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The fall of the mystic Babylon is now become the triumphant theme with which the heavens echo, and which they bear as "tidings of great joy to the earth below." This great angel, with whose glory the earth is enlightened, seems to be the great archangel himself; and it is by the "breath of HIS mouth" that " that wicked" is consumed." He is "destroyed with the brightness of HIS coming."
The figurative language of the second verse is intended, I conceive, to depicture a scene of the greatest desolation. Babylon is become a dreary waste, such as unhappy spirits choose as their abode, who are permitted to wander on this earth,-a desert place far from the habitations of man, among those birds and doleful creatures that most shun the human sight. †
3. "For all nations have drunk 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."
The fall of Babylon, predicted in this chapter, seems evidently no local calamity, which, in its ravages, is confined to the city of Rome and its neighbourhood. That that city, amidst the troubles of the last days, will be burnt by the kings, her former votaries, and the papal see destroyed, is a fact clearly stated in prophecy. But this seems merely the fruits of a civil commotion among the enemies of the Lamb: no change for the better takes place, which can divert the fiery indignation of the Lord from them all. "All nations are to drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication,"-all who "were made drunk with the wine of her fornication." +
+ Compare Isaiah, xxxiv.
Chap. xvii. 2.
2 Thess. ii.
All the kings who were beguiled with her spiritual whoredoms, and the merchants enriched by the trade of a luxurious world — a world become "lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God". are to be partakers of her
In this awful season, when the seventh vial is poured out, for it is at this season that great Babylon comes in remembrance before God, not only does he give to her of" the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath;" but "the cities of the nations fall;"" and every island flees away, and the mountains are not found:" "there are voices, and thunders, and lightnings, and there is a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon earth, so mighty an earthquake and so great." The whole Roman world-in other words, the great city which, during these political convulsions, is divided into three parts all this great mystical city, we may well conclude therefore, will be involved in these last troubles.
4." And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities."
This warning is much to be marked. From what follows, I understand "the voice" as a symbol of the gathering of the elect out of the devoted countries, by the call of Him who quickens the dead and changes the living saints who will cause this corruptible to put on incorruption, and this mortal to put on immortality. I conclude this, because these servants of Christ that come out of the mystic Babylon, are called immediately to assist in the work of righteous vengeance:
6." Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double to
her double according to her works: in the cup that she hath filled, fill to her double. How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit as queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow; 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.”
The persons here addressed, who before had been called to come out of the mystic Babylon, are clearly among those who are to be the coadjutors of Christ in the judgment. They are "the holy myriads, then, that come with the Lord," as we have seen in all former prophecies; the "called, and chosen, and faithful," described as being with the Lamb, in the fourteenth verse of the last chapter, and of whom we shall learn more hereafter.
It cannot, moreover, escape our attention, in the passage before us, that great confidence and fancied security, and a most luxurious style of living, is ascribed to the mystic Babylon, at the very time that this sudden destruction overtakes her. And the Scripture prophecies ever give the same description of the ungodly world, overtaken by the coming of the great Avenger. The suddenness of the catastrophe, in the days of Noah, and of Lot, we shall remember, is referred to by our Lord, as illustrative of the day of his coming. We shall remember, too, the standing metaphor of the " thief in the night," of " the snare," of the " pangs that come upon a woman with child," so often used to describe the manner in which the ungodly world is taken by surprise on this occasion. It is true that other Scriptures describe the time when the Son of Man shall be revealed as a time of unexampled trouble, of wars and tumults. But, perhaps, it is not until late in that season that Babylon
becomes the victim. It may be, the fourth empire, recovering its strength, is, for a long time, the successful aggressor upon the peace of others; and driving war far from its own territories, has accumulated there, by the desolation of other countries, the spoils that enrich itself, and afford every means of extravagant and luxurious living. And, certainly, it is the general voice of prophecy, that the prosperity of the great antichristian adversary is very great at the eve of his destruction, when his armies overflow and perish in Palestine. Ezekiel's prophecy describes the judgment that falls upon the devoted nations, as overtaking them" that dwell carelessly in the isles."
Let it be deemed worthy of notice, therefore, whoever may live to see it, that if, when these unsettled times be over, a season of peace and prosperity follow, or of successful warfare in the Roman Catholic world, and while the same idolatrous worship is kept up, practical atheism, irreligion, profligate debauchery, and luxurious self-indulgence, prevail more and more; let it be noted, whoever may live to see it, as a sign of the times, that the "coming of the Lord is near at hand, even at the door."
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, standing afar off for fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas! that great city Babylon, that mighty city, for in one hour is thy judgment come!"
A mystery, perhaps not at present to be unfolded, meets us here. The kings of the earth, in this passage, bewail the fiery judgment that befalls the mystic city! But, in the former chapter, they are described as "hating
the great whore, making her desolate and naked, eating her flesh, and burning her with fire!" This confirms me in the opinion, that we are to distinguish, in these predicted judgments, between the destruction of the woman" and the destruction of " the great mystic city," - which is, indeed, like herself, spiritually called Babylon, and called also Egypt," and "Sodom," and "Jerusalem," that the spoiling, and eating, and burning of the woman, by the kings, the horns of the beast, symbolizes the confiscation and secularization of the possessions of the papal see, and thus, in effect, the destruction of the ruling church, the image of the beast, which the Roman world had so long submitted to carry, as a beast of burden. But I conceive the extended territories of the still Roman Catholic, or atheistical Roman Catholic beast, are the mystic city in its extensive sense, and that this is the city that the kings here bewail; a city, not destroyed by human hands, but, as every prophecy has declared, by fire from heaven.
But, it will be said, the kings of the Roman earth behold this destruction afar off. How, then, can it be the territories of the beast, of which their kingdoms form so many parts, that is now the victim of divine vengeance?
The clear solution which the prophecy affords of this difficulty, strongly confirms me in the belief of the interpretation here offered. The destruction of this mystic city is an event which happens in the seventh vial. Now, that seventh vial finds the Roman world emptied, at the moment, of its great potentates. For it was the last business of the sixth vial "to gather the kings of the earth and of the whole world,"-" to gather them together into a place called, in Hebrew, Armageddon." This, the mystic "frogs" from the mouth of the dragon, of the beast, and of