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with a loud tone and a fierce denunciation of impending wrath, suitable to the real character of the man. He makes no scruple to proclaim that Antichrist is come, and that Rome is the whore of Babylon, which hath made the nations mad with the poisonous cup of the wine of her fornications. That the judgments of God upon her for her perversion of righteousness and truth, and her notorious idolatry, are now at hand, and that she is virtually fallen already; her irrevocable doom is pronounced, and her final destruction, by a second fall, certain to take place in its due season.
The third angel augments the loudness of his warning, in proportion to the delay of mankind to come out of the spiritual Sodom. He delivers the most thundering message, and urges them, by the most alarming cautions, to
* Luther denounced to the emperor Charles V. the calami. ties that were about to come upon Germany in consequence of his persecution of the reformers. He proved the popish mass to be full of blasphemies.---Bohun’s Sleidan, p. 43, 54, 65,
+ Rev. xiv. 8; Jer. li. 7.
flee from the impending wrath. Shewing nok only the certainty of their punishment, who shall still persist in the worship of the beast, and the receiving of his mark, but describing also (in the figurative stile of the ancient prophets, and agreably to their former prophecies,) the nature of it, and the manner of its accomplishment.--" They shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture, into the cup of his indignation ; and shall be tormented with fire and brimstone, in the preseuce of the boly angels, and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascendeth
for ever and ever; and they have no test, day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” That is, (divested of the figurative,) they shall be given up for an easy prey to the cruel and tormenting scourge raised up of God for their punishment :-and it shall be executed upon them in a visible and notorious manner,
“ in the presence of the angels and of the Lamb;" or in the public şight and observation of the whole christian
world looking on, but not interfering, or not having power to prevent their sufferings. And it shall allow them no respite, nor any season when they can deem themselves secure from robbery and the sword. well if the vengeance which their crimes have provoked were satiated even here. But the final catastrophe that still awaits them, is still more tremendously terrible :-" They shall be tormented with fire and brimstone," and still " in the presence of the Lamb and bis angels, or in the sight of the true church and witnesses of Christ ; God being willing that his justice shall receive as public a vindication as his mercy and truth have met with a public contempt.
“ For TOPHET is ordained of old, and the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, shall kindle it." “ And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever.”—The volcanic fire, the memorial of their excessive wickedness, shall never be extinguished, even to the end of the world,
But before this AUTO DA Fe of God's IN, QUISITION takes place, the afflicted church
has to pass through a long course of severe trial of their faith and patience, by the increased exertions of the beast to suppress (by the terror of bloody executions and massacres) the new lights in religion, upon the very same principle that urged the jews to put to death the Saviour of the world and his apostles, as deceivers of the people.
Verse of this chapter is very singular. The best account of its meaning seems to be that of those interpreters who have applied it to the overthrow of the lucrative doctrine of purgatory, a chief pillar of the popish superstition; and of so much consequence to the papal greatness, and so pernicious to true religion in its nature and effects, that the Holy Spirit has deemed it worthy of a very particular notice in the prophecies of Isaiah, (chap. xxviii.) as has been already shewn ;* and to that fictitious and unavailing covenant with death and the grave the prophet here alludes. For it is no sooner proclaimed by a voice from
* See Section xi. p. 287.
heaven,- (or the church of the reformed res ligion,) that the popish doctrine of purgatory is a fable, and masses for the dead are idolatrous abominations, and that from henceforth it shall be the rational and well-founded belief of the faithful, that the souls of them that die in the Lord are in peace and rest, and do immediately enjoy the promised reward of their faith and good works; than a solemn affirmation of the truth of this consolatory doctrine is added by the Holy Spirit.—“Yea, saith the spirit, for they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.” This doctrine of PURGATORY and INDULGENCIES, &c. was so foul a blot upon the painted face of the BABYLONIAN Thais, that it is well known it was the stone of offence over which Luther (himself a monk) first stumbled, and thus became the happy occasion of the general reformation which ensued upon that contest.* .
* St John speaks here in the prophetic manner of this mona strous imposture, as if it had been a real interdiction from the realms of the blessed, and was from henceforth removed. But the meaning is only that from this time that magic spell of popery should be dissolved, the idea of a future state corrected, and