Revelation 18:1-24 - Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Bible Comments

Revelation 18:1. Another angel came down from heaven and the earth was lightened with his glory. This was an angel of the highest order, having great power. It may be the Lord himself, the mission being worthy of his dignity. He cried mightily with a strong voice, Fallen, fallen, is Babylon the great. Truth and grace shall henceforth reign in all the earth. Oh Judah, keep thy feasts.

Revelation 18:4. Come out of her, my people. Since the revocation of the edict of Nantz in 1685, when the tremendous persecution burst on the protestants, the ministers have been calling the people out of France, and out of the papal communion. The exiles have grown rich in Holland, in England, and in America. Saurin repeatedly uses this call in his sermons, fearing the protestants would fall away.

Revelation 18:8. Therefore shall her plagues come in one day. Certainly this was the case with the revolution in France. Death reigned in popular wars throughout Europe, while in the interior its ravages were perpetrated by the gullotine and private massacres. Mourning and famine followed. The nobility and the clergy fled, believing that they should be recalled in six months. But the prediction is, they shall burn her with fire. The churches were in consequence shut up, and plundered, and many of them destroyed. More than two hundred and seventy one gentleman's seats were also burned, amid the popular confusion. Calamities unnumbered and great followed in the train. This is not all: the cup is still going round. While the judgments of heaven are abroad in the earth, may the inhabitants learn righteousness!

Revelation 18:11. The merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her. Bishop Bale, who was formerly a carmelite, and afterwards a convert to the protestant religion, and bishop of Ossory in Ireland a man who was persecuted by the papists, narrowly escaping with his life, five of his domestics having been murdered by them, speaks thus of their ceremonial.

“The mighty kinges and potentates of the earth, Revelation 18:9, not havinge afore their eyes the love and feare of God, have committed with this whore moste vile filthynesse; abusinge themselves by many straunge or uncommanded worshippings, and bynding themselves by othe to observe hyr lawes and customs. At the examples, doctrines, counsels, and perswasions of hyr holy whoremongers, have they broken the covenaunts of peace; battailed, oppressed, spoyled, ravished, tyrannously murthered innocents; yea, for vain foolish causes, and more vaine titles, as though there was neither heaven nor hel, God nor accounts to be made.

“And her mitredd marchants, Revelation 18:11, hyr shorne soldiers, hir masse-mongers, hyr soule-sellers, and hir mart-brokers, waxed very riche, through the sale of hir oyles, creme, salt, water, and other pedlary wares… Specially shal they be sore discontented with the matter, which have with hir committed the whordom of the Spyrite, by many externe worshipings of drye waffer cakes, oyles, roods, relyques, ladyes images, sculles, bones, chippes, olde ragges, showes, (shoes) bootes, spurres, &c.

“And they that have lived wantonly with hir, Revelation 18:9, in following hir idle observacions, in mattenses, houres, and masses; in sensinges, halowings, and font-halowing; in going processions with canapye, crosse, and pyx; with banneres, stremers, and torche-light; with such other gaudes, to folish for children.

“Alas, alas, that great cyty, Revelation 18:10, that beautiful Babilon, that blessed holy mother the church, which somtime had so many popes' pardons, so many bishoppes' blessinges, so many holye stacions, so many cleane remissions à pena el culpa, so many good ghostly fathers, so many religious, orders, so much holy water for spirites, and St. John's gospels, with the five woundes, and the length of our Lord for drowning, is nowe decayed for ever.

“In their thynen wood,” Revelation 18:12, whom some men call algumetrees, some basill, some corall, may be understande all theyr curious buildings of temples, abbeys, chappels, and chambers; all shrines, images, church stooles, and pews that are well paid for; all banner staves, paternoster scores, and peeces of the holy crosse.

“The vessels of ivory comprehendeth all their maundye dyshes, their offring platters, their relique chestes, their god boxes, their drinking horns, their sipping cuppes for the hiccough, their tables whereupon are charmed their chalises and vestiments; their standiches, their combes, their muske balles, their pomaunder pottes, and their dust boxes, with other toyes.

