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The Two Babylons
By Alexander Hislop
Priests, Monks, and Nuns
If the head be corrupt, so also must be the members. If the Pope be essentially Pagan, what else can be the character of his clergy? If they derive their orders from a radically corrupted source, these orders must partake of the corruption of the source from which they flow. This might be inferred independently of any special evidence; but the evidence in regard to the Pagan character of the Pope's clergy is as complete as that in regard to the Pope himself. In whatever light the subject is viewed, this will be very apparent.
There is a direct contrast between the character of the ministers of Christ, and that of the Papal priesthood. When Christ commissioned His servants, it was "to feed His sheep, to feed His lambs," and that with the Word of God, which testifies of Himself, and contains the words of eternal life. When the Pope ordains his clergy, he takes them bound to prohibit, except in special circumstances, the reading of the Word of God "in the vulgar tongue," that is, in a language which the people can understand. He gives them, indeed, a commission; and what is it? It is couched in these astounding words: "Receive the power of sacrificing for the living and the dead." What blasphemy could be worse than this? What more derogatory to the one sacrifice of Christ, whereby "He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified"? (Heb 10:14) This is the real distinguishing function of the popish priesthood. At the remembrance that this power, in these very words, had been conferred on him, when ordained to the priesthood, Luther used, in after years, with a shudder, to express his astonishment that "the earth had not opened its mouth and swallowed up both him who uttered these words, and him to whom they were addressed." The sacrifice which the papal priesthood are empowered to offer, as a "true propitiatory sacrifice" for the sins of the living and the dead, is just the "unbloody sacrifice" of the mass, which was offered up in Babylon long before it was ever heard of in Rome.
Now, while Semiramis, the real original of the Chaldean Queen of Heaven, to whom the "unbloody sacrifice" of the mass was first offered, was in her own person, as we have already seen, the very paragon of impurity, she at the same time affected the greatest favour for that kind of sanctity which looks down with contempt on God's holy ordinance of marriage. The Mysteries over which she presided were scenes of the rankest pollution; and yet the higher orders of the priesthood were bound to a life of celibacy, as a life of peculiar and pre-eminent holiness. Strange though it may seem, yet the voice of antiquity assigns to that abandoned queen the invention of clerical celibacy, and that in the most stringent form. In some countries, as in Egypt, human nature asserted its rights, and though the general system of Babylon was retained, the yoke of celibacy was abolished, and the priesthood were permitted to marry. But every scholar knows that when the worship of Cybele, the Babylonian goddess, was introduced into Pagan Rome, it was introduced in its primitive form, with its celibate clergy. When the Pope appropriated to himself so much that was peculiar to the worship of that goddess, from the very same source, also, he introduced into the priesthood under his authority the binding obligation of celibacy. The introduction of such a principle into the Christian Church had been distinctly predicted as one grand mark of the apostacy, when men should "depart from the faith, and speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their consciences seared with a hot iron, should forbid to marry." The effects of its introduction were most disastrous. The records of all nations where priestly celibacy has been introduced have proved that, instead of ministering to the purity of those condemned to it, it has only plunged them in the deepest pollution. The history of Tibet, and China, and Japan, where the Babylonian institute of priestly celibacy has prevailed from time immemorial, bears testimony to the abominations that have flowed from it. The excesses committed by the celibate priests of Bacchus in Pagan Rome in their secret Mysteries, were such that the Senate felt called upon to expel them from the bounds of the Roman republic. In Papal Rome the same abominations have flowed from priestly celibacy, in connection with the corrupt and corrupting system of the confessional, insomuch that all men who have examined the subject have been compelled to admire the amazing significance of the name divinely bestowed on it, both in a literal and figurative sense, "Babylon the Great, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH."*
* Revelation 17:5. The Rev. M. H. Seymour shows that in 1836 the whole number of births in Rome was 4373, while of these no fewer than 3160 were foundlings! What enormous profligacy does this reveal!--"Moral Results of the Romish System," in Evenings with Romanists.
Out of a thousand facts of a similar kind, let one only be adduced, vouched for by the distinguished Roman Catholic historian De Thou. When Pope Paul V meditated the suppression of the licensed brothels in the "Holy City," the Roman Senate petitioned against his carrying his design into effect, on the ground that the existence of such places was the only means of hindering the priests from seducing their wives and daughters (and sons)!!
