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without walls or defences, without dwelling-places or shelters, and where there is at least a sparsity of the means of subsistence. A desert of this kind represents a position devoid of any means of salvation. To be out of Christ, is to be in a wilderness; but all who are out of Christ do not perceive themselves to be in this position. The subjects of the harlot are not supposed to be aware that they are in a wilderness; they fancy themselves in a position of security, abundantly provided even for eternity. The eyes of the apostle were opened; he perceived the real character of the position into which as a spectator he was introduced.
'And I saw a woman.'-This is the first distinct mention we have of a woman of a different character, and in different circumstances from those of the woman seen in heaven, (Rev. xii. 1,) unless we go back to what is said of Jezebel, Rev. ii. 20. The position of this woman in a wilderness is certainly an opposite to that of the woman in heaven; and if we suppose this woman to represent a pseudo-covenant, or a dispensation the opposite of the economy of grace, we may consider her also in the light of a false prophetess, or a false interpretation of the divine will, (§ 69,) nearly identic with that woman Jezebel.
Sitting upon a scarlet-coloured beast.'-This also may be contemplated as the opposite of "a woman clothed with the sun," or having a position in the sun, resplendent with the rays of that dispenser of light. The colour of this beast we may take to represent that of blood: it is not the fiery red of the accuser, indicative of his trying as well as of his vindictive qualities, but it is the colour of the element representing the penalty of sin, and symbolizing a power derived from the continued action of the law. There is nothing said here of the spotted appearance of the leopard, or of the mouth of the lion, or of the feet of the bear; but as this beast is represented to be full of the names of blasphemy, and to have seven heads and ten horns, like the beast seen rising from the sea, we suppose the two animals to be identic ; certain characteristics only appearing more prominently on one occasion than on the other. The scarlet colour of the beast here, however, may be a figure equivalent to that of his appearing to rise from the sea, (the element of wrath,) when before seen ;-so, full of the names of blasphemy, cannot be otherwise than equivalent to having the name of blasphemy upon seven heads. Being the same beast, we are of course to understand that he possesses the power, seat, and great authority of the dragon or accuser; the power of the beast depending upon that of the accuser, and the weapons of both consisting in the requisitions of the law, (their ten horns,) or rather in the power of the law as a whole; corresponding with the analysis we have already suggested of these heads and horns, (§ 294.)
The position of the woman sitting on the beast, we suppose to be figurative of the dependence of the false economy, of which she is a figure, upon
the blasphemous element of self, with its peculiar attributes. The woman depending upon the beast, and not the beast upon the woman, as in the order of the Apocalypse, we find her the first to be destroyed.
We have already (§ 277) noticed the peculiarity, that the woman bearing the man-child fled to the wilderness where the harlot was in full power, and have adverted to the difference in the circumstances of these symbolical females: the one being in the wilderness in a state of seclusion; the other in the pride of her vainglory, arrayed in all the trappings of royalty, and sustained by the imposing appearance of an extraordinary power.
It is in a wilderness that the authority of the accuser may be said to be undisputed, as it was in a wilderness that Sinai might be said to have reigned alone. It is in the wilderness that a semi-legal system of selfrighteousness appears to be the great power of God. At the same time, it is in a spiritual wilderness that the disciple, when his eyes are opened to a view of his state of destitution by nature, is led to feel his need of divine mercy, and is constrained to accept the gracious provision offered him by the gospel. So it was in the wilderness that even the wayward children of Israel were constrained to cry unto the Lord for the supplies indispensable to the preservation of life. It was in the desert in their distress that he gave them water from the rock, and the bread of heaven; and this even when their own grovelling inclinations prompted them to prefer the flesh-pots of Egypt. It was in the wilderness that fiery serpents had power to torture and to destroy them; but it was also in the same wilderness that the healing power-the symbol of the Saviour-was lifted up, that all who looked to it might be saved. The same wilderness, therefore, in which the power of the accuser appears undisputed, in which the unclean element of self may for a time appear exalted, and in which the false covenant or economy appears to be sustained by all the power of the law, is eventually the means of bringing the disciple to a knowledge of the rich inheritance provided in the merits of Christ. So the barren desert of Sinai was to the Israelite the way to the land of promise.
