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vengeance belongeth ;” he is to reward according to their doings; yet man may be employed to execute vengeance.
Ver. 7. I am seated as a queen.] The same imagery is used in Isaiah xlvii; which prophecy contains the divine judgment on the literal Babylon.
Ver. 8. With fire shall she be utterly burned.] This sentence imports utter destruction : for, where fire has holden its complete course, no particles of the former mode of existence remain.
Ver. 9. The kings of the earth.] It is remarkable, that the kings are described, in chap. xvii. as the instruments of destruction to the spiritual Babylon; yet here they are represented as mourning her fall. The event will show the completion of both prophecies. It is far from improbable, that they who from envy, and an avaricious desire of her spoils, delight to destroy Babylon, may afterwards lament the fall of her who supported their own power.-But we must not prophesy.
Ver. 10. Alas! alas !] The use of the Greek word, ovai, ovai, alas ! alas! or, woe! woe! in this passage, has suggested to some commentators, that under this part of the prophecy is contained the third woe, whose period and character are not clearly described. This notion has been entertained on a very false foundation. It has no other ground or colour of support, than these two adverbial interjections, which occur, as they must occur, in many other passages. The three woes, coming under the trumpets, are woes on the Christian Church ; this, if it be a woe, is a woe upon its enemy and persecutor; over whose fall we are invited, by the angel, not to lament as for a woe, but to rejoice as on deliverance. (Ver. 20.) The third woe is announced, but is never described. It comes secretly.
It comes secretly. It may perhaps be seen, felt, and acknowledged, before the final fall of antichrist; perhaps, before the twelve hundred and sixty years are expired.
Ib. In one hour.] This is repeated three times in the course of this prophecy of the judgment on Babylon; and is generally understood to signify, that the desolation of Babylon shall come suddenly. But this does not agree with the present appearance of the event, as exhibited in history. Babylon seems to decline, and wear away gradually ; according to the prophecy of Daniel, ch. vii. 26. See Mr. Wintle's translation, agreeing with the Greek of the Septuagint, “ to be wasted and destroyed unto the end.' “ In one hour,” seems to mean, in one uninterrupted period of time, whether it be of longer or shorter continuance; it is not said in one moment, in one point of time.
Ver. 11. The merchants, &c.] The lamentation of the kings shows the extreme height of worldly power to which the mystical Babylon had arrived ; the mourning of the merchants, her extreme wealth and luxury. As Babylon, of the ancient world, was her type for power and dominion, so was Tyre for mercantile riches. (See Isa. xxiii. ; Ezek. xxvi. xxvii. xxviii.) The enumeration of the articles of trade by which this Babylon is described as making an iniquitous profit, has something in it very peculiar and striking. It proceeds by a climax, or gradation, from one article to another, till it rises to the bodies, and then to “the souls of men.” Can we avoid recalling to memory the purgatory, the penances, the commutations, the indulgences, made saleable in the corrupt papal church?
Ver. 12. Fine linen.] It is not necessary, respecting this passage, to determine the contested point, whether Buoooc was used to signify linen, or cotton. It is plain from the context, as also from Luke xvi. 19, that it was the apparel only of the rich; and so it is here coupled with purple, scarlet, silk, &c. which were certainly the distinguishing habits of the opulent. Silk, at the time this Revelation was delivered, was a very rare and dear commodity, being then the produce of China only."
Ver. 17. Every pilot, &c.] Here is presented a third company of mourners, of the same kind with those who lamented over the ancient maritime Tyre. (Ezek. xxvii. 32.) That these should be so affected, shows the extent of influence which the mystical Babylon had acquired in distant nations; for she corrupts wheresoever her baneful commerce can be extended. The reading én Tomov, restored by Griesbach, seems to be of great authority; in confirmation of which it is observed, that in the Vulgate, the word locum was anciently read, which has been changed to lacum.' It does not, however, appear to afford an appropriate sense; and therefore, many attempts have been made to amend the reading; but it is not very material; for the context shows how it is to be generally understood, namely, of those who sail in ships. I suspect étru totov, to be a technical maritime phrase; but have translated it as if written éTL TOV Tomov: in the sense in which the Æthiopic version seems to have rendered it.
Ver. 20. Rejoice over her, O heaven, &c.] The same rejoicing is announced upon the prophesied fall of the ancient Babylon, (Jer. li. 48.); and her eter
'Gibbon, Hist. ch. xl. where the history of silk is collected. 2 Father Simon.
nal desolation is represented under the same imagery. (Jer. li. 64.) “But what reason had the Christians to rejoice over the calamities brought on Rome by Alaric or Totilas ; in which they themselves were the principal sufferers? And how were these calamities any vindication of their cause, or of the cause of true religion ?"1
Ver. 21. A stone, &c.] Thus also the ancient Babylon, condemned never to rise again, is described as sinking, like a stone, in Euphrates. (Jer. li. 63, 64.)
Ver. 22. The voice of harpers.] Here, the cheerful noise heard in a populous city, “ the busy hum of men,” is poetically described. There is resemblance to the great poet's description of a joyous city. But so entire and final is the destruction of Babylon, that these shall be heard in her no more for ever. The prototype of this description is to be seen in Jer. vii. 34; xvi. 9; xxv. 10; xxxiii. 2. But Rome, as Bishop Newton observes, has never suffered this utter desolation. She has often been captured and plundered by the enemy; but she still remains, says he, a joyous city, the resort of strangers, delighting Europe with her music and her arts. I shall not pursue the learned prelate in his endeavours to prove that modern Rome is to be destroyed by fire, literally understood. Fire, in prophetic language, implies utter destruction; and it is the corruption, the superstition, and usurped dominion of Rome, which are to be utterly destroyed, not her buildings. She is Babylon in a spiritual sense ; and in a spiritual sense it is that she is to be burned and consumed, “even unto the end.”
1 Bishop Newton, Dissert. on Proph. vol. iii. p. 317. 2 Hom. Iliad. lib. xviii. 490.
3 Dissert. iii. 317.
Ver. 23, 24. Sorcery, blood of prophets.] We have here two distinguishing marks of this corrupt church, which have been before noticed: 1. The arts of deception, like the sorceries and incantations of the heathen priests, by which she has beguiled the nations and their kings. 2. Her tyranny, by which she has persecuted even to tortures and death, those who refuse her yoke. And as the blood of the prophets was required of the ancient Jerusalem, so is the blood of the Christian saints and martyrs, from this corrupt city. (Luke xi. 50, 51.)
The denunciation of the judgment of Babylon, contained in the speech of the angel, and continued in the heavenly voice, seems principally intended for the support and comfort of the poor persecuted Christian Church, during the high zenith of the antichristian usurpation. To answer this purpose the more effectually, almost every part of the prophecy is taken from the prophetical denunciations of the Old Testament, against Babylon, Tyre, &c. which were known to have been literally fulfilled. No other method could afford such perfect confidence to those, who, in the new Babylon, clearly discovered the tyranny and wickedness of the old one. And from the time that Papal Rome was acknowledged to be this new Babylon, (and this discovery was made early in the twelfth century, ') great must have been the encouragement derived to the Reformers from this chapter of the Apocalypse.
1 See Mede, p. 517, 722, &c. Thuani Hist. lib. vi. c. 16.