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"Wail ye; for the Day of Jehovah is at hand: it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. Therefore, all hands shall become weak, and every mortal's heart shall melt: and they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall have throes, as a woman that travaileth: they shall wonder every man at his neighbor; red like flames shall their faces glow.
"And I will visit on the world its evil, and on the wicked their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and [D22] the haughtiness of tyrants will I humble. I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall be removed out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of hosts, in the day of his fierce anger." Isa. 13:1-13. Compare Rev. 16:14; Heb. 12:26-29.
"Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet; and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place." Isa. 28:17
The various prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and the Apocalypse concerning Babylon are all in full accord, and manifestly refer to the same great city. And since these prophecies had but a very limited fulfilment upon the ancient, literal city, and those of the Apocalypse were written centuries after the literal Babylon was laid in ruins, it is clear that the special reference of all the prophets is to something of which the ancient literal Babylon was an illustration. It is clear also that, in so far as the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah concerning its downfall were accomplished upon the literal city, it became in its downfall, as well as in its character, an illustration of the great city to which the Revelator points in the symbolic language of the Apocalypse (Chapters 17 and 18), and to which chiefly the other prophets refer.
As already intimated, what today is known as Christendom is the antitype of ancient Babylon; and therefore the solemn warnings and predictions of the prophets against Babylon—Christendom—are matters of deepest concern to the present generation. Would that men were wise enough to consider them! Though various other symbolic names, such as Edom, Ephraim, Ariel, etc., are in the Scriptures applied to Christendom, this term, "Babylon," is the one most frequently used, and its significance, confusion, is remarkably appropriate. The Apostle Paul also points out a nominal, spiritual Israel in contradistinction to nominal fleshly Israel [D23] (See 1 Cor. 10:18; Gal. 6:16; Rom. 9:8); and likewise there is a nominal spiritual Zion, and a nominal fleshly Zion. (See Isa. 33:14; Amos 6:1.) But let us examine some of the wonderful correspondencies of Christendom to Babylon, its type, including the direct testimony of the Word of God on the subject. Then we will note the present attitude of Christendom, and the present indications of her foretold doom.
The Revelator intimated that it would not be difficult to discover this great mystical city, because her name is in her forehead; that is, she is prominently marked, so that we cannot fail to see her unless we shut our eyes and refuse to look—"And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and abominations of the earth." (Rev. 17:5) But before looking for this Mystical Babylon, let us first observe the typical Babylon, and then, with its prominent features in mind, look for the antitype.
The name Babylon was applied, not only to the capital city of the Babylonian empire, but also to the empire itself. Babylon, the capital, was the most magnificent, and probably the largest, city of the ancient world. It was built in the form of a square on both sides of the Euphrates river; and, for protection against invaders, it was surrounded by a deep moat filled with water and inclosed within a vast system of double walls, from thirty-two to eighty-five feet thick, and from seventy-five to three hundred feet high. On the summit were low towers, said to have been two hundred and fifty in number, placed along the outer and inner edges of the wall, tower facing tower; and in these walls were a hundred brazen gates, twenty-five on each side, corresponding to the number of streets which intersected each other at right angles. The city was adorned with splendid palaces and temples and the spoils of conquest.
Nebuchadnezzar was the great monarch of the Babylonian empire, whose long reign covered nearly half the period of its existence, and to him its grandeur and military glory were chiefly due. The city was noted for its wealth and magnificence, which brought a corresponding moral degradation, the sure precursor of its decline and fall. It was wholly given to idolatry, and was full of iniquity. The people were worshipers of Baal, to whom they offered human sacrifices. The deep degradation of their idolatry may be understood from God's reproof of the Israelites when they became corrupted by contact with them. See Jer. 7:9; 19:5.
The name originated with the frustrating of the plan for the great tower, called Babel (confusion), because there God confounded human speech; but the native etymology made the name Babil, which, instead of being reproachful, and a reminder of the Lord's displeasure, signified to them—"the gate of God."
