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these admonitions most to heart; to apply these tests to his own views, and to his own motives of conduct. So we may say of Christian communities: We are not to cast our eyes around the whole visible church, as it is termed, to apply the criterion of divine worship here given to the trial of portions of Christendom apparently least favoured of God, and most estranged from the truth ; we are to apply the standard of judgment to our own views, and the test of motives to that scheme of doctrine we are ourselves, as sects or denominations, most disposed to advocate.
Vs. 1, 2. And there came one of the Και ήλθεν εις εκ των επτά αγγέλων των seven angels which had the seven vials, εχόντων τας φιάλας, και ελάλησε μετ' εμού Come hither; I will show into thee the λέγων· δεύρο, δείξω σοι το κρίμα της πόρjudgment of the great whore that sitieth νης της μεγάλης, της καθημένης επί των upon many waters; with whom the kings υδάτων των πολλών, μεθ' ης επόρνευσαν οι of the earth have committed fornication, βασιλείς της γης, και εμεθύσθησαν οι καand the inhabitants of the earth have been τοικούντες την γήν εκ του οίνου της πορmade drunk with the wine of her fornication.
νείας αυτής. $ 379. 'And there came one of the seven angels,' &c.—If this be the first ($ 145) of the seven angels, it must be the one the pouring out of whose vial resulted in a grievous sore upon the men having the mark of the beast; but perhaps either of these angels may be supposed, with equal propriety, to be instrumental in making the exhibition about to be described. The contents of this chapter, in its relation with the preceding portion of the Apocalypse, may be considered a species of episode ; the attention of the reader or spectator being called off for a time from the thread of the main narrative to something requiring a separate illustration. On the effusion of the seventh vial, a dissolution of the great city took place, and Babylon came in remembrance before God. The questions naturally occurring then, we may suppose to have been, What great city is this ? What was particularly the criminal character of this Babylon, for which she is made to partake of the cup of the wine of the fierceness of God's wrath ? and, What is to be understood by her thus coming in remembrance before God? An answer to these inquiries is furnished in what we may here call the vision of the harlot.
• Come hither,' &c.—Comparing this passage with that of Rev. xxi. 9, 10, we cannot but be confirmed in the supposition already suggested, ($ 331,) that this Harlot is an opposite of the bride, the Lamb's wise ; as the great city Babylon is an opposite of the New Jerusalem. The contrast to be met with in the two figures will aid us in arriving at an understanding of the illustrations intended by both of them.
'I will show unto thee the judgment,' &c.—The whole process of apprehension, condemnation, and punishment, as appears from the context; the woman being first described in her power, as one exulting in the success of a life of crime ; and the account ending with a description of her final destruction, as of the carrying into effect the sentence of execution.
With the Greek term zoprn* we are principally to associate the idea of adulteration or mixture ; corresponding with which association, we consider this harlot (Babylon) as the figure of a mixed system of redemption—a supposed covenant of salvation, composed of a mixture of the principles of grace and those of works ;—something involving, on the part of the disciple, a dependence partly upon his own merits and partly upon those of his Redeemer ; this Greek term carrying with it the same signification as that conveyed by the name Babel or Babylon, ($ 331.) A harlot is the opposite of a wife. The wife of the Lamb we suppose to be the covenant of grace, or that plan of salvation by which the whole community of believers become the adopted children of God consequently, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; on which account this economy or covenant (Alacuíxn) is also styled by Paul, in his epistle to the Galatians, the mother of us all.
$ 380. The opposite of a plan of grace must be a plan of works ; but as the Apocalypse is addressed to Christian churches, and as the errors to be eradicated by this development of the truth are errors in the church, and not out of it, we may reasonably conclude that the matter before us does not relate to the difference between Christians and Jews, or between the Christian economy and the Levitical economy. The plan represented by the harlot must be something introduced into the doctrinal views of Christians; and, as such, opposed to the economy of grace, it can be nothing else than a mixed system. We find the figure of a harlot to be almost uniformly employed in the Old Testament for the purpose of illustrating a like dereliction from the truth ; a dereliction sometimes indeed compared to the conduct of a lawful wife in becoming an abandoned adulteress. The figure in either case is essentially different from that of the bondmaid or concubine, spoken of by Paul as the representation of the legal dispensation. The harlot of the Apocalypse represents, we think, a perverted view of the gospel plan of salvation ; a view involving something like a mixture of Christianity and Judaism—a dependence partly upon the merits of Christ, and partly upon the merits or righteousness of man, (self.) The first part indeed being rather in profession than in reality, while the last part is less in profession and more in reality ;-a dependence in any degree upon our own merits in the work of redemption, resulting, as we have repeatedly
* llogrola propriè notat commixtionem eorum qui extra conjugium vivunt.—(Suiceri Lex.) Vid. 314, note.
remarked, in an assumption to ourselves of the glory of our own salvation ; thus constituting in effect a forsaking of Christ as the Lord our righteousness, and our only source of dependence.
