every stone about the weight of a talent; which is threescore pound weight, a prodigious weight indeed for a single hailstone! such hail stones were never known to fall; the largest I have read of is what Caspar Wesserus assured Mr. Broughton (f) of, at Zurich, which being brought from a field afar off, to the consul, and so must melt in carriage, yet weighed a pound. It may be said of this hail storm, as of the earthquake in a preceding verse, that it will be such as never was since men were upon earth; and denotes the sore, heavy, and even intolerable judgments of God upon the antichristian party: God's judgments are sometimes signified by hail storms, Isaiah 30:26 and particularly the judgments upon Gog and Magog, Ezekiel 38:22 which may respect the same as here: the Jews (g) now expect a great hail in the times of Gog and Magog:
and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; the plague of hail brought down the hard heart of Pharaoh, and humbled him, so that he acknowledged his wickedness, and the sin of his people, and owned the justice of God; but this more terrible storm will have no effect upon these men, to convince and reform them, but, on the contrary, they will break out into blasphemy against God, who caused it to fall on them; it will have the same effect as the fourth and fifth vials:
for the plague thereof was exceeding great; it must beat down all before it, and be intolerable: whether this hail storm may not also have some regard to coldness and lukewarmness, as Naplet suggests, and so may point at the close of the spiritual reign of Christ, or the Laodicean state, which will bring on the second coming of Christ, and so this effect of the seventh vial will end where the seven churches and seven trumpets do, may be considered; See Gill on Revelation 11:15.
(f) See his (Zohar's) Works, p. 491. (g) Shemot Rabba, sect. 12. fol. 99. 1.
INTRODUCTION TO Revelation 17
This chapter contains a vision of a beast, and a woman on it, and the interpretation of it; one of the seven angels that had the seven vials proposes to John to show him the whore of Babylon, the Jezabel before spoken of, who sits on many waters, with whom the kings and inhabitants of the earth have committed fornication, being intoxicated by her, Revelation 17:1 in order to which he carries him into the wilderness, and there he sees a woman, who is described by the beast she sat on, of a scarlet colour, full of blasphemous names, with seven heads and ten horns; by her array, in purple and scarlet, decked with gold, pearls, and precious stones; by a cup she had in her hand, full of abominable filth; by a name written on her forehead, given at large, and by the condition she was in, drunk with the blood of the saints; which sight filled John with great wonder and admiration, Revelation 17:3 wherefore, to remove his astonishment, the angel proposes to explain to him the mystery of the woman, and the beast she sat on, Revelation 17:7 and first the mystery of the beast is explained, by its several states, past, present, and to come; by its original and end, ascending out of the bottomless pit, and going into perdition; by the veneration it would be had in by the reprobate part of the world, Revelation 17:8 its seven heads are interpreted of the seven mountains on which the city of Rome, designed by the woman, stood, and of seven kings, or forms of government, five of which had ceased, and one was in being in John's time, another was to come, which should not continue long, and the beast would be an eighth, Revelation 17:9 its ten horns are explained of ten kings, described by their kingdom they had not as yet received, and which they should have one hour with the beast; by their agreement in mind and conduct; and by their war with the Lamb, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, and those that are with him, the called, chosen, and faithful, and the issue of it, Revelation 17:12 the waters on which the whore sat are interpreted of a multitude of people, nations, and tongues, Revelation 17:15 the hatred and destruction of her by the ten kings, and the manner of it, are declared, Revelation 17:16 which is owing to the will of God, who put it into their hearts to agree to give their kingdom to the beast till the prophecies and promises were fulfilled respecting this matter, and now to destroy the whore that sat upon it, Revelation 17:17 which woman is explained of the great city of Rome, that reigns over the kings of the earth, Revelation 17:18.
