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come them, in turning their hearts, and converting them into his votaries. And in effect, some time after they had settled themselves in the Roman provinces, a part of them were destroyed in the wars that ensued, and the rest gradually abjured their idolatry and errors, the pagans becoming Christians, and the Arians and other heretics going over to the Catholics. Among other writers, thus speaks Orosius, an historian of that age: “Who knows but Providence thus permitted the barbarians to become masters of the Roman provinces, with a view to effect their salvation? Do not we see that the churches of Christ, both in the eastern and western parts, are filled with Huns, with Suevi, with Vandals, with Burgundians, and with divers other people, who have been converted to the faith.” Such was the victory of the Lamb; for Christ is Lord of lords, and King of kings: he is a Sovereign over all kingdoms and states: he is Master of the human mind, and he can call to the faith whom he pleases. To work the conversion of those people, he employed his servants, the ministers of his Church, whom he called to that function, elected them or culled them out of the whole body of his people for that purpose, and they approved themselves faithful to their charge. Incredible indeed was the zeal exerted by the church in those times for the conversion of the above-mentioned pagans and heretics. To mention only a few instances : St. Remigius and others converted the Gauls in the fifth and sixth centuries. The Arian Visigoths in Spain were brought over to the Catholic faith about the year 600, in the reign of their king Reccared. About the same time the Saxons in Britain received the Christian doctrine from St. Austin and his companions. St. Willibrod carried the faith into Friseland; and St. Rupert and St. Boniface with his associates converted many nations of Germany in the seventh and eight centuries.
V. 16. “And the ten horns, which thou sawest on the beast," continues the angel: “these shall hate the harlot, and shall make her desolate, and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and shall burn her with fire."
Here we see the general disposition of the above-mentioned northern nations, denoted by the ten horns. They will hate the harlot, Rome, the great capital of the empire, because she has shown herself a universal domineering tyrant, and has in particular ill requited them for the important help they had lent her against her enemies. Thus stimulated with rancour and resentment, they will make her desolate, that is, they will invest her walls, they will preclude all succours both of men
and provisions from her, and reduce her to the utmost state of distress. They will make her naked, by stripping her of her shining ornaments, her gaudy palaces, Egyptian obelisks, magnificent temples, theatres, triumphal arches, &c. and all her ostentatious pageantry. They will eat her flesh, by plun. dering her of her wealth and riches, with which she had fed herself by plundering the rest of the world. And lastly, they will burn her with fire. All which was done, as we have seen in the history above given.*—Thus was foretold by the angel, before it happened, the fate of that heathen imperial city, under the emblera of a woman, prostituted to vice and admitting no control, because she is the empress of the world. But her jealous enemies will not rest, till they have found means to humble her pride, and to effect her ruin. They will first deprive her of every human succour and comfort, they will then strip her naked, devour her flesh, and when thus reduced to a skeleton, they will consume her by fire.
That the greatest power on earth should be thus reduced and crushed by foreign barbarians, whom it had before held in contempt and neglect, may seem strange to our understanding, and not according to the standard by which we generally measure human events. But this extraordinary fact is not to be ranked in the class of common human transactions: it was conducted by another hand. .
V. 17. “For God hath given iñto their hearts, to do that which pleaseth him: that they give their kingdom to the beast, till the words of God be fulfilled." . Under the divine direction, therefore, those barbarians acted in the demolition of Rome and its empire; and thus they executed what pleased him, or what he had designed. According to the decrecs of his infinite wisdom and justice, the Almighty sent Nebuchodonosor to punish the guilty Jews, and Cyrus to do the same to the Babylonians. In like manner the northern nutions became the instrument of his vengeance upon the Roman state for the guilt of its idolatry and persecutions. These agents had indeed no other view in what they did, than to gratify their hatred, their avarice, and other passions; and this the Almighty permitted them to compass, but for other purposes which they did not see into. But besides; in that latter period when, agreeable to the perdiction in ver. 12, they had received kingdom, that is, when they had possessed themselves of the Roman provinces, and erected them into so many
* Whoever has been upon the place, has seen sufficient proof of the same, in the miserable shattered ruins of old Rome.
kingdoms, they were still allowed to give their kingdom or join their power and armies with those of the beast which was and is not, that is, with the pagan Romans then governed by Christian emperors: the view of which union was the defence of the country against new invaders. This was permitted for a while, till the words of God were fulfilled, till the time preordained by God was come, for the final destruction of pagan Rome, and the rise of new Christian Rome in its place, and for the happy conversion of these barbarians and the remain. der of the pa gan Romans to the faith of Christ.
