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514 [514]

K. Edward. 3. The loosyng out of Satan.
The fift booke conteynyng the last 300. yeares from the loosyng out of Satan.

Marginalia The fourth booke.THus hauing discourses  

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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.

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Thomas S. Freeman
University of Sheffield

in these former bookes, the order and course of yeares, from the firste tyeng vp of Satan, vnto the yere of our Lord, 1360. I haue a litle ouer passed þe stinte of tyme in the Scriptures appointed, for the loosing out of him agayne. For so it is written by S. Ihon Apocal. 20. Marginalia The yeres and tyme of loosyng out Satan examined.that after a thousand yeares, Satanas the old dragon shall be let louse agayne for a season, &c. For the better explanation of the whiche mystery, let vs first consider the contexte of the Scripture: afterward let vs examine by history and course of times, the meanyng of the same. And first to recite the woordes of the Apocal. the texte of the Prophecy is this. chap. 20.

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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.

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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.  

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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).

Wherin I graunt that spiritually the strength and dominion of Satan in accusing and cōdemnyng vs for sinne, was cast downe at the passion & by the passion of Christ our sauiour, and locked vp not onely for a M. yeares: but for euer and euer. Albeit as touchyng the malitious hatred and fury of that serpent, agaynst the outward bodies of Christes poore saintes (which is the heele of Christ) to afflicte and tormēt the church outwardly: That I iudge to be ment in the reuelation of S. Ihon, not to be restrayned till the ceasing of those terrible persecutions of the primitiue churche. Marginalia What the loosyng of Satan doth meane in Scripture.At what tyme it pleased God to pitie the sorowfull affliction of his poore flocke, beyng so long vnder persecution, the space of 300. yeares, and so to asswage their grieues and tormentes. Whiche is ment by byndyng vp of Satan, worker of all those mischiefs: vnderstandyng therby, that forsomuch as the deuill prince of this world, had now by the death of Christ the sonne of God, lost all his power and interest agaynst the soule of mā, should turne his furious rage and malice whiche he had to Christ, agaynst the people of Christ, (whiche is mēt by the heele of the seede. Gen. 3.) in tormenting their outward bodies. Whiche yet should not be for euer: but for a determined time, when as it should please the Lord to bridle the malice, and snaffel the power of the old serpent, and geue rest vnto his church for the terme of a M.yeares. Whiche tyme beyng expired, the sayd serpent should be suffered louse agayne for a certaine or a small tyme. Apocal. 20.

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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.

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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

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Marginalia 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.  

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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.

at what tyme Maxentius the last persecutour in Rome fighting agaynst Constantinus, was drowned with hys soldiours, lyke as Pharao was drowned persecuting the children of Israel, in the red sea.  
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Actually Maxentius's death (at the battle of the Milvian Bridge) took place in AD 312.

Vnto the which. xlij. monethes, or Sabbothes of yeares, if ye adde the other. vj. yeares wherin Licinius persecuted in the East: ye shall fynde iust. 300. yeares, as is specified before in the firste booke of this volume. Pag. 139.

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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.

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¶ A table contayning the tyme of the persecution both of the primitiue, and of the latter church, wyth the count of yeares from the fyrst bynding vp of Satan, to hys loosing agayne, after the mynde of the Apocalyps.

The fyrst persecutiō of the primitiue church, beginning at the. 30. yeres of Christ, was prophecied to continue. 42. monethes, that is an.194.

V. i.