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THE WHORE OF BABYLON, AND SCARLET - BEAST.
Verse 1, And there came one of the seven angels which had the
seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great
whore that sitteth upon many waters; 2. With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornica.
tion, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made
drunk with the wine of her fornication. 3. So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness ;
and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
Behold, the beginning of this chapter has been accomplished before our eyes. The beast once so powerful, is . already forced to accommodate his rider, and the great whore guides, or restrains him as she pleases. This point will be found incontrovertible, as soon as the prephecy itself is understood.
The vision of this chapter commences with the effusion of the fifth vial of wrath upon the throne of the beast, whose kingdom was then filled with darkness; the immediate consequences of which, are now detailed in this prophetic vista. Thus on a cursory view, the Revelation appears a confused mass of majestic hicroglyphics and sublime expressions, which defy investigation. But as soon as it is studied by the light of ancient prophecy, the necessary knowledge of language and antiquity, and with a willing heart in dependence on the Lord; it exhibits a
divine edifice, which bears the impress of Eternal Wisdom in all its parts, and strikes the reader with awe. Verily, those who doubt its divine inspiration, have never understood its contents.
And there came one of the seven angels. This is probab. ly the fifth angel, who poured out his vial upon the throne of the beast; to the knowledge of which, he here assists the holy prophet by a further illustration. The appearance of this heavenly oxpositor, precisely at this period of the beast, may indicate that the beast itself would not be definitely known to the servants of Christ, before he was more immidiately designated and pointed out by the catastrophe, which reduced him to this low state of degradation, in which he is here exhibited. For all things are made manifest by being tested, I Cor. III, 13. Therefore the harlot and the bride of the Lamb are often put in opposition in this book, that we might be struck with the moral deformity of the one, and the spiritual beauty of the other.
The truth of this observation will verify itself in future expositions on this subject. Hitherto, the authors on the Revelation have been much at variance concerning this beast. Some took him to symbolize the whole Roman empire under all its different forms of government, from the time of Romulus to the present day. Others beheld his rise from the sea, in the Roman emperor Domitian,. others in Diocletian, Maximin &c. and their associates. Some of late years, consider him to represent the whole mass of nations in Christendom, and others have found him to typify the Mahomedan power; while yet others chained him down to the German empire, and beheld his last head in the imperial power of France. Luther, the great Saxen reformer, I believe, was the first who threw light on this confused subject, by contending for the following propositions. 1. The third woe is the temporal power of the Pope, and described in the mill chapter. 2. It
commenced with Hildebrand, and will continue 666 years. 3. Both the third woe and the seven vials synchronize with the seventh trumpet ; and the vials will put a stop to the third woe. 4. The 1000 years are to be taken for so many natural years, and cannot synchronize with the duration of the beast in either of his three states of existence. After him Bibliander, and among the reformed theologians Jac. Cappellus in France, and Thom. Lydyat in England, and others adopted the same explanation of the xiii Chapter of the Revelation. The authors of more modern time, have been corrected by the growing completion of this prophecy, until Bengelius gave a lumnious illustration of the subject, by his discovery of the extraordinary prophetic numbers, which system has been improved upon to this day. The great and learned Mede in England, wavered between the empire and the Pope, but at last adopted the more generally received opinion of his countrymen, because more reconcileable with their erroneous doctrine of the yearly day.
I will show unto you the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters. There has been little diversity of opinion among Protestant writers, concerning this woman. Since the time of our great reformers, they have all explained her as representing either the city of Rome, or the Romish Church. Every Christian who has read the writings of the ancient prophets with attention, knows, that churches which have appostatized from the true faith, and established an idolatrous worship, are often called harlots in scripture. Jer. 11, 20. Ezek. XVI. and xxIII. Hos. II, 2 5. Jer. III, 8. 9. Isa. LVII, Hos. IV, 13. 14. chap. v, 3. Now, the reader will readily per ceive, that this harlot cannot refer to Pagan nations, for they could not be said to have become unfaithful spouses, as they never were churches of the Lord; neither to the ten tribes of Israel, or the Jews, for they are no longer considered the Church of God, and the Revelation is exclusive
ly the Prophetic History of the Christian religion. Much less can this harlot represent the Greek Church, because she cannot be termed the mystic Babylon, and her fate has been already decided under the fifth and sixth trumpets. In short, there is no Church in all Christendom, to which the predicates of this great whore will answer, except the Romish Church. I am even sorry to bear such a terrible testimony against any Christian community in the world ; but this is my conviction, and truth demands that I should afflrm it in this place. However, I cannot bring this heavy accusation against that Church without discrimination, as some authors have done. The discription of this great whore, and of her final doom in this and the following chapter, seems to have a chief and principal reference to the city of Rome itself ; 'and only includes the whole Roman catholic community so far, and according to its degree of connexion with that mistress of Popery chap. XVIII, 7. considered as the centre and residence of that Church. This application of the word harlot to idolatrous cities, which teach and seduce others to a false worship, is not new; the ancient prophets used it as a figure in the same sense, before St. John, see Isa. 1, 21. Isa. XXIII, 17. Ezek. XXIII, 4. Nah. 111, 4. In fine, as the bride of the Lamb is the whole number of true believers, among all Christian communities in the world, who are regenerated from above, sanctified by the blood of Christ through faith, and remain in union with, and enjoyment of him, the spiritual bridegroom of his Church; so only those members of the Romish Church can be numbered with the whore, who have united and subjected themselves to the spiritual monarchy, and false worship of that city, more than to Christ, and who for the enjoyment of her pleasures, have forsaken the Lord, and assisted to oppress and persecute bis true followers. For the Lord has his people in that church, whom he will call from thence in due season, chap, XVIII, 4, 5; and God
forbid, that we should brand them with such a charge. Thus, not only that famous city, but the whole Romish church is here understood, which must appear evident to the discerning reader from the words that sitteth upon many waters” compared with verse 15-18, as also from the following of the xviiith chapter. On this very account she is termed the great whore, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth; because of her numerous paramours, consisting of king's, orders, churches, cities and establishinents in almost every country of the globe, with whom she has committed spiritual fornication ever sinco she was called Jezabel, chap. II, 20.*
The object of the angel in this friendly address to. St. John, was, to show himn the judgment of the great whore. The original, egipea, which is here rendered judgment, also signifies [hypallage Hebraica] apostacy, Jude v, 4. condemnation, and temporal punishment, Rom. XIII, 2. I Cor. xi, 29. 34. Gal. v, 10; in which great transgressors are delivered unto the instruments of God's wrath, for the destruction of the flesh, that their souls might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. In both senses of this word, the mother of harlots is here shown to the prophet; in her great apostacy, tyranny and pride, and in her final doom.
It has almost become proverbial among sects of more: meal than knowledge, to call the Christian world a Babylon, and to brand the established churches in different countries with the epithet "whore of Babylon.” However these persons speak from ignorance, and under the influence of prejudices, to gratify themselves and their brethren, by raising their own temple on the ruins of others. The expression of the learned Faber concerning this woman, is of more importance, and shows how far, even a man of his talents, can be led captive by love of system.
*i. e. A. D. 787, when the supremacy of the Pope was established, and consented to by the Nicean council.