The city of Babylon attained a position of prominence and affluence as capital of the great Babylonian empire, and was called "the golden city," "the glory of kingdoms, and the beauty of Chaldees' excellency." Isa. 13:19; 14:4
Nebuchadnezzar was succeeded in the dominion by his grandson Belshazzar, under whose reign came the collapse which pride, fullness of bread and abundance of idleness always insure and hasten. While the people, all unconscious of impending danger, following the example of their king, were abandoning themselves to demoralizing excesses, the Persian army, under Cyrus, stealthily crept in through the channel of the Euphrates (from which they had turned aside the water), massacred the revelers, and captured the city. Thus was fulfilled the prophecy of that strange handwriting on the wall—" Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin "—which Daniel had interpreted only a few hours before to mean—"God hath numbered thy kingdom and finished it. Thou [D25] art weighed in the balance and art found wanting. Thy kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians." And so complete was the destruction of that great city that even its site was forgotten and was for a long time uncertain.
Such was the typical city; and, like a great millstone cast into the sea, it was sunken centuries ago, never again to rise; even the memory of it has become a reproach and a byword. Now let us look for its antitype, first observing that the Scriptures clearly point it out, and then noting the aptness of the symbolism.
In symbolic prophecy a "city" signifies a religious government backed by power and influence. Thus, for instance, the "holy city, the new Jerusalem," is the symbol used to represent the established Kingdom of God, the overcomers of the Gospel Church exalted and reigning in glory. The Church is also, and in the same connection, represented as a woman, "the bride, the Lamb's wife," in power and glory, and backed by the power and authority of Christ, her husband. "And there came unto me one of the seven angels...saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. And he... showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem." Rev. 21:9,10
This same method of interpretation applies to mystical Babylon, the great ecclesiastical kingdom, "that great city" (Rev. 17:1-6), which is described as a harlot, a fallen woman (an apostate church—for the true Church is a virgin), exalted to power and dominion, and backed, to a considerable degree, by the kings of the earth, the civil powers, which are all more or less intoxicated with her spirit and doctrine. The apostate church lost her virgin purity. Instead of waiting, as an espoused and chaste virgin, for exaltation with the heavenly Bridegroom, she associated herself with the kings of the earth and prostituted her virgin purity—both of doctrine and character—to suit the world's [D26] ideas; and in return she received, and now to some extent exercises, a present dominion, in large measure by their support, direct and indirect. This unfaithfulness to the Lord, whose name she claims, and to her high privilege to be the "chaste virgin" espoused to Christ, is the occasion of the symbolic appellation, "harlot," while her influence as a sacerdotal empire, full of inconsistency and confusion, is symbolically represented under the name Babylon, which, in its widest sense, as symbolized by the Babylonian empire, we promptly recognize to be Christendom; while in its more restricted sense, as symbolized by the ancient city Babylon, we recognize to be the nominal Christian Church.
The fact that Christendom does not accept the Bible term "Babylon," and its significance, confusion, as applicable to her, is no proof that it is not so. Neither did ancient Babylon claim the Bible significance—confusion. Ancient Babylon presumed to be the very "gate of God"; but God labeled it Confusion (Gen. 11:9); and so it is with her antitype today. She calls herself Christendom, the gateway to God and everlasting life, while God calls her Babylon—confusion.
It has been very generally and very properly claimed by Protestants that the name "Babylon" and the prophetic description are applicable to Papacy, though recently a more compromising disposition is less inclined so to apply it. On the contrary, every effort is now made on the part of the sects of Protestantism to conciliate and imitate the Church of Rome, and to affiliate and cooperate with her. In so doing they become part and parcel with her, while they justify her course and fill up the measure of her iniquities, just as surely as did the scribes and Pharisees fill up the measure of their fathers who killed the prophets. (Matt. 23:31,32) All this, of course, neither Protestants nor Papists are ready to admit, because in so doing they would be condemning [D27] themselves. And this fact is recognized by the Revelator, who shows that all who would get a true view of Babylon must, in spirit, take their position with the true people of God "in the wilderness"—in the condition of separation from the world and worldly ideas and mere forms of godliness, and in the condition of entire consecration and faithfulness to and dependence upon God alone. "So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness; and I saw a woman, ...Babylon." Rev. 17:1-5
And since the kingdoms of the civilized world have submitted to be largely dominated by the influence of the great ecclesiastical systems, especially Papacy, accepting from them the appellation "Christian nations" and "Christendom," and accepting on their authority the doctrine of the divine right of kings, etc., they also link themselves in with great Babylon, and become part of it, so that, as in the type, the name Babylon applied, not only to the city, but also to the whole empire, here also the symbolic term "Babylon" applies, not only to the great religious organizations, Papal and Protestant, but also, in its widest sense, to all Christendom.
