Page images
PDF
EPUB

angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, she made all nations drink of is fallen, that great city, because the wine of the wrath of her powers that opposed it were doomed was to happen to the churcł., both in to fall. The revelator shouts over | its Jewish and Gentile branches ; and the fall of Babylon. Babylon was a he commences at ver. 8 (now before great city, the capital of Babylonia, or us] to describe what was about to hap. Chaldea. It was to this place that pen to her enemies throughout the emthe Jews were carried away captive pire. This fall of Rome is to be by Nebuchadnezzar. See the 137th understood in a somewhat different Psalm. In consequence of this event, sense from the fall of Jerusalem. the name Babylon became symbolical, There was not such an utter devastaamong the Jews, for a state of suffer- tion that not one stone was left upon ing and calamity, as Sodom was sym- another. It partook more of the bolical of a place of great wicked character of a moral fall, as we learn ness; and hence Jerusalem was spirit- from chap. xviii. 2: “ And he cried ually called Sodom and Egypt; Rev. mightily with a strong voice, saying, xi. 8. As in this place where Sodom Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, is named, we know that Jerusalem is and is become the habitation of devils, intended, so here where Babylon is and the hold of every foul spirit, and named, Rome is intended. The Jews a cage of every unclean and hateful believed, from the time of the seventy bird." This is not too strong a years' captivity, that Babylon would description of the wickedness of Rome. be destroyed, in consequence of their She did become the habitation of detention in bondage. When that devils ;" she was “the mother of city fell, therefore, they esteemed it harlots and of the abominations of a judgment of God. İsaiah sung: the earth ;" xvii. 5. " She made all "Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all nations drink of the wine of the wrath the graven images of her gods he of her fornication ;" i. e., she caused hath broken unto the ground;" xxi. them to participate in her crimes and 9. And Jeremiah takes up the same her punishments. The fall of Rome strain : “ Babylon is suddenly fallen is more particularly described in and destroyed : howl for her; take chapters xvii. and xviii., and we shall balm for her pain, if so be she may treat of it again when we come to be healed ;" li. 8.

Thus we

see those sections. I Made all nations where the revelator found the lan- drink of the wine. — She had power guage he employs, “ Babylon is fal- once, and she used it. She pressed len, is fallen." That Babylon is put all nations into her service; she infatfor Rome in the Apocalypse, is placed uated them with zeal against Chris. beyond all doubt by what we find in tianity, and made them partakers of the 17th chapter, where we are told her sins. Hence it is said she made that the woman Babylon, who sat all nations drink of her wine. Two upon the Roman beast, with seven qualities are attributed to wine in the heads and ten horns, (evidently the Scriptures, the strengthening and the Roman Empire,] was “that great city intoxicating quality.

Used judi. which reigneth over the kings of the ciously, by those in a weakly state, earth ;" a description that would apply wine is beneficial; but if taken to to no city on the earth at that time excess, the effect is highly injurious. except Rome. Rome was “that great These contrary qualities will account city,” or empire, which had “made for the apparently contradictory man. all nations drink of the wine of the ner in which the sacred writers speak wrath of her fornication. In the of wine. In the one case, it “is a first of this chapter, viz., from verses inocker; and strong drink is raging; 1-7, the revelator had shown what I and whosoever is deceived thereby is fornication.

beast and his image, and receive 9 And the third angel fol- his mark in his forehead, or in lowed them, saying with a loud his hand, voice, If any man worship the 10 The same shall drink of

