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participate in the wine of the marriage entertainment, is to share in the common joy and common cause of rejoicing of the whole company. The figure appears to be taken from the presumed interest which every friend or relative of the parties thus united takes in the prospect of their happiness, resulting as it does from a legitimate and honourable connection. The cup or wine of the harlot represents an occasion of false, ill-founded joy or rejoicing; as if we were to imagine the friends of a bride called together to celebrate, as they supposed, her nuptials, which proved to be only of a fictitious character, resulting in an illicit connection. The joy of these relatives would appear, to one aware of the deceit, a species of madness. In like manner, the followers of the harlot are led away with the insane delusion that her festal cup represents a real occasion of rejoicing; while, to those who are aware of its fallacious character, the conduct of these devotees appears to be equalled only by the folly of the maniac. Something like this seems to be implied in the language of the prophet, " Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord's hand, that made all the earth drunken; the nations have drunken of her wine, therefore the nations are mad," Jer. li. 7;-they have been deceived into the belief that the illicit connections peculiar to the system of Babylon, affords that cause of rejoicing which can result only from the occasion of the legitimate union of the divine Spouse with his spiritual bride.
§ 386. And upon her forehead a name,' &c.-The elements of truth, the sealed ones, bore upon their foreheads the name of the Father of the Lamb. The subjects of the beast were required to receive his mark in their foreheads, and, corresponding with these, the harlot is conspicuously marked with her name and character. The impress, however, we may presume is only to be seen by one who, like the apostle, in spirit sees her in her true character and position. Her deluded followers, of course, are not supposed to possess this degree of discernment. To the apostle she may be said to appear unveiled; by him, therefore, the inscription upon her forehead is plainly perceived, but to those partaking of her cup, she may appear as the espoused wife—the false economy usurping the place of the true, as the blasphemous beast usurps the place of the true God.
'Mystery. We have already spoken of the mystery of truth, the mys
tery of God, of Christ, and of the Gospel, (§ 331.) Here, it is evident that there must be something of an opposite character. The gospel is termed, Rom. xvi. 25, "The revelation of the mystery of God, which was kept secret since the world began ;" that is, the revelation of God's plan of salvation. Opposite of this, we suppose the harlot to represent a mystery or plan of salvation of human device—a simulation of the plan revealed by the gospel-a simulation of that union represented by the marriage tie, which Paul denominates a great mystery-an opposite of the covenant declared, Gal. iv. 26, to be "the mother of us all," or rather a substitute for it; for
we do not suppose Babylon to represent the covenant of works-which is something of an unmixed character. We suppose the harlot to be rather professedly a representation of the covenant of grace, but in reality a confused mixture of the principles of both covenants. She does not profess to advocate a system of doctrine in which no salvation is esteemed necessary; she pretends, on the contrary, to furnish a cup of salvation of her own. And as the gospel mystery has its cup of propitiation, (the atonement of Christ,) so the harlot has her professed means of atonement, a mixture such as we have before noticed; the mystery of the harlot bearing to the beast (self) a relation corresponding with that borne by the bride, or true covenant of grace, to the Redeemer-Babylon being perhaps a figure of the mystery of iniquity, alluded to by the apostle Paul in his account of the man of sin, 2 Thess. ii. 3. The mystery of iniquity is not the man of sin himself, but the two are so intimately connected, in their principles and results, that they may be contemplated as identic. As, on the other hand, the bride (the covenant of grace, or the purpose of God) is in effect so much the same with the Lamb, Christ, (the personification of the Logos,) that they also, when fully revealed, will be manifested to be identic.
Babylon the great.'-We have already enlarged so fully upon the system of confusion designated by this appellation, that a further analysis of it here would be but a repetition. The principal use to be made of this inscription at present is to identify expressly these two figures of the woman and the city, that there may be no hesitation in receiving whatever is affirmed of the one as equally applicable to the other: this harlot, the great city, and Babylon, represent but one and the same mystery; as we shall find their opposites, the bride, the holy city, and the New Jerusalem, alike representing one other mystery. The explanation may be the more called for here, as, while Babylon is described in this chapter as existing, and as being finally destroyed under the figure of a woman, her destruction in the next chapter is more circumstantially set forth as the conflagration of a great city.
