As much as she has glorified herself and lived in luxury, give her the same measure of torment and grief. In her heart she says, 'I sit as queen; I am not a widow and will never see grief.'
man's future retribution ruled by his present condition. "How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much... sorrow give her." This, stripped of all historical and metaphorical allusions, means the present circumstances of the sinner shall rule his future suffering. I offer three remarks on this subject.
I. THIS RULE COMMENDS ITSELF TO OUR SENSE OF JUSTICE. That those of the wicked who in this world live in affluence, and have more than heart can wish, possess abundant opportunities for intellectual and moral improvement and means of doing good, should in future retribution fare alike with those who have none of these blessings or advantages, would be an outrage on our sense of right. Justice requires a balancing of human affairs - a kind of compensation for existing discrepancies, and this mankind will have in the great retributive future.
II. THIS RULE ANSWERS TO BIBLICAL TEACHING. Throughout the whole Scripture record it is taught that sinners, after they have passed through their probationary period, will be dealt with according to the mercies they have abused, the opportunities they have neglected, and the advantages they have wasted. "He that knoweth his master's will, and doeth it not," etc.; "Son, remember thou in thy lifetime didst receive," etc.
III. THIS RULE AGREES WITH UNIVERSAL EXPERIENCE, Conscious contrast between a propitious past and a distressing present is, and must ever be, an element in mental suffering. There are two paupers equal, I will suppose, in age, capacity, sensibility, and character. The hovels they live in and the means of their sustenance are also equal; but the one is intensely wretched, and the other is comparatively happy. Why this? The wretched man has come down into that hovel from the home of opulence and luxury, and the other has never had a better home. Thus the contrast gives a misery to the one which the other cannot experience. So it must be in the future; the sinner who goes into retribution from mansions, colleges, and churches will, by the law of contrast, find a more terrible hell than the poor creature who has fallen into it from ignorance and pauperism. Far more terrible, methinks, will be the hell of the aristocracy than the hell of the struggling and starving millions. "How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her." Worldly advantages are not always transitory, but often permanently injurious. "Though the sinner's excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds, yet he shall perish forever." - D.T.
A mighty angel took up a stone.
1. Babylon's utter destruction represented by the type and sign of a millstone cast into the sea: like a millstone she had ground and oppressed the Church of God; and now, like a millstone thrown into the sea, she sinks into the pit of destruction. Almighty God, by this symbol, signified to St. John that Babylon's ruin should be violent, irrecoverable, and irreparable; she falls never to rise more. The casting of a stone into the sea was anciently the emblem of everlasting forgetfulness.
2. The amplification of Babylon's ruin particularised in several instances.(1) That nothing should ever more be found in her that belonged to pleasure or delight; no voice of harpers, musicians, or trumpeters.(2) Nothing which belonged to profit or trading, no artificers and craftsmen.(3) Nothing belonging to food, no noise of a millstone for grinding corn and making provision for bread.(4) Nothing to relieve against the darkness and terror of the night, as the light of a candle.(5) No means for the propagation of mankind by marriage — the voice of the bride and the bridegroom shall be heard no more. All which expressions do imply extreme destruction and utter desolation, intimating that Babylon shall be a place utterly abandoned and forsaken.
3. A threefold cause assigned for all this, to wit —(1) Damnable covetousness: her merchants were the great ones of the earth. Her sinful way of merchandising, by dealing in spiritual commodities, seems here to be pointed at; her making merchandise of the souls of men, as we have it (ver. 13).(2) Her bewitching idolatry, called here sorceries, whereby she enticed people to join with her in her superstitious worship.(3) Her cruelty and bloodshed; in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.But how can the blood shed by others be laid to her charge?
1. Because the doctrines which caused their blood to be shed were with her.
2. Because her jurisdiction gave commission to slay the saints which were slain in other kingdoms.
3. Because by the influence of her example at home much blood had been shed abroad. God will charge upon others, as he did upon Babylon, not only the sin which they have acted, but all the sins which they have been necessary unto.
(W. Burkitt, M. A.)
Homilist.I. A symbolisation of its NATURE. If you want to see sin, or moral evil, in all its hideous aspects, in all its infernal operations, in all its damning consequences, study the great city of Babylon. The great city Babylon is in every unrenewed soul.
II. A symbolisation of its OVERTHROW. The moral evil of the world is to be destroyed; it is not to exist for ever.
1. It is to be overthrown by superhuman agency. "A mighty angel"; a messenger from heaven. Was not Christ a mighty Messenger sent from heaven for this purpose? Yes, He came to "destroy the works of the devil." It has been said that good alone can overcome evil. True, but it must be good in a supernatural form, and in this form the gospel brings us the good.
2. It is to be overthrown in such a way as never to appear again. Babylon is thrown like a great millstone into the sea. As Pharaoh sank like lead in the mighty waters, and rose no more to life, so shall moral evil, like a "mighty millstone," fall into the fathomless abysses of eternal ruin.
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