VERSE 1. And after these things I saw another angel come
down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was
lightened with his glory. 2. And he cried mightily with a
strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is
fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the
hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and
hateful bird. 3. For all nations have drunk of the wine of
the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth
have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of
the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her
delicacies. p. 663, Para. 2.
Some movement of mighty power is symbolized in these verses. (See under verse 4.) The consideration of a few facts will guide us unmistakably to the application. In chapter 14 we had a message announcing the fall of Babylon. Babylon is a term which embraces not only the Roman Catholic Church, but religious bodies which have sprung from her, bringing many of her errors and traditions along with them. p. 663, Para. 3.
A Moral Fall. -- The fall of Babylon here spoken of can not be literal destruction; for there are events to take place in Babylon after her fall which utterly forbid this idea; as, for instance, the people of God are there after her fall, and are called out in order that they may not receive of her plagues; and in these plagues is embraced her literal destruction. The fall is therefore a moral one; for the result of it is that Babylon becomes the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. These are terrible descriptions of apostasy, showing that, as a consequence of her fall, she piles up an accumulation of sins even to the heavens, and becomes subject to the judgments of God, which can no longer be delayed. p. 663, Para. 4.
And since the fall here introduced is a moral one, it must apply to some branch of Babylon besides, or outside of, the pagan or papal divisions; for from the beginning of their history, paganism has been a false religion, and the papacy an apostate one. And further, as this fall is said to occur but a short period before Babylon's final destruction, certainly this side of the rise and predicted triumph of the papal church, this testimony cannot apply to any religious organizations but such as have sprung from that church. These started out on reform. They ran well for a season, and had the approbation of God; but fencing themselves about with creeds, they have failed to keep pace with the advancing light of prophetic truth, and hence have been left in a position where they will finally develop a character as evil and odious in the sight of God as that of the church from which they first withdrew as dissenters, or reformers. As the point before us is to many a very sensitive one, we will let members of these various denominations here speak for themselves. p. 664, Para. 1.
The Tennessee Baptist says:
This woman [popery] is called the mother
of harlots and abominations. Who are the daughters? The Lutheran, the
Presbyterian, and the Episcopalian churches are all branches of the
[Roman] Catholic. Are not these denominated 'harlots and abominations'
in the above passage? - I so decide. I could not, with the
stake before me, decide otherwise. Presbyterians and Episcopalians
compose a part of Babylon. They hold the distictive principles of papacy in common with papists. p. 664, Para. 2.
Alexander Campbell says:
The worshiping establishments
now in operation throughout Christendom, incased and
cemented by their respective voluminous confessions of
faith, and their ecclesiastical constitutions, are not
churches of Jesus Christ, but the legitimate daughters of
that mother of harlots, the Church of Rome. p. 664, Para.
Again he says:
A reformation of popery was attempted in
Europe full three centuries ago. It ended in a Protestant
hierarchy, and swarms of dissenters. Protestantism has been
reformed into Presbyterianism, that into Congregationalism,
and that into Baptistism, etc., etc. Methodism has
attempted to reform all, but has reformed itself into many
forms of Wesleyanism. All of them retain in their bosom --
in their ecclesiastical organizations, worship, doctrines,
and observances -- various relics of popery. They are at
best a reformation of popery, and only reformations in
part. The doctrines and traditions of men yet impair the
power and progress of the gospel in their hands. -- On
Baptism, p. 15. p. 665, Para. 1.
Mr. O. Scott (Wesleyan Methodist) says:
The church is as deeply
infected with a desire for worldly gain as the world. p. 665, Para. 2.
The churches are making a god of this world. p. 665, Para. 3.
Most of the denominations of the present day might be called churches of the world with more propriety than churches of Christ. p. 665, Para. 4.
The churches are so far gone from primitive Christianity that they
need a fresh regeneration, a new kind of religion. p. 665, Para. 5.
Says the Golden Rule:
The Protestants are out-doing the popes in splendid, extravagant folly
in church-building. Thousands on thousands are expended in gay and
costly ornaments to gratify pride and a wicked ambition, that might and
should go to redeem the perishing millions! Does the evil, the folly,
and the madness of these proud, formal, fashionable worshipers stop
here? p. 665, Para. 6.
