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Saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city.'—This fall of Babylon is to be understood as having been revealed as yet only in the mid-heaven. It is an annunciation of the purpose of God. The words that great city are not found in all editions of the Greek; the reading of ours, it will be perceived, is, verbatim, Fallen, fallen, is Babylon the great.
It seems somewhat extraordinary that the first mention made of Babylon by name, in the Apocalypse, should be the annunciation of her fall, and this in a manner as if presuming her existence and her greatness to be familiarly known to the reader. The only great city previously mentioned is that in the street of which the bodies of the two witnesses remained unburied three and a half days, and of which the tenth part was destroyed by the earthquake, Rev. xi. 8, 13. We suppose this great city to be that which is now said to have fallen, and the term great to be applied in reference to its losty pretensions.
Babylon was not only a great city, but it also gave its name to a kingdom or empire, and in this respect we may suppose the apocalyptic Babylon to be an equivalent for the kingdom of the ten-horned beast;—the annunciation of the fall of Babylon being equal to announcing the overthrow of the kingdom of the beast. We have already noticed some correspondence between the blasphemous character of the beast and the losty pretensions of the monarch of Babylon, prior to his temporary expulsion; as also a correspondence between the image of his erecting, and the image of the beast. If we suppose the false prophet to discharge the functions of the astrologers, magicians, and principal advisers of Nebuchadnezzar, the identity of the kingdom of Babylon, as a figure, with the kingdom of the beast, and consequently with the great city Babylon of this revelation, will be perhaps sufficiently made out.
The apostle had been contemplating Babylon (the Babylonish kingdom) in her prosperity—the ten-horned beast in full power. Impatient at this prosperity of the wicked, he may be supposed to have exclaimed, with the souls under the altar, Lord, how long? In answer to this interrogatory, the heavenly vision shows him that the fate of this idolatrous system is already decided. In the divine counsels Babylon—the kingdom of the beast—has already fallen, but the account of the manner of her fall is reserved for a subsequent part of the narrative.
The name Babylon signifies confusion, mixture, as universally admitted. The Asiatic city of this name derived its appellation from the tower and city in its vicinity, the building of which was defeated by the confusion of tongues ; on which account the yet unfinished city received the name Babel, 5, Greek Gúrquois, (Trom. Index. Heb. and Chald.,) Latin, confusio sive commistio, (Leusden.) We may suppose the great city afterwards built to have grown out of the scattered materials of this abortive enterprise.
The account we have of the motive for erecting the immense building contemplated in the first instance, throws some light upon the character of the system represented by the figurative Babylon : “Come,” said they, “let us build a city, and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the earth,” (Gen. xi. 4–6.) Their design was that of perpetuating their own name ; —their only end in view was their own glory: one of the earliest typical illustrations of the folly and impiety of that blasphemous principle of selfexaltation in man, which prompts him to go about to promote his own honour and glory, instead of seeking to glorify the name of Jehovah. This folly and impiety was manifested too by a people just saved from destruction—a people owing their existence entirely to a gracious act of divine mercy,—the ark by which their ancestors had been preserved amidst an overwhelming deluge; as if the Christian, snatched as a brand from the burning, and scarcely saved by the merit of his Redeemer's atonement, should ascribe the glory of his salvation to his own works, and should thenceforth be occupied with exalting the reputation of his own name.
The ancient Babylon, although erected in a plain, was especially remarkable, according to Herodotus and others, for its immense walls and artificial mounds, its hanging gardens or paradises, and imitation hills ; (v. Calmet ;) so extraordinary, that even the account of them, as handed down by ancient heathen historians and geographers, appears to be fabulous. The whole structure of the city was an opposite of that of the city of David upon Mount Zion. The defences of Babylon were entirely the work of men's hands : a combination of brick and slime, the foundations of which were in the dust, or upon the sand; the whole figure being an opposite of Zion, a rock, the material and the formation of which was immediately the work of a divine Creator. Such we suppose to be the composition of the doctrinal system spiritually called Babylon—a system of works; a confused mixture of the supposed merits of man with the merits of Christ; a city, the opposite of that of which it is said, her walls are salvation, and her gates are praise ; a system emanating from the self-righteousness and selfishness of the human heart, having no end in view but that of making a name for man, or in other words, that of glorifying self ; and yet nominally a Christian system, with an admixture of some portion of the elements of Christian faith ;-all its elements, however, so confused and heterogenous, as, when carried out, to prove eventually the instruments of their own dissolution : every one, like the builders of Babel, speaking a different language ; agreeing in nothing but the purpose of self-exaltation, of promoting the glorification of man. The system symbolized by Babylon being identic with that represented by the kingdom of the beast, we may consider the two symbols convertible ; the mystery heretofore contemplated as the reign of the beast being now, by a change of figure, about to be exhibited as a city.
