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might we should be continually solicitous for the welfare and defence of the same; wherefore we, in imitation of our ancestors, and in obedience to the canons which determine and ordain heretics, as persons cast out from the sight of God and all Catholics, to be condemned and persecuted every where, do command and charge the Waldenses, Inzabbati, who otherwise are called “the poor of Lyons," and all other heretics who cannot be numbered, being excommunicated from the holy church, adversaries to the cross of Christ, violators and corruptors of the Christian religion, and the avowed enemies of us and our kingdom, to depart out of our kingdom and all our dominions. Whosoever, therefore, from this day forward, shall presume to receive the said Waldenses and Inzabbati, or any other heretics of whatsoever profession, into their houses, or to be present at their pernicious sermons, or to afford them meat, or any other favor, shall thereby incur the indignation of Almighty God, as well as ours, and have his goods confiscated, without the remedy of an appeal, and be punished as if he were actually guilty of high treason. And we strictly charge and command, that this our edict and perpetual constitution be publicly read on the Lord's days by the bishops and other rectors of churches, in all the cities, castles, and towns of our kingdom, and throughout all our dominions : and that the same be observed by vicars, bailiffs, justices, &c. and all the people in general ; and the aforesaid punishment be inflicted on all transgressors.
We further will, That if any person, noble or ignoble, shall in any part of our dominions find any of these wicked wretches, who shall be known to have had three days botice of this our Edict, and that do not forthwith depart, but rather are obstinately found staying or lingering; let such know that if they shall any way plague, despitefully use or distress them, wounding unto death and maiming
of them only excepted, he will in so doing perform nothing but what will be very grateful and pleasing to us, and shall be so far from fearing to incur any penalty thereby, that he may be sure rather to deserve our favor, Furthermore, we give these wicked miscreants respite, though that may seem somewhat contrary to reason and our duty, till the day after All Saints day; but that all those who either shall not be gone by that time, or at least preparing for their departure, shall be spoiled, beaten, cudgelled, and shamefully ill-treated.”
Some account of the Doctrinal Sentiments and Religious
Practices of the Waldenses, collected from the writings of their adversaries.
It is intended, in this and the two following sections, to lay before the reader a more detailed account of the principles and practices of the Waldenses, than hath hitherto been given; and there appears no method of doing this more satisfactory, than by first hearing the charges alleged against them by their adversaries of the Romish church; and then attending to the apologies, reasonings, and confessions of faith which, from time to tiine, the ever laudable principle of self-defence necessarily extorted from them. This is the plan, therefore, which I propose to pursue, and the present section shall be devoted to the testimony of their adversaries.
REINERIUS SaccĦO, whose name I have had occasion more than once to mention, was for seventeen years of the earlier part of his life, in some way or other, connected with the Waldenses; but he apostatized from their profession, entered the catholic church, was raised in it to the dignified station of an inquisitor, and became one of their most cruel persecutors. He was deputed by the Pope to reside in Lombardy, in the south of France; and about the year 1250, published a catalogue of the errors of the Waldenses under three and thirty distinct heads. The reader who wishes to peruse the original Latin, may find it in Dr. Allix's Remarks upon the Churches of Piedmont, p. 1884–191. The following is a faithful translation.
Their first error, says he, is a contempt of ecclesiastica) power, and from thence they have been delivered up to Satan, and by him cast headlong into innumerable errors, mixing the erroneous doctrines of the heretics of old with their own inventions. And being cast out of the catholic church, they affirm that they alone are the church of Christ and his disciples. They declare themselves to be the apostles' successors, to have apostolical authority, and the keys of binding and loosing. They hold the church of Rome to be the whore of Babylon, (Rev. ch. xvii.) and that all that obey her are damned, especially the clergy that have been subject to her since the time of Pope Sylvester. * They deny that any true miracles are wrought in the church, because none of themselves ever worked any. They hold, that none of the ordinances of the church, which have been introduced since Christ's ascension, ought to be observed, as being of no value. The feasts, fasts, orders, blessings, offices of the church, and the like, they Utterly reject. They speak against consecrated churches, churchyards, and other things of the like nature, declaring that they were the inventions of covetous priests, to augment their own gains, in spunging the people by those
the days of Constantine the Great,
* This pontiff was bishop of Rome. about the year 350.