These celibate priests have all a certain mark set upon them at their ordination; and that is the clerical tonsure. The tonsure is the first part of the ceremony of ordination; and it is held to be a most important element in connection with the orders of the Romish clergy. When, after long contendings, the Picts were at last brought to submit to the Bishop of Rome, the acceptance of this tonsure as the tonsure of St. Peter on the part of the clergy was the visible symbol of that submission. Naitan, the Pictish king, having assembled the nobles of his court and the pastors of his church, thus addressed them: "I recommend all the clergy of my kingdom to receive the tonsure." Then, without delay, as Bede informs us, this important revolution was accomplished by royal authority. He sent agents into every province, and caused all the ministers and monks to receive the circular tonsure, according to the Roman fashion, and thus to submit to Peter, "the most blessed Prince of the apostles." "It was the mark," says Merle D'Aubigne, "that Popes stamped not on the forehead, but on the crown. A royal proclamation, and a few clips of the scissors, placed the Scotch, like a flock of sheep, beneath the crook of the shepherd of the Tiber." Now, as Rome set so much importance on this tonsure, let it be asked what was the meaning of it? It was the visible inauguration of those who submitted to it as the priests of Bacchus. This tonsure cannot have the slightest pretense to Christian authority. It was indeed the "tonsure of Peter," but not of the Peter of Galilee, but of the Chaldean "Peter" of the Mysteries. He was a tonsured priest, for so was the god whose Mysteries he revealed. Centuries before the Christian era, thus spoke Herodotus of the Babylonian tonsure: "The Arabians acknowledge no other gods than Bacchus and Urania [i.e., the Queen of Heaven], and they say that their hair was cut in the same manner as Bacchus' is cut; now, they cut it in a circular form, shaving it around the temples." What, then, could have led to this tonsure of Bacchus? Everything in his history was mystically or hieroglyphically represented, and that in such a way as none but the initiated could understand. One of the things that occupied the most important place in the Mysteries was the mutilation to which he was subjected when he was put to death. In memory of that, he was lamented with bitter weeping every year, as "Rosh-Gheza," "the mutilated Prince." But "Rosh-Gheza" also signified the "clipped or shaved head." Therefore he was himself represented either with the one or the other form of tonsure; and his priests, for the same reason, at their ordination had their heads either clipped or shaven. Over all the world, where the traces of the Chaldean system are found, this tonsure or shaving of the head is always found along with it. The priests of Osiris, the Egyptian Bacchus, were always distinguished by the shaving of their heads. In Pagan Rome, in India, and even in China, the distinguishing mark of the Babylonian priesthood was the shaven head. Thus Gautama Buddha, who lived at least 540 years before Christ, when setting up the sect of Buddhism in India which spread to the remotest regions of the East, first shaved his own head, in obedience, as he pretended, to a Divine command, and then set to work to get others to imitate his example. One of the very titles by which he was called was that of the "Shaved-head." "The shaved-head," says one of the Purans, "that he might perform the orders of Vishnu, formed a number of disciples, and of shaved-heads like himself." The high antiquity of this tonsure may be seen from the enactment in the Mosaic law against it. The Jewish priests were expressly forbidden to make any baldness upon their heads (Lev 21:5), which sufficiently shows that, even so early as the time of Moses, the "shaved-head" had been already introduced. In the Church of Rome the heads of the ordinary priests are only clipped, the heads of the monks or regular clergy are shaven, but both alike, at their consecration, receive the circular tonsure, thereby identifying them, beyond all possibility of doubt, with Bacchus, "the mutilated Prince."*
* It has been already shown that among the Chaldeans the one term "Zero" signified at once "a circle" and "the seed." "Suro," "the seed," in India, as we have seen, was the sun-divinity incarnate. When that seed was represented in human form, to identify him with the sun, he was represented with the circle, the well known emblem of the sun's annual course, on some part of his person. Thus our own god Thor was represented with a blazing circle on his breast. (WILSON'S Parsi Religion) In Persia and Assyria the circle was represented sometimes on the breast, sometimes round the waist, and sometimes in the hand of the sun-divinity. (BRYANT and LAYARD'S Nineveh and Babylon) In India it is represented at the tip of the finger. (MOOR'S Pantheon, "Vishnu") Hence the circle became the emblem of Tammuz born again, or "the seed." The circular tonsure of Bacchus was doubtless intended to point him out as "Zero," or "the seed," the grand deliverer. And the circle of light around the head of the so-called pictures of Christ was evidently just a different form of the very same thing, and borrowed from the very same source. The ceremony of tonsure, says Maurice, referring to the practice of that ceremony in India, "was an old practice of the priests of Mithra, who in their tonsures imitated the solar disk." (Antiquities) As the sun-god was the great lamented god, and had his hair cut in a circular form, and the priests who lamented him had their hair cut in a similar manner, so in different countries those who lamented the dead and cut off their hair in honor of them, cut it in a circular form. There were traces of that in Greece, as appears from the Electra of Sophocles; and Herodotus particularly refers to it as practiced among the Scythians when giving an account of a royal funeral among that people. "The body," says he, "is enclosed in wax. They then place it on a carriage, and remove it to another district, where the persons who receive it, like the Royal Scythians, cut off a part of their ear, shave their heads in a circular form," &c. (Hist.) Now, while the Pope, as the grand representative of the false Messiah, received the circular tonsure himself, so all his priests to identify them with the same system are required to submit to the same circular tonsure, to mark them in their measure and their own sphere as representatives of that same false Messiah.
