54. I. What is meant by Babylon, and what its quality is. By Babylon are meant all who wish to have dominion by religion. To have dominion by religion, is to have dominion over men's souls, thus over their very spiritual life, and to use the Divine things, which are in their religion, as the means. All those who have dominion for an end, and religion for the means are in general Babylon. They are called Babylon because such dominion began in ancient times; but it was destroyed in its beginning. Its commencement is described by the city and the tower, the head of which was to be in heaven; and its destruction, by the confusion of lips, whence its name Babel was derived (Gen. 11:1-9). What the particulars there related mean in the internal or spiritual sense of the Word, may be seen explained in the Arcana Coelestia (n. 1283-1328). Moreover that this dominion began and was instituted in Babel, appears in Daniel, where it is said of Nebuchadnezzar, that he set up an image which all were to adore (chap. 3). And it is also meant by Belshazzar and his peers drinking out of the golden and silver vessels, which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from the temple of Jerusalem, at the same time they worshiped gods of gold, silver, copper, and iron; wherefore it was written on the wall:
He hath numbered, he hath weighed, he hath divided; and on the same night the king himself was slain (chap. 5). "The vessels of gold and silver" of the temple of Jerusalem, signify the goods and truths of the church; "drinking out of them," and at the same time worshiping gods of gold, silver, copper, and iron, signify profanation; and "the writing upon the wall," and "the death of the king" signify visitation, and destruction denounced against +hose who make use of Divine goods and truths as means. What their quality is who are called Babylon, is also described sometimes in the prophets; as in Isaiah:
Thou mayest take up this parable concerning the king of Babylonia. Jehovah hath broken the staff of the wicked, the scepter of those having dominion; thou, Lucifer, hast fallen from heaven; thou art cut down even to the earth; thou hast said in thy mind, I will ascend into the heavens; I will exalt my throne over the stars of God, and I sit on the mountain of the assembly, in the sides of the north, I will become like the Most High. Nevertheless thou shalt be cast down into hell, to the sides of the pit; I will cut off the name and residue of Babylon and will cause her to become an hereditary possession of the bittern (14:4, 5, 12, 13, 14, 15, 22, 23). And again it is said in the same:
The lion said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, and all the graven images of her god are cast down (21:9).
See also (47 and 48 14-20; and Jer. 50:1-3). From these passages it is now evident what Babylonia is. It should be known that the church becomes Babylonia, when charity and faith cease, and the love of self begins to rule in their place; for this love in proportion as it is unchecked, rushes on, aiming to dominate not merely over all whom it can subject to itself on earth, but even over heaven; nor does it rest there, but it climbs the very throne of God, and transfers to itself His Divine power. That it did this, even before the Lord's coming, appears from the passages of the Word adduced above. But that Babylonia was destroyed by the Lord when He was in the world, both by their becoming altogether idolatrous, and by the Last Judgment upon them in the spiritual world. This is meant by the prophetic sayings, that "Lucifer," who there is Babylon, was cast into hell, and that "Babylon has fallen"; and moreover by "the writing on the wall," and "the death of Belshazzar"; and also by "the stone, hewn from the rock," which destroyed the statue, of which Nebuchadnezzar dreamed.