The following are excerpts from Alexander Hislop’s book, “The Two Babylons” I consider it a well researched scholarly book from a learned man of God who lived in the 19th century from 1807 to 1865. The Protestant Reformation was still alive and kicking back then. Today? Only an exceedingly small minority of Christians still believe the papacy is the Antichrist of the Bible.
The clerical power of the Roman priesthood culminated in the erection of the confessional. That confessional was itself borrowed from Babylon. The confession required of the votaries of Rome is entirely different from the confession prescribed in the Word of God. The dictate of Scripture in regard to confession is, “Confess your faults one to another” (James 5:16), which implies that the priest should confess to the people, as well as the people to the priest, if either should sin against the other. This could never have served any purpose of spiritual despotism; and therefore, Rome, leaving the Word of God, has had recourse to the Babylonian system. In that system, secret confession to the priest, according to a prescribed form, was required of all who were admitted to the “Mysteries”; and till such confession had been made, no complete initiation could take place.
The pretence under which this auricular (spoken into the ear) confession was required, was, that the (Pagan) solemnities to which the initiated were to be admitted were so high, so heavenly, so holy, that no man with guilt lying on his conscience, and sin unpurged, could lawfully be admitted to them. For the safety, therefore of those who were to be initiated, it was held to be indispensable that the officiating priest should thoroughly probe their consciences, lest coming without due purgation from previous guilt contracted, the wrath of the gods should be provoked against the profane intruders. This was the pretence; but when we know the essentially unholy nature, both of the gods and their worship, who can fail to see that this was nothing more than a pretence; that the grand object in requiring the candidates for initiation to make confession to the priest of all their secret faults and shortcomings and sins, was just to put them entirely in the power of those to whom the inmost feelings of their souls and their most important secrets were confided? Now, exactly in the same way, and for the very same purposes, has Rome erected the confessional. Instead of requiring priests and people alike, as the Scripture does, to “confess their faults one to another,” when either have offended the other, it commands all, on pain of perdition, to confess to the priest, * whether they have transgressed against him or no, while the priest is under no obligation to confess to the people at all.
Without such confession, in the Church of Rome, there can be no admission to the Sacraments, any more than in the days of Paganism there could be admission without confession to the benefit of the Mysteries. Now, this confession is made by every individual, in SECRECY AND IN SOLITUDE, to the priest sitting in the name and clothed with the authority of God, invested with the power to examine the conscience, to judge the life, to absolve or condemn according to his mere arbitrary will and pleasure. This is the grand pivot on which the whole “Mystery of iniquity,” as embodied in the Papacy, is made to turn; and wherever it is submitted to, admirably does it serve the design of binding men in abject subjection to the priesthood. In conformity with the principle out of which the confessional grew, the Church, that is, the clergy, claimed to be the sole depositaries of the true faith of Christianity. As the Chaldean priests were believed alone to possess the key to the understanding of the Mythology of Babylon, a key handed down to them from primeval antiquity, so the priests of Rome set up to be the sole interpreters of Scripture; they only had the true tradition, transmitted from age to age, without which it was impossible to arrive at its true meaning. They, therefore, require implicit faith in their dogmas; all men were bound to believe as the Church believed, while the Church in this way could shape its faith as it pleased. As possessing supreme authority, also, over the faith, they could let out little or much, as they judged most expedient; and “RESERVE” in teaching the great truths of religion was as essential a principle in the system of Babylon, as it is in Romanism or Tractariansim at this day. It was this priestly claim to dominion over the faith of men, that “imprisoned the truth in unrighteousness” in the ancient world, so that “darkness covered the earth, and gross darkness the people.” (Isaiah 60:2)) It was the very same claim, in the hands of the Roman priests, that ushered in the dark ages, when, through many a dreary century, the Gospel was unknown, and the Bible a sealed book to millions who bore the name of Christ. In every respect, then, we see how justly Rome bears on its forehead the name, “Mystery, Babylon the Great.” — Revelation 17:5