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gospel, Rom. xii. 17. “ Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do gocd to them that bate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you,” is the exhortation of the Son of God to all his followers, Natt. v. 44. It is even the language of the law, which requires every subject of the law to be perfect, as He is perfect who maketh his sun to shine upon the just and upon the unjust.
There is in the nature of things an unavoidable reaction of truth, when manifested upon the elements of falsehood. There is a righteous retribution with which all false doctrine must be visited. This retribution is visited through the instrumentality of opposite truths. Such reaction and such retribution we suppose to be what is alluded to under the figurative language of this vindictive exhortation. Even this avenging recompense, however, is the work of God, and not of man; as it is said, Rom. xii. 19, “ Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord;” and, as it is said by the prophet, in reference to this same Babylon, “Shout against her round about:" "her foundations are fallen, her walls are thrown down; for it is the vengeance of the LORD: take vengeance upon her; as she hath done, do unto her; .. for she hath been proud against the Lord.” Behold, I am against thee, O thou most proud, saith the Lord God of Hosts; for thy day is come, the time that I will visit thee: and the most proud shall stumble and fall, and none shall raise him up; and I will kindle a fire in his cities, and it shall devour all round about him,” (Jer. li. 14, 15, 31, 32.)
A prontinent feature in the character of the mixed system is its pride; a pride pretending to give the Most High an equivalent of human merit, in exchange for the benefit of eternal life; a pride disdaining to be under obligations to God as the only Redeemer and Saviour. The fall or humilia ation of B.,bylon is a retributive visitation of this pride—she is rewarded in kind. So, as another feature of the system is its mercenary character, the judyment corresponds with it. Babylon is repaid or recompensed by the standard of ber own adoption ; with the same measure that she meted to others, it is measured 10 her again. As it was said to the unprofitable servant, “Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee.” She has adopted the rule of law—that rule of law is now applied to her conduct; she depended upon her works-she is visited according to her works.
• Double unto her double,' &c.—We suppose this double recompense to be the retribution of a double transgression. The sinner in the sight of God has justly deserved eternal punishment for his transgression of the law; if, in addition to this, he goes about to work out a propitiation of his own, he deserves an equal punishment for bis rejection of the gospel. Babylon is guilty of this double transgression; the retribution is therefore to be doubled, and this upon her own principles—the standard of her own mercenary calculations of profit and loss.
which she has filled, &c.—The cup, as we have seen, is a cup of abominations—a mixture or adulteration of pretended human means of atonement with those of Christ. The effect of the retribution shows such a pretension on the part of the sinner to be a doubling of his guilt. In addition to his sin, his pretended atonement is an abomination ; like the multitude of sacrifices and the vain oblations spoken of by the prophet, (Is. i. 10-13.) It is the adding of sin to sin ; the drawing of iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart-rope, (Is. v. 18.)
$ 409. “How much she hath glorified herself,' &c.—The harlot has ostentatiously displayed her gaudy apparel ; Babylon bas boasted of ber pretended riches. The mixed system has fostered the pride of man in its pretensions of human merit. Babylon has lived deliciously, (luxuriously,) as those “ at ease in Zion ; stretching themselves on beds of ivory, and reposing upon their couches,” (Amos vi. 1-4.) She has reposed upon her own imaginary merits—resting in the security of her own means of propitiation. Just in proportion to this vainglory and misplaced confidence, the madness and folly of this mixed system will be exhibited ; as it is said, Prov. i. 32, according to the margin, “The ease of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.”
So much torment and sorrow give her.'—So much is she to be subjected to trial as on the rack, as if to extort the truth by confession, ($ 210.) The greater the pretensions of the false system, so much more severely it is to be tried, that its fallacies may be exposed, and its real destitution of all means of comfort, or consolation, or rest, exhibited.
· For (because) she saith in her heart,' &c.— The pride of Babylon is a pride of the heart; and not only this, “ she has been proud against the Lord." Like the man of sin, she exalts herself in opposition to Jehovah.
