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Babylon; an empire full of idols and divinations, and a persecutor of the saints, as she was;" that is, the literal Babylon.
But then, Catholic writers (as particularly Cardinal Bellarmine) contend, that Rome Pagan, and not Christian or Papal, must be intended: the contrary of this will, however, appear in the following ac count of the heads and horns of the beast; and still more clearly from the absurdity of supposing, with Catholics, that Papal Rome can be designated by this harlot ; when, at the same time, they pretend that Antichrist, the beast on which she rides, is not yet come: nor have they any way to surmount this difficulty, but by supposing, as does Sig. Pastorelli (p. 118), "the Roman idolatrous (meaning the Pagan) empire will rise up again, under the wicked man Antichrist," whom they consider as yet to come-a supposition, as appears to us, advanced only to evade the charge of their apostate church being Antichrist.
The beast here described is evidently the same as John, in the 13th chapter, saw rising out of the sea; but having obtained "firm footing," and being about to carry the great harlot, he now walks the solid ground. He is of the same colour with the dragon (chap. xiii. 3), and the harlot was arrayed in purple and scarlet-the latter of which seems the proper costume of Popery, for the red hat and stockings are the peculiar badge of Cardinals.
But to come to the apostle's description of this Papal wild beast. In the 8th verse, it is described as "the beast that was, and is not, and yet is." It was, or did exist, in the character of the dragon, when the mass of the people were Pagan idolaters. In that respect it is not, and does no longer exist; yet, in fact, is still in being, under another name and form: the body of the beast, spotted like a leopard (see chap. xiii. 2), that is, composed partly of natives, and partly of the conquerors who had settled among them.
This beast, though nominally become Christian, was in heart still Pagan-still adhering to the old principles of idolatry
and persecution. This description, was and is not," &c. may probably allude to some theatrical trick, whereby actors descending through the stage, come up again in another character. Paganism had, indeed, for the most part, been banished from earth, and sent down to the bottomless pit; but it had come up again in a new form, in which also it is to be sent back again to the bottomless pit, at the appointed time.
Verses 9 and 10 give a two-fold explication of the heads of this beast. 1. As they refer to the city of Rome itself, which is well known to be built upon seven hills; and, secondly, as to its political establish ment, which has existed in seven various forms of government. Five of these had passed away; the sixth (namely, the Imperial) existed in the time of this Revelation the seventh (namely, the exarchate of Ravenna) was not yet come, and would be of short duration: the imperial form would be again revived, as it was under Charlemagne, but not permanently. This was the eighth in some respects, but must be reckoned among the seven. In the 13th chapter this is differently expressed. One of his heads is there said (ver. 3) to be wounded "as it were to death," or mortally; but was unexpectedly healed again, as we have there explained.
We now come to the ten horns, which are said to be ten kings, who as yet, however, had received no kingdom. These horns, as we apprehend, were to sprout out of the last head of the beast, namely, the imperial (in different respects to be considered either as the eighth or a revival of the sixth), and to be contemporary with him. They were to "receive power as kings," or kingly power, one" or the same "hour" with the beast; with whom they have one mind," or are of the same religion. So Mr. Fuller explains it :"They did not subject their kingdoms to him as a secular power; for then had they not been independent; their only connexion with him would be ecclesiatical, or in his supporting the harlot. That this was the
CHAP. XVIII. Ver. 2. The habitation of devils. -Gr. "Demons." Compare with this verse Isa.
xiii. 19--21; Jer. li. 37. See also our Note on the former passage, and our Exposition of the latter.
only bond of union between them is manifest from the result of things: when their love should be turned into hatred, they are not said to hate the beast, but the whore: it was the whore (or harlot), therefore, and not the beast, that was the object of their attachment." While he, "caparisoned in scarlet," would support her in all ber base and sanguinary proceedings, they (the ten kings) would be with the beast, "holding up his trappings, or lending their authorities to enforce his measures."
"Such (continues Mr. Fuller) was actually the conduct of all the governments of Christendom prior to the Reformation, and such has been the conduct of many of them since. It is thus that they are said to make war with the Lamb." It may be asked, "Who is able to make war with the beast?" but we ask, in reply, Who is able to overcome the Lamb? He is "King of kings, and Lord of lords;" and his followers are a select band-" called, and chosen, and faithful."
We omitted to notice, in the beginning of this chapter, that the harlot is here described "as sitting upon many waters," and these waters are, in ver. 15, explained to mean "peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues." The fact is, the monster on which she rode, having risen "out of the sea," he delights in paddling through troubled waters with his opprobrious load.
In the sequel of this history we find that the ten horns (or kings) themselves shall hate the harlot, and "make her desolate, and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire:" that is, they shall strip off all her meretricious ornaments and devour her riches.