not wise;" Prov. xx. 1, and xxiii. inflammatory, raging wine of her 29; but in the other, “wine maketh wickedness. She infuriated them by glad the heart of man ;" Psa. civ. 15, her example, and stimulated them by and we are told to give it to “him her power. that is ready to perish ;" Prov. xxxi. 9. Third angel. - This again is one 6. Wine, like other medicines, if of the angels of proclamation. The used judiciously, will be beneficial ; first is mentioned ver. 6; the second if otherwise, it will be injurious, per- ver. 8. | Worship the beast and his haps fatal. We see now why wine image. - The beast here is the sevenis made a metaphor for the influence headed beast, and his image the same of wicked men, as in the passage as referred to xiii. 15. Worshipping before us; it is because of its destruc- the beast and his image means nothtive qualities when taken in excess. ing more than paying allegiance and It is said of the wicked : “For their devotion to the beast himself. T Revine is of the vine of Sodom, and of ceive his mark in his forehead, or in his the fields of Gomorrah : their grapes hand. - This is a reference to what are grapes of gall, their clusters are is said xiii. 16, that the beast, which bitter : their wine is the poison of represented the false prophets, or dragons, and the cruel venom of teachers of the pagan religion, caused asps ;" Deut. xxxii. 32, 33. May all, both small and great, rich and not this description be justly applied poor, free and bond, i. e., all whom to the wine of which Rome made the he could terrify into acquiescence, to nations drink? The figure of the receive a mark in their right hand, or revelator in the verse before us seems in their foreheads. See the notes on to have been taken from Jeremiah. that verse. The heathen nations, by “ Babylon hath been a golden cup in whom the Jews were surrounded, the Lord's hand, that made all the were in the habit of receiving incisearth drunken : the nations have ions, or marks, upon their bodies, to drunken of her wine; therefore the denote the class of idolaters to which nations are mad;" li. 7. Such, evi- they belonged, or the idol whom they dently, was the passage which sug- adored. The Jews were forbidden to gested the metaphor to the revelator's follow their custom. “Ye shall not mind. He uses it repeatedly ; see make any cuttings in your flesh for xvii. 2, 4. T of the wrath of her for the dead, nor print any marks upon nication. Wrath here is put for the you : I am the Lord ;" Lev. xix. 28. inflammatory nature of the wine, as Horne says, of the heathen : if the phraseology had been, drink frequent, and, indeed, very general of the inflammatory wine of her, for- custom, was the carrying of marks on nication. If strong drink is raging, their body in honor of the object of its qualities may well be described their worship. To this day, all the by wrath. Fornication, as we have castes of the Hindoos bear on their repeatedly shown, is used metaphori- foreheads, or elsewhere, what are cally for idolatry. See our remarks called the sectarian marks, which not on ver. 4 of this chapter. Purity in only distinguish them in a civil, but worship is represented as chastity, also in a religious point of view, virginity; whereas the worship of from each other. Most of the barbar idols is described by opposite terms. ous nations lately discovered have Rome made the nations drink of the I their faces, arms, breasts, &c., curi

" A more

the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without ously carved, or tattooed, probably for out any diluting or weakening, in the superstitious purposes. Ancient wri- cup of his indignation. The enemies ters abound with accounts of marks of the church were obliged to drink made on the face, arms, &c., in honor it; and as Isaiah says, “God made of different idols, and to this the in- them drunk in his fury;" Ixui. 6. spired penman alludes, (Rev. xiii. 16, To drink of the cup of God's wrath is 17; xiv. 9, 11; xv. 2; xvi. 2; xix. to suffer the judgments which he in. 20 ; xx. 4,) where false worshippers Alicts on men for their sins. This is are represented as receiving in their made clear by Jeremiah : “For thus hands, and in their forehead, the saith the Lord God of Israel unto me; marks of the beast." -Horne's Intro., Take the wine-cup of this fury at my Phil. Edition, 1826; Vol. iii., p. 356. hand, and cause all the nations, to