• I sit a queen.'—Not that Babylon professes to share the throne with a royal partner ; on the contrary, she sits a queen, as a substitute for a kingand as an opposite, even a competitor of the King of kings. She saith in heart, no doubt, If I am not a king I am equal to a king—I am a sovereign.
"I am no widow ; '—or, as the Greek xjpa, feminine of xños, may be rendered, (Donnegan,) I am not bereft, I am not desolate. Babylon does not pretend to be a legitimate wife ; still less, the wife of the Lamb. She assumes to be independent-she is not in a state of bereavement—not because she has a husband, but because she professes neither to depend upon, nor to desire a husband. The mixed plan of salvation is something which virtually professes to make man his own redeemer. The language of inspiration, “ Thy Maker is thy husband, the Lord of hosts is his name," (Is. liv. 5,) has nothing in common with the system of Babylon.
· I shall see no sorrow.'-As Babylon is sensible of no bereavement in the loss of a husband, so she flatters herself with suffering no sorrow as from
the loss of children. She prides herself upon her independence, and supposes
herself lifted up above the causes of sorrow incident to created beings. Her language is that of self-confidence, self-sufficiency, and self-righteousness, corresponding with the tone imputed to her, (Is. xlvii. 7–9 ;) the con sequence of this presumption, as then predicted, being exemplified in the picture of destruction now presented in the Apocalypse: “ And thou saidst I shall be a lady forever : so that thou didst not lay these things to thy heart, neither didst remember the latter end of it. Therefore, hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thy heart, I am,* and none else besides me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children : but these two things shall come to thee in a moment, in one day, the loss of children and widowhood; they shall come upon thee in their perfection, for the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments.”
V. 8. Therefore shall her plagues come διά τούτο εν μια ημέρα ηξουσιν αι πλη- . in one day, death, and mourning, and fa- yoi avtīs, Jóvatos rai révfoş xaà aquós, mine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong (is) the Lord God sai év Tupi xataxav Ingetar, ön iozupos who judgeth her.
κύριος ο θεός και κρίνας αυτήν. $410. · Therefore shall her plagues come in one day ;'-or, all at once, as it is expressed by the prophet in the passage just quoted, in a moment, in one day ; corresponding in this respect with the change spoken of by Paul, 1 Cor. xv. 52, “ In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.”
Death, and mourning, and famine.'--From the order of this enumeration, as compared with that of the preceding verse, we may consider death to be put here as an opposite of sitting a queen ; mourning as the opposite of being no widow; and famine as an opposite of seeing no sorrow. Even as a figure we cannot take death, in a natural sense, as applying to Babylon herself, for then it could not be followed by the other woes or plagues; but if we contemplate Babylon as a sovereign, the death may be that of her subjects, or if as a city, it may be that of its inhabitants. A sovereign deprived of his subjects, is divested of his power and glory ; and a city without its inhabitants, is equally divested of its resources.
As we suppose the phrase I am no widow to express a boast of exemption from bereavement generally, whether of husband or of children ; so we suppose the opposite mourning to apply to the sense of destitution in both these particulars : mourning the loss of all-the two things mentioned by the prophet, the loss of children and widowhood. And as the expression, “I shall see no sorrow,” is equivalent to the vain assertion, I shall suffer no want, so the opposite of this is famine, or a destitution, even of the necessaries of life ;
* This expression is not merely one of egotism; it is something equivalent to a blasphemous assumption of divine sovereignty.
corresponding with the call of the Lord's vengeance, Jer. I. 15, 16:“As she hath done, do unto her. Cut off the sower from Babylon, and him that handleth the sickle in the time of harvest."
In a more spiritual sense, we consider death a manifest state of condemnation under the law; not a death in Christ, but a death out of Christ. Mourning, as of the loss of children, or of a state of widowhood, we take to be a figure of entire want of merit or righteousness, a manifest destitution of those merits which may be spoken of as the offspring of a union with Christ. So the famine must represent a like manifestation of the absence of every element capable of securing salvation or eternal life.