and talked with me, saying unto me, come hither: he conversed with him in a friendly manner, see Zechariah 1:9 and desires him to come nearer to him, and go along with him, adding,
I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore; that noted and famous one, known before to John by the names of Jezabel and Babylon, who taught and caused many to commit fornication, Revelation 2:20 Revelation 14:8 and is no other than Rome Papal; for that a city or state is meant is clear from Revelation 17:18 and it is usual for idolatrous or apostate cities to be called whores or harlots, see Isaiah 1:21 Ezekiel 23:2 and she is called a "great" one, because of the largeness of the Papal see; and because of the multitude of persons, the kings of the earth, and the inhabitants of it, with whom the Romish antichrist has committed spiritual fornication, or idolatry: her "judgment" signifies either her sin and wickedness; in which sense the word is used in Romans 5:16 and which is exposed, Revelation 17:5 namely, her idolatry and cruelty; or else her condemnation, and the execution of it, suggested in Revelation 17:8 and more largely described in the following chapter:
that sitteth upon many waters; which in Revelation 17:15 are interpreted of people, multitudes, nations, and tongues, subject to the jurisdiction of Rome; and so several antichristian states are in the preceding chapter signified by the sea, and by rivers and fountains of water: and this is said in reference to Babylon, an emblem of the Romish harlot, which was situated upon the river Euphrates, and is therefore said to dwell upon many waters, Jeremiah 51:13 her sitting here may be in allusion to the posture of harlots plying of men; or may denote her ease, rest, and grandeur, sitting as a queen; and is chiefly expressive of her power and dominion over the kings and nations of the earth, Revelation 17:18.
and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication; that is, the inhabitants of the Roman empire, or earthly minded men, mere carnal persons, have been drawn into idolatrous practices by the allurements of the church of Rome; such as riches, honours, pleasures, lying miracles, and great pretensions to devotion and religion; whereby they have been intoxicated as men with wine, and have been filled with a blind zeal for that church, and the false doctrines and worship of it, and with madness and fury against the true professors of religion.
into the wilderness; by which may be meant either the wilderness of the people, the world, the church hereafter described, being a worldly one, and consisting of worldly men; or Gentilism, the Gentile world is often in the prophecies of the Old Testament called a wilderness; the Romish church having much of Heathen worship, and Heathen customs and practices in it, hence its votaries are called Gentiles, Revelation 11:2 or this circumstance may be mentioned, and the thing so represented to John, because that a wilderness is a solitary place, and fit for retirement and meditation; and where he might, without any interruption, take a full view of the following sight, and make proper observations upon it; and it is worth notice, that this is the place where the true church and became out of sight, in the room of which this apostate church appears: or, as others have thought, John is had into the wilderness, where the true church was hid and nourished, and the false one is there shown him, that seeing both together, he might compare them, and observe the difference between them; to all which may be added, that a wilderness is a fit place for such a beast as hereafter described to be seen in:
and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast; the beast is the same with that in Revelation 13:1 as the description shows, and is no other than the Roman empire as Papal; the "scarlet" colour is expressive of its imperial dignity, its power and authority, it received from the dragon; and also of this beast's cruelty and tyranny, and of its shedding the blood of the saints: the woman sitting upon it is the great city of Rome, as is manifest from Revelation 17:18 or the Romish antichrist, the apostate church of Rome, represented by a woman, as the true church is, Revelation 12:1 but in a very different form, and is the same with the second beast in Revelation 13:11 and the false prophet; and as the two beasts respect the same, under different considerations, namely, the Papacy, in its civil and ecclesiastic capacity, so this strange phenomenon, a woman sitting on such a beast, means one and the same thing as the horse and his rider in the seals, though in different views; the woman designs the Romish church, with the pope at the head of it, and the beast the Roman Papal empire as civil, by which the former is supported and upheld, bore up on high, and exalted in the manner it has been: moreover, as purple and scarlet are the colours of garments wore by the pope, and cardinals, hence the woman in the next verse is said to be "arrayed in purple and scarlet colour", so even the very beasts on which they rode were covered with scarlet. Platina (h) says that Pope Paul the Second
"ordered by a public decree, on pain or punishment, that no man should wear a scarlet cap but cardinals; to whom also, in the first year of his popedom, he gave cloth of the same colour, to put upon their horses and mules when they rode; and besides, would have put into the decree, that the cardinals' hats should be of scarlet silk:''
upon which Du Maulin (i) makes this remark;
"Pope Paul the Second was the first that gave scarlet to the cardinals, as well for themselves as for their mules, to the end that this prophecy, which agreeth in general with the see of Rome, might likewise appertain particularly to everyone of the pillars of the said see, which is to be set upon a "scarlet coloured beast".''
