In this chapter we have,
I. A further account of the triumphant song of angels and saints for
the fall of Babylon,
II. The marriage between Christ and the church proclaimed and perfected,
III. Another warlike expedition of the glorious head and husband of
the church, with the success of it,
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1 And after these things I heard a great voice of much people
in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour,
and power, unto the Lord our God:
2 For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath
judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her
fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her
3 And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever
4 And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down
and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen;
The fall of Babylon being fixed, finished, and declared to be
irrecoverable in the foregoing chapter, this begins with a holy triumph
over her, in pursuance of the order given forth: Rejoice over her,
thou heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets,
They now gladly answer the call; and here you have,
1. The form of their thanksgiving, in that heavenly and most
comprehensive word, Alleluia, praise you the Lord: with this
they begin, with this they go on, and with this they end
their prayers are now turned into praises, their hosannas end in
2. The matter of their thanksgiving: they praise him for the truth of
his word, and the righteousness of his providential conduct, especially
in this great event--the ruin of Babylon, which had been a mother,
nurse, and nest of idolatry, lewdness, and cruelty
for which signal example of divine justice they ascribe salvation,
and glory, and honour, and power, unto our God.
3. The effect of these their praises: when the angels and saints cried
Alleluia, her fire burned more fiercely and her smoke
ascended for ever and ever,
The surest way to have our deliverances continued and completed is to
give God the glory of what he has done for us. Praising God for what
we have is praying in the most effectual manner for what is yet further
to be done for us; the praises of the saints blow up the fire of God's
wrath against the common enemy.
4. The blessed harmony between the angels and the saints in this
The churches and their ministers take the melodious sound from the
angels, and repeat it; falling down, and worshipping God, they cry,
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5 And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God,
all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.
6 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as
the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings,
saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the
marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself
8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine
linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness
9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are
called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto
me, These are the true sayings of God.
10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me,
See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren
that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony
of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
The triumphant song being ended, and epithalamium, or marriage-song,
I. The concert of heavenly music. The chorus was large and loud, as
the voice of many waters and of mighty thunderings. God is fearful
in praises. There is no discord in heaven; the morning stars sing
together; no jarring string, nor key untuned, but pure and perfect
II. The occasion of this song; and that is the reign and dominion of
that omnipotent God who has redeemed his church by his own
blood, and is now in a more public manner betrothing her to
himself: The marriage of the Lamb has come,
Some think this refers to the conversion of the Jews, which they
suppose will succeed the fall of Babylon; others, to the general
resurrection: the former seems more probable. Now,
1. You have here a description of the bride, how she appeared; not in
the gay and gaudy dress of the mother of harlots, but in fine linen,
clean and white, which is the righteousness of saints; in
the robes of Christ's righteousness, both imputed for justification and
imparted for sanctification--the stola, the white robe of
absolution, adoption, and enfranchisement, and the white robe of purity
and universal holiness. She had washed her robes and made them
white in the blood of the Lamb; and these her nuptial ornaments she
did not purchase by any price of her own, but received them as the gift
and grant of her blessed Lord.
2. The marriage-feast, which, though not particularly described (as
yet is declared to be such as would make all those happy who were
called to it, so called as to accept the invitation, a feast made up of
the promises of the gospel, the true sayings of God,
These promises, opened, applied, sealed, and earnested by the Spirit
of God, in holy eucharistical ordinances, are the marriage-feast;
and the whole collective body of all those who partake of this feast is
the bride, the Lamb's wife; they eat into one body, and drink
into one Spirit, and are not mere spectators or guests, but coalesce
into the espoused party, the mystical body of Christ.
3. The transport of joy which the apostle felt in himself at this
vision. He fell down at the feet of the angel, to worship him,
supposing him to be more than a creature, or having his thoughts at the
present overpowered by the vehemency of his affections. Here observe,
(1.) What honour he offered to the angel: He fell at his feet, to
worship him; this prostration was a part of external worship, it
was a posture of proper adoration.
(2.) How the angel refused it, and this was with some resentment:
"See thou do it not; have a care what thou doest, thou art doing
a wrong thing."