Hence this day of judgment upon mystic Babylon is the day of judgment upon all the nations of Christendom; its calamities will involve the entire structure—civil, social and religious; and individuals will be affected by it to the extent of their interest in, and dependence upon, its various organizations and arrangements.
The nations beyond Christendom will also feel the weight of the heavy hand of recompense in that they also are to some extent bound in with the nations of Christendom by various interests, commercial and others; and justly, too, in that they also have failed to appreciate what light they have seen, and have loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. Thus, as the Prophet [D28] declared, "All the earth [society] shall be devoured with the fire of God's jealousy" (Zeph. 3:8); but against Babylon, Christendom, because of her greater responsibility and misuse of favors received, will burn the fierceness of his wrath and indignation. (Jer. 51:49) "At the noise of the taking of Babylon the earth is moved, and the cry is heard among the nations." Jer. 50:46
But some sincere Christians, not yet awake to the decline of Protestantism, and who do not realize the relationship of the various sects to Papacy, but who perceive the unrest and the doctrinal upheavals in all the religious systems, may still be anxiously inquiring—"If all Christendom is to be involved in the doom of Babylon, what will become of Protestantism, the result of The Great Reformation?" This is an important question; but let the reader consider that Protestantism, as it exists today, is not the result of the Great Reformation, but of its decline; and it now partakes to a large degree of the disposition and character of the Church of Rome, from which its various branches sprang. The various Protestant sects (and we say it with all due deference to a comparatively few devout souls within them, whom the Lord designates as "wheat," in contradistinction to the overwhelming numbers of "tares") are the true daughters of that degenerate system of nominal Christianity, the Papacy, to which the Revelator makes reference in applying to her the name "Mother of harlots." (Rev. 17:5) And let it not pass unobserved that both Romanists and Protestants now freely own the relationship of mother and daughters, the former continually styling herself the Holy Mother Church, and the latter, with pleased complacency, endorsing the idea, as shown by many public utterances of leading Protestant clergymen and laymen. Thus they [D29] "glory in their shame," apparently all unmindful of the brand which they thus accept from the Word of God, which designates the Papacy, as "the mother of harlots." Nor does the Papacy, in claiming her office of motherhood, ever seem to have questioned her right to that title, or to have considered its incompatibility with her profession still to be the only true church, which the Scriptures designate a "virgin" espoused to Christ. Her acknowledged claims of motherhood are to the everlasting shame of both herself and her offspring. The true Church, which God recognizes, but which the world knows not, is still a virgin; and from her pure and holy estate no daughter systems have ever sprung. She is still a chaste virgin, true to Christ, and dear to him as the apple of his eye. (Zech. 2:8; Psa. 17:6,8) The true Church cannot be pointed out anywhere as a company from which all the tares have been separated, but it consists only of the true "wheat," and all such are known unto God, whether the world recognizes them or not.
But let us see how the Protestant systems sustain this relationship of daughters to Papacy. Since Papacy, the mother, is not a single individual, but a great religious system, in keeping with the symbol we should expect to see other religious systems answering to the illustration of daughters of similar character—not, of course, so old, nor necessarily so depraved, as Papacy—but nevertheless, "harlots" in the same sense; i.e., religious systems claiming to be either the espoused virgin or the bride of Christ, and yet courting the favor and receiving the support of the world, at the price of disloyalty to Christ.
As already pointed out* the birth of these various daughter [D30] systems came in connection with reforms from the corruptions of the mother Church. The daughter systems parted from the mother under circumstances of travail, and were born virgins. However, they contained more than true reformers; they contained many who still had the spirit of the mother, and they inherited many of her false doctrines and theories; and it was not long until they fell into many of her bad practices and proved their characters true to the prophetic stigma—"harlots."