full of names of blasphemy: that is, the beast, or Roman Papal empire, was full of them; in Revelation 13:1 a name of blasphemy is said to be upon his head, and he to have a mouth speaking blasphemy; but here his whole body is represented as full of them, and may refer to the blasphemous doctrines of worshipping of images, of pardons and indulgences, of transubstantiation, &c. and to the multitude of images, of the virgin Mary, and other saints, in the antichristian state, in every part of it; and to those blaspheming persons, the cardinals, priests, and Jesuits, which abound in it; as well as to those blasphemous names and titles which are given to the pope, the head of it, or assumed by him; such as God on earth, the vicar of Christ, the head, and husband, and foundation of the church, with many others:
having seven heads, and ten horns: the seven heads are the seven mountains, on which the city of Rome, the metropolis of the empire, is seated; and the seven kings, or seven forms of government, under which it has been, as appears from Revelation 17:9; see Gill on Revelation 13:1 and the "ten horns" signify the ten kings over the ten kingdoms, into which the empire was divided, when overrun by the Goths and Vandals; and which ten kings gave their kingdoms to the beast, the Romish antichrist; they gave their strength and power to him, being of his religion, and have been his horns, his defenders and supporters, ever since, as may be gathered from Revelation 17:12.
(h) De Vitis Pontiticum, p. 312. (i) Defence of the Catholic Faith, &c. c. 3. p. 38.
and decked with gold and precious stones, and pearls; which may denote her hypocrisy, she being gilded with these things, as the word signifies, when she was inwardly rotten, corrupt, and filthy; and may point out the things by which persons have been enticed into the communion of the church of Rome, and to comply with her idolatrous worship and practices; and may also respect the prodigious riches, which have, by various methods, been brought into the pope's coffers; these, with other things, are reckoned among the merchandise of Babylon, Revelation 18:12 and particularly this may have reference to the adorning of their temples, or churches, and the decking of their images, with those things; which gaudy pompous shows strike the minds of carnal men, amuse them, and engage their attention. So Philo (k) the Jew describes an whore as arrayed in purple, and adorned with gold and precious stones; see Proverbs 7:10.
Having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication; in allusion to Babylon, Jeremiah 51:7 and also to harlots, who give philters or love potions to men, to excite lust, and draw their affections to them; and this being a golden cup may design the external lustre and splendour of the worship of the church of Rome, by which many have been drawn into a compliance with it, which is attended with many abominable, filthy, and idolatrous practices: and perhaps some regard may be had to the golden chalice, in which, it is pretended, is the very blood of Christ, which the priests take as such, and worship and adore, and is no other than an abominable and filthy piece of idolatry; and such are the persons that partake of it; like the Pharisees of old, they make clean the outside of the cup and platter; glister, and make a great show of devotion, but within are full of extortion and excess.
(k) De Mercede Meretricis non recip. p. 861.
mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth; her name is "mystery"; not the mystery of godliness, that she dislikes and opposes, but the mystery of iniquity; which is the name antichrist went by in the Apostle Paul's time, when he was but in embryo, 2 Thessalonians 2:7. Some reference may be had to the mystery of the Mass, in which the Papists pretend are the very body and blood of Christ; to their seven sacraments, for wherever almost they find the word mystery, they make a sacrament of that to which it is applied; and to their unwritten traditions, and the sense of the Scriptures, which are locked up in the pope's breast: and it is very remarkable what has been observed by some, that the word "mystery" was formerly upon the frontlet of the pope's mitre, and was removed by Pope Julius the Third, when it was observed that the Protestants made use of this passage of Scripture, and applied it to the Romish antichrist. Joseph Scaliger (l) affirms, that he saw mitres at Rome with this inscription on them. Though others think that this is not any part of the name, but only signifies that this woman was, in a mysterious or mystical sense, called Babylon, &c. just as the great city is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, Revelation 11:8 but to me it seems to be a part of the name, as well as what follows, "Babylon the great"; that is, the great city, Revelation 14:8 by which name the church of Rome may well be called, because of the signification of it, confusion, Genesis 11:9 its doctrine and worship being a confused mixture of Paganism, Judaism, and Christianity; and because of the pride and haughtiness of it, its tyranny and cruelty, and its sorceries and idolatry; see Isaiah 14:12.