The mother of harlots and abominations of the earth.'-As any confused system of true and false principles must necessarily generate a multitude of subordinate errors, so Babylon, as a mixture of the elements of the law with those of the gospel, is the parent of a multitude of minor doctrinal systems and elements of the same erroneous character. All such adulterations of truth are alike offensive and abominable in the sight of God; all possessing the same features of hypocrisy, vainglory, ingratitude, lukewarmness, and blasphemy; for which reason they are entitled to the appellation of abominations, abominations of the earth, because they are peculiar to that earthly view of man's position which supposes him to be dependent upon his own merits or works. All these minor sys ems, with their variety
of forms and phases, may be contemplated as inventions of the false prophet for sustaining the power of self, and for promoting the worship of that image of self, or of self-righteousness, which comes into immediate collision with the only true object of worship, Jehovah our Redeemer. They owe their origin, however, mediately to that mixture or amalgamation, of which Babylon is the representation. The inscription upon the forehead of this adulterous woman might accordingly be translated thus: Mystery, the system of confusion; the parent of mixed systems, and of self-righteous schemes of salvation, arising from carnal and perverted interpretations of the revealed word of God.
Vs. 6, 7. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell
Καὶ εἶδον τὴν γυναῖκα μεθύουσαν ἐκ τοῦ αἵματος τῶν ἁγίων καὶ ἐκ τοῦ αἵματος τῶν μαρτύρων Ἰησοῦ· καὶ ἐθαύμασα, ἰδὼν αὐτ τήν, θαῦμα μέγα. Καὶ εἶπέ μοι ὁ ἄγγελος διὰ τί ἐθαύμασας ; ἐγώ σοι ἐρῶ τὸ μυστή.
thee the mystery of the woman, and ofριον τῆς γυναικὸς καὶ τοῦ θηρίου τοῦ βασthe beast that carrieth her, which hath τάζοντος αὐτήν, τοῦ ἔχοντος τὰς ἑπτὰ κε the seven heads, and ten horns. φαλὰς καὶ τὰ δέκα κέρατα.
$387. And I saw,' &c.-The idea to be associated with this drunkenness we suppose to be more especially that of satiety; as, in speaking of a ferocious animal, it might be said to be satiated, gorged with the blood of its victims. The figure corresponds with what is said of certain elements, represented as inhabiters of the earth in the last chapter, which are said to have shed the blood of saints and of prophets, on which account blood was given them to drink. The triumphant condition of the harlot precedes the pouring out of these vials of wrath; the elements of her system being probably the same, or part of the same, as those said to be worthy of the visitation of the third vial, (Rev. xvi. 6.)
These saints (holy ones) and martyrs (witnesses) of Jesus we have before supposed (§§ 162, 262) to represent elements of revealed truth as transmitted to us in the sacred Scriptures, all witnessing to the true character of Jesus, as the Lord our righteousness, and to the nature of his work in the economy of grace, when their spiritual sense is correctly taken into consideration. On this account, to maintain the system of the harlot, it is necessary to divest these elements of revelation of their spiritual sense; this separation of the spirit from the letter is, therefore, figuratively spoken of as a shedding of the blood, or a taking of the life of those who are witnesses of the truth. This the harlot system is supposed to have done to satiety, so as apparently to have completely triumphed, and to have done so with impunity.
And when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration,' (wonder.)This expression appears designed to bring out the explanation of the angel immediately following it; but the wonder will appear the more natural, if
we bear in mind that the apostle at present sees the harlot only in her glory and power, rioting in the midst of the exercise of her cruelty and oppression. As yet, he knows nothing of her end; that she should be permitted thus to triumph, appears to him, therefore, à mystery-something indeed wonderful. The feelings of the apostle may be compared here with those of the Psalmist when he saw the prosperity of the wicked, and before he understood their end, (Ps. lxxiii. 4-17.)
'And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel ?'—As if appealing to the knowledge which the apostle must have had of the dealings of God, in permitting the temporary prosperity of the wicked, the angel reminded him that he should have perceived this short-lived triumph of the harlot to be designed for some peculiar exhibition of the power and providence of the Most High.