10. Drink of the wine of the wrath of whom I send thee, to drink it. And God. — We are now to see the punish- they shall drink, and be moved, and ment of those who received the mark be mad, because of the sword that I of the beast in their foreheads, or their will send among them ;” xxv. 15, 16. hands, i. e., of those who gave adher- The wine-cup of God's fury here was ence wickedly to the power and prac- the judgment of the sword. The foltice of the empire in the persecution lowing passage, from the same chapof the Christians. “The same shall ter, is equally pertinent : “ And it drink of the wine of the wrath of shall be, if they refuse to take the cup God,” &c. This is a metaphor of the at thy hand to drink, then shalt thou Old Testament. The judgments of say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God on wicked men are said to be of hosts, Ye shall certainly drink. wine in a cup, red with wrath-mixed For lo, I begin to bring evil on the with nothing to dilute it, but with in- city which is called by my name, and gredients to make it stronger — which should ye be utterly unpunished ? Ye is to be drunk, even to the very dregs, shall not be unpunished : for I will by those who suffer the severity of call for a sword upon all the inhabit. God's judgments. “But God is the ants of the earth, saith the Lord of judge: he putteth down one and set- hosts ;" 28, 29. See, also, Rev. xvi. teth up another. For in the hand of 19; xviii. 6. God's fury or judgthe Lord there is a cup, and the winements ofttimes madden men, and is red; it is full of mixture, and he are therefore well compared to wine. poureth out of the same : but the dregs | Tormented with fire and brimstone. thereof, all the wicked of the earth This metaphor of fire and brimstone shall wring them out, and drink | 1. apprehend, had its origin in the them;" Psalms, lxxv. 7, 8. Again : destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusa- “ The Lord rained upon Sodom and lem, which hast drunk at the hand of upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire the Lord the cup of his fury; thou from the Lord out of heaven;" Gen. hast drunken the dregs of the cup of xix. 24 ; also, Luke xvii. 29. Here trembling, and wrung them out;" Isa. we have the germ from which the li. 17. The bold image of the cup of constant figure of the sacred writers God's wrath, often employed by the sa- in regard to the punishment of the cred writers, is nowhere handled with wicked by fire and brimstone grew. greater force and sublimity than in See, also, Deut. xxix. 23:- "And that this passage of Isaiah, verses 17—23. the whole land thereof is brimstone, See Lowth on Isa., Note on li. 21. In and salt, and burning, that it is not the verse before us, the wine of God's sown, nor beareth, nor any grass judgments is said to be "poured out groweth therein, like the overthrow without mixture,"i. e., prepared with. I of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and mixture into the cup of his in- | dignation; and he shall be torZeboim, which the Lord overthrew in and ye shall be melted in the midst his anger and in his wrath.” Being thereof. As silver is melted in the thus brought into use by Moses, the midst of the furnace, so shall ye be figure became somewhat common. melted in the midst thereof; and ye “ Upon the wicked he shall rain shall know that I the Lord have snares, fire and brimstone, and a hor- poured out my fury upon you.” It rible tempest: this shall be the portion is not possible to conceive that this of their cup;" Psa. xi. 6. The figure description of punishment by fire of “the lake of fire and briinstone" should be in the immortal state; and we shall consider when we come to moreover it is expressly said to have the 19th, 20th and 21st chapters of been in the midst of Jerusalem.” It the Apocalypse. That metaphor oc- should be our earnest desire to ascercurs nowhere but in the chapters now tain the true sense of the Scriptures pointed out. But destruction by fire in these matters. [ In the presence of and brimstone, which is similar, is the holy angels and in the presence of or more common occurrence in the the Lamb. Professor Stuart says, Scriptures. The destruction of Idu- these words “must refer the punishmea is thus described by Isaiah : ment in question to the future world.” “ And the streams thereof shall be " That the blessed in heaven have turned into pitch and the dust thereof cognizance of the wicked and their into brimstone, and the land thereof sufferings seems to be plainly disshall become burning pitch. It shall closed in Luke xvi. 23—26. And the not be quenched day nor night; the consciousness on the part of malignant smoke thereof shall go up forever : persecutors in the world of woe, that from generation to generation it shall those whom they had pursued unto ie waste; none shall pass through it death were looking down on their tor forever and ever;" Isa. xxxiv. 9, 10. ments, from a state of inconceivable This punishment of fire and brim- happiness above, would doubtless be stone was not in the immortal state, a circumstance of great aggravation." but in the land of Idumea. Fire was in these remarks we think the learned one of the most common metaphors Professor has consulted his creed more employed by the sacred writers to than the word of God; and if it be not represent divine judgments. It oc- improper for him to offer such sug. curs in all the prophets as well as in gestions in the course of a commentathe books of the New Testament; but ry on the Apocalypse, it cannot be there is no proof that these judgments improper for us to consider them in are to be endured in the immortal this place. He is disposed to give the state. On the contrary, the language passage a literal interpretation. If employed is often such as to forbid he affixes to one part a literal sense, such a construction. See, for in- we see no reason why he should not stance, Ezk. xxii. 19–22: “ There- give a like sense to the whole passage. fore, thus saith the Lord God, Becanse What, then, is the scene before us if ye are all become dross, behold, there we understand the account literally? fore I will gather you into the midst Men worship literally a beast and his of Jerusalem. As they gather silver, image; they have his mark in their and brass, and iron, and lead, in the hands and on their foreheads; they midst of the furnace, to blow the fire drink of the wine of the wrath of God upon it, to melt it; so will I gather out of the cup of his indignation ; and you in mine anger and in my fury, they are tormented with fire and brim. and I will leave you there, and melt stone in the literal sense, and the holy you. Yea, I will gather you, and angels and the Lamb stand and look on blow upon you in the fire of my wrath, eternally and contemplate the scene

