Marginalia The fourth booke.THus hauing discourses
This introduction to Book Five, added in the 1570 edition, is of importance as one of the fullest statements of Foxe's apocalyptic interpretation of history given in the Acts and Monuments. Here Foxe clearly sets out his belief, derived from John Bale, that the thousand year binding of Satan described in Revelation 20, is a prophecy of a period of history which not only preceded the second coming of Christ, but also preceded the Reformation. But this introduction - along with Foxe's exegesis of Revelation 13 on 1570, pp. 138-9, 1576, pp. 101-2 and 1583, pp. 100-2 - marks an important break with Bale's and an original contribution to Protestant apocalyptic thought. Bale had interpreted the thousand-year binding of Satan as running from the nativity of Christ until AD 1000. Based on his under-standing of the 42 month period, described in Revelation 13, in which the Beast held dominion, Foxe calculated that the binding of Satan did not begin until the triumph of Constantine around 324 and ended just before the advent of Wiclif a thousand years later. (This had the result of foregrounding the historical significance both Constantine and Wiclif). The periodization of history outlined here not only undergirds the Acts and Monuments, but also the Eicasmi, Foxe's commentary on Revelation, written at the end of his life.[Back to Top]
Thomas S. Freeman
University of Sheffield
Marginalia Apoc. 20.And I saw an aungell descendyng from heauen, hauyng a key of the bottomles pitte, and a great cheyne in his hand. And he toke þe dragon the old serpent which is the deuil and Satanas, and bound him for a thousād yeares, and put hym in the bottomeles doungeon and shyt him vp, and signed hym with his seale, þt he should no more seduce the gentles, till a thousand yeares were expired. And after that, he must be loused agayne for a litle space of tyme. And I saw seates, and they sat vpon them: and iudgement was geuen vnto them, and the soules I saw of them which were beheaded for the testimonie of Iesus. &c.[Back to Top]
By these wordes of the reuelation here recited, three speciall tymes are to be noted. 1. First, the beyng abroad of Satan to deceaue the worlde. 2. The byndyng vp of hym. Marginalia The place of the Apocal. 20. expounded, for the loosyng out of Satan.3. Thirdly the loosing out of hym agayne, after a M. yeres consummate, for a tyme. Cōcerning the interpretation of whiche tymes, I see the common opinion of many to be deceaued by ignoraunce of histories, & state of thynges done in the churche: supposing that the cheynyng vp of Satan for a M. yeares, spoken of in the reuelation, was ment frō the time of Christ our lord.
Actually, this was not a common opinion, but it was held by Bale and by Foxe until shortly before this passage was written. (On the first page of the 1570 edition, Foxe declares that the binding Satan began with the nativity of Christ).
And thus to expound this proheticall place of Scripture, I am led by three reasons.
Marginalia Three Reasons Marginalia The first reasō.1. For that the byndyng vp of Satan, and closing him in the bottomles pit by the aungell, importeth as much that he was at libertie, ragyng and doyng mischief before. And certes those so terrible and so horrible persecutions of the primitiue tyme vniuersally through þe whole world, duryng the space of 300. yeares of the church, do declare no lesse. Wherin it is to be thought and supposed, that Satan all that tyme, was not fastened and closed vp.[Back to Top]
Marginalia The. ii. reason.The seconde reason mouing me to thynke that the closing vp of Sathan was after the. x. persecutiōs of the primitiue church: is taken out of the. xij. chap. of the Apocalips. Where we read, that after the woman (meaning the church) had trauailed forthe her man childe, the olde Dragon the deuill, the same tyme being cast downe frō heauen, drawing the third part of the starres with him: stoode before the woman with great anger, and persecuted her (that is the church of God) with a whole flood of water (that is, with aboundaunce of all kyndes of tormentes) and from thence wēt moreouer to fight against the residue of her side, and stoode vpon the sandes of the sea, whereby it appeareth þt he was not as yet locked vp[Back to Top]
The 3. reason.
Apoc. cap. 13.The third reason I collect out of the Apoca. xiij, cha. where is written of the beast, signifieng the emperiall Monarchie of Rome: that he had power to make warre xlij. monthes. By the which monthes is ment no doubt, the tyme that the Dragon and the persecuting Emperours, should haue in afflicting the saintes of the primitiue church. Marginalia Xlii. monethes in the Apocal. cap. 13. examined.The computation of which. xlij. monethes (counting euerye moneth for a Sabbat of yeares, that is for. vij. yeares, after the order of scripture) ryseth to the summe, counting frō the passion of the Lord Christ, of. 300. yeares lacking. vi.
Foxe explains this calculation in more detail, and how he arrived at it, on 1570, pp. 138-9, 1576, pp. 101-2 and 1583, pp. 100-2.
Actually Maxentius's death (at the battle of the Milvian Bridge) took place in AD 312.
Marginalia What tyme Satan was tyed vp.After the which. xlij. monethes being expired, manifest it is that the fury of Sathan, that is, his violent malice and power ouer the sayntes of Christ, was diminished & restrayned vniuersally through the whole world.
Thus then the matter standing euident, that Sathā after. 300. yeares, counting from the passion of Christ, began to be chayned vp, at what tyme þe persecution of the primitiue church began to cease: Now let vs se, how long this bynding vp of Sathan should continue, which was promised in the booke of the reuelation, to bee a thousand yeares. Which thousand yeares, if ye adde to the. xlij. monethes of yeares, that is, to. 294. yeres: they make. 1294. yeares, after the passion of the Lorde. To these moreouer adde the. xxx. yeres of the age of Christ, and it cōmeth to. 1294. after the passion of Christ: Marginalia About what tyme and yeare Satan was let out, by the count of the Apocalips.And after his natiuity, to the yeare of the Lord. 1324, which was the yeare of the letting out of Satan, according to the prophecie of the Apocalips.[Back to Top]
|The fyrst persecutiō of the primitiue church, beginning at the. 30. yeres of Christ, was prophecied to continue. 42. monethes, that is an.||194.|