But let it not be forgotten that while the various reformation movements did valuable work in the "cleansing of the sanctuary," yet only the temple class, the sanctuary class, has ever been the true Church, in God's reckoning. The great human systems called churches, have never been more than nominally the Church. They all belong to a false system which counterfeits, misrepresents and hides from the world the true Church, which is composed only of fully consecrated and faithful believers, who trust in the merit of the one great sacrifice for sins. These are to be found scattered here and there within and outside of these human systems, yet always separate from their worldly spirit. They are the "wheat" class of our Lord's parable, clearly distinguished by him from the "tares." Not comprehending the real character of these systems, as individuals they have humbly walked with God, taking his Word as their counselor and his spirit as their guide. Nor have they ever been at ease in nominal Zion, where they have often painfully observed that the spirit of the world, operating through the unrecognized "tare" element, endangered spiritual prosperity. They are the blessed mourners in Zion, to whom God hath appointed "beauty for ashes, and the oil of joy for mourning." (Matt. 5:4; Isa. 61:3) It is only in this "harvest" time that the separation of this class from the "tare" element is due; for it was the Lord's purpose to "let both grow [D31] together until the harvest [the time in which we are now living]." Matt. 13:30
Hence it is that this class is now being awakened to a realization of the real character of these condemned systems. As previously shown,* the various reform movements, as predicted by the prophet (Dan. 11:32-35), were "overcome by flatteries:" each one, after accomplishing a measure of cleansing, stopped short; and, so far as they found it practicable, they imitated the example of the Church of Rome in courting and receiving the favor of the world at the expense of their virtue—their fidelity to Christ, the true Head of the Church. Church and state again made common cause, in a measure united their worldly interests, at the expense of the real, the spiritual, interests of the church; and progress and reform in the church were again at a standstill. Indeed, a retrograde movement set in, so that today many of them are much farther from the proper standard, both of faith and practice, than in the days of their founders.
Some of the reformed churches were even admitted to share in authority and power with earthly rulers; as, for instance, the Church of England, and the Lutheran Church in Germany. And those who have not succeeded to that extent have (as in this country, for instance) made many compromising overtures to the world for smaller favors. It is also true that while the world powers have advanced the worldly ambitions of the unfaithful church, the church has also freely admitted the world to her communion and fellowship; and so freely, that the baptized worldlings now form the large majority of her membership, filling nearly every important position, and thus dominating her.
This was the disposition which degraded the church in the beginning of the age, which brought about the great [D32] falling away (2 Thess. 2:3,7-10), and which gradually, but rapidly, developed the Papal system.
This loose character, early assumed by the various reform movements, and which gradually developed sectarian organizations, continues to the present day; and the more these organizations grow in wealth, numbers and influence the further they fall from Christian virtue and develop the arrogance of their mother. A few earnest Christians in the various sects observe this to some extent, and with shame and sorrow confess and lament it. They see that every possible effort is made by the various sectarian organizations to please the world and to court its favor and secure its patronage. Elegant and costly church edifices, lofty spires, chiming bells, grand organs, fine furnishments, artistic choirs, polished orators, fairs, festivals, concerts, plays, lotteries and questionable amusements and pastimes are all arranged with a view to securing the world's approval and support. The grand and wholesome doctrines of Christ are thrust to the background, while false doctrines and sensational topics take their place in the pulpit, the truth is ignored and forgotten, and the spirit of it lost. In these particulars how truly the daughters resemble the mother organization!
As one among numerous evidences of the freedom and even pride with which this relationship of the Protestant sects to Papacy is owned, we give the following sentiments of a Presbyterian clergyman, quoted from one of his sermons as published by the daily press. The gentleman said:
"Wince as you will, you must admit that this (the Catholic Church) is the Mother Church. She possesses an unbroken history extending back to the time of the apostles. [Yes, that is where the apostasy began. 2 Thess. 2:7,8] For every fragment of religious truth which we prize, we are indebted to her as the depository. If she has no claims to being the true Church, then are we bastards and not sons.
"Talk about missionaries to labor amongst Romanists! I would as soon think of sending missionaries amongst Methodists and Episcopalians and United Presbyterians and Lutherans for the purpose of converting them into Presbyterians."
Yes, nearly all the doctrinal errors so tenaciously held by Protestants were brought with them from Rome, though beyond the gross errors of Papacy, such as the sacrifice of the mass, the worship of saints, of the virgin Mary and of images, the auricular confession, the granting of indulgences, etc., considerable progress was made by each of the reform movements. But alas! Protestants of today are not only willing, but anxious, to make almost any compromise to secure the favor and assistance of the old "mother" from whose tyranny and villainy their fathers fled three centuries ago. Even those principles of truth which at first formed the ground of protest are being gradually forgotten or openly repudiated. The very foundation doctrine of "justification by faith" in the "continual sacrifice" is rapidly giving way to the old Papal dogma of justification by works and by the sacrilegious sacrifice of the mass.* And numbers both in pulpits and in pews now openly declare that they have no faith in the efficacy of the precious blood of Christ as the ransom-price for sinners.