This error is figuratively spoken of as the great harlot, because it is the great, the almost universal error of the Christian church ; an error confined to no sect or denomination—an error to be found rather in the hearts or minds of disciples, than in their modes of worship or in their formularies of doctrine.
$ 381. “That sitteth upon many waters.'—This figure, a license of vision, would be hardly admissible, were it not that, in the language of this Apocalypse, the great city and the harlot, as well as their opposites, the holy city and the bride, are employed almost as convertible terms; perhaps for the reason that we should be continually reminded of the identity of the subject alluded to under these different appellations ; although probably for the further reason, that these changes and interchanges of figures greatly facilitate the illustrations intended.
Waters, as we have frequently noticed, ($ 200,) are figures of means of propitiation. The waters of the earth are opposites of the water of life, (the atonement of Christ :) the multitude of means of atonement of man's device being spoken of as many waters—many supposed means, or meritorious acts of propitiation, as they are erroneously estimated. On these nany propitiatory devices, (waters) the mixed system of salvation represented by the harlot rests, as upon its only foundation ; the system deriving its influence upon the minds of men, from the efficacy of these supposed means of redemption ;-these pseudo-elements of atonement furnishing the harlot system with its cathedra, or seat of authority, whence its doctrinal propositions may be said to emanate.
Changing the figure, these waters are to Babylon a substitute for the rock or mountain, (Zion,) upon which the holy city may be considered as resting. This harlot city accordingly rests upon something even more unstable, and less to be depended upon, than a foundation of sand. Corresponding with this precarious support, the prophet speaks of Babylon as approaching the time of her dissolution, (Jer. li. 13 :) “O thou that dwellest upon many waters, abundant in treasures, thine end is come.” The ancient Babylon—the city—was not built amongst many waters, as might be said to be the case with some of our modern cities; but no doubt it owed as much to the labour of man for its artificial waters, (the Euphrates, by means of irrigation perhaps, supplying the whole city,) as it was indebted to the same labour of man for its immense bulwarks and hanging gardens. In this respect, the figure of such a city is particularly pertinent to the apocalyptic subject of illustration here contemplated. The dorninion of Babylon, however, as an empire, extended over many well-watered countries ; and rivers
and streams are essential means of dependence to the subjects of an empire, both for purposes of lise, and for the acquisition of wealth. Babylon in that respect, in the time of the prophet, may correctly be spoken of as dwelling upon many waters. At the same time, the similarity of these typical expressions suggests the probability that the apostle and the prophet had the same Babylon in view ; both employ the same ancient city as a figure, and probably both, directed by the same spirit of revelation, intend to illustrate ultimately the same spiritual truths.
It may be objected, that the definition of these waters, given by the angel in the fifteenth verse of this chapter, is expressly that they are “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues ;" but this we have already seen to be a figurative expression for what we term earthly powers of salvation, or supposed means of salvation, peculiar to the earthly system, ($ 80 ;) the very redundancy of the expression itself indicating to us that it is not to be taken in a literal sense. Besides, the interpretation here, as elsewhere, is what we term an interpretation in a vision ; the language is part of the vision—the interpretation is as figurative as the thing interpreted. The apostle is told that these waters are peoples, multitudes, &c.; we must then go to other parts of the Apocalypse to learn how this expression (peoples, multitudes, &c.) is employed, and thence derive our understanding of the interpretation given.
$382. “With whom the kings of the earth,' &c.—These kings are no doubt those summoned by the three unclean spirits (Rev. xvi. 14) to the battle of the great day—the kings that bid themselves in the dens and rocks of the mountains, Rev. vi. 15. We suppose them here, as we have supposed them before, to represent ruling principles of subordinate earthly systems ; systems founded upon the position of man's dependence upon his own works for eternal life. The ruling principles of these systems may, perhaps, be susceptible of employment in the cause of truth or error ; as Christ is said, Rev. i. 5, to be the Prince of the kings of the earth ;-all principles and all systems, whether true or false, being subordinate in effect to the grand design of an eventual manifestation of the truth. But these kings of the earth, we presume, are to be considered as altogether engaged in the service of the false system of the harlot; they have become amalgamated and identified with that system, and are consequently, like that system, destined for destruction ;—such destruction being implied, apparently, in the results of the great battle described at the conclusion of the nineteenth chapter. The kings of the earth indeed are mentioned, Rev. xxi. 24, as bringing their glory and honour into the holy city; but this is subsequent to the passing away of the first earth, as well as the first heaven ; consequently, these latter kings are those of the new earth—ruling principles of systems, depending upon the new position of salvation by grace alone.