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Ver. 1. One of the seven angels ; &c.] This vision seems in some measure to be detached and separated from the rest. The scene is changed to a wilderness, for the purpose of its exhibition ; and it appears like a sort of episode. Yet the inatter of it will be found to be of high importance; it will be found to explain may passages in the preceding prophecy, but especially those of ch. xvi. 19, where Babylon is mentioned as “ remembered.” To exhibit this connection, the angel, who attends upon the prophet and explains this vision, is one of the seven who had been employed to pour out the Vials. This separate vision is therefore intitled by the angel, “ the judgment of “the great harlot,” who appears in the fifth verse of this chapter to have the name of Babylon. So, this Section, taken together with its continuation in ch. xviii. and xix. 1-11, will be found to contain the Vial or plague upon Babylon : but first, she is described.
She is called “the great harlot,” and “the great “city*." These two names, in prophetical language, have the same meaning. A city, or kingdom, is frequently represented under the symbol of a woman. Babylon, ancient Babylon, is so represented t. And when it is the object of the prophecy to express the idolatry and corruptive wickedness of the city, she then appears as an harlot $. All the imagery belonging to this form of speech, may be seen in complete allegory, in the sixteenth chapter of Ezekiel; where a forlorn female infant, under the fostering hand of Providence, grows up, and becomes “exceeding beautiful,” and “pro
spers into a kingdom ;” but afterwards degenerates into an “idolatress and harlot 9." The same imagery appears again, in ch. xxi. of the Apocalypse ; where, to Babylon, the harlot, is opposed the New Jerusalem, the Bride. 3 his corrupt city, now exhibited, had acquired her greatness and celebrity under the character of harlot ; for her power over the kings and inhabitants of the earth, is described as arising from her fornication with them; she is represented as beguiling them to drink of “the cup of her fornica“tions ;” and leading them, intoxicated, through all the impurities of her idolatry, to that extreme madness of iniquity, when she wallows in the innocent blood of saints and martyrs *. Possessing, by this influence, the riches of the kings, she appears arrayed in vestments of the utmost splendour. Purple and scarlet, the distinguishing regal colours in the ancient world, are employed to adorn her. She is decorated with gold and precious stones. She “sits
. Ver. 18.
| Isa. i. 21. See more on this topic, in notes, ch. ii. 20. 22; xii. 1-4.
upon many waters ;” which is afterwards explained to signify, (as indeed it generally signifies in prophetic language f.) that she has dominion over many nations. She has a mysterious name ; a name ænigmatical ; uusagiov I:-it is “the great Babylon, the * Ver. 6.
† See note, ch. i. 13. 1 The word Kugapios, mystery, does not appear to have been part of the inscription on the forehead of the woman; but to imply that her name, so written, was of the mysterious, ænigmatical kind. So it seeins to have been understood in the ancient Latin text used by Primasius; et in fronte ejus nomen scriptum Sacramenti. (Primasius in loc.) See ch. i. 20. where musemprov is used to signify an ænigma, containing a spiritual truth concealed under a literal form. Agreeably to this, the angel says, “ I will tell thee the mystery of the woman;" I will explain this syinbolical appearance. And it inust be in a mystical sense only that any city or political body can be now called Babylon : for, the literal Babylon has been long since sunk to nothing : and divine prophecy has declared of her, that she shall no more rise again. The city was a heap of ruins before this prophecy was delivered. Plin. Nat. Hist, lib. vi. 20. 002
“ mother of harlots, and of the abominations of the “ earth.” That which the ancient and literal Babylon was to the nations surrounding her, (the parent of the most gross and corruptive idolatry,) this mystical Babylon has been to the modern nations. The ancient Babylon was literally seated “on many wa“ters *.” The mystical Babylon is so seated, in the spiritual sense applied to the passage by the angel; she rules over many kingdoms t. The ancient Babylon is described as “a golden cup; the nations have drunken “ of her wine, therefore the nations are mad I.” Such also has been the modern Babylon. She is herself, like her prototype ș, intoxicated; and not only with her shameful revellings, but " with the blood of Saints.” Thus far the description of the woman;
appears to represent some city, state, or body politic, exercising an extended dominion over kings and nations, like the ancient Babylon ; and thus also distinguished by her ambition,
ambition, sensuality, idolatry, and by her persecution of true Religion. A reader versed in history, without waiting for other prophetic marks of this city, will be led to thiuk of Rome, either ancient or modern, pagan or ecclesias
• Jer. li, 13.
