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The Two Babylons
By Alexander Hislop
"I have now finished the task I proposed to myself. Even yet the evidence is not nearly exhausted; but, upon the evidence which has been adduced, I appeal to the reader if I have not proved every point which I engaged to demonstrate. Is there one, who has candidly considered the proof that has been led, that now doubts that Rome is the Apocalyptic Babylon? Is there one who will venture to deny that, from the foundation to the topmost stone, it is essentially a system of Paganism? What, then, is to be the practical conclusion from all this?"
1. Let every Christian henceforth and for ever treat it as an outcast from the pale of Christianity. Instead of speaking of it as a Christian Church, let it be recognized and regarded as the Mystery of Iniquity, yea, as the very Synagogue of Satan. With such overwhelming evidence of its real character, it would be folly--it would be worse--it would be treachery to the cause of Christ--to stand merely on the defensive, to parley with its priests about the lawfulness of Protestant orders, the validity of Protestant sacraments, or the possibility of salvation apart from its communion. If Rome is now to be admitted to form a portion of the Church of Christ, where is the system of Paganism that has ever existed, or that now exists, that could not put in an equal claim? On what grounds could the worshipers of the original Madonna and child in the days of old be excluded "from the commonwealth of Israel," or shown to be "strangers to the covenants of promise"? On what grounds could the worshipers of Vishnu at this day be put beyond the bounds of such wide catholicity? The ancient Babylonians held, the modern Hindus still hold, clear and distinct traditions of the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement. Yet, who will venture to say that such nominal recognition of the cardinal articles of Divine revelation could relieve the character of either the one system or the other from the brand of the most deadly and God-dishonoring heathenism? And so also in regard to Rome. True, it nominally admits Christian terms and Christian names; but all that is apparently Christian in its system is more than neutralized by the malignant Paganism that it embodies. Grant that the bread the Papacy presents to its votaries can be proved to have been originally made of the finest of the wheat; but what then, if every particle of that bread is combined with prussic acid or strychnine? Can the excellence of the bread overcome the virus of the poison? Can there by anything but death, spiritual and eternal death, to those who continue to feed upon the poisoned food that it offers? Yes, here is the question, and let it be fairly faced. Can there be salvation in a communion in which it is declared to be a fundamental principle, that the Madonna is "our greatest hope; yea, the SOLE GROUND OF OUR HOPE"? *
* The language of the late Pope Gregory, substantially endorsed by the present Pontiff.
The time is come when charity to the perishing souls of men, hoodwinked by a Pagan priesthood, abusing the name of Christ, requires that the truth in this matter should be clearly, loudly, unflinchingly proclaimed. The beast and the image of the beast alike stand revealed in the face of all Christendom; and now the tremendous threatening of the Divine Word in regard to their worship fully applies (Rev 14:9,10): "And the third angel followed them, saying, 'If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, poured without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.'" These words are words of awful import; and woe to the man who is found finally under the guilt which they imply. These words, as has already been admitted by Elliott, contain a "chronological prophecy," a prophecy not referring to the Dark Ages, but to a period not far distant from the consummation, when the Gospel should be widely diffused, and when bright light should be cast on the character and doom of the apostate Church of Rome (vv 6-8). They come, in the Divine chronology of events, immediately after an angel has proclaimed, "BABYLON IS FALLEN, IS FALLEN." We have, as it were, with our own ears heard this predicted "Fall of Babylon" announced from the high places of Rome itself, when the seven hills of the "Eternal City" reverberated with the guns that proclaimed, not merely to the citizens of the Roman republic, but to the wide world, that "PAPACY HAD FALLEN, de facto and de jure, from the temporal throne of the Roman State." *
* The Apocalypse announces two falls of Babylon. The fall referred to above is evidently only the first. The prophecy clearly implies, that after the first fall it rises to a greater height than before; and therefore the necessity of the warning.
