on Revelation 18 :24
In her was found the blood of prophets, etc. - She was the persecutor and murderer of prophets and of righteous men.
And of all that were slain upon the earth - This refers to her counsels and influence, exciting other nations and people to persecute and destroy the real followers of God. There is no city to which all these things are yet applicable, therefore we may presume that the prophecy remains yet to be fulfilled.
Bishop Bale, who applies this, as before, to the Romish Church, has, on Revelation 18:22, given some information to the curious antiquary.
"But be certaine," says he, "and sure, thou myserable Church, that thou shalt no longer enjoy the commodious pleasures of a free cittye. - The merry noyes of them that play upon harpes, lutes, and fidels; the sweet voice of musicians that sing with virginals, vials, and chimes; the armony of them that pipe in recorders, flutes, and drums; and the shirle showt of trumpets, waits, and shawmes, shall no more be heard in thee to the delight of men. Neyther shall the sweet organs containing the melodious noyse of all maner of instruments and byrdes be plaied upon, nor the great belles be rong after that, nor yet the fresh discant, prick-song, counter-point, and faburden be called for in thee, which art the very sinagog of Sathan. Thy lascivious armonye, and delectable musique, much provoking the weake hartes of men to meddle in thy abhominable whordom, by the wantonnes of idolatry in that kinde, shall perish with thee for ever. No cunning artificer, carver, paynter, nor gilder, embroderer, goldsmith, nor silk-worker; with such other like of what occupacion soever they be, or have bene to thy commodity, shall never more be found so agayne.
"Copes, cruettes, candelstickes, miters, crosses, sensers, crismatoris, corporasses, and chalices, which for thy whorishe holines might not somtime be touched, will than for thy sake be abhorred of all men. Never more shall be builded for marchants of thi livery and mark, palaces, temples, abbeys, collages, covents, chauntries, fair houses, and horcherds of plesure. The clapping noise of neyther wyndmil, horsemil, nor watermil, shal any more be heard to the gluttenous feeding of thy puffed up porklings, for the maintenaunce of thine idle observacions and ceremonies. For thy mitred marchaunts were sumtimes princes of the earth, whan they reigned in their roialty. Thy shorn shavelinges were lordes over the multitude whan they held their priestly authority over the soules and bodies of men. Yea, and with thy privy legerdemain, with thy juggling castes, with thy craftes and inchauntmentes of thy subtile charmes, were all nacions of the world deceyved."
This is very plain language, and thus on all hands a monstrous system of superstition and idolatry was attacked by our Reformers; and with these unfurbished weapons, directed by the Spirit of the living God, popery was driven from the throne, from the bench, from the universities, and from the churches of this favored kingdom. And by a proper application of Scripture, and by the universal diffusion of the word of God, it may be soon driven from the face of the universe. And when the inventions of men are separated from that Church, and it becomes truly regenerated, (and of this it is highly capable, as, among its monstrous errors and absurdities, it contains all the essential truths of God), it will become a praise and a glory in the earth. Protestants wish not its destruction, but its reformation.
Some there may be, who, in their zeal for truth, would pull the whole edifice to pieces; but this is not God's method: he destroys what is evil, and saves what is good. It is reformation, not annihilation, that this Church needs.
on Revelation 18 :24
And in her - When she came to be destroyed, and her real character was seen.
Was found the blood of prophets - Of the public teachers of the true religion. On the word "prophets" see the notes on Revelation 18:20.
And of saints - Of the holy. See the notes on Revelation 18:20.
And of all that were slain upon the earth - So numerous have been the slain, so constant and bloody have been the persecutions there, that it may be said that all the blood ever shed has been poured out there. Compare the notes on Matthew 23:35. No one can doubt the propriety of this representation with respect to pagan and papal Rome.
In regard to the general meaning and application of this chapter the following remarks may be made:
(1) It refers to papal Rome, and is designed to describe the final overthrow of that formidable anti-Christian power. The whole course of the interpretation of the previous chapters demands such an application, and the chapter itself naturally suggests it.
(2) if it be asked why so much of this imagery is derived from the condition of a maritime power, or pertains to commerce, since both Babylon and Rome were at some distance from the sea, and neither could with propriety be regarded as seaport towns, it may be replied:
(a) that the main idea in the mind of John was that of a rich and magnificent city;
(b) that all the things enumerated were doubtless found, in fact, in both Babylon and Rome;
(c) that though not properly seaport towns, they were situated on rivers that opened into seas, and were therefore not unfavorably situated for commerce; and,
(d) that, in fact, they traded with all parts of the earth.
The leading idea is that of a great and luxurious city, and this is filled up and decorated with images of what is commonly found in large commercial towns. We are not, therefore, to look for a literal application of this, and it is not necessary to attempt to find all these things, in fact, in the city referred to. Much of the description may be for the mere sake of keeping, or ornament.
(3) if this refers to Rome, as is supposed, then, in accordance with the previous representations, it shows that the destruction of the papal power is to be complete and final. The image which John had in his eye as illustrating that was undoubtedly ancient Babylon as prophetically described in Isaiah 13-14, and the destruction of the power here referred to is to be as complete as was the destruction described there. It would not be absolutely necessary in the fulfillment of this to suppose that Rome itself is to become a heap of ruins like Babylon, whatever may be true on that point, but that the papal power, as such, is to be so utterly destroyed that the ruins of desolate Babylon would properly represent it.
(4) if this interpretation is correct, then the Reformation was in entire accordance with what God would have his people do, and was demanded by solemn duty to him. Thus, in Revelation 18:4, his people are expressly commanded to "come out of her, that they might not be partakers of her sins, nor of her plagues." If it had been the design of the Reformers to perform a work that should be in all respects a fulfilling of the command of God, they could have done nothing that would have more literally met the divine requirement. Indeed, the church has never performed a duty more manifestly in accordance with the divine will, and more indispensable for its own purity, prosperity, and safety, than the act of separating entirely and forever from papal Rome.
on Revelation 18 :24
18:24 And in her was found the blood of the prophets and saints - The same angel speaks still, yet he does not say in thee, but in her, now so sunk as not to hear these last words. And of all that had been slain - Even before she was built. See Matt 23:35. There is no city under the sun which has so clear a title to catholic blood - guiltiness as Rome. The guilt of the blood shed under the heathen emperors has not been removed under the Popes, but hugely multiplied. Nor is Rome accountable only for that which hath been shed in the city, but for that shed in all the earth. For at Rome under the Pope, as well as under the heathen emperors, were the bloody orders and edicts given: and whereever the blood of holy men was shed, there were the grand rejoicings for it. And what immense quantities of blood have been shed by her agents! Charles IX., of France, in his letter to Gregory XIII., boasts, that in and not long after the massacre of Paris, he had destroyed seventy thousand Hugonots. Some have computed, that, from the year 1518, to 1548, fifteen millions of Protestants have perished by the Inquisition. This may be overcharged; but certainly the number of them in those thirty years, as well as since, is almost incredible. To these we may add innumerable martyrs, in ancient, middle, and late ages, in Bohemia, Germany, Holland, France, England, Ireland, and many other parts of Europe, Afric, and Asia.