly burn them up, and consume them in his good time.
Thus much for the destruction of these armies: Now touching their chief captain, who hath seduced them, and led them forth unto the battle against the Lord. Shall he escape? No, he shall not escape. He is the chief worker of all mischief: and therefore it followeth, The devil which deceived them, was cast into a lake of fire and brimstone. This is the everlasting fire, which our Saviour saith, is prepared for the devil and his angels. Here shall all the devils be tormented for their sins which they have committed, even world without end. And here also mentioned his chief instruments which he hath used, the beast and the false prophet, these are joined with him in the lake of fire and brimstone: for such as serve the devil here in the world, shall dwell with him forever in hell, and there take such part as he shall. The beast is all the Heathen Emperors of Rome, with all that joined with them in persecuting and murdering the servants of God. The false prophet is the Popes and the popish clergy, with all their adherents, which in these latter days have so much corrupted the earth. Seeing this is the end of all God's enemies, beloved, let us not fear them, but let us stand fast in the truth, and constantly renounce all their false worship and abominations: for they shall all down with most horrible destruction and vengeance, when we shall stand, triumph and rejoice in the Lord for evermore.