Elder J.N. Andrews
THE FALL OF BABYLON
What constitutes the fall of Babylon? Those who contend that the Babylon of Revelation is the city of Rome, answer that the fall of Babylon is the burning of Rome; while those who make Babylon a symbol of the church of Rome only, answer that this fall is the loss of her civil power-the fall of the woman from the beast. We dissent from both these positions, believing that the fall of Babylon is a moral fall, and that it denotes her rejectionas a body, by God. That the fall of Babylon is not the burning of Rome appears from the following facts:
- The cry “Come out of her my people,” is made after the announcement that she has fallen. Rev. xviii, 2, 4. It is therefore evident that Babylon exists after her fall, and that the people of God are still in her midst. Hence it is evident that her fall is distinct from her destruction
- When it is said, “Come out of her my people,” it is added as a reason, “that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” Her fall had taken place; but she still existed to sin against God, and her plagues were yet future; therefore her fall and her destruction were events entirely distinct.
- When her plagues are named in verse 8, they are said to be death, mourning and famine, and utter destruction by fire. Her plagues were yet future at the time of her fall; consequently her fall is not her destruction by fire. Between those two events the people of God make their escape from her.
- The burning of Rome would not cause that city to become the hold of foul spirits and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird. Indeed, the only effectual cleansing that wicked city will ever receive will be by fire. These facts clearly evince that the fall of Babylon is not the burning of Rome. Beside this, we have clearly proved that Rome is not the Babylon of the Apocalypse, which is sufficient of itself on this point.
That the fall of Babylon is not the loss of civil power by the Papal church, the following facts clearly prove:
- This would make the angel say, Babylon is fallen, that is, has lost her civil power, because she made all nations drink of her wine. Such a statement would be false; for it was by this very means that she obtained her power.
- Babylon becomes the hold of every foul spirit and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird in consequence of her fall. Rev. xviii, 1, 2. It would be perfectly absurd to represent this as the consequence of her loss of civil power.
- But the greatest absurdity appears in this fact, that it makes Rev. xviii, 1-4 utter a sentiment like this: Babylon has lost her civil power; therefore come out of her my people.
We understand that the fall of Babylon is her rejection by God. That the Holy Spirit leaves her in consequence of her alienation from God and union with the world, and that thus she is left to the spirit of Devils. As an illustration we will refer to the fall of the Jewish church, the harlot of Eze. xvi. This fall is distinctly stated in Rom xi. Its particulars may be gathered from Matt. xxi, 43; xxiii; xii, 43-45. That fall was her rejection by God; her destruction was deferred for a considerable period.
- The nature of the reasons assigned for the fall of Babylon proves that it is a moral fall. For it is because she has made the nations drunk with her wine. In other words, it is her wickedness that has caused God to reject her.
- The consequences of her fall, testify that thatfall is her rejection by God, and not her destruction. For her fall causes her to become the hold of foul spirits, and the cage of unclean and hateful birds. This shows that God has given her up to strong delusions. For this reason it is that the voice from heaven cries, “Come out of her my people.”
The cause of the fall of Babylon is thus stated: “she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” Her fornication was her unlawful union with the kings of the earth. The wine of this, is that with which the church has intoxicated the nations of the earth. There is but one thing that this can refer to, viz., false doctrine. This harlot, in consequence of her unlawful union with the powers of earth, has corrupted the pure truths of the Bible, and with the wine of her false doctrine, has intoxicated the nations. A few instances of her corruption of the truths of the Bible must suffice:
- The doctrine of the natural immortality of the soul. This was derived from the Pagan mythology, and was introduced into the church by means of distinguished converts from Paganism, who became “fathers of the church.” This doctrine makes man’s last foe, death, the gate to endless joy, and leaves the resurrection as a thing of minor importance. It is the foundation of modern spiritualism.
- The doctrine of the Trinity which was established in the church by the council of Nice, a. d. 325. This doctrine destroys the personality of God, and his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. The infamous measures by which it was forced upon the church, which appear upon the pages of ecclesiastical historymight well cause every believer in that doctrine to blush.
- The corruption of the ordinance of baptism. Burial in baptism is the divinely authorized memorial of our Lord’s burial and resurrection. This has been changed to sprinkling, or pouring, the fitting memorial of but one thing, viz., the folly and presumption of man.