+ Ver. 15. 1 Jer. li. 7. For the corrupt and corruptive character of ancient Babylon, see not only the Sacred Scriptures, but the ancient profane historians ; Herodot. lib. i. 199. Qu. Curtius, v. 1. Vet. Schol. in Juvenal. Sat. i. 104. Bayle's note B. Dict. Hist. And in the classical authors may be also seen Vice personified and corrupting under the symbolical appearance of a woman. In the Tablet of Cebes, a woman, whose name is Deceit, holds in her hand the corrupting cup; and in Prodicus's Choice of Hercules, as preserved by Xenophon, there is the same imagery. Isa. xlvii. 7, &c,
tical: but whatever he may have done before, he cannot fail to turn his attention to this great city, when he reads the explanation of the angel in the 18th verse.
" The woman which thou didst see, is the great city which hath dominion over the kings of “ the earth." What can be more obvious than that this city is Rome? What other city or state, had such dominion at the time when the angel pronounced these words ? In the symbolical language of Scripture, Rome is Babylon Saint Peter dates his first Epistle from Rome under the name of Babylon * ; the Romanists themselves deny not to Rome the application of this name. It is necessary to their own purposes, but it confirms the application of this prophecy, which plainly belongs to Rome, either pagan or ecclesiastical ; and the sequel will discover which.
But the woman does not come alone ; she is mounted on “a scarlet-coloured wild-beast, full of names “of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.”
* See the notes of Dr. Hammond and of Grotius on this passage, as well as the opinion of the ancients upon it, in Euseb. Eccl. llist. lib, ii. c. 15. Some eminent critics have indeed contended for the literal Babylon, the remains of Babylon, in which some Jews appear still to have dwelled in Saint Peter's time, being the place whence Saint Peter dated his Epistle. (See Michaelis's lotrod. ch. xxvii. sect. 4.) But however that may be determined, it affects not the mystical application of the word Babylon in a mystical book. (See note, ch. xi. 9, 10.) Babylon, at the time this Revelation was written, was in a still more deserted miserable state than when Saint Peter wrote, Pausanias, who flourished about one hundred years later than the dute of St. Peter's Epistle, and about sixty after the date of the Apocalypse, has recorded, that ancient Babylon had then nothing remaining but its wall, which was afterwards employed to inclose a park, in which wild beasts were kept for the hunting of the kings of Persia. Pausan. lib. viii. c. 33.
This description cannot fail to remind us of the wildbeast represented in the xiiith chapter. It will be useful to bring the two descriptions together, that thus they may more easily be compared :
WILD-BEAST OF Clap. XIII.
WILD-BEAST OF CHAP. XVII.
1 From the sea.
1 From the bottomless
deep; so the sea is called ; aburros. Luke
viii. 31. 2 Seven heads, ten horns. 2 Seven heads, ten horus. 3 Ten diadeins on the 3 The diadems not menhorns.
tioned, but may be supposed, for the horns are here said to be kings,
therefore crowned. 4 Names of blasphemy on 4 Full of names of blashis heads.
phemy. 5 Like a leopard.
5 6 Has the feet of a bear. 6 7 Has the mouth of a lion. 7 8 Has great power and 8 Has the power of the rule from the dragon.
kings, which is used, like that of the dragon, against
Church. 9 One of his heads mor- 9 Was, is not, though, he
tally wounded, but is; (see the comparison, wonderfully, and un- in the note, ch. xiii. 3.)
expectedly, healed. 10 A great wonder upon 10 A wonder to the inha
earth, and object of bitants of the earth, adoration.
and may be an object