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THE FALL OF BABYLON, AND THE MARRIAGE OF THE LAMB.
Chap. xviii. xix. 1–10.
And after these things, I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. 2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. 3 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. 4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not par takers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. 5 For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. 6 Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double, according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled, fill to her double. 7 How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her : for she saith in her heart, I sit à queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. 8 Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death and mourning and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire : for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her. 9 And the kings of the earth, who 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 come. 11 And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: 12 The merchandise of gold and 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 soul lusted after are departed from thee, 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 shipmaster, 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, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea, by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate. 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.
This is another note of illustration; a sacred ode much resembling 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 what have been her crimes. Ver. 1–3. Another voice is heard 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 sins, 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 overthrow under the image of a city on fire. Ver. 9-13. Those who have been seduced by her wiles shall be filled with astonishment at beholding her fearful end. Ver. 9—13. The criminal herself is tauntingly addressed, as having lost all that her heart had 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 his 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 her 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 flesh, 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 fall.
The events which to a political eye seem to occur only from thechances 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 has 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 turned 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, will 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 have 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,