HITHERTO we have considered the history of the Two Babylons chiefly in detail. Now we are to view them as organised systems, The idolatrous system of the ancient Babylon assumed different phases in different periods of its history. In the prophetic description of the modern Babylon, there is evidently also a development of different powers at different times. Do these two developments bear any typical relation to each other? Yes, they do. When we bring the religious history of the ancient Babylonian Paganism to bear on the prophetic symbols that shadow forth the organised working of idolatry in Rome, it will be found that it casts as much light on this view of the subject as on that which has hitherto engaged our attention. The powers of iniquity at work in the modern Babylon are specifically described in chapters xii. and xiii. of the Revelation; and they are as follows:--I. The Great Red Dragon; II. The Beast that comes up out of the sea; III. The Beast that ascendeth out of the earth; and IV. The Image of the Beast. * In all these respects it will be found, on inquiry, that, in regard to succession and order of development, the Paganism of the Old Testament Babylon was the exact type of the Paganism of the New.
This formidable enemy of the truth is particularly described in Rev. xii. 3: "And there appeared another wonder in heaven, a great red dragon." It is admitted on all hands that this is the first grand enemy that in Gospel times assaulted the Christian Church. If the terms in which it is described, and the deeds attributed to it, are considered, it will be found that there is a great analogy between it and the first enemy of all, that appeared against the ancient Church of God soon after the Flood. The term dragon, according to the associations currently connected with it, is somewhat apt to mislead the reader by recalling to his mind the fabulous dragons of the Dark Ages, equipped with wings. At the time this Divine description was given, the term dragon had no such meaning among either profane or sacred writers. "The dragon of the Greeks," says Pausanias, "was only a large snake;" * and the context shows that this is the very case here; for what in the third verse is called a "dragon," in the fourteenth is simply described as a "serpent." Then the word rendered "Red" properly means "Fiery"; so that the "Red Dragon" signifies the "Fiery Serpent" or "Serpent of Fire." Exactly so does it appear to have been in the first form of idolatry, that, under the patronage of Nimrod, appeared in the ancient world. The "Serpent of Fire" in the plains of Shinar seems to have been the grand object of worship. There is the strongest evidence that apostacy among the sons of Noah began in fire-worship, and that in connection with the symbol of the serpent.
We have seen already, on different occasions, that fire was worshipped as the enlightener and the purifier. Now, it was thus at the very beginning; for Nimrod is singled out by the voice of antiquity as commencing this fire-worship. * The identity of Nimrod and Ninus has already been proved; and under the name of Ninus, also, he is represented as originating the same practice. In a fragment of Apollodorus it is said that "Ninus taught the Assyrians to worship fire." * The sun, as the great source of light and heat, was worshipped under the name of Baal. Now, the fact that the sun, under that name, was worshipped in the earliest ages of the world, shows the audacious character of these first beginnings of apostacy. Men have spoken as if the worship of the sun and of the heavenly bodies was a very excusable thing, into which the human race might very readily and very innocently fall. But how stands the fact? According to the primitive language of mankind, the sun was called "Shemesh"--that is, "the Servant"--that name, no doubt, being divinely given, to keep the world in mind of the great truth that, however glorious was the orb of day, it was, after all, the appointed Minister of the bounty of the great unseen Creator to His creatures upon earth. Men knew this, and yet with the full knowledge of it, they put the servant in the place of the Master; and called the sun Baal--that is, the Lord--and worshipped him accordingly. What a meaning, then, in the saying of Paul, that, "when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God;" but "changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the creator, who is God over all, blessed for ever." The beginning, then, of sun-worship, and of the worship of the host of heaven, was a sin against the light--a presumptuous, heaven-daring sin. As the sun in the heavens was the great object of worship, so fire was worshipped as its earthly representative. To this primeval fire-worship Vitruvius alludes when he says that "men were first formed into sates and communities by meeting around fires." *
And this is exactly in conformity with what we have already seen(p. 117) in regard to Phoroneus, whom we have identified with Nimrod, that while he was said to be the "inventor of fire," he was also regarded as the first that "gathered mankind into communities."
