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Rome, that domineered over the greatest part of the kingdoms of the then known world. The woman therefore is the image of that city, and in the inscription on her forehead she is styled Babylon the great: consequently Babylon the great, is here the same with the city of Rome. In the primitive ages this figurative name of Babylon was frequently given to heathen Rome by the Christians, on account of the resemblance of the characters of those two cities, for their idolatry, and for their oppressing, the one the Jews, the other the Christians. St. Peter dates his first letter from Babylon, 1 Pet. v. 13, that is, from Rome, as St. Jerom and Eusebius tell us. “The appellation of Babylon," said Tertullian, “is used by St. John for the city of Rome, because she resembles ancient Babylon, in the extent of her walls, in her haughtiness on account of her dominion, and in persecuting the saints.” Lib. Adv. Jud. “Rome is a second Babylon,” says also St. Austin, “and a daughter of the ancient Babylon," De Civit, lib. 22. c. 18. Babylon the great is therefore sufficiently distinguished: but her character is completed, and she appears in plain colours, in what follows: “And I saw," says St. John, “ the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus,” v. 6. This inhuman woman, this impious Jezabel, this cruel persecutrix, has drenched herself with so much Christian blood, which she has spilt, that she appears to be drunk with it. Who is this but idolatrous persecuting Rome? Innumerable were the martyrs she put to death, throughout the vast extent of her dominions, and even in her own bosom, the city itself. Innumerable likewise were the other saints or holy confessors, who, though not slain, were by her condemned to lose some of their limbs, and had an eye bored out, their tongues plucked away, or the sinews of a leg or a thigh cut, &c. or in fine, were put to tortures that tore away their flesh and drained their blood. We have seen the account of ten dreadful persecutions, which swept away an infinite multitude of Christians; and all these persecutions were the work of the Roman emperors, and their substitutes in the provinces. It is then apparent who the woman is, that was seen drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.
After the description of the woman, we are then favoured with an account of the beast that carries her, v. 7. The woman being the image of the city of Rome, the beast on which she sits, naturally represents the Roman empire. And as the wo. man was styled the mother of fornication or idolatry; conse
quently Rome was the seat and centre of idolatry; and in like manner by the beast the Roman empire is represented as the empire of idolatry. The colour of the beast is scarlet, v. 3, an emblem of its sanguinary disposition: and it is said to be full of names of blasphemy, or marked over with the names of the heathenish Roman gods, the greatest indignity that can be offered to the majesty of the Supreme Being. Then the angel, who promised to St. John to discover to him, v. 7. the mystery both of the woman and the beast, tells him:
V. 8. “ The beast, which thou sawest, was, and is not, and shall come up out of the bottomless pit, and go into destruction: and the inhabitants on the earth (whose names are not written in the book of life from the foundations of the world) shall wonder, seeing the beast, that was, and is not."'*
Behold a very mysterious explication of a mystery. But to unfold it: here is expressed the state of the beast, as it passes through different periods of time. The beast or the Roman idolatrous empire was, that is, existed for a term of time: then is not, or exists no more as the empire of idolatry, but is changed into a Christian empire; which happened when Constantine the Great became emperor, suppressed the power of idolatry, expelled Satan, and established Christianity. But it is added, "and the beast shall come up out of the bottomless pit, and go into destruction:" the Roman idolatrous empire will rise up again under Antichrist from the bottomless pit or hell, because Satan will be loosed before the end of the world, and will revive idolatry chiefly by means of that wicked man, Antichrist, who will become master of the ancient Roman dominions. And the inhabitants on the earth-shall wonder, seeing the beast, that was, and is not, and yet is; all the world will be struck with amazement, at seeing the idolatrous Roman empire re-appear, which had been so long ago destroyed. But the reign of Antichrist will soon go into destruction, as it will last no more than three years and a half. This last period of the beast will be more fully explained in its due place. - The angel proceeds in his explication:
V. 9. “And here is the understanding, that hath wisdom.f The seven heads, are seven mountains, upon which the woman sitteth, and they are seven kings.
V. 10. “Five are fallen, one is, and the other is not yet come: and when he is come, he must remain a short time."
Let the understanding, that is endowed with wisdom hero * In the Greek text is addded, “And yet is." + In the Greek, "here the understanding that hath wisdom."
on my enemies, and repay them that hate me. I will mak. my arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh.” Deut. xxxii. 37, &c.