These three figures correspond in their spiritual meaning with the desolation, and nakedness, and consumption of the flesh of the harlot, described in the preceding chapter; the effect of famine and the loss of Hesh in these illustrations both indicating a manifestation of unworthiness, elsewhere denominated a leanness of the soul. This manifestation visits as a judgment the proud boasting of self-dependence; as it was said of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, Is. x. 15, 16: “Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? as if the rod should shake itself against them that list it up . . . therefore shall the Lord of hosts send among his fat ones leanness ; and under his glory he shall kindle a burning like the burning of fire.”
* And she shall be utterly burned with fire.'— This visitation corresponds with the final action of the ten horns upon the harlot, as it was predicted of them that they should " burn her with fire.” We conclude, from this coincidence, that the epoch at which we have arrived in this chapter is identic with that of the description in the last chapter ; the difference being only in the figure. In the one case, the destruction of Babylon is pictured as that of a human being, and in the other as that of a city. In the first instance, as is to spare the reader or spectator the dreadful particulars of the burning alive of an individual, the figure is changed, and the particulars of the burning of a magnificent city are given in the place of it. Both figures alike apply to the destruction of a mixed doctrinal system, by the agency of the revealed word of God; which, as we have repeatedly noticed, is scripturally compared to a fire.
• For strong is the Lord God who judgeth her;' or, mighty is the Lord. The term in the Greek, syrpós, is the same as that immediately afterwards applied to Babylon—" that mighty city," (in huinan estimation.) If Baby. lon be accounted mighty by men, God is really mighty : as it is said, 1 Cor. 1, 25, · Even the weakness of God is stronger (more mighty) than man.' For this reason, besides the other blows inflicted upon her, she is utterly consumed or burned up.
Strictly speaking, it is for God to judge, and to condemn, and to execute his own sentence of condemnation ; but the Greek verb (xoiro) employed here, is applicable more especially to the act of discrimination ; and, as far as the fate of a system of doctrines is concerned, the act of discrimination is the execution of a judgment. No sooner is that which is false discrimni nated from that which is true, than the first is utterly destroyed; the destruction of error consisting in its detection and exhibition. If according to a man's system of faith, his real motive of conduct be to serve himself instead of serving God, as he pretends it to be, no sooner is the just discriinination made between that which constitutes such service and that which is of an opposite character, than the theory or system itself, whence the error emanates, is destroyed. The discerning between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not, is accordingly detailed by the prophet as a consequence of the coming of the day which is to burn as an oven, which sshall burn up those that do wickedly as stubble, leaving them neither root nor branch,' (Mal. ii. 18, and iv. 1.)
Vs. 9, 10. And the kings of the carih, Και κλαύσονται και κόψονται επ' αυτή vho have com τoitted fornication and lived οι βασιλείς της γης, οι μετ' αυτής πορνείdeliciously with her, shall bewail her, and
σαντες και στρηνιάσαντες, όταν βλέπωσι τον lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, standing afar off ruaror ris arouiosos uiris, ito maxçó. for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, Jrv éo 11,xótiç duie cor grófov toù Buourioalas, that great city Babylon, ihat mighty Moù auris, léovteç. ol'ui, oiui, ń ríkış í city ! for in one hour is tly judgment μεγάλη, Βαβυλών ή πόλις και ισχυρά, ότι μια
ώρα ήλθεν “κρίσις σου.
$411. 'And the kings of the earth,' &c.-There is a peculiar license in this imagery, which in a human composition would be considered altogether unwarrantable. Babylon is spoken of expressly as a city, while those alluded to as having maintained illicit connection with her are mentioned, not as other cities, or as the inhabitants of other cities, but as certain sovereigns of various countries of the earth; the whole figure being of such a character as entirely to preclude the possibility of a literal construction. We can neither suppose Babylon to be literally a city or a kingdom, nor the kings literally kinys. Such may in effect be the design of tbis anomaly—to create a bar to the application of the illustration to any personal or political object.
These kings of the earth we have before supposed to be leading principles of what we term the earthly system ; perhaps the same as the seven heads (seven kings) of the beast, ($ 391.) They are leading principles