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from the evangelical system of their forefathers: for, so low down as the æra of the Reformation, I find that "they sent to Zuinglius for teachers, and afterwards to Calvin : of whose sentiments," add the compilers of the work I quote, “the remainder of them, called the Vaudois, continue to be (1)."
Their first rise was of very considerable antiquity. The Romish council, assembled, by order of pope Alexander III. at Tours, in May 1163, prohibited all persons, under pain of excommunication, from having any intercourse with these people; who are described as teaching and professing “ a damnable heresy, long since sprung up in the territory of Toulouse (m)." Van Maestricht assures us, that they wrote against the errors and superstitions of the church of Rome, in the year 1100 (n). According to Pilichdorffius (o), the Waldenses themselves carried up the date of their commencement as a body, as high as three hundred years after Constantine, i. e. to about the year 637. For my own part, I believe their antiquity to have been higher still. I agree with some of our oldest and best protestant divines, in considering the Albigenses, or Waldenses (for they were, in fact, one and the same), to have been a branch of that visible church, against which the gates of hell could never totally prevail ; and that the uninterrupted succession of apostolical doctrine continued with them, from the primitive times, quite down to the Reformation: soon after which period, they seem to have been melted into the common mass of protestants. Neither does this conjecture limit the extent of the visible church in former
(1) Great Hist. Dict. art. Albig.
128. (n) “ Imprimis etiam veritati Testimonium præbuerunt Ecclesiæ, Waldenses ; earumque Confessiones, Catecheses, jam Anno MC. scriptæ adversus errores et superstitiones Ecclesiæ Romanæ.” Opera,
(0) Vide Usserium, de Christ. Ecclesiar. Success. cap. 8. p.
ages, to so narrow a compass, as may at first be imagined. For they were, says Poplinerius (P), “ Diffused, not only throughout all France, in the year 1100, but through almost every country in Europe. And,” says he, “ to this very day, they have their stubborn partisans in France, Spain, England, Scotland, Italy, Germany, Bohemia, Saxony, Poland, Lithuania, and other nations.”
Archbishop Usher, whose enquiries were never superficial, and whose conclusions are never precipitate, lays great stress on a remarkable passage in Reinerius, a popish inquisitor, who died about the year 1259. The passage is this : “ Of all the sects which as yet exist, or ever have existed, none is more detrimental to the church,” i. e. to the Romish church, “ than the sect of the Waldenses. And this on three accounts: 1. Because it is a much more ancient sect than any other. For, some say, that it has continued ever since the popedom of Silvester (): others, that it has subsisted from the time of the apostles. 2. It is a more extensive sect than any other : for there is almost no country, in which this sect has not a footing. 3. This sect has a mighty appearance of piety: inasmuch as they live justly before men, and believe all things rightly concerning God, and all the articles contained in the creed. They only blaspheme the Roman church and clergy ().”
I have premised enough, concerning the people. Let us now enquire into the particulars of their faith.
There is extant, a short Waldensian Confession, written in the year 1120, and consisting of XIV
(p) Apud. Usher, u. s. p. 106.
(9) There were two popes of this name. Silvester I. died A. D. 335. Silvester II. A. D. 1003.
(r) Usher De Success. p. 78. Dr. Cave also lays as much stress on this testimony as does archbishop Usher : see his Historia Literaria, vol. i. p. 632. And so does the great Spanhemius, Oper. vol. iii. col. 1129.
articles. The 1st article professes their agreement with what is usually termed, The Apostles' Creed. The ad acknowledges Father, Son, and holy Spirit, to be the one God. The 3d recapitulates the canonical books of the Old and New Testament, just as they now stand in the protestant Bibles ; and excepts against the Apocrypha, as uninspired. The 4th asserts, that, “ By the disobedience of Adam, sin entered into the world, and we are made sinners in Adam, and by Adam." The 5th runs thus : “ Christ was promised to our forefathers; who received the law, to the end that, knowing their sin by the law, and their unrighteousness and insufficiency, they might desire the coming of Christ, to satisfy for their sins, and, by himself, to accomplish the law.” The 6th affirms, that “Christ was born at the time appointed by God his Father.” The 7th, “ Christ is our life and truth, and peace and righteousness, and advocate, and master, and priest : wbo died for the salvation of all those who believe, and is raised again for our justification ($).” Six of the remaining articles are levelled at the superstitions of popery: and the last testifies their due subjection to the civil powers.
