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To conclude his description, he adds " and the woman which thou sawest,”—(and which has been distinguished by so many characteristic marks,) —" is that great city which (now) reigneth over the kings of the earth.” That is to say, Rome, for it was as necessary for St John to be explicit in declaring this now, as for St Paul to be reserved at the time when he wrote. The Epistles getting into circulation immediately for the most part of them, but the Revelation of St John was long before it was generally received; and the subject of it such as would not be likely to draw a close attention to it, from the powers in authority, had it come to their hands. They would have treated it with sovereign contempt, as many mystical reveries fabricated at that time by the heretics, did well deserve to be, and were so considered.
The propisecies of the ancient prophets against Egypt,
Edom, and Babylon, applied to Rome by St John, --particularly in allusion to her intoxicating cup, and dementation thereby,—her cup of trembling, -her pride and false security,– her hypocrisy, and sorcery, and venality.--Some of these prophecies less applicable to Babylon than to Rome, and some applicable to Rome only, as her destruction by volcanic fire,—and the universal abhorrence in which her memory shall be held.
THE humiliation and fall of this ancient and mighty fabrick of imposture, which was concisely mentioned in the seventeenth chapter, is now set forth more at large in the eighteenth, by the same figures, and often in the very same words, which were long before employed by the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, to describe the fall of Babylon in Chaldea, one of the principal types of antichristian Rome; and whose name is applied to her by St Peter, in a manner which shews the general understanding of this mystical name, which prevailed in the primitive church.* It is very probable that the too great notoriety of the name in that application, induced St Paul to forbear the mention of it, and prefer giving only a dark hint upon a subject of so great delicacy.
As this vision, after the usual manner of this divine writer, refers to a preceding one, and enlarges upon the subject there rapidly passed over,t the angel which comes down from heaven, having great power, and illuminating the earth, or a great part at least of the roman empire, with the strength and clearness of his proofs, by which he made it manifest that Rome was the undoubted object of these prophecies ; is probably Martin Lu
1 Pet. v. 13. "The church at Babylon salutetb you;" an apostolical salutation, in the name of a church of principal consequence, to the church at large, must have been universally understood at that time, though a subject of dispute in our remote age. * Chap. xiv.
THER. WICKLIFF paved the way before him, but Luther was the great instrument of Providence in effecting the first fall of Rome, by the GENERAL REFORMATION which en sued upon his powerful (and for that age) luminous detection of the MYSTERY OF INIQUITY. His“ great power" alludes to the powerful effect of Luther's writings, and “ bis glory” represents the great light he threw upon the sacred writings, and on the benighted world, by refuting the errors of popery, and bringing forward the long lost doctrines of life and salvation to the apprehension of the poor and unlearned, as well as of the higher ranks of society. “ And he cried mightily with a strong voice.”—This is wonderfully characteristic of the stile and tone of this bold reprover of the POPE; and these marks taken all together, I think, must decidedly give honest Martin the distinguished honor of being the angel employed in this great work, for which he now hath his reward. *
* The word angel signifies messenger, and the angels employed by Providence on many occasions, are not always celese every
of this mighty angel is very mucha in the unpolitę stile of Luther's bitter invece tives against Rome and its modern masters. " Babylon the great is fallen--is fallen, and is become the babitation of devils, and the hold of
foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hatetul bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.”—These allusions to her universal or catholic supremacy, her cup of dementating wine &c. or false doctrines, with which she has seduced the nations of her communion to rank idolatry, and undeniable apostacy from the gospel of Christ ; are plainly repeated from the preceding propbets. Thus Jeremiah* describes her domin
tial beings, nor even good and holy persons, but are figuratively called angels, or messengers, or instruments of Providence, in respect of the work to which God hath appointed them. « The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.” (Prov. xvi. 4.) The messenger of God, in Isai. x. 6, was one of this latter description.
* Jeremiah li. 13.