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his purposes in behalf of man, acquired from their intimacy with the Hebrews. It could hardly have been otherwise but this knowledge was perverted : the wisdom of God as they received it from the Israelites was mixed up with the wisdom of their so-called wise men, and their system of theology was probably an amalgamation of the elements of idolatry with those of truth—a perverted Judaism. Thus with Babylon, as a figure, we may associate an idea of mixture not belonging to what is intended to be represented by the cities of the Gentiles. So, in a figurative point of view, if the inhabitants of Jerusalem be taken to represent elements of the true system, the captivity of the Jews in Babylon may represent the state of restraint under which the elements of the gospel plan of salvation are placed by being subjected to the construction of a self-righteous, legal, and mercenary system ; the principles of the gospel under such restraint being disabled from bearing their proper evidence to the truth—unable to sing the Lord's song in a strange land, (Ps. cxxxvii. 4)—a peculiarity furnishing another reason for this apocalyptic discrimination between the great city and the cities of the nations. Babylon, in this respect also, is a mixed system, because she holds the elements of a free salvation in the captivity of bondage, or under the constraint of legal construction.
And great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.'—The destruction of Babylon is not yet described here, but that it takes place immediately is implied. Accordingly we suppose, as already intimated, the particulars given of it in the two subsequent chapters to be an amplification of what is here stated. Our understanding of this cup of the wine of the fierceness of the wrath of God, will depend upon the understanding we may obtain of the very minute description hereafter given of the fall of this great city. As it is said here, that “ Babylon came in remembrance," or was remembered before God, so it is said in reference to the cause of her destruction, Rev. xviii. 5, “For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities ;” thus identifying the dispensations of wrath particularized in that chapter with the remembrance spoken of her in this. We may also notice that this cup of wrath appears to be the same, by the description here given of it, as that to be participated in by every one worshipping the beast and his image, and receiving his mark in the forehead or in the hand, (Rev. xiv. 9 ;) consequently we may presume Babylon, with her inhabitants—this false system, with its elements—to have been a worshipper of the beast and of his image, &c.; and thus to have become obnoxious to the denunciation of the third mid-heaven angel, while she is equally obnoxious to the same sentence of destruction, for the reason given Rev. xiv. 8, that she had made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. She is thus the subject of a double visitation—tributive and retributive.
. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.'-At the opening of the sixth seal, it is said every mountain and island were moved out of their places. On that occasion we considered them merely as positions of refuge, ($ 167.) Here we are inclined to consider them more particularly as the portion of refuges constituting their foundations; a mountain or an island being that upon which a city may be built, and cities, as places of refuge, depending upon their sites or foundations for security. In consequence of this great earthquake, the cities of the nations generally, as it is said, have fallen ; and the mountains and islands being not only moved, but having entirely disappeared, there remains apparently no earthly foundation of sufficient stability to encourage the rebuilding of these cities. Babylon alone still stands, though divided in the midst ; but Babylon was a city of the plain—her foundations were in the dust. The utmost ingenuity and labour and power of man have been employed, it is true, in giving strength to these foundations, but the time has now come when all these efforts will prove to have been unavailing. With the exception of Babylon, the whole earth may be contemplated as one vast plain ; for we suppose the appearance of Mount Zion in this picture to be hardly admissible. The figure of the old Jerusalem (Jerusalem in bondage) is involved in that of Babylon ; and when the new Jerusalem makes her appearance, she is to be seen coming down from God out of heaven. The earth, such as it is now supposed to be, affords no refuge; and the people of God flying from Babylon, as they are admonished to do, Rev. xviii. 4, can be supposed to look for no permanent rest till they reach the holy city from above.
V. 21. And there fell upon men a great Και χάλαζα μεγάλη ως ταλαντιαία καταhail out of heaven, (every stone) about Buivai ix toù o'gavoŰ Éni tous úv Igorous the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the και έβλασφήμησαν οι άνθρωποι τον θεόν έκ hail; for the plague thereof was exceed. της πληγής της χαλάζης, ότι μεγάλη εστίν η ing great.
πληγή αυτής σφόδρα. . $ 374. “And there fell,' &c.; or, hail great as a talent fell from heaven upon the men, &c.,—the men of Babylon, and the men of the cities of the Gentiles ; those supposed to have escaped. A multitude in a vast plain without a shelter, exposed to such hail as is here described, must be in a position of certain destruction. These men being elements of these earthly systems
erroneous principles, elsewhere termed lies—are now subjected to that visitation which is to sweep them away, Is. xxviii. 17. The systems to which these lying elements belonged have fallen, except only the great system which is being destroyed; it remains therefore only to annihilate these scattered, disconnected principles of false doctrine; and this process is now in operation. There have been two visitations of hail already spoken of, Rev. viii. 7, and xi. 19; but the present, like the earthquake with which it is accompanied, is represented as something far exceeding any thing before experienced.
• Great as a talent.'—The Jewish talent measure of weight is estimated at from one hundred and fourteen to one hundred and twenty-five pounds, troy; the Attic talent, at fifty-six pounds, (Rob. Lex. 741.) Either of these it must be admitted is enormous for the weight of a hailstone. The expression must be deemed a hyperbolical description of hail of irresistible weight, carrying with it certain destruction.