Now, it is in the order of the prophecy, after this fall of Babylon, that this fearful threatening comes. Can there, then, be a doubt that this threatening specially and peculiarly applies to this very time? Never till now was the real nature of the Papacy fully revealed; never till now was the Image of the beast set up. Till the Image of the beast was erected, till the blasphemous decree of the Immaculate Conception was promulged, no such apostasy had taken place, even in Rome, no such guilt had been contracted, as now lies at the door of the great Babylon. This, then, is a subject of infinite importance to every one within the pale of the Church of Rome--to every one also who is looking, as so many at present are doing, towards the City of the Seven Hills. If any one can prove that the Pope does not assume all the prerogatives and bear substantially all the blasphemous titles of that Babylonian beast that "had the wound by a sword, and did live," and if it can be shown that the Madonna, that has so recently with one consent been set up, is not in every essential respect the same as the Chaldean "Image" of the beast, they may indeed afford to despise the threatening contained in these words. But if neither the one nor the other can be proved (and I challenge the strictest scrutiny in regard to both), then every one within the pale of the Papacy may well tremble at such a threatening. Now, then, as never before, may the voice Divine, and that a voice of the tenderest love, be heard sounding from the Eternal throne to every adherent of the Mystic Babylon, "Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues."
2. But if the guilt and danger of those who adhere to the Roman Church, believing it to be the only Church where salvation can be found, be so great, what must be the guilt of those who, with a Protestant profession, nevertheless uphold the doomed Babylon? The constitution of this land requires our Queen to swear, before the crown can be put upon her head, before she can take her seat on the throne, that "she believes" that the essential doctrines of Rome are "idolatrous." All the Churches of Britain, endowed and unendowed, alike with one voice declare the very same. They all proclaim that the system of Rome is a system of blasphemous idolatry...And yet the members of these Churches can endow and uphold, with Protestant money, the schools, the colleges, the chaplains of that idolatrous system. If the guilt of Romanists, then, be great, the guilt of Protestants who uphold such a system must be tenfold greater. That guilt has been greatly accumulating during the last three or four yeas. While the King of Italy, in the very States of the church--what but lately were the Pope's own dominions--has been suppressing the monasteries (and in the space of two years no less than fifty-four were suppressed, and their property confiscated), the British Government has been acting on a policy the very reverse, has not only been conniving at the erection of monasteries, which are prohibited by the law of the land, but has actually been bestowing endowment on these illegal institutions under the name of Reformatories. It was only a short while ago, that it was stated, on authority of the Catholic Directory, that in the space of three years, fifty-two new converts were added to the monastic system of Great Britain, almost the very number that the Italians had confiscated, yet Christian men and Christian Churches look on with indifference. Now, if ever there was an excuse for thinking lightly of the guilt contracted by our national support of idolatry, that excuse will no longer avail. The God of Providence, in India, has been demonstrating that He is the God of Revelation. He has been proving, to an awe-struck world, by events that made every ear to tingle, that every word of wrath, written three thousand years ago against idolatry, is in as full force at this day as when He desolated the covenanted people of Israel for their idols, and sold them into the hands of their enemies. If men begin to see that it is a dangerous thing for professing Christians to uphold the Pagan idolatry of India, they must be blind indeed if they do not equally see that it must be as dangerous to uphold the Pagan idolatry of Rome. Wherein does the Paganism of Rome differ from that of Hinduism? Only in this, that the Roman Paganism is the more complete, more finished, more dangerous, more insidious Paganism of the two.