"This (to quote again the judicions Fuller-This) is the way in which the Antichristian church is doomed to fall. it will not be from the increase of religious people who withdraw from her communion, as she has always apprehended; but from those who have been her companions in sin, and who, when nothing more is to be expected from her, shall turn against her and destroy her. It is not by Protestantism nor by Methodism, but by INFIDELITY, that false religion will be overthrown." This is not a new opinion. "Sir Is. Newton had a very sagacious conjecture, which he told Dr. Clarke, from whom (says Mr. Whiston) I received it, that the overbearing tyranny and persecuting power of the Antichristian party, which hath so long corrupted Christianity, and enslaved the Christian world, must be put a stop to and broken to pieces, by the prevalence of infidelity for some time, before primitier Christianity could be restored; which seems to be the very means that is se working in Europe, for the same good and great end of Providence." (Whiston on Rev. 2d edit. 4to, p. 32.-N. B. Mr. W. wrote in the former part of the last century.)
Ver. 6. Double unto her double-See Isa. xl. 2, and Note.
Ver. 7. Lived Deliciously.-Doddr." in luxury." So verse 9.-I sit a queen.-See Isaiah xivi 5, 8, 9.
(E) Ver. 1-8. The fall of Babylon.his book affords us, perhaps, the finest lustration we can any where meet with, the doctrine of the ministry of angels. he throne of the Almighty is surrounded ith them; they move on the slightest inmation of the divine will, and they alays fly. Their attendance is constant, nd their obedience instant: nor does the ature of the message on which they are ent, whether of judgment or of grace, at I affect the speed with which they exe ate it. Their obedience is in all cases rompt, and without hesitation, even in e higher orders; and, from the splenour which shone around him, the angel ow before us is supposed to be of consirable rank.
This chapter contains one of the most blime and beautiful odes in all the poetic riptures; for to that form has Bishop bb reduced it. It contains, 1. A proamation that Babylon is fallen. 2. A arning and charge to the people of God, come out of ber. 3. A lamentation over er, by all the classes of mankind partilarly interested in her fate. We shall fer a few words in reference to each. 1. The fall of Babylon is proclaimed. It (or she) is fallen, is fallen." So in ap. xvi. ver. 17; a voice from the throne nounces, "It is done!" The decree gone forth, and is on the point of being filled. And with the decree is here en (which is not always the case) the sons upon which it is founded. Baby, that is, the church of Rome, is not y herself intoxicated and debauched, she is charged with intoxicating and auching all the kings, or governments, whom she has been supported-all the chants and captains who had been ened by ber trade, and led into the most rious luxuries. "She who, as a church Christ (says Archdeacon Woodhouse), ld have been the teacher and preserver ure religion and morality, had become seducer and corrupter of the nations their kings; and had set the example
of that insolent luxury, disposing to irreligion, which it was her duty to oppose."
In illustration of the imagery here employed, and which is evidently borrowed from the Old Testament prophecies respecting ancient Babylon and Tyre, particularly the latter, Mr. Lowman thus remarks :-"As the destruction of Rome is here compared with that of Tyre (Ezek. xxvii.), we easily see how proper it was to describe the sins of Rome by figures taken from the sins of Tyre. The profit of trade created a commerce between that city, then the chief mart of the world, and all nations; so that Tyre spread her luxury and superstition far and wide, with her trade. Rome, in like manner, corrupted distant and remote nations, by rewarding her votaries with considerable wealth, encouraging their ambition and luxury; and thus, like Tyre of old, she made her corruptions general, and almost universal."
What is said of Babylon being "the habitation of devils," does not refer so properly to her former state of crime, as to her future state of misery. The images here employed are evidently taken from Isa. xiii. 20-22; xxxiv. 10-16: on which Dr. Woodhouse observes, that "when the utter destruction of a city is denounced in Scripture, the site of that city is commonly described as becoming the haunt and habitation of wild beasts, and of such loathsome reptiles, as are found in the forsaken ruins of a city." On one of these passages, he adds, "It is observed by Bishop Lowth, that Hebrew words expressive of such animals, are translated in the Septuagint by the word daimonia, which is used here," and by our translators rendered "devils."
2. We must notice the warning here given, which is also evidently borrowed from Isaiah (chap. lii. 11, 12), in reference to the literal Babylon. So our Lord himself warned his disciples to escape from Jerusalem, when they saw "the abomination of desolation;" that is, the Roman eagle flying before it. They did so, and it is not known that there were any Christians in
Ver. 7. I sit a queen, &c.—See Isa. xlvii. 5, 8, 9, with our Exposition and Notes.