These splendid monuments of popish pride, upon which millions are
squandered in our cities, virtually exclude the poor, for whom Christ
died, and for whom he came especially to preach. p. 665, Para. 7.
The report of the Michigan Yearly Conference, published in
the True Wesleyan of Nov. 15, 1851, says:
commercial, political, and ecclesiastical, are alike, and
are together going in the broad way that leads to death.
Politics, commerce, and nominal religion, all connive at
sin, reciprocally aid each other, and unite to crush the
poor. Falsehood is unblushingly uttered in the forum and in
the pulpit; and sins that would shock the moral
sensibilities of the heathen go unrebuked in all the great
denominations of our land. These churches are like the
Jewish church when the Saviour exclaimed, 'Woe unto you,
scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.' Is their condition any
better now than it was then? p. 665, Para. 8.
Robert Atkins, in a sermon preached in London, says:
righteous are diminished from the earth, and no man layeth it to heart.
The professors of religion of the present day, in every church, are
lovers of the world, conformers to the world, lovers of
creature-comfort, and aspirers after respectability. They are called to
suffer with Christ, but they shrink even from reproach. p. 666, Para. 1.
Apostacy, apostasy, apostasy, is engraven on the very front of every
church; and did they know it, and did they feel it, there might be
hope, but alas! they cry, 'We are rich, and increased with goods, and
have need of nothing.' p. 666, Para. 2.
G. F. Pentecost, the noted evangelist, said in the Independent, in February, 1883, that the conversion of sinners was becoming
a lost art. p. 666, Para. 3.
Abundance of similar testimony might be produced from persons in high standing in these various denominations, written, not for the purpose of being captious and finding fault, but from a vivid sense of the fearful condition to which these churches have fallen. The term Babylon, as applied to them, is not a term of reproach, but is simply expressive of the confusion and diversity of sentiment that exists among them. Babylon need not have fallen, but might have been healed [Jer. 51:9] by the reception of the truth; but she rejected it, and confusion and dissensions still reign within her borders, and worldliness and pride are fast choking out every plant of heavenly growth. p. 666, Para. 4.
Chronology of This Movement. -- At what time do these verses have their application? When may this movement be looked for? If the position here taken is correct, that these churches, this branch of Babylon, experienced a moral fall by the rejection of the first message of chapter 14, the announcement in the chapter under consideration could not have gone forth previous to that time. It is, then, either synchronous with the message of the fall of Babylon, in chapter 14, or it is given at a later period than that. But it cannot be synonymous with that; for that merely announces the fall of Babylon, while this adds several particulars which at that time were neither fulfilled nor in process of fulfilment. As we are therefore to look this side of 1844, where the previous message went forth, for the announcement brought to view in this chapter, we inquire, Has any such message been given from that time to the present? The answer must still be in the negative; hence this message is yet future. But we are now having the third angel's message, which is the last to be given before the coming of the Son of man. We are therefore held to the conclusion that the first two verses of this chapter constitute a feature of the third message which is to appear when this message shall be proclaimed with power, and the whole earth be lightened with its glory. p. 666, Para. 5.
The work brought to view in verse 2 is in process of
accomplishment, and will soon be completed, by the work of
Spiritualism. What are called in Rev. 16:14
devils, working miracles, are secretly but rapidly working
their way into the religious denominations above referred
to; for their creeds have been formulated under the
influence of the wine [errors] of Babylon, one of which is
that the spirits of our dead friends, conscious,
intelligent, and active, are all about us; and this renders
such denominations unable to resist the approach of evil
spirits who come to them under the names and impersonations
of their dead friends. p. 667, Para. 1.
A significant feature in the work of Spiritualism, just
now, is the religious garb it is assuming. Keeping in the
background its grosser principles, which it has heretofore
carried so largely in the front, it now assumes to appear
as respectably religious in some quarters as any other
denomination in the land. It talks of sin, repentance, the
atonement, salvation through Christ, etc., almost as
orthodoxy as the most approved standards. Under the guise
of this profession, what is to hinder it from intrenching
itself in almost every denomination in Christendom? The
basis of Spiritualism is a fundamental dogma in the creeds
of almost all the churches. Its secret principles are,
alas! too commonly cherished, and its dark practices too
commonly followed, to put them at variance on that ground,
so long as they seek a common concealment.