While Alaric lay before Rome, Heraclion, governor of Africa for the Emperor Honorius, being informed of the sicge, forbade all provisions being sent from Africa to the city of Rome, which used to be chiefly supplied from thence. This caused a famine, which raged to a degree that had never been felt before. “Rome," says St. Jerom,“ perished by famine before it perished by the sword. Such was the force of hunger, that they fed upon the most execrable meats; the people tore one another to pieces to devour their flesh, and mothers did not even spare the infants at their breasts, inhumanly eating what they had lately brought into the world.” Epist. 16. ad. Princip. At length, Alaric availing himself of this distress, assaulted the town, and took it. This happened in the year 410. Thus Rome, that proud city, the mistress of the world, which had subsisted eleven hundred and sixty years, had raised to herself the greatest empire that had ever existed, fell a prey to an obscure Goth, who could scarce be said to be master of a foot of land. Rome was now exposed to the rage of a barbarous exasperated enerny. Therefore “wo to thee, O City that plunders, shalt not thou thyself be also plundered ?" Isai. xxxiii. 1. The soldiers were allowed to plunder every thing, and to carry off the immense riches, which had been amassed there, and were the spoils of all the countries of the world. In consequence of such unbounded liberty being granted, shocking were the barbarities committed by the soldiers to extort from the inhabitants their treasures. They not only plundered, but slaughtered the inhabitants on all sides. That renowned people, that had given laws to all mankind, were now become the prey of fire and the sword. The number of the dead was so great, that they lay. unburied; and St. Jerom tells us, that Rome was buried in its own ashes. The august palace of the emperors, and the greatest part of the so much admired elegant buildings, were consumed by the flames. The historian Procopius even says, the conflagration was such that there scarce remained one single house entire. In a word, Rome perished by the four greatest plagues that can afflict the human species, famine, pestilence, sword, and fire.
Here then appears conspicuous the judgment of God upon ancient Rome, and how the Roman people, conformably to our text, were drenched with their own blood, in consequence of their forefathers having shed in their persecutions the blood of his saints. Here also we see fulfilled that prophecy of Daniel, where, speaking of the fourth beast, which represented Rome with its dominion, he says: " I saw that the beast was slain, and that its body was destroyed, and given to the fire to be burnt." Dan. vii. 11.
The fall of Rome was equally an object of surprise and sorrow to many nations, on account of the extraordinary figure it had made in the world. St. Jerom, who was then at Bethlehem, and learned the whole account from some Christians who had escaped out of the dismal scene and come to him, laments the dreadful fate of that ancient and powerful city, and describes it by the following verses, with which Virgil describes the conflagration and destruction of Troy.
Quis cladem illius noctus, quis funera fando
Æneid, lib. 2.
Dryden's Transl. We shall beg leave to add one verse more out of the same poem :
Venit summa dies et ineluctabile tempus.
The fatal day, th’ appointed hour is come. It is however to be observed, that in this terrible calamity and severe judgment of heaven, Almighty God showed a peculiar regard to his own people; for Alaric had ordered that the two churches of St. Peter and St. Paul should be places of refuge, and that whoever retired there should be safe. The Christians therefore fled thither, and with them some also of the pagans, who by that means sustained no hurt.
For three days, the city lay under the tyranny of the Goths; who then leaving it, passed into the provinces of Campania, Lucania, and Calabria, wasting the country, and loading themselves with the spoils of it. But being arrived at Consentia, a town of Calabria, as if the Almighty chose to drop the rod of justice he made use of, there Alaric sickened and died in a few days. Athaulph his successor, made peace with the emperor, and obtained for himself and his Goths a settlement in the southern parts of France.
But the anger of God was not yet assuaged. The Vandals, the Alans, and the Suevi, not content with having ravaged Gaul, had passed the Pyrenean mountains in 409, and entering Spain, another province of the empire, defeated the Roman armies there. The calamities caused by these savage people in that country were must dreadful. Besides the destruction made by the sword, the famine became so excessive, that many did not scruple to eat human fiesh, and even mothers murdered their own children to feed upon them. To these miseries was also added the plague, which carried off multitudes; and the wild beasts accustomed to human flesh from the number of carcasses that had perished by the sword, famine, and plague, assaulted even the living and devoured them. This account we have from Idatius, a bishop of Spain, in that century. The three above-mentioned barbarous nations, after the reduction of the country, in 411, divided its provinces among themselves, and settled there.
Attila, king of the Huns, a pagan people of Scythia, now Tartary, broke into different provinces of the empire with a prodigious army, called himself the “ Scourge of God," and answered that name by his devastations and barbarities, de. stroying all before him by fire and sword. He was feared as a more fierce and savage barbarian. than either Alaric or Radagaisus. In the year 451 he invaded Gaul, and was there beat by the Roman army assisted by the Goths, Alans, Franks, and Burgundians. Upon his defeat he retired into Pannonia, which became the seat of the Huns, part of that country being called from them Hungaria. Attila having reinforced his army, marched into Italy, where he spread destruction. As he advanced in his career, he was met by St. Leo, pope, who addressed him with so much energy, eloquence, and dignity, that the barbarian let himself be persuaded to retire out of Italy..
The Vandals had got footing in Africa from the year 427, and afterwards a fixed settlement there by agreement with the emperor. In 455, Genseric, their king, was invited into Italy by the Empress Eudoxia, through a disgust she had taken to Maximus, her husband, who forced her to marry him. Genseric had accepted with pleasure the invitation, and landed in Italy with an army of Vandals and Moors. Maximus, who had usurped the empire, fled ; and Genseric entering Rome without opposition, delivered it up to his soldiers, who pillaged it for fourteen days, and then set fire to it. Genseric left the place loaded with riches, and at his