I am afraid, that after all that has been said, not a few will revolt from the above comparative estimate of Popery and undisguised Paganism. Let me, therefore, fortify my opinion by the testimonies of two distinguished writers, well qualified to pronounce on this subject. They will, at least, show that I am not singular in the estimate which I have formed. The writers to whom I refer, are Sir George Sinclair of Ulbster, and Dr. Bonar of Kelso. Few men have studied the system of Rome more thoroughly than Sir George, and in his Letters to the Protestants of Scotland he has brought all the fertility of his genius, the curiosa felicitas of his style, and the stores of his highly cultivated mind, to bear upon the elucidation of his theme. Now, the testimony of Sir George is this: "Romanism is a refined system of Christianized heathenism, and chiefly differs from its prototype in being more treacherous, more cruel, more dangerous, more intolerant." The mature opinion of Dr. Bonar is the very same, and that, too, expressed with the Cawnpore massacre particularly in view: "We are doing for Popery at home," says he, "what we have done for idolaters abroad, and in the end the results will be the same; nay, worse; for Popish cruelty, and thirst for the blood of the innocent, have been the most savage and merciless that the earth has seen. Cawnpore, Delhi, and Bareilly, are but dust in comparison with the demoniacal brutalities perpetrated by the Inquisition, and by the armies of Popish fanaticism." These are the words of truth and soberness, that no man acquainted with the history of modern Europe can dispute. There is great danger of their being overlooked at this moment. It will be a fatal error if they be. Let not the pregnant fact be overlooked, that, while the Apocalyptic history runs down to the consummation of all things, in that Divine foreshadowing all the other Paganisms of the world are in a manner cast into the shade by the Paganism of Papal Rome. It is against Babylon that sits on the seven hills that the saints are forewarned; it is for worshiping the beast and his image pre-eminently, that "the vials of the wrath of God, that liveth and abideth for ever," are destined to be outpoured upon the nations. Now, if the voice of God has been heard in the late Indian calamities, the Protestantism of Britain will rouse itself to sweep away at once and for ever all national support, alike from the idolatry of Hindustan and the still more malignant idolatry of Rome. Then, indeed, there would be a lengthening of our tranquility, then there would be hope that Britain would be exalted, and that its power would rest on a firm and stable foundation. But if we will not "hear the voice, if we receive not correction, if we refuse to return," if we persist in maintaining, at the national charge, "that image of jealousy provoking to jealousy," then, after the repeated and ever INCREASING strokes that the justice of God has laid on us, we have every reason to fear that the calamities that have fallen so heavily upon our countrymen in India, may fall still more heavily upon ourselves, within our own borders at home; for it was when "the image of jealousy" was set up in Jerusalem by the elders of Judah, that the Lord said, "Therefore will I also deal in fury; mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity; and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them." He who let loose the Sepoys, to whose idolatrous feelings and antisocial propensities we have pandered so much, to punish us for the guilty homage we had paid to their idolatry, can just as easily let loose the Papal Powers of Europe, to take vengeance upon us for our criminal fawning upon the Papacy.
3. But, further, if the views established in this work be correct, it is time that the Church of God were aroused. Are the witnesses still to be slain, and has the Image of the Beast only within the last year or two been set up, at whose instigation the bloody work is to be done? Is this, then, the time for indifference, for sloth, for lukewarmness in religion? Yet, alas! how few are they who are lifting up their voice like a trumpet, who are sounding the alarm in God's holy mountain--who are bestirring themselves according to the greatness of the emergency--to gather the embattled hosts of the Lord to the coming conflict? The emissaries of Rome for years have been laboring unceasingly night and day, in season and out of season, in every conceivable way, to advance their Master's cause, and largely have they succeeded. But "the children of light" have allowed themselves to be lulled into a fatal security; they have folded their hands; they have got to sleep as soundly as if Rome had actually disappeared from the face of the earth--as if Satan himself had been bound and cast into the bottomless pit, and the pit had shut its mouth upon him, to keep him fast for a thousand years. How long shall this state of things continue? Oh, Church of God, awake, awake! Open your eyes, and see if there be not dark and lowering clouds on the horizon that indicate an approaching tempest. Search the Scriptures for yourselves; compare them with the facts of history, and say, if there be not reason after all to suspect that there are sterner prospects before the saints than most seem to wot of. If it may turn out that the views opened up in these pages are Scriptural and well-founded, they are at least worthy of being made the subjects of earnest and prayerful inquiry. It never can tend to good to indulge an uninquiring and delusive feeling of safety, when, if they be true, the only safety is to be found in a timely knowledge of the danger and due preparation, by all activity, all zeal, all spirituality of mind, to meet it. On the supposition that peculiar dangers are at hand, and that God in His prophetic Word has revealed them, His goodness is manifest. He has made known the danger, that, being forewarned, we may be forearmed; that, knowing