Book: The Two Babylons

The Two Babylons or The Papal Worship Proved to be the Worship of Nimrod and His Wife By the Late Alexander Hislop

First published as a pamphlet in 1853--greatly expanded in 1858


Had the lamented author been spared to superintend the issue of the Fourth Edition of his work, it is probable he would have felt himself called upon to say something in reference to the political and ecclesiastical events that have occurred since the publication of the last edition. By the authoritative promulgation of the dogma of the Pope's Infallibility, his argument as to the time of the slaying of the Witnesses, and his identification of the Roman pontiff as the legitimate successor of Belshazzar have been abundantly confirmed.

It is gratifying to the author's friends to know that the work has been so favourably received hitherto, and that no one, so far as we are aware, has ventured to challenge the accuracy of the historical proofs adduced in support of the startling announcement on the title page. But it is deplorable to think that, notwithstanding all the revelations made from time to time of the true character and origin of Popery, Ritualism still makes progress in the Churches, and that men of the highest influence in the State are so infatuated as to seek to strengthen their political position by giving countenance to a system of idolatry. If Britons would preserve their FREEDOM and their pre-eminence among the nations, they should never forget the Divine declaration, "Them that honour ME I will honour, and they that despise ME shall be lightly esteemed."

It only remains for the editor to say that the work has been carefully revised throughout, and a few trifling errors in the references have, in consequence, been corrected. One or two notes also, enclosed in bracket's have been added, and the Index has been somewhat extended.




Since the appearing of the First Edition of this work, the author has extensively prosecuted his researches into the same subject; and the result has been a very large addition of new evidence. Somewhat of the additional evidence has already been given to the public, first through the columns of the British Messenger, and then in the publication entitled "The Moral Identity of Babylon and Rome,"issued by Mr. Drummond of Stirling. In the present edition of "The Two Babylons," the substance of that work is also included. But the whole has now been re-written, and the mass of new matter that has been added is so much greater than all that had previously appeared, that this may fairly be regarded as an entirely new work. The argument appears now with a completeness which, considering the obscurity in which the subject had long been wrapped, the author himself, only a short while ago, could not have ventured to anticipate as a thing capable of attainment.

On the principle of giving honour to whom honour is due, the author gladly acknowledges, as he has done before, his obligations to the late H.J. Jones, Esq.--to whose researches Protestantism is not a little indebted--who was the first that directed his attention to this field of inquiry. That able, and excellent, and distinguished writer, however, was called to his rest before his views were matured. His facts, in important instances, were incorrect; and the conclusions at which he ultimately arrived were, in very vital respects, directly the reverse of those that are unfolded in these pages. Those who have read, in the Quarterly Journal of Prophecy, his speculations in regard to the Beast from the Sea, will, it is believed, readily perceive that, in regard to it, as well as other subjects, his argument is fairly set aside by the evidence here adduced.

In regard to the subject of the work, there are just two remarks the author would make. The first has reference to the Babylonian legends. These were all intended primarily to commemorate facts that took place in the early history of the post-diluvian world. But along with them were mixed up the momentous events in the history of our first parents. These events, as can be distinctly proved, were commemorated in the secret system of Babylon with a minuteness and particularity of detail of which the ordinary student of antiquity can have little conception. The post-diluvian divinities were connected with the ante-diluvian patriarchs, and the first progenitors of the human race, by means of the metempsychosis; and the names given to them were skillfully selected, so as to be capable of divers meanings, each of these meanings have reference to some remarkable feature in the history of the different patriarchs referred to. The knowledge of this fact is indispensable to the unravelling of the labyrinthine subject of Pagan mythology, which, with all its absurdities and abominations, when narrowly scrutinised, will be found exactly to the answer to the idea contained in the well-known line of Pope in regard to a very different subject:--

"A mighty maze, but not without a plan."

In the following work, however, this aspect of the subject has, as much as possible, been kept in abeyance, it being reserved for another work, in which, if Providence permit, it will be distinctly handled.

The other point on which the author finds it necessary to say a word has reference to the use of the term "Chaldee," as employed in this work, According to the ordinary usage, that term is appropriated to the language spoken in Babylon in the time of Daniel and thereafter. In these pages the term Chaldee, except where otherwise stated, is applied indiscriminately to whatever language can be proved to have been used in Babylonian from the time that the Babylonian system of idolatry commenced. Now, it is evident from the case of Abraham, who was brought up in Us of the Chaldee, and who doubtless brought his native language along with him into Canaan, that, at that period, Chaldee and Hebrew were substantially the same. When, therefore, a pure Hebrew word is found mixed up with a system that confessedly had its origin in Babylonia, the land of the Chaldees, it cannot be doubted that that term, in that very form, must have originally belonged to the Chaldee dialect, as well as to that which is now commonly known as Hebrew. On this ground, the author has found himself warranted to give a wider application to the term "Chaldee" than that which is currently in use.

