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This is another note of illustration ; a sacred ode much resem. bling that on the fall of old Babylon.* That which old Babylon was to Zion, the Roman hierarchy has been the Christian church and the end of the one shall correspond with that of the other.
Her fall being sudden, and accomplished by the “ strong arm of him that judgeth her," seems to relate to her political overthrow, as predicted by the harvest and the vintage," Chap. xiv.; by the " battle of Armageddon," Chap. xvi.; and by" the supper of the great God,” Chap. xix. And as the city to be destroyed does not consist of material buildings, but is a community extending over many nations ; so the fire by which it is consumed will doubtless be such as is suited to the object. The events of war may be that to the antichristian cause which fire is to a city.
I shall barely notice the contents of the song, and remark on a few of its parts. An angel descends from heaven and proclaims the important event; and while he pronounces the doom of the criminal, states withal wbat bave been her crimes. Ver. 1-3. Another voice is beard from heaven, addressed to the people of God who have in different ways and degrees been connected with her, to come out of her as Lot escaped from Sodom, lest being partakers of her sips, they receive also of her plagues. Ver. 4. This second voice also confirms the charges exhibited against her by the first ; and reiterates her doom. Ver. 5–8. A description is given of her overtbrow under the image of a city on fire. Ver. 9–13. Those who have been seduced by ber wiles shall be filled with astonishment at beholding ber fearful end. Ver. 9—13. The criminal herself is tauntingly addressed, as having lost all that her heart bad been set upon. Ver. 14. Interested men make great lamentations on account of her. Ver. 15–19. Apostles, prophets, and martyrs are called upon to rejoice over her. Ver. 20. Her fall is compared to the sinking of a great millstone cast into the sea. Ver. 21. Her desolations are described by the loss of all her enjoyments. Ver. 22-24. Great interest is excited in heaven by her overthrow. Chap. xix. 1-6. A general joy pervades the church of God both in heaven and earth, and the
Millennium quickly follows. Ver. 7-9. The song concludes with an account of the effect of the vision on the apostle towards bis informant. Ver. 10.
By the language in Chap. xviii. 6, 7. it may seem as if the servants of God would be the executioners of his wrath upon this corrupt community : but their being called to " reward her as she rewarded them” may only denote that the judgments inflicted upon ber will be according to their testimony, and in answer to their prayers. It was thus that the two witnesses inflicted plagues upon their enemies. Chap. xi. 5, 6. The visible agents employed in the work will be the governments of Christendom which will “ hate the whore, and eat her fesh, and burn her with fire."
That which will greatly contribute to the fearfulness of her overthrow will be her previous security. She saith in her heart, " I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.” If she had been " the bride, the Lamb's wife," she could not have been more secure ; so much the greater therefore will be her
The events which to a political eye seein to occur only from the chances of war, are here described as the process of the Judge of heaven and earth. The power which will be exerted will be that of a judge over a condemned malefactor, at whose command the officers of justice proceed to execution. Power is the only thing that she bas respected ; and by the strong arm of power she shall be brought down! Ver. 8.
We have heard of the hearts of the kings being tarned to hate the whore ; yet we find here kings lamenting her overthrow. The kings or kingdoms of Europe may then be what they now are, divided into parties. One party, and that the successful, will from interested considerations hate and set themselves against her; another party, from similar considerations, wilt espouse her cause ; and these, proving unsuccessful, will lament over her. Ver. 10.
The kings are joined in their lamentations by the "merchants," and who seem to be those who bave made a trade of religion ; which, however it may include many amongst the laity, must refer more immediately to the mercenary part of the clergy.
The most notable article in the list of her commodities is the souls of men." There is doubtless an allusion to Ezek. xxvii. 13. ; but “ the persons of men” can there mean only slaves ; whereas the souls of men" are here distinguished from slaves. Tyre dealt only in men's bodies, but Rome in their souls. I know not what else to make of the sale of indulgencies and pardons ; of the buying and selling of church livings ; of confessions, prayers for the dead, and of every other mean of extorting money from the ignorant.