'I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her.'-I will tell the end, the purpose for which this wickedness is permitted. As the woman was drunken with the blood of saints and martyrs, and as the beast carried or sustained her, the conduct of both constitutes one and the same mystery; so in the sequel we find the woman destroyed by the horns of the animal, upon which she had depended for support.
'Which hath the seven heads, and ten horns."-This repetition of the description just before given of the beast, would appear hardly necessary were it not designed to fix our attention to the fact, that this monster is the same as that seen rising from the sea, (Rev. xiii. 1,) whose peculiar characteristics we have already analyzed, (§ 294.)
V. 8. The beast that thou sawest was,
and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and
they that dwell on the earth shall wonder,
(whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world,) when they hehold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
Τὸ θηρίον, ὃ εἶδες, ἦν καὶ οὐκ ἔστι, καὶ μέλλει ἀναβαίνειν ἐκ τῆς ἀβύσσου καὶ εἰς ἀπώλειαν ὑπάγειν· καὶ θαυμάσονται οἱ κατοικοῦντες ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, ὧν οὐ γέγραπται τὰ ὀνόματα ἐπὶ τὸ βιβλίον τῆς ζωῆς ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, βλεπόντων τὸ θηρέον, ὅτι ἦν καὶ οὐκ ἔστι, καὶ παρέσται.
388. The beast that thou sawest,' &c.-The explanation of the mystery of the woman is here preceded by an account of the beast, which occupies the principal part of the remainder of the chapter.
We are not obliged to suppose that the beast was to be annihilated, and afterwards created a second time. The language of the angel is apocalyptical, and is to be taken in that qualified sense. A thing is when it is revealed or manifested: it is not when it is not revealed or manifested; it will be when it is again manifested.
We have supposed this beast to be the principle or element of self;something in the heart of man pretending to an independence of God, ($
301,) and even assuming the position of God as the author and efficient cause of eternal life.
This blasphemous principle (self) was manifest under the legal economy. It then ruled with undisputed sway, for the law was supposed to recognize no fulfilment of its requisitions, except by the works or righteousness of man: the beast then was. No sooner, however, is the gospel introduced, than the principle of self is banished. Christ having fulfilled the law and satisfied its demands, he alone appears, as he is, the efficient cause of salvation: the creature (man) in this work is nothing-the beast then is not. Again, the language of revelation is misconstrued; some of the leading doctrines of the gospel are perverted; the economy of grace is represented as a mixture; salvation no longer appears a free gift; the sinner is supposed to have been redeemed on account of something meritorious in himself; he claims now to be the efficient cause of his own eternal happiness; he forms in his own mind an image of his fancied righteousness; he adores the image of himself; he builds his hope upon the baseless system of salvation by human merits. The beast is now seen to ascend, as it were, out of the bottomless pit, (§ 206.)
These different processes of manifestation may take place in some sense in different ages of the visible church, or they may at times be more plainly discernible in some portions of Christendom than in others; but we think the declaration of the mighty angel, (Rev. x. 7,) there shall be time no longer, is to be applied here as elsewhere, (§ 230;) the changes in contemplation being of a nature to take place in the mental experience—the doce trinal views of Christian disciples of all ages and of all denominations, the reign of the beast representing the ascendency of a certain principle of error opposed to the element of sovereign grace.
'And they that dwell upon the earth shall wonder,' &c.-As if it had been said, in allusion to the astonishment of the apostle, 'It is not for you to wonder even at this extraordinary power and prosperity of the wicked, for by you the end should be considered; but there is room for those that dwell upon the earth to wonder, as with great fear, when they see the downfall and final perdition of this impostor, or element of imposition, to which they have been accustomed to look as to the great power of God;' the word rendered wonder expressing the kind of amazement felt by an ignorant multitude in beholding some extraordinary celestial phenomenon, prodigy, or portentous omen. These dwellers upon the earth, with a certain exception, we have uniformly considered principles of the earthly system personified, those especially subject to the influence of the beast, and made drunk with the wine of the harlot. This is the last passage in which the appellation occurs; and we may suppose this predicted wonder or amazement to be