Revelation of John 18

CHAPTER XVIII.

A luminous angel proclaims the fall of Babylon, and the cause

of it, 1-3.

The followers of God are exhorted to come out of it, in order

to escape her approaching punishment, 4-8.

The kings of the earth lament her fate, 9, 10.

The merchants also bewail her, 11.

The articles in which she trafficked enumerated, 12-16.

She is bewailed also by shipmasters, sailors, &c., 17-19.

All heaven rejoices over her fall, and her final desolation is

foretold, 20-24.

NOTES ON CHAP. XVIII.

Verse 1. The earth was lightened with his glory.] This may refer

to some extraordinary messenger of the everlasting Gospel, who, by

his preaching and writings, should be the means of diffusing the

light of truth and true religion over the earth.

Verse 2. Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen] This is a

quotation from Isa 21:9:

And he said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven

images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground. This is applied

by some to Rome pagan; by others to Rome papal; and by others to

Jerusalem.

Is become-the hold of every foul spirit] See the parallel

passages in the margin. The figures here point out the most

complete destruction. A city utterly sacked and ruined, never to

be rebuilt.

Verse 3. The wine of the wrath] The punishment due to her

transgressions, because they have partaken with her in her sins.

See Clarke on Re 14:8.

Verse 4. Come out of her, my people] These words appear to be

taken from Isa 48:20; Jer 1:8; 51:6, 45. The poet Mantuanus

expresses this thought well:-

Vivere qui sancte cupitis, discelite; Romae

Omnia quum liceant, non licet esse bonum.

"Ye who desire to live a godly life, depart; for, although all

things are lawful at Rome, yet to be godly is unlawful.

Verse 5. Her sins have reached unto heaven] They are become so

great and enormous that the long-suffering of God must give place

to his justice.

Verse 6. Reward her even as she rewarded you] These words are a

prophetic declaration of what shall take place: God will deal with

her as she dealt with others.

Verse 7. How much she hath glorified herself] By every act of

transgression and sinful pampering of the body she has been

preparing for herself a suitable and proportionate punishment.

Verse 8. Therefore shall her plagues come] Death, by the sword

of her adversaries; mourning on account of the slaughter; and

famine, the fruits of the field being destroyed by the hostile

bands.

Utterly burned with fire] Of what city is this spoken? Rome

pagan has never been thus treated; Alaric and Totilas burnt only

some parts with fire. Rome papal has not been thus treated; but

this is true of Jerusalem, and yet Jerusalem is not generally

thought to be intended.

Verse 9. The kings of the earth] Those who copied her

superstitions and adopted her idolatries.

Verse 10. Standing afar off] Beholding her desolations with

wonder and astonishment, utterly unable to afford her any kind of

assistance.

Verse 11. The merchants of the earth] These are represented as

mourning over her, because their traffic with her was at an end.

Bishop Bale, who applies all these things to the Church of Rome,

thus paraphrases the principal passages:-

"The mighty kinges and potentates of the earth, not havinge

afore their eyes the love and feare of God, have committed with

this whore moste vile filthynesse; abusinge themselves by many

straunge or uncommaunded worshippings, and bynding themselves by

othe to observe hyr lawes and customs. At the examples, doctrines,

counsels, and perswasions of hyr holy whoremongers, have they

broken the covenaunts of peace; battailed, oppressed, spoyled,

ravished, tyrannously murthered innocents; yea, for vain foolish

causes, and more vaine titles, as though there were neither heaven

nor hel, God nor accounts to be made.

"And her mitred marchantes, hyr shorne souldiers, hir

massemongers, hyr soulesellers, and hir martbrokers, waxed very

riche, through the sale of hir oyles, creme, salt, water, bread,

orders, hallowings, houselinges, ashes, palme, waxe, frankensence,

beades, crosses, candlesticks, copes, belles, organes, images,

reliques, and other pedlary wares.

"They have gotten in unto them pallaces and princely houses, fat

pastors and parkes, meadowes and warrens, rivers and pondes,

villages and towns, cities and whole provinces, with the divill

and all els; besides other men's wives, daughters, mayde

servantes, and children, whom they have abhominably corrupted.