- The change of the fourth commandment. The pagan festival of Sunday has been substituted by the church for the Rest day of the Lord. The Bible plainly teaches that the sanctified Rest day of the Lord, is the divinely authorized memorial of the rest of Jehovah from the work of creation. But the church has changed this to the first day of the week, to make it a memorial of our Lord’s resurrection, in the place of baptism, which has been changed to sprinkling.
- The doctrine of a thousand years of peace and prosperity before the coming of the Lord. This doctrine will probably prove the ruin of as many souls as any heresy that ever cursed the church.
- The doctrine of the saint’s inheritance beyond the bounds of time and space. For this fable, multitudes have turned from the scriptural view of the everlasting kingdom in the new earth.
- The spiritual Second Advent. It is well known that the great majority of religious teachers and commentators of the present time openly advocate the view that Christ’s second advent, as brought to view in Matt. xxiv, took place at the destruction of Jerusalem; and also that he comes the second time whenever any person dies.
8 The right to hold human beings in bondage and to buy and sell them, is now made out in the most confident manner from the Old and New Testaments, by the leading doctors of divinity of most denominations; and some of the most distinguished and skillful are able to make out this from the golden rule. The professed church to a fearful extent, is the right arm of the slave power, and our own nation is a perfect illustration on the subject of slavery, of a nation drunken with the wine of Babylon. That most infamous law, “the fugitive slave bill,” was vindicated by our most distinguished doctors of divinity as a righteous measure.
- Finally, the lowering of the standard of godliness to the dust. This has been carried so far that the multitudes are made to believe that “every one that saith, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.” In proof of this I might appeal to almost every tomb stone or funeral discourse.
God appointed the church to be the light of the world, and at the same time ordained that his Word should be the light of the church. But when the church becomes unfaithful to her trust, and corrupts the pure doctrines of the gospel, as a natural consequence the world becomes intoxicated with her false doctrine. That the nations of the earth are in such a condition at the present time is too obvious to be denied. The world is intoxicated in the pursuit of riches and honor, but the sin lies at the door of the church; for the church sanctions what the Lord strictly forbade, and she sets the example to the world. If the church had not intoxicated the world with the wine of her false doctrines, the plain truths of the Bible would powerfully move the public mind. But the world seems hopelessly drunken with the wine of Babylon.
At the time of the first angel’s message, the people of God were in Babylon; for the announcement of the fall of Babylon, and the cry “Come out of her my people,” is made after the first proclamation has been heard. Here also we have a most decisive testimony that Babylon includes Protestant as well as Catholic churches. It is certain that the people of God at the time of the preaching of the hour of his judgment were in all the popular churches. And this fact is a most striking testimony as to what constitutes the great city of confusion. In a word, Paul has well described the Babylon of the Apocalypse, and the duty of the people of God with reference to it, in 2 Tim. iii, 1-5. “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come; for men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” Who would dare to limit this description to the Catholic church?
The preaching of the hour of God’s judgment, and the immediate coming of the Lord, was at once the test of the church, and the means by which she might have been healed. It was the test of the church in that it showed that her heart was with the world, and not with her Lord. For when the evidences of his immediate Advent were set before her, she rejected the tidings with scorn, and cleaved still closer unto the world. But it might have been the means of healing her. Had she received it, what a work would it have wrought for her! Her unscriptural hope of a temporal reign, her false view of the Second Advent, her unrighteous justification of oppression and wickedness, her pride and conformity to the world, would all have been swept away. Alas that this warning from heaven was rejected! To use the language of the parable, [Luke xiv,] none that in their heart rejected that first call to the marriage supper shall ever appear as guests at that table. The last means that heaven had in store to heal Babylon having failed, God gave her up to her own heart’s desire.
It is well known that in immediate connection with the proclamation of the hour of God’s judgment, the announcement of the fall of Babylon was everywhere made throughout our land. Its connection with the Advent message is well expressed by the following from Elder Himes, dated McConnellsville, O., Aug. 29, 1844.
“When we commenced the work of giving the ‘Midnight cry’ with Bro. Miller in 1840, he had been lecturing nine years. During that time he stood almost alone. But his labors had been incessant and effectual in awakening professors of religion to the true hope of God’s people, and the necessary preparation for the Advent of the Lord: as also the awakening of all classes of the unconverted to a sense of their lost condition, and the duty of immediate repentance and conversion to God as a preparation to meet the Bridegroom in peace at his coming.