Vs. 4, 5. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet-colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full ο· abominations and filthiness of her lorni
Καὶ ἡ γυνὴ ἦν περιβεβλημένη πορφυροῦ καὶ κόκκινον καὶ κεχρυσωμένη χρυσίῳ καὶ λίθῳ τιμίῳ καὶ μαργαρίταις, ἔχουσα ποτέ. ριον χρυσοῦν ἐν τῇ χειρὶ αὐτῆς γέμον βδε
cation: and upon her forehead (was) aλυγμάτων, καὶ τὰ ἀκάθαρτα τῆς πορνείας name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON αἰτῆς, καὶ ἐπὶ τὸ μέτωπον αὐτῆς ὄνομα THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF γεγραμμένον· μυστήριον· Βαβυλὼν καὶ με γάλη, ἡ μήτηρ τῶν πορνῶν καὶ τῶν βδελυμάτων τῆς γῆς.
HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS
$384. And the woman was arrayed,' &c.-Purple has been almost in all ages a colour peculiarly appropriate to the exhibition of regal or imperial
power. The kings of Midian in the time of Gideon wore a raiment of purple, (Judges viii. 26.)—Jesus was clothed in a purple robe, in mockery of what was supposed to be his pretensions to an earthly sovereignty; and to take the purple has been in later times a common expression for the assumption of supreme political power. The scarlet colour of this woman's array (crinson, xózzixos) is the same as the colour of the beast; its figurative indication being probably also the same. The despotic as well as the sanguinary character of the system represented by the woman are thus symbolized by these elements of her dress-a dress furnishing a striking contrast to the fine linen, clean and white, of the wife of the Lamb, (Rev. xix. 8,) and directing our attention to the opposite means of salvation, or to the opposite righteousnesses of the two economies thus illustrated. It is also worthy of remark that the colours of this woman's dress very nearly correspond with those of the ten curtains of the tabernacle in the wilderness, (Ex. xxvi. 1,) blue and purple and scarlet; all of them corresponding with different appearances of the blood, as it shows itself in the veins and arteries of the living human subject; indicating that, as under the legal dispensation there was no purification without blood, so the shelter or tabernacle of the first covenant was one in its nature exacting something equal to the forfeiture of the eternal life of the transgressor. This seems sufficient to point out the legal tendency of the system of Babylon; although, it is true, a clothing of purple and scarlet may be taken merely as a figure of earthly wealth, or of the ostentatious display of self-dependence; as it was said of certain idols, Jer. x. 9, "blue and purple is their clothing," or of the rich man, whose position furnishes so striking a contrast to that of the beggar laid at his gate, that he "was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day."
And decked with gold and precious stones and pearls.'-It is said immediately in connection with the predicted destruction of the earthly system, Is. xiii. 12, "I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir." In allusion to which, it is also said of Christ, 1 Pet. ii. 7, "To you therefore that believe, he is precious." To be in Christ, enjoying the attribute of his righteousness, is to be in the truth, (John xvii. 23 ;) and thus to be in him is to be decked indeed with fine and pure gold. This gold of the harlot, however, is of a different material: it is what she claims to be her gold-it is neither pure, nor fine, nor tried in the fire. It is like the metallic representative of wealth of the rich men spoken of by the apostle James, which he denominates their gold and their silver. So we may say of these precious stones and pearls of the harlot, they are her gems and her pearls: far different in their real value from the one stone spoken of as elect, precious, 1 Pet. ii. 6, and the pearl of great price-the true ransom of the soul, (the atonement of Jesus,) for which the disciple is ready to give up every claim of merit of his own.
Babylon, no doubt, boasts of her riches-she makes a great display of her resources; for, according to the prophet, she is to be as much characterized for her pride as for her apparent wealth, (Jer. 1. 31.) The merits and means of propitiation of human fabric are the uncertain riches (1 Tim. vi. 17) which not only take to themselves wings and fly away, but which must be found to be entirely worthless in the emergency when something really precious will be most called for.