“The vessels of precious stone, which after some interpretours are of precious stone, or after some are of most precious wood, betokeneth their costuous cuppes, or cruses of jasper. Their pardon masers, or drinking dishes, as St. Benit's bole, St. Edmond's bole, St. Giles's bole, St. Blithe's bole, and Westminster bole, with such other holy reliques.

“Of brasse, which containeth latten, copper, alcumine, and other harde metals, are made all their great candlesticks, holy water kettles, &c. “Of strong yron are the braunches made that holde up the lightes before their false gods; the tacks that sustayne them from fallinge; the lockes that save them from the robberye of thieves, their fyre-pans, &c.

“With marble most commonlye pave they their temples, and build strong pillers and arches in their great cathedrale churches and monasteries, &c.

“By the sinamon is ment all manner of costly spyces, wherewith they bury their byshops and founders, lest they shoulde stinke when they translate them agayne to make them saintes for advantage.

“By the smellynge odours, the swete herbes that they strewe abrode at theyr dedications and burials; besydes the damaske waters, bawmes, muskes, pomaunder, civet, and other curious confections they yet bestow upon theyr owne precious bodyes.” Paraphrase “compyled by John Bale, an exyle also in thys lyfe for the faithful testimony of Jesu.”

For the above extracts I am under obligations to the Rev. W. Wail, rector of Norton and Chewstoke, who sent me them in his pamphlet on the present crisis.


Oh Babylon, Babylon, thy day is come at last. The embers that burned the martyrs have reached thy palaces, and kindled up into dreadful flames. The glad tidings of thy fall have reached heaven, and a special messenger is deputed from thence to announce the joys to earth. He cries with a strong voice, Babylon the great is fallen; her abbies and monuments are forsaken, and become the habitation of voracious birds.

The first strokes of her fall are a signal to the pious and faithful to separate from her communion, and even to flee from a country where her sins and the blood of saints are about to be purged.

These punishments were to come upon her when she was perfectly at ease, and saying, I sit a queen, and shall see no sorrow. Just before the French revolution, popery was never more rich and secure in all the south of Europe. But in one day, or time of visitation, all her churches and religious houses were pillaged, and even the dead were dug up for plunder.

These punishments were to be requited in kind; “reward her as she hath rewarded you.” This was awfully done in France during the revolution of 1789. The protestant ministers had formerly been hanged, burnt and massacred without mercy. The people worshipping were pursued by the military, some shot, others sent to the gallies, and multitudes fled as they could, leaving their property behind. Now, the God who visits the iniquities of the fathers on impenitent children unto the third and fourth generation, stirred up the atheists of France to kill and plunder all the priests and nobles they could, as outlaws for not taking the civic oath to the new constitution; and those who were happy enough to escape, fled in beggary to those very countries whither their intolerant fathers had banished the protestants! Thus with violence shall Babylon continue to be thrown down at different times; and her bishops and princes of the church shall howl and cry, because no man buyeth her degraded merchandise of gold and silk, or pardons and indulgences any more. She must now howl as an ancient Babylon, while heaven rejoices over her, because in her was found the blood of the prophets and saints that were slain upon the earth, which cried to heaven.

Of all the songs that gladden the hearts of the blessed, none is more sublime than this, that the oppressor shall no more oppress. If the prince of the house of David sunk a stone in the Euphrates, as a token that old Babylon should fall, behold here, the angel throws a millstone into the sea for the fall of great Babylon, while all the perfections of God blaze out in her righteous visitations. Rejoice over her, ye heavens, and the holy apostles and prophets, for God hath avenged your blood.

Revelation 18:1-24

1 And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.

2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.

3 For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundancea of her delicacies.

4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

5 For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.

6 Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.

7 How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.

8 Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.

9 And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning,

10 Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.

11 And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:

12 The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyineb wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble,

13 And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves,c and souls of men.

14 And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.

15 The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing,

16 And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!

17 For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,

18 And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!

19 And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.

20 Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.

21 And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.

22 And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee;

23 And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.

24 And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.