What, then, can save Christendom from its seductive
influence? Herein is seen another sad result of rejecting
the truths offered to the world by the messages of chapter
14. Had the churches received these messages, they would
have been shielded against this delusion; for among the
great truths developed by the religious movement there
brought to view, is the important doctrine that the soul of
man is not naturally immortal; that eternal life is a gift
suspended on conditions, and to be acquired through Christ
alone; that the dead are unconscious; and that the rewards
and punishments of the future world lie beyond the
resurrection and the day of judgment. This strikes a death-blow
to the first and vital claim of Spiritualism. What
foothold can that doctrine secure in any mind fortified by
this truth? The spirit comes, and claims to be the
disembodied soul, or spirit, of a dead man. It is met with
the fact that that is not the kind of soul, or spirit,
which man possesses; that the
dead know not anything;
that this, its first pretension, is a lie, and that the
credentials it offers, show it to belong to the synagogue
of Satan. Thus it is at once rejected, and the evil it
would do is effectually prevented. But the great mass of
religionists stand opposed to the truth which would thus
shield them, and thereby expose themselves to this last
manifestation of Satanic cunning. p. 667, Para. 2.
And while Spiritualism is thus working, startling changes
are manifesting themselves in high places in some of the
denominations. The infidelity of the present age, under the
seductive names of
the higher criticism,
evolution, etc., is making not a few notable converts.
As typical cases, we may mention such men as the late Henry Ward Beecher, and such papers as The Outlook; formerly the Christian Union.
Mr. Beecher was considered a leader of thought in the religious world,
and his fame and influence were not confined to one hemisphere. He
became very outspoken in his denial of doctrines which have been
considered by all believers in the Bible as among the fundamental
truths of revelation. As an illustration, we quote the following from
the National Baptist of Sept. 6, 1883. It is from a reply by
Mr. Beecher to J. S. Kennard, D. D., who had criticised some of Mr.
B.'s views and utterances. He says:- p. 668, Para. 1.
I am a cordial Christian evolutionist. It do not agree, by any means,
with all of Spencer - his agnosticism - nor all of Huxley, Tyndall, and
their school. They are agnostic; I am not, emphatically. But I am an
evolutionist; and that strikes at the root of all medieval and orthodox
modern theology, - the fall of man in Adam, and the inheritance by his
posterity of his guilt, and, by consequence, any such view of atonement
as has been constructed to meet this fabulous disaster. Men have not
fallen as a race, men have come up. No great disaster met the race as
the start. The creative decree of God was fulfilled, and any theory of
atonement must be one which shall meet the fact that man was created at
the lowest point, and, as I believe, is, as to his physical being,
evolved from the animal race below him; but as to his moral and
spiritual nature, is a son of God, a new element having come in, in the
great movement of evolution at the point of man's appearance. p. 669,
When the great facts which alone account for the existence of sin in
our world, and for all the anomalies of the present state, are
a fabulous disaster; when it is avowed that man has not
fallen, that the race did not meet the disaster of the introduction of
sin by disobedience in the beginning, and that no atonement to meet
this state of things is necessary - what becomes of all those portions
of the Scripture in which these facts are recorded, and by which they
are recognized? They must be relegated to the realm of fable. And when
professed ministers of the gospel, to whom the people look for
instruction, and on whose views they depend in these matters, lead out
with such teaching, what reverence for the word of God can be expected
from the masses?
Like priests, like people. Such ministers are doing
more for the cause of infidelity than all the Voltaires and Paines of a
past age have done, or all the Ingersolls of the present age are doing.
Worse than wolves without the fold, they are wolves within it, and all
the more dangerous because arrayed in sheep's clothing. p. 669, Para. 2.