(3.) He gave a very good reason for his refusal: "I am thy
fellow-servant, and of thy brethren which have the testimony of
Jesus--I am a creature, thine equal in office, though not in
nature; I, as an angel and messenger of God, have the
testimony of Jesus, a charge to be a witness for him and to testify
concerning him, and thou, as an apostle, having the Spirit of
prophecy, hast the same testimony to give in; and therefore we are
in this brethren and fellow-servants."
(4.) He directs him to the true and only object of religious worship;
namely, God: "Worship God, and him alone." This fully condemns
both the practice of the papists in worshipping the elements of bread
and wine, and saints, and angels, and the practice of those Socinians
and Arians who do not believe that Christ is truly and by nature God,
and yet pay him religious worship; and this shows what wretched
fig-leaves all their evasions and excuses are which they offer in their
own vindication: they stand hereby convicted of idolatry by a messenger
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11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he
that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in
righteousness he doth judge and make war.
12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were
many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he
13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his
name is called The Word of God.
14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon
white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he
should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of
iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath
of Almighty God.
16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name
KING OF KINGS, AND
LORD OF LORDS.
17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a
loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of
heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of
the great God;
18 That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of
captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses,
and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both
free and bond, both small and great.
19 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their
armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the
horse, and against his army.
20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that
wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had
received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his
image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning
21 And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat
upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all
the fowls were filled with their flesh.
No sooner was the marriage solemnized between Christ and his church by
the conversion of the Jews than the glorious head and husband of the
church is called out to a new expedition, which seems to be the great
battle that was to be fought at Armageddon, foretold
And here observe,
I. The description of the great Commander,
1. By the seat of his empire; and that is heaven; his throne is
there, and his power and authority are heavenly and divine.
2. His equipage: he is again described as sitting on a white
horse, to show the equity of the cause, and certainty of success.
3. His attributes: he is faithful and true to his covenant and
promise, he is righteous in all his judicial and military proceedings,
he has a penetrating insight into all the strength and stratagems of
his enemies, he has a large and extensive dominion, many crowns, for he
is King of kings, and Lord of lords.
4. His armour; and that is a vesture dipped in blood, either his
own blood, by which he purchased this mediatorial power, or the blood
of his enemies, over whom he has always prevailed.
5. His name: The Word of God, a name that none fully knows but
himself, only this we know, that this Word was God manifest in the
flesh; but his perfections are incomprehensible by any
II. The army which he commands
a very large one, made up of many armies; angels and saints followed
his conduct, and resembled him in their equipage, and in their armour
of purity and righteousness--chosen, and called, and faithful.
III. The weapons of his warfare--A sharp sword proceeding from
with which he smites the nations, either the threatenings of the
written word, which now he is going to execute, or rather his word of
command calling on his followers to take a just revenge on his and
their enemies, who are now put into the wine-press of the wrath of God,
to be trodden under foot by him.
IV. The ensigns of his authority, his coat of arms--a name written on
his vesture and thigh, King of kings, and Lord of lords, asserting
his authority and power, and the cause of the quarrel,
V. An invitation given to the fowls of heaven, that they should
come and see the battle, and share in the spoil and pillage of the
intimating that this great decisive engagement should leave the enemies
of the church a feast for the birds of prey, and that all the world
should have cause to rejoice in the issue of it.
VI. The battle joined. The enemy falls on with great fury, headed by
the beast, and the kings of the earth; the powers of earth and
hell gathered, to make their utmost effort,
VII. The victory gained by the great and glorious head of the church:
The beast and the false prophet, the leaders of the army, are
taken prisoners, both he who led them by power and he who led them by
policy and falsehood; these are taken and cast into the burning
lake, made incapable of molesting the church of God any more; and
their followers, whether officers or common soldiers, are given up to
military execution, and made a feast for the fowls of heaven.
Though the divine vengeance will chiefly fall upon the beast, and
the false prophet, yet it will be no excuse to those who fight
under their banner that they only followed their leaders and obeyed
their command; since they would fight for them, they must fall and
perish with them. Be wise now therefore, O you kings, be instructed,
you rulers of the earth; kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish
from the way,