What profites they have drawen unto them also by the sale of great

bishopricks, prelacies, promocions, benefices, tot quoties,

pardons, pilgrymages, confessions, and purgatory; besides the

yearely rents of cathedrall churches, abbayes, colleges, covents,

for sutes and suche other.-Specially shal they be sore

discontented with the matter, which have with hir committed the

whordom of the spyrite, by many externe worshipings of drye waffer

cakes, oyles, roods, relyques, ladyes, images, sculles, bones,

chippes, olde ragges, showes, (shoes,) bootes, spurres, hattes,

breches, whodes, night capes, and such like.

"And they that have lived wantonly with hir, (Re 18:9,) in

following hir idle observacions, in mattenses, houres, and masses;

in sensinges, halowings, and font halowing; in going processions

with canapye, crosse, and pyx; with banneres, stremers, and torche

light; with such other gaudes to folish for children.

"Alas, alas, that great cyty (Re 18:10) that beautiful

Babilon, that blessed holy mother the Church, which somtime had

so many popes pardons, so many bishoppes blessinges, so many holye

stations, so many cleane remissions a pena et culpa, so many good

ghostly fathers, so many religious orders, so much holy water for

spirites, and Saint John's gospel, with the five woundes and the

length of our Lord for drowning, is nowe decayed for ever!

'Alas, alas, who shall pray for us now? Who shall singe dirges

and trentoles? Who shal spoile us of our sinnes? Who shal give us

ashes and palmes? Who shal blesse us with a spade, and singe us

out of purgatory when we are deade? If we lacke these things we

are like to want heaven. These are the desperate complaints of the

wicked."

Verse 12. The merchandise of gold, and silver, &c.] The same

author, Bishop Bale, who was once a priest of the Romish Church,

goes on to apply all these things to that Church; and whether the

text have this meaning or not, they will show us something of the

religious usages of his time, and the real mockery of this

intolerant and superstitious Church. Speaking in reference to the

Reformation, and the general light that had been diffused abroad

by the word of God, which was then translated into the vulgar

tongue, and put into the hands of the people at large, he says:-

"They will pay no more money for the housell sippings, bottom

blessings; nor for 'seest me and seest me not,' above the head and

under of their chalices, which in many places be of fine gold.

Neyther regarde they to kneele anye more downe, and to kisse their

pontificall rings which are of the same metal. They will be no

more at coste to have the ayre beaten, and the idols perfumed with

their sensers at pryncipall feastes; to have their crucifixes

layde upon horses, or to have them solemply borne aloft in their

gaddings abroade; with the religious occupyings of their paxes,

cruettes, and other jewels which be of silver.

"Neyther passe they greatly to beholde precyous stones any more

in their two-horned miters, whan they hollow their churches, give

theyr whorishe orders, and tryumphantly muster in processions. Nor

in costuous pearles in theyr copes perrours, and chysibilles, whan

they be in their prelately pompous sacrifices. Men, knowing the

worde of God, supposeth that their ornaments of silk, wherewith

they garnishe their temples and adorne their idolles, is very

blasphemous and divillish. They thinke also, that their fayre

white rockets of raynes, or fine linnen cloath; their costly gray

amices, of calaber and cattes tayles; theyr fresh purple gownes,

whan they walke for their pleasures; and their read scarlet

frockes, whan they preach lyes in the pulpit, are very superfluous

and vayne.

"In their thynen wood (whom some men call algume trees, some

basill, some corall) may be understande all theyr curious

buildings of temples, abbeys, chappels, and chambers; all shrines,

images, church stooles, and pews that are well payed for; all

banner staves, paternoster scores, and peeces of the holy crosse.

"The vessels of ivory comprehendeth all their maundye dyshes,

their offring platters, their relique chestes, their god boxes,

their drinking horns, their sipping cuppes for the hiccough, their

tables whereupon are charmed their chalises and vestiments; their

standiches, their combes, their muske balles, their pomaunder

pottes, and their dust boxes, with other toyes.

"The vessels of precious stone; which after some interpretours,

are of precious stone, or after some are of most precious wood;

betokeneth their costuous cuppes, or cruses of jasper, jacinct,

amel, and fine beral; and their alabaster boxes, wherwith they

annointe kinges, confirme children, and minister their holy

whorish orders. Their pardon masers, or drinking dishes, as St.