• And men blasphemed,' &c.; or rather, the men blasphemed.— The men being elements of the false systems represented by the cities, the effect of this judgment upon them was that of eliciting their blasphemous character; the hail operating as a test in the same manner, and with the same result, as in the case of the pouring out of the fifth vial upon the seat of the beast. So an exhibition or manifestation of the blasphemous character of the principles of a system professing to be Christian, must be equivalent to the final destruction of such principles. A system overthrown by an exhibition of its fallacy, by the undermining of its foundations, and by proving its elements to be blasphemous, must necessarily be entirely destroyed, and such we suppose to be the implied condition of all the systems here alluded to ; the plague of the hail sweeping away not only the refuges, but the last refuges of lies. There is something final in its action, as terminating a series of judgments. With this last visitation the chapter closes, the narrative being for the present suspended, to allow of a relation of the particulars of the fall of Babylon, as given in the two following chapters.
$ 375. It is a striking peculiarity of the occurrences parrated in this chapter, that the whole process from which they originate emanates from the temple, and that there is no further mention of the temple in the Apocalypse till we reach nearly the close of it, where, in speaking of the holy city, (Rev. xxi. 22,) the apostle says he saw no temple therein : for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. From these circumstances it may be fairly inferred, that after the purification of the temple service by the pouring out of these seven vials the worship of God is sup. posed to be placed in its proper light. Prior to this the state of the temple service is such as is adverted to by the prophet, Is. Ixvi. 1-7, “ He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man,", &c. The sacrifices may be literally such as are prescribed, but the motive being selfish and mercenary,
whole worship or service-the offering, whatever it may be—is unclean in the sight of God.
So in the time alluded to by the prophet, “a voice from the temple” called for a development of the truth, in the same manner and in the same sense as at the commencement of this chapter it commands the pouring out of the seven vials ;-—this voice in both instances being the voice of God and of the Lamb; for such is the heavenly temple—the spiritual temple of the holy city.
It is a characteristic of the man of sin, 2 Thes. ii. 4, that he “ sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God,” making himself an object of worship in the place of God. Such was also a prominent feature in the character of the mystic king of Babylon, spoken of under the appellation of Lucifer, Is. xiv. 12, and whose fall may be supposed to be involved in that of Babylon, predicted in the same chapter.
There is a state of error in the mind of every individual disciple, as well as in the apprehension of mankind in general, and in the doctrinal views of the Christian community particularly, on the subject of the worship or service of God; corresponding, we think, with what is here figuratively set forth both by prophets and apostles. There is a like correspondence with what is predicted of the removal of these errors in the experience of the Christian, as he advances in a knowledge of the truth ; and we think a like correspondence may be found in the changes wrought in the views of Christians generally, as the development of gospel truth progresses throughout the world.
We do not mean that every disciple of Christ is carried through this process of intellectual development before leaving the present state of existence, or that any particular grade of such advancement in knowledge is a condition precedent of salvation ; we mean only that the development is of that kind which may take place in the mind of any believer, and which probably has taken place in the understandings of many, who may not have been able to describe or to define it. With many the process of illumination may be gradual, with others it may be as the overwhelming light by which the once persecuting Paul was struck to the earth. With all it must be instantaneous, if not previously experienced, as they change this state of imperfect apprehension for one in which they are to see as they are seen, and know as they are known.
We have already remarked, ($ 324,) that the only motive by which the service (worship) of God can be characterized, is that which must be the motive for this service throughout eternity. To implant this motive, the removal of every error of an opposite character or tendency is indispensable.
“ The Lord,” it is said, Malachi iï. 1, “ shall suddenly come to his
temple, even the messenger of the covenant whom ye delight in ; behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of Hosts.” This prophecy was primarily fulfilled when Jesus daily taught in the temple; when he purified the temple of those who frequented it for mercenary purposes; and when, as the result of the accomplishment of his mission, the vail of the temple was rent in twain, and the holy of holies--the secret of the tabernacle-was openly exposed to view. But there is also another, a spiritual fulfilment of this prophecy, in that development of the revealed word of God, which may be said to purify the sons of Levi, by exhibiting the pure principles upon which alone God can be really served or worshipped. This process of purification we suppose to be that represented by the action of the seven vials.
$ 376. The disciple cannot serve God in spirit and in truth so long as he supposes his position to be that of working out his own salvation by his own merits. His motives of action must necessarily in that position be selfish ; and whatever he performs from such motives can only add to his uncleanness in the sight of God. His principle of conduct bears the mark of the beast ; his idol of worship is an image of his own supposed righteousness, and the fruit of his mercenary labour is “a noisome and grievous sore."
The error of man's dependence upon his own righteousness, as in an earthly position, arising from an insufficient appreciation of the nature of infinite justice, it is not till that justice is exhibited in its truly fearful character that this error can be removed, and consequently, that the motive of selfishness in the service to be performed can be eradicated. The disciple must be convinced that escape from the elements of divine justice is something entirely beyond his own strength, and that as he cannot be saved from so great wrath of God by any works of his own, so neither can he claim any glory from his deliverance. The sea must be manifested to be a sea of blood.
If, although convinced of sin and under just apprehensions of the vengeance of the law, the disciple supposes himself to be in a position in which he can purify himself, or atone for his past transgressions by his own works or actions, his motive in performing these works must necessarily be selfish. He may profess to serve God by what he does; he may profess himself a miserable sinner, but so long as he believes himself to be in a condition to effect a propitiation for himself, so long he cannot serve God from a pure motive of grateful love. He must be made to see that, in the nature of the case, any atonement of his own, adequate to the emergency, must necessarily require the forfeiture of his eternal life—that the rivers and fountains of the earth are blood.
If the disciple believe his earthly position (notwithstanding all that has been alluded to above) to be such as that the action of the Sun of righteousness imparts to the works of man a character of righteousness--that, having