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CH A P. XVII.
· Verses ift, 2d. AND there came one of
the feven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither, I will shew unto thee the judgement of the great whore, that fitteth upon many waters : with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabiters of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
In this chapter an angel is introduced, in order to explain to John the plain meaning of the preceding prophecies relative to Papal Rome. Such explanations are an established part of prophetic writings. They are to be found in the prophecies of Ezekiel, of Daniel, of John, and in all prophetic. writings of any considerable length. They form a part of the idiom of prophetic language, so to speak. From yerse ist to 6th, the angel in vision gives John a compendious description of the pre
ceding prophecies, which he intends to explain to him. From verse 7th to the end of the chapter, he gives him a most minute, full, and striking explication of them. On the first fix verses I shall be only general and short in the commentary ; because the same unerring spirit who dictated the prophecies explains them fully in the last ten verses of the chapter, in the commentary on which I shall be more full.
In the two first verses, John, in vision, saw an angel come unto him, and heard him talk with him. The angel told him, that he would shew him the judgement, which at last should be passed upon à great idolatrous city and church that fits upon many waters; who had seduced to idolatry all the kings of the various kingdoms which had arisen out of the western Roman empire; and who had intoxicated all their subjects with her idolatry and superstition. It is well known, that the terms of lewdness used in these verses are those which are used in the Old Testament, particularly in the prophetic parts of it, to signify idolatry and superftition. And it is evident from the whole strain of this book, that in it they are used in that sense.
Verses 3d, 4th.–So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness ; and I saw a
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Ch. XVII. woman sit upon a scarlet-coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads, and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple, and scarlet-colour, and decked with gold and precious stone and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand, full of abominations, and filthiness of her fornication.
To be carried in spirit to any place, is not to be actually carried to that place; but it is to have our spirit or mind impressed by the inspiration of the Spirit of God, in the same manner as it would have been by our having been bodily in that place. Here John informs us, that he was under the influence of divine inspiration; that in this way he saw a particular vision; and that the scene of this visioni appeared to his mind to be the wilderness. The wilderness fignifies the wilderness state of the church, which, as was formerly shewn, commenced A. D. 756, and shall continue to the year 1999. The reason of mentioning the wilderness as the scene of this vision, is to inform us that the description of the idolatrous and superstitious city, state, and church, given in the following vision, a. grees to that city, state, and church, during, and only during that period, which runs from A. D. 756 to A. D. 1999.
In the wilderness, that is, during that period, he saw the vision exactly as described in these verses.
By divine inspiration, the very fame impressions were made upon his mind, that would have been made upon it by the natural mode of vision; had he actually seen with his bodily eyes, a woman, so feated, so clothed, with such a name written on her forehead, and so employed as the woman is described in verses 3d, 4th, 5th, and 6th. The woman, as shall be shewn in the last part of this chap. ter, is the idolatrous city and church of Rome. The beast or Onpoor which supports her, is the beast with seven heads and ten horns, full of the names of blafphemy. This description exactly agrees to the beast described in chap. xiii. which was there fewn to be the Papal hierarchy, in the character
of a temporal kingdom. · This beast is scarlet-coloured, to mark the
bloody and persecuting character of Papal Rome. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarletcolour. In Heathen Rome, purple and scarlet were the colours of the imperial habit; the former, in times of peace, and the latter in times of war. It is well known that these colours were thence introduced into Papal Rome, and used by the Pope and cardinals. To be raised to the purple or scarlet hat, is the ordinary term for being made a cardinal. Decked with gold, precious stones, and pearls, signifies the great quantity of these, and of other shewy and costly ornaments, with which the Pope and the Popish churches are adorned. Having
a golden cup in her hand, fignifies that she seduces some to her idolatry by her outward magnificence, shew, and splendid ornaments, and others by the profpect of riches or worldly gain. So depraved, alas! is human nature in its present state; and such strangers are many men to the spiritua. lity, purity, and fimplicity of religious worship, that they think it mean and vulgar to worship God in any church whose ordinances are not shewy and pompous. Like the idolatrous Israelites, they wish to have a god that may be seen, and that may go before them; and they make a golden calf and fall down and worship it. Others will be the votaries of any church for worldly gain. With them gain is godliness. To both, with that worldly wisdom for which she hath long been distinguished, Rome holds out her golden cup, and seduces them to her idolatrous superstition.
Verse 5th.--And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, The Mother of Harlots, and Abominations of the Earth.
By the name written on her forehead, it is fignified, that during the period to which this vision refers, her name is very conspicuous, and may eafily be perceived by every unprejudiced person.