Benit's bole, St. Edmond's bole, St. Giles's bole, St. Blythe's

bole, and Westminster bole, with such other holy re-liques.

"Of brasse, which containeth latten, copper, alcumine, and other

harde metals, are made all their great candlesticks, holy water

kettles, lampes, desks, pyllers, butterasses, bosses, bels, and

many other thinges more.

"Of strong yron are the braunches made that holde up the lightes

before their false gods; the tacks that sustayne them for

fallinge; the lockes that save them from the robberye of thieves;

their fyre pans, bars, and poolyes, with many other straunge

ginnes besides.

"With marble most commonlye pave they their temples, and build

strong pillers and arches in their great cathedrale churches and

monastries; they make thereof also their superalities, their

tumbs, and their solemne grave-stones; besides their other

buildinges, with free-stone, flint, ragge, and brick, comprehended

in the same.

Verse 13. And cinnamon] "By the sinamon is ment all maner of

costly spyces, wherewith they bury their byshops and founders,

lest they shoulde stinke when they translate them agayne to make

them saintes for advauntage.

"By the smellynge odours, the swete herbes that they strewe

abrode at theyr dedications and burials; besydes the damaske

waters, bawmes, muskes, pomaunder, civet, and other curious

confections they yet bestow upon theyr owne precious bodyes.

"The oyntments are such oyles as they mingle with rose water,

aloes, and spike, with other mery conceits, wherwith they anoynt

their holy savours and roods, to make them to sweat, and to smell

sweete when they are borne abrod in procession upon their high

feastfull dayes.

"Frankinsence occupye they ofte as a necessarie thinge in the

sensyng of their idols, hallowinge of their paschal, conjuringe of

their ploughes; besydes the blessing of their palmes, candles,

ashes, and their dead men's graves, with requiescant in pace.

"With wine synge they theyr masses for money, they housell the

people at Easter, they wash their aultar stones upon Maundy

Thursday; they fast the holy imber dayes, besydes other

banketinges all the whole years, to kepe theyr flesh chaste.

"With oyle smere they yonge infantes at baptisme and bishopping;

they grease their massmongers, and gere them the mark of madian;

they anele their cattell that starveth; and do many other feates

els.

"Fyne floure is suche a merchandyse of theirs as far excedeth

all other, and was first geven them by Pope Alexander the first,

thinkinge Christes institution not sufficient, nor comly in using

the common breade in that ministerie. For that ware hath brought

them in their plentifull possessions, their lordshippes, fatte

benifices, and prebendaries, with innumerable plesures els.

"Wheat have thei of their farms, whereof they make pardon bread

and cakes, to draw people to devocion towardes them.

"Cattell receive they, offered unto their idols by the idiots of

the countries, for recover of sondrye diseases; besides that they

have of their tithes.

"Shepe have they, sometime of their owne pastures, sometime of

begginge, sometime of bequestes for the dead, to cry them out of

their feareful purgatorye, when they be asleepe at midnight.

"Great horses have they, for mortuaries, for offices, for

favers, giftes, and rewardes, to be good lords unto them, that

they may holde still their farmes, and to have saunder waspe their

sonne and their heire a priest; or to admitte him unto a manerly

benefice, that he may be called 'maister person,' and suche lyke.

"Charets have they also, or horse litters, of al manner of

sorts, specially at Rome, with foote men runninge on both sides of

them, to make roome for the holy fathers. Of whom some carye their

owne precious bodyes, some theyr treasure, some the blessed

sacramente, some holy reliques and ornamentes, some their whores,

and some their bastardes. The bodyes of men must needes be judged

to be at their pleasure, so long as Christen provinces be

tributaries unto them, princes obediente, people subject, and

their lawes at their commaundement to slea and to kyll. And to

make this good, who hath not in England payd his Peter peny,

sometime to acknowledge hymselfe a bondman of theirs, at the

receit of his yerely howsell? Furthermore yet, besides their

market muster of monkes, fryars, and priestes, they have certayne

bondmen, of whom some they sell to the Venicians, some to the

Genues, some to the Portingales, and some to the Turks, to row

in their galleis. And laste of all, to make up their market, least

any thing should escape theyr hands, these unmercifull bribers

maketh marchaundise of the soules of men, to deprive Christe of

his whole right, sending many unto hell, but not one unto heaven,

(unlesse they maliciously murther them for the truths sake,) and

all for mony. After many other sortes els, abuse they these good

creatures of God, whom the Holy Ghost heere nameth. Much were it

to shew here by the cronicles severally of what Pope they have

received authorytie, power, and charge, to utter these wares to

advauntage, and how they came firste by the old idolatrous."