The claims of apostolic succession and clerical authority are almost as presumptuously set forth by some of the Protestant clergy as by the Papal priesthood. And the right of individual private judgment—the very fundamental principle of the protest against Papacy, which led to the Great Reformation—is now almost as strenuously opposed by Protestants as by Papists. Yet Protestants are fully aware that it was in the exercise of the right of private judgment that the Reformation was begun and for a short time carried [D34] forward, although later a presumptuous domination of recognized leaders retarded the wheels of progress, and has, ever since, kept them strictly within the traditional lines and put a ban upon all who fearlessly step beyond them.
Thus viewed, Protestantism is no longer a protest against the mother church, as at first. As a writer for the press recently remarked—"The ism is still with us, but what has become of the protest ?" Protestants seem to have forgotten—for they truly ignore—the very grounds of the original protest, and, as systems, they are fast drifting back toward the open arms of the "Holy (?) Mother Church," where they are freely invited and assured of a cordial reception.
"Let us hold out to you our hand affectionately" (says Pope Leo to Protestants in his noted* Encyclical addressed "To The Princes and Peoples of the Earth"), "and invite you to the unity which never failed the Catholic church, and which never can fail. Long has our common mother called you to her breast; long have all the Catholics of the Universe awaited you with the anxiety of brotherly love. ...Our heart, more even than our voice, calls to you, dear brethren, who for three centuries past have been at issue with us in the Christian faith."
Again, in his Encyclical to the Roman church in America, +Pope Leo says, "Our thoughts now turn to those who dissent from us in matters of Christian faith....How solicitous we are of their salvation; with what ardor of soul we wish that they should be at length restored to the embrace of the Church, the common mother of all!...Surely we ought not to leave them to their fancies, but with mildness and charity draw them over, using every means of persuasion to induce them to examine closely every part of the Catholic doctrine and to free themselves from preconceived notions."
And in his "Apostolic Letter to the English People" (1895) he gives utterance to the following prayer, "O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother, look down in mercy upon England....O sorrowful Mother, intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold they may be united to the Supreme Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son"—i.e., himself, the Pope.
In furtherance of this same plan, "Missions for Protestants" have been started under the charge of what are known as the "Paulist Fathers." These meetings have been and are being held in the large cities. They are conducted along lines of conciliation and explanation; written questions from Protestants are requested and answered publicly; and tracts for Protestants are freely distributed. Protestants are practically conceding the Romish position, and really have no answer to make; and any one who can and does answer, and refers to facts, is denounced as a disturber by both Protestants and Catholics.
Every intelligent person can see how easily Protestantism is being ensnared by this cunning craftiness, and how perceptibly the popular current is set toward the Church of Rome, which is changed indeed in voice and power, but unchanged in heart, and still justifying the Inquisition and other of her methods of the dark ages by claiming her right, as ruler of earth, to punish heretics as she pleases.
It is clear, therefore, that while many faithful souls, ignorant of the real state of the case, have reverently and devoutly worshiped God within these Babylon systems, nevertheless, this does not alter the fact that they are, one and all, "harlot" systems. Confusion reigns in them all; and the name Babylon aptly fits the entire family—mother, daughters and accomplices, the nations styled Christendom. Rev. 18:7; 17:2-6,18
Let it be borne in mind, then, that in the great politico-ecclesiastical systems which men call Christendom, but which God calls Babylon, we have not only the foundation but also the superstructure and the crowning pinnacle, of the present social order. This is implied in the generally accepted term, Christendom, which of late is applied, not only to those nations which support Christian sects by legislation and taxation, but also to all nations which show tolerance to Christianity without in any definite manner favoring or supporting it; as, for instance, these United States.
The doctrine of "the divine right of kings," taught or supported by almost every sect, is the foundation of the old civil system, and has long given authority, dignity and stability to the kingdoms of Europe; and the doctrine of the divine appointment and authority of the clergy has hindered God's children from progressing in divine things and bound them by the chains of superstition and ignorance to the veneration and adoration of fallible fellow-beings, and to their doctrines, traditions and interpretations of God's Word. It is this entire order of things that is to fall and pass away in the battle of this great day—the order of things which for centuries has held the people docile under the ruling powers, civil, social and religious. All this has been by God's permission (not by his appointment and approval, as they claim). But though an evil in itself, it has served a good, temporary purpose in preventing anarchy, which is immeasurably worse, because men were not prepared to do better for themselves, and because the time for Christ's Millennial Kingdom had not yet come. Hence God permitted the various delusions to gain credence in order to hold men in check until "The Time of the End"—the end of "The Times of the Gentiles."
