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subjects made drunk with her poisonous doctrines. None escaped, but the two mystic witnesses : , and their refusal to partake of the wine of her fornication was the cause of all the persecution which they endured both from the kings and from the inhabitants of the Roman earth, who had tasted of her maddening cup.
The place, where St. John beheld the whore riding upon her scarlet beast, was the wilderness—He saw the woman, once the chaste spouse of Christ, now polluted with spiritual fornication, and preferring the wilderness of error, sin, and delusion, to her former appointed place the inclosed vineyard” of the Church. He saw her, so far from testifying any shame on account of her adulteries, glorying and triumphing with the brazen front of a determined strumpet in her manifold abominations. He saw her advancing yet another step in iniquity; and, instead of possessing the comparative innocence of resting satisfied with her own whoredoms alone, labouring to make proselytes to her fornications, tyrannizing over the struggling conscience of the irresolute, and “drunken with the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus.” When he saw a church of Christ thus fallen from her high estate, thus apostate, thus corrupted, thus persecuting the faithful with even more bitterness than pagan Rome; well might he wonder with exceeding great admiration. To a primitive believer the thing would seem as it were impossible; and St. John, who doubtless like the other prophets fully understood the general meaning of his own symbolical language, was probably at a loss to conceive how his prediction could ever be accomplished in a professed church of his meek and lowly master.t
Upon the forehead of the whore was written, Mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth—Hence we may conclude, that Babylon was not her real, but only her mystic, name. Accordingly, when the angel teaches St. John “the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her,” he explicitly informs him, that “the woman, which he saw, is that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth.” This great city however can be nothing but the empire of Rome. Pagan Rome it cannot be in the days of the harlot; because pagan Rome was rather the learner than the teacher of idolatry. If then it be not pagan Rome, it must be papal Rome. This point is, yet further evident from the manner, in which the angel speaks of the ten kings. He tells the prophet, that they had not received their kingdom as yet, but should receive power along with the beast in one apocalyptic season : and he adds, that they should give their power and strength to the revived beast; or, in other words, that they should be the secular beast's engines of persecution,” and should uphold with all their might the new system of idolatry, by the establishment of which the beast, that was not, ascended afresh out of the bottomless pit. The ten kings therefore, who were yet future in the days of St. John and who erected their thrones upon the ruins of the ancient empire, who first gave their power to the beast and who afterwards should hate the whore their former paramour, have manifestly been contemporary, not with pagan, but with papal, Rome: the whore therefore cannot be pagan, but must be papal, Rome.f Thus it appears, that this grand compound hieroglyphic of the woman and her beast represents the whole of the great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth; the woman symbolizing its spiritual empire, and her beast symbolizing its temporal empire: that is to say, this complete hieroglyphic exhibits to us at one view the two co-existing Roman empires, which the prophet had before described separately under the symbols of two friendly contemporary beasts, leagued together for the purpose of erecting both a civil and an ecclesiatical
* Isaiah v. xxvii. .# St. John with the books of the ancient prophets before him could not but know, that a barict was the type of an apostate and idolatrous church. The days of Aholah and Aholibamah were now past; Israel was no longer the church of the Lord. St. John therefore would be certain, that the scarlet whore must mean some future Christfan church: hence naturally arose his great admiration. See Ezek. xvi. and xxiii.
* “It was given unto him (the recular beast) to make war with the saints, and to overcome them.” (Rev. xiii. 7.) This he did, at the instigation indeed of the recond beast, but through the instrumentality of his own ten horns.
f The reader will find the whole character of the barlot excellently elucidated by Bp. Newton in his Dissertation upon this part of the Apocalypse,
tyranny over the minds as well as over the bodies of men.”
The history of the true Church during the period of the great Apostacy—The harvest and vintage of God’s wrath.
After this account of the persecution of the witnesses, the war of the dragon, and the rise and tyranny of the two beasts, St. John proceeds to describe the state of the true Church during the same period of 1260 years; its great contest with the mystic Babylon at the time of the Reformation; and the judgments of God upon his enemies during the two grand periods comprised under the seventh trumpet, namely the harvest and the vintage of God’s wrath.