And the mother of harlots, of all antichristian states and kingdoms; and is different from the heavenly Jerusalem, the Gospel church, which is the mother of true believers, Galatians 4:26 or the "mother of fornications": as some copies read, and the Vulgate Latin and eastern versions render it; that is, the author and encourager of them, as the church of Rome has been; of corporeal fornication, by commanding celibacy, and forbidding marriage to priests, and setting up of brothel houses; and of spiritual fornication or idolatry, everywhere required and encouraged by it: and of "the abominations of the earth"; of abominable doctrines and practices; all manner of wickedness that is to be found in the earth, as murder, adultery, sodomy, perjury, &c. these, with everything that is vile and wicked, are practised and connived at by her.
(l) In Scaligeran.
and of the martyrs of Jesus; the saints, whose blood is shed by antichrist, are martyrs also; but they seem to design the common people, and these the ministers of the Gospel, who are the martyrs of Jesus, both in life and death; they are his martyrs or witnesses, by their doctrine and ministry, bearing testimony to him as Jesus, a Saviour; testifying that he is the only Saviour, that there is salvation in no other, in opposition to the antichristian doctrines of merit, penance, purgatory, &c. for which they have been cruelly put to death, and in great numbers, and so have sealed their doctrine by their blood. Now the woman being drunk with their blood, denotes the blood thirstiness of the church of Rome, her greedy aud insatiable desire after the blood of the saints, and her delight in it, being exceeding mad against them; and the multitude of it shed by her, as the slaughters of the Waldenses and Albigenses, the butcheries of the duke d'Alva in the Low Countries, the massacres in France, Ireland, and other places, the burning of the martyrs in Queen Mary's days here, with numerous other instances, show.
And when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration; not at the sight of the beast, which he had seen before, but at the sight of the woman, as, upon the beast; he wondered that one of her sex, generally timorous and fearful, should ride on such a monstrous creature; he was amazed at her dress, and grand appearance, whereas the church in his time consisted of poor persons, meanly arrayed; it was astonishing to him that one bearing the name of a Christian church should rise to such grandeur; and he wondered at the name upon her forehead, what the whole of that inscription should mean; but, above all, at her drunkenness with the blood of the saints; at her inhumanity and cruelty, being as savage as the beast she rode on; and also at God's forbearance of her, that he, who is a pure and holy Being, a lover of his saints, an avenger of his elect, should suffer such a brutish, barbarous, and blood thirsty creature, to live upon earth; see Habakkuk 1:13.
wherefore didst thou marvel? which is not said by way of reproof, as questions of this kind sometimes are, Acts 3:12 for John did not wonder at her with a sinful admiration, so as to have her in great veneration, and to do homage and worship to her, as the inhabitants of the world wondered after the beast, Revelation 13:3 but his admiration was an amazement, or stupefaction of mind, joined with indignation at her; and this is said by the angel to lead on to what he had to declare unto him.
I will tell thee the mystery of the woman; that is, what is mysteriously or mystically designed by her; for till it was made known to John by the angel, it was a mystery to him; and when it was revealed, the interpretation is given in such an obscure manner, that it is only understood by the mind that has spiritual wisdom; and still remains a mystery to carnal men, just as the Gospel itself does. The hidden meaning of this woman, or the mystery of her, is told by the angel in Revelation 17:18.
And of the beast that carried her, which hath the seven heads, and ten horns; the mystical sense of the beast, its heads and horns, and which is also delivered in a mysterious manner, is given in Revelation 17:8.
And shall ascend out of the bottomless pit: out of hell, from whence the antichristian beast has its power; see Revelation 11:8 otherwise all civil power is from God, but not antichristian power, that is from the devil:
and go into perdition; everlasting destruction, the lake which burns with fire and brimstone; this will be the end of the beast, Revelation 19:20.
and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder; the inhabitants of the Roman empire, earthly minded men, shall have the beast in great veneration, and follow and worship him; see Revelation 13:3
whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world; none but reprobates, not any of the elect of God, are the admirers and worshippers of antichrist; See Gill on Revelation 13:8.
when they beheld the beast that was, and is not, and yet is; the Roman empire in glory, under the emperors, destroyed by the Goths, and revived in the Papacy. The Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions leave out the last clause,
and yet is.
