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A Brief Commentary On The Apocalypse by Sylvester Bliss

The Destruction of Babylon.

|And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived luxuriously with her, will weep and wail for her, when they see the smoke of her burning, standing afar off through the fear of her torment, saying, Woe! woe! that great city, Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come! And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her; for no one buyeth their merchandise any more; the merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and crimson, and all thine wood, and all kinds of vessels of ivory, and all kinds of vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble, and cinnamon, and fragrant ointment, and incense, and myrrh, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and bodies, and souls of men. And the autumnal fruit of thine appetite's desire is departed from thee, and all things dainty and sumptuous are destroyed from thee, and thou wilt find them no more at all. The merchants of these things, who were enriched by her, will stand afar off, through the fear of her torment, weeping and mourning, saying, Woe! woe! that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and crimson, and adorned with gold, and precious stones, and pearls! for in one hour such great wealth is destroyed. And every pilot, and every one sailing to any place, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, and cried, when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like the great city? And they cast dust on their heads, and cried out, weeping and mourning, saying, Woe! woe! the great city by which all who had ships on the sea, were made rich through her precious merchandise! for in one hour she is desolated.| Rev.18:9-20.

|Rejoice over her, O heaven, and ye saints and apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her!| Rev.18:20.

|And a strong angel took up a stone like a great mill-stone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus violently, will Babylon, the great city, be cast down, and be no more at all. And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and pipers, and trumpeters, will be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of any art, will be found any more in thee; and the sound of a mill-stone will be heard no more at all in thee; and the light of a lamp will shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and the bride will be heard no more at all in thee; for thy merchants were the nobles of the earth; for by thy sorcery all nations were deceived. And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all those slain on the earth.| Rev.18:21-24.

The punishment of Babylon is proportioned to her wickedness, and is to be inflicted partially by the kings of the earth, and partially by other agencies. The kings were to hate, and burn her with fire, (17:16); and were also, when they should see the smoke of her burnings, to bewail and lament for her, 18:9. The former passage indicates their agency in her impoverishment, and has been fulfilled in the confiscation of her property in France and England, the spoliation of churches and religious houses, wherever the arms of Napoleon extended; the dethronement of the Pope, by Gen. Berthier, in 1798; the refusal of some of the powers to permit her to nominate, within their limits, the candidates for ecclesiastical preferment, &c. She is thus made to feel her widowhood, -- her divorce from the secular arm, -- and has mourned the loss of her most devoted children, who have forsaken her communion.

Her final destruction is, however, to be entire. She is totally to disappear, like the sinking of a millstone in the sea. She is to be utterly burned with fire; but the lamentation of the kings over her burning, indicates that her destruction is to be completed by other instrumentality than theirs. Probably the multitude are to be incensed against her, and will so manifest their hatred that the governments will neither join in it, nor attempt to resist it, for fear that the same torment will be inflicted on them, 18:10. But her existence is terminated by the brightness of Christ's coming, 2 Thess.2:8. Her destruction precedes that of the kings of the earth, who mourn her end. The merchants of the earth, the captains, sailors, &c., symbolize those who bear a relation to the hierarchy, analogous to that sustained by such to a great commercial emporium. They are those who have the control of her preferments, benefices and revenues, -- who traffic in her indulgences, and thereby become themselves enriched. And these articles of traffic are symbolized by the merchandise which, after her destruction, no man would buy.

The commerce of this ecclesiastical city, has been immense, -- particularly in indulgences. The sale of these was reduced to a system, says D'Aubigne, by |the celebrated and scandalous Tariff of Indulgences,| which went through more than forty editions. The least delicate ears would be offended by an enumeration of all the horrors it contains. Incest, if not detected, was to cost five groats; and six, if it was known. There was a stated price for murder, infanticide, adultery, perjury, burglary, &c. Polygamy cost six ducats; sacrilege and perjury, nine; murder, eight; and witchcraft, two ducats.

The penances of various kinds which were imposed as a punishment for sin, might also be compounded for money.

Tetzel, one of Rome's travelling merchants, told the people of Germany that for |a quarter of a florin| they might |receive letters of indulgence,| by means of which they might |introduce into paradise a divine and immortal soul, without its running any risk.| Hist. Ref., pp.56, 242.

He also said |Indulgences avail not only for the living but for the dead. With twelve groats you can deliver your father from purgatory.| |At the very instant,| said he, |that the money rattles at the bottom of the chest, the soul escapes from purgatory, and flies, liberated to heaven.| This is but a specimen of her vile traffic.

Responding to the command, are heard the voices of much people in heaven,

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