§ 385. Having a golden cup in her hand.'-As we have taken gold to be symbolical of truth, it may appear hardly in keeping with our view of the character of Babylon as a false system, that the material of her cup should be gold. This however may be construed in two ways. She was decked in gold, that is, in her gold, (gold at the best very much alloyed or mixed,) and the material of her cup may be of the same debased character; or, if it be of pure gold, then it represents an instrument of truth, or a true exhibition showing the true character of the mixture in which her followers participate. We prefer this latter construction, although the result would not materially differ in either case.*
'Full of abon.inations and filthiness of her fornication.'-Such is the real character of this mixture when truly exhibited. We are not to suppose the participants of this cup to be aware of its true character, any more than they are aware that the magnificent city Babylon, as they esteem it, is but a wilderness, or the capital of a wilderness. As we have considered the wine of the harlot an opposite of the wine of the marriage feast, we may also consider her cup a professed substitute, or a counterfeit, of the cup of salvation alluded to Ps. cxvi. 3. Babylon professes to furnish by her cup an element of joy and rejoicing, an atonement or propitiation essential to the enjoyment of eternal life. The most odious characteristic of the ingredients of this cup is, apparently, that it is a mixture, as indicated by the epithets applied to it; a mixture corresponding with what we have said ($33) of the character of the system represented by Babylon herself. This cup offers to the disciple, as an object of his faith and trust, a pretended atonement or propitiation,
*There would be no inconsistency in supposing the harlot to appear with ornaments of pure gold, and of gems and pearls, really precious; for it accords with our common experience of falsehood, that it usually makes its appearance "in truth's array." In like manner, our supposed pseudo-economy of salvation, besides arraying herself in the sanguinary apparel of the legal covenant, may, in perfect keeping with her mixed character, make a display also of many of the precious truths of the gospel economy; the character of these valuable materials being changed only by the abuse to which they are perverted: as it is said, Lam. iv. 1, 2, "How is the gold be come dim! how is the most fine gold changed! the stones of the sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street. The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter !"
wrought out partly by the merits of Christ, and partly by the merits of man. Such a mixture involves the ingredients of hypocrisy, of blasphemy, of vainglory, of mercenary and selfish motives, of ingratitude towards the author of salvation, and of lukewarmness in his service;-hypocrisy, because it professes a dependence upon the merits of Christ, when the real dependence of the deluded disciple is upon his own merits, and because it professes to give the glory of salvation to the Saviour, when it really assumes this glory for some merit of the being saved; blasphemy, because, if man be supposed to be in any respect the efficient cause of his own salvation, such a supposition places him, in pretence, upon an equality with God; vainglory, because, if the disciple trace his eternal well-being to some merit in himself, he assumes for himself the glory of his own salvation; mercenary selfishness, because on these mixed principles man must necessarily act from the secret motive of promoting his own interest, and his own glory, while the pretension that eternal life is a compensation for merited service, in any degree, must as necessarily diminish the gratitude due for that which is an unmerited gift, and must thus generate the lukewarmness so hateful to God, as we have seen it declared to be in the case of the Laodicean angel, (§ 102.) The ingredients of such a mixture may well be supposed to be abominations in the sight of Him, who has declared himself the only Saviour; who will not divide his glory with another; a jealous God, beside whom no other object of worship or other source of dependence is permitted.
The word rendered filthiness in our common version, ȧxαðágrηros according to some editions of the Greek, does not occur in any other passage of the New Testament; but its kindred, ¿xavagoía, and the adjective άxáðagros, are met with several times, and are uniformly rendered by the words uncleanness and unclean, as the three spirits were said, Rev. xvi. 13, to be unclean as frogs; an uncleanness, as we have supposed, of a Levitical character the opposite of that which is holy or set apart. We suppose the second ingredient of the harlot's cup to be a principle or principles of this unholy character: common or unclean, because not set apart to the service of God-elements of propitiation not of the class required, by God; such uncleanness in matters of doctrine being apparently alluded to, Eph. iv. 19, and 1 Thess. ii. 3. Purity, however, being the opposite of mixture, as fornication is the opposite of marriage, this uncleanness may involve also the same idea of mixed principles, partly of self-dependence and partly of dependence upon God, as those alluded to under the figure of abominations; as a reliance partly on one's own righteousness and partly on the righteousness of Christ, is figuratively spoken of as an adulterous infidelity or breach of marriage vows.
The cup or the wine of a marriage feast represents in Scripture the occasion of joy or happiness afforded by the marriage, not merely to the parties united in wedlock, but to all the guests present at the feast. To