Almost 400 years afterwards, the descendants of those ancient and evangelical churches gave proof, that they were, in no respect whatever, degenerated from the purity and simplicity of the gospel. For, in the beginning of the year 1508, I find them presenting a large account of their faith, in three separate papers addressed to Uladislaus, king of Hungary. * We believe,” say they, “and confess, that Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, three in person, but one in the essence of Deity, is the producer of faith and the giver of salvation (t).”
(s) History of the Popes, vol. i. p. 423, 424.
(t) “ Credimus et fatemur, satorem atque fidei salutis datorem esse Deum Omnipotentum, in Deitatis substantiâ unum, in personis
They say, speaking of Christ, “By whose merit the alone Father accomplishes our salvation, according to the purpose of his own election (u).” They affirm, that “he intercedes for those who shall possess the inheritance of glory (x):" and that “he forsaketh not his church, for which he offered
himself unto death ;” but is ever present with her, sin a way of grace, efficacy, and help, which are his free gift (y).” They define the holy, universal church to be “ the aggregate of all the elect, from the beginning of the world to the end of it :-whose names and number he alone can tell, who hath inscribed them in the Book of Life (2).” To these persons, grace is given : “ The first and principal ministry of the universal church, is the gospel of Christ, wherein are revealed the grace and truth wbich he hath painfully purchased for us by the torture of the cross; which grace is given to the elect, who are called by the Holy Ghost and God the Father unto salvation, with the gift of faith (a).” Under the article, entitled Communio Sanctorum, they come, if possible, more roundly to the point. Nothing can be clearer, than their meaning; though the persons, who drew up the confession, were far from commanding a good style in Latin.
" It is
verò Trinum, Patrem, Filium, Spiritumque Sanctum.” Fascic. Rer. fug. et expet. vol. i. p. 163. .
(u) “Cujus merito, solus genitor, secundùm propositum electionis suæ, salutem operatur.” Ibid.
(x) “ Qui, in solo gratiæ residens fidelis advocatus, interpellat pro his, qui hæreditatem gloriæ percepturi sunt.” Ibid.
(y) “ Ecclesiam suam, pro quâ seipsum obtulit ad mortis supplicium, gratiâ, virtute, auxilioque, dono gratuito, non deserit.” Ibid.
“ Credimus, sanctam Catholicam ecclesiam—esse numerum omnium electorum, à mundi exordio, usque ipsius consummationem :-quorum nomina, numerumque, ille solus scit, qui ea in vitæ libro exaravit.” Ibid. p. 164.
(a) “ Primum et potissimum Ministerium Ecclesiæ Catholicæ, est Evangelium Christi ; quo gratia et veritas, crucis tormento laboriosè acquisita, manifestatur : quæ gratia electis, vocatis dono fidei à spiritu sancto, deoque patri, in salutem largitur." Ibid.
manifest,” say they, “ that such only, as are elected to glory, become partakers of true faith, grace, righteousness in the merit of Christ, [and] eternal salvation (6).”
What they deliver concerning the doctrine of purgatory, though rather uncouthly expressed, deserves to be lain before the reader. “ There is no other chief place of determinate purgatory, but the Lord Christ; of whom it was truly said by the angel, he shall save his people from their sins. And so saith St. Paul: having made a purgation of sins, he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. Every one, therefore, who shall be saved, must draw from this full fountain of righteousness and goodness. By grace alone, through the gift of faith, whosoever is to be saved, cometh to the purgation by Christ Jesus ; as saith St. Paul: a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ; and we believe in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law. And Christ himself saith, he that believeth on me, hath eternal life (c).” I take leave of this confession, with one citation
St. Paul says, Christ loved his church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify it, &c.
It is not said that he might prepare her for hell ; but for heaven, and for repose, after her present toils. For it is certain, that not only the elect of God are
(6) “ Palam itaque est, quod tantummodò electi, veræ fidei, gratiæ, justitiæ in Christi merito, ad gloriam, salutis æternæ participes sunt.” Ibid. p.
167. (c) “ Nullus alius locust est principalis certi purgatorii, nisi dominus Christus de quo rectè est dictum ab angelo, ipse enim salvum faciet populum suum à peccatis eorum. Et sic dicit sanctus Paulus : purgationem peccatorem faciens, sedet ad dexterum Majestatis in excelsis.- -Et omnis, qui salvabitur, oportet eum de hoc fonte sumere pleno justitiæ et æquitatis :ex solâ gratiâ, per donum fidei, quisquis salvandus venit ad purgatorium per Jesum Christum : ut dicit sanctus Paulus; non justificatur homo ex operibus legis, &c. Ibid. p. 178.