Along with the sun, as the great fire-god, and, in due time, identified with him, was the serpent worshipped. * "In the mythology of the primitive world," says Owen, "the serpent is universally the symbol of the sun." * In Egypt, one of the commonest symbols of the sun, or sun-god, is a disc wit a serpent around it. * The original reason of that identification seems just to have been that, as the sun was the great enlightener of the physical world, so the serpent was held to have been the great enlightener of the spiritual, by giving mankind the "knowledge of good and evil." This, of course, implies tremendous depravity on the part of the ringleaders in such a system, considering the period when it began; but such appears to have been the real meaning of the identification. At all events, we have evidence, both Scriptural and profane, for the fact, that the worship of the serpent began side by side with the worship of fire and the sun. The inspired statement of Paul seems decisive on the subject. It was, he says, "when men knew God, but glorified Him not as God," that they changed the glory of God, not only into an image made like to corruptible man, but into the likeness of "creeping things"--that is, of serpents (Rom. i. 23). With this profane history exactly coincides. Of profane writers, Sanchuniathon, the Phoenician, who is believed to have lived about the time of Joshua, says--"Thoth first attributed something of the divine nature to the serpent and the serpent tribe, in which he was followed by the Phoenicians and Egyptians. For this animal was esteemed by him to be the most spiritual of all the reptiles, and of a FIERY nature, inasmuch as it exhibits an incredible celerity, moving by its spirit, without either hands or feet.....Moreover, it is long-lived, and has the quality of RENEWING ITS YOUTH....as Thoth has laid down in the sacred books; upon which accounts this animal is introduced in the sacred rites and Mysteries." *
Now, Thoth, it will be remembered, was the counsellor of Thamus, that is, Nimrod. * From this statement, then, we are led to the conclusion that serpent-worship was a part of the primeval apostacy of Nimrod. The "FIERY NATURE" of the serpent, alluded to in the above extract, is continually celebrated by the heathen poets. Thus Virgil, "availing himself," as the author of Pompeii remarks, "of the divine nature attributed to serpents," * describes the sacred serpent that came from the tomb of Anchises, when his son AEneas had been sacrificing before it, in such terms as illustrate at once the language of the Phoenician, and the "Fiery Serpent" of the passage before us:--
"Scarce had he finished, when, with speckled pride,
A serpent from the tomb began to glide;
His hugy bulk on seen high volumes rolled,
Blue was his breadth of back, but streaked with scaly gold.
Thus, riding on his curls, he seemed to pass
A rolling fire along, and single the grass." *
It is not wonderful, then, that fire-worship and serpent-worship should be conjoined. The serpent, also, as "renewing its youth every year, "was plausibly represented to those who wished an excuse for idolatry as a meet emblem of the sun, the great regenerator, who every year regenerates and renews the face of nature, and who, when deified, was worshipped and the grand Regenerator of the souls of men.
In the chapter under consideration, the "great fiery serpent" is represented with all the emblems of royalty. All its heads are encircled with "crowns or diadems;" and so in Egypt, the serpent of fire, or serpent of the sun, in Greek was called the Basilisk, that is, the "royal serpent," to identify it with Moloch, which name, while it recalls the ideas both of fire and blood, properly signifies "the King." The Basilisk was always, among the Egyptians, and among many nations besides, regarded as "the very type of majesty and dominion." * As such, its image was worn affixed to the headdress of the Egyptian monarchs; and it was not lawful for any one else to wear it. * The sun identified with this serpent was called "P'ouro," * which signifies at once "the Fire" and "the King," and from this very name the epithet "Purros," the "Fiery," is given to the "Great seven-crowned serpent" of our text. *
Thus was the Sun, the Great-Fire-god, identified with the Serpent. But he had also a human representative, and that was Tammuz, for whom the daughters of Israel lamented, in other words Nimrod. We have already seen the identity of Nimrod and Zoroaster. Now, Zoroaster was not only the head of the Chaldean Mysteries, but, as all admit, the head of the fire-worshippers. * The title given to Nimrod, as the first of the Babylonian kings, by Berosus, indicates the same thing. That title is Alorus, * that is, "the god of fire." * As Nimrod, "the god of fire," was Molk-Gheber, or, "the Mighty king," inasmuch as he was the first who was called Moloch, or King, and the first who began to be "mighty" (Gheber) on the earth, we see at once how it was that the "passing through the fire to Moloch" originated, and how the god