These were the great objects of his labor. He made no attempt to convert men to a sect, or party, in religion. Hence he labored among all parties and sects, without interfering with their organization or discipline: believing that the members of the different communions could retain their standing, and at the same time prepare for the Advent of their King, and labor for the salvation of men in these relations until the consummation of their hope. When we were persuaded of the truth of the Advent at hand, and embraced the doctrine publicly, we entertained the same views and pursued the same course among the different sects, where we were called in the providence of God to labor. We told the ministers and churches that it was no part of our business to break them up, or to divide and to distract them. We had one distinct object, and that was to give the ‘cry,’ the warning of the ‘judgment at the door,’ and to persuade our fellow men to get ready for the event. Most of the ministers and churches that opened their doors to us, and our brethren who were proclaiming the Advent doctrine, co-operated with us till the last year. The ministry and membership who availed themselves of our labors, but had not sincerely embraced the doctrine, saw that they must either go with the doctrine, and preach and maintain it, or in the crisis which was right upon them they would have difficulty with the decided and determined believers. They therefore decided against the doctrine, and determined, some by one policy and some by another, to suppress the subject. This placed our brethren and sisters among them in a most trying position. Most of them loved their churches and could not think of leaving. But when they were ridiculed, oppressed, and in various ways cut off from their former privileges and enjoyments, and when the ‘meat in due season’ was with-held from them, and the syren song of ‘peace and safety’ was resounded in their ears from Sabbath to Sabbath, they were soon weaned from their party predilections, and arose in the majesty of their strength, shook off the yoke, and raised the cry, ‘Come out of her, my people.’ This state of things placed us in a trying position. 1. Because we were near the end of our prophetic time, in which we expected the Lord would gather all his people in one. 2. We had always preached a different doctrine, and now that the circumstances had changed, it would be regarded as dishonest in us, if we should unite in the cry of separation and breaking up of churches that had received us and our message. We therefore hesitated, and continued to act on our first position until the church and ministry carried the matter so far, that we were obliged in the fear of God to take a position in defense of the truth, and the down-trodden children of God.
Apostolic example for our course. ‘And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months concerning the kingdom of God. But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude; he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.’ Acts xix, 8, 9. It was not until divers were hardened, and spoke evil of that way (the Lord’s coming) before the multitude, that the brethren were moved to come out, and separate from the churches. They could not endure this ‘evil speaking’ of the ‘evil servants.’ And the churches that could pursue the course of opposition and ‘evil speaking’ towards those who were looking for the ‘blessed hope,’ were to them none other than the daughters of the mystic Babylon. They so proclaimed them and came into the liberty of the gospel. And though we may not be all agreed as to what constitutes Babylon, we are agreed in the instant and final separation from all who oppose the coming and kingdom of God at hand. We believe it to be a case of life and death. It is death to remain connected with those bodies that speak lightly of, or oppose the coming of, the Lord. It is life to come out of all human tradition, and stand upon the word of God and look daily for the appearance of the Lord. We therefore now say to all who are in any way entangled in the yoke of bondage, ‘Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.’ 2 Cor. vi, 17, 18.”-Advent Herald.
The testimonies of the churches themselves, given in 1844, are sufficient to establish the fact of their fall. The Congregational Journal says:
“At a recent meeting of the Presbytery of Philadelphia, Rev. Mr. Barnes, pastor of the 1st Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, whose notes are so extensively used in our families and Sabbath-schools, stated that he had been in the ministry for twenty years, and never till the last communion had he administered the ordinance without receiving more or less to the church. But now there are no awakenings, no conversions, not much apparent growth in grace in professors, and none come to his study to converse about the salvation of their souls. With the increase of business, and the brightening prospects of commerce and manufactures, there is an increase of worldly-mindedness. Thus it is with all denominations.”