Several of the most reputable MSS. versions, and some of the

fathers, after cinnamon, add καιαμωμον, and amomum. What

this shrub was is not easy to say, though mentioned and partially

described by Pliny and Dioscorides. Some think it was a species of

geranium; others, the rose of Jericho. It was an odoriferous plant

supposed to be a native of Assyria; and is thus mentioned by

Virgil, Eclog. iv., ver. 25:-

_________Assyrium vulgo nascetur amomum.

"The Assyrian amomum shall grow in every soil."

This is translated by some spikenard; by others lady's rose.

Thyine wood] The Thyne or Thyin is said to be a tree whose

boughs, leaves, stalks, and fruit, resemble the cypress. It is

mentioned by Homer, Odyss, lib. v., ver. 60; by Theophrastes,

Hist. Plant, v. 5; and by Pliny, Hist. Nat. lib. xiii. c. 16. How

much the different articles mentioned in the 12th and 13th verses

were in request among the ancients, and how highly valued, every

scholar knows.

Slaves] σωματων The bodies of men; probably distinguished

here from ψυχας, souls of men, to express bondmen and

freemen.

Verse 14. And the fruits that thy soul lusted after.] καιη

οπωρατηςεπιθυμιαςτηςψυχηςσου. As οπωρα signifies autumn, any

and all kinds of autumnal fruits may be signified by the word in

the above clause.

Dainty and goodly] ταλιπαρα Delicacies for the table.

ταλαμπρα,, what is splendid and costly in apparel.

Verse 15. Stand afar off] See Re 18:10.

Verse 16. Clothed in fine linen, and purple, &c.] The verb

περιβαλλεσθαι, which we here translate clothed, signifies often

to abound, be enriched, laden with, and is so used by the best

Greek writers; see many examples in Kypke. These articles are not

to be considered here as personal ornaments, but as articles of

trade or merchandise, in which this city trafficked.

Verse 17. Every shipmaster] Captains of vessels; some think

pilots are meant, and this is most likely to be the meaning of

the original word κυβερνητης. This description appears to be at

least partly taken from Eze 27:26-28.

And all the company in ships] καιπαςεπιτωνπλοιωνοομιλος

The crowd or passengers aboard. But the best MSS, and versions

have καιπαςοεπιτοπονπλεων, those who sail from place to

place, or such as stop at particular places on the coast,

without performing the whole voyage. This sufficiently marks the

traffic on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Some might debark

(in sailing from Rome) at the island of Sicily, others at

different ports in Greece; some at Corinth, others at Crete, or

the various islands of the AEgean Sea; some at Rhodes, Pamphylia,

&c., &c.; as in those times in which the compass was unknown,

every voyage was performed coastwise, always keeping, if possible,

within sight of the land.

Verse 18. What city is like unto this great city!] Viz. in

magnitude, power, and luxury.

Verse 19. They cast dust on their heads] They showed every sign

of the sincerest grief. The lamentation over this great ruined

city, Re 18:9-19, is exceedingly strong and well drawn. Here is

no dissembled sorrow; all is real to the mourners, and affecting

to the spectators.

Verse 20. Rejoice over her, thou heaven] This is grand and

sublime; the fall of this bad city was cause of grief to bad men.

But as this city was a persecutor of the godly, and an enemy to

the works of God, angels, apostles, and prophets are called to

rejoice over her fall.

Verse 21. Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be

thrown down] This action is finely and forcibly expressed by the

original words: ουτωςορμηματιβληθησεταιβαβυλωνημεγαληπολις.

The millstone will in falling have not only an accelerated force

from the law of gravitation, but that force will be greatly

increased by the projectile force impressed upon it by the power

of the destroying angel.