of fire among the Romans came to be called "Mulkiber." * It was only after his death, however, that he appears to have been deified. Then, retrospectively, he was worshipped as the child of the Sun, or the Sun incarnate. In his own life-time, however, he set up no higher pretensions than that of being Bol-Khan, or Priest of Baal, from which the other name of the Roman fire-god Vulcan is evidently derived. * Everything in the history of Vulcan exactly agrees with that of Nimrod. Vulcan was "the most ugly and deformed" of all the gods. * Nimrod, over all the world, is represented with the features and complexion of a negro. Though Vulcan was so ugly, that when he sought a wife, "all the beautiful goddesses rejected him with horror;" yet "Destiny, the irrevocable, interposed, and pronounced the decree, by which [Venus] the most beautiful of the goddesses, was united to the most unsightly of the gods." * So, in spite of the black and Cushite features of Nimrod, he had for his queen Semiramis, the most beautiful of women. The wife of Vulcan was noted for her infidelities and licentiousness; the wife of Nimrod was the very same. * Vulcan was the head and chief of the Cyclops, that is, "the kings of flame." * Nimrod was the head of the fire-worshipers. Vulcan was the forger of the thunderbolts by which such havoc was made among the enemies of the gods. Ninus, or Nimrod, in his wars with the king of Bactria, seems to have carried on the conflict in a similar way. From Arnobius we learn, that when the Assyrians under Ninus made war against the Bactrians, the warfare was waged not only by the sword and bodily strength, but by magic and by means derived from the secret instructions of the Chaldeans. * When it is known that the historical Cyclops are, by the historian Castor, traced up tot he very time of Saturn or Belus, the first king of Babylon, * and when we learn that Jupiter (who was worshipped in the very same character as Ninus, "the child"), * when fighting against the Titans, "received from the Cyclops aid" by means of "dazzling lightnings and thunders," we may have some pretty clear idea of the magic arts derived from the Chaldean Mysteries, which Ninus employed against the Bactrian king. There is evidence that, down to a late period, the priests of the Chaldean Mysteries knew the composition of the formidable Greek fire, which burned under water, and the secret of which has been lost; * and there can be little doubt that Nimrod, in erecting his power, availed himself of such or similar scientific secrets, which he and his associates alone possessed.
In these, and other respects yet to be noticed, there is an exact coincidence between Vulcan, the god of fire of the Romans, and Nimrod, the fire-god of Babylon. In the case of the classic Vulcan, it is only in his character of the fire-god as a physical agent that he is popularly represented. But it was in his spiritual aspects, in cleansing and regenerating the souls of men, that the fire-worship told most effectually on the world. The power, the popularity, and skill of Nimrod, as well as the seductive nature of the system itself, enabled him to spread the delusive doctrine far and wide, and he was represented under the well-known name of Phaethon, * as on the point of "setting the whole world on fire," or (without the poetical metaphor) of involving all mankind in the guild of fire-worship. The extraordinary prevalence of the worship of the fire-god in the early ages of the world, is proved by legends found over all the earth, and by facts in almost every clime. Thus, in Mexico, the natives relate, that in primeval times, just after the first age, the world was burnt up with fire. * As their history, like the Egyptian, was written in Hieroglyphics, it is plain that this must be symbolically understood. In India, they have a legend to the very same effect, though somewhat varied in its form. The Brahmins say that, in a very remote period of the past, one of the gods shone with such insufferable splendour, "inflicting distress on the universe by his effulgent beams, brighter than a thousand worlds," * that, unless another more potent god had interposed and cut off his head, the result would have been most disastrous. In the Druidic Triads of the old British Bards, there is distinct reference to the same event. They say that in primeval times a "tempest of fire arose, which split the earth asunder to the great deep," from which none escaped buy "the select company shut up together in the enclosure with the strong door," with the great "patriarch distinguished for his integrity," * that is evidently with Shem, the leader of the faithful--who preserved their "integrity" when so many made shipwreck of faith and a good conscience. These stories all point to one and the same period, and they show how powerful had been this form of apostacy. The Papal purgatory and the fires of St. John's Eve, which we have already considered, and many other fables or practices still extant, are just so many relics of the same ancient superstition.
