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are unutterable; “none knoweth, but he that receiveth it. (Rev. ii. 17.)
Ver. 4, 5. These are they who, &c.] Here follows a description of that pure Church, which alone Christ acknowledges for his own, during the usurpation of antichrist. 'H yuvn, signifies generally a married woman; the crime committed with such is adultery ; which may be taken, in a literal sense, to represent in general, all the defilements of the flesh; or in a metaphorical sense, a woman is a Church, or congregation of religious persons;' which, keeping itself pure from idolatry, is styled a virgin; but, defiled with such abomination, is denominated harlot or adulteress. • They called,” says Hegisippus, “ the Church a virgin, when it was not corrupted by vain doctrines." Every part of this description
2 may be found applied in other places of Scripture: 1. By Saint Peter; “they have escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2 Pet. i. 4.) 2. By our Lord ; they “ follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth,” that is, “ take up their cross and follow him.” (Matt. x. 38.) 3. By Saint Paul; are redeemed, bought with a price.” (1 Cor. vi. 20.) 4. By Saint James; "a kind of first fruits of God's creatures." (James i. 18.) Lastly, “ speaking no deceit,” “ blameless before God.” (1 Pet. ii. 22; iii. 10; 2 Pet. iii. 4; Phil. ii. 15; Luke i. 6.) And this description agrees nearly with that of the prophet Zephaniah : " I will leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord; the remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies, neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth. They shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.” (Zeph. iii. 12, 13.)
1 See note, ch. ii. 20. 2 Euseb. Hist. Eccl. lib. iv. cap. xxvi.
6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting Gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
The character of the true, faithful Christian Church, having been exhibited, its history now begins to be generally set forth ; while solemn warnings, and instructions, and encouragements, most useful to the faithful during the times of the beast, are delivered. And first, an angel, flying in mid-heaven, proclaims the Gospel, as an everlasting rule of faith and of conduct. It has been the endeavour of the antichristian powers to corrupt or secrete this Gospel,” which is to lead all nations and languages to the knowledge and worship of the almighty Creator. So the progress of the Reformation seems here to be prefigured, which, from its first dawnings, ever appealed to the everlasting Gospel as the sole rule of faith, and preached the restoration of Gospel worship in opposition to the reigning impurities and superstitions. Ver. 7. Judgment.] See note, ch. xi. 18.
. 1 See note, ch. viii. 13.
2 Mahomet and his followers have corrupted,—the papal hierarchy have secreted it.
The second Angel proclaims.
CHAP. xiv. ver. 8.
8 And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
Another angel follows, proclaiming the fall of “ Babylon, that great city,” which had intoxicated, seduced, and corrupted the nations with her impure religion. This city, and her fall, will be more particularly represented in chapters xvii and xviii. It is sufficient in this place to observe, that this is one very formidable horn of the second antichristian beast, the false prophet; the fall of which is here prophetically anticipated, for the comfort and encouragement of the suffering Church, engaged in opposing her. And the progress of the Reformation seems still to be generally described; for the purer Christians, the Albigenses and Valdenses, in the twelfth century, pronounced the church of Rome to
Babylon, the mother of harlots, and abominations of the earth.” 1 From this discovery is to be dated the beginning of her fall.
1 See Mede's Works, pp. 517, 722, &c. Thuan. Hist. lib. vi. cap. 16. Bishop Newton's Dissert. vol. iii. p. 258, 8vo.
be this very
9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture, into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone, in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever; and they have no rest day nor night who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
A third angel proclaims just and eternal vengeance upon those who "
worship the beast;" who knowing their duty and their allegiance to God, sacrifice them to their worldly views and interests. They are threatened with “ the wine of the wrath of God;" the wine, which is at first strong of itself, unmixed, (akpatov,) has no diluting liquor put to it to reduce its strength, as was common in the eastern nations of antiquity. But, secondly, it is KeKepaouevov, rendered still stronger by the mixture of κεκερασμενον powerful, intoxicating ingredients. (Compare Isa.
. li. 17–23; Psa. lxxv. 8.) “ The Hebrew idea of which St. John expresses in Greek, with the utmost precision, though with a seeming contradiction in terms, KeKepaojevov akpatov, merum mixtum ; pure wine made yet stronger by a mixture of powerful ingredients. In the hand of Jehovah, (saith the Psalmist,) there is a cup, and the wine is turbid; it is full of mixed liquor, and he poureth out of it, (or rather he poureth out of one vessel into another, to mix it perfectly, according to the reading expressed by the ancient versions, all the ungodly shall wring them out and drink them. The expression in the Septuagint (Psa. lxxv. 8,) ποτηριον-οινου άκρατου
(. . 8,) , πληρες κερασματος, which in the Chaldee is called a cup of malediction, throws additional light on this passage. (Compare also Psa. xi. 6; Ix. 3; Jer. xxv. 15, 16,&c.; Lam. iv. 21; Ezek. xxiii. 32, &c.; Hab. ii. 16; Zech. xii. 2; also Hom. Il. xxii. 527; Odyss. iv. 220.” Such terms were used to express the anger of God, terrible by temporal punishments, but most terrible by those torments beyond the grave, “where their worm dieth not, and their fire is not quenched;” which ideas are also forcibly expressed in the words now before us; “the smoke of their torment ascendeth for ever and ever.". Thus the terror of the greater evil is exhibited, to enable Christians to undergo the less with patient courage described in the twelfth verse.
1 Bishop Lowth, on Isaiah li.