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THE LOOSING OF SATAN, AND HIS SEDUCTION OF NATIONS.
God, in His infinite wisdom, has decreed that before the absolute and entire overthrow of the powers of darkness, Satan should be allowed to exhaust all his malice against Christ and His saints. This has been decreed by God, in His infinite wisdom, for the greater triumph and glory of Christ Himself and of His Church.
It is in perfecting this scheme of Providence, that the devil, after having been bound up for a thousand years and cast into the bottomless pit, will be loosed again out of his prison, to the consummate triumph of the Church, by a last and most awful struggle. This fact is thus described by St. John :- “ When the thousand years shall be finished, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go forth and seduce the nations which are over the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, and shall gather them together to battle, the number of whom is as the sand of the sea."?
Cornelius à Lapide quotes Alcazar's opinion, grounded, as the latter declares, on the authority of St. Ambrose and St. Augustine, which says ;-Diabolus non est deturbandus in infer. num quamdiu Ecclesiæ militia durat; durabit autem usque ad finem mundi. Ergo et post Antichristi necem, diabolus sinetur tentare fideles usque ad diem judicii. (Comment, in Apoc, cap. xx. ver. 9.) The Millenarians agree to this opinion, with the only difference that they believe that the devil will be restrained from tempting the faithful during the Millennium, when he shall be confined to the bottomless pit; but as soon as he shall be left free from his prison, he will assail them with great fury until the day of the universal judgment.
Apoc. xx. 7.
As Satan refused to bow down to the Divine. Word Incarnate, when God revealed to him the great mystery and required his homage of adoration, and has ever since been the fiercest enemy of Christ and His kingdom, so he strives with all his might to excite this rebellious pride in others. His great aim is to overthrow, if possible, the kingdom of Christ and of His saints, and to exalt himself up to heaven.
But if Satan is always bent upon the destruction of the kingdom of Christ, he will be much more so in the last day, when he shall be loosed for a short time. The circumstance of his having been restrained so long from exerting his malice against the nations, the sight of the great triumph obtained by Christ and by His saints over the whole earth, and the knowledge that only a short time will be allowed to him to exert his malice, will swell his rage and fury to the highest pitch, so that he will exert his every energy at once to effect the ruin of man, and destroy, if possible, the work of God. Nor will he labour in vain; for, unhappily, the nations will forget the immense blessings of the kingdom of Christ, and will allow themselves to be seduced by their enemy.
Lactantius thus describes the awful calamity:1_“When the thousand years of the kingdom, or the seven thousand years from the creation of the world, shall be expired, the prince of devils shall be loosed again, and shall go forth from his prison; and by his malice he will seduce all the nations which then
· Diximus paulo ante, in principio regni sancti fore, ut a Deo princeps dæmonum vinciatur. Sed idem, cum mille anni regni, hoc est septem millia, cæperint terminari, solvetur denuo, et custodia emissus exibit; atque omnes gentes quæ tunc erunt sub ditione justitiæ concitabit ut inferant bellum sanctæ civitati. (Lib. vii. cap. xxvi.)
shall be under the government of the saints, and will excite them to war against the holy city; and a numberless concourse of nations shall be assembled from every part of the earth, which will besiege and surround the holy city.”
During the short time that Satan is loosed again and exerts his fiercest malice to the seduction of nations, Christ will still remain upon earth with His saints; yet in proportion as the people allow themselves to be seduced by Satan, He will conceal Himself from them, and will deprive them of the beneficent influence of His visible presence.
This new trial which shall befall mankind by the loosing of Satan and by his seduction of nations, will serve to humble man and to glorify Christ. During the kingdom of Christ upon earth, mankind will be sanctified, and all the means of grace will be lavished upon man by Jesus. Nevertheless, no sooner is Satan unbound, than mankind is again seduced. The most evident proofs of goodness, wisdom, and power, given by God to keep man faithful, will be of no avail. How deeply will man be then convinced of his utter nothingness and misery! How forcibly will he be brought to confess that of himself he cannot attain any good, and that his every good must come from God and Christ alone. And how highly will the Holy One of God be glorified ! This last crisis, therefore, will be itself one of the steps to instruct and humble man; that by the way of his extreme humiliation, and the consequent supreme exaltation of Christ, he may arrive at that sovereign good to which Divine Providence has designed to raise him.
THE FINAL DESTRUCTION OF THE ENEMIES OF CHRIST.
As the Divine Father is well pleased from all eternity with His Incarnate Son, and the Incarnate Son, to whom all power is given in heaven and on earth, is well pleased with the faithful who constitute His beloved spouse the Church, so we are certain that whatever efforts the wicked one may make against the Church, her triumph is secure. Nay, it is certain, that those very schemes which her enemies are contriving, and their best endeavours to prevent her glory, will only serve to her greater exaltation. For “ there is no wisdom, there is no prudence, there is no counsel against the Lord.31
“The Lord bringeth to nought the counsels of nations, and He rejecteth the devices of people, and casteth away
the sels of princes. But the counsel of the Lord standeth for ever : the thoughts of His heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord : the people whom He hath chosen for His inheritance." 2
Although the Church, through the power and assistance of her Divine Spouse, has already gained many victories over her fiercest enemies, yet the greatest of all victories which she is destined to gain over them, will be at the end of time, when the devil, after seducing again the nations, shall gather them together in battle against Christ and
Prov. xxi. 30.
2 Psalm xxxii, 10–12.
His saints. For when the wicked shall be on the point of singing victory—when they shall think They have succeeded in overthrowing the work of God, then the hand of God will fall suddenly upon them, and will swiftly destroy them, never more to rise.
This fact is thus described by St. John: “They came upon the breadth of the earth, and encompassed the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And there came down fire from God out of heaven, and devoured them; and the devil, who seduced them, was cast into the pool of fire and brimstone, where both the beast and the false prophet shall be tormented day and night for ever and
1 Christ, at His second coming, will directly triumph over human malice and pride, by overthrowing the power of the Antichrist and other similar wicked powers.
“ I saw the beast," says St. John, “and the kings of the earth, and their armies gathered together to make war with Him that sat upon the horse and with His army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet. These two were cast alive into the pool of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were slain by Him who sat upon the horse.' (Apoc. xix. 19, 20.) Last of all Christ will triumph directly over all Satanic malice by an entire overthrow of the devil's power, confining him for ever to the bottomless pit. “The devil who seduced them," writes St. John, was cast into the pool of fire and brimstone, where both the beast and the false prophet shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (Apoc. xx. 9, 10.) To Christ's victory over human malice succeeds a time of particular blessedness and glory upon earth. But to His complete victory over the Satanic malice succeeds the perfect and eternal glory in heaven.
Apoc. xx. 8–10.