Others in high positions, and influential journals in the Christian world, speak in a similar strain. It has come to be a very easy thing to accuse the record of inaccuracy, and charge the sacred writers with a failure to comprehend their subjects. Much of the body of modern dogmatic theology may be classified under two heads, - funguses and fossils; and whatever declarations of Scripture do not agree with these conceptions, are set down as incorrect. Paul, they say, held erroneous ideas on a number of questions, more especially in reference to the second coming of Christ; and one learned doctor of divinity, as quoted without dissent in a leading religious journal, has asserted that even Christ himself misapprehended the question he was discussing, according to the record of Matthew 24! From the standpoint of such a lamentable outlook, and under the leadership of such men, how long before Babylon will become full of spirits that are foul, and birds that are hateful and unclean? What progress has already been made in this direction! How would the godly fathers and mothers of the generation that lived just before the first message was given, could they rise from their graves, and comprehend the present condition of the religious world, hearing its teaching and beholding its practices, stand aghast at the fearful contrast between their time and ours, and deplore the sad degeneracy! And Heaven is not to let all this pass in silence; for a mighty proclamation is to be made, calling the attention of all the world to the fearful counts in the indictment against these unfaithful religious bodies, that the justice of the judgments that follow may plainly appear. p. 670, Para. 1.
[In a later American edition of this book the following information has been added.]
Public attention was forcibly called to this situation [Spiritualism] by a writer, Mr. Harold Bolce, in The Cosmopolitan Magazine for May, 1909. Having made an investigation into the character of the teaching that was being imparted in some of the leading universities of this country, he reported the results in The Cosmopolitan, which drew forth this comment from the editor:-- p. 713, Para. 2.
What Mr. Bolce sets down here is of the most astounding character. Out of the curricula of American colleges, a dynamic movement is upheaving ancient foundations, and promising a way for revolutionary thought and life. Those who are not in close touch with the great colleges of the country will be astonished to learn the creeds being fostered by the faculties of our great universities. In hundreds of class-rooms it is being taught daily that the decalogue is not more sacred than a syllabus; that the home as an institution is doomed; that there are no absolute evils; that immorality is simply an act in contravention of society's accepted standards. . . . These are some of the revolutionary and sensational teachings submitted with academic warrant to the minds of hundreds of thousands of students in the United States.p. 713, Para. 3.
At about the same time The Independent, N. Y., an exponent of the higher criticism, referred to conditions in the Baptist and Presbyterian churches, with the announcement thatthe heretics have won the day in Chicago and New York.This was shown by the action of their ministers' meetings in those cities, in refusing to exclude from the ministry, teachers of the most open heresies.It has been a bad week for the old guard,said The Independent,and these occurrences give evidences of a mighty change of view on questions of theology within the past twenty years, or even ten.p. 713, Para. 4.
Continuing, the same journal said:-- p. 714, Para. 1.
The mighty breadth of tolerance which these Baptist and Presbyterian bodies thus allow, is hardly less than revolutionary. It began with the scientific and historical study of the Bible. When we found that the world was more than six thousand years old; that there was no universal flood four thousand years ago; that Adam was not made directly from dust, and Eve from his rib; and that the tower of Babel was not the occasion of the diversification of languages, we had gone too far to stop. The process of criticism had to go on from Genesis to Revelation, with no fear of the curse at the end of the last chapter. It could not stop with Moses and Isaiah; it had to include Matthew and John and Paul. Every one of them had to be sifted. They had already ceased to be taken as unquestioned final authorities, for plenary inspiration had followed verbal inspiration just as soon as the first chapter of Genesis had ceased to be taken as true history. The miracles of Jesus had to be tested as well as those of Elijah. The date and purpose of the gospel of John had to be investigated historically, as well as that of the prophecy of Isaiah; and the conclusion of historical criticism had to be accepted with no regard to the old theologies. We have just reached this condition; and there is repeated evidence that it marks an epoch, a revolution in theologic thought. This is what we learn from Chicago and New York from two such militant denominations as the Baptist and the Presbyterian.p. 714, Para. 2.
Verse 3 shows the wide extent of the influence of Babylon, and the evil that has resulted and will result from her course, and hence the justness of her punishment. The merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. Who take the lead in all the extravagances of the age? Who load their tables with the richest and choicest viands? Who are foremost in extravagance in dress, and all costly attire? Who are the very personification of pride and arrogance? -- Are they not church-members? Where shall we look for the very highest exhibition of the luxury, vain show, and pride of life, resulting from the vanity and sin of the race?? -- Is it not to a modern church assembly on a pleasant Sunday? p. 670, Para. 2.