It will be observed, however, that the Great Red Dragon, or Great Fiery Serpent, is represented as standing before the Woman with the crown of twelve stars, that is, the true Church of God, "To devour her child as soon as it should be born." Now, this is an exact accordance with the character of the Great Head of the system of fire-worship. Nimrod, as the representative of the devouring fire to which human victims, and especially children, were offered in sacrifice, was regarded as the great child-devourer. Though, at his first deification, he was set up himself as Ninus, or the child, yet, as the first of mankind that was deified, he was, of course, the actual father of all the Babylonian gods; and, therefore, in that character he was afterwards universally regarded. * As the Father of the gods, he was, as we have seen, called Kronos; and every one knows that the classical story of Kronos was just this, that, "he devoured his sons as soon as they were born." * Such is the analogy between type and antitype. This legend has a further and deeper meaning; but, as applied to Nimrod, or "The Horned One," * it just refers to the fact, that, as the representative of Moloch or Baal, infants were the most acceptable offerings at his altar. We have ample and melancholy evidence on this subject from the records of antiquity. "The Phenicians," says Eusebius, "every year sacrificed their beloved and only-begotten children to Kronos or Saturn, * and the Rhodians also often did the same." Diodorus Siculus states that the Carthaginians, on one occasion, when besieged by the Sicilians, and sore pressed, in order to rectify, as they supposed, their error in having somewhat departed from the ancient custom of Carthage, in this respect, hastily "chose out two hundred of the noblest of their children, and publicly sacrificed them" to this god. * There is reason to believe that the same practice obtained in our own land in the times of the Druids. We know that they offered human sacrifices to their bloody gods. We have evidence that they made "their children pass through the fire to Moloch," and that makes it highly probable that they also offered them in sacrifice; for, from Jeremiah xxxii. 35, compared with Jeremiah xix. 5, we find that these two things were parts of one and the same system. The god whom the Druids worshipped was Baal, as the blazing Baal-fires show, and the last-cited passage proves that children were offered in sacrifice to Baal. When "the fruit of the body" was thus offered, it was "for the sin of the soul." And it was a principle of the Mosaic law, a principle no doubt derived from the patriarchal faith, that the priest must partake of whatever was offered as a sin-offering (Numbers xviii. 9, 10). Hence, the priests of Nimrod or Baal were necessarily required to eat of the human sacrifices; and thus it has come to pass that "Cahna-Bal," * the "Priest of Baal," is the established word in our own tongue for a devourer of human flesh. *
Now, the ancient traditions relate that the apostates who joined in the rebellion of Nimrod made war upon the faithful among the sons of Noah. Power and numbers were on the side of the fire-worshippers. But on the side of Shem and the faithful was the mighty power of God's Spirit. Therefore many were convinced of their sin, arrested in their evil career; and victory, as we have already seen, declared for the saints. The power of Nimrod came to an end, * and with that, for a time, the worship of the sun, and the fiery serpent associated with it. The case was exactly as stated here in regard to the antitype (Rev. xii. 9): "The great dragon," or fiery serpent, was "cast out of heaven to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him" that is, the Head of the fire-worship, and all his associates and underlings, were cast down from the power and glory to which they had been raised. Then was the time when the whole gods of the classic Pantheon of Greece were fain to flee and hid themselves from the wrath of their adversaries. * Then it was, that, in India, Indra, the king of the gods, Surya, the god of the sun, Agni, the god of fire, and all the rabble rout of the Hindu Olympus, were driven from heaven, wandered over the earth, * or hid themselves, in forests, * disconsolate, and ready to "perish of hunger." * Then it was that Phaethon, while driving the chariot of the sun, when on the point of setting the world on fire, was smitten by the Supreme God, and cast headlong to the earth, while his sitters, the daughters of the sun, inconsolably lamented him, as, "the women wept for Tammuz." Then it was, as the reader must be prepared to see, that Vulcan, or Mold-gheber, the classic "god of fire," was so ignominiously hurled down from heaven, as he himself relates in Homer, speaking of the wrath of the King of Heaven, which in this instance must mean God Most High:--
"I felt his matchless might,
Tossed all the day in raped circles round,
Nor, till the sun descended, touched the ground.
Breathless I fell, in giddy motion lost.