And now, in sending forth this new edition, the author hopes he can say that, however feebly, he has yet had sincerely an eye, in the whole of his work, to the glory of "that name that is above every name, " which is dear to every Christian heart, and through which all tribes, and peoples, and kindreds, and tongues, of this sinful and groaning earth, are yet destined to be blest. In the prosecuting of his researches, he has found his own faith sensibly quickened. His prayer is, that the good Spirit of all grace may bless the work for the same end to all who may read it.


In giving the Third Edition of this work to the public, I have little else to do than to express my acknowledgments to those to whom I am under obligations, for enabling me thus far to bring it to a successful issue.

To Mr. Murray, of Albemarle Street, London; Mr. Vaux, of the British Museum; and Messrs. Black and Messrs. Chambers, Edinburgh, I am specially indebted for permission to copy woodcuts belonging to them. Individual woodcuts, from other sources, are acknowledged in the body of the work. To Mr. John Adam, the artist, who has executed the whole of the woodcuts, with a few exceptions, I have to express my obligations for the spirit and artistic skill displayed in their execution; and I do so with the more pleasure, that Mr. Adam is a native of Arbroath, and the son of a worthy elder of my own.

I have also acknowledgments of another kind to make. Considering the character of this work--a work that, from its very nature, required wide, and, at the same time, minute research, and the consultation of works of a very recondite character; and, taking also into view not only the very limited extent of my own library, but the distance of my abode from any of the great libraries of the land, where rare and expensive works may be consulted, the due preparation of such a work was attended with many difficulties. The kindness of friends, however, has tended wonderfully to remove these difficulties. From all quarters I have met with the most disinterested aid, of which I retain a grateful and pleasing remembrance. To enumerate the different sources whence help has come to me, in the prosecution of my task, would be impossible. There are three individuals, however, who stand out from the rest whom I cannot pass over without notice. Each of them has co-operated (and all spontaneously), though in different ways, in enabling me thus far to accomplish my task, and their aid has been of the most essential importance.

To Mrs. Barkworth, of Tranby Hall, Yorkshire (whose highly cultivated mind, enlightened zeal for Protestant truth, and unwearied beneficence need no testimony of mine), I am signally indebted, and it gives me pleasure to acknowledge it.

I have also to acknowledge my deep and peculiar obligations to one who chooses to be unknown, * who, entirely on public grounds, has taken a very lively interest in this work. He has spared neither expense nor pains, that, every incidental error being removed, the argument might be presented to the public in the most perfect possible form. For this purpose he has devoted a large portion of his time, during the last three years, to the examination of every quotation contained in the last edition, going in every case where it was at all possible, to the fountain-head of authority. His co-operation with me in the revisal of the work has been of the greatest advantage. His acute and logical mind, quick in detecting a flaw, his determination to be satisfied with nothing that had not sufficient evidence to rest upon, and yet his willing surrender to the force of truth whenever that evidence was presented, have made him a most valuable coadjutor. "As iron sharpeneth iron," says Solomon, "so doth a man sharpen the countenance of his friend." I have sensibly found it so. His correspondence, by this stimulus, has led to the accumulation of an immense mass of new evidence, here presented to the reader, which, but for his suggestions, and objections too, might never have been discovered. In the prosecution of his investigation he has examined no fewer than 240 * out of the 270 works contained in the accompanying list of "Editions," many of them of large extent, all of which are in his own possession, and not in a few of which he has procured for the purpose of verification. His object and mine has been, that the argument might be fairly stated, and that error might, as far as possible, be avoided. How far this object has been attained, the references and list of "Editions" will enable each reader competent to the task, to judge for himself. For myself, however, I cannot but express my high sense of the incalculable value of the service which the extraordinary labours of my kind and disinterested friend have rendered to the cause of universal Protestantism.

But while making mention of my obligations to the living, I may not forget what I owe to the dead. To him whose name stands on the front of this work, I am, in some respects, pre-eminently indebted, and I cannot send forth this edition without a tribute of affection to his memory. It is not for me to speak of his wit, and the brilliancy of his conversational powers, that captivated all who knew him; of the generous unselfishness of his nature, that made him a favourite with every one that came in contact with him; or of the deep interest that he took in the efforts at present being made for improving the dwellings of the working-classes, and especially of those of his own estate, as well as in their moral and religious improvement. But I should be liable to the charge of ingratitude if I contented myself, in the circumstances, with the mere formal dedication, which, though appropriate enough while he was alive, is now no more so when he is gone.

The time and the circumstances in which his active friendship was extended to me, made it especially welcome. His keen eye saw at a glance, as soon as the subject of this work came under his attention, the importance of it; and from that time forward, though the work was then in its most rudimentary form, he took the deepest interest in it. He did not wait till the leading organs of popular opinion, or the great dispensers of fame, should award their applause; but, prompted by his own kindly feeling, he spontaneously opened up a correspondence with me, to encourage and aid me in the path of discovery on which I had entered.