$ 332. “Because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath' (or rather of the rage) of her fornication.'—Babylon, as a figure, is an opposite, as we shall find, of the Bride or Lamb's wife—the new Jerusalem. The system represented by Babylon, we suppose to be an opposite of that represented by the marriage union—the great mystery, alluded to by Paul, Eph. v. 32. The mixed character of this Babylonish system is accordingly symbolized by the promiscuous and adulterous intercourse of an abandoned harlot—a criminal indulgence carried to such an extreme as to be appropriately termed a madness or rage; the original Jouvs being a a term applicable to a vehemence of passion, whether of desire or anger, (Donnegan Lex.) The figure appears to be that of a harlot seducing her followers by means of an intoxicating drink; the nations having drunk the wine, become the victims of the artifices of Babylon. The true wine we suppose to be the atonement of Christ—the water of purification converted by the power of the Redeemer into the wine of joy—the good wine of the marriage feast, (John ii. 10.) The cup of Babylon is an opposite of this—her wine is adulterated; her cup is a cup of mixture. Bearing the name of wine, it has its pretensions to the exhilarating qualities of a provision for the pardon of the sinner; but, as a mixture of abominations, (Rev. xvii. 4,) we may suppose it to represent an atoning provision, composed principally, if not altogether, of pretended human means of propitiation.
The nations we take to represent supposed powers or subordinate systems of salvation—nations of the earth, being such powers or elements of the earthly system. These powers or elements adopt the means of atonement proposed by the system of Babylon, being led away by the plausibility of her propitiatory scheme, and are thus represented as participating in her cup,
, and consequently, as a matter of course, becoming the victims of her delusive errors. Systems of salvation, perhaps of various sects and denominations adopting the pretended means of atonement peculiar to the harlot system, become in effect identified with that system ; the atoning provision of any doctrinal system being perhaps that leading feature which characterizes its whole tendency.
“ The cup of blessing which we bless,” says Paul, (1 Cor. x. 16,) "is it not the communion of the blood of Christ ?" In other words, “ The real, the spiritual cup of blessing the atonement of Jesus, represented by the sacramental cup—is this not the element of eternal life, identifying us in God's account with his beloved Son ?” So we may say of the opposite cup of abomination of Babylon. Is it not the pretended element of propitiation furnished by the blasphemous principle of self; and is not its tendency that of destroying our only hope of salvation, by identifying every system
of faith adopting it with a spiritually adulterous system ; thus causing the members of Christ, in a spiritual sense, to become the members of an harlot? (1 Cor. vi. 15.)
The effects of the fall of Babylon may represent those of the destruction of this mischievous system of error, especially in reference to the element of
This system once destroyed, and its peculiar error exposed, the other systems represented by the nations may be supposed susceptible of being brought back, as it were, to a renewal of their allegiance to God and the Lamb. As the reason given, that Babylon is destroyed because she had thus led the nations astray, implies that after her fall this will no more be the case, so we suppose it to be with the doctrinal systems of professing Christians generally. However erroneous in some respects, the correction of their views on the subject of the atonement may result in a correction of every other error of a kindred nature. A very slight acquaintance with the religious views of a variety of denominations must be sufficient to convince any one that the error of Babylon, such as we have supposed it to be, is not confined to the system of a single sect, or even to the doctrinal views of a limited number of churches, in the ordinary acceptation of that term.