The Sinthians raised me on the Lemnian coast." *
The lines, in which Milton refers to this same downfall, though he gives it another application, still more beautifully describe the greatness of the overthrow:--
"In Ausonian land Men called him Mulciber; and how he fell From heaven, they fabled. Thrown by an angry Jove Sheer o'er the crystal battlements; from morn To noon he fell, from noon to dewy eve, A summer's day; and, with the setting sun, Dropped from the zenith, like a falling star, On Lemnos, the Aegean isle." *
These words very strikingly show the tremendous fall of Molk-gheber, or Nimrod, "the Mighty King," when "suddenly he was cast down from the height of his power, and was deprived at once of his kingdom and his life." * Now, to this overthrow there is very manifest allusion in the prophetic apostrophe of Isaiah to the king of Babylon, exulting over his approaching downfall: "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!" The Babylonian king pretended to be a representative of Nimrod or Phaethon; and the prophet, in these words, informs him, that, as certainly as the god in whom he gloried had been cast down from his high estate, so certainly should he. In the classic story, Phaethon is said to have been consumed with lightning (and, as we shall see by-and-by, AEsculapius also died the same death); but the lightning is a mere metaphor for the wrath of God, under which his life and his kingdom had come to an end. When the history is examined, and the figure stripped off, it turns out, as we have already seen, that he was judicially slain with the sword. *
Such is the language of the prophecy, and so exactly does it correspond with the character, and deeds, and fate of the ancient type. How does it suit the antitype? Could the power of Pagan Imperial Rome--that power that first persecuted the Church of Christ, that stood by its soldiers around the tomb of the Son of God Himself, to devour Him, if it had been possible, when He should be brought forth, as the first-begotten from the dead, *1* *2* to rule all nations--be represented by a "Fiery Serpent"? Nothing could more lucidly show it forth. Among the lords many, and the gods many, worshipped in the imperial city, the two grand objects of worship were the "Eternal Fire," kept perpetually burning in the temple of Vesta, and the sacred Epidaurian Serpent. In Pagan Rome, this fire-worship and serpent-worship were sometimes separate, sometimes conjoined; but both occupied a pre-eminent place in Roman esteem. The fire of Vesta was regarded as one of the grand safeguards of the empire. It was pretended to have been brought from Troy by AEneas, who had it confided to his care by the shade of Hector, * and was kept with the most jealous care by the Vestal virgins, who, for their charge of it, were honoured with the highest honours. The temple where it was kept, says Augustine, "was the most sacred and most reverenced of all the temples of Rome." * The fire that was so jealously guarded in that temple, and on which so much was believed to depend, was regarded in the very same light as by the old Babylonian fire-worshippers. It was looked upon as the purifier, and in April every year, at the Palilia, or feast of Pales, both men and cattle, for this purpose, were made to pass through the fire. * The Epidaurian snake, that the Romans worshipped along with the fire, was looked on as the divine representation of AEsculapius, the child of the Sun. * AEsculapius, whom that sacred snake represented, was evidently, just another name for the great Babylonian god. His fate was exactly the same as that of Phaethon. He was said to have been smitten with lightning for raising the dead. * It is evident that this could never have been the case in a physical sense, nor could it easily have been believed to be so. But view it in a spiritual sense, and then the statement is just this, that he was believed to raise men who were dead in trespasses and sins to newness of life. Now, this was exactly what Phaethon was pretending to do, when he was smitten for setting the world on fire. In the Babylonian system there was a symbolical death, * that all the initiated had to pass through, before they got the new life which was implied in regeneration, and that just to declare that they had passed from death unto life. As the passing through the fire was both a purgation from sin and the means of regeneration, so it was also for raising the dead that Phaethon was smitten. Then, as AEsculapius was the child of the Sun, so was Phaethon. * To symbolise this relationship, the head of the image of AEsculapius was generally encircled with rays. * The Pope thus encircles the heads of the pretended images of Christ; but the real source of these irradiations is patent to all acquainted either with the literature or the art of Rome. Thus speaks Virgil of Latinus:-
"And now, in pomp, the peaceful kings appear,
Four steeds the chariot of Latinus bear,
Twelve golden beams around his temples play,
To mark his lineage from the god of day." *
