Of the Hundred and Forty-four Thousand Sealed, who were Virgins, with the Babylonian Harlot and the Beast.
1. In the first place, they are called virgins, and are praised on that account, because they had not defiled themselves with meretricious embraces. They coincide, therefore, with the meretricious times of the Babylonian harlot, |with whom the kings and inhabitants of the earth committed fornication.|
2. Out of this virgin choir proceed those who denounce the ruin of Babylon, and who deter men from all communion with the beast, his image, and mark. Therefore, the virgin assembly is contemporary with Babylon and the beast.
3. These, lastly, are those that are called the chosen and faithful attendants on the Lamb, accompanied by whom, he wages war with the kings, or horns, of the Babylonian beast, and who, under his auspices, (as King of kings and Lord of lords,) will at length obtain the victory. For those words, relative to the Lord of lords and King of kings, ought, I think, to be read in a parenthesis, where the angel says, |These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them, (for he is Lord of lords and King of kings,) and they who are with him, are called, and chosen, and faithful;| that is, the Lamb, and those who are with him, called, and elect, and faithful, shall overcome the Babylonish kings.
4. But these observations are not sufficient for the firm establishment of a complete contemporary agreement; for all these things may be consistent with partial contemporation. I therefore proceed, in the following manner, to demonstrate that the assembly of the sealed attendants on the Lamb are universally and exactly contemporary with the beast. That assembly of the sealed ones is an Antistoichon, or opposite state, coeval with the beast, or the whole company of the followers of the beast; that is, the forces of those holy soldiers remaining still in the faith of the Lamb, when the other inhabitants of the world, as deserters and rebels, have received the mark of the beast. This is obvious from the text: whence, as formerly, by ancient custom, slaves and soldiers were wont to be distinguished by the mark, and inscribed by the name of him to whom they had pledged their faith, so these are said to bear |the name of the Lamb and his Father on their foreheads.| Since this is the case, it follows that the duration of the one is commensurate with that of the other, and agrees with it altogether, during the same interval of time: for the mode of this sort of opposition requires that the assembly of the sealed followers of the Lamb, as far as it is pointed out by the vision, should be understood in a manner wholly opposite to that of the beast; beyond which opposition, agreeably to the intention of the vision, it has no meaning, and therefore it begins where that begins, and ends where that ends.
5. Moreover, with respect to the close of the contemporary period, that may be proved from the description in c. vii.; because the palm-bearing multitude is the limit both of the tyranny of the beast, and of the company of those who were sealed; -- of the beast, because it is there said, |These are they who have come out of great tribulation;| but out of what tribulation, except that of the beast persecuting the saints? Therefore, they left behind the tyranny of the beast. Of the sealed company, because the palm-bearing multitude immediately follows, as is manifest from that transition, |After these things I saw,| &c.