« PreviousContinue »
after the death of Lollard, the same doctrines were taught by Wickliff, whose followers also for a century and a half, down to the Reformation, were burnt in great numbers.
Perrin, as has been observed, traces the origin of the Waldenses and Albigenses to PETER WALDO: yet there are several things even in his history which prove their existence LONG BEFORE THE TIME OF WALDO. He quotes Reynerius the inquisitor, who wrote within sixty years after Waldo, as saying of the Waldenses that "they had resisted the church of Rome for a long time." He quotes a Waldensian poem, called The Noble Lesson, which poem appears by its contents to have been written about the year 1100, that is, forty or fifty years at least before the appearance of Waldo. He quotes Claudius Rubis, who, in his History of Lyons, says of the Waldenses in a way of reproach, that "being retired unto the Alps, at their departure from Lyons, they became like the rest of the people of that country, besom-riders," or sorcerers. There must then have been a people among the Alps who were reproached as sorcerers, before the disciples of Waldo went and joined them. Finally, In Perrin's History of the Albigenses, he says, They received the belief of the Waldenses soon after the departure of Waldo from Lyons, that is, soon after 60, and yet that the instruments who were employed in this work were Peter of Bruis, Henry, Joseph, Esperon, and Arnold Holt. But Peter of Bruis began to preach against the corruptions of popery in 1110, and was burnt in 1130, and Henry was soon after imprisoned at Rome; all before the times of Waldo. There must therefore have been a body of these faithful witnesses from an early period, probably from the times in which the Christian church began to be overspread with corruptions.
In the spring of 1655, a most horrible massacre of the Waldenses was perpetrated in the dominions of the Duke of Savoy. On this occasion Sir Samuel Morland going over as Envoy from the Protector Cromwell to the Court of Savoy, was charged, as he says, by Archbishop Usher, before he left England, to make the
most diligent inquiry into the antiquity of the Waldenses.* Having finished his business at Turin, and retired to Geneva, he was requested by Secretary Thurloe to write his History of the Evangelical Churches of the Valleys of Piedmont. In this history, Sir Samuel, besides relating many things of the Waldenses since the days of Perrin, and narrating the particulars of the late massacre, makes it appear that these churches remained united with all other Christian churches so long as they retained the true religion; but when the church of Rome departed from it, they began to depart from her; and that the followers of Peter Waldo, who about 1165 fled from the South of France into the valleys of Piedmont, were not the first Waldenses, but rather that they joined themselves to those their faithful brethren who had been there long before them.
* It was on occasion of this horrible massacre that MILTON wrote the following sonnet :—
Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughter'd saints, whose bones
Even them who kept thy truth so pure of old,
Who were thy sheep, and in their ancient fold
O'er all th' Italian fields, where still doth sway
A hundred fold, who having learn'd thy way,
Not only did the English Government interfere with the Court of Turin in behalf of the remnant of these persecuted people, but a collection was made for them through the nation, which amounted to nearly £40,000, (a prodigious sum in those times,) and which was sent to them by Sir Samuel Morland.
The learned Dr. ALLIX, a French Protestant who took refuge in England on the revocation of the edict of Nantes, largely establishes the same thing in his Remarks on the Ecclesiastical History of the Ancient Churches of Piedmont and of the Country of the Albigenses. He has proved that these people from their situation in the valleys, and not from Waldo, were denominated Wallenses, or the Vaudois-that though not free from a portion of the general corruption, yet they continued to maintain the leading principles of what is now called the Protestant religion-that before the year 1026 a body of men in Italy connected with Gundulfus believed contrary to the opinions of the church of Rome, condemned its errors, and sent their brethren into divers places to oppose themselves to the superstitions that reigned throughout the west-that in the same century another body of the Christians of Italy, denominated Paterines, and whose principles were much the same with those who were afterwards called Waldenses, separated from the church of Rome-that soon after the year 1100, it was said, "If a man loves those that desire to love God, and Jesus Christ, if he will neither curse, nor swear, nor lie, nor whore, nor kill, nor deceive his neighbour, nor avenge himself of his enemies, they presently say, He is a Vaudès, he deserves to be punished; and by lies and forging are found to take away from him what he has got by his lawful industry"—that about 1160 many of the followers of Peter Waldo retired into the valleys of Piedmont, and there joined the Vaudois that Waldo himself being condemned as a heretic, it was common for the papists to call all religious people Waldenses, hoping thereby to fix a stigma upon them, and to represent them as a sect but newly risen up-and that from this time to the Reformation, a period of between three and four hundred years, the Waldenses were persecuted with but little intermission; partly by armies sent to destroy them, and partly by the horrid process of the inquisition; which persecutions they bore with unparalleled constancy.