But there is a redeeming feature in this picture. Degenerate as Babylon has become as a body, there are exceptions to the general rule; for God has still a people there, and she must be entitled to some regard on their account until they are called from her communion. Nor will it be necessary to wait long for this call. Soon Babylon will become so thoroughly leavened with the influence of these evil agents that her condition will be fully manifest to all the honest in heart, and the way be all prepared for the work which the apostle now introduces. p. 671, Para. 1.
VERSE 4. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying,
Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her
sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. 5. For her
sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her
iniquities. 6. Reward her even as she rewarded you, and
double unto her double according to her works; in the cup
which she hath filled, fill to her double. 7. How much she
hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much
torment and sorrow give her; for she saith in her heart, I
sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. 8.
Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and
mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with
fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her. p. 671,
The voice coming from heaven denotes that it will be a
message of power attended with heavenly glory. How marked
becomes the interposition of Heaven, and how the agents for
the accomplishment of God's work multiply, as the great
crisis approaches! This voice from heaven is called
another voice, showing that a new agency is here
introduced. We now have five celestial messengers expressly
mentioned as engaged in this last religious reformation.
These are the first, second, and third angels of chapter
14; fourth, the angel of verse one of this chapter; and
fifth, the agency indicated by the
voice of verse 4, now
before us. Three of these are already in operation. The
second angel has joined the first, and the third has joined
them. The first and second have not ceased. All three now
have the field. The angel of verse 1 is entering upon his
mission, as the conditions which call for his work are
supplied; and the divine call from heaven must take place
in connection with his work. p. 671, Para. 3.
Proof has already been offered to show that the message of
verses 1 and 2 of this chapter is to be given in connection
with the now current third message, and will mark a new era
in this work. An idea of its extent and power may be
gathered from the description of the angel there given. The
first message is said to go with a
loud voice; the same
is also said of the third message; but this angel, instead
of simply flying
in the midst of heaven, like the others,
is said to
come down from heaven. He comes, as it were,
nearer to the earth, with a message more pointed and
direct; and he has
great power, and the earth is
lightened with his glory. No such description of a
message from heaven to man is elsewhere to be found in all
the Bible. This is the last; and as is meet, it comes with
surpassing glory and unwonted power. It is an awful hour
when a world's destiny is to be decided, -- a most solemn
crisis when an entire contemporaneous generation of the
human family is to pass the bounds of probation, as the
last note of mercy is sounded in their ears. In such a
time, the world must not be left without warning. So amply
must the great fact be heralded, that none can plead a
reasonable ignorance of the impending doom. Every excuse
must be taken away. The justice and long-suffering and
forbearance of God in delaying threatened vengeance till
all have had an opportunity to receive a knowledge of his
will, and space to repent, must be vindicated. An angel is
sent forth, panoplied with Heaven's power. The light that
encircles the throne enshrouds him. He comes to the earth.
None but the spiritually dead -- yea,
twice dead, and
plucked up by the roots -- would fail to realize his
presence. Light flashes everywhere. The dark places are
lighted up. And while his presence dispels the shadows, his
voice in thunder tones utters a warning. He cries
mightily. He speaks in no feeble tones, and with no
uncertain sound. It is no parlor announcement, but a cry, a
mighty cry, a cry with a strong voice. The fatal defects in
the profession of a worldly church are again pointed out.
Their errors are once more, and for the last time, exposed.
The inadequacy of the present standard of godliness to meet
the final crisis is emphasized beyond all mistaking. The
inevitable connection between their cherished errors and
irretrievable and everlasting destruction is heralded till
the earth resounds with the cry. Meanwhile, great Babylon's
sins mount up to the heavens, and the remembrance of her
iniquities comes up before God. The storm of vengeance
gathers. The great tidal wave of supernal wrath rolls
onward. The feathery foam plays along its crest, indicating
that but an instant remains ere it will burst upon the
great city of confusion, and proud Babylon will go down as
a millstone sinks in the depths of the sea. Suddenly
another voice rings out from heaven,
Come out of her, my
people! The humble, sincere, devoted children of God, of
whom there are some still left, and who sigh and cry over
the abominations done in the land, heed the voice, wash
their hands of her sins, separate from her communion,
escape, and are saved, while Babylon becomes the victim of
the just judgments of God. There are stirring times before
the church. Let as be ready for the crisis. p. 672, Para.