our own weakness, we may cast ourselves on His Almighty grace; that we may feel the necessity of a fresh baptism of the Holy Ghost; that the joy of the Lord being our strength, we may be thorough and decided for the Lord, and for the Lord alone, that we may work, every one in his own sphere, with increased energy and diligence, in the Lord's vineyard, and save all the souls we can, while yet opportunity lasts, and the dark predicted night has not come, wherein no man can work. Though there be dark prospects before us, there is no room for despondency; no ground for any one to say that, with such prospects, effort is vain. The Lord can bless and prosper to His own glory, the efforts of those who truly gird themselves to fight His battles in the most hopeless circumstances; and, at the very time when the enemy cometh in like a flood, He can, by His Spirit, lift up a standard against him. Nay, not only is this a possible thing, there is reason, from the prophetic word, to believe that so it shall actually be; that the last triumph of the Man of Sin shall not be achieved without a glorious struggle first, on the part of those who are leal-hearted to Zion's King. But if we would really wish to do anything effectual in this warfare, it is indispensable that we know, and continually keep before our eyes, the stupendous character of that Mystery of Iniquity embodied in the Papacy that we have to grapple with. Popery boasts of being the "old religion"; and truly, from what we have seen, it appears that it is ancient indeed. It can trace its lineage far beyond the era of Christianity, back over 4000 years, to near the period of the Flood and the building of the Tower of Babel. During all that period its essential elements have been nearly the same, and these elements have a peculiar adaptation to the corruption of human nature. Most seem to think that Popery is a system merely to be scouted and laughed at; but the Spirit of God everywhere characterizes it in quite a different way. Every statement in the Scripture shows that it was truly described when it was characterized as "Satan's Masterpiece"--the perfection of his policy for deluding and ensnaring the world. It is not the state-craft of politicians, the wisdom of philosophers, or the resources of human science, that can cope with the wiles and subtleties of the Papacy. Satan, who inspires it, has triumphed over all these again and again. Why, the very nations where the worship of the Queen of Heaven, with all its attendant abominations, has flourished most in all ages, have been precisely the most civilized, the most polished, the most distinguished for arts and sciences. Babylon, where it took its rise, was the cradle of astronomy. Egypt, that nursed it in its bosom, was the mother of all the arts; the Greek cities of Asia Minor, where it found a refuge when expelled from Chaldea, were famed for their poets and philosophers, among the former Homer himself being numbered; and the nations of the European Continent, where literature has long been cultivated, are now prostrate before it. Physical force, no doubt, is at present employed in its behalf; but the question arises, How comes it that this system, of all others, can so prevail as to get that physical force to obey its behests? No answer can be given but this, that Satan, the god of this world, exerts his highest power in its behalf. Physical force has not always been on the side of the Chaldean worship of the Queen of Heaven. Again and again has power been arrayed against it; but hitherto every obstacle it has surmounted, every difficulty it has overcome. Cyrus, Xerxes, and many of the Medo-Persian kings, banished its priests from Babylon, and labored to root it out of their empire; but then it found a secure retreat in Pergamos, and "Satan's seat" was erected there. The glory of Pergamos and the cities of Asia Minor departed; but the worship of the Queen of Heaven did not wane. It took a higher flight, and seated itself on the throne of Imperial Rome. That throne was subverted. The Arian Goths came burning with fury against the worshipers of the Virgin Queen; but still that worship rose buoyant above all attempts to put it down, and the Arian Goths themselves were soon prostrate at the feet of the Babylonian goddess, seated in glory on the seven hills of Rome. In more modern times, the temporal powers of all the kingdoms of Europe have expelled the Jesuits, the chief promoters of this idolatrous worship, from their dominions. France, Spain, Portugal, Naples, Rome itself have all adopted the same measures, and yet what do we see at this hour? The same Jesuitism and the worship of the Virgin exalted above almost every throne on the Continent. When we look over the history of the last 4000 yeas, what a meaning in the words of inspiration, that "the coming of the Man of Sin" is with the energy, "the mighty power of Satan." Now, is this the system that, year by year, has been rising into power in our own empire? And is it for a moment to be imagined that lukewarm, temporizing, half-hearted Protestants can make any head against such a system? No; the time is come when Gideon's proclamation must be made throughout the camp of the Lord: "Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from Mount Gilead." Of the old martyrs it is said, "They overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death." The same self-denying, the same determined spirit, is needed now as much as ever it was. Are there none who are prepared to stand up, and in that very spirit to gird themselves for the great conflict that must come, before Satan shall be bound and cast into his prison-house? Can any one believe that such an event can take place without a tremendous struggle--that "the god of this world" shall quietly consent to resign the power that for thousands of years he has wielded, without stirring up all his wrath, and putting forth all his energy and skill to prevent such