Similar remarks are made by Dr. ALLIX on the churches of the Albigenses, so called from Albi, a city in the South of France. He has proved that these churches continued for many centuries independent of the Pope-that about the middle of the eleventh
century Berengarius of Tours opposed the doctrines of the Romish church, and was charged by its adherents with having corrupted almost all the French, Italians, and English-that early in the twelvth, namely about the year 1110, Peter of Bruis, and after him Henry, taught the same doctrines, for which the first was burnt, and the other died in prison-that in the fourth canon of the Council of Tours, held in the year 1163, it is said, "In the country about Thoulouse there sprang up long ago a damnable heresy, which by little and little, like a canker, spreading itself to the neighbouring places in Gascoin, hath already infected many other provinces"-that between 1137 and 1180, Languedoc was so full of the disciples of Peter of Bruis, and Henry, that the Archbishop Narbonne, writing to Louis VII. king of France, complains as follows" My Lord the king, We are extremely pressed with many calamities, among which there is one that most of all affects us, which is, that the catholic faith is extremely shaken in this our diocess, and St. Peter's boat is so violently tossed by the waves that it is in great danger of sinking!"
From the whole it appears that in the early ages of the papal apostasy, before the introduction of image-worship, transubstantiation, and other gross departures from the faith, the opposition of the faithful would be less decided than in latter times. Other Christian churches, while they preserved their independency, might not go the same lengths as that of Rome; but neither might they at once separate from it, nor probably be clear of a participation in its corruptions. The opposition to it might be expected also to be chiefly from individuals rather than from churches, and which appears to have been the fact.
he famous CLAUDE, Bishop of Turin, in the ninth century, thoug he preached the doctrine of Christ in great purity, and boldly pposed almost all the errors of popery yet does not appear to have so separated from the church of Rome as to form independent churches. The principles however which he taught led to this issue, and were acted upon after his death. His preaching and writings contributed greatly to the spread of true religion in the Valleys of Piedmont.
From the fourth to the tenth century but little is said of the Waldenses in history: yet as Reynerius, who wrote about the year 1230, speaks of the Vaudois as "a sect of the longest standing;" and as the Council of Tours about 70 years before this, speaks of the same heresy as having "sprung up long ago;" we may conclude even from the acknowledgments of the adversaries that God was not without his witnesses in those dark ages, MILTON also in the sonnet before quoted, represents the Vaudois, or people of the Valleys, as having "kept God's truth so pure of old, when all our fathers worshipped stocks and stones." He must therefore have considered them as having preserved the purity of Christianity while our Saxon ancestors were yet heathens. After the tenth century, when iniquity was at the full, the opposition was more decided. For 500 years, during the most murderous wars and persecutions, the Petrobrussians, the Paterines, the Waldenses, the Albigenses, the Lollards, the Wickliffites, &c., maintained their ground. Nor were they contented to bear witness to the truth in their own countries, but employed missionaries to almost all the nations of Europe; and this notwithstanding each missionary could expect nothing less then martyrdom for his reward!
Nor were their labours unproductive. The numbers who espoused their principles in the South of France only were such that a crusade of 500,000 men was sent against them. It was by this army of bloody-minded fanatics that the city of Beziers was taken, and the inhabitants without distinction, men, women, and children, to the number of 60,000, were put to the sword!