the seven heads are seven mountains of which the woman sitteth that is, they signify seven mountains, or are symbolical representations of them; just as the seven good kine, and seven good ears, in Pharoah's dream, signified seven years of plenty, and seven thin kine, and seven empty ears, seven years of famine, Genesis 41:26. As the woman is a city, Revelation 17:18 these seven mountains, on which she sits, must be so many mountains on which the city is built; and what city can this be but Rome, which is so famous for being built on seven hills? This is taken notice of by Virgil (m), Horace (n), Ovid (o), Claudian (p), Starius (q), Martial (r), and others; and indeed there is scarce a poet that speaks of Rome but observes it: hence it has been sometimes called, by writers, the seven hilled city, and sometimes Septiceps, the seven headed city, which comes near to the language here: the names of the seven mountains were these, Capitolinus, Palatinus, Aventinus, Esquilinus, Coelius, Viminalis, and Quirinalis; the four first of these were taken in by Romulus, the first founder of it, and the three last by Servius Tullius, when he enlarged it; and upon the addition of the seventh mountain there was a feast kept, called Septimontium; and which was kept in seven places in the city (s); and was annually observed; and in this situation it was in John's time; for Pliny (t), who was contemporary with him, expressly says, that in his time it took in seven mountains; and that this refers to a city in John's time, then reigning over the kings of the earth, is certain from Revelation 17:18. Now there was no imperial city, so built in his time, but Rome: for though Constantinople is built on seven hills, yet this was not in being in John's time, but was built by Constantine many years after, in imitation of Rome; and though the situation is much altered now, being in Campus Martius, it being greatly reduced, and in a less compass, yet this hinders not but that it is the same city here designed: and this confirms that the beast before spoken of, on whom the woman sat, is the Roman empire, since she is here said to sit on the seven mountains, on which Rome, the metropolis of that empire, was built; and this shows the pope of Rome to be antichrist, the great whore, Babylon, the mother of harlots, since no other has his seat at Rome but he.
(m) Aeneid. 6. (n) In Carmine Seculari. (o) De Trist. l. 1. Eleg. 4. (p) L. 3. de Laud. Stilicon. l. 3. ver. 135. (q) Syl. l. 1. Syl. 2. ver. 191. (r) L. 4. Ephesians 53. (s) Alex. ab Alex. Genial Dier. l. 6. c. 11. (t) Nat. Hist. l. 3. c. 5.
Five are fallen; or ceased, are no longer in being as kings, consuls, dictators, decemvirs, and tribunes; at least, the supreme power was not lodged in any bearing either of these names in John's time:
and one is; the Pagan emperors; an Heathen emperor, Domitian, then reigning, when John had this vision; and these continued to the opening of the sixth seal, which put an end to that succession, as Pagan, and till the woman brought forth the man child, or till Constantine's time:
and the other is not yet come; which some understand of the Christian emperors, who immediately succeeded the Pagan ones, and were another, and different from them, as to religion, though the form of government was the same, and were not another head; for they were not an idolatrous head, on which were names of blasphemy, but another king; for from the following verse it appears, that there are eight kings, and but seven heads, and therefore one of them should seem not to be a head; and these, when they came, continued but a short time in comparison of the Heathen emperors that reigned before them, and of the hope, or antichrist, who was to reign after them 1260 years; for they reigned not, put them all together, more than 150 years; and especially at Rome their stay was short, for Constantine removed from thence to Constantinople, in the nineteenth year of his empire. But these emperors, though in religion they differed from the others, yet their form of government and title were the same, and therefore must be included in the sixth head: according to some, Theodoricus the Ostrogoth, and his successors, are meant, who continued about an hundred years; others have thought that the exarchs of Ravenna, who rose up upon the destruction of the western empire, are intended, and who continued but a short time; but then these had not their seat at Rome, which it seems necessary each head of this beast should have; it is better, therefore, to understand this of the popes of Rome, the seventh and last head of the Roman empire; these were not yet come, in John's time, to their supreme dignity and authority:
and when he cometh he must continue a short space; forty two months, or 1260 days; that is, so many years, which, though a long time in itself, and in the account of man, yet with God, with whom a thousand years is as one day, and in comparison of the everlasting kingdom of Christ, and his people, it is but a short space; and so the reign of the beast, and of the ten kings with him, is said to be one hour, Revelation 17:12 and this is said for the comfort of the saints, and to keep up their faith and patience under their sufferings in antichristian states. Mr. Daubuz makes these seven heads, or kings, signified by seven mountains, seven capital cities, which by degrees came to belong to the Roman empire; as first Rome itself, the capital of Italy; next Carthage, the capital of Africa; then Aege, the capital of Macedonia; after that Antiochia, the capital of the east; then Augustodunum, the capital of the Gauls; and Alexandria, the capital of Egypt; five of these six, with the monarchies belonging to them, were fallen; one, or the first of them now, was the mistress of all; and the other seventh was to come, namely, Byzantium, or Contantinople, which continued not long. This passage is so interpreted, as also the seven heads, in Revelation 13:1 by this writer.