“And I looked, and lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Zion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps. And they sung as it were a new song before the throne and before the four beasts, and the elders; and no man could learn that song, but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they, which were not defiled with women, for they are virgins: these are they, which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth: these were redeemed from among men, being the mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.” Hitherto we have beheld only the gloomy side of the affairs of the Church, the troubles and persecutions which she experienced from the dragon and the two beasts; we are now invited to contemplate that paradox, which real Christianity can alone explain. The 144,000, here mentioned, are the spiritual descendants of the twelve Apostles, apostolically multiplied. They are the immediate successors of the 144,000 sealed servants of God,” who bore their testimony to the truths of the Gospel in the days of Paganism; and who “ came out of great tribulation,” to enjoy a short respite from their troubles in the tranquil age of Constantine.t. They are the same in short as the two witnesses, or the line of faithful believers, whom God supported by the invisible though powerful agency of his Spirit through the whole term of the reign of the beasts. In the particular history of the Apostacy itself, they are described as oppressed and prophesying in sackcloth : here they are represented in a state of exultation and triumph, as rejoicing in that “joy which no man taketh from them.” The two accounts therefore, when put together, exhibit them to us, like the primitive Christians, as “sorrowful yet always rejoicing,” as “rejoicing in tribulation,” and as even “exceeding joyful in tribulation.” That this exultation is purely of a spiritual nature, and that it subsists along with great temporal adversity, is evident both from the preceding external history of the witnesses, and from the intimations which are given even in the present chapter itself that the Church is still in a suffering state notwithstanding her triumphant spiritual joy in the Lamb.: The 144,000 appeared to the Apostle as standing on the mount Zion, or in the true Church, because they constituted the persecuted Church in the wilderness :S and, as the followers of the beast have the mark and name of the beast; so have these the seal of God impressed,” and the name of God written, on their foreheads. They alone are able to learn the new song of the heavenly harpers, because they alone are the worshippers of the one true God through the one true mediator Jesus Christ; the adherents of the Apostacy offering up their devotions to other objects, and through other mediators. They are virgins, undefiled with women, inasmuch as they are free from the pollutions of idolatry; which is spiritual whoredom, and adultery. They follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth, resolutely adhering to the religion of Christ in troublesome times as well as in prosperous ones, and fleeing into sequestered vallies and wild deserts rather than relinquish their profession of the Gospel. They are redeemed from among men, being rescued by the almighty power of divine grace from the corruptions and abominations of Babylon; and they are consecrated as the first fruits of Christianity unto God and the Lamb, an earnest and assurance of a more plentiful harvest first at the era of the Reformation and afterwards at the yet more glorious era of the Millennium. In their mouth was found no guile: inasmuch as they handle not the word of God deceitfully, like Popish venders of indulgences, and preachers of purgatory, human merit, and idolatry; but faithfully, and simply, declare the way of everlasting life. And they are without fault before the throne of God, having washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb ; God not imputing their trespasses unto them, but accounting them as if they had never sinned, through the imputed righteousness of Christ, who was made sin for them, in order that they might be made the righteousness of God in him. By these 144,000, I understand peculiarly the depressed Church in the wilderness previous to the time of the Reformation : for history sufficiently demonstrates, that there have been in every age some faithful worshippers, who consented not to the general Apostacy, but who prophesied, although in sackcloth, against its abominations. These however went on their way in comparative obscurity, rejoicing that they were accounted wor
* Mr. Galloway singularly fancies, that the great whore means the confederacy of the heast, the false prophet, and the king, of the earth. This opinion of his runs directly counter both to symbolical propriety, and to the plain declaration of St. John. A whore is the symbol of a degenerate and corrupt cbureb, and is never used. to typify o conspiracy: the reven-headed and ten-borned beast, upon which she is sitting, is manifestly the great Roman beast, which had already been described in the 13th chapter of the Revelation : and the Apostle explicitly tells us, that the wbore is “that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth.” Hence it is manifest, that she must be the Roman empire either pagan or papal. Consequently she cannot be a onfederay, as Mr. Galloway supposes, of Papists, Mohammedans, and Infidels. What is scarcely fair in a professed discussion of a prophecy, Mr. Galloway onits all that part of it which makes against his system. He quotes the 17th chapter of the Revelation, which fully describes the or, and hor seat, only as far as the 6th Verse. See Comment. p. 276.
'W' () I., II. 24
* They are said to have been sealed in the age of Constantine, to separate them. as I have already observed, from the many that then began to “cleave to them with flatteries.” Dan, xi. 34.
+ Rev. vii. # See Rev. xiv. 12, 13. § Rev. xii. 6, 14.