That which will excite the most doleful lamentations among the adherents of the .antichristian church will cause the friends of Christ to shout for joy. The marks of desolation are recounted with triumph. The sounds of music, the bustle of craftsmen, the grinding of the millstone, the light of a candle, and the joyful salutations of the bridegroom and the bride, are all ceased, and succeeded by the awful stillness of death. And if any ask, Wherefore bath the Lord done this? What meanéth the heat of this great anger ? the answer is, “ In her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.”
The first ten verses of the nineteenth chapter, which are a part of the sacred ode, describe the effect of the fall of Babylon un the friends of God both in heaven and earth.
1 And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power unto the Lord our God: 2 For true and righteous are his judgments ; for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. 3 And again they said, Alléluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever. 4 And the four and twenty elders, and the four living creatures, fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen ; Alleluia. 5 And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. 6 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, suying, Alleluia : for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. 7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and
his wife hath made herself ready. 8 And to her was granted, that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
The heavenly host with one voice raises the shout of “ ALLELUIA! Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God, for true and righteous are his judgments: for be hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and bath avenged the blood of his servants at ber hand. And again they said ALLELUIA! and her smoke rose up for ever and ever." What a contrast between this and the whin. ing lamentations of the merchants !
The punishment of every community as such requires to be in this world : when therefore her smoke is said to “rise up for ever and erer," the allusion may be to a city consumed by fire; and the meaning is, that it shall never be rebuilt, but its overthrow like that of Sodom, shall be set forth for an everlasting monument of the divine displeasure.
After this a voice is beard out of the throne, saying, “Praise our God all ye his servants, and ye that fear him both small and great." The theme is acceptable to him that sitteth upon the throne, and must be encored. In answer to this call of the angel, the servants of God both in heaven and earth are described as in . a state of delightful agitation. With one voice they renew the song, and expatiate on the subject. The sound of their voices is as that of an immense multitude of people, or as the roaring of the sea, or as continued peals of thunder, saying " ALLELUIA; for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth !” God had always been omnipotent, and had always reigoed; but while his enemies were suffered to prevail on earth he did not appear to reign in that part of his empire as he now will. Now his right hand and his holy arm will have gotten him the victory!
But the song is not yet finished : it is added, “ Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him, for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.” The Lamb and his wife are fitly introduced in opposition to the harlot and her paramours ; namely, the beast and the kings of the earth. The fall of the one is the signal for the glorious appearance of the
other. Such was the taking away of the dominion of the little horn to the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven being given to the people of the saints of the most High. (Dan. vii. 26, 27.) This marriage of the Lamb I conceive is the Millennium itself. Both this and the fall of Babylon, which precedés it, are here introduced by way of anticipation. They each come into the song of heaven previously to their being actually accomplished on earth. The account of the one follows in the remainder of this chapter, where the beast and the false prophet are taken; and that of the other in the first six verses of the chapter following.
The accession of believers to Christ at any period is repre. sented by the espousal of a chaste virgin to her husband; and the whole gospel dispensation is described as a marriage supper. What an espousal then, and what a supper will that be, when Jews and Gentiles, from every pation under heaven, shall be brought to believe in him! The appearance of the Christian church has not been such of late ages as might have been expected of one that bad Christ for her head. She has been not only scattered by persecution, but her beauty greatly tarnished by errors, corruptions, and divisions, so as scarcely to sustain a visible character: but when believers all over the world shall have purified their souls by obeying the truth ; when they are what they were in the days of pentecost, “of one heart and of one soul ;" and when there is nothing but distance of situation to hinder their being united in one body ; then will “the bride have made herself ready."
The church is described as being active in putting on her robes of glory, but they are ready prepared for her. To her was s granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and wbite.” Reference may be bad to the wedding garments provided according to the representation in the parable, at the expense of the bridegroom. It is said to be “the righteousness of the saints ;" yet as it respects the saints, not individually but collectively : and at the Millennial period, it would seem to denote a justification of the church from all things which have stood against her, analogous to that of an individual believer on his first espousal