Now, if the priests of Rome take away the key of knowledge, and lock up the Bible from the people; if they are ordained to offer the Chaldean sacrifice in honor of the Pagan Queen of Heaven; if they are bound by the Chaldean law of celibacy, that plunges them in profligacy; if, in short, they are all marked at their consecration with the distinguishing mark of the priests of the Chaldean Bacchus, what right, what possible right, can they have to be called ministers of Messiah?
But Rome has not only her ordinary secular clergy, as they are called; she has also, as every one knows, other religious orders of a different kind. She has innumerable armies of monks and nuns all engaged in her service. Where can there be shown the least warrant for such an institution in Scripture? In the religion of the Babylonian Messiah their institution was from the earliest times. In that system there were monks and nuns in abundance. In Tibet and Japan, where the Chaldean system was early introduced, monasteries are still to be found, and with the same disastrous results to morals as in Papal Europe. *
* There are some, and Protestants, too, who begin to speak of what they call the benefits of monasteries in rude times, as if they were hurtful only when they fall into "decrepitude and corruption"! Enforced celibacy, which lies at the foundation of the monastic system, is of the very essence of the Apostacy, which is divinely characterised as the "Mystery of Iniquity." Let such Protestants read 1 Timothy 4:1-3, and surely they will never speak more of the abominations of the monasteries as coming only from their "decrepitude"!
In Scandinavia, the priestesses of Freya, who were generally kings' daughters, whose duty it was to watch the sacred fire, and who were bound to perpetual virginity, were just an order of nuns. In Athens there were virgins maintained at the public expense, who were strictly bound to single life. In Pagan Rome, the Vestal virgins, who had the same duty to perform as the priestesses of Freya, occupied a similar position. Even in Peru, during the reign of the Incas, the same system prevailed, and showed so remarkable an analogy, as to indicate that the Vestals of Rome, the nuns of the Papacy, and the Holy Virgins of Peru, must have sprung from a common origin. Thus does Prescott refer to the Peruvian nunneries: "Another singular analogy with Roman Catholic institutions is presented by the virgins of the sun, the elect, as they were called. These were young maidens dedicated to the service of the deity, who at a tender age were taken from their homes, and introduced into convents, where they were placed under the care of certain elderly matrons, mamaconas, * who had grown grey within their walls. It was their duty to watch over the sacred fire obtained at the festival of Raymi. From the moment they entered the establishment they were cut off from all communication with the world, even with their own family and friends...Woe to the unhappy maiden who was detected in an intrigue! by the stern law of the Incas she was to be buried alive."
* Mamacona, "Mother Priestess," is almost pure Hebrew, being derived from Am a "mother," and Cohn, "a priest," only with the feminine termination. Our own Mamma, as well as that of Peru, is just the Hebrew Am reduplicated. It is singular that the usual style and title of the Lady Abbess in Ireland is the "Reverend Mother." The term Nun itself is a Chaldean word. Ninus, the son in Chaldee is either Nin or Non. Now, the feminine of Non, a "son," is Nonna, a "daughter," which is just the Popish canonical name for a "Nun," and Nonnus, in like manner, was in early times the designation for a monk in the East. (GIESELER)
This was precisely the fate of the Roman Vestal who was proved to have violated her vow. Neither in Peru, however, nor in Pagan Rome was the obligation to virginity so stringent as in the Papacy. It was not perpetual, and therefore not so exceedingly demoralising. After a time, the nuns might be delivered from their confinement, and marry; from all hopes of which they are absolutely cut off in the Church of Rome. In all these cases, however, it is plain that the principle on which these institutions were founded was originally the same. "One is astonished," adds Prescott, "to find so close a resemblance between the institutions of the American Indian, the ancient Roman, and the modern Catholic."
Prescott finds it difficult to account for this resemblance; but the one little sentence from the prophet Jeremiah, which was quoted at the commencement of this inquiry, accounts for it completely: "Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord's hand, that hath made ALL THE EARTH drunken" (Jer 51:7). This is the Rosetta stone that has helped already to bring to light so much of the secret iniquity of the Papacy, and that is destined still further to decipher the dark mysteries of every system of heathen mythology that either has been or that is. The statement of this text can be proved to be a literal fact. It can be proved that the idolatry of the whole earth is one, that the sacred language of all nations is radically Chaldean--that the GREAT GODS of every country and clime are called by Babylonian names--and that all the Paganisms of the human race are only a wicked and deliberate, but yet most instructive corruption of the primeval gospel first preached in Eden, and through Noah, afterwards conveyed to all mankind. The system, first concocted in Babylon, and thence conveyed to the ends of the earth, has been modified and diluted in different ages and countries. In Papal Rome only is it now found nearly pure and entire. But yet, amid all the seeming variety of heathenism, there is an astonishing oneness and identity, bearing testimony to the truth of God's Word. The overthrow of all idolatry cannot now be distant. But before the idols of the heathens shall be finally cast to the moles and to the bats, I am persuaded that they will be made to fall down and worship "the Lord the king," to bear testimony to His glorious truth, and with one loud and united acclaim, ascribe salvation, and glory, and honor, and power unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb, for ever and ever.