means of their money and oblations. They say, that a man is then first baptized when he is received into their community. Some of them hold that baptism is of no advantage to infants, because they cannot actually believe. They reject the sacrament of confirmation, but instead of that, their teachers lay their hands upon their disciples. They say, the bishops, clergy, and other religious orders are no better than the Scribes and Pharisees, and other persecutors of the apostles. They do not believe the body and blood of Christ to be the true sacrament, but only blessed-bread, which by a figure only is called the body of Christ, even as it is said, " and the rock was Christ,” &c. Some of thein hold that this sacrament can only be celebrated by those that are good, * others again by any that know the words of consecration. This sacrament they celebrate in their assemblies, repeating the words of the gospel at their table, and participating together, in imitation of Christ's supper. They say that a priest who is a sinner, cannot bind or loose any one, as being himself bound; and that any good and intelligent layman may absolve another, and impose penance. They reject extreme unction, declaring it to be rather a curse than a sacrament. Marriage, say they, is nothing else but sworn fornication, unless the parties live continently, and account any filthiness preferable to the conjugal rites. They praise continence indeed, but in the mean time give way to the satisfying of burning lust by any filthy means whatsoever, expounding that place of the apostle, “ It is better to marry than to burn,” thus: that it is better to satisfy ones lust by any filthy act, than to be tempted therewith in the
The meaning of this does not seem very obvious. The words in the original are, Quidam autem hoc dicunt tantum per bonos fieri, alii per omneş qui verba consecrationis sciunt ; and the reason of the obscurity is, that, as 1 shall hereafter shew, they did not allow any but pastors to administer he arist.
heart. * But this they conceal as much as possible, that they may not be reproached therewith. If any honest woman among them that has the repute of chastity, is brought to bed of a child, they carefully conceal it, and send it abroad to be nursed, that it may not be known. They hold all oaths to be unlawful, and a mortal sin, yet they dispense with them when it is done to avoid death, lest they should betray their accomplices, or the secret of their infidelity. They hold it to be an unpardonable sin to betray an heretic, yea the very sin against the Holy Ghost. They say that malefactors ought not to be put to death by the secular power. Some of them hold it unlawful to kill brute animals, as fishes, or the like; but when they have a mind to eat them, they hang them over the fire or smoke till they die. Fleas and such sort of insects they shake off their clothes, or else dip their clothes in hot water, supposing them thus to be dead of themselves. +
There appears something like a consciousness about Reinerius, that in this monstrous accusation he was calumniating the Waldenses, for in the following words he qualifies the charge by describing them as not avowing it. The reader will presently see their sentiments on the subject of marriage, and be convinced of the foulness of this slander. I shall, therefore, at present, only quote from their own apology a short extract, in which they repel the charge of countenancing lasciviousness. was this vice,” say they, “ that led David to procure the death of his faithful servant, that he might enjoy his wife-and Ammon to defile his sister Tamar. This vice consumes the estates of many, as it is said of the prodigal son, who wasted his substance in riotous living. Balaam made choice of this vice to provoke the children of Israel to siv, which occasioned the death of twenty-four thousand persons. This sin was the occasion of Sampson's losing his sight; it perverted Solomon, and many have perished through the beauty of a woman. The remedies for this sin are fasting, prayer, and keeping at a distance from it. Other vices may be subdued by fighting; in this we conquer by flight; of which we have an example in Joseph."-Perrin's Hist. ch. iv.
+ Many will think that Reinerius must have been at great loss for substantial grounds of accusation against the Waldenses, when he could condescend to enumerate such childish things as these.