a catastrophe. Who, then, is on the Lord's side? If there be those who, within the last few years, have been revived and quickened--stirred up, not by mere human excitement, but by the Almighty grace of God's Spirit, what is the gracious design of this? Is it merely that they themselves may be delivered from the wrath to come? No; it is that, zealous for the glory of their Lord, they may act the parts of true witnesses, contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints, and maintain the honor of Christ in opposition to him who blasphemously usurps his prerogatives. If the servants of Antichrist are faithful to their master, and unwearied in promoting his cause, shall it be said that the servants of Christ are less faithful to theirs? If none else will bestir themselves, surely to the generous hearts of the young and rising ministry of Christ, in the kindness of their youth, and the love of their espousals, the appeal shall not be made in vain, when the appeal is made in the name of Him whom their souls love, that in this grand crisis of the Church and of the world, they should "come to the help of the Lord--the help of the Lord against the mighty," that they should do what in them lies to strengthen the hands and encourage the hearts of those who are seeking to stem the tide of apostasy, and to resist the efforts of the men who are laboring with such zeal, and with so much of infatuated patronage on the part of "the powers that be," to bring this land back again under the power of the Man of Sin. To take such a part, and steadily and perseveringly to pursue it, amid so much growing lukewarmness, it is indispensable that the servants of Christ set their faces as a flint. But if they have grace so to do, they shall not do so without a rich reward at last; and in time they have the firm and faithful promise that "as their day is, so shall their strength be." For all who wish truly to perform their part as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, there is the strongest and richest encouragement. With the blood of Christ on the conscience, with the Spirit of Christ warm and working in the heart, with our Father's name on our forehead, and our life, as well as our lips, consistently bearing "testimony" for God, we shall be prepared for every event. But it is not common grace that will do for uncommon times. If there be indeed such prospects before us, as I have endeavored to prove there are, then we must live, and feel, and act as if we heard every day resounding in our ears the words of the great Captain of our Salvation, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me on My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father on His throne. Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."
Lastly, I appeal to every reader of this work, if it does not contain an argument for the divinity of the Scriptures, as well as an exposure of the impostures of Rome. Surely, if one thing more than another be proved in the previous pages, it is this, that the Bible is no cunningly devised fable, but that holy men of God of old spake and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. What can account for the marvelous unity in all the idolatrous systems of the world, but that the facts recorded in the early chapters of Genesis were real transactions, in which, as all mankind were involved, so all mankind have preserved in their various systems, distinct and undeniable memorials of them, though those who have preserved them have long lost the true key to their meaning? What, too, but Omniscience could have foreseen that a system, such as that of the Papacy, could ever effect an entrance into the Christian Church, and practice and prosper as it has done? How could it ever have entered into the heart of John, the solitary exile of Patmos, to imagine, that any of the professed disciples of that Savior whom he loved, and who said, "My kingdom is not of this world," should gather up and systematize all the idolatry and superstition and immorality of the Babylon of Belshazzar, introduce it into the bosom of the Church, and, by help of it, seat themselves on the throne of the Caesars, and there, as the high-priests of the queen of Heaven, and gods upon earth, for 1200 years, rule the nations with a rod of iron? Human foresight could never have done this; but all this the exile of Patmos has done. His pen, then, must have been guided by Him who sees the end from the beginning, and who calleth the things that be not as though they were. And if the wisdom of God now shines forth so brightly from the Divine expression "Babylon the Great," into which such an immensity of meaning has been condensed, ought not that to lead us the more to reverence and adore the same wisdom that is in reality stamped on every page of the inspired Word? Ought it not to lead us to say with the Psalmist, "Therefore, I esteem all Thy commandments concerning all things to be right"? The commandments of God, to our corrupt and perverse minds, may sometimes seem to be hard. They may require us to do what is painful, they may require us to forego what is pleasing to flesh and blood. But, whether we know the reason of these commandments or no, if we only know that they come from "the only wise God, our Savior," we may be sure that in the keeping of them there is great reward; we may go blindfold wherever the Word of God may lead us, and rest in the firm conviction that, in so doing, we are pursuing the very path of safety and peace. Human wisdom at the best is but a blind guide; human policy is a meter that dazzles and leads astray; and they who follow it walk in darkness, and know not whither they are going; but he "that walketh uprightly," that walks by the rule of God's infallible Word, will ever find that "he walketh surely," and that whatever duty he has to perform, whatever danger he has to face, "great peace have all they that love God's law, and nothing shall offend them."