The Christian Palladium for May 15th, 1844, speaks in the following mournful strains:-“In every direction we hear the dolorous sound, wafting upon every breeze of heaven, chilling as the blasts from the ice-bergs of the north-settling like an incubus on the breasts of the timid, and drinking up the energies of the weak; that lukewarmness, division, anarchy and desolation are distressing the borders of Zion. Perhaps it is so. What then? Do we well, like the howling women of ancient days, to rend our flesh-our hair, and fill the whole atmosphere with our wailings? It is but a few passing months since the whole extent of our wide spread country, rang with triumphant peals of joy borne upon the wings of numerous religious periodicals, and spontaneously overflowing from every Christian heart. Not a lip but was shouting the victories of the cross, or joining in the triumphant songs of the redeemed. And is the whole scene now so changed?”
“Great Spiritual Dearth.-It is a lamentable fact, from which we cannot shut our eyes, that the churches of this country are now suffering severely on account of the great dearth, almost universally complained of. We have never witnessed such a general declension of religion as at the present. Truly the church should awake and search into the cause of this affliction; for an affliction every one that loves Zion must view it. When we call to mind how ‘few and far between,’ cases of true conversion are, and the almost unparalleled impertinence and hardness of sinners, we almost involuntarily exclaim, ‘Has God forgotten to be gracious? Or, is the door of mercy closed?”
“Look again, and behold the spirit of the world, how it prevails in the church. Where is the pious man who has not been made to sigh on account of these abominations in the midst of us? Who is that man in the political crowd whose voice is heard above the rest, and who is foremost in carrying torch-lights, bellowing at the top of his voice? O, he is a Christian? perhaps a class-leader or exhorter. Who is that lady dressed in the most ridiculous fashion, as if nature had deformed her? O, she is a follower and imitator of the humble Jesus! O, shame! where is thy blush? This is no uncommon picture, I assure you. Would to God it was. My heart is pained within me while I write.”-Circleville, Ohio. Religious Telescope, 1844.
About that time proclamations of fasts and seasons of prayer for the return of the Holy Spirit were sent out in the religious papers. Even the Philadelphia Sun of Nov. 11th, 1844, has the following: “The undersigned ministers and members of various denominations in Philadelphia and vicinity solemnly believing that the present Signs of the Times-the spiritual dearth in our Churches generally, and the extreme evils in the world around us, seem to call loudly on all Christians for a special season of prayer, do therefore hereby agree, by divine permission to unite in a week of special prayer to Almighty God, for the outpouring of his Holy Spirit on our City, our Country, and the world. . . . Any who cannot devote the whole week as above proposed, are requested to devote as much of the week as may be convenient.
Thomas H. Stockton, and 30 others.”
Bishop Soule says:-“There has been a decrease of 35,732 members in the Methodist church during the past year. [1845.] The preceding year, [1844,] there was an increase of 1 ,000.” Northern Christian Advocate says: “In 1845 there was a decrease in the Black River, Oneida and Genesee conferences of 8 7.”
The Baptist Almanac, for 1846, reports a decrease of 4702 of that denomination in the State of New York. Other facts might be given from the statistics of all denominations equally gloomy.
Prof. Finney, Editor of the Oberlin Evangelist, Feb. 1844, says: “We have had the fact before our minds, that in general, the Protestant churches of our country, as such, were either apathetic or hostile to nearly all the moral reforms of the age. There are partial exceptions, yet not enough to render the fact otherwise than general. We have also another corroborated fact: the almost universal absence of revival influence in the churches. The spiritual apathy is almost all-pervading, and is fearfully deep; so the religious press of the whole land testifies. It comes to our ears and to our eyes, also through the comes to our ears and to our eyes, also through the religious prints, that very extensively church members are becoming devotees of fashion-join hands with the ungodly in parties of pleasure, in dancing, in festivities, etc. . . . But we need not expand this painful subject. Suffice it that the evidence thickens and rolls heavily upon us, to show that the churches generally are becoming sadly degenerate. They have gone very far from the Lord and he has withdrawn himself from them.”
How unlike what God designed that his people should be, has this great city become! The church of Christ was to be the light of the world, a city set upon a hill which could not be hid. Matt. v, 14-16. But instead of this, his professed people have united with the kingdoms of this world, and joined affinity with them. They are now established upon the decrees of kings, and the laws of the nations, rather than upon the word of God, the only true foundation of the church. Thus has the wisdom of men taken the place of the power of God. The unlawful connection of the professed church with the wicked world [James iv, 4] has resulted in her rejection by God; for how can the God of truth and holiness recognize as his people, those who in addition to their departure from their Lord, have rejected with scorn the tidings of his speedy coming?