Upon the prophetic page we may clearly read the doom of Babylon, Christendom; and it is none the less clearly expressed in the signs of the times. That her destruction will be sudden, violent and complete is thus forcibly stated: "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." (Rev. 18:8,21; Jer. 51:63,64,42,24-26) And yet that it was to undergo a gradual consuming process is shown by Daniel (7:26)—"But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end." The Papal dominion (and much of the abject reverence of the people for ecclesiasticism in general), as already shown,* was broken down at the beginning of the Time of the End—1799; and, though the subsequent process of consumption has been slow, and there have been occasional signs of apparent recovery, which never seemed more flattering than at present, the assurance of Papacy's final destruction is positive, and its death-struggle will be violent. First, however, she must attain more of her old-time prestige, which will be shared with a confederated association of her daughters. Together they will be lifted up, that together they may be violently thrown down.
That the punishment of Babylon will be great is assured. It is written prophetically that, "Great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath." "And he hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand." "Her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. [D38] 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. 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.'" (Rev. 16:19; 19:2; 18:5-7) While the broadest application of this language is, of course, to Papacy, it also involves all who are in any degree in confederation or sympathy with her. All such will be sharers in her plagues. (Rev. 18:4) Although the kings of the earth have hated the harlot and cast her off (Rev. 17:16), still she says, "I sit a queen, and am no widow," loudly boasts of her right to rule the nations, and claims that her former power will soon be regained.
"The Papacy will regain its temporal sovereignty, because it is useful and convenient to the Church. It gives the head executive of the church a fuller liberty and a fuller sway. The Pope can be no king's subject long. It is not in keeping with the divine office to be so. It cramps him and narrows his influence for good. Europe has acknowledged this influence, and will be forced to bow to it in greater times of need than this. Social upheavals, and the red hand of anarchy, will yet crown Leo or his successor with the reality of power which the third circle symbolizes, and which was once recognized universally."
Yes, as the day of trouble draws on, ecclesiasticism will endeavor to use its power and influence more and more to secure its own political welfare, by its control of the turbulent elements of society; but in the crisis of the near future the lawless element will spurn all conservative influence and break over all restraints, the red hand of Anarchy will do its dreadful work, and Babylon, Christendom, social, political and ecclesiastical, shall fall.
"Therefore," says the inspired writer—i.e., because she will violently struggle for life and power—"shall her plagues come in one day [suddenly], death and mourning and famine, and she shall be utterly burned with fire [symbolic fire—destructive calamities], for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her." Rev. 18:8
"Thus saith the Lord, Behold I will raise up against Babylon, and against them that dwell in the midst of them that rise up against me [all in sympathy with Babylon], a destroying wind; and I will send into Babylon, fanners that shall fan her, and shall empty her land: for in the day of trouble they shall be against her round about...Destroy ye utterly all her host." Jer. 51:1-3
"And I will render unto Babylon [to the Papacy specially], and to all the inhabitants of Chaldea [or Babylonia—Christendom—to all the nations of the so-called Christian world] all their evil that they have done in Zion in your sight, saith the Lord." (Jer. 51:24) As we call to mind the long train of evils by which Babylon has oppressed and worn out the saints of the most High (the true Zion), and how it is written that God will avenge his own elect, and that speedily; that, according to their deeds, he will repay recompense to his enemies; that he will render unto Babylon a recompense (Luke 18:7,8; Isa. 59:18; Jer. 51:6), we begin to realize that some fearful calamity awaits her. The horrible decrees of Papacy—the reproach and reward of which Protestantism also is incurring by her present compromising association with her—for the burning, butchering, banishing, imprisoning and torturing of the saints in every conceivable way, executed with such fiendish cruelty in the days of her power by the arm of the State, whose power she demanded and received, await the full measure of just retribution; for she is to receive "double for all her sins." And the nations (of Christendom) which have [D40] participated in her crimes and guilt must drink with her to the dregs that bitter cup.