Her ruin lamented by]
have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning,
10 Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment
11 And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any
12 The merchandise of gold, and
[her kings and merchantı, silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen,, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble;
13 And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.
14 And the fruits that thy soal lusted after are departed from thee,
EXPOSITION-Chap. XVIII. Continued.
the city when it was taken by the Romans. And it is certainly lawful at all times to fly from public calamities which we cannot prevent, when we can do it without bringing reproach on our religion.
The chief reason why we should fly from depraved and corrupt communities is, that we "partake not of their sins," as we would wish to escape "their plagues." Upon the doctrine of retaliation (as expressed in ver. 6), we would only remark, that the Christian religion does in no case tolerate private revenge; but retributive justice is a different thing, and the righteous Governor of the world may certainly employ what instruments he pleases in dispensing it.
But the passage before us was employed by our Reformers, chiefly to justify their secession from the church of Rome. Whenever a church falls into idolatrous worship, as of saints and images, or into other fundamental errors, then should this warning voice be attended to; for if we be partakers in other men's sins, we must expect to be sharers in their punishment. And idolatry is a sin against which the Bible abounds with the most awful denunciations, as may be seen in the "Homily against the peril of Idolatry," wherein also are many passages quoted on the same subject from the Christian fathers, from which only we can copy one short sentence. Origen says"It is not only a mad and frantic part to
worship images, but also once to dissem ble or wink at it."
But what is most to be lamented, in the case both of apostate churches and individuals, is, that they are seldom sensible of their situation. The church of Laodices said, "I am rich and increased in goods, and have need of nothing;" while, at the same time, her Lord pronounced her to be "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." So the church of Rome, like Babylon of old, said, "I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no serrow." (Compare Isa. xlvii. 7-9.) But, ah! how awfully was she mistaken!"Therefore," says the voice from heaven, "therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine and she shall be utterly burnt with fire for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her."
The precise nature of the judgments here iutimated, we presume not to deter mine. Some have supposed that the city of Rome itself will be burned; and others, that it will be turned into a lake of fire and brimstone: but the harlot of whom we are speaking is not a city, but a church
an apostate church, which is to be de stroyed by the mighty hand of God himself. Of that destruction, all that we can at present ascertain is, that it will be sudden in its commencement, complete in its degree, and in its termination final.
NOTES-Chap. XVIII. Con.
Ver. 12. Thyine wood.-Marg. "sweet;" i. e. sweet scented-probably burnt for incense.
Ver. 13. And slaves, and souls, &c.-Marg. " And bodies and souls of men." So Woodhouse. This is literal, and we see no reason for departing from it.
"It is true, in fact (says Mr. Lowman), that her slaves [those of Papal Rome] lose all religions, well as civil, liberty." It is also true, that Popery has been a great encourager of the slave trade, particularly in South America,
and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.
15 The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing,
16 And 'saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!
17 For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every ship master, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,
18 And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!
19 And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her cost liness! for in one hour is she made desolate.
[rejoiceth over her.
20 Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.
21 And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.
22 And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee;
23 And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.
24 And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth. (F)
(F) Ver. 9-24. A lamentation over Babylon. This lamentation is uttered by different classes of society, the most deeply interested in her fate. 1. The kings of the earth, who had committed fornication with her, and revelled with her in her luxuries; but how selfish was their mourning! They lamented the loss of their own licentious pleasures, but they express no sympathy in her sufferings. "They stand afar off, for the fear of her torment"-lest the fire which burns her should scorch them also. 2. The merchants-but what do they do? They lament the loss of their traffic"For no man buyeth her merchandize any more." On the particulars of this merchandize we cannot here distinctly remark, one article alone excepted, namely, "the souls of men."-" Tyre dealt only
in men's bodies, but Kome in their souls. I know not what else (says Mr. Fuller), to make of the sale of indulgences and pardons ...... of [auricular] confessions and prayers for the dead, and of every other means of extorting money from the ignorant."
"The merchants of these things," namely, the priests and monks, with other orders in the church," are made rich by her;" but they also will "stand afar off, for fear" of partaking of "her torment;" and well they may fear, if they who are "partakers of her sins," are to share also in" her plagues." But Rome has been a wholesale dealer, and has exported her merchandize to every quarter of the globe, and more especially to South America, where she has cheated the souls, and
Ver. 15. The merchants, &c.—Many of the images 47, &c., and compare our Exposition.
in this chapter seem taken from the Lamentation
for Tyre, Ezek. ch. xxvii.
Ver. 20. Rejoice over her, &c.-Compare Jer. li.
Ver. 21. Thus with violence, &c.-See Jer. li. Ver. 23. The light of a candle.-Doddr. “ lamp.”