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Finding therefore in the course of reading, very honourable mention made of the Waldenses and Albie genfes, by very respectable Authors: I was thereby induced to make a more minute inquiry into their hiftory, their rise and progress, their lives and do&rines, and the treatment which they met with in the world, and for what cause they endured all kinds of persecu. tion, and aguinst whom the princes of this world bent all their forces, to exterminate from the face of the earth, as the very pests of mankind, and such as were not fit to live.
The more I read, the more I admired their do&rines, Spirit, temper, condu&t and behaviour ; and eafily per. ceived they were the simple followers of him whose kingdom is not of this world, and of whom the world is not worthy ; I found them to be the excellent of the earth, such as followed the Lomb wherefoever he led them; and bearing in their suffering bodies the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Christ was mani. fested in them, and by their mortified lives and pure dodrines they testified that the world and its deeds were evil.
That many of these were poor is not to be wondered at: for in them was literally fulfiled what is said, that, “ No man might buy or fell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of
his name, (a) which is very particularly applied to them. So the canon of Lateran, under Pope Alexander the third, made against the Waldenses and Albigenses enjoins, upon pain of anathema, that no man presume to entertain or cherish them in his house or lend, or exercise traffic with them. The Synod of Tours, in France, under the fame Pope, “ Orders under the like intermination, that no man should presume to receive or affist them, no not so much as to hold communion with them in selling or buying ; that being deprived of the comforts of humanity, they may be compelled to repent of the error of their way. (b)”. From hence we need not wonder that they were poor. And as they first made their appearance in France, in and about the city of Lyons, they were called in derifion, the poor of Lyons. But that they were not evil doers, we have the testimony of their enemies. Sancho Reinerus, an apoftate, and a persecutor of the Waldenses in the thirteenth Centuary writes, Amongst all the Sects, none is more pernicious than that of the poor of Lyons fi. e. the Waldenses) for three reasons, 1. Because it is the most ancient. Some aver their existance from the days of Silvester ; others from the very time of the Apostles. 2. Because it is so universal ; for there is hardly a country into which this Sect
(a) Rev. xiii., 16, 17. (b) Uher. Newton's Desertations." A.3
has not crept. 3. Because all others render thema felves detestable by their blasphemies; but this has a great appearance of godliness, they living a righteous life before men, believing right of God, confeffing all the articles of the creed, only hating the pope of Rome, &c. (a) Such is the testimony of this virulent renegade, which is no small encomium of this perfecuted flock of Chrijl when an avowed eremy and a violent apostate owns there was no other crime could le laid 10 their charge but that of batinge Antichrift, and all his abominations. .
It seems pretty clear from various authorities, that they carried the pure reformation into Bohemea, even a Century before the time of John Huss, as early as 1170, and therefore exifted long before they went by the name of Waldenfes or Albigenfes, yea several writers will have it that they never were tainted with the corruptions of Rome, but have kept themselves free from the Mother of Harlots all along. For when both the Greek and Latin Churches were abominably corrupted these poor sheep were fcattered up and down in their obscure retreats, and now and then ventured out, when there was the least prospect of being any way useful, at the hazard, and often at the expence of their lives ; so that in the midf? of that general apostacy and darkness
b) Crantz's History of the Brethren.
it is observed a real seed was still left. « For just at that time, when the purity of the Greek church both in dodrine and in worship was daily declin. ing, even among the people; the Waldenses in 1176 arrived at Bohemia. These joined those Bohemians, who were ftill tenacious of the rites of the Greek church. They shewed them the des ftes of their religious exercises; and introduced a porer knowledge of the Chriftian faith according to the word of God. By this means the upright were confirmed in the faith, and such as were fallen asleep, again awakened. These united Waldenses and Bohemians held, in many places, their private, in others public meetings; and sent missions from Bo. hemia to England, Hungary, Brandenburg, Pomerania, &c. affilted their suffering brethren of the Waldenfes in their dift:ess, and supplied them with minilters from the seminary of their brethren in Italy, whither, as to an university, they fent their youth from Bohemia. This continued above two hundred years till 1391, when being discovered through the imprudence of two of their preachers, they were cruelly perfecuted, and, for the most part despersed abroad in the adjacent countries!”(a)
From hence we see the origien of the reformation, even in England, which I make no doubt begun to down
- (a) Strousky de Repub. Boheme
in the fime of the Conqueror. For we are informed that « he would not permit any one in his power to buy or fell any thing whom he found disobedient to the apostalic fee.” (a) :
Some have thought that the Waldenses and Albigenfes were the two witnesses Spoken of in the eleventh chapter, of Revelations, thus says Bishop Newton, “ But the true witnesses, and as I may say, the Proteftants of this age were the Waldenses and Albigenses, who began to be famous at this time, and being disperfed into various parts and places, were dif. tinguished by various appellations. Their first and proper name seemeth to have been Vallenses, or inhabitants of the valleys; and fo faith one of the olde ft writers, Ebrord, who wrote in the year 1212 they call themselves Vallenses, because they abide in the valley of Tears, alluding to their situation in the valleys of Peidmont; they were called Albigenses from Albi, a city in the southern parts of France, where also great numbers of them were fituated.” (b) He then gives us a pretty large Abo ftra& of their Creed from Perrin's History; a part of which will be found in the ensuing History. Nay, the Bishop looks upon Waldo to be the Angel which proclaims the fall of Babylon, or Rome in Rev. xiv. 8.
(a) Ex Ufferio de Suceeff. Ecclef. Cap. 7.