"And I will punish Bel in Babylon [the god of Babylon—the Pope]; and I will bring forth out of his mouth that which he hath swallowed up [He shall repudiate in his extremity the "great swelling words" and blasphemous titles which he has long appropriated to himself—that he is the infallible vicar, "vice-gerent of Christ," "another God on earth," etc.], and the nations shall not flow together any more unto him. Yea, the wall of Babylon [the civil power that once defended it, and that in a measure does so still] shall fall....Thus saith the Lord of hosts: the broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly broken, and her high gates shall be burned with fire [shall be destroyed]; and the people shall labor in vain, and the folk in the fire [to prop and save the walls of Babylon], and they shall be weary." (Jer. 51:44,58) This shows the blindness of the people, and the hold Babylon has on them, that they will labor to uphold her against their own best interests; but notwithstanding her desperate struggle for life and to conserve her prestige and influence, like a great millstone cast into the sea, Babylon shall go down, never again to rise; "for strong is the Lord God that judgeth her." Only then will the people realize their wonderful deliverance, and that her overthrow was by the hand of God. Rev. 19:1,2
Such is the doom of Babylon, Christendom, which Isaiah and other prophets foresaw and foretold. And it is in view of the fact that within her borders are many of his own dear people that the Lord, through his prophet (Isa. 13:1,2), commands his sanctified ones, saying, "Lift ye up a standard [the standard of the blessed gospel of truth, divested of the traditional errors that have long beclouded it] upon the high mountain [among those who constitute the true embryo Kingdom of God]; raise high your voice unto them [D41] [earnestly and widely proclaim this truth unto the bewildered sheep of the Lord's flock who are still in Babylon]; motion with the hand [let them see the power of the truth exemplified, as well as hear its proclamation], that they [the willing and obedient, the true sheep] may go into the gates of the nobles [that they may realize the blessings of the truly consecrated and heirs of the heavenly Kingdom]."
So the warning voice goes forth to "him that hath an ear to hear." We are in the time of the last or Laodicean stage of the great nominal gospel church of wheat and tares. (Rev. 3:14-22) She is upbraided for her lukewarmness, pride, spiritual poverty, blindness and nakedness, and counseled to forsake quickly her evil ways before it is too late. But the Lord knew that only a few would hearken to the warning and call; and so the promise of reward is given, not to the whole mass of those addressed, but to the few who still have an ear for the truth, and who overcome the general disposition and spirit of Babylon—" To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear [a disposition to hearken to and heed the word of the Lord], let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." But upon those who have no ear, no disposition to hear, the Lord will pour his indignation.
That, with few individual exceptions, the attitude of all Christendom is that of pride, self-righteousness and self-complacency is manifest to the most casual observer. She still saith in her heart, "I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow." She still glorifies herself and lives deliciously. She says, "I am rich and increased in goods, and have need of nothing," and does not realize that she is "wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." Nor does she heed the counsel of the Lord to buy of [D42] him (at cost of self-sacrifice) gold tried in the fire (the true riches, the heavenly riches, "the divine nature"), and white raiment (the robe of Christ's imputed righteousness, which so many are now discarding, to appear before God in their own unrighteousness), and to anoint her eyes with eyesalve (complete consecration and submission to the divine will as expressed in the Scriptures), that she might see and be healed. Rev. 3:18
The spirit of the world has so fully taken possession of the ecclesiastical powers of Christendom, that reformation of the systems is impossible; and individuals can escape their fate only by a prompt and timely withdrawal from them. The hour of judgment is come, and even now upon her walls the warning hand of divine providence is tracing the mysterious words, "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin"—GOD HATH NUMBERED THY KINGDOM AND FINISHED IT! THOU ART WEIGHED IN THE BALANCES AND FOUND WANTING! And the Prophet (Isaiah 47) now speaks, saying—
"Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon [said in derision of her claim to purity]; sit on the ground: there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans; for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate....Thy nakedness shall be uncovered; yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man....Sit thou silent, and get thee into darkness, O daughter of the Chaldeans; for thou shalt no more be called, The lady of kingdoms....Thou saidst, I shall be a lady forever, so that thou didst not lay these things to thy heart, neither didst remember the latter end of it.
"Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures; that dwellest carelessly; that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither [D43] shall I know the loss of children. But these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children and widowhood [compare Rev. 18:8]: in their full measure shall they come upon thee despite of the multitude of thy sorceries, despite of the very great abundance of thy enchantments; for thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy [worldly] wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee: and thou hast said in thy heart, I am, and none else beside me. Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth: and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off: and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not [previously] know." Compare Verse 9 and Rev. 18:7.
Such being the solemn declarations against Babylon, well will it be for all who heed the warning voice and the instruction of the Lord to his people yet within her borders; for "Thus saith the Lord":....Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the Lord's vengeance; he will render unto her a recompense....Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed....We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed. Forsake her;...for her judgment reacheth unto heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies....My people, go ye out of the midst of her, and deliver ye every man his soul from the fierce anger of the Lord." Jer. 51:1,6,8,9,45. Compare Rev. 17:3-6; 18:1-5.
For those who would obey this command to come out of Babylon, there is but one place of refuge; and that is, not in a new sect and bondage, but in "The secret place of the Most High"—the place or condition of entire consecration, typified by the Most Holy of the Tabernacle and Temple. (Psa. 91) "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most [D44] High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." And such may truly say in the midst of all the calamities of this evil day, "The Lord is my refuge and my fortress, my God: in him will I trust."
To come out of Babylon cannot mean a physical emigration from the midst of the nations of Christendom; for not only Christendom, but all the earth, is to be devoured with the fire [the fiery trouble] of the Lord's anger, though the fiercest of his wrath will be against the enlightened nations of Christendom, who knew, or at least had abundant opportunity to know, the Lord's will. The idea of the command is a separation from all the binding yokes of Christendom—to have no part nor lot in her civil, social or religious organizations; and this, both from principle and from a wise and divinely directed policy.
On principle, as soon as the increased light of harvest truth illuminates our minds and makes manifest the deformities of error, we must be loyal to the former and discard the latter by withdrawing all our influence and support from it. This implies the withdrawal from the various religious organizations, whose doctrines misrepresent and make void the Word of God; and it places us in the attitude of aliens toward all existing civil powers; not opposing aliens, however, but peaceable and law-abiding aliens, who render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's; aliens whose citizenship is in heaven, and not upon earth; and whose influence is always favorable to righteousness, justice, mercy and peace.
Principle in some cases, and policy in others, would separate us from the various social arrangements among men. On principle, it would set free any who are entangled with the oaths and obligations of the various secret societies; for ye who were in darkness are now light in the Lord, and [D45] should walk as children of light, having no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reproving them. Eph. 5:6-17
But as we come closer and closer to the great crisis of this "evil day" it will doubtless be manifest to those who view the situation from the standpoint of "the sure word of prophecy," that, even if there be cases where principle is not involved, it will be the part of wisdom to withdraw from the various social and financial bondages which must inevitably succumb to the ravages of world-wide revolution and anarchy. In that time (and, bear in mind, it will probably be within the next few years) financial institutions, including insurance companies and beneficial societies, will go down; and "treasures" in them will prove utterly worthless. These caves and rocks of the mountains will not furnish the desired protection from the wrath of this "evil day," when the great waves of popular discontent are lashing and foaming against the mountains (kingdoms—Rev. 6:15-17; Psa. 46:3); and the time will come when men "shall cast their silver into the streets, and their gold shall be as though it were unclean [margin]: their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord. They shall not [with their wealth] be able to satisfy their souls, neither [to] fill their bowels: because it was the stumbling block of their iniquity." (Ezek. 7:19; Compare also verses 12-18,21,25-27.) Thus will the Lord make a man's life more precious than fine gold, even the golden wedge of Ophir. Isa. 13:12
But those who have made the Most High their refuge need not fear the approach of such times. He shall cover them with his feathers, and under his wings shall they trust; yea, he will show them his salvation. As the wildest confusion approaches they may comfort their hearts with the [D46] blessed assurance that "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble"; and say, "Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed [though the present social order be entirely overthrown]; and though the mountains [kingdoms] be carried into the midst of the sea [overwhelmed in anarchy]; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled; though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof." God will be in the midst of his faithful saints, who make him their refuge, and they shall not be moved. God will help Zion early in the Millennial morning; she shall be "accounted worthy to escape all those things coming upon the world." Psa. 46; Luke 21:36
The above original verses were read by Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, before the Young Men's Christian Union, Boston, June 1, 1893. They indicate that he realized somewhat the darkness overhanging Babylon.