The "golden beams" around the head of AEsculapius were intended to mark the same, to point him out as the child of the Sun, or the Sun incarnate. The "golden beams" around the heads of pictures and images called by the name of Christ, were intended to show the Pagans that they might safely worship them, as the images of their well-known divinities, though called by a different name. Now AEsculapius, in a time of deadly pestilence, had been invited from Epidaurus to Rome. The god, under the form of a larger serpent, entered the ship that was sent to convey him to Rome, and having safely arrived in the Tiber, was solemnly inaugurated as the guardian god of the Romans. * From that time forth, in private as well as in public, the worship of the Epidaurian snake, the serpent that represented the Sun-divinity incarnate, in other words, the "Serpent of Fire," became nearly universal. In almost every house the sacred serpent, which was a harmless sort, was to be found. "These serpents nestled about the domestic altars," says the author of Pompeii, "and came out, like dogs or cats, to be patted by the visitors, and beg for something to eat. Nay, at table, if we may build upon insulted passages, they crept about the cups of the guests, and, in hot weather, ladies would use them as live boas, and twist them round their necks for the sake of coolness....These sacred animals made war on the rats and mice, and thus kept down one species of vermin; but as they bore a charmed life, and no one laid violent hands on them, they multiplied so fast, that, like the monkeys of Benares, they became an intolerable nuisance. The frequent fires at Rome were the only things that kept them under." * The reader will find, in the accompanying woodcut , a representation of Roman fire-worship and serpent-worship at once separate and conjoined. * The reason of the double representation of the god I cannot here enter into; but it must be evident, from the words of Virgil already quoted, that the figures in the upper compartment having their heads encircled with rays, represent the fire-god, or Sun divinity; and what is worthy of special note is, that these fire-gods are black, * the colour thereby identifying them with the Ethiopian or black Phaethon; while, as the author of Pompeii himself admits, these same black fire-gods are in the under compartment represented by two huge serpents. Now, if this worship of the sacred serpent of the Sun, the great fire-god, was so universal in Rome, what symbol could more graphically portray the idolatrous power of Pagan Imperial Rome than the "Great Fiery Serpent"? No doubt it was to set forth this very thing that the Imperial standard itself--the standard of the Pagan Emperor of Rome, as Pontifex Maximus, Head of the great system of fire-worship and serpent worship--was a serpent elevated on a lofty pole, and so coloured, as to exhibit it as a recognised symbol of fire-worship. *
As Christianity spread in the Roman Empire, the powers of light and darkness came into collision (Rev. xii. 7,8):--"Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out;.... he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." The "great serpent of fire" was cast out, when, by the decree of Gratian, Paganism throughout the Roman empire was abolished--when the fires of Vesta were extinguished, and the revenues of the Vestal virgins were confiscated--when the Roman Emperor (who though for more than a century and a-half a professor of Christianity, had been "Pontifex Maximus," the very head of the idolatry of Rome, and such, on high occasions, appearing invested with all the idolatrous insignia of Paganism,) through force of conscience abolished his own office. * While Nimrod was personally and literally slain by the sword, it was through the sword of the Spirit that Shem overcame the system of fire-worship, and so bowed the hearts of men, as to cause it for a time to be utterly extinguished. In like manner did the Dragon of fire, in the Roman Empire, receive a deadly wound from a sword, and that the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. There is thus far an exact analogy between the type and the antitype.
But not only is there this analogy. It turns out, when the records of history are searched to the bottom, that when the head of the Pagan idolatry of Rome was slain with the sword by the extinction of the office of Pontifex Maximus, the last Roman Pontifex Maximus was the ACTUAL, LEGITIMATE, SOLE REPRESENTATIVE OF NIMROD and his idolatrous system the existing. To make this clear, a brief glance at the Roman history is necessary. In comma with all the earth, Rome at a very early prehistoric period, had drunk deep of Babylon's "golden cup." But above and beyond all other nations, it had had a connection with the idolatry of Babylon that put it in a position peculiar and alone. Long before the days of Romulus, a representative of the Babylonian Messiah, called by his name, had fixed his temple as a god, and his palace as a king, on one of those very heights which came to be included within the walls of that city which Remus and his brother were destined to found. On the Capitoline hill, so famed in after-days as the great high place of Roman worship, Saturnia, or the city of Saturn, the great Chaldean god, had in the days of dim and distant antiquity been erected. * Some revolution had then taken place--the graven images of Babylon had been abolished--the erecting of any idol had been sternly prohibited, * and when the twin founders of the now world-renowned city reared its humble walls, the city and the palace of their Babylonian predecessor had long lain in ruins. The ruined state of this sacred city, even in the remote age of Evander, is alluded to by Virgil. Referring to the time when AEneas is said to have visited that ancient Italian king, thus he speaks:-
"Then saw two heaps of ruins; once they stood
Two stately towns on either side the flood;
Saturnia and Janicula's remains;
And either place the founder's name retains." *
