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“ followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, “ is fallen, that great city, because she made all « nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her “ fornication. And the third angel followed them,
saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the “ beast, and his image, and receive his mark in his
forehead, or his hand ; the same shall drink of the “ wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out “ without mixture into the cup of his indignation ; “ and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone “ in the presence of the holy angels, and in the
presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their “ torment ascendeth up for ever and ever; and “ they have no rest, day nor night, who worship the “ beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the ( mark of his name."
The above passage is, by some interpreters, supposed to relate to the period of the reformation, and to have been fulfilled in the preaching of Luther, and the other eminent persons who were raised up at that time to expose the errors of the Romish church. Others, as Mede and Bishop Newton, refer it to an earlier period. But it appears to me, that there are insuperable objections to these interpretations. The first angel is instrumental in preaching the Gospel much more extensively than the reformers could do. So far were they from preaching to all the inhabitants of the earth, that they did not even preach through the whole of Christian Europe. The reformation was not permitted to enter into some of the most extensive kingdoms of the Romish jurisdiction. It was entirely excluded from Spain, Portugal, and Italy.
Neither could it be said, in consistence with truth, at the time of the reformation, that “the hour of “God's judgment was come.” There is nothing indefinite in the language of the Apocalypse. The hour of God's judgment is a time well known, and exactly defined in the chronological prophecies of Daniel and John. It is the period of the judgment mentioned in Dan. vii. 26, when the little horn, or the papacy, is deprived of its power. It is likewise the time of the seventh trumpet, and seven vials, in the Apocalypse, when God judgeth Babylon, * and destroyeth them who destroy the earth. +
The expressions used by the second angel are no less inapplicable to the time of the reformation. It was not true that Babylon the Great was then fallen; on the contrary, after the first fervour of the reformation subsided, the church of Rome regained much of the ground which she had lost, and even down to the period of the French revolution, she continued to say in her heart, " I sit a queen, and am no “ widow, and shall see no sorrow." I
The above reasons seem to me sufficient to justify my rejecting the common interpretation of this part of the Apocalypse. The fact is, that as the vision of the one hundred and forty-four thousand on Mount Sion, belongs to the period of the seventh trumpet, so the whole remaining part of the fourteenth chapter is to be referred to the same Apocalyptic season. The flight of the first angel' represents a preaching of the Gospel much more universal than
any that preceded it. In the symbolical language of this book, that which is effected in the
# Rev. xviii. 7.
* Rev. xvii. I.
Rey. xi. 19.
providence of God by various instruments, is said to be done by an angel going forth to execute it. I do not conceive, therefore, that in this
passage we are to view the angel, as being the representative of any individual minister, but of a series of events in the church, which are accomplished by her collective energies. It is remarkable that this angel goes forth, not preaching by word of mouth only, but having the everlasting Gospel, (i. e, the book of the Gospel), the scriptures of truth, in his hand. We may suppose, therefore, that this not only signifies an extensive promulgation of the word, in the common use of the term preaching, but likewise that it points out the diffusion of the written word throughout the world, in a manner and with a rapidity before unexampled ; and that this circulation of the scriptures shall be accompanied, in the adorable and wonder-working providence of God, with such awful and signal judgments of the Almighty, as shall be calculated to strike terror into the minds of all nations, and shall in effect call out to them with a voice louder than thunder, "Fear God, and give
glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come.” This interesting prophecy seems now to be receiving its accomplishment, and will probably continue to be fulfilled with increasing clearness during the remainder of the period into which we have entered. We have witnessed a more extensive preaching of the Gospel than has taken place before, since the days of the apostles of the Lord, and have seen the formation of a society for the printing and circulation of the inspired volume, which has already given a new impetus to the moral universe, and continues to
advance with gigantic strides to universal empire. The scriptures are now printing in more languages than were spoken on the day of Pentecost, and the time seems to be at hand, when all the ends of the earth shall be visited with the healing waters of salvation. We have also seen this preaching of the Gospel, and distribution of the word, accompanied with a series of the most awful and tremendous judgments, which have spoken to us in the loudest manner, calling on us to “ fear God, and give glory
to him, for the hour of his judgment is come."
The flight of the second angel to declare the fall of Babylon seems to be still future, and of consequence also the preaching of the third angel. The second angel is evidently the same with the one mentioned at the beginning of the eighteenth chapter, who comes down from heaven, and cries aloud, that Babylon is fallen. The correspondence of the two passages is to be considered as one of those internal marks which serve to denote a chronological coincidence. The third angel seems to go forth about the same time that the apostle hears the voice from heaven (ch. xviii. 4) saying, “ Come “out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of “ her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” The purpose of the mission of the third angel is indeed not exactly the same with what is thus said by the voice from heaven; the one declares what is the nature of the plagues which shall be inflicted on the worshippers of the beast and his image, and the other exhorts the disciples of Christ (and it is the final exhortation) to forsake the communion of Babylon : but I think the two are synchronical,
because they both immediately succeed the proclamation of the fall of Babylon.
The going forth of the second and third angels being thus future, it does not become us to form conjectures as to the manner in which this vision shall be accomplished, whether by the preaching of living ministers, or by the louder and more awful voice of the divine judgments, accomplishing the fall of Babylon, and proclaiming aloud the awful punishment awaiting the worshippers of the beast. The great city Babylon is evidently falling; and though the voice is not yet gone forth that she is fallen, if we may reason from the analogy of what has passed on the great theatre of the world, during the last twenty years, her utter fall cannot be far off.
After declaring the purport of the message of the third angel, which seems immediately to precede the final destruction of the beast, in the awful day of Armageddon, the Holy Spirit gives the following significant warning that the events of that time shall call into full exercise the utmost degree of patience and faith in the disciples of Christ. “Here is the
patience of the saints: here are they that keep " the commandments of God, and faith of Jesus." The day of the final destruction of the beast and false prophet, is the same which is, in chap. xvi. 14. called “the great day of God Almighty.” This day will to the Christian world be even more awful and tremendous than the day of the siege and destruction of Jerusalem was to the Jewish nation. As the believing Jews were delivered from that destruction, so shall the true disciples of Christ be saved in the day of Armageddon : yet their salvation