The fact that God's people are called out so as not to be partakers of her sins, shows that it is not till a certain time that people become guilty by being connected with Babylon; and this explains how it can be said of 144,000 (Rev. 14:4), many of whom are the very ones here called out, that they were not defiled with women. p. 673, Para. 1.
Verses 6 and 7 are a prophetic declaration that she will
be rewarded or punished according to her works. Bear in
mind that this testimony applies to that portion of Babylon
which is subject to a moral fall. As already pointed out,
it must apply especially to the
denominations who persist in clinging to the personal
traits of the
mother, and keeping up the family
resemblance. These, as pointed out on a previous page, are
to attempt a sweeping persecution against the truth and the
people of God. By these the
image of the beast is to be
formed. These are to have what will be to them a new
experience, -- the use of the civil arm to enforce their
dogmas. And it is doubtless this first intoxication of
power that leads this branch of Babylon to cherish in her
heart the boast,
I sit a queen, and am no widow; that is,
I am no longer,
one bereaved, or destitute of power, as I
have been; but now I rule like a queen; I shall see no
sorrow; God is in the Constitution; the church is
enthroned, and shall henceforth bear sway. The expression,
Reward her even as she rewarded you, seems to show that
the time for this message to be given, as for the saints to
be called out, will be when she begins to raise against
them the arm of oppression. As she fills up the cup of
persecution to the saints, so the angel of the Lord will
persecute her [Ps. 35:6]; and judgments from on high will
bring upon her, in a twofold degree, the evil which she
thought to bring upon the humble servants of the Lord. p.
673, Para. 2.
On page 137 of Spiritual Gifts, as found in Early
Writings, by Mrs. E.G. White, we find testimony showing
that the first part of Revelation 18 has special reference
to the religious oppression to be developed in the United
States by professed Christians. Thus:
It will be more
tolerable for the heathen and for papists in the day of the
execution of God's judgment than for such men ... The names
of the oppressors are written in blood, crossed with
stripes, and flooded with agonizing, burning tears of
suffering. God's anger will not cease until he has caused
this land of light to drink to the dregs of the cup of his
fury, until he has rewarded unto Babylon double. 'Reward
her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double
according to her works; in the cup which she hath filled,
fill to her double.' p. 674, Para. 1.
The day in which her plagues come, mentioned in verse 8, must be a prophetic day, or at least cannot be a literal day; for it would be impossible for famine to come in that length of time. The plagues of Babylon are without doubt the seven last plagues, which have already been examined; and the plain inference from the language of this verse, in connection with Isa. 34:8, is that a year will be occupied in that terrible visitation. p. 675, Para. 2.
VERSE 9. And the kings of the earth, who have committed
fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail
her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of
her burning. 10. Standing afar off for the fear of her
torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that
mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come. 11. And
the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her;
for no man buyeth their merchandise any more. p. 675,
A Fitting Retribution. -- The infliction of the very first plague must result in a complete suspension of traffic in those articles of luxury for which Babylon is noted. And when the merchants of these things, who are to a great extent citizens of this symbolic city, and who have been made rich by their traffic in these things, suddenly find themselves and their neighbors smitten with putrefying sores, their traffic suspended, and vast stores of merchandise on hand, but none to buy them, they lift up their voices in lamentation for the fate of this great city; for if there is anything which will draw from the men of this generation a sincere cry of distress, it is that which touches their treasures. And there is a fitness in this retribution. They who but a short time before had issued a decree that the saints of God should neither buy nor sell, now find themselves put under the same restriction by a far more effectual process. p. 675, Para. 2.
The question may arise how persons involved in the same calamity can stand afar off and lament, etc.; but it must be remembered that this desolation is brought to view under a figure, and the figure is that of a city visited with destruction. Should calamity come upon a literal city, it would be natural for its inhabitants to flee from that city if they had opportunity, and standing afar off, lament its fall; and just in proportion to their terror and amazement at the evil impending, would be the distance at which they would stand from their devoted city. Now the figure the apostle uses would not be complete without a feature of this kind; and so he uses it, not to imply that people would literally flee from the symbolic city, which would be impossible, but to denote their terror and amazement at the descending judgments. p. 675, Para. 3.
VERSE 12. The merchandise of gold, and silver, and
precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple,
and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner
vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious
wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble, 13. And cinnamon,
and odors, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and
oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and
horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men. p.
