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Thus they cheat their own consciences in this and other observances. From whence we may see, that having forsaken truth, they deceive themselves with their own false notions. According to them, there is no purgatory, and all that die, immediately pass either into heaven or hell. That therefore the prayers of the church for the dead are of no use, because those that are in heaven do not want them, nor can those that are in hell be relieved by them. And from thence they infer, that all offerings made for the dead are only of use to the clergymen that eat them, and not to the deceased, who are incapable of being profited by them. They hold, that the saints in heaven do not hear the prayers of the faithful, nor regard the honours which are done to them, because their bodies lie dead here beneath, and their spirits are at so great a distance from us in heaven, that they can neither hear our prayers nor see the honours which we pay them. They add, that the saints do not pray for us, and that therefore, we are not to entreat their intercession, because, being swallowed up with heavenly joy, they cannot attend to us, nor indeed to any thing else. Hence they deride all the festivals which we celebrate in honour of the saints, and all other instances of our veneration for them. Accordingly, wherever they can do it, they secretly work upon holy days, arguing, that since working is good, it cannot be evil to do that which is good on a holy day. They do not observe Lent, or other fasts of the church, alleging that God does not delight in the afflictions of his friends, as being able to save without them. Some heretics indeed afflict themselves with fasting, watchings, and the like, because without these they cannot obtain the reputation of being holy among the simple people, nor deceive them by their feigned hypocrisy. They do not receive the Old Testament, but the Gospel only, that they may not be overthrown by it, but rather be able to defend themselves therewith; pretending that upon the
introduction of the gospel dispensation all old things were to be laid aside.* In like manner they select the choicest sayings and authorities of the holy fathers, such as Augustine, Jerome, Gregory, Chrysostome, and Isidore, that with them they may support their opinions, oppose others, or the more easily seduce the simple, by varnishing over their sacrilegious doctrine with the good sentences of the saints, at the same time very quietly passing over those parts of the writings of the holy fathers that oppose and confute their errors. Such as are teachable and eloquent among them, they instruct to get the words of the gospel, as well as the sayings of the apostles, and other holy men by heart, that they may be able to inform others, and draw in believers, beautifying their sect with the goodly words of the saints, that the things they persuade and recommend may pass for sound and wholesome doctrine ;-thus by their soft speeches deceiving the hearts of the simple. And not only the men, but even their women also t ach† amongst them, because women have an easier access to those of their own sex, to pervert them, that afterwards, by their means, the men may be perverted also, as the serpent deceived Adam by means of Eve. They teach their disciples to speak in dark and obscure words, and instead of speaking truth, to endeavour to speak lies; that when they are asked about one thing, they might perversely answer about another, and thus craftily deceive
This is precisely the charge which was brought against the Paulicians; see note, Vol. I. ch. iii. sect. 4. and the remarks there offered upon it.
The reader must not understand the teaching here alluded to as referring to public teaching in the church, for the Waldenses permitted nothing of that kind in their females, and the Scriptures pointedly forbid it; but he refers to their mode of propagating their sentiments by conversation, and I shall have an opportunity of shewing, in a future section, from the writings of this same Reinerius, the very simple and striking manner in which they did this.
their hearers, especially when they fear that by confessing the truth, they should discover their errors. In the same dissembling manner they frequent our churches, are present at divine service, offer at the altar, receive the sacrament, confess to the priests, observe the church fasts, celebrate festivals, and receive the priest's blessing, reverently bowing their heads, though in the mean time they scoff at all these institutions of the church, looking upon them as profane and hurtful. They say it is sufficient for their salvation if they confess to God, and not to man.”
Such is the view which Reinerius gave of the principles of the Waldenses, about eighty years subsequent to the times of Peter Waldo; and we must understand this description as applicable to one general class of Christians, scattered throughout the south of France, the vallies of the Pyrenean mountains, the vallies of Piedmont, and the country of the Milanese; though probably distinguished in different places by the different names of Puritans, or Catharists, Paterines, Arnoldists, Leonists, Albigenses, or Waldenses, the last of which ultimately became their more general appellation.* No doubt there were shades of differences in sentiment among them on points of minor importance, even as there are among Christians in the present day; and it is very certain that the catholic writers sometimes class under the general name of Waldenses or
"Nothing is so well known to the curious in these matters, as the following verses upon the Vaudois (Waldenses) in the year 1100
Que non vogli maudir ne jura, ne mentir,
Whosoever refuses to curse, to swear, to lie, to kill, to commit adultery, to steal, to be revenged of his enemy-they say he is a Vaudois, and therefore they put him to death."