mented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy

Can any person believe that this is to ners in his sight, or judgment; they be understood in the literal sense? had violated his statuies. 2d. To do If one part should be understood in a thing before God, is to do it with a that sense, we see no reason why the sense of his oversight and of accountwhole should not. But will any person ability to him. “I fell down before take the ground that the whole should the Lord, as at the first, forty days be so understood ? On our part, we and forty nights : I did neither eat hold that the language is metaphori- bread, nor drink water, because of all cal; and that the words “in the pres- your sins which ye sinned, in doing ence of the holy angels and in the wickedly in the sight of the Lord, to presence of the Lamb,” are as purely provoke him to anger;" Deut. ix. 18. metaphorical as any other part. There So the Jews were to eat before God; should be a unity preserved in the Idem, 12, 18. The descendants of interpretation of the Apocalypse, at Saul were hanged by the Gibeonites least as far as possible. When we before the Lord; 2 Sam. xxi.9. This read that men follow the Lamb;' certainly was not in “ the future xiv. 4; that “the Lamb stood on world." When the enemies were Mouni Zion;" xiv. 1; that the Lamb driven away by David, and the land led the believers to living fountains was given into his hand, it was said of water; vii. 17; that the great mul- “the land is subdued before the Lord titude stood before the Lamb; vii. 9; and before his people ;” 1 Chron. xxii. and that the four beasts and four-and- 18. The Jews, in their sacred festi. twenty elders “fell down before the vals, eat and drank before the Lord; Lamb;' v. 8; are we to understand Idem, xxix. 22. See, also, Ezek. xliv. these things literally or metaphor. 3. The Psalmist said, “I will walk ically ? Surely we must adopt the before the Lord in the land of the last-named construction. Why, then, living ;' cxvi. 9; which was certainly should it be alleged that we must un- not in the future world." The back. derstand the language literally when sliding Jews “claimed to have walked we read that the Roman persecutors mournfully before the Lord of hosts;" were to be punished in the presence Mal. iii. 14. Paul gave charge to of the holy angels and the Lamb? Timothy “before God and the Lord The learned professor to whom we Jesus Christ ;" 2 Tim. iv. l. 3d. Men have referred adduces this as sufficient were said to be "before the Lordwhen proof that the punishment of the Ro- they came to the temple to worship man persecutors shall be in the future him, or assembled in any other place state. Is it not possible that he may for the solemn services of prayer and not be fully aware of the style in praise. " Wherewith shall i come which the sacred writers speak of the before the Lord and bow myself be. divine presence? Let us examine a fore the high God?Micah vi. 6. few passages in which the expres-“When shall I appear before God ?" sions“ before God,” or “ before the Psa. xlii. 2. “Every one in Zion apLord,” and “presence of God," or "of peareth before God ;'' Psa. Ixxxiv. 7. the Lord,” occur. 1st, Before God, But let us turn for a moment to conmeans in his sight, or supervision, or sider the intent of the sacred writers estimation, in whatever place the thing when they use the word presence. referred to may be done. Nimrod God's presence went up with Moses was a mighty hunter before God; out of Egypt ; Exod. xxxiii. 14, 15. Gen. x. 9; evidently not in “ the fu- To be cut off from life was to be cut ture world.” The men of Sodom off from the presence of God; Lev. were sinners before God exceedingly; xxii. 3 — a most singular statement Gen. xiii. 13; that is, they were sin- if men can be found in the presence of

« PreviousContinue »