and is of the seven; one of the seven heads, and the last of them, and is an idolatrous one, as the rest were, requiring and encouraging the worship of angels, of the virgin Mary, and saints parted: the pope of Rome is the eighth king, and seventh head, the latter with respect to his temporal power, and the former with respect to his ecclesiastical authority; for his government is quite of a different sort from the rest, being of a mixed kind, partly civil, and partly ecclesiastical, and therefore is signified by two beasts in the thirteenth chapter:
and goes into perdition; being the son of perdition, and is justly deserving of it; See Gill on Revelation 17:8.
Which have received no kingdom as yet: in John's time, when the Pagan empire was in being, and the beast was not risen, with whom they were to reign; hence these horns have no crowns on them, Revelation 12:3.
But receive power as kings one hour with the beast; as soon as he was risen; and therefore the horns are represented with crowns upon them, Revelation 13:1. Their rise was with the Papal beast, who rose not to his supreme power and dignity until the western emperor, which let and hindered, was removed out of the way; which was done by the barbarous nations, who set up these kingdoms, which made way for the lordly and tyrannical government of the pope of Rome; so that he and they rose up together: and this may he meant by the "one hour"; namely, that at one and the same hour or season he came to his supreme authority and grandeur, and they received their kingly power with him; or this may denote the time of their continuance in their honour and greatness; it was but for an hour, or a short time, as that phrase sometimes signifies, Plm 1:15 and so the Ethiopic version renders it, "for one hour"; to which agrees the Arabic version,
and their power shall be of one hour: and this shall be "as kings"; for they only have the title of kings, but not sovereign power; they are vassals to the beast, the pope, who reigns over them, Revelation 17:18 and sets up kings in these kingdoms, and deposes them at pleasure; exalting himself above all that is called God, or above all civil magistrates; so that these have only the name, not the thing; they are as kings, and look like such, but are not really so; though what power they have, they receive not from the beast, but from God; the beast receives his power and authority, as well as seat, from the dragon; but civil power and magistracy is from God, who suffers these princes, and gives them up to such stupidity as to give their kingdom to the beast, and to exercise their power as he directs.
(u) De Excidio Antichristi apud Poli Synops. in loc.
and shall give their power and strength unto the beast; the Papal antichrist, the eighth king, and seventh head; to him they have given power to exercise all ecclesiastical authority in their kingdoms; as to ordain bishops, and deliver the pall to whom they will; to excommunicate offenders, and even lay their kingdoms under an interdict when they pleased; and have assisted and defended the popes of Rome with all their force, with all their might and main, and to the utmost of their power, and have engaged in what have been called the holy wars, at their motion; they have given their riches and wealth, which are called the forces of strength, Job 36:19 which they have, by various methods, drained them of; hence the whore of Rome came to be decked with gold, and pearls, and precious stones; yea, they have given them their kingdoms, and have received them from them, and become tributary to them.
and the Lamb shall overcome them: partly through the constancy of his people, who will not love their lives to the death, but freely lay them down for him; nor can anything separate them from the love of Christ, or prevail upon them to desert him, his truths and ordinances, cause and interest, but are more than conquerors through him, and so he overcomes in them; and partly through a reformation which he effects, as in some of those kingdoms already, as Sweden, Denmark, England, Scotland, and Ireland, and others, and will do in others hereafter; see Revelation 17:16
for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings; he is so by nature, as God and Creator, to whom the kingdom of nature and providence belongs; and by office, as Mediator, being made higher than the kings of the earth; hence he is more than a match for them, they cannot stand before him; this is a reason why he overcomes them, and it cannot be thought it should be otherwise: this Lamb is the lion of the tribe of Judah, and when he rouses himself, and stirs up his wrath, and exerts his power, kings and great men flee from him; see Revelation 6:15. This is a proof of Christ's proper deity, the same titles being given to him, the Word and Son of God, as to God himself, Revelation 19:16.
