E. L. Bevir.

Christian Friend vol. 15, 1888, p. 106.

Much has been said about Babylon, and the subject fully treated. A few practical remarks as to her present state may however be not altogether useless.

It may be well to go back to the book of Joshua for an illustration of the capital of the world becoming vanquished; but in the illustration we shall find that God's commands were carried out fully, whilst in the application they were neglected. In Joshua 11 we find the taking of Hazor, which was the head of all the kingdoms of Canaan, and the utter destruction of the whole city by fire. It has been well said that the church (and we are speaking of the church here as the outward professing body upon earth" the professing church," as people say) made its greatest mistake in taking possession of pagan Rome, and in appropriating, instead of destroying or refusing, the riches of the great "head of all those kingdoms," and in embellishing herself and her pontiff with imperial gold and purple.

This is what has formed Babylon  -  that is, the appropriation of the world's glory to the so‑called church - and as we see her in her actual state, we may well wonder with great amazement as we trace the transformation of "the church" from the day of Pentecost up to the present time. The change was not effected in one day, any more than pagan Rome was built in one day; but the change was made, and if we compare things present with things past, we shall perceive it with striking clearness. To go no further than the first meeting‑place of the assembly as contrasted with the so‑called central temple of Christendom, we shall find, on the one hand, a company thoroughly unworldly, formed by the Holy Ghost, looking up, from a simple upper‑room, to the risen Christ in heaven, having nothing upon earth but the opposition of men; and, on the other hand, the finest architecture, the glory of the world, the triple crown, the sculptured throne, and a large dove to represent the Holy Ghost in world‑renowned stained glass.*

*In St. Peter's the great eastern window represents thus the Holy Spirit in a picture - a poor substitute for the original, who is not to be found there at all,

Everything then has been changed and reduced to material form - the glory of the world is there, the glory of the humble Christ not known. Living reality has given place to cold sculpture, the blessed Spirit of God ignored. One language, but it is that of the Roman earth, the language of the Latin world - not understood by the poor souls that use it. And then behind the malachite and the marble, the cornices and the painting, death itself is seen to lurk by those who have eyes to see, and the enemy of our souls detected as the prime mover in an arch‑imposture. It was once well said, that the presence of Jesus as the rejected Saviour in the midst of all these things would expose at once the whole system.

It will be thought by many that this is an exaggerated picture. Let such compare Acts 1 with Revelation 17 and 18, and it will be admitted that the comparison that has gone no further than two localities (the meeting‑room at Jerusalem and the great Roman temple) is just and right. Babylon is become the habitation of devils, the hold of every unclean spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.

But why speak of these things? Because the danger of falling into the depths of the deceit of Babylon is imminent for thousands of souls in England. We were speaking, some little time ago, of the evil of a sacramental system taking the place of perfect redemption in Christ. This is one of the effects of the blinding teaching of Babylon, and is pleasing to men who will never believe that that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and who willingly receive the teaching of sanctifying it in this way, though the flesh can never be sanctified. What we now wish to point out. is the utterly false position taken by the church as being queen of the world, and reigning, not by the power of the Holy Ghost, but by human power and wisdom, sustained by false teaching from the enemy.

Some few distinguishing marks of Babylon may be noticed; and in speaking of this, may God preserve all true believers from falling into her snares.

She is addicted to bright colours - purple, scarlet, and gold; that is, she has all the world's glory, and at the present time is making many efforts to attract souls by a display of such treasures. People seem never to tire of speaking of the good the church is doing with her resources and influence in the world. There has been, they say, quite an aesthetic revival during the last fifty years.

She talks much of the Lord Jesus, but in a carnal way, and as the Son of Mary. The Lord in the message to Thyatira in Rev. 2 presents Himself as Son of God. An impression may doubtless be made on the feelings in a "dim religious light" by such a hymn as "Jesus, Son of Mary, hear!" and by similar invocations; but all this leads away the soul from the true knowledge of the blessed Jesus, dead and risen, not known according to the flesh. (See 2 Cor. 5:16.)

She will try to persecute and silence those who preach a simple, pure gospel that shows the ruin of man and the perfect work of the Lord Jesus Christ. She will insist that she alone has a right to dispense blessings, and that salvation is obtained through partaking of sacraments. She will speak of mysteries, having herself obscured and mystified what was blessedly plain and clear.

She will not recognise the mediation of Christ. "There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." The Lord Jesus has brought the believer to God in such a manner by His work, that he has perfect liberty in His presence, and knows that Jesus ever represents him in that presence. But we have, in the system we are speaking of, the priest taking the place of mediator, and coming between the conscience and God. Babylon's pontiff, with all his prestige and grandeur, is from the beginning an imposture; for the word of God shows us clearly that there is no priesthood of this kind now upon earth in Christianity (see Hebrews 7 and 8), and our blessed Lord Himself only became a priest after He was risen and ascended, having fully accomplished His work and purified our souls for ever. Babylon utterly ignores the priesthood of Christ, and has set up a worldly sanctuary of her own, forbidding true access to God.

Many more marks might be noticed, but we will leave these few preceding ones to the prayerful consideration of all readers; and should any be tempted to follow the attractions of Babylon, we pray the Lord in His mercy to open their eyes, that they may understand the full, perfect value of His work and His present care for His scattered sheep; and thus knowing Him, they may be proof against the wiles of Babylon. "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." E. L. B.