In Rev. xviii, the message announcing the fall of Babylon is presented again, with additions, showing as we understand, that there is in the future a mighty movement to take place on this subject. We have no doubt that God has many dear saints united with the various bodies of professed Christians. Those we believe will yet hear the call given in Rev. xviii, 4. There is however one important fact which demonstrates that it was the Providence of God which caused the proclamation of the first and second angels’ messages within a few years past. Rev. xiv, 6-8. Chap. xviii, in presenting again the message respecting the fall of Babylon, informs us that she has become the hold of foul spirits, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. As a demonstration that we are correct in regard to the application of Rev. xiv, let the present movement respecting the spirits of the dead, answer. An innumerable host of demons are spreading themselves over the whole country, flooding the churches and religious bodies of the land to a very great extent. The immortality of the soul, a doctrine which is held by almost every church in the world, is the basis and foundation of all their work. This extraordinary movement clearly evinces the rapid approach of the hour of temptation, that shall come on all the world to try them that dwell on the earth.
It is an interesting fact that the judgment on the great harlot, which is so fully described in Rev. xviii, is shown to John by one of the seven angels having the seven vials filled with the wrath of God. Rev. xvii, 1. From Chap. xvi, 17-21, we learn that the judgment on the harlot Babylon is inflicted by the angel having the seventh vial. Hence we may justly conclude that the angel, who shows John the judgment of Babylon, is that one of the seven who has her judgment to inflict. In other words, it is the angel who has the seventh vial. It is agreed on all hands that the seventh angel of Rev. xvi, is yet future. It follows therefore that Rev. xviii, which describes the judgment on Babylon, and gives the call to come out of her, belongs to the future. It is manifest that Babylon is rapidly becoming the hold of foul spirits, and of unclean and hateful birds. The call to come out of her is made while her plagues are immediately impending.
The destruction of Babylon, as described in Rev. xviii, takes place under the seventh vial. For it is under that vial that she comes in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. Rev. xvi, 17-21. The people of God are called out of her, just before the seven last plagues are poured out. Those plagues are future, as we shall hereafter prove. Hence it is certain that Rev. xviii cannot be applied to the events of the 16th century. It is manifest that the destruction of Babylon begins before the great battle takes place; for the kings are spared to witness her destruction; [Rev. xviii;] but in the great battle they are all destroyed. Rev. xix. While the saints eat the marriage supper, they behold the smoke of her burning, and in response to the call of Rev. xviii, 20, they rejoice over her. Rev. xix, 1-9.
Babylon is to be thrown down with violence as a millstone is cast into the great deep, and she is to be utterly burned with fire. If this utter destruction were her “fall,” there would be no need of the second angel’s proclamation to announce the fact, for her destruction is to be witnessed by the kings and merchants, and by every ship-master, and by all the company in ships, and sailors, and by as many as trade by sea. This is conclusive proof that the fall and the destruction of Babylon are not the same, and that Babylon itself is not a literal city; for its destruction causes results that the destruction of no city on the globe could cause. It is evident from what has been said, that the destruction of Babylon takes place in immediate connection with the Second Advent. This fact is of itself a sufficient refutation of the view that locates the call, “Come out of her my people,” in the future age. For Babylon is destroyed at the very commencement of that age.
The duty of the people of God is plainly expressed, “Come out of her my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” Her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. She has united herself to the kings of the earth, and confided in the arm of flesh, and not in Jehovah of hosts. For the sake of this protection, she has smoothed down the terrible threatenings of God’s word against sin, and she has thrown the mantle of religion over some of the basest of human crimes. As an instance, we will cite the fugitive slave law, which has the sanction of the leading doctors of divinity, with some honorable exceptions. Pride, love of the world, and departure from God, too plainly identify the Babylon of the Apocalypse with St. Paul’s description of the popular church of the last days. 2 Tim. iii, 1-5. “From such,” says the Apostle, “turn away.” If we would not partake of her sins, and thus share in the plagues that are about to be poured out upon her, we must heed the voice from heaven, “Come out of her my people.”
The Three Angels of Revelation 14 – Page 52-68
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