We have now seen, in the course of this 17th chapter of the Apocalypse, the different changes that successively happened in the western Roman empire, to its total dissolution. We saw ancient Rome in its glorious state commanding all nations, upholding idolatry with its whole power, and opposing and persecuting the Christian religion. This power is then lost, by passing into the hands of Christian emperors: and this was the first step towards the fall of the empire of idolatry. The body of the people still retaining their former attachment to paganism and aversion to Christianity, the next step was: the Almighty brought down upon them swarms of northern harbarous people, whom the empire was forced to admit into its bowels, and to avert its own ruin for a while, by buying them off and hiring their service against other such like enemies. But these northern savages retaining all along their first hostile disposition against the Romans, found pretences to turn their arms against them, defeated their troops, shared out the western provinces among themselves, and thus overturned the body of the empire. When in possession of the Roman territories, they then, for their own interest, and upon their own bottom, employed their forces in conjunction with those of the Roman people in defence of the country. But they could not rest satisfied, till they had attacked and demolished the head, that overbearing mistress of the world, the city of Rome itself.—This demolition was announced above, ver. 16, as to be; and in what follows we see it exactly executed.
Apoc. chap. xviii. 1. “And after these things I saw," says St. John, “another angel come down from heaven, having great power: and the earth was enlightened with his glory.
V. 2. “And he cried out with a strong voice, saying: Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen : and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every unclean spirit, and the hold of every unclean and hateful bird :
• V. 3. “Because all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication: and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her: and the merchants of the earth have been made rich by the power of her delicacies.”
Here appears an angel descending from heaven vested with great power, because he comes to destroy the great imperiai city of Rome. He is also surrounded with a glorious circle of light, which illuminates the earth; an image of the majesty of God, who exercises his sovereign dominion in so stri. king a manner on this occasion. The heavenly messenger cries out with a strong voice, that all the earth may hear: and indeed all the earth heard of the fall of Rome, and confessed the hand that did it. He thus cries out: “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen; idolatrous Rome is fallen. The angel struck her, and she is fallen. That mighty seat of power and dominion is fallen. That metropolis of nations, that capital of the world, is fallen. That great school of heroes, and parent of conquests, is fallen and crushed. The long fixed abode of voluptuousness and luxury, for the merchants of the earth have been made rich by the power of her delicacies, is laid waste by famine and devastation. She had provoked the Almighty by her unbounded attachment to idolatry, and by her efforts to support and propagate it; for all nations* had drunk of the wine of the wrath, or vehemence of her fornication : and the kings of the earth had committed fornication with her; and now the hand of God has struck her. She had glutted herself with the blood of the servants of God: and he in his wrath has sent against her the executors of his justice, who have made her desolate, have stripped her naked, eat her flesh, and burned her with fire." Apoc. xvii. 16. See. p. 106. We have seen how all this was gradually executed upon her. Alaric took the city, plundered it for three days, and burned it in 410. Genseric plundered it for fourteen days together in 455, and then set fire to it. Odoacer took it in 476, deposed the emperor, and extinguished the imperial title. Lastly, Totila in 546 burned it and reduced it into a solitude: "Totila," says the historian Procopius, “ Jeft not one human creature in the city.” Lib. 3. de bell. Goth. And in this condition it romained for upwards of forty days. And thus it became like an accursed place, given up for a habitation of devils, and a hold of every unclean spirit, or of frightful spectres and ghosts, and a hold of every unclean and hateful bird, as of owls, ravens, vultures, &c. • In the Greek "all the nations,” subject to the Roman empire.
V. 4. “ And I heard,” pursues St. John, “another voice from heaven, saying: Go out from her, my people: that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues.” The people of God, that is, the Christians, are here told to leave the falling city, lest they should be partakers of her sins, and receive of her plagues, that is, lest they should be involved in the punishment and ruin she has drawn upon herself by her iniquities. At the time of Alaric's sacking Rome, many fled away, as we saw in the history, to St. Jerom, who was then in Judæa. Others fled into other parts, as the same holy father testifies. He also informs us, Ep. 7, that St. Paula and several illustrious Christian families had before left Rome, as by a particular inspiration, and retired to Bethlehem in Judæa."'The holy Pope Innocent," says Orosins, '“ was withdrawn by a particular providence out of the city, as Lot out of Sodom, that he might not see the ruin of a guilty people.” Lib. 7. c. 39. We read that St. Melanin, as if she foresaw the approaching catastrophe, had prevailed upon many Christians to retire with her from a city doomed to destruction. Hist. Laus. c. 118. In fine, when the storm burst, the Christians that remained there, took refuge in the Churches of SS. Peter and Paul, which Alaric had allowed to be places of safety. Thus, then, as the Christians had formerly avoided being involved in the ruin of Jerusalem by retiring out of it, conformably to our Saviour's admonition; so here, many withdrew in the same inanner from the scene of divine vengeance which so deservedly fell upon Rome.
V. 5. “ For her sins have reached unto heaven, and the Lord has remembered her iniquities."
Her iniquities have called to heaven for vengeance, and God will bear with them no longer.
V. 6. “ Render to her as she hath also rendered to you: and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup wherein she hath mingled, mingle ye double unto her.
V. 7. “ As much as she hath glorified herself, and lived in delicacies, so much torment and sorrow give ye to her.”
It is not to be understood, that the Almighty here tells the Christians to take revenge on their enemies, the pagan Romans; but by this kind of prophetic language. he apprizes them, that Rome shall be drenched with a full cup of misery, double of that she had tyrannically forced upon them. And in proportion as she had proudly exalted herself, and lived in delicacies, or luxury and pleasure, so shall be the measure of her torment and sorrows.