Revelation of John 17

* One of the angels who had the vials, explains the meaning of

the former vision of the antichristian beast that was to reign

1260 years, and then to be destroyed. (1-6) And interprets the

mystery of the woman, and the beast that had seven heads and ten

horns. (7-18)

1-6 Rome clearly appears to be meant in this chapter. Pagan

Rome subdued and ruled with military power, not by art and

flatteries. She left the nations in general to their ancient

usages and worship. But it is well known that by crafty and

politic management, with all kinds of deceit of unrighteousness,

papal Rome has obtained and kept her rule over kings and

nations. Here were allurements of worldly honour and riches,

pomp and pride, suited to sensual and worldly minds. Prosperity,

pomp, and splendour, feed the pride and lusts of the human

heart, but are no security against the Divine vengeance. The

golden cup represents the allurements, and delusions, by which

this mystical Babylon has obtained and kept her influence, and

seduced others to join her abominations. She is named, from her

infamous practices, a mother of harlots; training them up to

idolatry and all sorts of wickedness. She filled herself with

the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus. She intoxicated

herself with it; and it was so pleasant to her, that she never

was satisfied. We cannot but wonder at the oceans of Christian

blood shed by men called Christians; yet when we consider these

prophecies, these awful deeds testify to the truth of the

gospel. And let all beware of a splendid, gainful, or

fashionable religion. Let us avoid the mysteries of iniquity,

and study diligently the great mystery of godliness, that we may

learn humility and gratitude from the example of Christ. The

more we seek to resemble him, the less we shall be liable to be

deceived by antichrist.
7-14 The beast on which the woman sat was, and is not, and yet

is. It was a seat of idolatry and persecution, and is not; not

in the ancient form, which was pagan: yet it is; it is truly the

seat of idolatry and tyranny, though of another sort and form.

It would deceive into stupid and blind submission all the

inhabitants of the earth within its influence, except the

remnant of the elect. This beast was seven heads, seven

mountains, the seven hills on which Rome stands; and seven

kings, seven sorts of government. Five were gone by when this

prophecy was written; one was then in being; the other was yet

to come. This beast, directed by the papacy, makes an eighth

governor, and sets up idolatry again. It had ten horns, which

are said to be ten kings who had as yet no kingdoms; they should

not rise up till the Roman empire was broken; but should for a

time be very zealous in her interest. Christ must reign till all

enemies be put under his feet. The reason of the victory is,

that he is the King of kings, and Lord of lords. He has supreme

dominion and power over all things; all the powers of earth and

hell are subject to his control. His followers are called to

this warfare, are fitted for it, and will be faithful in it.
15-18 God so ruled the hearts of these kings, by his power over

them, and by his providence, that they did those things, without

intending it, which he purposed and foretold. They shall see

their folly, and how they have been bewitched and enslaved by

the harlot, and be made instruments in her destruction. She was

that great city which reigned over the kings of the earth, when

John had this vision; and every one knows Rome to be that city.

Believers will be received to the glory of the Lord, when wicked

men will be destroyed in a most awful manner; their joining

together in sin, will be turned to hatred and rage, and they

will eagerly assist in tormenting each other. But the Lord's

portion is his people; his counsel shall stand, and he will do

all his pleasure, to his glory, and the happiness of all his

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