Vs. 9, 10, 11. And the third angel fol- Και άλλος άγγελος τρίτος ήκολούθησεν lowed them, saying with a loud voice, If αυτοίς, λέγων έν φωνή μεγάλη εί' τις προςany man worship the beast and his image, κυνεί το θηρίον και την εικόνα αυτού και and receive (his) mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the λαμβάνει χάραγμα επί του μετώπου αυτού wine of the wrath of God, which is poured ή επί την χείρα αυτού· και αυτός πίεται out without mixture into the cup of his έκ τού οίνου του θυμού του θεού, του κεindignation; and he shall be tormented κερασμένου ακράτου εν τω ποτηρίων της ορwith fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of γής αυτού, και βασανιθήσεται εν πυρί και the Lamb. And the smoke of their tor- θείω ενώπιον των αγίων αγγέλων και ενώment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and πιον του αρνίου. Και ο καπνός τού βαthey have no rest day nor night, who σανισμού αυτών εις αιώνας αιώνων αναβαίworship the beast and his image, and νει, και ουκ έχουσιν ανάπαυσιν ημέρας και whosoever receiveth the mark of his νυκτός οι προσκυνούντες το θηρίον και την
εικόνα αυτού, και εί τις λαμβάνει το χάραγμα του ονόματος αυτού. .
$ 333. “And the third angel followed them.'—This third angel followed in the track of the other two-that is, in the mid-heaven. The revelation is of the same character, in this respect, as the others.
We have put the contents of these verses together, because they are all the language of the same third angel—the publication of the same decree; this decree pointing out, as we conceive, the virtual operation of the system of the beast ; which operation we find exhibited in the subsequent chapters.
"Saying with a loud voice.'— The second angel or herald declares only a fact, and accordingly there is no particular stress laid upon the tone of his
voice. The first and third heralds proclaim a command or a decree: the first enjoining the fear and worship of God, the last proclaiming the penalty of the opposite worship of the beast. Both of these, therefore, speak with a loud voice, as announcing admonitions requiring special attention.
• If any man worship the beast,' &c.—Here we perceive two influences in operation simultaneously : one, as described in the last chapter, insisting upon the worship of the beast, and actually causing all to receive his mark ; the other prohibiting this worship, and denouncing those who are guilty of it, &c. Apparently all the dwellers upon the earth, excepting only the sealed ones, are obnoxious to the penalty.
• The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath (rage) of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation.'—Here the wine of God's fury or vehemence, appears to be contrasted with that of Babylon, implying that the worshippers of the beast, and bearers of his mark, are also participators in the wine of the harlot. The wine of God, we suppose to be the good wine, the unadulterated cup of divine atonement; but the wine of the wrath or fury of God, must be the whole vengeance of divine justice: the wrath treasured up against the day of wrath—the indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish—the righteous judgment of God spoken of, Romans ii. 3-9. This also is said to be an unmixed cup, and as such, it is an opposite of the mixed cup or adulterated wine of the harlot more particularly described in the seventeenth chapter, where also the intimate relation between Babylon and the seven-headed monster is fully set forth.
"Poured out without mixture.'—That is, undiluted. The cup of the harlot, like the philtres of ancient times, is made strong by a deleterious mixture of drugs. The cup of divine wrath is the stronger from the absence of any element capable of moderating the vehemence of its action. The antithesis is minutely complete, showing the consequence of a participation in the elements of the mixed system of self-righteousness to be an exposure to the unmixed visitation of divine justice—the unmitigated vengeance of legal requirement.
The word translated poured out, κεκερασμένου from Κεράννυμι, signifes to pour out for the purpose of mingling, (Rob. Lex. 371.) Thus the wine of divine vehemence is represented as poured out untempered into the cup of judicial indignation ; a figure corresponding with that which we meet with, Ps. lxxv. 8:“For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture, and he poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them. The two elements of vehemence and indignation render the cup a cup of mixture, although the vehemence itself is unmingled.
This latter mixed cup of indignation is evidently an opposite of the good wine above alluded to—the atonement of Christ making glad the heart of