Shall be found no more at all.] In her government, consequence,

or influence. This is true of ancient Babylon; we are not certain

even of the place where it stood. It is also true of Jerusalem;

her government, consequence, and influence are gone. It is not

true of Rome pagan; nor, as yet, of Rome papal: the latter still

exists, and the former is most intimately blended with it; for in

her religions service Rome papal has retained her language, and

many of her heathen temples has she dedicated to saints real or

reputed, and incorporated many of her superstitions and

absurdities in a professedly Christian service. It is true also

that many idols are now restored under the names of Christian

saints!

Verse 22. The voice of harpers, &c.] This seems to indicate not

only a total destruction of influence, &c., but also of being. It

seems as if this city was to be swallowed up by an earthquake, or

burnt up by fire from heaven.

Verse 23. By thy sorceries] Political arts, state tricks,

counterfeit miracles, and deceptive manoeuvres of every kind. This

may be spoken of many great cities of the world, which still

continue to flourish!

Verse 24. In her was found the blood of prophets, &c.] She was

the persecutor and murderer of prophets and of righteous men.

And of all that were slain upon the earth.] This refers to her

counsels and influence, exciting other nations and people to

persecute and destroy the real followers of God. There is no city

to which all these things are yet applicable, therefore we may

presume that the prophecy remains yet to be fulfilled.

Bishop Bale, who applies this, as before, to the Romish Church,

has, on Re 18:22, given some information to the curious

antiquary.

"But be certaine," says he, "and sure, thou myserable Church,

that thou shalt no longer enjoy the commodious pleasures of a free

cittye.-The merry noyes of them that play upon harpes, lutes, and

fidels; the sweet voice of musicians that sing with virginals,

vials, and chimes; the armony of them that pipe in recorders,

flutes, and drums; and the shirle showt of trumpets, waits, and

shawmes, shall no more be heard in thee to the delight of men.

Neyther shall the sweet organs containing the melodious noyse of

all maner of instruments and byrdes be plaied upon, nor the great

belles be rong after that, nor yet the fresh discant,

prick-song, counter-point, and faburden be called for in thee,

which art the very sinagog of Sathan. Thy lascivious armonye, and

delectable musique, much provoking the weake hartes of men to

meddle in thy abhominable whordom, by the wantonnes of idolatry in

that kinde, shall perish with thee for ever. No cunning artificer,

carver, paynter, nor gilder, embroderer, goldsmith, nor

silk-worker; with such other like of what occupacion soever they

be, or have bene to thy commodity, shall never more be found so

agayne.

"Copes, cruettes, candelstickes, miters, crosses, sensers,

crismatoris, corporasses, and chalices, which for thy whorishe

holines might not somtime be touched, will than for thy sake be

abhorred of all men. Never more shall be builded for marchants of

thi livery and mark, palaces, temples, abbeys, collages, covents,

chauntries, fair houses, and horcherds of plesure. The clapping

noise of neyther wyndmil, horsemil, nor watermil, shal any more be

heard to the gluttenous feeding of thy puffed up porklings, for

the maintenaunce of thine idle observacions and ceremonies. For

thy mitred marchaunts were sumtimes princes of the earth, whan

they reigned in their roialty. Thy shorn shavelinges were lordes

over the multitude whan they held their priestly authority over

the soules and bodies of men. Yea, and with thy privy legerdemain,

with thy juggling castes, with thy craftes and inchauntmentes of

thy subtile charmes, were all nacions of the world deceyved."

This is very plain language, and thus on all hands a monstrous

system of superstition and idolatry was attacked by our Reformers;

and with these unfurbished weapons, directed by the Spirit of the

living God, popery was driven from the throne, from the bench,

from the universities, and from the churches of this favoured

kingdom. And by a proper application of Scripture, and by the

universal diffusion of the word of God, it may be soon driven from

the face of the universe. And when the inventions of men are

separated from that Church, and it becomes truly regenerated, (and

of this it is highly capable, as, among its monstrous errors and

absurdities, it contains all the essential truths of God,) it will

become a praise and a glory in the earth. Protestants wish not its

destruction, but its reformation.

Some there may be, who, in their zeal for truth, would pull the

whole edifice to pieces; but this is not God's method: he destroys

what is evil, and saves what is good. It is reformation, not

annihilation, that this Church needs.

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