His own studies qualified him to appreciate the subject and pronounce upon it. For many years he had deeply studied the Druidical system, which, with the haze and mystery around it, and with its many points of contact with the patriarchal religion, had a strange and peculiar fascination for him. For the elucidation of this subject, he had acquired most valuable works; and what he possessed he was most ready to communicate. In the prosecution of my inquires, I had met with what to me seemed insuperable difficulties. He had only to know of this to set himself to remove them; and the aid derived from him was at once precious and opportune; for through his acquaintance with Druidism, and the works received from him, difficulties disappeared, and a flood of light irradiated the whole subject, If, therefore, the reader shall find the early history of superstition, not only in our native land, but in the world at large, set in a new and instructive light in these pages, he must know that he is essentially indebted for that to Lord John Scott. In one, who was an entire stranger, being thus prompted to render efficient assistance to me at such a time, I could not but thankfully recognise the hand of a gracious Providence; and when I reflect on the generous, and humble, and disinterested kindness with which the four years' correspondence between us was conducted on his part,--a correspondence in which he always treated me with as much confidence as if I had been his friend and brother,--I cannot but feel warm and tender emotions, mingling with the thoughts that spring up in my bosom. Friendship such as his was no ordinary friendship. His memory, therefore, must be ever dear to me; the remembrance of his kindness ever fragrant.

Unexpected was the stroke--now, alas! near three years ago--by which our correspondence was brought to an end; but painful though that stroke was, and solemnising, there was no gloom attending it. The "hope full of immortality" cheered his dying bed. For years back he had found the emptiness of the world, and had begun to seek the better part. His religion was no sentimental religion; his fear of God was not taught by the commandment of men. His faith was drawn directly from the inspired fountain of Divine truth. From the time that the claims of God to the homage of his heart had laid hold on him, the Word of God became his grand study, and few men have I ever known who held with a more firm and tenacious grasp the great truth that the Word of God, and that Word alone, is the light and rule for the guidance of Christians; and that every departure from that Word, alike on the part of Churches and individuals, implies, as he himself expressed it, "going off the rails," and consequently danger of the highest kind. As his religion was Scriptural, so it was spiritual. In one of his earliest letters to me, he avowed that the bond of "spiritual religion" was that by which he felt himself specially bound to those whose character and spirit showed them to be the true sheep of Christ's pasture; and in accepting the dedication of my work, he particularly stated, that the interest that he took in it was not as a mere matter of literary curiosity, but as being "fitted to teach great truths, which the world is not very willing to learn." This, in the connection in which he wrote, evidently had special reference to the great doctrine of "regeneration." His mind was deeply penetrated with a sense of the majesty of God, and the "awfulness" of our relations to Him, in consequence of the sin that has entered the world, and has infected the whole human race, and therefore he vividly realised the indispensably necessity of Mediation and Atonement, to give hope to sinful man in prospect of the grand account.

The origin of that earnestness and attachment to spiritual religion which he manifested in his last years, was, as I was assured by a relative now also gone to his reward, the perusal of the tract entitled "Sin no Trifle." Deep was the impression that tract had made. He read it, and re-red it, and continually carried it about with him. till it was entirely worn away. Under the impressions springing from such views of sin, he said to an intimate friend, when in the enjoyment of health and vigour, "It is easy to die the death of a gentleman, but that will not do." His death was not the death of a mere gentleman. It was evidently the death of a Christian.

The circumstances in which he was removed were fitted to be peculiarly affecting to me. In reply to a letter--the last which I received from him--in which he expressed deep interest in the spread of vital religion, I was led, in pursuance of the theme to which he himself had specially referred, to dwell more than ever before on the necessity not merely of having hope towards God, but having the question of personal acceptance decisively settled, and the consequent habitual possession of the "joy of salvation," and as one special reason for this, referred to the fact, that all would be needed in a dying hour. "And who can tell," I added, "how suddenly those who are surrounded with all the comforts of life may be removed from the midst of them?" In illustration of this, I referred to the affecting case of one whom I had known well, just a short while before, lost along with his family in the Royal Charter. Having made a large fortune in Australia, he was returning home, and when on the point of setting foot on his native shores, with the prospect of spending his days in ease and affluence, suddenly father and mother, son and daughter, were all engulfed in a watery grave. My letter concluded with these words: "In view of such a solemnising event, well may we say, What is man? But oh, man is great, if he walks with God, and the divine words are fulfilled in his experience, 'God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.' That this may be more and more the experience of your Lordship, is my earnest desire." When I wrote this I had not the least suspicion that I was writing to a dying man. But so it proved to be. Only a few days after he received this, he was smitten with his death-sickness. From his dying bed he sent me a kindly memorial of his affectionate remembrance, and in his painful illness he manifested the supporting power of faith, when faith has respect to the truth as it is in Jesus, and appropriates Him as a personal and Almighty Saviour.


The Two Babylons
by Alexander Hislop

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