The deadly wound, however, thus given to the Chaldean system, was destined to be healed. A colony of Etruscans, earnestly attached to the Chaldean idolatry, had migrated, some say from Asia Minor, others from Greece, and settled in the immediate neighbourhood of Rome. * They were ultimately incorporated in the Roman state, but long before this political union took place they exercised the most powerful influence on the religion of the Romans. From the very first their skill in augury, soothsaying, and all science, real or pretended, that the augurs or soothsayers monopolised, made the Romans look up to them with respect. It is admitted on all hands that the Romans derived their knowledge of augury, which occupied so prominent a place in every public transaction in which they engaged, chiefly from the Tuscans, * that is, the people of Etruria, and at first none but natives of that country were permitted to exercise the office of a Haruspex, which had respect to all the rites essentially involved in sacrifice. * Wars and disputes arose between Rome and the Etruscans; but still the highest of the noble youths of Rome were sent to Etruria to be instructed in the sacred science which flourished there. * The consequence was, that under the influence of men whose minds were moulded by those who clung to the ancient idol-worship, the Romans were brought back again to much of that idolatry which they had formerly repudiated and cast off. Though Numa, therefore, in setting up his religious system, so far deferred to the prevailing feeling of his day and forbade image-worship, yet in consequence of the alliance subsisting between Rome and Etruria in sacred things, matters were put in train for the ultimate subversion of that prohibition. The college of Pontiffs, of which he laid the foundation, * in process of time came to be substantially an Etruscan college, and the Sovereign Pontiff that presided over that college, and that controlled all the public and private religious rites of the Roman people in all essential respects, became in spirit and in practice an Etruscan Pontiff.
Still the Sovereign Pontiff of Rome, even after the Etruscan idolatry was absorbed into the Roman system, was only an offshoot from the grand original Babylonian system. He was a devoted worshipper of the Babylonian god; but he was not the legitimate representative of that God. The true legitimate Babylonian Pontiff had his seat beyond the bounds of the Roman empire. That seat, after the death of Belshazzar, and the expulsion of the Chaldean priesthood from Babylon by the Medo-Persian kings, was at Pergamos, where afterwards was one of the seven churches of Asia. * There, in consequence, for many centuries was "Satan's seat" (Rev. ii. 13).There, under favour of the deified * kings of Pergamos, was his favourite abode, there was the worship of AEsculapius, under the form of the serpent, celebrated with frantic orgies and excesses, that elsewhere were kept under some measure of restraint. At first, the Roman Pontiff had no immediate connection with Pergamos and the hierarchy there; yet, in course of time, the Pontificate of Rome and the Pontificate of Pergamos came to be identified. Pergamos itself became part and parcel of the Roman empire, when Attalus III., the last of its kings, at his death, left by will all his dominions to the Roman people, B.C. 133. * For some time after the kingdom of Pergamos was merged in the Roman dominions, there was no one who could set himself openly and advisedly to lay claim to all the dignity inherent in the old title of the kings of Pergamos. The original powers even of the Roman Pontiffs seem to have been by that time abridged, * but when Julius Caesar, who had previously been elected Pontifex Maximus, * became also, as Emperor, the supreme civil ruler of the Romans, then, as head of the Roman state, and head of the Roman religion, all the powers and functions of the true legitimate Babylonian Pontiff were supremely vested in him, and he found himself in a position to assert these powers. Then he seems to have laid claim to the divine dignity of Attalus, as well as the kingdom that Attalus had been regarded. * Then, on certain occasions, in the exercise of his high pontifical office, he appeared of course in all the pomp of the Babylonian custom, as Belshazzar himself might have done, in robes of scarlet, * with the crosier of Nimrod in his hand, wearing the mitre of Dagon and bearing the keys of Janus and Cybele. * Thus did matters continue, as already stated, even under so-called Christian emperors; who, as a slave to their consciences, appointed a heathen as their substitute in the performance of the more directly idolatrous functions of the pontificate (that substitute, however, acting in their name and by their authority), until the reign of Gratian, who, as shown by Gibbon, was the first that refused to be arrayed in the idolatrous pontifical attire, or to act as Pontifex. * Now, from all this it is evident that, when Paganism in the Roman empire was abolished, when the office of Pontifex Maximus was suppressed, and all the dignitaries of paganism were cast down from their seats of influence and of power, which they had still been allowed in some measure to retain, this was not merely the casting down of the Fiery Dragon of Rome, but the casting down of the Fiery Dragon of Babylon. It was just the enacting over again, in a symbolical sense, upon the true and sole legitimate successor of Nimrod, what have taken place upon himself, when the greatness of his downfall gave rise to the exclamation, "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!" 2bab031.htm