676, Para. 1.
Babylon's Merchandise. -- In these verses we have an
enumeration of great Babylon's merchandise, which includes
everything pertaining to luxurious living, pomp, and
worldly display. All kinds of mercantile traffic are
brought to view. The declaration concerning
souls of men may pertain more particularly to the
spiritual domain, and have reference to slavery of
conscience by the creeds of these bodies, which in some
cases is more oppressive than physical bondage. p. 676,
VERSE 14. And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are
departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and
goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no
more at all. p. 676, Para. 3.
Gluttony Rebuked. -- The fruits here mentioned are,
according to the original,
autumnal fruits; and in this
we find a prophecy that the
delicacies of the season,
upon which the luxurious gourmand so sets his pampered
appetite, will suddenly cut off. This, of course, is the
work of the famine, which is the result of the fourth vial.
Chapter 16:8. And we may be even now having a premonition
of this destruction in the phylloxera of the vineyards, the
scales and moths, and other recent enemies to vegetation.
p. 676, Para. 4.
In this connection we can hardly forbear glancing at the general aspect of the times in respect to the remarkable physical phenomena everywhere manifesting themselves, as they seem so plainly to indicate that all the courses of nature are disturbed, and that the earth itself is waxing old in anticipation of the time when it shall vanish away. Within a few years past, how many unnatural visitations of earthquake and fire, storm and flood, have wrought ruin in different localities, and awakened forebodings of fear in the hearts of men in general. Witness the Chicago fire, the Baltimore fire, the Toronto fire, and the destruction by earthquake and fire of San Francisco, Valparaiso, and Kingston; the floods of the Ohio, the Mississippi, and other Western rivers; the devastating floods of Europe; the famines of China and Russia and the plague in India; the cyclones and tidal waves, sweeping away the proudest works of man, and hurling thousands of human beings into untimely graves. p. 676, Para. 5.
VERSE 15. The merchants of these things, which were made
rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her
torment, weeping and wailing, 16. And saying, Alas, alas
that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and
purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious
stones, and pearls! 17. For in one hour so great riches is
come to naught. And every shipmaster, and all the company
in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood
afar off, 18. And cried when they saw the smoke of her
burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!
19. And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping
and wailing, saying, Alas, alas that great city, wherein
were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of
her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate. p.
678, Para. 1.
Emotions of the Wicked. The reader can readily imagine the cause of this universal voice of mourning, lamentation, and woe. Imagine the plague of sores preying upon men, the rivers turned to blood, the sea like the blood of a dead man, the sun scorching men with fire, their traffic gone, and their silver and gold unable to deliver them, and we need not wonder at their exclamations of distress, nor that shipmasters and sailors join in the general wail. Very different is the emotion the saints are called upon to exercise, as the following testimony shows: p. 678, Para. 2.
VERSE 20. Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy
apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her. 21.
And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone,
and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall
that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found
no more at all. 22. And the voice of harpers, and
musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no
more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft
he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a
millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; 23. And
the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee;
and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be
heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the
great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all
nations deceived. 24. And in her was found the blood of
prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon
the earth. p. 678, Para. 3.
Emotions of the Righteous. The apostles and prophets are here called upon to rejoice over great Babylon in her destruction, as it is in close connection with this destruction that they will all be delivered from the power of death and the grave by the first resurrection. p. 678, Para. 4.
Like a great millstone, Babylon sinks to rise no more. The various arts and crafts that have been employed in her midst, and have ministered to her desires, shall be practiced no more. The pompous music that has been employed in her imposing but formal and lifeless service, dies away forever. The scenes of festivity and gladness, when the bridegroom and the bride have been led before her altars, shall be witnessed no more. p. 679, Para. 1.
Her sorceries constitute her leading crime; and sorcery is
a practice which is involved in the Spiritualism of today.
And in her was found the blood of
all that were slain
upon the earth. From this it is evident that ever since
the introduction of a false religion into the world,
Babylon has existed. In her has been found, all along,
opposition to the work of God, and persecution of his
people. In reference to the guilt of the last generation,
see on chapter 16:6. p. 679, Para. 2.
© by S. D. Goeldner,