18:9-19 The mourners had shared Babylon's sensual pleasures, and gained by her wealth and trade. The kings of the earth, whom she flattered into idolatry, allowing them to be tyrannical over their subjects, while obedient to her; and the merchants, those who trafficked for her indulgences, pardons, and honours; these mourn. Babylon's friends partook her sinful pleasures and profits, but are not willing to share her plagues. The spirit of antichrist is a worldly spirit, and that sorrow is a mere worldly sorrow; they do not lament for the anger of God, but for the loss of outward comforts. The magnificence and riches of the ungodly will avail them nothing, but will render the vengeance harder to be borne. The spiritual merchandise is here alluded to, when not only slaves, but the souls of men, are mentioned as articles of commerce, to the destroying the souls of millions. Nor has this been peculiar to the Roman antichrist, and only her guilt. But let prosperous traders learn, with all their gains, to get the unsearchable riches of Christ; otherwise; even in this life, they may have to mourn that riches make to themselves wings and fly away, and that all the fruits their souls lusted after, are departed from them. Death, at any rate, will soon end their commerce, and all the riches of the ungodly will be exchanged, not only for the coffin and the worm, but for the fire that cannot be quenched.
13. cinnamon—designed by God for better purposes: being an ingredient in the holy anointing oil, and a plant in the garden of the Beloved (So 4:14); but desecrated to vile uses by the adulteress (Pr 7:17).
odours—of incense. A, C, Vulgate, and Syriac prefix "and amomium" (a precious hair ointment made from an Asiatic shrub). English Version reading is supported by Coptic and Andreas, but not oldest manuscripts.
frankincense—Contrast the true "incense" which God loves (Ps 141:2; Mal 1:11).
fine flour—the similago of the Latins [Alford].
beasts—of burden: cattle.
souls of men—(Eze 27:13). Said of slaves. Appropriate to the spiritual harlot, apostate Christendom, especially Rome, which has so often enslaved both bodies and souls of men. Though the New Testament does not directly forbid slavery, which would, in the then state of the world, have incited a slave revolt, it virtually condemns it, as here. Popery has derived its greatest gains from the sale of masses for the souls of men after death, and of indulgences purchased from the Papal chancery by rich merchants in various countries, to be retailed at a profit [Mosheim, III, 95, 96].