And they that are with him: his servants and his soldiers, that fight under him, and abide by him,
are called, and chosen, and faithful; they are chosen in Christ from all eternity, to grace here, and glory hereafter, and so stand opposed to the admirers of the beast, whose names are not written in the book of life, Revelation 17:8 for this is to be understood of their eternal election, and not of their separation by the effectual calling in time, for that is expressed by their being "called"; and though their calling is here set before election, as in 2 Peter 1:10 yet it does not precede it; the Arabic version reads, "chosen, called, faithful"; first "chosen" by God the Father, then "called", not with the bare external call by the ministry of the word, for, so, many are called, and not chosen; but by special grace to special benefits, and with an holy and heavenly calling, and which is irresistible, and without repentance; and being called they remain "faithful": the meaning is, either that they have faith, or are believers in Christ; which faith they have bestowed on them in the effectual calling, as a fruit of electing grace; and by this they overcome the world: or else, that they are persons of integrity and uprightness, that are on the side of Christ; they are the faithful in the Lord, and are made so by him; and they are faithful to him, and abide by his Gospel and ordinances, and in his cause and interest, even unto death; and so this character is expressive of the perseverance of those who are chosen and called, even unto the end.
the waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth; see Gill on Revelation 17:1,
are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues; denoting the vast multitude of people, of which the several kingdoms, of divers languages, consist, which belong to the jurisdiction of Rome Papal: it is an eastern way of speaking, and is particularly used to express the various kingdoms, and infinite number of people belonging to the Babylonish monarchy, which was an emblem of the antichristian state, Daniel 3:4 and these are compared to waters, to many waters; which phrase sometimes is used for the sea, Psalm 107:23 because of the vast numbers of them; the whole world wondered after the beast, and the kings and inhabitants of the earth have been subject to the see of Rome; and because of their overbearing force, carrying all before them; see Isaiah 8:7 Revelation 13:3 and because, like waters, they are continually upon the flux, one generation succeeding another; and because of their instability, fickleness, and inconstancy, as in religion, so in their constitution, they will hate the whore they love; and as they frequently change and alter in their form, at last they will utterly cease: so the Jews (w) interpret many waters, in Sol 8:7 of all people, and of the kings of the earth, and of the nations of the world; and they say, that many waters never signify any other than all the nations, and those that are appointed over them (x). So, "he drew me out of many waters", Psalm 18:16 is by the Targum on the place explained, he delivered me from many people. And so Psalm 46:4 is paraphrased by the Targumist;
"people, "as rivers", and their streams, shall come, and make glad the city of the Lord;''
see the Targum on Isaiah 8:7 and in Ezekiel 32:2 where it is observed kingdoms are compared to waters (y).
(w) Targum in Cant. viii. 7. Shirhashirim Rabba fol. 26. 1.((x) Zohar in Gen. fol. 51. 3. & Raya Mehimna in ib. & in Numb. fol. 105. 3. Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 2. fol. 179. 4. (y) Yaikut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 93. 2.