Voltaire's Gen. History, ch. lxix.
Albigenses, persons whose theological sentiments and religious practices were very opposite to those which were professed by the followers of Peter Waldo. "The practice of confounding heretics of all kinds in one common herd," says Mr. Robinson, " hath been an ancient custom with ecclesiastical historians, and it hath obscured history." This is a very just remark, and the reader who would not be imposed upon by those writers, will find it of great importance to attend to it. He himself, however, tells us that the Albigenses were Manichæans,† or nearly so,
* Eccles. Researches, p. 463.
The sect of the Manichæans derived its origin from a person of the name of Manes, or Manichæus, as he is sometimes called by his disciples. He was by birth a Persian, educated among the magi, and himself one of their number before he embraced the profession of Christianity, about the end of the third century. His doctrine was a motley mixture of the tenets of Christianity, with the ancient philosophy of the Persians, in which he had been instructed during his youth. The following view of his system is given by Dr. Mosheim, Vol. I. Cent. iii. ch. v. “That there are two principles from which all things proceed-the one a most pure and subtle matter, called LIGHT, the other a gross and corrupt substance called DARKNESS. The being who presides over light is called God-he that rules the land of darkness bears the name of Hyle, or Demon. The ruler of the light is supremely happy, and consequently benevolent and good-the prince of darkness is unhappy in himself, and desiring to render others partakers of his misery, is evil and malignant. These two beings have produced an immense multitude of creatures, resembling themselves, whom they have distributed through their respective provinces. He held that Christ is that glorious intelligence whom the Persians called Mithras—a splendid substance, endowed with life, and having his residence in the sun. The Holy Ghost, a luminous and animated body diffused throughout every part of the atmosphere which surrounds this terrestrial globe. He held that the God of the Jews was the prince of darkness-affirmed that the Old Testament was not the word of God, but of the prince of darkness, and rejected as spurious the four Gospels, and indeed most of the canonical scriptures-maintained the transmigration of souls," &c. &c.
It is really surprising that Mr. Robinson, the acute, the ingenious, the liberal-minded Mr. Robinson, should have charged the Albigenses with adopting this absurd system, without producing any evidence to support
and that they differed from the Vaudois and Waldenses. That individuals, or even a sect, holding those wild and extravagant opinions, may have existed at that time, and been classed by the catholic writers under the head of Albigenses, is not impossible, though I have met with no evidence that puts the fact beyond dispute; and the historians of the latter give a very easy and natural solution of the reason of their being accused of Manichæism. But, whatever may be in this, the following facts are indisputable; that the general body of the Albigenses received the doctrines of Peter Waldo-that these doctrines had no connection with Manichæism-and that the Waldenses and Albigenses were two branches of the same sect, inhabiting different countries, each deriving its appellation from its local residence.
such an opinion. Few writers have combated the foul misrepresentations of the catholics with more zeal and success than he has done; but in this instance he has joined their senseless clamour against the Albigenses. It is a very questionable point, whether the sect of the Manichæans had any existence at the period of which Mr. R. is treating, and I am strongly inclined to think they had not, at least in Europe. But even though that could be proved, I may venture to affirm that it was utterly out of the power of Mr. R. or any other person to produce from the confessions, catechisms, testimonies, or conduct of the Albigenses the least trace of Manichæism. I am tempted on this occasion to adopt the lofty language of Dr. Allix, when defending the Piedmontese Waldenses from the same charge brought against them by the catholic bishop Bossuet. "I defy the impudence of the devil himself," says he, "to find in their writings the least shadow of Manichæism." Remarks, ch. 17. The fact is, that, on this subject, the catholic writers misled Mosheim and Limborch; and these latter historians have misled Mr. Robinson. Indeed an impartial reader will easily perceive throughout this gentleman's account of "the Vallies of Piedmont," in his Ecclesiastical Researches, the strongest indications of a jaundiced eye. Speaking of Leger's History of the Waldenses, he adds, “Orthodoxy is proved and overproved in it, for it will be allowed that an apostolical church with the Athanasian creed is above par." He cannot therefore believe that the Catholics inflicted upon the " 'poor Waldenses," the horrible cruelties which are detailed by Leger, though he has no difficulty in believing them to have inflicted cruelties full as great upon others!!