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The Explanation Of The Apocalypse

v. 1. another angel. This angel, who is mighty and lightens the earth, may be understood to be as well the Lord Himself incarnate, as the doctors of the Church, who are endued with heavenly light, and announce the end of the world, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

2. fallen. O Jerusalem, he says, fear thou not the power of the earthly city, which falls spiritually by the very thing in which it prevails over thee, through the hostility of unholy citizens. Isaiah also describes Babylon as “an habitation of unclean monsters.” For it is no other than the city of the devil which receives every unclean spirit, in which all the uncleanness throughout the world abides.

3. rich. He calls those rich in sins, who by an infelicitous traffic exchange their souls for temporal abundance. For excess of luxuries makes poor instead of rich.

4. Come out. So also Isaiah says, “Come out of the midst of them, and touch no unclean thing. Be ye clean who bear the vessels of the Lord.” When the fall of Babylon is foretold, he brings in the departure, which is the fall of Babylon. For when Lot has departed from Sodom, it will be utterly destroyed.

6. render. It is from the Church that plagues, both visible and invisible, go forth into the world.

double. In order that she who enjoyed temporal delights may be racked with eternal torments.

7. queen. Because, amid the delights of present luxuries she was unwilling to guard against future vengeance, therefore in a short time will she be punished with destruction, both of the spirit and of the flesh. But, on the contrary, the citizens of the heavenly country, who “set before them Jerusalem as the beginning of their joy, will not sing the Lord’s song in a strange land;” that is, they will not entertain at the present time the joy which belongs to the age to come.

9. bewail. This wailing of the kings, and merchants, and sailors of Babylon, may be understood in two ways. It may either be, when, at the day of judgment, all the glory of the world is perishing, and there remains to the ungodly only the presence of their past life, and they say, “What has pride profited us? or what has the vaunting of riches brought us? All these things are passed away as a shadow;” or, when, in the present time, as the abundance of things ceases, and the breaking in pieces of divers nations is at hand, the occasion of carnal delights, ever present for the fulfilment of the desires of the wicked, shall have been taken away.

smoke. This is the indication of perdition, because fire is preceded by smoke. For what else is the confusion and breaking in pieces of the world, than the smoke of a present hell.

10. afar. They stand afar off, not in body, but in mind, while each one fears for himself that which he sees another suffer, through calumny and power.

Babylon. The Spirit mentions the name of the city. But they lament for the world, for that it is overtaken with punishment in so short a time, and all its industry is ruined and made to cease.

11. merchants. They lament that all the pomps of the world, and whatsoever is either pleasant to the bodily senses, or suited to external uses, fails. For the different kinds of metals appertain to the sight, the odours to the smell, the unguents to the touch, the wine, wheat, and oil, to the taste. Moreover, under the name of “beasts and of slaves,” they complain that all other aids to humanity perish; and that in a twofold manner, as I said, either because they fail, on the death of the world, or, because the miserable survivors of those who have left the joys of the world through death, mourn, as it were, over the ruins of their city; and who therefore through fear of a similar punishment, are said “to stand afar off.”

15. made rich. Wherever the Spirit saith, “made rich by her,” He signifies the riches of transgressions. Below, where the voice of the unrighteous is of those who say, “Alas, alas, that great city, wherein all those who have ships in the sea were made rich,” material riches are understood. For they think that they were made rich by the craftiness of their own faction.

16. linen. Is the city clothed with fine linen, or with purple, and not with men? Well, it is they who lament for themselves, while they are spoiled of the things which are mentioned above.

17. sailors. Will all they who sail on the sea be able to be present to see the burning of the city? Rather he means, that all the husbandmen and artificers of the age fear for themselves, when they see the ruin of their hope.

18. like this. That is, that the world cannot be restored anew.

19. dust That is. As defaming the face of their leaders, through whom they were reduced and perished; or, as accusing the madness of their own heart, which is the chief part of man, with a too late repentance.

desolate. Observe that every single person of those who lament, weeps not only for the loss of riches, but for the sudden and unforeseen ruin of the deceitful world.

20. rejoice. So also the Lord in the Gospel, when predicting the ruin of the world, added, “When ye shall see these things come to pass, look up and lift up your heads;” that is, make your hearts glad.

avenged. This is the judgment which the souls of the saints sought with the great cry, “How long, O Lord God, holy and true, dost Thou not avenge our blood?”

21. sea. He said, “With this violence shall Babylon be cast;” or, as another version has it, “Thus with violence shall Babylon, the great city, be thrown down.” The city of the age, because of the weight and transgression of sins, is compared with an unstable mass. For “the ungodly walk round about.” And justly is it swallowed up by the waves of vengeance, because it overwhelmed the city of Jerusalem with the waves of unbelief, when, as they sat by the streams of Babylon, they bewailed their absence from the heavenly Sion. So the Lord says, “that they who cause offence,” shall be visited with a similar punishment. And the Church, indeed, is represented as like a stone, but one that is stable and firm, which despises the assaults of the tempests. The mass may also be understood of the breaking to pieces by punishments. For so the blessed Ignatius, when about to suffer, is reported to have said, “I am the corn of God, I shall be ground by the teeth of beasts, that I may be made a pure loaf.”

22. voice. Of the five senses he had deferred sound, which he now says is taken away from the world among other things. As if he said, that which is beautiful to see, melodious to hear, smooth to touch, sweet to smell, delicious to taste, is to pass away from the world.

craftsman. All things, he says, which appertain to the use or pleasure of human life, are taken from the ungodly; and he has added the reason in that which follows.

23. great men. That is, because “in life thou receivedst thy good things.”

24. prophets. Did the same city kill the Apostles, which also killed the prophets, or all the saints? Rather is this the city which Cain founded in the blood of his brother, and called by the name of his son Enoch, that is, of all his posterity, as seven generations of Cain are described. For the building or that city, then, is shed “all the righteous blood, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias,” that is, of people and priest.








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