these shall hate the whore; her principles and sentiments, her doctrines, which are doctrines of devils, her wicked practices, her idolatries, adulteries, murders, and thefts; they will repent of their fornications with her, and cease from them; their love will be turned to hatred, and the latter will be greater than ever the former was, like Amnon's to Tamar; and as it usually is with men towards harlots, when they see their follies, and how they have been deceived and abused by them:
and shall make her desolate; leave her, quit her communion; no more commit fornication with her, or join with her in her idolatrous worship; but come out from that apostate church, and renounce all fellowship with her, and persuade and engage as many as they can influence to do the same:
and naked; strip her of her purple, scarlet colour, gold, pearls, and precious stones; cease to give their power and strength, withhold their taxes and tribute, deprive her of her power and authority, civil and ecclesiastical, in their realms, and take away even her patrimony from her; and not only so, but expose her shame and filthiness, her abominable principles and practices, to all the world; which has been in part done already:
and shall eat her flesh; not literally, but mystically; not out of love, but hatred; they shall take that to themselves, and make use of, which have fattened her, as bishoprics, and other benefices, lands, endowments belonging to abbeys, and monasteries, and other religious houses; an instance and example of which we have in King Henry the Eighth's time; so some understand this phrase of devouring the substance of others, in Psalm 27:2. So the Targumists often interpret "flesh and fatness"; by "riches, goods", or substance; the phrase in Isaiah 17:4 "the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean", is paraphrased, , "the riches of his glory shall be carried away"; and the words in Micah 3:3 who shall also eat the flesh of my people", &c. are rendered, "and they who spoil" , "the goods", or "substance of my people, and take away their precious mammon, or money, from them. And again, Zechariah 11:9 "let the rest eat, everyone the flesh of another", is in the Targum, "let a man spoil" "the goods or substance of his neighbour"; and in Revelation 17:16 he shall eat the flesh of the fat; the paraphrase is, "he shall" spoil "the goods or substance of the rich".
And burn her with fire: alluding to the law in Leviticus 21:9 which required that the daughter of a priest, that played the whore, should be burnt with fire; and this is to be understood literally of burning the city of Rome, the seat of the whore, with fire; of which see Revelation 18:8. It has been very near being burnt in times past, as by Alaricus the Goth, Attila the Hun, Genseric the Vandal, and by Totilas, and in later times by Charles the Fifth; and would have been, had they not been dissuaded or diverted from it; and which were so many preludes and warnings of its future fate: and we may learn from hence, that Rome, and the Romish antichrist, will not be destroyed by the Turks, but by the Christians; and by the same states, and kingdoms, and princes, by which the whore of Rome has been supported in her grandeur, power, and authority, who will revolt from Popery, and embrace the pure Gospel of Christ: and this shows, that the ten horns, or kingdoms, into which the Roman empire has been divided, will subsist in this form at the destruction of Rome; wherefore, it has been rightly observed by some, that not one of these kingdoms shall ever be able to rise to universal monarchy. France has been for many years attempting it, but in vain; and we may sit down easy and satisfied, assuring ourselves with the greatest confidence, that all attempts this way will be fruitless; there never will be another universal monarchy on earth but that of Christ's; see Daniel 2:37.
and to agree: this clause is wanting in the Alexandrian copy, and in the Vulgate Latin version, and is the same with that of having one mind, Revelation 17:13 that is, being of the same religion; God giving them up to a reprobate mind, to believe a lie, that they might be damned; which must be understood not of the same individuals, but of their predecessors; unless this is to be interpreted of their agreeing together against the whore, to pull her down, and set up the pure worship and service of God; for this is a blessing of grace from God, who gives his people one heart and one way, that they may fear him, Jeremiah 32:39 but the former sense seems best, since it follows,
and give their kingdom unto the beast; the eighth king, and seventh head, the pope of Rome; to whom they have given their power and strength in things civil and ecclesiastical, their wealth and riches; and have received their crowns from him, and have held their kingdoms by him, and become tributary to him: and this is done, and will be,
until the words of God shall be fulfilled; concerning the afflictions of his church and people, and the reign of antichrist, for the space of forty and two months, Revelation 11:2 all which while they are fulfilling the secret will of God, unknown to them, and yet act against his revealed will, and break his commands; just as the Jews, ignorant of the prophecies of the Old Testament, fulfilled them in condemning Christ, Acts 13:27. That God should put it into the hearts of these kings to fulfil his will, in destroying the whore of Rome, is easily received; but there seems some difficulty that he should put it into their hearts to agree and give their kingdom to the beast, which was sinful: now this he did, not by infusing sin into them, which is contrary to his pure and holy nature; but by leaving them, and giving them up to their own hearts' lusts; stirring up, and moving upon their minds, and directing the motions of it, to such and such objects, which they readily and voluntarily fell in with; and yet the concern of God herein does not, nor do his decrees about sin infringe the liberty of the will in acting, or excuse the sinfulness of the action, or make God the author of sin; as the instances of selling of Joseph by his brethren, and the crucifixion of Christ by the Jews, show.