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1: And I saw another angel coming down out of heaven
- Termed another, with respect to him who "came down out of
heaven," (Re 10:1).
And the earth was enlightened with his glory - To make his coming
more conspicuous. If such be the lustre of the servant, what
images can display the majesty of the Lord, who has "thousand
thousands" of those glorious attendants "ministering to him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand standing before him?"
2: And he cried, Babylon is fallen - This fall was
mentioned before, (Re 14:8); but is now declared at large.
And is become an habitation - A free abode. Of devils, and an
hold - A prison. Of every unclean spirit - Perhaps confined there
where they had once practised all uncleanness, till the judgment
of the great day. How many horrid inhabitants hath desolate
Babylon! of invisible beings, devils, and unclean spirits; of
visible, every unclean beast, every filthy and hateful bird.
Suppose, then, Babylon to mean heathen Rome; what have the
Romanists gained, seeing from the time of that destruction, which
they say is past, these are to be its only inhabitants for ever.
4: And I heard another voice - Of Christ, whose people,
secretly scattered even there, are warned of her approaching
destruction. That ye be not partakers of her sins - That is, of
the fruits of them.
What a remarkable providence it was that the Revelation was
printed in the midst of Spain, in the great Polyglot Bible,
before the Reformation! Else how much easier had it been for
the Papists to reject the whole book, than it is to evade these
striking parts of it.
5: Even to heaven - An expression which implies the
6: Reward her - This God speaks to the executioners of his
vengeance. Even as she hath rewarded - Others; in particular,
the saints of God. And give her double - This, according to the
Hebrew idiom, implies only a full retaliation.
7: As much as she hath glorified herself - By pride, and
pomp, and arrogant boasting. And lived deliciously - In all kinds
of elegance, luxury, and wantonness. So much torment give her
- Proportioning the punishment to the sin. Because she saith in
her heart - As did ancient Babylon,(Isa 47:8,9).
I sit - Her usual style. Hence those expressions, "The chair, the
see of Rome: he sat so many years." As a queen - Over many kings,
"mistress of all churches; the supreme; the infallible; the only
spouse of Christ; out of which there is no salvation." And am
no widow - But the spouse of Christ. And shall see no sorrow - From
the death of my children, or any other calamity; for God himself
will defend "the church."
8: Therefore - as both the natural and judicial consequence
of this proud security Shall her plagues come - The death of her
children, with an incapacity of bearing more. Sorrow - of every
kind. And famine - In the room of luxurious plenty: the very
things from which she imagined herself to be most safe. For
strong is the Lord God who judgeth her - Against whom therefore all
her strength, great as it is, will not avail.
10: Thou strong city - Rome was anciently termed by its
inhabitants, Valentia, that is, strong. And the word Rome
itself, in Greek, signifies strength. This name was given it
by the Greek strangers.
12: Merchandise of gold, &c. - Almost all these are still
in use at Rome, both in their idolatrous service, and in common
life. Fine linen - The sort of it mentioned in the original is
exceeding costly. Thyine wood - A sweet - smelling wood not unlike
citron, used in adorning magnificent palaces. Vessels of most
precious wood - Ebony, in particular, which is often mentioned
with ivory: the one excelling in whiteness, the other in
blackness; and both in uncommon smoothness.
13: Amomum - A shrub whose wood is a fine perfume. And
beasts - Cows and oxen. And of chariots - a purely Latin word is
here inserted in the Greek. This St. John undoubtedly used on
purpose, in describing the luxury of Rome. And of bodies - A
common term for slaves. And souls of men - For these also are
continually bought and sold at Rome. And this of all others
is the most gainful merchandise to the Roman traffickers.
14: And the fruits - From what was imported they proceed to
the domestic delicates of Rome; none of which is in greater
request there, than the particular sort which is here mentioned.
The word properly signifies, pears, peaches, nectarines, and all
of the apple and plum kinds. And all things that are dainty - To
the taste. And splendid - To the sight; as clothes, buildings,
19: And they cast dust on their heads - As mourners. Most of
the expressions here used in describing the downfall of Babylon are
taken from Ezekiel's description of the downfall of Tyre,(Eze 26:1-21,27:1-36,28:1-19 ).
20: Rejoice over her, thou heaven - That is, all the
inhabitants of it; and more especially, ye saints; and among
the saints still more eminently, ye apostles and prophets.
21: And a mighty angel took up a stone, and threw it into
the sea - By a like emblem Jeremiah fore - showed the fall of the
Chaldean Babylon, (Jer 51:63,64).
22: And the voice of harpers - Players on stringed
instruments. And musicians - Skilful singers in particular.
And pipers - Who played on flutes, chiefly on mournful, whereas
trumpeters played on joyful, occasions. Shall be heard no more
in thee; and no artificer - Arts of every kind, particularly music,
sculpture, painting, and statuary, were there carried to their
greatest height. No, nor even the sound of a mill - stone shall
be heard any more in thee - Not only the arts that adorn life,
but even those employments without which it cannot subsist, will
cease from thee for ever. All these expressions denote absolute
and eternal desolation. The voice of harpers - Music was the
entertainment of the rich and great; trade, the business of men
of middle rank; preparing bread and the necessaries of life, the
employment of the lowest people: marriages, in which lamps and
songs were known ceremonies, are the means of peopling cities, as
new births supply the place of those that die. The desolation of
Rome is therefore described in such a manner, as to show that
neither rich nor poor, neither persons of middle rank, nor those
of the lowest condition, should be able to live there any more.
Neither shall it be repeopled by new marriages, but remain
desolate and uninhabited for ever.
23: For thy merchants were the great men of the earth - A
circumstance which was in itself indifferent, and yet led them
into pride, luxury, and numberless other sins.
24: And in her was found the blood of the prophets and
saints - The same angel speaks still, yet he does not say "in
thee," but in her, now so sunk as not to hear these last words.
And of all that had been slain - Even before she was built.
See (Mt 23:35). There is no city under the sun which has so
clear a title to catholic blood - guiltiness as Rome. The guilt
of the blood shed under the heathen emperors has not been removed
under the Popes, but hugely multiplied. Nor is Rome accountable
only for that which hath been shed in the city, but for that shed
in all the earth. For at Rome under the Pope, as well as under
the heathen emperors, were the bloody orders and edicts given:
and whereever the blood of holy men was shed, there were the
grand rejoicings for it. And what immense quantities of blood
have been shed by her agents! Charles IX., of France, in his
letter to Gregory XIII., boasts, that in and not long after the
massacre of Paris, he had destroyed seventy thousand Hugonots.
Some have computed, that, from the year 1518, to 1548, fifteen
millions of Protestants have perished by the Inquisition. This
may be overcharged; but certainly the number of them in those
thirty years, as well as since, is almost incredible. To these
we may add innumerable martyrs, in ancient, middle, and late
ages, in Bohemia, Germany, Holland, France, England, Ireland,
and many other parts of Europe, Afric, and Asia.